District students move up in state ranking | September 19, 2008 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Newsfront - September 19, 2008

District students move up in state ranking

Latest API shows scores among top 3 percent in California

by Harry Stoll

District students continued to raise their scores on state-mandated tests, according to the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, which cited a report from the California Department of Education on the Academic Performance Index (API).

"These results place SRVUSD as the sixth highest unified school district in the state," said district spokesman Terry Koehne.

The API is a numerical scale ranging from a low score of 200 to a high score of 1000, and measures and compares the academic performance and growth of schools on a variety of academic measures.

Koehne reported that San Ramon Valley students had the highest average score in the state among unified districts with more than 9,000 students. District elementary and high school students' scores were among the top 3 percent in the state, and they increased their 2007 scores from 893 to 904. The state goal is 800.

"Eighteen of the 20 elementary schools in the district scored higher than 900 on the Index and nearly every high school and middle school in the district saw improvement," said Koehne.

"Quail Run Elementary School showed the greatest gain, 48 points over the previous year. At the middle school level, Pine Valley increased by 19 points. California High School showed the largest increase among high schools, 15 points."

The district also said scores for every ethnic subgroup improved significantly. Students classified as "English learners" improved 38 points to 872; students with disabilities improved by 30 points; and students classified as "socioeconomically disadvantaged" improved by 18 points.

"We teach to the standards," said teacher Kathy Moore, when asked if the improvement was due to "teaching to the test." She is on special assignment to coach and support teachers in the district's Reading and Writing Program. The standards are set by the state in what is known as the Language Arts Framework, which contains details about what a student should know when.

Moore said that through the program students are taught how to think. They have book clubs and work together. In class, teachers go over with students what a proficient adult would do when reading. Typically, a teacher will present a section of text and examine it with the students.

Joan Buchanan, school board vice president, said the hard work of the district continues to pay off. She praised the Reading and Writing program and pointed out that during the past summer many teachers attended workshops without pay. Moore said that more than 200 district teachers attended the three-to-five-day workshops.

There was no increase in the ratio of teachers to students, said Koehne, who also said it's difficult to improve when the scores are already high. He credits the district's relentless focus on improvement as one factor for the increase. Another is parents who are intelligent and highly involved.

To view individual school's results, visit www.cde.ca.gov.