Wednesday, March 16, 2005

More than 90 percent of Fairfield-Suisun schools improved or maintained their state ranks in the Academic Performance Index scores.

Article Last Updated: Wednesday, Mar 16, 2005 - 12:09:54 am PST

Schools perform well in API test

By Audrey Wong

FAIRFIELD - More than 90 percent of Fairfield-Suisun schools improved or maintained their state ranks in the Academic Performance Index scores.

District staff found that 23 of 25 Fairfield-Suisun schools whose scores were released improved their state ranks or remained in the same spot as last year, said Brian Centeno, director of assessment and accountability. In 2003, 69 percent of schools improved or maintained their state rankings.

"We find this a positive trend," Centeno said.

Schools that dropped in their state rankings were Richardson Elementary and Crystal Middle. Each schools fell a point in the state's 10-point ranking system.

The improved state rankings for many Fairfield-Suisun schools show that teachers have focused on teaching state education standards, Centeno said. While schools show improvement, the district still needs to address the achievement gap between low-income students and their more advantaged peers, Centeno said.

The API is the state's way of measuring student achievement. Schools give students a series of tests including the California Standards Test, a national standardized test, and for high schools, the California High School Exit Exam.

Schools are ranked on scales of one to 10 - with 10 the highest. The state Department of Education compares schools with the statewide averages and to schools with similar characteristics, such as socio-economic status, ethnic groups, percent of English learners and number of teachers with full credentials.

API scores range from 200 to 1000, with 800 the target for all California schools. Each school gets its own goal for the year, based on the difference between last year's score and the 800 API score benchmark. This year, the state changed the way it calculates API scores

B. Gale Wilson, Nelda Mundy and K.I. Jones elementary schools have scores of 800 or higher, which means they won't have a target score to shoot for this year, according to state figures.

Vanden High School in the Travis school district earned a 10 ranking in both its statewide and similar schools score. The school also scored high in last year's tests, but irregularities resulted in rankings that weren't meaningful, said Sarah Taylor, interim assistant superintendent of educational services. The Travis district has two other schools which met the 800 benchmark - Center and Travis elementary schools.

"The numbers look very positive to me," Taylor said.

Vacaville's district - which includes four schools with scores better than 800 and which had scores go up and down this year - has a plan for improving test scores this year.

"What we're going to look at, are there other schools out there like ours that are doing better than we are?" said Peggy Alexander, the assistant superintendent of academic advancement. "And what are they doing differently? That's what accountability is about, improvement."

Reach Audrey Wong can be reached at

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