Monday, October 31, 2005

Vallejo schools bump up its testing scores

October 28, 2005

Vallejo schools bump up its testing scores

By SARAH ROHRS, Times-Herald staff writer

Using the state's complex measuring system, Vallejo schools saw some improvement in academic achievement over last year, though not enough to meet the state average, scores released Thursday show.

Nine Vallejo schools met their yearly growth targets as measured through the Academic Performance Index (API) while eight schools showed some improvement, but not enough to meet their marks.

Meanwhile, academic progress at six schools was on the decline over last year.

Vallejo school district officials were enthusiastic about the California Department of Education state's announcement Thursday of how many schools statewide had met or exceeded their API growth targets.

"Seventeen schools that made growth is great news," said Tish Busselle, district spokeswoman.

In Vallejo, 39 percent of the schools met or exceeded their growth targets in 2004-05, compared to 19 percent in 2003-04.

All Benicia schools met or exceeded their targets. There, two schools have scores over 900 and five over 800. One school is under 800.

Statewide, 68 percent of the schools met or exceeded their growth targets in 2004-05. That is a 20-point gain over 2003-04, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced.

Under API, schools strive for scores of 800, and measure their progress based on previous year's scores.

All but one of Vallejo middle and high schools met or exceeded their growth targets. Vallejo Middle School saw some growth, but did not meet its target.

Some Vallejo elementary schools achieved impressive gains, including Glen Cove, Wardlaw and Widenmann, and Mare Island Technology Middle School.

By contrast, some elementary schools saw major declines, such as Beverly Hills, John Davidson and David Farragut.

No Vallejo schools have achieved scores of 800, but some are close. Wardlaw is at 787 and Glen Cove at 772.

Growth reports are part of the state's efforts to measure academic success of a school on the basis of how much it improves each year.

API scores are based on standardized tests given in English/math and science at all school levels. Middle school students take additional tests in social science; while high school students take even more tests - in history, science plus the California High School Exit Exam.

State scores also showed "significant improvement" by minority groups and socio-economically disadvantaged students, O'Connell said in a written announcement posted on his department's website.

Nearly 20 percent more schools statewide showed increases in overall academic growth over the previous year, he said. Schools' emphasis on a standard-based curriculums is paying off, he added.

Other API results indicate that Vallejo schools are doing a better job of ensuring that most of the students take the tests necessary to be included in the scores.

Under State Administrator Richard Damelio's control, the district has focused more strongly on academic achievement that can be measured through the standardized tests.

That focus includes common curriculum and textbooks, more staff development opportunities, pacing guides, and common assessments.

- E-mail Sarah Rohrs at or call 553-6832.

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API results can be viewed at

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