Monday, September 03, 2007

Smiles greet Vaca schools' test scores

Smiles greet Vaca schools' test scores
By Robin Miller/City Editor
Article Launched:09/01/2007 07:36:30 AM PDT
It wasn't as marked an improvement as last year, but state test scores for local schools nevertheless left Vacaville school district officials smiling Friday. (Find the complete reporte here.)

"We saw growth," said Assistant Superintendent for Academic Advancement Peggy Alexander. "It was not as dramatic as last year, but we're happy."

The latest growth came in the form of Academic Performance Index scores, the central tool the state education department uses to measure school performance.

In the Vacaville school district, 10 of 15 schools tested met state API growth targets, with six schools - Alamo, Browns Valley, Callison, Cooper, Orchard, and Buckingham - exceeding the state goal of 800 points.

The API has long been one of California's primary measurements of student achievement. A school's or a district's API is formulated using the results of students' Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests, and of the exit exams students take in high school. API scores can range from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000.

The state education department would like all schools to score 800 or higher. Those which don't, receive a growth target, which is equivalent to 5 percent of the difference between the school's current API and 800.

"We are always working to get students who score at the proficient level (on the STAR tests) up to the advanced level and keeping the advanced students up there," Alexander said. "And we want to see those at 'basic' level move up to proficient and see those below basic move up. But you can't expect children with learning difficulties to move all at once. We want a trajectory and we've got that. So we're happy."

Ironically, as it has for the past few years, Vacaville Unified failed to meet what the federal department of education defines as "adequate yearly progress," or AYP, despite its amazing growth. AYP results were also released Friday.

Under the federal system, a district or school makes AYP only if a certain percentage of its students test proficient or advanced in both math and English.

This must be true not only for the student population as a whole, but for various sub-groups of students, including English language learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities.

Intensifying the challenge, the percentage requirement rises almost each year. In addition, schools and districts must achieve certain participation rates, assuring that nearly every student takes the proper tests.

Despite not hitting the target for AYP this year, Alexander said she is hopeful that the federal rules will be changed, based on what she heard at a countywide meeting with Congressman George Miller this week, in which school leaders were assured that No Child Left Behind, the law that established federal testing standards, would be changed.

Schools that do not make the AYP target are placed under Program Improvement status and are subject to a range of requirements and local interventions. This marks the third year for Vaca- ville to be a PI school district.

In the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District, the state said Friday that the district would be added to the list targeted as PI.

"The challenge of getting out of PI status is daunting; but we have a plan that will work to address our concerns," said Deputy Superintendent Brian Centeno in a press release.

"Honestly, there won't be any overnight miracles; but I feel confident that we will show tremendous gains if we work together."

Schools in other neighboring districts showed mixed results on the API.

In the Dixon Unified School District, half the schools hit their API growth targets and half did not, with all schools scoring above 700 points, though none hit the target of 800.

In the Travis Unified School District meanwhile, all but one school hit its API growth target with five out of the seven schools tested scoring above 800.

The two highest API's in Northern Solano County came from Travis Unified's Scandia Elementary, and Fairfield-Suisun's Nelda Mundy Elementary, both of which scored 868.

For complete API and AYP information, visit and follow the links.
2006-07 Accountability Progress Report
2007 Growth 2006 Base Growth
2006 to 2007
Vacaville Unified 755 751 4
Elementary Schools
Alamo Elementary 842 825 17
Browns Valley Elementary 831 840 -9
Callison (Jean) Elementary 812 798 14
Cooper Elementary 853 847 6
Fairmont Elementary 728 690 38
Hemlock Elementary 733 735 -2
Markham (Edwin) Elementary 698 711 -13
Orchard Elementary 850 832 18
Padan (Eugene) Elementary 747 751 -4
Sierra Vista Elementary 757 740 17
Middle Schools
Jepson (Willis) Middle 744 736 8
Vaca Pena Middle 754 744 10
High Schools
Buckingham (Elise P.) Charter 828 832 -4
Vacaville High 730 741 -11
Wood (Will C.) High 719 729 -10
ASAM Schools
Country High 567* 687* -120
Vacaville Community Day Prep N/A N/A N/A
Dixon Unified 743 744 -1
Elementary Schools
Anderson (Linford L.) Elementary 741 747 -6
Gretchen Higgins Elementary 772 767 5
Silveyville Primary 733 682 51
Tremont Elementary 797 801 -4
Middle School
Jacobs (C.A.) Intermediate 766 752 14
High School
Dixon High 708 724 -16
Dixon Montessori Charter 739* B B
ASAM Schools
Maine Prairie High N/A N/A N/A
Travis Unified 804 807
Elementary Schools
Cambridge Elementary 799 779 20
Center Elementary 823 837 -14
Foxboro Elementary 815 856 -41
Scandia Elementary 868 851 17
Travis Elementary 861 863 -2
Middle School
Golden West Middle 825 804 21
High School
Vanden High 771 782 -11
ASAM Schools
Travis Education Center High 576* 560* 16
Fairfield-Suisun Unified 714 714 0
Elementary Schools
Blanc (Amy) Elementary 683 692 -9
Bransford Elementary 690 649 41
Crescent Elementary 729 693 36
David A. Weir Elementary 673 B B
Fairview Elementary 671 696 -25
Gordon (Cleo) Elementary 642 625 17
Jones (K. I.) Elementary 844 839 5
Kyle (Anna) Elementary 676 673 3
Laurel Creek Elementary 764 762 2
Mundy (Nelda) Elementary 868 864 4
Oakbrook Elementary 783 790 -7
Richardson (H. Glenn) Elementary 689 678 11
Root (Dan O.) Elementary 793 775 18
Sheldon (E. Ruth) Elementary 751 747 4
Suisun Elementary 691 676 15
Suisun Valley Elementary 859 855 4
Tolenas Elementary 798 799 -1
Wilson (B. Gale) Elementary 833 833 0
Middle Schools
Crystal Middle 742 722 20
Dover Middle 717 720 -3
Grange Middle 677 688 -11
Green Valley Middle 762 757 5
Sullivan (Charles L.) Middle 704 714 -10
High Schools
Armijo High 642 641 1
Fairfield High 662 674 -12
Rodriguez (Angelo) High 715 729 -14
Mary Bird School 386* B B
ASAM Schools
Sam Yeto Continuation High 562* 610* -48
* means this API is calculated for a small school or LEA, defined as having between 11 and 99 valid Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program test scores included in the API. The API is asterisked if the school or LEA was small in either 2006 or 2007. APIs based on small numbers of students are less reliable and therefore should be carefully interpreted.
B means the school did not have a valid 2006 API Base and will not have any growth or target information or its number of students tested were too small.

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