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A closer look at Academic Performance Index scores in Contra Costa County districts

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, August 30th, 2013 at 7:21 pm in Contra Costa County, Education, Liberty district, Mt. Diablo school district, Oakley district, Paul Burgarino, Pittsburg school district, Rowena Coetsee.

Students work quietly in a Richmond College Prep classroom. The school received an API score of 828 this year, soaring 33 points.

Students work quietly in a Richmond College Prep classroom. The school received an API score of 828 this year, soaring 33 points.

When it comes to test scores, the Academic Performance Index, or API, is considered by many to be the most important rating a California school receives. Based on standardized tests scores taken by students in grades 2-11 in the spring, the API is a composite number between a low of 200 and a high of 1,000 that shows how schools throughout the state compare to each other.

Since the scoring system was created, schools and districts have tried to reach a score of 800, considered by the state to mean most students are working at grade level. This year, 11 Contra Costa County districts achieved this goal.

But the federal government’s No Child Left Behind law measures schools according to a harder-to-reach bar. This year, 90 percent of students were required to score proficient on math and English language arts tests to meet this standard.

Those who fail to meet the standard for two years in a row are placed in federal Program Improvement and required to implement interventions. This year, 10 Contra Costa districts were in Program Improvement.

Here’s a side by side comparison of county district API scores in 2012 and 2013, showing growth or decline:

DISTRICT 2013 2012 CHANGE PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT
Acalanes 904 908 -4 No
Antioch 740 746 -6 Yes
Brentwood 861 859 +2 Yes
Byron 846 836 +10 No
Canyon 874 876 -2 No
John Swett 745 751 -6 Yes
Knightsen 816 840 -24 No
Lafayette 934 938 -4 No
Liberty 794 785 +9 No
Martinez 836 844 -8 Yes
Moraga 955 964 -9 No
Mt. Diablo 791 794 -3 Yes
Oakley 799 816 -17 Yes
Orinda 958 967 -9 No
Pittsburg 733 738 -5 Yes
San Ramon 923 928 -5 Yes
Walnut Creek 906 915 -9 Yes
West Contra Costa 717 715 +2 Yes
CALIFORNIA 789 791 -2 N/A

Districts that failed to meet the state API score of 800 were Antioch, John Swett, Liberty, Mt. Diablo, Oakley, Pittsburg and West Contra Costa. Stephanie Anello, associate superintendent of educational services in Antioch, said the district’s dip in scores came as a surprise, after teachers had been assessing students every six weeks throughout the year and principals increased classroom observations.

“It’s very disappointing, we felt we were headed in the right direction,” she said. “We’re trying to look for patterns to see what happened, but we don’t see one. For now, we are just going to have to use it to strengthen our resolve and focus on the quality of teaching that happens every single day.”

No schools in the John Swett district surpassed the state’s target of 800. In the Liberty district, one of four comprehensive high schools met that goal.

Mt. Diablo’s API score dropped three points to 791. Interim Superintendent John Bernard sent a message to the community saying the district is continuing to train teachers and administrators in the new Common Core curriculum standards, which focus on critical thinking and problem-solving.

Oakley’s API score dropped 17 points and nearly all schools in the district also saw double-digit declines, with the exception of Vintage Parkway Elementary, which posted a 14-point gain to 831. Anne Allen, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, said the district has assigned a second teacher to work as a full-time math coach at elementary grades and another to serve as a part-time middle school literacy coach.

The Pittsburg district’s score fell five points to 733, with only three of 12 comprehensive schools reaching the state’s proficiency target. The West Contra Costa district was one of four in the county to improve its API score, rising two points to 717.

“We’re happy to show improvement,” said Nia Raschidchi, assistant superintendent of educational services.

Here’s a link to the Contra Costa Times’ searchable database of API scores for all schools and districts in the state: http://www.contracostatimes.com/data/ci_23965432/2013-school-ratings?source=pkg

Staff writers Paul Burgarino and Rowena Coetseee contributed to this report.

What do you think lower-performing districts should do to improve student achievement?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • wondering

    Theresa, there is a rumor that Clayton Valley Charter High School teachers were eligible for $1000 bonuses based on their students performance on STAR testing. The teachers were left alone in the rooms with the students during the testing even though their bonuses were tied to the performance of the students in that classroom. That would be an invitation for cheating by the teachers. Would you look into this and see if it is true? Thank you.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Pat Middendorf told me that the staff received $1,000 bonuses. However she didn’t say the bonuses were specifically tied to test scores. Also, I believe there are supposed to be test proctors, but I can ask about that.

  • Been Down That Road….

    The bonuses were given in acknowledgement and appreciation of the incredible first year CVCHS had and were decided upon and handed out well before the API scores were posted…very few employees even knew about the bonus beforehand. Additionally, EVERY employee that was part of the CVCHS staff during the 2012-2013 school year received a bonus (certificated, classified, etc)as the Governing Board recognized that it was a team effort that drove CV to the results they had. Incidentally–CVCHS is a single-site school district and, as such, could also be included in the list above. The 62-POINT GAIN was well-deserved and hard-earned!

  • Just A Guy

    Regarding the 62 point gain, was the composition of students from year to year the same at CVCHS? There are a number of people asking if this is just a reflection of the new composition of students attended CVCHS instead of a huge jump in performance based on the same student body.

  • Gregory Hile

    As Been Down That Road #3 stated, bonuses were given to everyone. I am a teacher at CVCHS and many of us teach classes that are not subject to STAR tests, such as art, music, foreign language, ROP, PE, etc. Classified staff do not teach courses at all, yet everyone received a bonus because everyone worked hard and our success was a team effort that was not measured solely by STAR test results.

    And just to set the record straight, there was more scrutiny this time around than ever before. You may recall the recent story about the state catching a number of schools that allowed students to use cell phones and social media to post photographs of the test booklets and even some actual test questions. CVCHS was not one of those schools. There was even an on-site state inspector present during testing. My classroom was inspected by CVCHS administrators both before and during testing and was also visited by the state inspector during testing.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Gregory, Thanks for bringing up the social media postings. The state also released CA HS Exit Exam results Thursday and released this message about social media postings related to both tests:

    “Social Media Postings of Testing Materials

    As was noted in both 2012 and 2013 in the administration of other standardized tests among high school students, a number of students posted pictures of CAHSEE testing materials to social media sites.

    Social media site postings were linked to 72 schools, of which eight postings showed a test question. At the remaining 64 schools, the postings were not of actual questions, but of test booklet covers or answer documents. As has been the case with other assessments, the postings appeared to be motivated by students seeking to attract attention from their peers, not to gain an advantage on the exam itself. The scores for students who posted test questions to social media sites were invalidated. An analysis of the results showed no evidence that any posting affected the validity or reliability of the assessments themselves.

    While these incidents have remained isolated, CDE views any breach of testing protocols with great concern. As with the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program, several security measures were implemented, including more rigorous monitoring and increased numbers of random security audits at school sites, revising test administration guides; and training CAHSEE coordinators and those who administer or proctor the test.

    Schools that have been linked to a social media posting of STAR test questions and where more than 5 percent of the students tested were affected by the posting of test materials will have their APIs invalidated. All schools found to have any kind of social media posting during STAR or CAHSEE testing will be excluded from state academic awards programs for the coming year.”

    Here is the list of schools with social media security breaches, which includes Mt. Diablo HS for breaches on both the CAHSEE and STAR tests: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr13/yr13rel78attc.asp

    During a teleconference Thursday morning, CDE officials said such a social media breach could jeopardize QEIA funding. This is the second time MDHS’s QEIA funding has been jeopardized.

  • Theresa Harrington

    JAG: Although CVCHS has much to celebrate, a closer look at its Adequate Yearly Progress report shows that it failed to meet federal No Child Left Behind standards, with 71 percent of students proficient or above in English language arts and 62 percent proficient or above in math: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2013APRSchAYPReport.aspx?allcds=07100740731380

    Here’s a comparison with the student body in 2012, when 68.9 percent of students were proficient in English language arts and 63.1 percent were proficient in math: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2012/2012APRSchAYPReport.aspx?allcds=07617540731380

    In 2013, 90 percent of students were required to score proficient in both subject areas to meet No Child Left behind standards. However, since CVCHS does not receive Title 1 funding, it will not be penalized for failing to meet these standards.

  • Gregory Hile

    @Just a Guy #4, I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but the composition of the student body is not significantly different than in prior years. As a teacher conversion charter school we have an obligation to provide space to those students who live within the old CVHS attendance boundaries. Of course, the old seniors graduated while new freshmen came in, but the overwhelming majority of sophomores and juniors at CVCHS last year (seniors don’t take STAR tests) were existing CV students, and the overwhelming majority of new freshmen were from the traditional middle feeder schools like Diablo View, Pine Hollow and Sequoia, and, contrary to what some have suggested, we did not exclude English language learners, special ed students or “troublemakers.” In fact, more ELL and special ed students took the STAR test last year than in the past. We also paid special attention to the troublemakers in making sure they didn’t remain troublemakers by motivating students to do well, keeping them in school and providing intervention when necessary.

  • Giorgio C.

    Ohlone Elementary School in Hercules dropped 41 points from 821 to 780. Is it a coincidence that for that same year, they hired a principal who was commuting from Rocklin, almost 2 hours each way. The School Site Council meetings were held at 2:30 when few parents could attend, and they were rushed, often only 30 minutes long. Also, our city has an Education Fund and Ohlone was the only school that didn’t apply-receive funds that year. One teacher told me they had all the money they needed. Seriously?

    I’m not faulting the teacher for applying for a job that she needed, and then quit, after one year. I’m glad she just found a job closer to home, with her family. I’m also not faulting the district for hiring her as she apparently did well on the interview. Still, let’s just say this was predictable. Recently, a neighbor commented “Principals are not important. It’s all about the teachers.” He couldn’t be further from the truth. A school’s success is a team effort, lead by the team captain. We need to pay principals what they are worth and ensure their training is sufficient. The “coaching” tactic is too late once the school year has begun.

    Lastly, the principal is the supervisor. Employees need supervision. It’s not a bad thing. Good supervisors make sure you have what you need to do your job and they help you succeed. There also needs to be that clear chain-of-accountability that doesn’t exist when supervision is minimal. The California public school system needs to establish a new classification of teacher supervisor if it is serious about helping teachers succeed.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Gregory, the links I provided give an exact comparison.

    In 2012, about 490 students took the tests, including 19 African-Americans, 126 Hispanic students, 269 whites, 112 socioeconomically disadvantaged students, 51 English language learners and 34 students with disabilities.

    In 2013, about 450 students took the test, including 19 African-Americans, 91 Hispanic students, 280 whites, 111 socioeconomically disadvantaged students, 41 English learners and 48 students with disabilities.

    So, the number of total students taking the tests decreased by 40 students, the number of African-Americans remained the same, the number of Hispanic students decreased by 35, the number of whites increased by 11, the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged students decreased by one, the number of English learners decreased by 10 and the number of students with disabilities taking the tests increased by 14.

    You can go to the links to see the proficiency rates of these individual subgroups.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Giorgio, I received an email from the principal of Kennedy HS, pointing out that the school (which I wrote about last year as being one of the lowest-performing in the state) had the third highest growth rate in the district, soaring 45 points. I plan to visit again this year to see how the school is turning around.

  • Giorgio C.

    Theresa,
    This is also a new principal at Kennedy, yes? A 68 point jump just for the African-American students. I am interested in hearing what other changes they made in addition to the leadership.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Giorgio: Yes, Principal Phillip Johnson said in his e-mail that the school has improved it’s culture and added music as an elective. Besides the phenomenal 68-point gain for African-Americans, Hispanics improved 45 points and English Learners improved by 38 points. Still, he says there is much more work to be done.

  • Giorgio C.

    For an example of what works at Kennedy High, read about this outstanding teacher, Mr. Aaron Colacion.

    http://richmondconfidential.org/2013/03/13/kennedy-high-teacher-recognized-as-one-of-bay-areas-best/

    He says the three ingredients to teaching success are the three C’s: Calm. Concise. Consistent.

  • John johnson

    Looking at the scores for MDUSD. Did Olympic really go up 132 points or is that a mistake?

  • Dean Heyenga

    The chart listed in the Sept. 1 paper makes no sense. You say the comparison shows “growth” (I assume this to be positive changes) or “decline” (I assume this to be a negative change). Acalanes drops 4 points, so the Improvement “No” makes sense. However, Antioch drops 6 points and the Improvement “Yes” makes no sense. Byron grows by 10 points but Improvement “No”???? There are lots of similar examples of nonsensical “Improvement” scores. Either I am missing something in the data or the explanation, or the chart is utterly confusing as presented.

  • Theresa Harrington

    You’re correct that the chart as it appeared in the newspaper was not labeled correctly. As you can see in the original version of the chart above, the last column is supposed to say “Program Improvement,” to indicate whether or not the district is being sanctioned for failing to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements.
    Unfortunately, a copyeditor appears to have removed the “Program” portion of the heading, making the entire column confusing and misleading.

  • Theresa Harrington

    JJ: Yes, Olympic’s API did increase 132 points: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2013GrowthSch.aspx?allcds=07617540734764
    However, it is classified as a “small school,” since only 55 students took the tests, with this note: “…this API is calculated for a small school, 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 was small in either 2012 or 2013. APIs based on small numbers of students are less reliable and, therefore, should be carefully interpreted.”

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    @15 and 18 — Also, Olympic is considered an “Alternative School” by MDUSD. Such schools are intended to accommodate students who have not been successful in more traditional schools, and those students often tend to be more transient, and/or with less consistent attendance, than those in a more typical school. Consequently, such schools can show significant changes in the makeup of the student body from year to year. Moreover, Olympic is only for grades 10-12, so STAR tests are administered for just two years, instead of three. Those factors, plus the very small size, make it difficult to draw conclusions from one-year fluctuations in API.

  • Sue Berg

    @15, 18, 19: But can we all agree that some Olympic students showed academic success based on the STAR? I serve on the Mt. Diablo Alternative Education Foundation Board and have read student applications for MDAEF scholarships and teacher applications for MDAEF grants. There is some impressive teaching and learning going on in those small schools.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Yes, here are the stats for subgroups, showing the number of students, then 2013 scores followed by the 2012 scores:
    Schoolwide 55 615 483
    Hispanic or Latino 26 637 472
    White 20 499 502
    Socioeconomically Disadvantaged 44 625 457
    English Learners 17 665 442
    Students with Disabilities 18 439 395

  • Theresa Harrington

    Giorgio: Thanks for this link. Too bad I didn’t know about this contest sooner, I could have promoted it!
    Explaining expectations clearly is part of the transformation that the Kennedy principal has been trying to implement with teachers. But based on the students’ comments, it sounds like this teacher is better than most at doing that.
    One thing that jumped out at me was his comment that most incoming freshmen don’t seem to understand basic educational requirements. What is going on in the middle schools that feed into Kennedy HS?

  • School Teacher

    As far as STAR test result patterns go, I’ll throw this one out there.

    Are you aware that the MDUSD high schools with the highest numbers of non-test takers in science are the two highest scoring schools- Northgate and College Park? Northgate had 241 non-test takers and College Park had 237. AND, out of those numbers, 137 of the 241 and 114 of the 237 were freshmen. Even that total of 114 for College Park is more than the sum of the non-test taking freshman for the remaining three high schools combined. In some way a significant number of incoming freshmen at these two schools are not taking the science CST test.

    This is what I understand about the Northgate science sequence. The only freshman science class available is Biology, and only the higher achieving students take it (you can see this from the very nice freshmen Biology scores). The remaining freshmen will take Biology as sophomores (notice the dip in performance for the sophomores compared to freshmen). They will still take three years of science, but one of those years will now be during their senior year, when they will not be taking the STAR science because they are now seniors. What is the benefit? A non-test taking STAR student will receive a Far Below Basic score (200), but is weighted at a rate that is 1/3 that of an actual test taking student that scores Far Below Basic, so they do not impact the overall APPI calculation as much.

    I am unaware of what the sequencing is at College Park. They do show a decent number of freshmen taking the Earth Science STAR test.

    But, one other interesting note is the number of juniors at both schools that take the Biology STAR test. I would not be surprised if many of those students are the higher achieving freshmen who took Biology as freshmen (and took the Biology STAR test as freshmen), and are in some other science class as a junior like AP Biology, or AP Environmental Science that doesn’t have a corresponding STAR test. So, they are assigned to take the Biology STAR test in that junior year where they will most likely score very well (not the nice scores for juniors taking the Biology STAR test). So, in reality they are re-taking a test that they took two years prior.

  • Theresa Harrington

    The state Board of Ed. will meet tomorrow to discuss STAR testing, among other things including LCFF, the transition to Common Core and SIGs: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr13/agenda201309.asp

  • School Teacher

    I will offer my own spelling/grammatical corrections for my previous comment (#23) before someone jumps on them-

    Should read “freshmen”, not “freshman” towards the end of the first large paragraph.

    Should be “API”, not “APPI” at the end of the 2nd long paragraph.

    Should read “note”, not “not” at the beginning of the parenthetical comment (see I CAN spell) in the last paragraph.

    I apologize and will try harder (or just run it through a spell checker) with future comments.

  • Doctor J

    @TH#24 This concept is contrary to the culture of Rose Lock and SASS who think they should dictate to the parents rather than include them in the formulation of the educational plans. SBE will decide: “How will the engagement of parent committees be encouraged, structured, and recognized?”

  • Anon

    @TH. Have you heard anything official about which grades and STAR tests will still be administered this coming spring?

  • Theresa Harrington

    The state Board of Ed may discuss that tomorrow. It’s my understanding the state has asked for a waiver for all but the tests required under NCLB, especially for districts that are piloting Smarter Balanced, as WCCUSD is.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Meyer says such plans should be created through back and forth dialogue with parents and other stakeholders, based on what’s working and what’s not, with an emphasis on helping struggling students.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Regarding STAR tests, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla has authored AB484, which asks to suspend most testing. The state is waiting for guidance from the U.S. Dept. of ed on its ESEA testing waiver to get clarification on how to move forward with the elimination of most STAR tests. It sounds like districts could receive these waivers if they agree to pilot the new Smarter Balanced tests in either ELA or math. They would keep their same AYP from the previous year, under the CDE proposal.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Apparently, Bonilla has revised her bill. Here’s the current proposal, according to a CDE press release:

    “…As originally written, the bill—based on recommendations from Torlakson—would have continued all federally required STAR tests for one more year during the transition. The revised legislation now calls for a full suspension of STAR tests in mathematics and English-language arts, while leaving science tests in place. The legislation also leaves in place voluntary primary language assessments and specialized assessments for students with severe disabilities…”

  • Wondering

    Theresa, why did CVCHS have fewer students taking the STAR test? Did the school have fewer students overall? I would have thought they would have had more students because they accepted students outside of their attendance area. How many student did they get from outside their attendence area? There was a rumor posted elsewhere that CVCHS was considering identifying which students had the worst test scores in the past and not letting them take the test as a way of guaranteeing that its API score would go up. I think poster #23 above is talking about the same kind of thing. Could that be one reason why their scores went up? I’m confused because CVCHS is claiming their API went up a lot, but according to you the percentage scoring proficient in English and math didn’t change much. What’s going on?

    I guess I could see how a high school could increase math scores in one year if the got some better math teachers, but I don’t think they could really raise English scores much in one year because reading skills are built up over a lot of years of schooling.

  • Wondering

    Theresa, I read an article that says there is a group in the Department of Education that is doing “clinical trials” like they do in medicine to find out what works in education. They are testing things like which textbooks and software make a difference. The department is called The Institute of Education Sciences. They post their findings on this website.
    http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/
    The article I saw says a lot of school districts don’t know this research exists. Do you know if school districts in our area use the information on this site? Does our state department of education use it?

  • Heather

    @Wondering 32

    I have answers to a few of your questions regarding CVCHS. First the percentage proficient in English and Math went way up for CVCHS in this year’s STAR test scores. The % proficient in math increased from 26% to 43%, and in English from 58% to 72%. Also, the number of students taking the STAR test increased from 1349 to 1414. I think you may be confused between these scores and the exit exam scores. The exit exam scores did not show as much improvement.

    Also keep in mind that CVHS also accepted students outside of its attendance area before it converted. This was done through the interdistrict transfer process through the district office. I do not know how many transfers the district allowed as compared to how many the charter allows, but transfers are definitely not a new thing for this school.

  • Doctor J

    @W#32 CVCHS met its “subgroups” on the AYP and Northgate did not. Compare the advances/declines in the sub-groups between the two schools. Then tell us what you found.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Heather and Wondering, According to the 2013 STAR report, 1,351 CVCHS students took the ELA test in 2013 (the highest number of students for any STAR test): http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2013/ViewReport.aspx?ps=true&lstTestYear=2013&lstTestType=X&lstCounty=07&lstDistrict=10074-1400&lstSchool=0731380&lstGroup=1&lstSubGroup=1

    In 2012, 1,297 CVHS students took that test (also the highest number for any STAR test): http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2012/ViewReport.aspx?ps=true&lstTestYear=2012&lstTestType=X&lstCounty=07&lstDistrict=61754-000&lstSchool=0731380&lstGroup=1&lstSubGroup=1

  • Wondering

    I don’t know how the exit exam scores differed between the charter and the old CVHS. If someone could separate the groups so that they were really comparing equal groups, for example leave out all students not in the attendance area and all special education students, then compare exit exam results, I think that would give a better view of how much better or worse the charter is doing. One thing we can say about the exit exam is that the students do their best on it because it matters to them. That is not the case with STAR tests. The students know it doesn’t matter how they do. That’s why so many of them bubble in pretty designs on the answer sheet. Maybe the secret behind the big gains for CVCHS this year is that they got the students to take the STAR test more seriously to show pride in their school?I know previous principals were very frustrated because there was a CVHS student tradition of not taking STAR tests seriously and they thought that is why the school scored so low in comparison to other schools. My children used to go there and the principal would talk about it every year. He was very frustrated by how many students Christmas Tree’d it. He wanted the district to put STAR test results on student transcripts so that students would know that college admissions staff would see them.

  • Theresa Harrington

    When Trustee Barbara Oaks was principal at CPHS, she was also pushing to get STAR results on transcripts, but the board never voted on that idea.
    It will be interesting to see if that idea resurfaces now that she’s on the board.

  • Wondering

    I wonder if CVCHS is doing it. I do remember the old CVHS principal saying that several principals were pushing the idea. He was so frustrated by CVHS’s test results being lower than they should have been for its demographics.

    Theresa, I’m confused about the test results. What numbers were you referring to in post #10?

  • Theresa Harrington

    I was looking at the Adequate Yearly Progress, which shows about 450 students took the English language arts test in 2013: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2013/2013APRSchAYPReport.aspx?allcds=07100740731380

    I don’t know why there’s such a huge discrepancy between the numbers on the STAR report and the AYP report.

  • Been Down That Road….

    @Wondering #32
    I was “wondering” why you think Theresa would know the details of how CVCHS turned their school around. I was also “wondering” why you didn’t just ask the school directly…so I did just that. Here’s the response I got from Executive Director, Dave Linzey:

    “CVCHS had 1393 students tested this past year as a charter school. There were 1319 students tested in 2012. So we had 74 more students test…not less. That’s 96 % of students tested. There was no exclusion on any subject test. There was no manipulation of students as all took the tests in classes they were enrolled in. Do how did we do it??

    –CVCHS had the same students as before we were a charter school as nearly every student returned from the prior year.
    –We took all the students who applied.
    –We worked harder than we ever worked before and implemented research based practices.
    –We tutored students after school and on weekends.
    –We went above and beyond to insure our students received the best education possible.
    And look at the results! CVCHS proved it is possible to turn schools around in a single year when all are united and focused on students needs”

  • Heather

    @Wondering 39

    The test results in #10 look to be the exit exam results.

    Also, the exit exam results and the star test results are broken down into subgroups based on race, socioeconomic disadvantaged, disabled, etc to facilitate comparison with prior years. The groups from one year to the next are never completely equal, but this is the reason they break it down each year and show the changes in scores by each subgroup. Go to the cde websites linked above and have fun with the data. Looks to me like there was significant improvement across every subgroup this year for CVCHS.

    As a parent of CVCHS students, I attribute the increases to the enormous efforts on the part of the administration and teachers as compared with prior years. Also, the school culture has changed and the students are expected to be more respectful, so they may be taking the tests more seriously.

  • Wondering

    Been Down That Road, I asked Theresa because she is the newspaper’s education reporter. I don’t think CVCHS’s Executive Director’s comments can be considered an impartial assessment. His job is to be a booster for the school and recruit more students to the school.

    Theresa, I figured out why your numbers were smaller. The AYP numbers you gave in #10 are based on the 10th grade exit exam and the 10th grade CAPA test which is the alternative test given to disabled students who can’t take the regular test.

  • Doctor J

    @Been Down#41 Love that quote from Dave Linzey: “CVCHS proved it is possible to turn schools around in a single year when all are united and focused on students needs”. Linzey described what it took: 1. worked harder than ever 2. Implemented successful researched practices 3. Tutoring after school and Saturday school 4. “above and beyond” 5. “all students” 6. “WE” — how many times did Dave use that pronoun ? Team effort, team accomplishments. 7. Student “needs” became number one; not teacher needs or administration needs. 8. “United and focused”
    Great job Clayton Valley Charter — “If you done it, it ain’t bragging.” ― Walt Whitman

  • Theresa Harrington

    Here’s an inspiring story about the hands-on math and science instruction going on in MA: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/science/expecting-the-best-yields-results-in-massachusetts.html?_r=0

    Re: CVCHS – Middendorf also said the school created a culture where students take the STAR tests seriously.

  • Doctor J

    How many computers does MDUSD need to buy and get running by Spring ? The district has no clue. Oh, that extra money — might buy the new textbooks, and a few computers, but not nearly enough nor the staff to “install them” and maintain them. http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_24020705/education-officials-propose-eliminate-some-standardized-tests

  • Theresa Harrington

    During a teleconference this morning about the proposal to replace STAR tests with Common Core field tests, Tom Torlakson, Susan Bonilla, Michael Kirst and Deb Sigman said all districts will be expected to pilot either the ELA or math tests for students. They said the Common Core implementation funding that was just sent to districts could be used to purchase computers and hire and train IT staff to get the computers up and ready.

  • Wondering

    Theresa, am I interpreting the test results correctly? It looks to me like the rise in CVCHS API and STAR test results aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. The students didn’t take the test seriously in the past, but they did last year. That’s nice, but it doesn’t mean the teachers did a better job of educating students. In fact, the AYP numbers that you posted at #10 indicate that students didn’t do better last year than they did the year before. The AYP numbers are based on the percentage of students testing “proficient” on the 10th grade exit exam. Students have always taken the exit exam seriously so I think it more accurately reflects student achievement. Unlike the STAR numbers, those numbers have barely budged.

  • Heather

    Wondering #48

    You are incorrectly interpreting the test results. The Exit exam test scores are one measure that is included in the API scores, but you should be careful in putting too much weight on this number:

    A student either Passes or Fails the Exit Exam. A Pass indicates a very basic level of achievement in Math or ELA. A student who masters Mathematics with a very high degree of Proficiency will score exactly the same as a student who squeaks by a pass on the exit exam. A whole school of students could change from average to great, and the exit exam results for the school would not change at all.

    The Star tests are a much better measure because they break down achievement into 5 categories for each subject – Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic and Far Below Basic. Also, the STAR test in a much wider array and higher levels of subjects. I think the exit exam only tests Math through Algebra 1.

    Again, the Exit Exam is a very crude measure that has a very low bar for Passing and only registers a Pass or Fail, so you are missing most of the picture if you just look at this number.

  • Been Down That Road….

    @Wondering #48—below is a detailed list of what the CVCHS teachers and administrators lived and breathed last year. It clearly shows a strong instructional program built on best practices and data-driven research. Interestingly, and of particular note—almost none of these strategies took additional money…just a commitment to change. ANY of the schools in the MDUSD can implement these strategies with the right leadership and mind-set. THIS is how you affect a school culture, test scores, and academic rigor in one year!

    POWERFUL INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM
    Instructional Guides – Right Curriculum
    Benchmark Exams – Data-Driven Decisions
    Personal Learning Plans-students need a vision
    Quality Criteria for Classroom Walkthrus
    Powerful Tech-Based Intervention Programs
    Comprehensive Professional Dev. Program -
    Administrators in Classrooms-provide feedback
    Data-Driven Decision Making
    Celebration of Success! Build Upon Strengths!
    Culture of Sharing Best Practices Among Teachers
    Math & Reading Support Classes or Intervention
    Powerful Student Mentoring Programs
    Comprehensive Guidance Programs
    Own the Instructional Day – Expand Time on Task-Inst Minutes

    PROMISING PRACTICES
    -Professional Learning Communities
    -No Excuses University -Teachers Take Responsibility
    -Writing focus in all subjects (ex. PE, Art, World Lang)
    -College Preparedness for All
    -EL Master Plan-all out attack on literacy – feedback, close the achievement gap – laserlike focus
    -Writing As a Focus in Each Subject by Every Teacher
    -AVID Strategies: Academic Vocabulary & Tutoring
    -“Not all students learn the same way or on the same day”-Doug Reeves; “But all students can learn and -achieve at high levels given enough time and support”
    Reeves – “You accept what you expect”
    -High Expectations for student work is key
    -TEAM – “Together Everyone Achieves More”
    -Powerful Intervention Programs

    I’ve also included a list of key strategies/initiatives for this new school year—CVCHS is not resting on their laurels! You can plainly see a continued planned focus on the student and the coming Common Core curriculum

    KEY STRATEGIES FOR 2013-2014
    -Instructional Guides
    -Benchmark Exams
    -4 Year Learning Plans – Academic Counselors
    -Achieve 3000
    -AVID
    -PD 360
    -Marzano’s Research Based Strategies for Classroom Instruction – PD
    -Academic Vocabulary focus
    -Rigor/Relevance Framework – Quadrant D Instruction and Lessons
    -Academic Vocabulary Across all Disciplines
    -Literacy-Common Core – Reading and Writing Teachers
    -Achieve 3000 In 4 Core Subjects 5 X Per Quarter Each
    -“Carefrontation” Approach – Protect The Culture, Relationships as Key to Culture-Building
    -Quality Criteria for Classroom Instruction (Admin Team)
    -Customer Service Approach
    -Cornell Note-Taking Across All Disciplines (AVID)
    -Nexpert System for Common Core
    -Improved Guidance Programs – Naviance/4 Year Plans

    And finally–

    WHAT WORKS IN HIGH SCHOOL
    -Unpack Standards to Mastery Understanding – What do students need to know and be able to do to demonstrate mastery?
    -Problem-Based Learning -Engagement
    -Project-Based Learning – Engagement
    -Failure Free Zone – Learning is the constant & Time is the variable
    -Achieve 3000 – Research based
    -Marzano 9 (Research based instruction that works)
    -Tutoring Programs
    -Feedback from teacher to students and Admin to teachers – A professional Learning Community
    -Relationships with students
    -Bell to bell instruction – right curriculum
    -Posting assignments on teacher web page
    -Posting grades for parents to support
    -Focus on Writing

    All of these are SUCCESS by DESIGN – Not SUCCESS by Chance