by Howard Blume, LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/RSqLml
October 11, 2012 | 7:15 pm :: California's largest school system recorded gains in academic achievement, according to state results released Thursday
The Los Angeles Unified School District registered a strong increase of 16 points on the state’s Academic Performance Index, which is used to rate California schools, school districts and the state itself. The state as a whole improved by 10 points, a rise many experts considered solid.
The API rates schools on a scale of 200 to 1,000 points, the higher the better. If every student at a school tested at grade level, its score would be 875.
The district’s overall score on the index was 745, compared with the state target score of 800. L.A. Unified’s improvement outpaced those of the state’s other largest school districts, although more than half had higher overall scores. Three urban districts surpassed 800: San Diego Unified, San Francisco Unified and San Jose Unified.
L.A. Unified’s elementary schools are faring the best: 47% surpassed the 800 target. The figure for middle schools was 20%; for high schools it was 6%.
Some individual schools' scores shot upward: Burbank Middle (100-point gain); Jordan High School (93 points); Sharp Elementary and the Academy of Environmental & Social Policy at Roosevelt High School (67 points each), and L.A. High School of the Arts at Kennedy Community Schools (65 points).
Two L.A. schools this year were stripped of an API score because of mistakes or misconduct by a teacher. One was Capistrano Elementary in West Hills; the other was Short Avenue Elementary in Del Rey, which lost its rating for the second consecutive year.
The state denies an API score to a school when the scores of at least 5% of students are compromised by the actions of an adult involved in the testing process.
At Capistrano, a 5th grade teacher used a copy of a previous state test to prepare students, said Cynthia Lim, the executive director of L.A. Unified’s Office of Data and Accountability.
Using the test was a mistake because those test items also could appear on later exams. That teacher is not currently working at the school, said Lim, who declined to elaborate.
At Short Avenue, a 5th grade teacher gave students “inappropriate assistance” by deviating from prescribed test instructions, Lim said. She added that it is her understanding that the teacher has since retired.