Solano County schools received some good news with the recent release of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) 2011-12 Accountability Progress Report (APR). Solano schools have increased student achievement compared to the 2010-11 school year.
Kris Corey, assistant superintendent of Educational Services at the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District said officials are very pleased with the results.
"Our entire district went up 13 points, which our entire district thought we had the most growth of any school district in the county,” she said. “Our teachers are receiving and attending a great deal of professional development and training and coaching. They've implement formative assessments and utilized this information to instruct and to re-teach and to enrich. Everyone is working hard and working toward that common vision of universal achievements and we're just really excited.”
California’s 2011-12 APR provides results of both state and federal accountability systems.
The Academic Performance Index (API) is a numeric index from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. Under California’s accountability program, schools are expected to improve each year until reaching the target of 800. Schools at or above a score of 800 are expected to maintain their scores above 800. All numerically significant subgroups at a school must meet their growth targets for a school to meet its API growth target.
The Federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures students scoring at or above proficiency. Both systems are based on statewide results from the Standardized Testing and Reporting System (STAR) program. The AYP also includes results from the California High School Exit Exam. Solano County students in grades two to 11 took the STAR test in the Spring of 2012.
Corey said students at Rolling Hills Elementary School scored in the 900s. She also said none of the elementary schools are under 760, which is very exciting.
The median 2012 API score for Solano County school districts is 785 – up from the 2011 median score of 774 – and an increase of 11 points. California reported an overall 2012 API of 788 for all schools. Sixty seven percent of Solano County schools improved their APIs over the prior year.
Solano schools with API scores of 800 or higher increased from 36 schools to 38. Schools attaining API scores in the 900s included Joe Henderson Elementary School and Matthew Turner Elementary School in the Benicia Unified School District along with Nelda Mundy Elementary School and Suisun Valley Elementary School in the FSUSD.
“We've had significant growth within the last four years,” Corey said. “Our school district was identified as a Program Improvement School District. Everyone came together and worked together. We've been focusing on our goals and implementing teaching strategies and really utilizing our data and doing quality things at our schools and it's paying off.”
According to Corey, the district's API four years ago was 724. The district was 23 points behind Dixon, 41 points behind Vacaville, 92 points behind Travis and 94 points behind Benicia. Now, the district is only two points behind Vacaville, ahead of Dixon, only 30 points behind Benicia and 60 points behind Travis.
“That's just showing that we're growing and achieving and we're catching up and surpassing other districts in the county,” Corey said. “That's really exciting. One of our schools, Fairview Elementary, which used to be a Program Improvement School-they got out of Program Improvement last year and this year, again, they made their Adequate Yearly Progress (APR) which is astounding. None of our high schools declined and Fairfield High School got over 700, so none of our high schools are under 700.”
She added the greatest API gains were the special education classes and English learners.
The 2012 APR also included a report on which schools met federal expectations for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) and which schools are in Program Improvement (PI) under The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, formerly known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
The AYP is comprised of student participation on statewide tests, percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced in English language arts and mathematics on statewide tests, API growth, and graduation rates for high schools. Subgroups of students must also meet participation rates and proficiency requirements.
“Even though schools have been faced with multi-year budget cuts, our students have shown improvement year after year,” said Jay Speck, Solano County Superintendent of Schools. “We see academic gains in every student group. Our schools should be very proud of their accomplishments.”
Countywide, academic improvement among all student subgroups increased. African American and Hispanic students made the largest gains in English language arts amongst all students. African American students gained 2.8 percent proficiency or above and Hispanic students gained 3.6 percent proficiency or above in English language arts.
Schools that receive Federal Title I funds are identified for PI if they miss AYP in the same content area (English language arts or mathematics) or for the same indicator (API or graduation rate) for two consecutive years. Schools can exit PI after making AYP for two consecutive years. There are 35 Solano County schools in PI.
Complete results of California’s 2012 STAR Program exams can be found on the CDE’s web site at http://star.cde.ca.gov/