No API Until 2016 for California



(Repost via) Faced with a complete sea change of its K-12 education system and having been relieved of its duty to meet some federal accountability requirements, the State Board of Education on Thursday temporarily suspended its school performance measurement tool known as the API.

As a result of this decision, no Academic Performance Index scores – used to indicate how a school’s students are performing on standardized tests – will be calculated for the next two years.

The move was deemed necessary by both state education officials and law makers to pave the way for California’s transition to Common Core academic standards and a new assessment system set to be field tested this spring by students in grades 3-8 and 11.

“This is an opportunity for schools and districts to really focus on what they need to be focusing on and they don’t need to worry about this,” Deb Sigman, deputy superintendent at the California Department of Education, told board of education members.

Some 45 states adopted new Common Core standards in English and math more than two years ago and are in varying stages of rolling out new curriculum in schools based on those standards. In addition, many of those states joined one of two groups to design and produce new assessments aligned with the standards; California is a member and lead partner of the Smarter Balanced consortium, which has created a computer adaptive testing model to replace the state’s former Standardized Assessment and Reporting System, or STAR.

While hundreds of thousands of school children will participate in field testing of the new assessments, known as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress or CAASPP, the data gathered this spring will not be used to score pupil performance. Instead, it will be used by the Smarter Balanced group to further refine the assessments and to set benchmarks for student achievement in preparation for the 2015 official spring testing launch.

Results of the 2015 CAASPP will then be used to calculate a new base API, and 2016 results will provide the information needed to determine student achievement, or growth API.

In the meantime, state officials will continue their work on reformatting the high school API to include not only CAASSPP and California High School Exit Exam results but other indicators of success as well including graduation rates.

California’s decision to eliminate STAR – based on the standards being replaced by Common Core – and perform a trial run of the new system this spring had drawn the ire of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who threatened to withhold federal funds if the state failed to comply with the law and produce annual accountability scores based on the API.

But late last week, Duncan’s department signed off on the state’s request to waive portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, eliminating what would have amounted to a requirement to “double test” students as well as the threat of running afoul of the law.

(This is a repost from the Cabinet Report)


Torlakson Reports Improved Results on High School Exit Exam

cahsee picture

SACRAMENTO—Students in the class of 2013 passed California’s High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) at the highest rate since the test was made a graduation requirement, with 95.5 percent earning a passing score, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

CAHSEE and Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) scores, announced earlier this month, figure heavily in state and federal school accountability results, which Torlakson also announced today. For the second straight year, a majority of schools statewide met or exceeded the state performance target of 800 points on the Academic Performance Index (API).

“Despite the very real challenges of deep budget cuts and the ongoing effort to shift to new, more demanding academic standards, our schools persevered and students made progress,” Torlakson said. “These results should give us confidence as we start the new school year, and our efforts to make college- and career-readiness a goal for every student move into high gear.”

The 2012-13 CAHSEE Summary Reports

The CAHSEE is administered each year to ensure that students who graduate from public high schools demonstrate competency in reading, writing, and mathematics. Students who do not pass the CAHSEE in grade ten have two opportunities in grade eleven and up to five opportunities in grade twelve to pass the exam.

The preliminary 2012-13 results—which are for the July, October, November, and December 2012 and the February, March, and May 2013 administrations—show increasedpassing rates among most demographic subgroups of students by the end of their senior year.

The estimated 95.5 percent—or 425,911—students from the Class of 2013 who met the CAHSEE requirement by the end of their senior year represents a 0.5 percentage point increase over 2012 and a 5.1 percentage point increase since the test was first administered in 2006 as a requirement of graduation (Tables 1 and 2).

A larger percentage of students also passed the test in their sophomore year, when the CAHSEE is given to all tenth grade students for the first time. Approximately 73.8 percent of the Class of 2013 passed both the mathematics and English-language arts (ELA) portions of the exam on their first attempt—a 2.3 percentage point increase over first-time test takers in 2012 and a 9.5 percentage point increase over first-time test takers in 2006 (Table 2).

For the Class of 2013 passing the CAHSEE by the end of their senior year also included an estimated 91.8 percent of African American students; 82.2 percent of students who are learning English; 98.5 percent of white students; 93.5 percent of students who are economically disadvantaged, and 93.8 of Hispanic or Latino students (Table 1).

( Please note: The statewide passing rates in Tables 1, 2, and 3 combine the results for both the mathematics and ELA sections of the CAHSEE.  These results are taken from specially prepared reports produced by the CAHSEE independent evaluator, the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO). Other results provided by ETS, the CDE test contractor, including those for counties, districts, and schools are not combined and give the percentages of students passing either math or ELA.)

During the 2012-13 CAHSEE administration, 610,706 students took the English-language arts (ELA) section with 457,606 passing and 597,745 took the mathematics section, with 455,354 passing.

The upcoming graduating Class of 2014 (who were eleventh graders this past school year) and the Class of 2015 (who were tenth graders this past school year) already have increased the percentage of students passing the CAHSEE as first-time test takers during their sophomore year. Some 83 percent of the Class of 2014 and 83.2 percent of the Class of 2015 already have passed the ELA compared to 82.4 percent of the Class of 2013 (Table 4). For mathematics, the passage rate was 83.6 percent for the Class of 2014 and 84.1 percent for the Class of 2015, compared to 82.7 percent for the Class of 2013 (Table 5).

While there has been some progress made over the long term to narrow the achievement gap between student groups, the results have been mixed. The percentage point change  between the Class of 2014 and Class of 2015 CAHSEE for first-time test takers shows a slight narrowing of the achievement gap between Hispanic and  white students  in both English-language arts and mathematics (Table 6). The achievement gap between African American and white grade ten students increased slightly in English-language arts and decreased slightly in mathematics (Table 7).

Results for the CAHSEE, which is one of several state and local graduation requirements for all students, will be provided at the school, district, county, and state levels and will be posted on the CDE CAHSEE Summary Results Web page. Individual student CAHSEE results are confidential and are not included in the Internet posting.

Statewide Accountability: 2013 Growth Academic Performance Index Results

The Growth API results show that the majority of all schools, including 56 percent of elementary schools, 50 percent of middle schools, and 31 percent of high schools are now meeting the state benchmark (Table 8).

The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. School and student group targets are set at 5 percent of the difference between the school or student group’s Base API score (posted last May, along with school ranks) and the statewide target of 800, with a minimum target of 5 points. All numerically significant student groups at a school must meet their growth targets for a school to meet its API growth target.

Statewide, the overall API declined by 2 points from last year, from 791 to 789, although a number of student subgroups saw gains. Realizing the largest gains among student subgroups were socioeconomically disadvantaged students, who increased by 5 percentage points; English learners with a 1 percentage point increase; and students with disabilities with a 5 percentage point increase (Table 9).

Federal Accountability: 2013 Adequate Yearly Progress Results

As expected, the unrealistic federal proficiency targets set under No Child Left Behind continued to identify an even larger number of schools, including many at or above the state’s performance target, for Program Improvement (PI).

“It is unfortunate that officials in Washington continue to enforce a program they have acknowledged is deeply flawed, and that paints too many high-achieving schools with the same broad brush,” Torlakson said. “As an elected official, I’m obliged to comply with the law. But as a teacher, I’ll continue to urge Congress and the Administration to get to work, change course, and replace No Child Left Behind with a workable law that fosters rather than hinders the progress California’s schools are making.”

The Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) performance targets for 2012-13 identify all Title I schools for Program Improvement unless nearly 90 percent of students attain proficiency.

As a result, only 14 percent out of 9,861 schools met the AYP benchmarks this year compared to 26 percent last year. Of the more than 6,200 Title I-funded schools, only 10 percent reached federal proficiency (Table 10).

Among the schools identified for PI, 30 percent have an API of 800 or higher. This year, 741 Title I schools are new to PI (Table 11).

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.

Additional information on AYP and full CAHSEE reports are available here:

API Rankings Reveal Unequal Access to Best Schools

The Education Trust-West released the first Equity Alert which highlights California’s recent statewide API rankings which expose an “all-too familiar” achievement gap. The 2009 Annual Performance Index unveil that race and class continue to play a material role in shaping opportunity in our schools and the inequity is systemic and pervasive. Findings include:

  • 39 percent of African-American students attend the state’s bottom 30 percent of schools. 44 percent of Latinos and 45 percent of economically disadvantaged students are concentrated in the bottom 30 percent of schools.
  • By contrast, 54 percent of white students attend the top 30 percent of schools and only 9 percent attend the bottom 30 percent schools.
  • Economically disadvantaged students represent 54 percent of California’s school-age population, but they make up 83 percent of students in decile 1-3 schools.

The Equity Alert outlines actions state policymakers and education leaders can take to address these patterns of inequity. These actions include:

  • implementing policies to identify, recruit and retain highly-effective teachers and principals;
  • ensuring that high-need students have access to the supports and interventions they need from the earliest grades;
  • providing additional resources to the state’s lowest performing schools in exchange for greater accountability.

We have our work cut out for us. The indicators of what is missing and what is needed are consistently repeated in all of the current research. Our efforts in these struggling school communities often provide the catalyst and the will to address pervasive achievement, resources, and opportunity gaps.

-Shelley Davis, Director, California GEAR UP

We know by bridging research like this with with successful practice already going on in our schools, the achievement gap can be systematically addressed. The questions remain: why aren’t we leveraging every resource to address these issues? What successes can we celebrate and duplicate?

Valley High School is Number 1 in California Similar Schools

Click on the image above to view the video!

As many of you who follow this blog know, California GEAR UP works with Valley High School in Sacramento, CA in a unique collaboration that provides the school with innovative resources and support services for students, families, teachers, counselors and administrators to create a community-wide college-going culture.

This year Valley High was excited to announce the remarkable achievement on the statewide API. The API reports include a “similar schools rank.” This information shows where a school ranks on a scale of 1–10, compared with 100 other schools with similar demographic characteristics. California public schools serve students with many different backgrounds and needs. As a result, schools face different educational challenges. The similar schools ranks for 2010 allow schools to look at their academic performance compared to other schools with some of the same opportunities and challenges.

Here are some of Valley’s newsworthy accomplishments:

  • Valley is the Number 1 (non charter) in Similar Schools and demographics in California.
  • Of 100 Similar Schools in California, Valley scored a perfect 10. They are the only non-charter to do so!
  • Valley had the highest API score of any non-charter school and had the 8th highest API overall.

The VHS increases are very impressive even compared to the new schools (Monterey Trails, Pleasant Grove and Franklin) which includes more affluent students who moved to these schools from the Valley area. Valley is one of the oldest schools in EGUSD and it compares very well indeed! GEAR UP has much to be proud of in providing academic support.

–Josephine Blick, Valley GEAR UP academic advisor

These accomplishments come along with more great Valley news: a 24 point increase in API since last year!

Special thanks to principal Keven MacDonald and the Valley High School staff for making these achievements possible. Thanks to Chris Wong for the video production!

MLK Jr. achieves 47 point API Increase!

MLK APICongratulations to California GEAR UP school Martin Luther King Jr. Technology Academy, Twin Rivers Unified School district for a 47 point API increase from 2008-2009. This increase is part of the 60 point API increase at MLK over the last two years. It takes an entire school working together to realize such gains, and California GEAR UP is proud to have you as one of our schools! For more information on what the API is, follow this link: