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School Honors API Scores Reflect Growth
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Academic Performance Index (API) scores were recently released and Oakdale area schools performed well, mostly seeing increased growth in their scores from their baseline scores last year.

The API is a number, ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, that reflects a school’s performance level and growth, based on the results of statewide (STAR) testing.

Oakdale Joint Unified School District remained stable this year with its API score of 806, same as last year.

“Overall, we’re very pleased. Again, we have the highest API of any unified school district in the county… Especially considering many districts went backwards,” said OJUSD Superintendent Marc Malone, noting he was glad the district maintained its above-800 score. “It’s a really nice testament to all our staff and students.”

Oakdale High School had a score of 798 this year, compared to last year’s score of 790. Malone commended OHS and said that additionally, the school went through a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation process last year and received a six year accreditation status, which is the highest given.

Oakdale Junior High School had appeared to have a sizable downturn in its score of 785, down from 802. However, Malone pointed out that the difference is really not as big as it seems because last year, OJHS initially received a 786 API score but then late in the school year, the state adjusted the score up because of algebra scoring. He added that the school and the district never got to celebrate the above 800 score because it was given late in the year, but he said the score is really more comparable to a one-point difference.

Alternative Education in the district took the biggest leaps and bounds up in API scores. East Stanislaus High School jumped 119 points from a 435 for last year’s score to 554 for this year’s score. Valley Oak Junior and Senior High School leapt from 433 to an API of 535. Oakdale Charter High School also had a good uptick from 650 to this year’s score of 667.

Malone said that the Alternative Education staff really pays attention to detail and that they have embraced the district’s IS4 (instructional strategies) plan. He added that the schools are holding the students accountable and are stressing the importance of doing well on tests. Malone noted that it can be more challenging to make that impression on some alternative education students. He said the staff played a major role in getting the students to realize that taking the tests seriously is in their best interest and it also helps staff to understand which academic areas need more work.

Each elementary school in the district also remained over the 800 mark, which is considered the gold standard for API scores.

Cloverland went from last year’s 829 to an API of 836 this year. Malone commented that Cloverland is the district’s smallest elementary school and that Principal Larry Bonds is establishing his leadership, which is reflected in the school’s increased score.

Fair Oaks scored 840, down from 848 last year. Magnolia scored 837, down slightly from 839 last year. Sierra View scored the highest with 866, up from 861. Superintendent Malone said that if the same school accountability system of API scores were to remain, he has no doubt that Oakdale would see an elementary school hit the 900 mark. Further, he said, it would be a representation of a true public school, not a school that’s gifted-learner concentrated. However, Malone noted that while there will be accountability for schools and districts, he said it may not be in the form of API scores. He added that legislation is currently on the governor’s desk to suspend STAR (standardized state tests) testing and move into Common Core Standards for math and English. He said baseline scores will be collected for some districts in 2014, then baselines for the rest in 2015, so that by 2016 scores will start to count.

Knights Ferry Elementary School District had an API score of 878, ranking them in the top 10 in the county, up from last year’s 854 score.

“Our staff focused last year on working collaboratively together in leadership teams,” said Cheryl Griffiths, Superintendent/Principal for Knights Ferry School as one reason for their continued API growth.

She added that a few years ago, they also implemented a Response to Intervention (RTI) program to make sure to meet the needs of the students and have also continued to work toward differentiated instruction.

“We have very small class sizes, along with additional paraprofessional support in our classrooms so that we can give all of our students whole group, small group, and individualized attention when needed,” Griffiths added as another reason.

Knights Ferry School also implemented a program to hold students accountable for turning in homework every day. She noted that the school’s late assignments have “decreased immensely” and missing assignments are “nonexistent.”

She also cited dedicated staff and supportive, involved parents, and a “family-like, nurturing setting” for the students.

Valley Home School District’s score went from 850 to an 858 API this year.

Rolanda Desrosiers-Lewis, Superintendent/Principal for Valley Home Joint School District said that among the school’s major subgroups of Hispanic or Latino, White, Socioeconomically Disadvantaged and English Learners, two of those subgroups were down in 2012 and became areas of concentration for the school during this last school year, resulting in increased scores in those areas for this year.

“While we are doing our very best to meet the needs of all of our students in the current California Standards, Valley Home is looking forward to transitioning to our new Common Core Standards,” Desrosiers-Lewis said.