Mixed Results For Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District

Sunday, 4 Sep 2011, 1:41:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

As students of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) resume yet another school year this month, they can boast their improved test scores in the Academic Performance Index (API). If only the same could be said about the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores.

With several primary schools in the City of Santa Monica already kicking off the Fall semester this past week, Tom Torlakson, California’s State Superintendent released the comprehensive Accountability Progress Report (APR) for 2011.

According to the 2011 APR, SMMUSD students collectively earned an API score of 854, or an 11-point gain this year as compared to last. The API score surpasses the state’s achievement target of 800; it is the seventh consecutive time SMMUSD students have collectively surpassed the watermark score.

“The 2011 API report speaks to the professionalism and commitment of our classroom teachers, school administrators, support staff and district staff,” SMMUSD Superintendent Sandra Lyon stated. “Based on these results, we will move forward with our strategic plan to focus on specific programs and projects that will yield continued gains for all students and effectively close the pernicious achievement gaps that exist.”

Torlakson added SMMUSD students, as a whole, “met 76 percent of the AYP criteria for 2011.” However, a failure of at least one subgroup to failing to meet the State’s set standards is sufficient to for an entire district to not achieve “adequate yearly progress.” For the second straight year, the SMMUSD has indeed missed its AYP target. Accordingly, the district must now commence “Program Improvement.”

With respect to API scores, all SMMUSD schools but for Olympic High School topped the State’s 800-point mark. Olympic High, which experienced an 89 point drop in API scores between 2010 and 2011, relies upon alternative metrics for its students.

SaMoHi made significant progress in 2011, with its API score of 805 this year increasing by 18 points from 2010, when it earned a 787. The largest gain within the district was Malibu High school, which jumped 27 points from 835 in 2010 to 862 in 2011.

The highest API scores in the district was Franklin Elementary, which earned a mark of 957; four elementary schools and Lincoln Middle school topped the 900-point mark, while John Adams Middle School (JAMS) scored an 813, which was actually a one-point drop from 2010.

Statewide, California schools as a whole had an average 2011 API score of 778, as compared to 767 in 2010.

The API is based on a series of state standardized tests in the subjects of English language arts, mathematics, science, and history. The five performance-measuring standards are: far below, below, basic, proficient and advanced.

Other metrics that directly affect a high school’s or district’s performance is the percentage of tenth grade students who pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), a graduation requirement for all California students.

For 2011, the State reported about 93 percent of SMMUSD tenth graders passed the CAHSEE English exam, while about 92 percent of those same students passed the CAHSEE math exam.

Follow The Mirror on Twitter: twitter.com/SMMirror

Follow The Mirror on Facebook: facebook.com/SMMirror

Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.