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School District Makes Small API Gains

Despite budget cuts and fewer resources, the 16 schools in the district had an average 3-point gain.

The California Department of Education released schools’ API scores Wednesday, revealing a 3-point increase in the , from 763 to 766. 

had the highest Academic Performance Index (API) score of 992 out of 1000, an increase of seven points from 985 in 2010. Garfield Elementary School, which was added to the district two years ago, had the lowest score of 658, but saw the largest increase of 52 points from 606.

The district trended below the county's average API score of 816, and below the state API score of 778.

The state marks a score of 800 as a target for all schools to meet. Schools that fall short of 800 are required to meet annual growth targets until that goal is achieved.

 

2011 Growth 2010 Base 2010-11 Growth Elementary Schools Adelanted Spanish Immersion 813 813 0 Clifford Elementary 803 813 -10 Fair Oaks Elementary 725 716 9 Garfield Elementary 658 606 52 Hawes Elementary 693 758 -65 Henry Ford Elementary 809 832 -23 Hoover Elementary 727 706 21 John Gill Elementary 755 763 -8 North Star Academy 992 985 7 Orion Alternative 847 862 -15 Roosevelt Elementary 725 711 14 Roy Cloud Elementary 875 892 -17 Selby Lane Elementary 703 713 -10 Taft Elementary 774 789 -15 Middle Schools John F. Kennedy Middle 673 678 -5 McKinley Institute of Technology 720 699 21 Average score 766 763 3

 

As the state continues to battle its financial demons, schools are still educating students every day while facing top-down cuts from Sacramento. The district has cut almost $13 million over the past three years, while seeing increasing enrollment. Enrollment in the 2009-2010 academic year was roughly 9,000 while enrollment on Day 8 of this year is 9,269 students, and rising.

“Reduced resources are really taking a toll on our students,” said Superintendent Jan Christensen. “So we have to use them in the most effective manner possible.”

Should enrollment continue to grow, the district will likely hire the seven “hold-back” teachers, whose employment is delayed until enrollment numbers are finalized. Because the K-3 student to teacher ratio increased from 20:1 to 30:1 in the past school year, there are available classrooms, Christensen said.

“I’m not trying to making excuses, but the state can’t keep making cuts in funding and then expect increasing results,” Christensen said.

A majority of students in the district are socio-economically disadvantaged, yet the state is not supplying the assistance that is needed to successfully educate these students, Christensen added.

Base funding has been reduced by about 10 percent, while enrollment has grown 15 percent. Each student received the state allotment of $5,251 per student in 2009-2010, but students from the neighboring Woodside Elementary District receive $ 17,320 because of additional money generated by property taxes.

All districts that feed into the also have additional parcel taxes that fund the district, except Redwood City. The district has tried three times in the past 18 years , narrowly missing most recently in 2009 by 4 percent of the necessary two-thirds majority to pass. 

A group of citizens to build community support for a possible measure next spring.

But despite cuts, the district has continued making strides in early literary reading initiatives and new math curriculums. Assistant Superintendent Patricia McRae had worked with other faculty to implement the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literary Skills (DIBELS) to assess where each student is at to produce a more tailored education. The students who struggle with reading are identified early on to receive additional help, and those who far surpass their reading level can also receive appropriate enrichment to stay engaged in classroom learning, Christensen said.

“We hope these initiatives can result in long-term changes in economically troubled times,” Christensen said. “Our goal remains to educate every child for success and we are not giving up on our students despite the hardships we have faced in recent years.

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