Most Antioch schools improving

Most of Antioch’s public schools are improving, but as a whole they are still below state and government education standards and assessments.

At the Wednesday, October 25 school board meeting, Antioch Unified School District Director of Educational Services Mary McCarthy gave a presentation that highlighted the targets the schools were supposed to hit. Antioch Unified, like every district in California, needs to meet certain state and federal standards.

There are several state tests that are used to determine whether students in a school are improving and meeting those standards, like the California Standards Test (CST) and the California Modified Assessment (CMA), for example.

Overall, Antioch’s students have done fairly well on these tests this year. The students that are tested – second grade through eleventh grade students – have increased their Language Arts CST scores an average of 2.5 percent over last year. And their CST Math scores, (only second through seventh grade were available) have increased about 3.33 percent over last year.

The States Academic Performance Index (API) takes tests such as the California Standards Test (CST) and the California Modified Assessment (CMA), in consideration when they determine a school’s API score.

The API is growth model, represented as a number, from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, which reflects a school’s performance level based on the results of statewide testing. It’s supposed to measure the academic performance and growth of a given school.

The API is calculated by converting a student’s performance on statewide assessments, into points on the API scale. These points are then averaged across all students and all tests. The state requires all schools and districts to achieve a score of 800 or higher on the API.

According to McCarthy’s presentation, the district as a whole has seen an average growth this year of +12 and a four year growth trend of +30 on average for their API scores.

Only 5 of the 24 schools have reached the state mandated score of 800 for the API, according to McCarthy’s presentation. However, one third of Antioch’s schools have seen at least some growth, something that is encouraging, McCarthy said.

Of the five schools that reached 800, including John Muir Elementary, Dozier-Libbey High, Orchard Park Middle, Diablo Vista Elementary, and Lone Tree Elementary, four of them saw growth of four or more. Only John Muir’s API score fell and by a significant 30 points, something McCarthy said she and John Muir’s staff are looking into.

In addition to state standards, schools must also meet federal government standards. One of the biggest government criteria is the Federal Accountability Adequate Yearly Progress, (AYP), standard.

The federal government’s goal is 100 percent of all tested students will demonstrate proficiency or better in English-Language Arts and Math by 2014.

AYP is determined for elementary and middle school students by using STAR testing. High school student’s AYP scores are determined through the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) scores and a minimum graduation rate.

In addition, all students must show a combined API score of 740 or at least one point of growth and a certain participation rate on those tests.

McCarthy said that it is very difficult to meet AYP because 46 individual criteria have to be met.

Not only do all schools and the districts as a whole have to meet the above minimum test and participation standards, but there are many additional subgroups that must meet them too. Student subgroups including African American, Asian, Filipino, Hispanic/Latino, White, Socio/Economically Disadvantaged, English Learners and Students with Disabilities, all have to individually meet the AYP targets for a school to pass.

For example, AUSD could have hit 45 of the 46 standards and they still wouldn’t pass because they’re target graduation rate is 76.01 percent and AUSD’s graduation rate was set by the AYP at 75.86 percent – a gap of just .0015 percent. They would have missed their goal by only about two students.

AUSD however, only passed 26 of the 46 AYP criteria and have not met the AYP criteria as a district for the last five years in a row.

Although the district is in its third year of steady improvement, they are still far below the required 78.4 percent efficiency in English-Language Arts and the 77.4 percent efficiency in Math. As a district, AUSD is right at 50 percent efficiency for Math and English.

The closest subgroups to reaching proficiency in English and Math are Asians, Filipinos and Whites, all of whom are at or above 60 percent proficient.

All other subgroups are lagging behind and are well below 50 percent proficiency.

Only Fremont Elementary, Mission Elementary and Marsh Elementary schools are meeting AYP standards in all areas.

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