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Long Beach Unified Schools Improve on API Scores

Wilson High and Rogers Middle schools are among those with the highest increases in the state academic test score, and California's third-largest district showed a 9% improvement.

In the face of relentless budget cutting and layoffs, nearly three-fourths of Long Beach Unified School District schools met their academic growth goals and several schools, including Wilson High and Rogers Middle School, had significant jumps in performance, according to API test scores released Thursday morning.

California's third-largest school district, with 84,000 students, showed an overall 9 percent increase on meeting state
academic targets for all subgroups of students, according to the newly released data from the California Department of Education.

 "A majority (about 52 percent) of local schools met all of their
subgroup targets ...up 9 percent over the previous year," stated a LBUSD press comment on the results. 

"The welcome news on student performance comes despite the fact that
LBUSD has cut more than $330 million from its budget, including 1,000
jobs, since 2008."

Among the top jumps in API test scores were Wilson High at 31 and Rogers at 30, the results showed.

To check your school's API results click here and type in the school name.

Statewide, it was announced that some 53 percent of schools scored at or above the state target of 800, an increase of 4 percentage points over last year, marking a decade of steady growth. Ten years ago, only 20 percent of schools met or surpassed the API target.

“We’ve set a high bar for schools and they have more than met the challenge, despite the enormous obstacles that years of budget cuts have put in their way,” Torlakson said. “The incredible efforts of teachers, administrators, school employees, parents, and students should serve as an inspiration to us all. While there’s still more work to do, California’s schools have earned a vote of confidence.”

Long Beach Unified schools with some of the highest API score gains were:

Hoover, +52
Lindbergh, +48
Butler (now Nelson), +46
Jordan, +44
Jefferson, +43
Franklin, +36
Webster, +32
Renaissance, +31
Wilson, +31
Rogers, +30
Lindsey, +27
Cabrillo, +25
Bixby, +22
Robinson, +21
Marshall, +20

Patch will follow up today with local school reaction.

The remainder of the LBUSD announcement reads:

More than half of the above schools are middle schools, which showed
strong gains for the second year in a row.  The middle schools have
implemented a number of changes aimed at improving student achievement,
including self-contained sixth grade classrooms at many campuses.  Such
classrooms create a more gradual transition to middle school by allowing
students to stay with one teacher for the entire day rather than
switching from class to class.  Middle schools also placed more students
into eighth grade algebra and provided the extra support needed to
master this college gateway course.

"We again saw a trend of significant, steady gains overall, which is
why our districtwide API rose another 10 points to 781," said
Christopher J. Steinhauser, superintendent of schools in the Long Beach
Unified School District.  "We continue to provide targeted support
that is making a positive difference for students.  Our employees,
parents and many community partners should be commended for a job well
done."

The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of
1,000.  The state's ultimate target for schools on the index is 800.

The state's recent release of student performance data also included
federal Adequate Yearly Progress results.

The state API and federal AYP results report progress in different
ways.  The state API is an index model that measures year-to-year
improvement and provides incentives to educators to focus on students at
all performance levels.  Schools receive more API points for moving
students up from the lowest-performance levels.  In contrast, the
federal AYP system focuses solely on whether or not students are scoring
at the proficient level or above on state assessments.

The current federal AYP system has begun to lose meaning for many
educators and parents because so many high achieving, nationally
recognized schools are being labeled as failures under No Child Left
Behind.  Among the list of schools previously labeled as failures
nationwide, for instance, are National Blue Ribbon Schools, which have
also been recognized by the federal government as models for the U.S.
Other *failing* schools have been recognized by Newsweek and the
Washington Post as some of the top schools in the nation.

The Obama Administration has indicated that it will seek to remedy some
of the flaws of No Child Left Behind when Congress reauthorizes the
Elementary and Secondary Education Act.   Absent those fixes, it is
widely recognized by educators that No Child Left Behind*s
accountability model will implode, with most schools in the nation being
labeled failures whether or not their students have made significant
gains.
--Patch staff and California Department of Education and LBUSD reporting.

John B. Greet October 11, 2012 at 10:27 PM
While these achievements deserve high praise, it seems a little disingenuous to tout some aspects of NCLB and seek recogintion for gains in those areas, while simultanteously bemoaning and condemning other aspects of the same law. If LBUSD wants to accept well-deserved recognition for gains in some API scores, it must also be willing to accept well-deserved pillory for its dismal performance in other areas of academic scoring. For example, within the same scoring metrics that quantify API scores are two other metrics, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Performance Improvement (PI). As a District, LBUSD has not met its AYP targets since 2006. As a District, LBUSD has been under *mandated* PI since 2007. In fact, of the four metrics that determine whether or not PI will be mandated, this year LBUSD failed in three: English-Language Arts, Mathematics, and Graduation Rate. Last year LBUSD had only (sic) failed in two of the four: English-Language Arts and Mathematics. http://ayp.cde.ca.gov/reports/Acnt2012/2012APRdstpireport.aspx?allcds=1964725 Many of the individual school scores are equally unacceptable using these metrics. Praise for improvement where praise is certainly well-deserved? Definitely! Pillory as well, however, for the continued failure of LBUSD to meet all of the standards it agreed to as part of accepting federal Title 1 funding. Change California's public education paradigm, and watch our academic performance skyrocket!
Nancy Wride October 12, 2012 at 12:03 AM
I will first need to look up what some of those acronyms mean.
John B. Greet October 12, 2012 at 12:32 AM
API is based solely upon STAR and CAHSEE results. AYP (a more comprehensive indicator) is based on four criterion: Participation rate, Percentage profficient, API, and Graduation rate. Status on PI means that a given district or school receives Title 1 funds and did not meet its AYP targets for at least two consecutive years. So a first year failure does not place a district or school on PI and, likewise, a "Year One" PI status means a district or school failed in two consecutive years. This also means that LBUSD's current placement on PI "year three" means that it has failed to meet AYP for *four* consecutive years. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ay/glossary12a.asp#gs13
Nancy Wride October 12, 2012 at 03:27 AM
So why do you think the district was awarded the Most Improved Urban School District in the U.S. Broad prize for a half mill? (And I need an acronym crib sheet to track your comment, John. :D
John B. Greet October 12, 2012 at 06:57 AM
I think receiving the Broad Prize (more than once I think?) is a notable achievement and it is not my intent to minimize or dismiss *any* of the many achievements within or throughout the District. It just annoys me when the District makes it a point to pat itself on the back concerning API improvements while completely ignoring other measures -also within NCLB- by which the District and many of our schools are not faring well at all. Also, the Broad Prize compares results between schools with similar demographics. While this generally means that the schools which are awarded are doing well, it can also mean that the schools awarded are simply doing better than similar schools that are doing very poorly. I personally think NCLB is an abject mess and we should change our entire public education paradigm. We aren't likely to ever do that, however, for two main reasons: 1. Federal government monopolization of the current paradigm and, 2. Teachers' Unions

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