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Test scores climb

Foresthill, Alta-Dutch Flat surpass 800
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County schools have proven themselves once again, with many scoring above the state’s 742-point average and coming in above the state’s 800-point Academic Performance Index target goal. Schools that saw increases upon already commendable 800-plus APIs include Foresthill, Franklin, Loomis, Newcastle and Sierra Hills elementaries, as well as Weimar Hills, a 4-8 school. “That’s very impressive, isn’t it?” Ella Dobrec, Sierra Hills Elementary principal, said of the Meadow Vista school’s 26-point API growth, from 838 to 864. “We’re delighted with our growth this year. The staff really worked hard, as well as our students and parents. I think that’s basically why we have an excellent success rate — it takes all of us.” Colfax Elementary saw a 25-point API increase, from 762 to 787. “We implemented some new programs here and it’s obvious that they’re starting to pay off,” Jon Ray, Colfax Elementary School District superintendent/principal, said, citing class-size reduction and after-school programs. Alta-Dutch Flat Elementary School and Foresthill Divide Middle School both made it over the 800-point mark in 2008, climbing from 766 to 813 and 771 to 816, respectively. Recently released test results on California’s Accountability Progress Report, or APR, are comprised of the state’s Academic Performance Index, or API, and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress, or APR. The API is a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. The state department of education uses the 2007 results to establish a baseline and academic growth targets for each school to improve upon the following school year. Both API and AYP are based on statewide assessment results, released in August, which include the Standardized Testing and Reporting, or STAR, program, and the California High School Exit Examination, or CAHSEE. Administrators are looking at API scores and using the numbers as an indicator of testing and curriculum strengths, as well as where improvements can be made. “It’s another form of accountability, to ensure that students are progressing,” explained Michele Schuetz, Auburn Union Elementary School District superintendent. Rock Creek Elementary, in the Auburn Union district, saw an 11-point gain, from 730 to 741. In the same district, both Skyridge and Auburn elementaries saw drops — four and eight points, respectively — but still remain above the 800-point mark. Schuetz said it’s important to focus on district’s subgroups, including increasing numbers of English language learners, students with disabilities and the economically disadvantaged population. E. V. Cain exceeded the state-mandated five-point growth target, jumping 25 points from a 2007 API of 752 to 777 this year. “Your real goal is to get the students, the ones who are below and far-below proficient, and move them up, because that moves your API up the fastest, and you want to bring them up to grade level,” said Randy Ittner, E. V. Cain principal. Alta Vista School, which closed in the spring, saw a drastic 66-point decrease in API, from 820 in 2007 to 754 in 2008. “We knew that it was a hard year for them,” Schuetz said. Sam Schug, who served as Alta Vista’s principal during the 2007-08 school year, shared a similar sentiment. “Our test scores did drop significantly as many of our staff and families were transitioning themselves for the closure of Alta Vista,” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.