Academic performance in the city's schools continues on an upward trend, with gains seen throughout the district, according to figures released Thursday by the California Department of Education.
The Lemon Grove School District’s Academic Performance Index score, which serves as a summary of students’ performance on a series of tests, rose 13 points in 2011-12—up from 775 last year to 788, which is on target with the statewide API score increase.
The district has made marked improvements over the past five years, with its API score increasing annually from 723 in 2007 to the current score.
Possible scores range from 200 to 1,000, with a performance target of 800. Throughout California, the API score increased by 10 points, from 778 last year to 788, the CDE reported.
Marcia Mattson, director of educational services, says the gains are the result of the district's focus on instruction and professional development. Teamwork and training, Mattson says, have made the difference along with “knowing that the people who work in Lemon Grove put children first.”
A district assessment is ongoing throughout the year, staff meetings focus on instruction, and teachers and principals walk classrooms together looking at the student environment, Mattson says, all to “work together to ensure that each child in this district gets the best quality education we can provide.”
In Lemon Grove, three of the district’s seven schools met or exceeded the 800-point score. The top school in the district was Golden Avenue Elementary (now Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities), with an API score of 841.
Surpassing the state target were:
- Golden Avenue Elementary, which rose 25 points from 816 last year to 841;
- Monterey Heights Elementary, up 3 points from 806 to 809;
- and San Altos Elementary, which increased 11 points from 801 to 812.
Mattson attributes the success at Golden Avenue to strong leadership from Principal Rick Oser, whose no-excuses mentality has created the school's belief system “that every child will be ready, every child will be college bound.”
“Mr. Oser was a little ahead of the pack in leading the charge,” Mattson says.
Other API scores:
- San Miguel Elementary nearly hit the 800 target, up 21 points from 775 last year to 796;
- Vista La Mesa Academy gained 16 points, rising from 763 to 779;
- Mount Vernon Elementary held steady at 784;
- and Palm Middle School saw a 3-point increase, from 743 to 746.
According to the state, 53 percent of California schools met or exceeded the 800-point bar in 2011-12, up four percentage points from the previous year.
API reflects growth in student achievement from one year to the next. It is determined by results on the California Standards Tests in English, math, history/social science and science, and the California High School Exit Exam.
“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,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom 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.”
Statewide, 59 percent of elementary schools, 49 percent of middle schools and 30 percent of high schools met the state API benchmark.
Elementary school scores statewide increased by 7 points to 815, while middle schools jumped 14 points to 792 and high schools increased 11 points to 752.
In the Grossmont Union High School District:
- Helix Charter High made performance gains that topped the state threshold, rising 19 points from 786 last year to 805;
- Mount Miguel High made a notable gain, but has not broken the 700 mark. The school’s API rose 35 points from 659 to 694;
- and Liberty Charter High, which moved its campus from La Mesa to Lemon Grove this school year, gained 4 points, up from 735 to 739.
The Grossmont district was among six large school districts in San Diego County that did not post API scores of 800:
- Escondido Union, 759, up eight points from last year;
- Grossmont Union High, 734, up 10 points;
- Oceanside Unified, 788, up nine points;
- South Bay Union Elementary, 788, up 12 points;
- Sweetwater Union High, 794, up 10 points; and
- Vista Unified, 798, up seven points.
—City News Service contributed to this report.