The California Department of Education released results from the
2011 Standardized Testing and Reporting program Monday, giving
educators in the Gilroy Unified School District something to smile
about: Across-the-board growth in the projected Academic Performing
Index for 13 out of 15 Gilroy schools, continued overall increases
on mathematics and English language arts scores, coupled with fewer
students performing at the
far below basic
below basic levels.
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Today’s breaking news:
The California Department of Education released results from the 2011 Standardized Testing and Reporting program Monday, giving educators in the Gilroy Unified School District something to smile about: Across-the-board growth in the projected Academic Performing Index for 13 out of 15 Gilroy schools, continued overall increases on mathematics and English language arts scores, coupled with fewer students performing at the “far below basic” and “below basic levels.”
Subsequent API scores released by the Gilroy Unified School District were estimated by Kermit Schrock, GUSD program administrator for student assessment and data management. He said official API scores aren’t released by the California Department of Education until September, however GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores points out the district’s calculations have been off by a point or two in the past – “so we’re confident we’re very close.”
And good news can never come too soon, especially when calculations reveal the first school in GUSD to breach 900 API.
“WE ARE TOTALLY STOKED!!!” wrote an ecstatic Principal Mary Ann Boylan in an email, of her school’s 926 API.
The average API score in California is 800.
Boylan has been principal of Dr. T.J. Owens Gilroy Early College Academy since January 2009. Known as GECA, the alternative high school located on the Gavilan College Campus at 5055 Santa Teresa Blvd. blew the lid off its 2009-10 API, topping its personal best by an estimated 34 points.
Boylan’s buttons are bursting not only for students, but also for staffers who helped catapult scores upward. The scores act as the state’s yardstick to measure each school’s progress, and later they will be translated into an Adequate Yearly Progress figure, which gauges if a district and its school meet the federal standards of No Child Left Behind. Together the two scores determine state and federal funding in some cases and also set the pace for goals and expectations.
Curricular performance in all demographics improved, Boylan said, including English Language learners, disadvantaged and minority students.
Gilroy’s eight elementary schools merit their own bragging rights.
Six out of eight have a projected API score of 800, while Luigi Aprea Elementary is only four points away from 900. Seven of the eight schools show growth and meet their API targets for 2011, according to GUSD projections.
As for GUSD secondary institutions, all three middle schools are projected to exceed their API targets. Ascencion Solorsano has an 825 API, while Brownell breached 800 for the first time at 812.
Mt. Madonna Continuation High School comes in five points under its 2009-10 API score at 575, although Flores points out fluctuations within five points are not statistically significant.
While Christopher High School made an 10-point gain and Gilroy High School made a seven-point gain from their 2009-10 scores, both principals are happy with the progress but are doggedly focused on breaking the 800 API seal.
“It upsets me, because I’m a really competitive person,” said CHS Principal John Perales, of his school’s estimated 793 API.
Perales said CHS’s theme for this year, “good to great,” sets the tone for 2011-12.
“I have a mountain of data in front of me,” he said. “I’m going to recalculate our needs at the school and keep going forward on the theme for the year.”
GHS Principal Marco Sanchez is also deadlocked on hitting the 800 milestone, but hasn’t overlooked crucial STAR micro-gains in areas such as U.S. history, chemistry, life science and English language arts.
“I’m pleased. We didn’t slide,” said Sanchez, reflecting on GHS’s 736 API. “We’re taking small incremental steps and we’re headed in the right direction.”
Utilizing STAR test results to recognize strengths and weaknesses is a continuous cycle of reviewing, analyzing and developing an action plan to address deficiency, as well as celebrating success, he said.
“And we have a lot to celebrate at Gilroy High.”
Alongside rosy increases in API standings, Flores says standout areas still in need of improvement include secondary math scores – particularly Algebra II. In Gilroy High School, for example, 39 percent of 10th graders scored “proficient” or higher in Algebra II. The state average for this group is 43 percent, according to the CDE.
“Algebra II really is that gateway class for CSU and UC entries,” says Schrock. “The numbers are getting higher, but we still have some work to do at raising the levels of proficiency in all of those high school math classes.”
Flores says test performances in the English Language Learners subgroup are also an area of focus.
In the coming weeks, she says staff will scrutinize GUSD test results across all grade levels, subjects and subgroups, as well as compare scores against state averages.
“We break it down in every way you can imagine,” she said.
Last year, for example, elementary school teachers weren’t happy with STAR test scores. Taking a big nod from Eliot Elementary – which had an 831 API in 2009-10, they worked to implement GUSD’s Elementary Initiative teaching model. It incorporates the highly successful Whole Brain Teaching model used by Eliot.
“It took a lot of effort to get that under way,” said Flores, of teachers who attended after-school trainings led by Eliot’s former principal, James Dent.
With seven of eight elementary schools increasing their API in 2011, “clearly, it worked,” she said. “There were tears all over the district the day the results came.”
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