SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Hank Harris

310-450-8338, ext. 334

For Immediate Release

October 29, 2004

 

Remarkable Growth in District API Scores Indicate that

Schools and Students are Performing at Increasing Higher Levels


API Growth Results were released today by the California Department of Education. Santa Monica-Malibu Superintendent Dr. John Deasy proudly announced that the results “clearly indicate that we are achieving our mission with respect to closing the achievement gap while achieving excellence for all students.” He noted that API performance in each of the District’s statistically significant subgroups increased, with marked improvements in the Hispanic/Latino population and the population of students impacted by poverty. “The results are dramatic,” Superintendent Deasy noted, “and they come about because of our unwavering belief that students in our communities can learn at exceedingly high levels.”

 

The state of California calculates API not only for schools and for school districts, but also for up to eight “statistically significant” demographic groups within schools and school districts. The Santa Monica-Malibu School District population contains five statistically significant demographic groups: African American; Asian; Hispanic/Latino; White (non-Hispanic); and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged (SES). The state does not calculate a separate API score for Special Education and English Learner populations. Individual schools may have the same or different statistically significant groups depending on the makeup of their student body.

 

Growth around the State of California was less robust than the growth in Santa Monica and Malibu. Whereas the State’s high schools only met 47% of their API Growth targets, and the State’s middle schools only met 55%, the four comprehensive secondary schools in SMMUSD met 89% of their API Growth Targets. Moreover, whereas the State’s elementary schools only met 46% of their API Growth targets, SMMUSD’s elementaries met 76% of their targets. In citing these results, Dr. Deasy hailed the performance of the District’s schools. “What this says to us is that not only are our schools already performing at high levels, they continue to push forward and to grow. We are so proud of the schools of Santa Monica and Malibu, which are truly model schools, and in fact are the envy of other districts in nation.”

 

Superintendent Deasy also referenced the remarkable achievements among SES students around the district. Nine of the fourteen tested schools have statistically significant SES populations, and six of these populations experienced gains of twenty points or more. “This is an incredible achievement,” the Superintendent stated, “and it is testament to the extraordinary work of a tremendous cadre of teachers and staff who do not believe that the limitations of wealth have anything to do with a student’s capacity to be successful and to learn.” Dr. Deasy also hailed the achievements of African-American and Latino students around the district. At Santa Monica High School, the African American API score rose twenty-two points, from 570 to 592, and the Hispanic/Latino API rose forty-four points from

565 to 609. At John Adams, the API for African American students rose eighteen points, from 635 to 653, and the API for Hispanic/Latino students rose forty-four points, from 640 to 684.

 

Santa Monica High School CEO Dr. Ilene Straus remarked, “We are proud of our significant gain in our API scores.  It is a reflection of our focus on teaching and learning as well as an increased accountability for students and teachers.  The growth in our subgroup scores validates the hard work of the Samohi staff and student body.   We are continuing to focus on standards-based instruction, common course expectations and accountability for quality work in our classrooms.” Dr. Jose Escarce, chairman of the SMMUSD School Board and a professor of medicine at UCA, echoed Dr. Straus’s comments and added that the increases are systemwide, rather than at a few sites.

 

"It's tremendously gratifying to see the hard work and dedication of our teachers, administrators and staff pay off,” Dr. Escarce noted. “‘Raising achievement for all students while closing the achievement gap' are not just words in our mission statement; we're actually beginning to get it done. Now we need to stay the course and redouble our efforts.”

 

At the Elementary level, growth was also widespread. The API scores for SES students

increased by ten or more points in four of the five elementary schools with a statistically significant population. And five elementary schools now have subgroups scoring in the 900s, at the very top of the API continuum. Al Friedenberg, principal of Grant Elementary School, saw his API score for Hispanic/Latino students increase 26 points, from 734 to 760, and his API score for SES students increase 36 points, from 703 to 739. “This year’s increase is part of a long-term trend of sustained growth at Grant that makes us very proud of our hard work.  Each demographic group at Grant has experienced a significant increase in its achievement rates over the last five years, and to me it confirms that we have an incredibly talented staff and a very supportive parent community.  Being such a diverse school, we have been able to meet the academic needs of our students while performing at an exceptionally high level.  Our focus is intense.  Our teachers care.  We have found a way to teach creatively while emphasizing the standards set forth by the State. Numbers don't always tell the entire story, but continuous improvement validates our commitment to our kids.”

 

Jerry Harris, principal of Roosevelt Elementary School, also mentioned the high caliber of instruction that pervades his school. “At Roosevelt we have created an environment where each student feels respected and empowered.   When given the tools and support, our students can take agency over their learning.   The adults in the Roosevelt community have

truly taken to heart and acted upon their responsibilities and their role in the success of each child. We believe that every child can learn.”

 

Superintendent Deasy summarized the results with praise for the hard work undertaken by the district’s schools, and the vital community support that allows the district to accomplish its mission. “We know it is possible for our students to far exceed the state’s target, because so many of our schools and students perform at extraordinary levels,” the Superintendent

stated. “We must now assiduously work to ensure that every student and every group shares in this tremendous success and we will not rest until that happens. We take a moment now to celebrate this milestone, and tomorrow we roll our sleeves up and continue to make dramatic gains. Our kids deserve nothing less.”

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SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica 90404 - 310-450-8338 - Fax 310-581-1138

www.smmusd.org