SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

PRESS RELEASE

 

CONTACT:  Dr. Maureen Bradford                   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

310.450.8338, ext. 70333                                   31 AUG 2011

 

SMMUSD’s Achievement Gains Boost API, but Fall Short in AYP

 

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson today released California’s comprehensive Accountability Progress Report (APR) for 2011.  This report encompasses both state and federal accountability metrics for monitoring student achievement.  Like other districts across the state, Santa Monica-Malibu faces a paradox of dueling accountability systems.  The state’s more nuanced and complex model demonstrates continuous progress and gains.  The federal government’s NCLB model relies solely on student status as either proficient or not proficient and ignores growth in achievement indicated by students’ advancement from one performance level to another.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has acknowledged the difficulties in the federal accountability system and is considering waiving some of the more onerous aspects of the law.  State Superintendent Torlakson has said he would welcome relief from the federal model’s “flawed accounting system.”

 

State Accountability and the Academic Performance Index (API)

For 2011, Santa Monica-Malibu’s Academic Performance Index reflects an eleven-point gain over 2010, and now stands at an all-time high of 854.  The state’s achievement target is 800, a mark SMMUSD surpassed in 2005.    SMMUSD continues to outperform the state and the county as a whole on this complex metric of student achievement.

 

SMMUSD Superintendent Sandra Lyon enthusiastically endorsed the hard work of teachers, administrators and support staff saying,  “The 2011 API report speaks to the professionalism and commitment of our classroom teachers, school administrators, support staff and district staff.  Based on these results, we will move forward with our strategic plan to focus on specific programs and projects that will yield continued gains for all students and effectively close the pernicious achievement gaps that exist.”

 

California’s Academic Performance Index is based on the California Standards Tests in English language arts, mathematics, science and history.  Schools and districts can increase their API by advancing students up one or more of the five performance levels:  far below, below, basic, proficient and advanced.  In addition, high schools and districts are awarded points based on the number of tenth grade students who pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), a graduation requirement for all California students.  In 2011, 92 percent of SMMUSD tenth graders passed the CAHSEE math exam; 93 percent passed the English exam. 

 

The API for individual schools is shown below. All SMMUSD schools, with the exception of Olympic High School, have exceeded the state’s 800 mark. Olympic uses an alternative accountability system known as ASAM.  SMASH, the district’s alternative campus, was not assigned an API, due to its relatively low participation rate.  Malibu High School and Santa Monica High School realized the greatest gains for 2011, with 27 and 18 points respectively, while Lincoln Middle School’s API climbed above the 900 mark for the first time.

 

SMMUSD 2010 Base and 2011 Growth API

Group

Base API

2010

Growth API

2011

Growth

SMMUSD

844

855

+11

African American

732

731

-1

Asian

921

929

+8

Latino

764

784

+20

White

890

902

+12

Two or More Races

874

885

+11

Economically Disadvantaged

742

756

+14

English Learners

770

780

+10

Students with Disabilities

634

621

-13

 

 The API for individual schools is shown below. All SMMUSD schools, with the exception of Olympic High School, have exceeded the state’s 800 mark. Olympic uses an alternative accountability system known as ASAM.  SMASH, the district’s alternative campus, was not assigned an API, due to its relatively low participation rate.  Malibu High School and Santa Monica High School realized the greatest gains for 2011, with 27 and 18 points respectively, while Lincoln Middle School’s API climbed above the 900 mark for the first time.

 

SMMUSD Schools’ 2010 Base and 2011 Growth API

School

Base API

2010

Growth API

2011

Growth

Edison Language Academy

877

882

+5

Franklin Elementary

954

957

+3

Grant Elementary

890

899

+9

John Muir Elementary

830

812

-18

Juan Cabrillo Elementary

869

884

+15

McKinley Elementary

891

893

+2

Point Dume Elementary

940

926

-14

Roosevelt Elementary

934

944

+10

Will Rogers Learning Community

818

828

+10

Webster Elementary

961

949

-12

John Adams Middle School

814

813

-1

Lincoln Middle School

893

902

+9

Malibu High School

835

862

+27

Olympic High School

649

560

-89

Santa Monica High School

787

805

+18

 

Malibu High Principal Mark Kelly, commented, “Students in both middle and high school programs showed gains in English, science, history and mathematics.  Our students deserve credit for taking the exams seriously and doing their best.  It is what we ask of them and they give us their all.  I am most proud of our teachers who worked hard looking at the data from previous years and strengthening their focus on specific areas in their classrooms.” 

 

Federal Accountability under NCLB

The report released today by Torlakson additionally addresses the federal accountability system.  Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools and districts that receive federal Title I funding are held accountable for meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  The AYP accountability model differs substantially from the state’s system.  AYP has a more narrow focus and is calculated based on test scores in English language arts and math only.  Students are counted either as proficient or not proficient.  This status model does not reflect increases in the percentage of students who move from proficient to advanced levels, nor does it acknowledge growth of students from the lowest levels of performance up to the basic level. 

 

Each year, proficiency levels are measured against an Annual Measurable Objective (AMO).  The AMO for 2011 was 67 percent.  SMMUSD posted a 75.9 percent proficiency rate in English language arts (ELA) and 71.4 percent in math.  As shown below, the AMO increases each year until 2014, when 100% of students are to be proficient.  As of 2011, SMMUSD has managed to stay ahead of the rapidly escalating AMO for the district overall.   

 

 

As with API, the federal accountability model requires that schools and districts meet the AMO for numerically significant groups of students.  Here, SMMUSD has fallen short of the mark because of gaps in achievement for students of color, low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities.

 

NCLB Percent Proficient for 2011

Group

ELA Percent

Proficient

Math Percent

Proficient

SMMUSD

75.9

71.4

African American

55.2

45.0

Asian

88.3

90.2

Latino

59.8

53.5

White

85.8

82.1

Two or More Races

82.0

78.8

Economically Disadvantaged

54.1

48.9

English Learners

56.5

55.8

Students with Disabilities

44.6

40.8

 

SMMUSD met 76 percent of the AYP criteria for 2011, but a miss in any one area for any one subgroup results in not making adequate yearly progress.  This is the second year in a row that SMMUSD has missed AYP, and as a result, the district begins the process of Program Improvement.

 

Program Improvement districts are required to rewrite their plan for student achievement.  Director of Assessment, Research and Evaluation Dr. Maureen Bradford noted, “We are looking at research-based programs and practices, specifically those aimed at closing the achievement gap.  I can tell you that our efforts to improve student achievement will not rely on narrowing the focus of instruction to the tested items in English language arts and math, nor on tedious test-prep drills.  We will continue to offer students an enriching and full curriculum, including our stellar visual and performing arts programs.  This is what our community expects and deserves.  Our teachers will focus on improving instructional practices to create classrooms that engage all students in rigorous and relevant learning experiences.”

 

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sally Chou further commented on the upcoming revisions in the district plan for student achievement. “Our revised plan will ensure alignment of our curriculum with the newly adopted Common Core Standards.  We will provide professional development for our teachers and administrators to sharpen their tools, including the use of technology.  What goes on in classrooms makes the greatest impact on student achievement and the district office is here to support classroom instruction.”

 

Schools that receive Title I funds must also meet all AYP criteria.  Each of SMMUSD’s four Title I schools – Edison, McKinley, Muir and Rogers – missed one or more AYP criteria for 2011.  Because Rogers had also missed AYP in 2010, that school now enters Program Improvement.  With increases in the percent of students scoring at the advanced level and decreases in students at the lowest levels of performance, Rogers’ API grew ten points in 2011.  Yet, these accomplishments are not reflected in the AYP status model of accountability. 

 

Will Rogers Principal Steve Richardson commented, “I am tremendously proud of my entire staff.  This year, despite pressure from the potential Program Improvement status, we maintained our focus on meeting the needs of every child. Our data indeed show cohorts of students moving up performance bands across all subgroups.  We will continue our work with great focus on high expectations, effective first instruction, and creating safety nets so no child slips through the cracks.”

 

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SANTA MONICA-MALIBU UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

1651 16TH Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404

ph: 310.450.8338; fax: 310.581.1138

www.smmusd.org