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School District Analyzes Latest API Scores
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Not quite where they want to be, Escalon Unified School District is making progress toward the goal of the target 800 score on the API, Academic Performance Index.

Numbers were released recently for all school districts throughout the state. Escalon's district API for 2010 is 767, which is up 18 points from the previous year's score of 749. Of the individual school sites, Dent Elementary is closest to the 800 mark with a 797.

"Accountability in our public schools is difficult to understand," said Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ron Costa. "You look at the numbers and you see some real positives, but you also see opportunities."

Costa said the goal is to have all school sites reach that 800 mark by 2014 and the opportunities are there for the school district, teachers, students and parents to work cooperatively to make that happen.

Too often, Costa said, the progress being made gets lost in the "buzzwords or initials" that range from AYP - Adequate Yearly Progress - to NCLB - No Child Left Behind - but the goal should always be meeting the needs of students.

"We are implementing programs to constantly improve student learning, we are working with our staff at all school sites to do that," Costa said.

Along with the district score of 767, the Escalon significant subgroups are Hispanic/Latino at 704, white at 812, socioeconomically disadvantaged at 685, English language learners at 670 and students with disabilities at 560.

"For 2010, all subgroups made growth of between 15 and 50 points," Costa pointed out.

For individual school sites in the district, Dent was at 797, up 19 points; Collegeville, 754, down five points; Farmington, 728, up five points; Van Allen, 783, loss of three points; El Portal Middle School, 786, up 31 points; Escalon High School 751, up 16 and Vista High, 520, up seven points.

Costa said both the staff and administration are committed to bringing up the scores for all sites and subgroups. Any strategic moves to increase the scores will be a team effort, he noted, starting with the teachers.

"They're the front line," Costa said. "They're out there working with the students and they're the ones that know what the needs are."

The district also has to keep an eye on its AYP, Adequate Yearly Progress, levels, to make sure each is reaching the growth target, and hitting proficiency rates for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

"We're feeling very positive about this year," Costa said of the outlook for 2011.

Two of the seven schools in the district, Dent and Farmington, are currently labeled as program improvement schools because they did not meet all the AYP goals for two years. Working to get those two sites out of program improvement and addressing needs of students at all sites is a priority, said Costa.

"Staff members are meeting by grade level or subject area to develop district assessments, curriculum committee members are working with staffs to develop instructional norms and district instructional coaches are working with teachers to strengthen instruction," Costa said. "With the district's focus on effective instruction and increased student learning, API and AYP scores will continue to increase."