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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

State measures academic success

The California Standardized Testing and Reporting program, known as STAR, was administered on May 11 and 12. The tests are designed to gauge whether students’ proficiencies are in line with state standards.

Students from grades two to 11 are required to take these tests sometime in the spring, but the state gives each school a four to five week window in April and May to administer the tests.

“We’ve historically done STAR testing at the end of the AP season, so the students don’t have to worry about being burdened with STAR test while teachers are trying to impart all the AP curriculum,” assistant principal Brian Safine said.

STAR tests scores, as well as the scores from the High School Exit Exams taken by sophomores, are used to calculate a public school’s Academic Performance Index, or API score. API scores, which can reach up to 1000 points for a school, determine how well schools were able to cover state standards. Saratoga High school’s API score undulates in the 900s, and it is currently at 932 points.

“Our API score is typically in the top ten in the state of California,” Safine said. Public schools that are comparable to Saratoga are Mission San Jose High School with an API of 948 and Lowell High School in San Francisco with an API of 955.

High API scores attract prestige to schools and showcase their academic excellence. The higher the scores, the higher the property values in the school’s neighborhood. This in turn leads to higher taxes that fund the district’s education system.

“There isn’t an immediate reward from the state for performing well,” Safine said. “[The reward] comes from our schools and neighborhood being desirable.”

On the flip side, schools which under-perform can potentially be put in “Program Improvement,” where the state scrutinizes test scores and the educational program on a yearly bases and could potentially restrict funding, Safine said.

“There’s more of a negative consequence for doing poorly rather than a positive consequence for doing better,” Safine said.

While the STAR tests are only used for state calculations, students are still encouraged to do their best.

“We expect a student who has mostly A grades and a 2000 or higher on the SAT to have corresponding high scores on STAR testing” Safine said.

Though students’ scores are not sent to colleges, they are still kept in their files. The administration takes into consideration STAR test scores when writing letters of recommendation, so slacking off during the tests is not advisable, Safine said.

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