School’s API score climbs by 5 points

October 16, 2009 — by Saniha Shankar and Mac Hyde

After going up by a remarkable 25 points in API scores last year, administrators, teachers and students were happy to hear that the school’s 2009 score has increased by another 5 points to 933.

The most important result is not the score itself, but the meaning behind the score, principal Jeff Anderson said.

“The fact that our resources and facilities are allowing to students to continue to improve is something to be proud of,” said Anderson. “API scores are more about improvement than about simply scoring high,”

API scores are calculated from the state-wide, standardized California Standardized Testing (CST ) test taken by students in the spring.

Anderson said the school has made API improvements in recent years mostly because students who were previously in the below basic category have managed to become proficient. He said the students who scored in the highest levels are still consistently scoring about as well as they have in the past, though students of all demographics and ethnic backgrounds have seen gains in recent years.

Saratoga High School has been compared with schools such as Monta Vista High School, Lowell High School and Mission San Jose— all of which are high-achieving schools. This year Monta Vista scored 935. Lowell High School scored 949 but went down from its previous score of 951. Mission San Jose scored 948, moving up from its previous score of 931. Los Gatos has an API score of 874 and Gunn High School has an API score of 915.

Saratoga, however, has a more diverse student population than Monta Vista, Lowell and Mission San Jose. These schools have a higher percentage of Asian students (who typically excel at these tests) than Saratoga does.

“I personally think our school has a more robust score because not only do we have the high scores to compete with the other high-achieving schools but we have the diversity as well,” said Anderson.

California wants all schools to score at 800 or above, but improvements in the upper ranges are tough.

Said Anderson:”The closer the school gets to the 1,000-point score, it gets exponentially harder to eek out those extra points. It’s like trying to get all the questions right on the SAT, except with 1,300 students.”

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