The Gilroy Unified School District posted results for the 2012 Standardized Testing and Reporting program today, revealing estimated gains for most secondary schools, mixed results for the elementary level and overall district API growth from 800 to 805.
Just like last year, eight of 15 GUSD schools are expected to meet California's benchmark, scoring a projected API of 800 or higher.
Three GUSD schools in particular made fantastic bounds this year, including Ascencion Solorsano Middle School (up 23 points), Rod Kelley Elementary School (up 19 points) and El Roble Elementary School (up 19 points).
“I would have been shocked if it didn’t go up,” said El Roble Principal Scott Otteson of his students who reached the 800 plateau for the first time.
He attributes the positive strides to new practices set into motion by the district's Elementary Engagement and Achievement Initiative, which was recently adopted by all GUSD elementary schools and utilizes a combination of strategies proven to bolster academic growth. This includes technology in the classroom, consistent collaboration among teachers and daily analysis of student data that enables educators “to make changes on the fly.”
From here, Otteson sees nowhere to go but up. He expects more and nothing less.
“This is one thing we were shooting for, and now we just gotta keep going up,” he said. “We gotta redouble our efforts. It's a good step in the right direction, but we're not satisfied yet.”
The API is the state's yardstick to measure a school's progress. Together with the Adequate Yearly Progress scale – a federal standard that determines whether a school is meeting the federal mandate known as No Child Left Behind – the two scores (in some cases) determine state and federal funding for schools, and also sets the pace for next year's goals and expectations.
Districts receive raw test score data in late summer, which allows staff to estimate their schools' projected API scores prior to the official figures being released by the California Department of Education. GUSD's calculations have been off by only a point or two in the past, according to Kermit Schrock, GUSD program administrator for student assessment and data management.
Christopher High School Principal John Perales hopes the final figures swing upward.
After missing the state benchmark of 800 last year by a mere four points, a projected 2012 API of 800 has CHS staff “really excited, and cautiously awaiting the state to release the official scores,” said Perales. “We're hoping (the projection) is a point or two under. Either an 801 or 802 would be fantastic.”
Regardless, seeing the three-year-old high school continue to grow academically “feels like a reward for all the hard work,” said Perales. “I'm really proud of the kids and staff. They did a great job.”
Gilroy High School is also up by 10 points with a projected API of 750, while the Dr. TJ Owens Early College Academy has the highest projected secondary API at 930 (up four points from last year).
Results for GUSD's eight elementary schools are mixed. While Rod Kelley and El Roble saw significant increases, scores for five other sites dropped. One, Las Animas, essentially stayed the same.
Eliot and Rucker saw the most significant decreases, dipping from 831 by 38 points, and from 809 by 17 points, respectively.
Still, with the exception of Eliot, GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores points out that every elementary school has a higher API than it did two to five years ago, “which demonstrates that they are still moving in the right direction,” she said. “We will be spending the next month studying each school's results to determine next steps.”
Overall, data estimates released Friday by GUSD shows the district's API has continued to grow for the last eight years, climbing from 643 to 805.
As for the California Standard Test results released Friday by the California Department of Education, analysis by GUSD shows there is no significant change overall for English Language Arts (ELA) or Mathematics. There is a slight, 2 percent increase in the number of students who tested proficient or advanced in ELA, while the number of students who tested proficient or advanced in math decreased by 1 percent. Overall, there is a continued decrease in the number of students who tested “below basic” or “far below basic” in either subject.
For ELA, the past five years shows a slight narrowing of the achievement gap by four points between white GUSD students and those in Hispanic, socioeconomically disadvantaged, English-learner and Reclassified Fluent English Proficient subgroups. The achievement gap for math – while less than ELA at 18 points – has not closed significantly in the last five years.
At the high school level, data shows eighth- and ninth-graders continue to struggle with algebra readiness, with 42 and 16 percent testing at “below basic” and “far below basic.”
Areas for special recognition in 2012 highlight Rod Kelley Elementary for a 4 and 6 percent growth in students who tested proficient and advanced in ELA and mathematics.
Ascencion Solorsano Middle School, additionally, showed a four percent growth in “proficient” and “advanced” mathematics scores, and six percent growth in science and ELA.
It's a good feeling for Solorsano Principal Maria Walker, who – along with her “outstanding staff – rose to the occasion and filled big pair of shoes. Last year was Walker's first at the helm after she was promoted from vice principal to take the place of outgoing principal Sal Tomasello, a veteran GUSD teacher, coach and principal since 1972 who led Solorsano past the 800 API mark five years ago.
Walker said she is “thrilled” with the progress of her students and “honored to work with such a dynamic staff.”
“It just warms my heart to know that I was part of continuing the Solorsano success story,” she said. “Especially as the new principal. It was very validating.”