Other Voices: Our students'; academic performance is terrific

There seems to be a perception that Bullis Charter School offers an elite academic education that is not available in the Los Altos School District. Data from the California Board of Education indicates that district students and Bullis Charter School students are achieving comparable academic scores.

This is great news for our students, a terrific accomplishment by their teachers and a tribute to the continuous care provided by their parents.

Before discussing the academic scores for each of our schools, it is useful to first step back and review the test scores from other high-scoring neighboring school districts. Los Altos School District students’ academic success is impressive and is viewed as a benchmark by other districts (key benchmarks are Saratoga, Cupertino and Hillsborough).

Data for our eight individual schools is displayed graphically on the web page needanotherlook.com. The schools, in alphabetical order, are Almond, Bullis Charter, Covington, Gardner Bullis, Loyola, Oak Avenue, Santa Rita and Springer.

For each individual school, the English and Math test scores for the current third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade students are similar. The academic achievement of each class, in each school, improves each year. Particular attention is focused on the sixth grade results, in the assumption that students’ progression through the grades prepares them for the next step. The sixth grade (and sometimes the fifth grade) is a point of transition to middle school (junior high school). Independent of how a student scored when they were younger, have they made steady progress and are they ready for the transition to middle school?

Bullis Charter School’s sixth grade test scores are generally in the top three. The magnitude of improvement from Bullis Charter School’s third grade to sixth grade, however, is among the two lowest.

Noting the improvement in academic test scores, from the current population of third to sixth grade, is an intuitive metric. Another metric is to see the results of a recent effort by the California Board of Education to track the performance improvement of the same “cohort,” or group of students. Collecting this information began several years ago, and now test results for the same fourth to sixth grade cohort are available. Bullis Charter School’s same cohort test scores are in the middle of the pack.

In summary, this data suggests that student test scores across all eight schools are comparable. Based on academic test scores, Bullis Charter School is not delivering elite results.

Naturally, there are a number of factors that influence test scores. For example:

• The economic status of the student’s household.

• The ethnicity of the student.

• The number of languages and number of students who are English learners.

• The proportion of special-education students.

Steve Brown is a member of Unintended Consequences?, a group concerned about the potential loss of neighborhood schools.

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