Schools keep top rankings despite dip in test scores

While the 2013 Academic Performance Index results reported that many local schools scored lower than in the previous year, Los Altos public schools are still among the state’s top performers.

The Los Altos School District placed fourth in the state, and Bullis Charter School ranked as the 14th highest-scoring elementary school on the 2013 API, released last week.

The mandated tests measure a school’s composite academic achievement based on a variety of statewide assessments. API calculations encompass the content areas of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and History based on Standardized Testing and Reporting results.

The schools and the districts receive an annual API score between 200 and 1,000. The state’s goal is for all its schools to score higher than 800.

The downward trend in scores is countywide. After a majority of county schools demonstrated increases between their Base API and their Growth API the previous three years (79 percent in 2010, 69 percent in 2011 and 67 percent in 2012), that figure dropped significantly in 2013, with only 37 percent of schools experiencing an increase from their 2012 Base API and their Growth API. LASD results The Los Altos School District earned an overall score of 960, a nine-point dip from 2012, and reported the second-best showing among county districts.

The API scores of eight of the Los Altos School District’s nine schools declined from the previous year. Almond earned 953 (-1); Covington, 973 (-8); Gardner Bullis, 946 (-12); Loyola, 952 (-13); Santa Rita, 940 (-16); Springer, 953 (-7); Egan Junior High, 976 (-5); and Blach Intermediate, 957 (-14). Only Oak Avenue saw a slight uptick – to 984 (+1). Oak ranked 10th among county elementary schools and 24th in the state. Covington ranked 16th in the county and 44th in the state. Egan ranked fourth among county junior highs and ninth statewide. Blach ranked seventh in the county and 23rd in the state.

Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier said it was unclear why scores dropped at so many district schools, but he noted that the trend was similar among high-performing districts statewide. Despite the dip, Baier said the district is pleased with the results.

“We are surely proud of our performance,” he said. “Our kids are performing exceedingly well, and we are among the top-performing districts in the state, as we have been since the beginning of these tests.”

Bullis Charter School was the top-scoring school in Los Altos, fifth in Santa Clara County and 14th in the state with a score of 989, a five-point decline from last year. In addition to earning the highest-ranking API score in Los Altos, the school is the top-performing charter school in the state. MVLA results The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District recorded a 2013 API score of 870, the same as in the previous year. Mountain View High scored 861, a six-point decline, while Los Altos High scored 895, a six-point gain. Alta Vista High, the district’s alternative high school, scored 613, an 85-point drop. According to an MVLA district report, Latino and socioeconomically disadvantaged students at Los Altos High registered an annual improvement of 22 points and 37 points, respectively. Over an 11-year period, API scores for Latino students in the district have increased 187 points.

“Our growth, especially among Latino and socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, is a testament to LAHS’ commitment to challenging and supporting students,” said Joanne Miyahara, coordinator of Los Altos High’s Advancement Via Individual Determination program. “Staff development efforts … have helped create a culture where students are encouraged to take on challenging tasks and learn much more effectively through explicit coaching and metacognition.” Miyahara added that the school’s investment in academic support programs and the staff’s commitment to what is best for all students have been instrumental in the success.

Neighboring districts Montclaire Elementary School, located in Los Altos but part of the Cupertino Union School District, scored 968 on this year’s API – a six-point gain. Homestead High School, which serves areas of Los Altos, scored 873 (-1). Cupertino Middle School, which serves Los Altos families, scored 934 (-1). Gunn High School, which includes part of Los Altos Hills, scored 917 (-1). For a comprehensive report on California’s 2013 API, visit

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