Superintendent John Deasy talks with two students in an honors English class about Toni Morrison's "Beloved."
California schools are doing slightly worse than last year – but the Los Angeles Unified
School District bucked the trend, according to statistics released by the Department of Education.
The state’s Academic Performance Index ranks schools largely based on test scores and high school exit exams, giving grades of between 200 and 1,000. Overall, California schools dropped two points on the Academic Performance Index, from 791 to 789. L.A. Unified jumped three points from 746 to 749. The state goal for all schools is 800.
“We were not the trend in the state. We held our own. Where the state dipped we did not,” L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy said.
Taken together, districts in both Los Angeles and Orange counties dropped six points. In the Inland Empire, districts in Riverside County overall dropped three points and San Bernardino dropped five.
Ventura was a bright spot. Districts there, on average, jumped seven points.
So were the statistics for low-income students. Overall, the state reported a five point increase for that sub-group. English learners also went up one point.
But those broad numbers don’t tell the whole story. A deeper look at the data shows interesting differences.
For instance, taken as a district, both Latino and black students in L.A. Unified saw scores improve, by four points and one point, respectively.
However, an analysis by KPCC of L.A. Unified schools where blacks or Latinos make up a significant portion of the student body shows those schools did worse overall this year than last. Schools with large black populations dropped more than four points from 2012. Schools with large Latino populations dropped by about half a point.
There are also often large differences within counties and even at individual schools within districts.
San Bernardino Unified, the county’s largest district, got an API of 729 this year, which is below the state goal, but was a two-point improvement over last year.
“Our district has worked very hard at addressing the educational needs in our community,” said district spokeswoman Linda Bardere.
Next year’s performance measures are a big question mark. The state is transitioning to a new set of standards which will mean new tests. The state Superintendent for Public Instruction is calling for a one-year moratorium on state tests, but the legislature has yet to act.
All those changes can be good, said Julie Gobin, a spokeswoman for the Chino Unified School District. Especially since a new funding formula promises to have increased school budgets, particularly in areas with large numbers of English learners or low-income students.
“Education is woefully underfunded,” she said. “Nothing showed us that more than these last couple of years. Everything was colored by the budget crisis.”