LAUSD Improves Standardized Test Scores

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The state's yearly Academic Performance Index scores are out. They went up statewide. The Los Angeles Unified schools as a whole also showed improvement. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: L.A. Unified schools raised their scores 20 points to a score of 683. The improvement is slightly higher than the state average, but L.A. Unified scores still lag behind California's average of 742.

Activist Mary Johnson helps run a group of about 200 parents whose kids attend schools in South Los Angeles and Huntington Park. After the state released the API scores, she met with parents and administrators at South Gate Middle School, where scores had jumped.

Mary Johnson: And we was all like, hugging each other, grabbing each other. But we wasn't happy now, don't get me wrong! We're delighted that we did make effort, but we want to make that 700 and over.

Guzman-Lopez: Johnson said parental involvement is key. She and other parents sit in on teacher trainings and teacher meetings. API scores range from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. The state tells schools to aim for 800. At Fairfax High School, the API score rose 26 points, to 694.

That's really good, said Principal Ed Zubiate. He said Fairfax teachers are using a lot more student data to discern individual students' strengths and weaknesses. They're also trying to expand learning beyond textbooks, Zubiate said.

Ed Zubiate: One of the real issues with kids nowadays is motivation, and engaging them. And, you know, I mean, they're used to the, you know, the things that, you know, the typical thing that we hear all the time. You know, video games, TV, movies, etcetera.

Guzman-Lopez: Fairfax also met a federal government benchmark. That measure of success went up this year. L.A. Unified and many other school districts missed the mark. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said he hopes the next president will overhaul federal education rules.

Jack O'Connell: I do hope for more flexibility from, you know, the next administration, regardless of who wins. The current system is overly prescriptive, it's one sizes fits all, and I don't believe it's the best portrayal of a school's performance.

Guzman-Lopez: The Academic Performance Index summarizes state subject exam scores and scores from the high school exit exam. The state intervenes when schools continue to score low.