New API scores; some Southland schools improve

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The new Academic Performance Index scores are out for hundreds of California schools. Those numbers indicate which schools are getting better.

It’s a happy day at Wild Rose Elementary in Monrovia. Last year, its API was 795 – a frustrating five points below the state’s magic 800 mark. This year: 822.

Wild Rose has a lot going for it – its teachers have been in the profession 18 years on average; the statewide average is 13. Wild Rose isn’t a privileged school – more than two-thirds of its kids are in the government’s free lunch program. That’s a tipoff that the families there are just making ends meet.

Now look at Martin Luther King Elementary in Compton. Two-thirds of the King students are “English learners” – and more than 90 percent are in the free lunch program. King spends about a thousand dollars less per student than the state average; one reason could be that the average teacher has been teaching for only 11 years.

Last year, King had the lowest API among elementary schools in Compton. But thanks to an impressive 43-point jump, King’s API of 675 is one up from the bottom. There’s still a long way to go – but it’s in the right direction.