By Karen Billing
The Rancho Santa Fe School District has a lot to celebrate.
Last week district superintendent Lindy Delaney had the pleasure of delivering the news that the district had achieved its highest API (Academic Performance Index) scores in school district history this year, a district-wide score of 960, an increase of nine points over last year.
The elementary school enjoyed a 13-point increase for a score of 963; the largest jump in scores since 2005. The middle school had a three-point gain to 954, the second highest middle school score in San Diego County.
Last year, assistant superintendent Cindy Schaub stood before the board and shared their goals to make improvements in the areas of English language learners and students with disabilities.
The work paid off— the ELL subgroup scored 41 points higher this year and the students with disabilities subgroup took a huge leap forward by 67 points.
The elementary students with disabilities group had a 97-point jump in scores.
“That’s huge,” Schaub said.
The elementary school API of 963 is above neighboring Del Mar Union School District’s at 961 and Solana Beach School District’s 944, but the districts are not really comparable.
Schaub said it’s also not accurate to compare RSF Middle School’s score of 954 among 160 students with Carmel Valley Middle School’s 974, scored by its population of 1,418 students.
Using a similar school ranking, which compares similar schools throughout the state using demographics, size and percentage of students in certain subgroups, both the elementary and middle school are among the top 10 percent of their similar school group. Of the 100 schools most like the RSF schools in the state, R. Roger Rowe elementary is ranked number four and the middle school is ranked third in the state.
No other surrounding schools are on RSF’s similar schools list and few are in the top 10 percent of their similar school group. The ones that are in the top 10 percent of their group locally include Ocean Air, Sage Canyon and Del Mar Heights in the Del Mar Union School District; Solana Pacific in the Solana Beach School District; and Carmel Valley Middle School in the San Dieguito Union High School District.
One of the district’s main goals is for students to be 90 percent proficient and advanced at each grade level and each subject tested.
Based on the test scores, all of the grade levels are above 90 percent efficient in English-language arts, save for third grade, which scored an 84.
“Third grade scores were depressed across the state of California,” Schaub said. “The conjectures made were that the level of text is so much higher than second grade and longer than what kids are used to seeing.”
She said further proof that it’s about the test not the students is that the same group of third graders that got an 85 last year, scored a 97 in fourth grade.
The third grade’s 84 percent efficiency is also a lot higher than the 48 percent state average.
Rancho Santa Fe students are also “super strong” in math, with second graders leading the way at 98 percent efficient. Seventh grade algebra and eighth grade geometry saw 100 percent efficiency.
A large number of students also scored the highest possible on the writing portion of the test.
“We know that our kids are great writers,” said Schaub, noting that it’s even more impressive that the students are able to perform “exceedingly well” in a test situation.
While high test scores are wanted, Schaub said the district’s vision is also to provide a high- quality enrichment experience. Students spend 100 minutes a week engaged in opportunities such as electives, clubs, music, drama and other activities that create well-rounded students.
“I’m proud to say we’re about kids and developing the whole child,” Schaub said. “To do both, to develop the whole child and get these scores, that feels amazing.”
RSF School students earn perfect STAR scores