By Karen Billing
The Rancho Santa Fe School District is celebrating the achievement of its middle school receiving its highest-ever Academic Performance Index scores for 2009-10. Based on the scores of the STAR California standards tests, the middle school earned a score of 951, up 26 points from last year.
The elementary school got a solid score of 946 (out of 1,000) but the score dropped four points from last year.
"My heart sank when I saw the minus four in elementary for the first time," Assistant Superintendent Cindy Schaub said, noting every year the score has shown improvement. "Given our size, we're always going to be volatile."
Teachers will now use the scores to identify areas of need, putting student names to the numerical data to focus on each individual students.
"We want to figure out how we move every student forward no matter where they started," Schaub said.
The RSF elementary school score of 946 placed in the middle of the Del Mar Union School District’s API of 969 and the Solana Beach School District's 936. Rancho Santa Fe only had 396 students (K-6) take the tests compared to Del Mar's 2,908 and Solana Beach's 1,975.
"There is always the feeling that we can do better," Rancho Santa Fe School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney said.
Schaub said the district has a 90 percent proficient target for all of its students. They were able to hit the 90 percent mark in three grade levels this year in English-language arts: The fifth graders are 94 percent proficient, and fourth and eighth grade are both 92 percent. In math, their proficiency levels took a very significant jump, the highest numbers they have seen in the last three years.
"Huge kudos go to our second grade team," said Schaub, noting the second graders are 99 percent proficient in math. Third graders scored 93 percent proficient and fourth grade 90 percent proficient; fifth and sixth grades were close at 87 percent.
In middle school, their seventh grade algebra students and eighth grade geometry students scored 100 percent proficient. Schaub looked at the school's subgroup API scores, as well. Subgroups are based on race/ethnicity, economic status, special education and English language learners. There has to be 100 students in a subgroup in order for them to receive an API and the Rancho Santa Fe district's only reportable subgroup is white students. Comparing the subgroup of white students to the same group in the Del Mar and the Solana Beach districts, the district is at the same level or ahead of its neighboring elementary school districts: Rancho Santa Fe white students had a 951 API, compared to Del Mar's 951 and Solana Beach's 943.
While there weren't enough students in the special education and English language learners subgroups for a reportable API, Schaub still looked at their numbers in comparison to the other districts.
"That is the area that is of the most concern to me," said Schaub, as their numbers were markedly lower than the other districts, although they have much far fewer students. Schaub said she planned to speak to Del Mar and Solana Beach about best practices and how they might be able to get those numbers up for special education and English language learners.
In middle school, Rancho Santa Fe white students are ahead of both Carmel Valley Middle School and Earl Warren Middle School. The subgroup scored a 958 to their 954. School-wide, Rancho Santa Fe's API is 951 to Carmel Valley's 967 and Earl Warren's 929. Delaney said she is very pleased with the middle school results and knows that their education is enhanced by things that are not tested, such as the school's Scripps ocean science partnership and the Columbia Writing Program.