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Scores Show Improvement for Santa Barbara County School Districts

Most local schools meet state requirements but fall short of federal standards, according to latest results

Teacher Ann Erickson reads to first-graders Thursday at Mountain View School in Goleta, one of a handful of schools in Santa Barbara County to achieve Academic Performance Index growth while also meeting Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks.

Teacher Ann Erickson reads to first-graders Thursday at Mountain View School in Goleta, one of a handful of schools in Santa Barbara County to achieve Academic Performance Index growth while also meeting Adequate Yearly Progress benchmarks.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

Most Santa Barbara County schools are continuing to show academic growth, according to state accountability scores released Thursday.

More California schools than ever have met or surpassed the statewide target for the 2012 Academic Performance Index (API) which is based on results of the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program.

Schools aim to earn a score of 800 in a system that ranks from 200 to 1,000.

Results released Thursday also show that the highest-ever number of schools failed to meet federal academic achievement marks put in place by the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) — a system set forth under 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act that expects all students to be proficient in math and English by 2014.

A state news release focused attention on API growth instead of AYP, while the state awaits a federal waiver from the lofty, often criticized federal standards.

Some 53 percent of schools scored at or above 800 for the first time in history, with 59 percent of elementary schools, 49 percent of middle schools and 30 percent of high schools meeting that benchmark.

Most Santa Barbara County school districts at least slightly improved their API scores, whereas just three districts—Ballard Elementary, Cold Spring Elementary and Montecito Elementary – met AYP.

A student a Mountain View School in Goleta reads during class Thursday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)
A student a Mountain View School in Goleta reads during class Thursday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara Unified School District posted an 808, with nine of 13 elementary schools, all junior high schools and one of three high schools — Dos Pueblosposting API gains.

Superintendent David Cash said he wasn’t surprised by the scores, and he emphasized that they are just one of many indicators of student performance.

“I don’t believe that a three-digit number actually represents what happens at schools.” Cash said. “We’re very proud of the work that that represents. We know that we have a lot of work left to do. It’s a slice in time of a student’s performance.”

Carpinteria Unified School District is in its seventh consecutive year of academic growth, increasing its API score by seven points to 788.

Paul Cordeiro, who’s served as superintendent eight years, said he was especially proud of gains across every subgroup, especially the economically disadvantaged and English-language learners.

Mountain View Elementary in the Goleta Union School District was one of a handful of schools to achieve API growth while also meeting AYP.

The school has an API of 960 — one of the highest in the county — and the district improved from 869 to 878.

“My thoughts are that we’re very proud of our progress, and we’re proud of the progress that our district has made,” said Principal Ned Schoenwetter. “Our students and parents have worked very hard.”

In the North County, scores steadily increased in the Lompoc Unified, Orcutt Union and Santa Ynez Valley Union High school districts.

Eight of 10 schools in Orcutt have an API above 800, with the highest (865) at Ralph Dunlap Elementary.

All three of the comprehensive high schools in Santa Maria exceeded their API growth targets to help the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District raise its overall API score 11 points to 717.

In the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, API improved by one point to 726. Ten of the district’s 19 elementary and junior high schools increased their API scores, whereas none met over AYP.

District spokeswoman Maggie White said school scores have grown steadily, and she isn’t surprised that the district is among the thousands of schools failing to meet AYP.

“We definitely had some very nice improvement,” White said. “We’ve always said we’re in good company, and we continue to be in good company.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 10.12.12 @ 12:02 PM

Alarming to read both Santa Barbara High and San Marcos High not only failed to meet their goals, but even slipped a bit from the prior year.  This why approximately 70% of our high school graduates in this state are not college ready requiring additional remediation when they attempt college.

When will voters and tax payers demand we pay only once for students to leave high schools proficient in english and math? When will they elect school board members who insist on higher standards for students and not just higher pay for teachers or higher taxes for property owners?

Consider this carefully when you cast your ballots this November. Will you vote for more of the same, more teacher union friendly school board members and higher and higher taxes ....just so you can get more of the same failing performance? I hope not.

Change is possible, but keeping teacher unions on both sides of the bargaining table and pouring good tax money after bad is not the way to get it. Who are the independent school board candidates committed to getting better results for our students? Who thinks just pouring more tax dollars on failing schools is still the best answer?

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