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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”