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September 30, 2011 > Update on New Haven schools

Update on New Haven schools

Submitted By Rick La Plante

Another New Haven Unified School District elementary school has joined the "800 Club" of schools meeting or exceeding the state's goal for student achievement.

Emanuele Elementary raised its Academic Performance Index by 19 points - from 781 in 2009-10 to 800 in 2010-11 - meeting the state's target score and continuing a steady ascent over the past several years. As recently as 2007-08, Emanuele's API was 738.

Alvarado Elementary and Kitayama Elementary also made double-digit gains on the API. Alvarado improved by 17 points, to 852, and is up an impressive 111 points since 2004-05. Kitayama improved 13 points, to 841, and is up 55 points during the same six-year period.

Five of the District's seven elementary schools are now members of the "800 Club," led by Eastin Elementary, with a score of 911, and also including Pioneer Elementary, at 839. Alvarado Middle School also is part of the "800 Club," at 815.

Conley-Caraballo High, the District's continuation high school, also made notable gains. Although API calculations vary somewhat for small schools and continuation schools, CCHS raised its score 126 points, from 579 in 2009-10 to 705.

API scores at the District's other schools are: Hillview Crest Elementary, 759; Searles Elementary, 761; Cesar Chavez Middle, 732; James Logan High, 734.

The annual API results, recently released by the California Department of Education, are scores of between 200 and 1,000 assigned to all schools and districts in the state, based on the results of standardized tests taken each spring. A minimum score of 710 is required to meet federal accountability guidelines.

All New Haven schools are well above the federal accountability level; however the District still is in "Program Improvement" according to the federal measure known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Despite the improvement at Emanuele and Kitayama, both schools are in "Program Improvement" for the first time, as are Searles and Cesar Chavez, joining Alvarado Elementary and Hillview Crest.

"It's clear from the state results that our District can be very proud of the improvement that's been made over the past several years," Superintendent Kari McVeigh said. "But the federal requirements simply continue to accelerate at an unrealistic rate, which is why so many districts are being labeled Program Improvement.

"Frankly it's become a designation, nothing more, because unless something changes, it's a mathematical certainty that every district in the state is going to be in Program Improvement in the next couple of years."

The District's API score dropped slightly, from 778 to 775, but still is well above the federal minimum and still is up 44 points over the past six years. AYP scores also slipped slightly; the percentage of students scoring proficient and above is 57.7 percent (down from 57.8 percent) in English/language arts and 53.5 percent (down from 56.4 percent) in mathematics.

The dip in API and AYP math numbers may be attributable to the District's decision to increase access to advanced math courses at the secondary level, Director of Assessment and Evaluation Craig Boyan noted, explaining that fewer high-performing students were in general math and more in algebra and geometry.

"Advancing these students to higher levels of math may initially result in some lower scores in the general math courses," he said. "That should improve as adjustments are made in the future."

More information is available on the California Department of Education website (www.cde.ca.gov).

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