Test scores were released today for standardized (STAR) tests taken by public school students last spring, and the 2010 results show that all districts in Southwest Riverside County exceeded Academic Performance Index growth targets set out by the state of California, but missed meeting federal benchmarks for subgroups.
Temecula Valley Unified School District topped school districts in the region, with a district-wide API score of 856 — an eight-point gain over 2009’s score. According to District Spokeswoman Melanie Norton, nine of Temecula’s elementary schools scored over 900.
“Our middle and high schools also did really well. Bella Vista Middle School had a 33-point jump, which is very impressive, and Chaparral High School gained 30 points,” Norton said.
Susan H. Nelson High School, an alternative education program, gained 74 points, she said.
The Lake Elsinore Unified School District had a district-wide API score of 812, a gain of 24 points from last year and the highest growth in Southwest Riverside. Three of its elementary schools scored over 900, with Earl Warren Elementary jumping 48 points from 864 last year to 912 this year. Butterfield Elementary grew 76 points from 777 to 853, and David A. Brown Middle School had a gain of 52 points from 773 to 825 for 2010.
The Murrieta Valley Unified School District had a district-wide API score of 837, an 11-point gain over last year. The highest performing school was Cole Canyon Elementary, with an API of 916. All of Murrieta’s schools scored over the statewide target of 800, with the exception of two of its alternative education sites. Buchanan Elementary and Lisa J. Mails Elementary had the highest gains, of 27 and 28 points.
“We have fine schools and fine teachers and we are very proud of them. Even though we did well, we don’t want to cause complacency,” said Guy Romero, assistant superintendent of educational services for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.
According to Romero, Murrieta is the No. 2 scoring district in Riverside County, with Temecula being first. Cole Canyon is the fifth highest scoring elementary in the county, and all of Murrieta’s high schools scored as No. 2, 3, and 4 in the county behind Great Oak High School, he said.
The Menifee Union School District saw an 18-point growth from last year, bringing them to a district average of 828 for 2010. Oak Meadows and Evans Ranch elementary schools topped Menifee schools with 880 API scores — Oak Meadows with a gain of 37 points and Evans Ranch with a gain of 28 points since 2009. Menifee Valley Middle School had a gain of 49 points, from 763 in 2009 to 812 this year, and met its federal targets for math and English-language arts.
Hemet Unified School District also improved, making an 11-point gain from 742 in 2009 to 753 in 2010. The highest scoring elementary in Hemet was Cottonwood Elementary at 877, a 38-point gain from 839 last year. Jacob Wiens Elementary had the largest gain in Hemet, up 49 points from 742 to 791. Two of Hemet’s middle schools — Acacia Middle School and Diamond Valley Middle School — met their federal proficiency targets in math and English-language arts.
Romoland Elementary School District, made up of three elementary schools and one middle school, grew 33 points from a 740 API last year to 773. Romoland Elementary School had the highest gain of 87 points, from 690 to 777.
Nuview Union School District saw no increase over last year, staying at 771 API. Perris Elementary School District saw a gain of 31 points, from 723 to 754. Perris High School District gained 39 points, taking it from a 688 API in 2009 to a 727 for 2010.
And in the San Jacinto Unified School District, there was a 12-point gain over last year’s score of 703, taking it to 715 district-wide.
Across the county, however, school districts struggled to meet federal Adequate Yearly Progress requirements. The standards are a result of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Under the regulations, districts are measured on the performance of subgroups such as English learners, special education students and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. For 2010, districts were asked to be at 56 percent proficient or above in English-language arts and 56.4 percent in math.
While all of Temecula’s schools met statewide targets, two of its elementary schools — Susan LaVorgna and Temecula Luiseno — did not meet federal targets for math in the students with disabilities category. The trend continued at the middle and high school level.
“Overall, the subgroups are the ones we are going to be focusing on in this upcoming year,” Norton said.
According to Norton, it gets more difficult each year for educators to meet the federal targets, as they increase each year. Next year, the federal level wants to see 67.3 percent of students in all groups meeting the math requirement. By 2013, that target will be 89.1 percent. She said under the Obama administration, those requirements may change.
Romero agreed with Norton, saying that two of Murrieta’s elementary schools — Rail Ranch Elementary and Avaxat Elementary — missed meeting the federal targets by a few socio-economically disadvantaged students.
“Right now, the biggest concern we have are those subgroups,” Romero said.
How Riverside County did as a whole
Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth M. Young today issued a statement on the newly released 2010 statewide testing results.
“The data in the latest Accountability Progress Report show that even in an increasingly difficult educational environment, Riverside County’s teachers and schools are keeping their compact with citizens. They are delivering a quality education to our children, and the incremental gains in most of these new statistical measurements illustrate that,” Young said.
Among all Riverside County public schools, the county scored an API of 767, eighth best among large counties, said Rick Peoples, spokesman for the Riverside County Office of Education.
Results in the state report generally showed Riverside County rising among the state’s 16 largest counties. Three years ago in the state API rankings, Riverside ranked 10th among the state’s 16 large counties, Peoples said. Since then, the new results show, it has surpassed two counties, it is nudging the state average for API growth, and its 27-point gain over that period is second-best of all large counties.
Meanwhile, on the English-language arts portion of the testing in the federal No Child Left Behind rankings, at 53.8 percent proficient or above, Riverside County’s AYP proficiency increase was unmatched among large counties over those same three years. Riverside County’s math proficiency increase during that three-year period was only bested by three other large counties, Peoples said.
Riverside County’s AYP proficiency rate in math was 56.1 percent, or 10th best in the large-county pack.
Students with disabilities were up 20 points county-wide. Socio-economically disadvantaged students were up 18 points, Hispanics and English language learners were up 15 points and white students were up 14 points. African American students increased by 1 percent.
“The year 2009-10 was also one of high adversity for education,” Young said. “Double-digit joblessness disrupted the home lives of many Riverside County students. There were severe school budget cuts and teacher layoffs, and the chronically late state budget imposed uncertainty on local planning. All this came atop those No Child Left Behind pressures.”
“The steady, long-term increase in performance shows the value of an unwavering commitment to improvement, regardless of conditions. Riverside County’s API results have risen every year since the test was launched in 1999. From an initial score of 591, the county’s API score has now risen to 767. That’s progress!”
Maggie Avants is the education editor for SWRNN. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow SWRNNedu on Twitter!