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    Sacramento Revises Its Latest "Similar Schools" Academic Performance Rankings, Produces Mixed Results For LB Schools

    (May 17, 2006) -- The CA Dept. of Education has revised its Academic Performance Index rankings for what it calls "similar schools" which compare a school's academic performance against schools of similar demographic backgrounds, not against all CA schools.

    Although the revisions boosted the "similar schools" ranking for some LB schools, they also showed (as first reported two months ago by that some very highly-ranked LB schools -- rated among the highest in the state -- did not fare as well when measured against schools of similar demographic backgrounds.

    Sacramento's revised "similar school" rankings, released May 16, don't change each school's underlying Academic Performance Index ranking which compares the school against all schools statewide. Those rankings, first released in March 2006, remain unchanged.

    Measuring schools both statewide and against so-called "similar schools," the CA Dept. of Education produces "deciles" (percentiles of ten) ranking each school within a 10% academic performance level. Schools in decile 10 are the top 10%; schools in decile 1 is the bottom 10%; those in deciles 9 through 9 fall in-between. To produce deciles for what it calls "similar schools," the CDE uses "similar demographic characteristics" listed on CDE's website as including "Pupil mobility, Pupil ethnicity, Pupil socioeconomic status, Percentage of teachers who are fully credentialed, Percentage of teachers who hold emergency credentials, Percentage of pupils who are English learners, Average class size per grade level, Whether the schools operate multitrack year-round educational programs." Since Jan. 2006, the demographic characteristics also include "Grade span enrollments (grades two, six, seven to eight, and nine to eleven), Students in Gifted and Talented Education program, Students with disabilities, Reclassified fluent-English-proficient (RFEP) students, Migrant education students, Students in full-day reduced class size program."

    [Comment: has for years objected to Sacramento's "similar schools" rankings as offensive in their assumptions and politically-motivated in their application. However, since taxpayer-paid bureaucrats spend taxpayer dollars to produce them, and others cite them defensively, we cite them here and let the chips fall where they may.]

    In some cases, the Sacramento's revised "similar school" rankings produced higher deciles for some LB schools: ELB's Burcham Elementary, ranked in decile 4 when compared to all schools statewide, is now ranked in decile 8 when compared to demographically "similar schools."

    However some LB schools which rank among the highest in the state when compared to all CA schools did not score as well when compared to schools with similar demographics. ELB's Mini Gant Elementary is in decile 10 statewide...but in decile 7 compared to schools with similar demographics. ELB's Twain Elementary, in decile 9 compared to all CA schools, is in decile 3 compared to CA schools with similar demographics. ELB's Prisk & Cubberley Elementary schools were in decile 8 statewide but decile 5 compared to demographically similar schools (both were in decile 4 among "similar schools" before the revised figures).

    Some LBUSD schools clearly excelled, at or near the top when ranked either statewide or compared to schools with similar demographics. Among Elementary Schools: Naples (10 statewide and 10 among "similar schools"), Fremont and Lowell (10 statewide, 9 "similar schools"), Longfellow (9 statewide, 10 "similar schools") and Newcomb (9 statewide and 9 "similar schools").

    Among the higher scoring LB Middle Schools: Hughes (9 statewide, 10 "similar schools"), Stanford (9 statewide, 10 "similar schools"), Rogers (8 statewide, 9 "similar schools"), Hill (8 statewide, 10 "similar schools") and Bancroft (8 statewide and 8 "similar schools").

    Among High Schools, LBUSD's Academy of Math & Science scored in decile 10 statewide and decile 10 when measured against "similar schools."

    Elsewhere, ELB's Millikan High was in decile 5 statewide and decile 3 compared to demographically similar schools. LB Poly and Wilson both ranked in decile 7 statewide and 7 compared to similar schools. Lakewood was in decile 7 statewide and decile 8 compared to "similar schools." NLB's Jordan High, previously in decile 2 statewide, moved "up" to decile 3 compared to demographically similar schools.

    To view the complete list of revised API decile rankings and scores for all LBUSD schools, click LBUSD 2006 API deciles with scores, revised May 16/06.

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