California Adds Flexibility to Schools' Academic Performance Index

California Adds Flexibility to Schools' Academic Performance Index

A DIFFERENT KIND OF API: Usually when we hear 'API' in Silicon Valley, thoughts gravitate towards application programming interfaces which allow different web apps to search, sort, and retrieve data from one another. This time around, however, it's all about the Academic Performance Index -- a term created with California's Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 to gauge individual schools and districts edu-worthiness.

On September 25, CA Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1458 into law, which among other things, places a ceiling on how much test scores may account for API. Previously, standardized tests accounted for 100% of a school's API. Under the new rules California high schools will have no more than 60% of students' test scores contribute to their API. This leaves room for the State Superintendent to develop additional measures for localized quality review. For elementary and middle schools, where these measures may not be as apparent, test scores must make up at least 60% of API.

There still remains a monumental effort to determine what additional measures are most relevant to students' learning and easy to capture across diverse school populations. The law explicitly calls for "locally convened panels to visit schools, observe teachers, interview students, and examine student work" to help develop these measures (with the caveat that these review panels must be included as budget items). 

The state's largest Chambers of Commerce applauded the measure, including Fresno, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose/Silicon Valley. Clearly potential employers want students emerging from school to be better at far more than just bubble tests. Still unknown is whether these same folks are willing to put some financial support behind their words.

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