Berkeley School District students show improvement on state tests

bhs_FF
Jan Flatley-Feldman/File

Berkeley public schools have seen an overall improvement in performance on state tests, according to a progress report released Aug. 29.

According to the California Department of Education’s report, the Berkeley Unified School District achieved an Academic Performance Index score of 821, surpassing state goals. That score represents an improvement of 10 points over last year’s score of 811.

The API score is based on standardized tests and assessments and is used as a measurement of student progress in California K-12 public schools. It is scored on a scale of 200 to 1,000, with a statewide target of 800. Only four schools in the district did not meet this goal.

“The more people understand the test scores and the impact they have on our students, the more they will be able to help them to improve,” said Mark Coplan, spokesperson for Berkeley Unified School District.

Eight schools in the district saw a decrease in API scores. John Muir Elementary had the greatest drop — 41 points — and received a score of 782. The school’s principal, Audrey Amos, said faculty and administrators are already using the data to re-examine the curriculum.

In the first weeks of school, the report is shared with teachers, Amos said. Students also receive their individual reports to take home.

In the district, socioeconomically disadvantaged students’ API scores improved 21 points over last year, and African American students improved by 16 points. Still, school board President Karen Hemphill said these groups were 150 to 200 points behind other student groups.

“(There were) gains overall, but there’s not an acceleration,” Hemphill said. “The achievement gap isn’t narrowing.”

Hemphill said there will be more focus on underachieving student groups in the next year. She added that she hopes the implementation of the Common Core — a program that seeks to improve student success by aligning state education standards — eventually will help to narrow the achievement gap.

“Common Core is really changing the way schools teach all subjects,” Hemphill said. “I think that’s going to be the basis for making those strides.”

Tara Hurley covers city news. Contact her at [email protected].