CBEE DENOUNCES ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE INDEX (API) AS INADEQUATE FOR MEASURING SCHOOL GROWTH AND SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT
California's Business for Education Excellence Press Release, August 31, 2005
AYP Measures Grade Level Proficiency
It’s Simpler and Gives Actionable Information that Parents and Policymakers Understand
California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE) today denounced the Academic Performance Index (API) as “a wholly inadequate and confusing measurement of school performance which tragically hides achievement gaps of subgroups of students who are declining in proficiency.” Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) which measures a school’s ability to bring all students to grade level proficiency, is a much more accurate measurement of school and student success.
This assessment came today upon the release of the state’s API and AYP numbers by California State Department of Education. According to the Department, the “significant gains in schools meeting their API growth targets” is contrasted with fewer schools making their AYP targets.
“Superintendent O’Connell is exactly right to call attention to the ‘dichotomy’ of reports released today, but it is exactly wrong to call API a more accurate reflection of growth in our schools,” said Jim Lanich, Ph.D., and president of CBEE. “AYP measures grade level proficiency. That’s it. There is no measurement that’s simpler or easier to understand.”
“The one word to sum up the state’s API system is ‘gobbledygook’,” continued Lanich. “The API is confusing to parents and the public. What does a score of 600 or 800 or 1000 really mean? What are deciles? What are scaled scores? What is significant growth? How does this help parents understand how their children are doing in school?”
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measures school performance and growth based on the most critical and straightforward test: How many students are performing at grade level? AYP also requires reporting of student information broken down by ethnicity, income level, students with disabilities and English language learners. By identifying and reporting the performance of all subgroups of students it’s impossible to hide achievement gaps, thus ensuring schools are held accountable for the academic achievement of every student at every school.
“The AYP’s grade level proficiency benchmark is something everyone understands and it’s the measurement parents most care about. Parents want to know one simple thing: Is their child performing at grade level and how well is their child’s school doing in bringing all students to grade level proficiency year after year? AYP measurements also show us where achievement gaps exist, so those students and those schools can get the help they need to succeed and raise student academic achievement. If we gauged schools by API only, we’d have no idea which students or how many were falling behind,” said Lanich.
Some have also suggested that AYP growth targets, developed by the California Department of Education, are too stringent with API being more straightforward and a better measurement of school progress. In fact, API growth targets are artificial because they are recalculated for every school every year using a mystery formula which adjusts the base from which the growth is determined – making any real improvement impossible to determine and allowing for the politicization of API growth scores and student achievement.
To make matters worse, current API standards only require schools to meet a minimal five percent “growth” in overall scores each year. Under these artificial growth targets, it could take students 50 years to reach grade-level proficiency. Even if that growth rate were to double to 10% a year, the CA Department of Education acknowledges it would still take schools over 20 years to ensure every child reaches grade-level proficiency.
“Every parent would agree that is an unacceptable timeline,” said Lanich.
As proof of API’s failure, CBEE partner Just for the Kids-California, a website which analyzes state student test data, has compiled a list of 377 California public schools which missed their AYP targets, but made at least a 30+ point gain (or “growth”) in their API. Most of those 377 schools failed to make their AYP targets because they have subgroups of students, in most cases poor and/or ethnic minority students, who are not achieving grade level proficiency. The chart can be downloaded at http://www.jftk-ca.org/aypvsapi.
This JFTK-CA chart illustrates the most fundamental failure of the API ranking system. API hides achievement gaps. A school’s API score represents the average test results of an entire school’s student body. A school-wide assessment allows a group of high academic achievers to raise the school’s average score enough to cover up the performance of underachieving students at the same school. A school could score high on the API and meet its growth targets year after year, but still have subgroups of students who are not performing at grade level or even declining in proficiency – masking the achievement gaps between the “haves and have nots.”
As illustrated in the 2005 chart compiled by Just for the Kids-California, and by other JFTK-CA analyses done in prior years the students who have traditionally fallen through the cracks are mostly ethnic minority students and/or students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. These students make up two-thirds of California’s student population and represent our state’s future workforce.
Continued Lanich, “If not for AYP reporting requirements, it’s likely that many low income and ethnic minority students would continue to languish or worse, decline in proficiency. We cannot afford to let them fall through the cracks. California needs to move toward reporting systems that are straightforward and less confusing and better hold our schools accountable for bringing students to grade level proficiency. That’s what every parent wants.”
Below is a summary of CBEE’s position on AYP vs. API:
AYP is the Best Yardstick for Schools Because it Measures Grade Level Proficiency: CBEE strongly supports the bipartisan goal of No Child Left Behind legislation to bring every student to grade level proficiency by 2014.
API Hides Achievement Gaps and the “Growth” Targets are Artificial: Problems with the API system are fundamental.
Acceptable Statewide Growth Model Would Ensure All Students Reach Grade Level Proficiency by 2014.
California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE) was founded in 1999 by major business and business organizations to represent the business community in state education policy making and restore excellence to California public schools.
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