School test scores for 2008 are in. School Officials across the Eastern Sierra all report positive steps this past year but with room for improvement.
Each spring, students in California take what is known as the Standardized Testing and Reporting or STAR test to see how they are doing in Math, Science, English and Social Sciences. Out of those test scores and other information, the state creates the Academic Performance Index, or API, that can be used to measure how well a school is doing or at least how well a school is doing on standardized tests.
1000 points would be a perfect score, and all California Schools are expected to at least hit 800 points by 2014.
Bishop Union High School District Superintendant Maggie Kingsbury reports that Bishop High scored 718 out of a thousand, up 2 points over last year but below their target of 5 points over last year.
Bishop Elementary Superintendent Barry Simpson reports that the district, including the elementary schools and Home Street Middle school, had an API score of 750. The score is up over 744 last year. Still a ways to go to hit the 800 points by 2014, but Simpson says the district is proud of the progress.
The API at Mammoth High School was up 11 points this year with a score of 729. Mammoth Unified School Superintendent Frank Romero reports that the Middle School soared, in 2008, up 43 points to 764. The Elementary School slipped 8 points to 746 on the API.
The highest API recorded in the Eastern Sierra this year was the 847 for the Mammoth Olympic Academy, up 116 points over last year.
So what can a parent make of these test scores? At the High School level, students arent graded on the tests. The tests also dont count toward college entry, so there is an issue of kids not putting much effort toward doing well on the STAR tests. Romero says that at Mammoth High School, staff has used the incentive of an iPod music player raffle to encourage students to perform.
Test scores can be a double edged sword. Theyre both good and bad, says Inyo County School Superintendent Terry McAteer. Teachers feel they are over tested, but parents compare test scores when choosing a school for their children. While society has gone testing crazy, McAteer says that the state API test scores give parents and teachers a benchmark.
Eastern Sierra Unified Superintendent Don Clark says that hes not a big proponent of standardized tests, but he has seen schools respond to the tests in ways that help their kids. Clark says that the test results are a good snapshot, but that teachers are the best indicators of how students are doing in class. With 180 days a year with the students, teachers should not be surprised by test scores, he says.