API scores show mixed results
While five schools in the Sonoma Valley Unified School District are on "program improvement," there is optimism as every one of the district's schools scored in excess of 700 on the state's Academic Performance Index, (API).
Two district schools, Prestwood Elementary and the Sonoma Charter School scored in excess of 800, which is the target. But for the first time, every district school scored over 700.
The schools on program improvement include El Verano, Dunbar, Flowery, Sassarini and Altimira.
"Want you want to see is steady upward trending," said Lynn Fitzpatrick, the district's director of instruction and curriculum.
"The goal is to get better teaching," she continued. "We want to get better at teaching the kids so that everybody scores above 800."
Dunbar, El Verano and the Sonoma Charter School had their API scores fall, Dunbar by four points, El Verano by seven and the Charter School by 12 points, but the Charter School did score 831.
While Dunbar fell last year, it still has grown 35 points in the last two years. And El Verano's growth for the past two years is up eight points.
The scores for the district schools include, Dunbar at 763 (down 4 points), El Verano at 725 (down 7 points), Flowery at 702 (up 14 points), Prestwood at 819 (up 2 points), Sassarini at 721 (up 20 points), Sonoma Charter at 831 (down 12 points), Woodland Star at 730 (up 48 points), Adele Harrison at 764 (up 16 points), Altimira at 734 (up 2 points) and Sonoma Valley High at 738 (up 8 points).
Creekside with 422 and Gateway with 454 are based on a small number of students and the state says their scores should be carefully interpreted.
The district has instituted programs to boost scores, but it will take some time for the results to show up.
El Verano has a preschool program that's in its third year, and at all the elementary schools except for Prestwood, there is a Jump-Start program now in its second year. The Jump-Start program is a 15-day session for parents and students entering kindergarten and targets students who didn't go to preschool.
"We're tracking the Jump-Start kids to see if that helps keep them at grade level," Fitzpatrick said. But since the program has only been in operation two years, it will take several years to see what those kids are achieving.
Fitzpatrick said the district as a whole has made steady gains over the last two years and Hispanic students have also made gains. "We're making gains as subgroups are increasing," she said. "As the subgroups expand, we're still showing growth."
Another program the district has started to boost scores is Best First Instruction, which is district wide. The program encourages being an active, engaged participant, listening to understand, respecting other's opinions and ideas, being open to new ideas and allowing all voices to be heard.
But that too will take time.
"Education can't be a sprint," Fitzgerald said. "We're learning how to educate any student who walks in the door."
"We don't want to have to re-teach," she continued. "We want students to 'get it' the first time."
The district is also working on a program that will give teachers a chance to assess their students' reading skills several times a year instead of waiting for the test scores at the end of the year.
"We have terrific teachers who are putting their skills to work," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick will be giving the school board a report on test scores at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) in the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.