By the Numbers: Santee Schools Score High on API

New stats are out that give the grade to Santee schools.

The Santee School District is the highest academically performing district in East County, based on recent data from the California Education Department.

It was close.

"We're usually neck to neck with Alpine. This year we're two points ahead of them," Santee School District Superintendent Patrick Shaw said.

The Santee School District as a whole scored 860 on the state's annual Academic Performance Index, based largely on student performance on state standardized testing. The district's score grew by 10 points from last year. Rio Seco Elementary posted the highest score, 886, and only two schools, Hill Creek Elementary and Sycamore Canyon Elementary, slipped from last year.

The statewide average API for all schools was 767.

West Hills and Santana high schools, which are in the Grossmont Union High School District, posted API scores of 785 and 782 respectively. The average score in the sprawling, diverse district was 735.

Meanwhile all nine schools in the Santee School District posted API scores above the state target score of 800.

"It's a combination of things," Shaw said about his district's success. "We have quality teaching. There's a strong focus on student growth," he said.

Santee's kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools also operate on a trimester schedule rather than the traditional two-semester approach and, as a result, test their students more often.

Santana High School had the largest point gains in the Grossmont district, up 20 points.

Reaching 800 is harder for high schools because the subjects they teach are more complex and more factors are considered.

"It's just been tougher for high schools to get to that level. But it's not impossible," Grossmont Union High School District Superintendent Ralf Swenson said.

Swenson pointed out the API does not measure the full high school learning experience.

"The API is based on the four core academic areas: math, English, social science, science. It doesn't measure foreign language or the arts or music or dance or athletics or career technical course," he said. "None of that shows up on the API, yet whole schools and their faculties are  judged on that API. I just don't think it's fair," Swenson said.

"I would like to see a system that includes standardized core academic assessments but also some form of measurement to the value of those programs that high schools are also good at providing," he said

Santee schools API scores and the improvement, or backsliding, from last year: 

High Schools                                 API      Change from 2009                                  

West Hills                                             782        20
Santana                                                 785         11

Santee Elementary Schools

Cajon Park Elementary                      860      0
Carlton Hills Elementary                  878      20
Carlton Oaks Elementary                  874      11
Chet F. Harritt Elementary               854      15
Hill Creek Elementary                       830      -4
Pepper Drive Elementary                  867      25
Prospect Avenue Elementary           805      2
Rio Seco Elementary                          886      9
Sycamore Canyon Elementary         874      -23


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