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The API Calculated Score: How Good is Your K-12 School?

Updated on July 6, 2012

Most parents with kids in K-12 are concerned about the school their kids attend and learn. The usual transitions when the Academic Performance Index (API) of a school happens after 6th grade (child is now in Jr. High) or after 8th grade (child is going to High School). Of course, if the family relocates, that is another issue to look at - where to buy your house or live and its proximity to good school.

All states use the API to evaluate the schools within local districts of counties. They are based on the test results given to students of the school. They are ranked from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best school. The tests are uniform throughout the state and scores are compared to similar populations, class size, socioeconomics and education level of teachers.

The standard results for a school are provided with the API score (higher the better), current school ranking, previous ranking, Similar school ranking, percent of kids that are economically disadvantage, labeled, ED (low income) or percent of kids that are English as a second language, labeled, EL.

So, for example, a school that ranks 4, overall is not that good, even though, a similar school in size and makeup ranks only 2, in the state. Now, look at the ED and EL percentages. In this example, the school has 55% of low income families and 33% are not native English speakers. The ED percentage is not that significant except for the location of the school and the caliber of the kids attending. The EL rating is really why the school is not performing well to a large extent. It indicates a third of the school are learning English is some way and it brings down the overall score of the school down during testing. If the students have problems understanding the test questions in English, the scores drop.

The correlation between the ED and EL percentages of schools to their rating is very clear. Schools with high ratings (7+) always have much lower ED and EL precentages than others. Schools with a rating of 8+, have these percentages of not more than 15-20%, while schools with a rating of 2, have the same ratings 75% and more! Schools with a rating of 9-10, always have these percentages of less than 10%.

What this indicates is that here is proof that not knowing English is detrimental to American schools. The schools teach in English from Grade 1 and above. In K, some will coach students not knowing English but it really screws up the learning process to others. They are often put in a "holding pattern" until those catch up. The time of the teacher is so divided. Worse, is that many families do not speak English at home because of cultural preservation, so their kids never become fluent and it hurts their English skills. This can impact them and their test scores through HS.

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