By Beau Yarbrough, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 08/29/13, 11:30 AM PDT |

At the end of a test score era, Inland Empire schools more or less held steady on the Academic Performance Index scores released by the state Department of Education on Thursday.

The API is calculated using test scores from the California Standards Tests (CSTs) in English, math grades 2 through 11, science in three grades and history and social science in three grades. High school API scores also include results from the California High School Exit Exam. Scores range from 200 through 1,000.

Next year, California will be administering new tests, aligned with the new Common Core curriculum shared with most of the states in the country. As a result, the API — if it still exists by that name — won’t be an apples-to-apples comparison of comparable tests. The weight individual tests have received in the API score have varied over time, but next year’s change will be the most dramatic since it was instituted.

“Looking at what’s going on with the testing legislation, there’ll be something like it, but it’s basically a reset,” said Mark Rogers, senior director of secondary education for Bonita Unified in San Dimas.

The confusion over what the next era of testing will look like is a cause for concern for San Bernardino County’s top educator.

“With the future commitment to adopting the new Common Core State Standards, the focus really is looking forward to the next stage in accountability for our students, schools and districts,” San Bernardino County Superintendent Gary Thomas is quoted as saying in a release.

“One big area of concern with our current accountability system is that our state system does not match up with the federal benchmark for measuring school performance, which creates confusion not only for educators, but also for the public.”

Bonita Unified received an 872 API score, up 5 from 867 last year.

That marks the 11th consecutive year of API growth, according to Rogers.

“Basically, every year since the beginning of this system,” he said.

Eight of the district’s 12 schools improved this year, including Ekstrand Elementary, which jumped 14 points.

It took multiple approaches to keep the district’s API scores improving for more than a decade.

“At first, it’s sort of large-scale foundational instructional issues,” Rogers said.

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