Palo Alto ranks fourth statewide among K-12 school districts, as measured by the state Academic Performance Index (API).
But district officials say "much remains to be accomplished" in boosting the achievement of certain student groups, including English learners, students with disabilities, students from poor families and under-represented minorities.
Palo Alto schools have a multi-pronged strategy on achievement: challenge the high achievers and bolster students in the middle or struggling at the bottom.
The multiple goals are reflected in a progress report on K-8 results that the Board of Education will discuss tonight, 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.
The districts with the top three APIs are San Marino, La Canada and Piedmont.
William Garrison, the district's director of assessment and evaluation, prepared a summary of how various groups are doing in meeting academic targets.
On California's basic measure of academic achievement, the California Standards Tests (CST) in English and math, 85 percent of Palo Alto second- through eighth-graders scored "advanced" or "proficient." More than 50 percent scored "advanced," Garrison reported.
In the past five years, second- through eighth-graders scoring "basic" or below on the English CST has dropped from 21 percent to 15 percent.
Of 1,309 second- through 11th-graders scoring "basic" or below on the CST English test, 34 percent were students with learning disabilities; 28 percent were English learners; 28 percent were low-income; 29 percent were Hispanic; 12 percent were African-American. Twenty-five percent had no learning disabilities and were not low-income, minority or English learners.