Schools in East Palo Alto celebrated a growth in standardized test scores Wednesday (Aug. 31), despite failing to make "adequate yearly progress" under the No Child Left Behind law.
The Academic Performance Index (API) was up 79 points over three years, from 636 to 715, in the Ravenswood City School District, which serves K-8 children in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park.
"All of our schools have shown double and even triple digit growth since 2008," Superintendent Maria De La Vega said.
East Palo Alto's highest-performing public school, with an API of 866, is a charter school -- not managed by the Ravenswood district. It is the K-8 East Palo Alto Charter School, run by the Oakland-based Aspire Public Schools under a charter agreement with Ravenswood. Admission to the sought-after school is by lottery.
Since 2008, Ravenswood has been one of seven California school districts in the "Program Improvement Cohort 1" program, under intensive monitoring by outside groups to boost its performance.
"Our primary focus was and remains student achievement," De La Vega said.
The district's top-performing school, with an API of 816, was Brentwood Academy which, until last year, was managed as a charter school under an agreement with the for-profit EdisonLearning Inc. of New York.
Principal Tami Espinosa attributed Brentwood's success to good teachers and a strong academic program.
"People have asked me what's our secret, but there is no secret," Espinosa said.
"I was able to come in and hire the very best teachers. We developed a very structured and rigorous academic program. And we have held people accountable. While I'm thrilled with our results, I'm not surprised."
Other top-performers within Ravenswood were the K-8 Costano/Home of the 49ers, which went from 612 to 758 in three years; and Willow Oaks, which went from 671 to 753.
"Our teachers are triumphant but we are not done," De La Vega said. "We will continue to work aggressively to insure a quality education for every child."