schools.jpgFor every dark, turbulent cloud hanging over California’s previously golden state, a silver lining can be found dotting the horizon.

That shred of optimism exists in the fact that amidst the budgetary slashes and pink slips that the state’s K-12 teachers have had to endure, schools are still achieving and making do with what they have.

These findings are based on the results of the annual Academic Performance Index, a survey of California’s public schools based on combined scores from the California Standards Test, the High School Exit Exam and other standardized tests.

State students gained 13 points over 2009 results to hit an average of 767 points on the API scale, and nearly half of all California schools tested reached the state’s targeted goal of 800 out of a possible 1,000 API points, according to information released today by the California Department of Education. That far exceeds the total reached when the state first started tracking schools in 2001, when only 20 percent of schools were at or above the 800-point mark.

As a whole, the San Francisco Unified School District scored 791 on its 2010 Growth API. While this sum is a 16-point jump from 2009, it still falls below the category of “proficient” according to the API index.

Several San Francisco schools in particular are being lauded for significantly boosting their API scores from last year’s totals. Mission Loc@l highlights one such school, Mission High School, which jumped 70 points to 625 in 2010, giving them the largest gain for any San Francisco high school.

“What they’re doing to close the achievement gap is tremendous,” San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia told Mission Loc@l.

Overall in the Mission District, most schools saw API boosts around 30-50 points. The only schools to see decreases in their overall scores were George Moscone Elementary (which saw only a one point drop off and still exceeded the 800-point minimum), and Everett Middle School, which saw a depletion of 31 points and received a score of 607 this year.

Despite the sense of optimism brewing from these results, local educators and state officials realize that these are baby steps on a much longer road to improving California’s education system. The state is still lacking when it comes to attaining equal API scores for African American and Hispanic students, as their totals of 685 and 715 respectively still trail the 838 average for white youth.

But while state schools chief Jack O’Connell acknowledges that the school system is still far from perfect, he believes educators and parents alike should still celebrate these strides towards more thorough and equalized academic success.

“For the eighth year in a row, California schools have made gains in academic achievement and narrowing the achievement gap,” O’Connell said in a released statement. “While we cannot be satisfied until the achievement gap is eliminated and all students are well-prepared for college and careers, this significant progress should be celebrated.”

For a complete list of API scores, click here.

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