In the state Department of Education’s annual reporting of test results, Berkeley schools showed steady improvement. In all but one Berkeley school that had results, 2010 scores were up on 2009 scores. Not enough students at Berkeley High took the STAR exams last year for the school to receive an Academic Performance Index from the state.

Berkeley Unified School District as a whole improved its API from 767 to 784. The achievement gap between non-white and white students remains large. The API for white students was 911, for African-American students 642, and for Hispanic or Latino students 730. Those results, however, do represent an absolute improvement in all categories: the 2009 APIs were 901 for whites, 621 for African-Americans, and 688 for Hispanic or Latino students. 

Among individual schools, the biggest improvement was at King Middle School, where the API rose from 773 to 831. The state’s targeted improvement for King was to reach 778. King’s result gave it a statewide rank of 8, which means that it’s in the top 20% of schools. Schools with similar demographics have a rank of 7.

Two Berkeley schools, Oxford Elementary and Jefferson Elementary, received state ranks of 9, putting them in the top 10% of schools statewide. Oxford’s API was 876 and Jefferson’s was 894.

The detailed API reports can be accessed on the Department of Education site. Here is the summary of the Berkeley results:

Lance Knobel

Lance Knobel (co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine in Britain,...

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37 Comments

  1. I saw it too. Yet, we can not put the onus on the BHS. As, these students are in the same buildings, class rooms, have the same books, and have the same teachers as the rest of the students. And to say that “their expectations are too high” is not appropriate. What is appropriate is that the parents of these students need to be attentive to what is happening academically to their children in school. How can so many parents not see this problem with their child is beyond my comprehension. It didn’t happen over night. Is it because they don’t care enough? I really want to know why?

  2. Wow, it looks like BHS is massively failing the 26% of their students who are African American.

    Only 4% of those students are proficient/advanced in Mathematics!

  3. BUSD must be flush with cash considering at the last school board meeting the board members almost fell over themselves approving ~$20,000 extra to Realm school due to “errors” in the school’s financial calculations. No explanation for the errors needed! While my son’s non-charter Berkeley public school goes without working technology, Realm touts state-of-the-art technology! While non-charter Berkeley public schools are talking furloughs and 170 day school years, Realm gets extra money for “errors” in calculations (while serving non-Berkeley residents) and provides 180 day school years! And BUSD wants to propose an additional parcel tax??? Richmond and Oakland residents vote down parcel taxes and then send their kids over to Berkeley where little to no residency oversight exists! It is a well known secret that 20-30% of the kids in Berkeley public schools are NOT Berkeley residents! Every morning cars line up on 9th and University to drop their BHS kids off to catch the 51 bus to BHS, then the parents drive right back on the highway!

  4. This is called a SARC, or Schools Accountability Report Card, and it is for Berkeley High:
    http://www.berkeley.net/uploads/SARC/SARC_2009-2010/110503_2009-10%20English_SARC_Berkeley_HS.pdf
    If nothing else, please note that the math score for proficiency is only 25%, just about half of the state average. It is high time that someone seriously looked into this. Jim Slemp didn’t want to deal with it.Hopefully the new principal does. Also note the math score of IMP math that is used in the small schools is 0% and you have to remember, this test IS FOR IMP math, not for traditional math. Now, is there anyone who cares about our most at risk students who is willing to be critical of this program, or do we have to listen to the tired old arguments from the small school teachers about how wonderful it is (read: how wonderful we are)? these kids cannot do simple math, yet the small schools teachers pass them year afttr year. What’s up with that?

  5. We don’t know how Berkeley High did due to insufficient data. B-Tech is a continuation high school.

  6. BUSD loses $3 million a year from truancy. The proposed new parcel tax is $3 million. Maybe BSEP should have the money that goes to the BHS Parent Resource Center be directed toward truancy solutions, then we wouldn’t need yet another parcel tax.

  7. Lance, thanks for pointing that out. Asians are not ‘numerically significant’ (in API terms) at any of the individual schools, but their numbers do get broken out when you aggregate the school data for the BUSD-wide stats. Amazingly, I’d never noticed that. And wow, that was quite interesting.

  8. Impressive stat not mentioned by the author: Longfellow Middle School received a “similar schools” ranking of 9! This is a great achievement — Longfellow’s absolute score is great on its own, but the real quantitative victory comes when comparing it to other schools with similar demographics (i.e. diverse student population in terms of race/ethnicity and income).

  9. Asians are significant in BUSD. I didn’t break that data out, just as I
    didn’t break out a number of other categories, such as English learners and
    students with disabilities. I was focusing on the achievement gap, which is
    not an issue for the Asian community in Berkeley.

    There were 516 Asians included in BUSD’s data for the API. The API for the
    Asian students in 2010 was 826.

    You can get the full data here:
    http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2011/2010Base_DstApi.aspx?cYear=&allcds=0161143&cChoice=2010ApiD

  10. Asians are not ‘numerically significant’ (in API terms) in the BUSD, so
    their scores do not get broken out as a demographic group. Note that Asians are ‘numerically significant’ (in API
    terms) in Albany, Piedmont and Orinda, for example. I’ll leave
    it up to the Berkeleyside readership to give an explanation of why that
    is the case.

  11. I’m pretty sure we still have truancy laws in California. Test or no test, these kids are supposed to be at school. Unfortunately truancy seems to be a systemic problem at BHS, and with so many kids missing this test I have to assume that a fair number of bad apples among the teachers and staff are complicit in letting kids know they “don’t need to come to school” on testing days.

    “A recent drug and alcohol task force that found loose policies on truancy contribute to sky high rates of drug and alcohol use among Berkeley High School students.”
    http://dougoakley.blogspot.com/2010/09/truant-kids-costing-berkeley-schools.html

  12. Am I mistaken, or was Rosa Parks, not King, actually the largest improvement, by several points?

  13. The tests are taken during class time, the whole class takes it at the same time, but high school kids aren’t forced to go to class like younger kids.

  14. A sufficient number of students at all the other schools seem to be able to find the time to take them… Perhaps the BHS teachers are encouraging their students to ditch more than the teachers at other schools are.

    Seems like maybe they need to be made mandatory.

  15. The underlying dynamics resulting in BHS failing to meet API requirements have been debated and discussed for years publicly by the board, Supt, principals and BFT.

    It all comes down to “Berkeley knows better”.

    The contempt for imposed upon standards and high stakes testing is at the root of why teachers, parents and students have protested with their feet and spoken out against mandated testing thus creating an anti-testing culture.

    The district is now engaged in a effort to re-educate/ beg staff to support testing.

    Read Huyett and Scuderi recent community letters in support of STAR testing.

  16. Taking the STAR test isn’t required and they are open in telling the students that it won’t affect them in any way…so why does anyone take it?

  17. It seems crazy that so many BHS kids ditch school on the days the STAR tests are given that the school doesn’t get ranked.

  18. The vast majority of California high schools have an API. Not having an
    API affects WASC accreditation. I told my kids to take the STAR tests
    and do their best or they would lose everything they held dear. It did
    not interfere with AP tests, SAT tests, sports or jobs.

    You can see scores on individual subjects for
    individual grades at http://www.star.cde.ca.gov and compare them to prior years. BHS is down again. 49% proficient & above in chem
    in 09, 45% prof & above in 2010. 25% proficient & above in
    Alg II in 09, 23% proficient & above in 2010. Continued 0%
    proficient & above in IMP math,
    the math program of choice in small schools and the one favored by our
    school board member Ms. Hemphill. Geometry, English about
    the same. 54% proficient & above in world history in 09, 45%
    proficient & above in 2010.

  19. Why aren’t the STAR tests given during normal class time? I have relatives who teach at public schools in other parts of California, and STAR tests are given during normal class hours.

    Did your daughter just ditch school on the days the STAR tests were given?

  20. It’s nothing nefarious. Students make their own decision to not show up and take the tests. I know by junior year my child was so involved in AP/honors courses/activities and college entrance exams that something had to give and for her it was STAR tests.

  21. Why didn’t more Berkeley High students take the STAR exam?

    Did they give an official reason for this, or are they just so sure that their scores will be below-average that they decided to skip the test entirely?

  22. It’s great that API scores are going up, and while you didn’t include the within-state rankings, those have increased somewhat also. But frankly, I find the district’s performance on the similar schools rankings to be embarrassing. Generally, what the similar schools ranks show is how our schools compare with other schools in the state considered demographically similar. Only 4 (out of 15) schools have similar schools ranks of 8 or 9 and 5 have ranks of 3 or lower. I hope this will be the challenge that Supt. Huyett adn the school board will address this year – don’t be afraid to both celebrate, hold up as examples, and try to replicate the achievements of schools like Jefferson, Oxford, Emerson and Longfellow.