Taft students surpass 700 mark. Federal AYP requirements may not be realistic, Richardson says.
School also gets accredited for the next 6 years
Taft Union High School recently met two major goals, finally shattering the 700 API (Academic Performance Index) mark and earning the maximum six-year WASC accreditation.
Despite those academic accomplishments, high school officials have been notified the school is entering its first year of program improvement.
The API is calculated by using the scores from the state-mandated STAR (Standardized Testing And Reporting) test and the CAHSEE.
Taft’s API was 694 last year but shot up 39 points to 733 this year, passing the 700 hurdle for the first time.
Taft High is entering the program because it did not meet the rising target for the percentage of sophomores required to pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). The state requires students to earn a score of 350 on the math and English tests to earn a diploma.
Taft met that goal, but the federal government requires a majority of students to earn at least a 380 or the school must enter program improvement
That percentage keeps rising annually until 2013-14 (this year’s freshmen class) when 100 percent of sophomores must score at least 380. At that point “all high schools in the state will be in program improvement,” Superintendent/Principal Mark Richardson said.
“Every year more schools are going to go into program improvement. The federal goal is a moving, elevated target. Schools with multiple subgroups end up in the program sooner rather that later.” Taft showed improvements across the board in all subgroups: Caucasian, Hispanic, socioeconomic and English learners, Richardson said, adding that Taft needs “continued improvement with the lowest-performing students.
Taft has already implemented modifications the federal government will require such as benchmark tests and remediation.
“We have told students: ‘You’re going to earn it. You’re going to keep doing it till you get it right’ and our kids did it. They got better.
“We graduate 98.5 percent of our students (the state average is 80 percent) and have a less than 1 percent dropout rate (statewide it is 15 percent). The mission of a high school is to graduate children and have a low dropout rate and we are getting the job done.
“Some serious discussions on the federal level related to the future requirements of the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (need to take place). I think we will see this changed to a more reasonable model. How soon, nobody knows.”