Top grades for 3 Newport-Mesa schools

Three Newport-Mesa schools rank among the best in the state.

Lincoln Elementary School in Newport Beach, Davis Magnet School near the Orange County Fairgrounds and Early College High School in Mesa Verde received the highest-possible scores in a statewide ranking.

Each year, the California Department of Education gives schools two rankings based on their Academic Performance Index, or API, scores derived from the previous year's standardized tests.

The two scores range from 1 to 10, placing them anywhere from the top 10% of schools in the state to the bottom 10%.

The first score compares schools statewide. The second score narrows the comparison to schools with "similar opportunities and challenges," according to the Department of Education.

Lincoln, Davis and Early College High each received double 10s.

"I have a terrific staff, and they did it," Lincoln Principal Jane Holm said. "They are always looking for a better way to skin a cat, always looking for a better way to teach the class. I just try to get out of the way and support them."

She was preparing for a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon and anticipated talking about the accomplishment, but Holm said teachers and administrators are not going to get hung up on numbers.

"I don't think the API motivates us at all," she said. "I think the children motivate us."

Only Early College received a perfect score last year.

Nine other campuses — Corona del Mar High, TeWinkle Middle, Victoria, Sonora, Andersen, Newport Coast, Mariners, Killybrooke and Harbor View elementary schools — received a 10 in one of the two categories.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District's overall API scores have been increasing for years.

The district's average for 2012 testing was 841 out of 1,000 compared with 827 in 2011 and 821 in 2010.

"This is reflective of a district that is high-achieving, by state standards, and continues to improve," Newport-Mesa spokeswoman Laura Boss said in an email.

Many campuses followed that upward trend or held steady at their previous rankings.

Andersen, for instance, maintained a 10 in the statewide comparison but improved in the narrower comparison.

It scored a 6 for 2011 testing when held up to similar schools, but jumped to a 9 in 2012.

Some schools' rankings dipped, but few took a hit larger than a point or two.

The steepest decline belonged to Woodland Elementary School in Costa Mesa.

The campus maintained a score of 8 and 5 in the previous two rankings, but this year it dropped to 6 and 1, placing it in the bottom 10% when compared to similar schools.

As in previous years, elementary schools on Costa Mesa's Westside lagged other Newport-Mesa campuses, some scoring a 1 or 2 in statewide comparisons.

Their ranks fared better in the similar-schools comparison.

Wilson Elementary School, for instance, improved from a 1 and 3 last year to a 2 and 5 this year.

The full rankings are available on the Department of Education's website.

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