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District is still second in state’s

The test scores are in and the results look good: La Cañada Unified School District continues to hold second place among districts in the state, according to data released Wednesday by the California Department of Education.

With a Growth Academic Performance Index score of 942 for the 2010-11 school year — a boost of nine points over the previous year — the La Cañada district finds itself just 13 points behind the state’s No.1-ranked unified school district, San Marino, which was given a score of 955.

LCUSD has held onto the No. 2 ranking behind San Marino since 2008, but has improved at a faster rate than San Marino during the last three years. It has also widened the lead between itself and the third-ranked district, Manhattan Beach, which earned a score of 932.

Lindi Dreibelbis Arthur, director of assessment for La Cañada Unified, credited the efforts of the district’s team of teachers for the growth.


“Teachers were hard at work three days before the opening of school conducting a thorough evaluation of each subject, class and student’s test performance to adjust instruction for the coming school year,” Dreibelbis Arthur said in the district’s news release. “Collaborative work such as this helps us maintain the upward trend.”

La Cañada High School earned the highest margin of growth among local schools, jumping 13 points, from 915 to 928. At the elementary school level, the district’s fourth-grade students demonstrated the highest performance with between 92% and 98% of students meeting or exceeding the state target for English-language arts and mathematics. Elementary schools maintained their high level of testing achievement, hovering in the 960s.

“I am very proud of this collective achievement,” Supt. Wendy Sinnette said in the news release. “As we begin 2011-12, I am enthusiastic about our work as a learning community committed to furthering how we meet the needs of every student and embracing the challenges for on-going excellence.”

Each district and individual school receives an API score that serves as the cornerstone of the statewide accountability system for California public schools. A school’s API score is determined by converting each student’s results on the statewide standardized tests, including the California High School Exit Examination where applicable, into API points, and then averaging the points across all students and tests. An API number falls within a range between 200 and 1000. The state has set a target score of 800 for each school.


In response to community interest, Dreibelbis Arthur also analyzed standardized test scores for LCUSD students attending on interdistrict permits. In grades 3-6, more permitted students met or exceeded the state target than the overall student population in English-language arts and 100% of permitted fourth graders met or exceeded the state target in math. Permitted fifth-grade students saw the biggest difference in comparisons with mathematics, where 79% achieved proficient or advanced, compared to 92% of all students in fifth grade.

“Our API scores continue to make a strong impression and serve to validate the hard work of students and staff,” said Scott Tracy, school board vice president. “The growth at the high school merits special recognition. The district will drill down and use this information as another student assessment indicator to target areas of needed improvement.”

A detailed report of the LCUSD’s state testing results and API scores will be presented by Dreibelbis Arthur at the Sept. 27 school board meeting set for 7 p.m. at the district office at 4490 Cornishon Ave.


FOR THE RECORD: This corrects an earlier version that stated Dreibelbis Arthur’s presentation was to be held on Sept 6.


The Glendale Unified schools serving La Cañada’s west side, known as the Sagebrush Area, also posted impressive scores. Mountain Avenue Elementary School was the top performing school district-wide, earning a score of 949. Rosemont Middle School and Crescenta Valley High School recorded scores of 930 and 892, respectively.

Staff writer Megan O’Neil contributed to this report.