The overall district index of Academic Performance Index (API) scores for students in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District exceeded 800 for the first time in 2005. According to a District press release, “The API is the cornerstone of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act. Its purpose is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. The numeric index ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. The statewide target for all schools is 800. The API score summarizes the results of various indicators including the California Standards Tests (CSTs), the CAT/6 norm-referenced test, and the California High School Exit Exam.The District’s API overall index grew 19 points over last year. Eleven out of the District’s 14 schools showed double digit improvement. The press release also states that, “70% of the district’s schools are now scoring above the 800 mark, as compared to 32% across the state. Four SMMUSD schools – Franklin, Point Dume, Roosevelt, and Webster – scored at or above 900.”
School Board members heard an update on Superintendent John Deasy’s program “to enhance student engagement” last Thursday. The update primarily focused on changes at Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI). Some of these changes were aimed at dealing with the issues that led to the riot at the high school last spring. High school administrators conducted focus groups in assist them in making changes. The subjects the groups discussed included racial tensions, safety, a sense of connection, relationships and the role of diversity. One outgrowth of the groups has been the appointment of student advisors, who took part in the hiring of new faculty for this academic year, have worked on disciplinary issues and a peace rally and will help advise the administration at each of the school’s six houses by meeting with them monthly. Another new program is the Advanced Placement (AP) tutorials in which students can get additional help with coping with the extra work required for AP classes. Samohi has also changed its freshman seminar and 10th grade World History curriculum, and now has student outreach specialists and a policy that encourages every senior to fill out an application for a four-year college/university. The District has also opened a Community Day School for at risk students and has undertaken a Valued Youth Program for such students.