Natomas Schools Boost Test Scores


THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz
Despite growing class sizes and fiscal uncertainty, more than half Natomas Unified schools met state standardized testing targets last year.

Heron K-8 School and Inderkum High School led the pack with the most growth districtwide, meeting all schoolwide and student subgroup growth goals, according to the state 2010-11 Accountability Progress Report released today.

“As a whole, the district is going in the right direction in improving instruction,” said Dr. Walt Hanline, Natomas interim superintendent. 

The report issued by the California Department of Education provides results from statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests given each year to students starting in 2nd grade.

The Academic Performance Index (API) referred to in the report is a numeric score ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000, with 800 being the current statewide target. An API score is calculated for all students in a school as well as each subgroup by race, English Learner Status, students with disabilities, and socieconomically disadvantaged pupils. All subgroups must meet growth targets for a school to meet its overall API growth target.

As a whole, the Natomas Unified showed the third-highest improvement among districts in Sacramento County with a 25-point increase over 2010. Eight schools – H. Allen Hight, Heron, Westlake Charter, Witter Ranch, Natomas Middle, NP3 Middle, Inderkum, Natomas Charter and Discovery High – met all student score targets.

“This is a testament to the teachers really focusing on serving every child in their classrooms,” said Bruce Roberts, Natomas school board president. 

Two schools – Natomas High and NP3 High – grew their overall scores but did not meet subgroup targets. Natomas High Principal John Eick said he’s proud the school increased its API by five points as an encore to a 75-point gain the previous year.

We went forward and broke the glass ceiling of 700 for the first time in school history,” Eick said. “It’s fantastic.”

Scores at four schools – American Lakes, Jefferson, Natomas Park and Two Rivers – remained the same or declined. Bannon Creek Elementary does not have a valid API for 2011 due to an irregularity in testing procedures.

Principal Doug Orr credits Heron’s 839 API – a 38-point increase – and closing the achievement gap between student subgroups to aggressive intervention programs.

We are looking at STAR scores individually and teachers are creating classes based on areas students are struggling in,” Orr said. 

Inderkum High School grew its score 37 points from the previous year for a total of 723 and met every target for every student subgroup. But Principal George Tapanes said he won’t be satisfied until all students are achieving at their full ability. 

For Inderkum High School, it’s a great first step and we want to celebrate,” Tapanes said. “This lets us know if we continue to build the culture that is student centered, we have a lot more gains and a lot more wins down the road we can look forward to.”

The district’s newest school H. Allen Hight increased its score 24 points for a total of 792 – falling just short of Principal Hervey Taylor’s 800-point goal.

“We opened in 2008 and have worked our way up to having the third best score among the district’s elementary schools,” Taylor said. “We want to keep moving up.”

Click here to see the Natomas Unified School District’s 2010-11 accountability progress reporting.

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