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See How PUSD Schools Rank in Latest State Figures

The California Department of Education released revised API base scores, statewide ranking and similar schools rankings figures for all schools in California last week. All the PUSD scores are listed below.

The California Department of Education released new data on school performances last week, including the 2011 Base Academic Performance Index and two metrics designed to rank schools based on the similiarties to others in the state.

The API is a number between 200 and 1000 that reflects performance level of a school, sub group and district, based on statewide testing. Its purpose is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. The state target is 800.

As a whole, Pasadena Unified School District students scored 758, below the state target.

The figures released Tuesday are slight revisions of .  They are shown below under '2011 Base API' and will be used to set goals for next year's test scores.  Though according to a report in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune some districts showed significant differences in the revised figures, PUSD's districtwide number did not change.

The second figure below is the statewide rank, which compares schools on their academic performance, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest mark.  The mark refers to the percentage of like schools the school surpassed, so a '9' for example, would mean the school that received that score surpassed at least 80 percent of other schools.

The similar schools rank is similar, but uses demographic information such as race, percent of low-income and percent of English language learners to sort out the schools.

Among Altadena schools, Altadena Elementary had the best rank on the 'similar schools' metric and Aveson School of Leaders had the worst.  Altadena and Aveson tied for the best ranking in the 'statewide rank' category while Franklin, the now-defunct Loma Alta Elementary, Jackson Elementary and Charles Eliot Middle School all scored the worst, at '2.'  

The score for the all of the district's schools are listed below.

Elementary Schools 2011 Base API Statewide Rank Similar Schools Rank   Altadena Elementary 818 6 9   Aveson School of Leaders 816 6 1   Burbank Elementary 789 4 5   Cleveland Elementary 769 3 7   Daniel Webster 866 8 10   Don Benito Fundamental 895 9 6   Field (Eugene) Elementary 810 6 3   Franklin Elementary 748 2 3   Hamilton Elementary 865 8 8   Jackson Elementary 737 2 3   Jefferson Elementary 727 2 1   Loma Alta Elementary 746 2 2   Longfellow (Henry W.) Elementary 847 7 9   Madison Elementary 734 2 4   McKinley 827 6 4   Norma Coombs Alternative 853 7 9   Roosevelt Elementary 888 9 10   San Rafael Elementary 745 2 1   Sierra Madre Elementary 908 9 5   Washington Accelerated Elementary 761 3 7   Willard Elementary 863 8 10 Middle Schools 2011 Base API Statewide Rank Similar Schools Rank   Aveson Global Leadership Academy 741 4 2   Charles W. Eliot Middle 692 2 3   Washington Middle 667 1 2   Woodrow Wilson Middle 718 3 1 High Schools 2011 Base API Statewide Rank Similar Schools Rank   Blair High 716 4 6   John Muir High 646 2 7   Marshall Fundamental 763 6 4   Pasadena High 757 6 6

Editor's note: The original version of this story said that schools were compared based on their size for the 'statewide rank' figure.  In addition, the article said a score of 9 would mean a school is better than 90 percent of other schools - the correct figure is 80 percent.

navigio June 19, 2012 at 09:26 PM
looks like patch is deleting posts again..?
Dan Abendschein (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 10:11 PM
@navigio - We are definitely not deleting any comments. I do see there is one missing in this thread, as well as your response to that comment. What may have happened is that the user who posted the original comment deleted her post - all users have the ability to delete their own at any time. I have only ever deleted a comment that violated our terms of service, which basically means someone using serious profanity or directing serious abuse at another user. In any case, please feel free to repost your comment.
navigio June 19, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Hi Dan. I didnt mean to imply intentionally deleting. I meant the software doing something weird. I remember a time where responding to a post wasnt showing up and you implied it was a software glitch of some sort. Anyway, I thought it was possible for a user to delete a comment and for the response to still show up, but maybe I'm remembering from topix. Anyway, thanks. I'll see whether it shows up again. I didnt make a copy of my comment.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 10:37 PM
@navigio - I took a look in my moderation queue, and lo and behold, your comment was still there. I'll copy and paste it into a new comment field. The other user's comment was nowhere to be found, so I am guessing she deleted it. I'll keep an eye out to see if it is a glitch on our end.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Navigio's missing comment: Hi Ann. The point of similar schools rank is not to give 'extra points', rather its to compare schools only to others with the same characteristics. The way this is done is to find a group of 100 schools that are most closely comparable to the school in question (based on those metrics you mention) and then classify it based on how it compares with those 100 schools. Here is more info: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/glossary12b.asp#ga5 So again, the goal of the metrics is only to make sure the schools being compared are similar. Not to somehow 'adjust' the ranking based on those metrics. The reason this is done is that API is so much a function of things that have nothing to do with the school. Parent education level is probably the most important one. If one wants to classify the quality of the instruction at a school based on some single number, I think it is probably more accurate that straight up API. Especially for schools that are not on either API extreme. However, I agree with you that the best way to measure a school is to walk through the door. From that standpoint, straight API is also useless, misleading and confusing. :-)
pasadenamom June 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM
The similar schools rank looks at things like ethnicity of students, and how many are on the reduced lunch program. That 1 to 10 number confused me for a long time until I looked at what the state thought was important. Poor neighborhoods get better scores and schools with small class size will often end up with a lower rank, not a higher one. ? ? ? The only way to really measure a school is to walk through the door and take a tour, and NOT rely on a system that gives out extra points for English learners and non-credentialed teachers. It’s just confusing!
Adam June 20, 2012 at 02:37 AM
I think you are looking at this backwards. The statewide ranking measures one thing: demographics. Student demographics are far and away the single biggest, utterly dominant, overriding factor in a school's test scores. I can't stress that enough. API to first order measures only demographics. The similar schools ranking is an attempt to REMOVE demographics from the equation. In effect, it is an indication of how a school is doing with the cards it was dealt. Unless you want to invest the time to become an expert on testing, the similar schools rank is really just about the only potentially useful standardized test statistic put out by the state. If you want to look at test scores to try to learn something about teacher or school quality, your ONLY option is the similar schools ranking. Dan, going back to the crime blotter discussion... if you want to remove irrelevant, inflammatory demographic information from stories, you should really stop reporting statewide API rankings and raw API scores.
Dan Abendschein (Editor) June 20, 2012 at 04:33 PM
@Adam - That is an interesting point.... I see your logic here. I would say that unlike the Sheriff's Department information on suspects, this is state-required information that the Department of Education publishes. With the Sheriff's Department, there are no laws requiring them to disclose the race of a suspect (as far as I know). You are right though, I could choose not to publish any state-required metric I thought was not a good measure of whether a school is successful or not. I'll admit that I do not consider myself in any way an expert on the best way to measure school performance, which is why I chose to simply pass along the metrics the state deems fit to publish.
Karen Klages June 21, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Why is Aveson so low? Anybody know?
Dan Abendschein (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 03:19 AM
@Karen - Some explanation provided in this article, though as Adam notes above, not everyone believes the similar schools rank is the best indicator of school value: http://patch.com/A-rrZG
Mike Roberts June 21, 2012 at 05:09 AM
I don't believe Aveson practices test taking until a few weeks before these state tests are given. Why do you think they should have scored higher?
Karen Klages June 21, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Dan, thanks for the link--just wanted to hear people's opinions. I knew a student when it first opened who complained that they spent a lot of time on computers, not with live teachers...still true? I'm not a true believer in open enrollment, school choice, charters. I think it has divided our cities--Altadena, Pas, SM--ever since Marshall and Audubon, then Don Benito, turned "fundamental" and required applications starting back in the 1970's. I am always interested in what would possibly draw parents back to their neighborhood schools, as I do think that is the best education for students, best situation to keep families involved in school events, and best way to keep schools accountable, i.e. If I have to go to this school, I'll fight for what my kid needs, not run away. If it's mostly wanting easier and more open communication with school personnel we could fix that. We can't fix it if it's the separatism thing.
navigio June 21, 2012 at 05:00 PM
Karen, that thread Dan linked to offers a few possibilities. Aveson has the highest PEL (parent education level) in the entire district (by far). In fact it has the second highest PEL in its 100 similar schools group. That translates to lower rates of english learners and socioeconomically disadvantaged. Ironically, Aveson's parents' decision to not classify their SWD kids (if that is in fact happening as discussed in that other thread) might hurt its similar schools rank. But its not possible to know from the data available. their similar schools report: http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Acnt2012/2011BaseSchSS.aspx?allcds=19-64881-0113472&c=E That is a list of 100 schools in california that are (supposedly) most similar to Aveson, demographically-wise. (note that since there are so many variables, its possible for schools to differ a lot on some of the metrics--for example, I found one Aveson 'similar school' that had 40% ELL, and another with over 50% F&R, and Aveson doesnt report any ELL or GATE, which is pretty unusual, so those will differ for sure). In terms of how Aveson ends up getting ranked so low, note that 30% of those similar schools have an API over 900. And almost 90% of them have one over 850. So simply put, 816 with those demographics is pretty unexpected. Mike, I cant see practicing on tests making such a large difference. Btw, I did not intend to focus on Aveson, but any opportunity to better understand similar schools ranking is useful, imho.
navigio June 21, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I agree Karen. OE is definitely a tradeoff. My belief is the district is using it as a way to keep more families in the district who might otherwise leave. The tradeoff is loss of commitment, loss of community, loss of understanding. Those are big deals. I could write a book about the dynamics that drive abandonment of neighborhood schools, but i'll spare us all.. :-) I will at least say that even if it is separatism that drives it (which it surely partially is), that I believe it is still something that can be addressed. Admittedly, it requires a paradigm shift on the part of parents, which is never easy. But the fact that so much of our lack of willingness to counter our instincts is based in illogical anecdote and non-fact should give us hope. :-)
Agrippa 55 June 22, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Howdy - You can't fix the difference. The reason is the Teachers' Union and the school district that satisfies that FAT CRYING BABY. Charter Schools start every year with a zero based budget, hires teachers for a competitive rate, holds them accountable, and obtains funds and services from the parents directly that makes it a community organization. The FAT CRYING BABY organization will smile in your face, and talk the talk, but they laugh at you when your back's turned. Personal experience speaking here...
SteveB August 10, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Rosebud?
navigio August 10, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Rosebud got asterisks on its scores because its so small (and its only been around two years I believe). But its base API is 890 and it has a similar schools rank of 9. Last year its base API was 793 and similar schools rank was 5. Quite an increase!
SteveB August 10, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Thanks, navigio. I tried to leave a message on the "Board" on your profile home, but it isn't getting through/cleared. The gist of it - you really ought to consider making a series of educational posts on Patch, e.g., "the ABCs of the PUSD". You've nearly already written a novel amongst your various posts here ....
navigio August 10, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Thanks SteveB. Hopefully its a novel someone wants to read.. :-) Anyway, yeah, i've thought about doing something like that, though for various reasons I probably wouldnt do it on patch. But generally I have more plans than time, so we'll see.. :-)
SteveB August 10, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Navigio - my wife would dearly love such a guide right now. After recently becoming disaffected with our current private school, she spent yesterday driving around Pasadena, trying to figure out what's what. She managed to hit Aveson, Daniel Webster, Field, and the PUSD office - which did not tell her we have any option other than Webster until specifically asked. We are potentially looking for both K and 1st.
navigio August 10, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Oh boy. :-) First thing you should realize is that PUSD starts the new year 2 weeks from yesterday (Aug 22). That is not a lot of time to do research. Regardless, PUSD generally allows trying to go to any school in the district. This is called open enrollment (OE). However, the process starts in the winter preceding the next school year (ie December/January of last/this year for this fall). This is a lottery system that runs its course by the end of May or so. So at that point, people who wanted to go somewhere other than their neighborhood schools would know whether there is a spot for them or not. Usually, people can still choose to enter a school this way after OE is done if they happen to be new to the district (and there is space in the school after all is said and done). I dont know whether you count as 'new' to the district by virtue of not having yet been in PUSD (because you already live here). I just asked someone at the district and it appears you could go to another school if they have open spaces. The district took down the list of schools and spaces since OE is done, so Im not sure which schools those would be. That said, people I know at Webster seem satisfied with it. That shouldnt be enough for you of course. Ideally you would be able to have a conversation from the school and get a truthful assessment. Note, Webster just got a new principal. That is often a challenge for a school for a year or so. cont'd
navigio August 10, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I would suggest trying to contact him. PUSD email addresses are lastname.firstname@pusd.us format. That would make his email address Bauer.Jeffrey@pusd.us (note sometimes the addresses are slightly different in case you get a rejection). Also, he was just named so he may not yet have email. Seeing if he's at school yet may be an alternative (though I dont think they technically start their work year until next week--not sure on that). The best way to assess a school is to go there and watch. Obviously thats not going to be possible at this point, though just seeing the campus is also valuable. The next best thing is to meet the principal, teachers and parents. Only some of those may be possible at this point before school starts. The most important thing with parents is to be discerning. Some parents like to focus on negatives (sometimes even when they are otherwise satisfied), others like to paint a rosier picture than might actually exist. There are great teachers in PUSD and no school is without its problems/issues/conflicts so keep an open mind. There is a group called PEN (http://penfamilies.org/) that was (originally) created to try to provide information to parents trying to make this private/public decision. I am not affiliated with them but people seem to value their service (i think they charge for certain info). I bet you have a million questions, and if so, we can maybe try to hook up via email. Though I guess patch is for communication too :-)
navigio August 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Btw, even though I am 'pro PUSD', I think its important for you to know your options and I noticed you mentioned Aveson. If you are interested in charter schools then you should be aware of a few others as well. Those are Rosebud, Celerity (new one) and Odyssey. Some of those seem to target specific demographics. Odyssey is chartered not through PUSD but through LACOE, so you wont usually find it in any PUSD-specific lists (though patch sometimes includes it). Let me know if you have any other specific question.. especially about PUSD schools.. :-)
SteveB August 10, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Thank you Navigio. I'll forward your response to my wife. She actually did meet an instructor at Field just by wandering around, had a chance to talk with her, and was favorably impressed. Ultimately, we are looking to find a school that "fits" our child's mental makeup, if that makes any sense (without going into details). I may take you up on the email offer at some point. .
SteveB August 10, 2012 at 06:40 PM
p.s. is there any info readily available re class sizes? I gathered one of the factors that may have benefitted Rosebud was an unusually small class size.
pasadenamom August 10, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Hi Adam, Your ability to understand the s.s. ranking 1 to 10 score is rare, valuable, and an asset to the post. However, to the untrained parent looking for a school, all they see is that the school got a ? out of 10. Look no further, and done. Hundreds of Pasadena parents will never go to a supplemental chart, a further explanation of data, or lookup stats on a similar school in northern CA to try to truly understand what the s.s. rank number means. 10 must be good, and 1 must be horrible. In an internet world full or ratings and rankings, a number based on data alone which doesn’t actually tell you anything about how you or others might like the school is just not useful. The idea behind the similar schools rank is valid in theory ONLY. By design, schools in bad neighborhoods with problems and issues still get 9s and 10’s and schools with a lot to offer are compared to schools with even more to offer (say the Poway or Marin school district) and so some of those great schools must therefore get a 1 or a 3. An example of the weirdness: the demographics for one 10 on the list shows that they have 96% socioeconomic disadvantaged student body, and more than half (53%) are English learners, with almost 1/3 of the school having disabilities. How is a middle of the road kid going to get any teacher time at all at this school that got a 10? I reiterate my point –the similar school rank is a confusing number for parents trying to find a school.
navigio August 10, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Yep, makes sense. Class size info is a bit problematic. Every school is required to report class size on their SARC. There a few problems with that: - the data is usually at least one year old, and sometimes two - class sizes are grouped by less, than 21, between 22 and 32, and over 32. Which means a class size of 22 will look the same on the SARC as one of 32. Pretty stupid of the state to require it this way, but alas, Sacramento is not the best at these things.. If you're interested, all the SARCs are hosted here: http://www.axiomadvisors.net/liveSARC/Presentation/SARCIndex.aspx?DistrictID=1964881 Charters will have their SARCs on their home page. If your wife picked up the district parent handbook, that may include them as well. Technically, there is a district wide policy on class sizes. It used to be 27:1 for K-3 and 30:1 for 4,5. But this was raised due to the budget cuts this year. According to the district budget documents, the ratios currently are: K: 30:1 1: 31:1 2-3: 31.25:1 4-6: 32.75:1 6-8: 29.5:1 9-12: 29.75:1
navigio August 10, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Note that these are only the levels at which teachers are staffed. If the number of students is not a multiple of one of those numbers, either your class will be slightly larger or slightly smaller, give or take. One of the disadvantages of OE is that parents can technically choose to move schools literally on the first day of classes. This presents signficantly more challenges in getting the ratios exactly right the first time. btw, on that SARC page, click the school and it will give you a choice of languages. Choose your language and that will open a page that has the available years of SARCs listed to a menu on the left column of the page.
pasadenamom August 10, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Hi Karen, re: "still true?" No, I wouldn't say that's the case at all now. I wasn't at Aveson in the early years, but I know they have survived their early growing pains and the teacher interaction is currently fabulous. Re: Open enrollment, I agree with you and Navigio –I think all the options and info make us parents a little neurotic at times. Even parents who are happy with their school wonder if they should be somewhere else, or learning Mandarin and/or already worry about the next step (middle or high school choices) Gone are the days when you just walked up the street with your neighbors. At least for our family and anyone I know here in Pasadena, that’s not the reality.
navigio August 10, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Actually, most parents dont look at similar schools ranks because they dont know what it is and its rarely reported. Most look at API, which is basically a measure of the level of education of the parents of the kids who go there (and correlated with income level and somewhat with ethnicity)... and passed out by real estate agents.. So your point about the ss rank being 'useful in theory only' applies equally to API. In fact, it probably even applies more to API if your goal is to actually understand the role the school plays in the outcomes of the students. Of course, some parents actually care more about demographics than they do the 'quality' of the school or teachers. That said, you're right that a number probably cant tell you what you really want to know about a school. Note that Adam suggested not using either of these numbers at all. :-) In the end, ss ranking only exists because API is inherently misleading. Americans tend to like simplistic measures, even if they misleading or not useful.. :-) fwiw, here is a graph I made for last years CST proficiency rates in California by grade and for each reported parent education level. API is based almost exclusively on these numbers: http://tinyurl.com/9krsrrv

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