There is good news from the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which is showing a marked improvement in Academic Performance Index (API) tests. This result is worth highlighting, especially given the numerous budget cuts in K-12 public education.
This index rates schools on a scale from 200 to 1,000 points using various state tests. The goal is to achieve 800 points; if every student at a school tests at his or her grade level, the score would be 875 points.
It is not easy to celebrate when only one-third of LAUSD schools surpassed the goal. However, having a positive trend that has lasted at least five consecutive years is a hopeful sign.
In this case, the work teachers do must be recognized. Having fewer resources and with their union repeatedly facing criticism for not caring about students, teachers deserve the most credit for the results. If they are responsible for the bad, they should also be for the good.
At the same time, there is still much room for improvement. Estimates show that 47% of elementary schools surpassed 800 points, while only 20% of middle schools and barely 6% of high schools did the same. These percentages reveal the magnitude of the challenge ahead.
It could be argued that this API is not a suitable score to measure student learning. Also, whether education is putting too much emphasis on passing tests instead of teaching to think critically is debatable.
The LAUSD has many problems, and it faces a huge turnaround challenge so that students can grow in their academic knowledge.
In this respect, we think the one-year extension of School Superintendent John Deasy’s contract, which took place this week, is a good sign.
The results of the API are just one measure among many, but it is good that the LAUSD is showing some improvement.