South Bay schools make big gains, top Calif. API

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Ten years ago only 20 percent of California schools met the state API target. Jump to 2012 and the number is now 53 percent. The API stands for Academic Performance Index and a score of 800 out of 1,000 is where the state wants every school to be.

It has been a long journey for Hoover Middle School in San Jose. The school has turned things around, and while it scored 698 on the API, the school had the third highest gains among middle schools in all of Santa Clara County.

"We have grade level meetings where we collaborate about individual students that might be falling a little behind and what we could do to put in place to give them that extra boost, that extra support that that individual student may need," said teacher Nick Laskowski.

Another strategy used to boost a student's confidence is called pair share, in which students speak out an idea to a classmate before they do it in front of the entire class.

"Most people's number one fear is public speaking, and students are the same, they don't want to speak in front of the class," Laskowski said. "When they've said it already to a partner first, it's a lot less scary because you've already had that sentence come out of your mouth, and it's now already ready to say."

Statewide, among elementary schools the API scores grew by 7 points to 815; high schools by 11 points to 752. But the big improvement was among the middle schools which grew 14 points to 792.

The same was true for San Jose Unified. Four of their six middle schools had double digit gains.

"Some part of that benefit that we are seeing in secondary school is attributable to the preparation that we have been doing with students, really starting in kindergarten up to 5th grade as they transition into middle school," said San Jose Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Jason Willis.

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