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  • Writer's pictureAllan J. Mucerino


Updated: Mar 22, 2018

Michael Kirst, president of the California Board of Education and Stanford Graduate School of Education professor emeritus is not a fan of the Academic Performance Index (API) and is leading the charge to figure out an effective metric that uses the State’s eight priority areas to evaluate school performance.

Last summer on the eve of the new accountability system’s first steps, he was quoted as saying, “In the past the API was the be-all, end-all and now it’s just part of a much bigger system. People need to move beyond the API.”

I’m all in! I am ready to abandon any measure that is based 100% on student test scores. I was also delighted that at their March, 2015 Board Meeting the California State Board of Education (SBE) approved the recommendation by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) and the Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) Advisory Committee to suspend the Academic Performance Index (API) for the 2014–15 school year.

Restructuring the API is a SBE responsibility. The Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) Advisory Committee and the Technical Design Group (TDG) inform the SBE. At their meeting in January, 2015, the SBE concluded that, “Holding schools accountable for student performance based solely on educational outputs has proven to be challenging and nowhere near as effective as policymakers had hoped it would be.

Accountability in the future will likely be more of a partnership between the state and local schools and will include more dimensions and measures than a single test in reading and mathematics. The college and career indicator that is being added to the API is a small step in that direction, but much more work remains to create an accountability system that acknowledges the full range of factors necessary to achieve sustained improvement of educational practice across all of California’s diverse public high schools.”

Legislative changes require that assessment results comprise no more than 60% of a high school’s API starting in 2016. The remaining 40% will likely be the new College and Career Indicator (CCI). The SBE also decided to move forward with the development of a CCI at their March, 2015 Board Meeting. A very productive meeting indeed!

The 60% will be based on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), which replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program in 2014. SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium), CAA (California Alternate Assessments) (CAA), (CST) California Standards Tests (CSTs), CMA (California Modified Assessment), CAPA (California Alternate Performance Assessment), and STS (Standards-based Tests in Spanish) comprise the 2015 CAASPP (see an example of the new CAASPP report to parents). These assessments are a mix of online and paper-pencil assessments. The online component contains the Smarter Balanced English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics tests. The paper-pencil component includes CST/CMA/CAPA science tests and the optional STS.

A major element of the 40% will be course-taking behavior. It is the best single predictor of future success. A well-developed research base and relative stability over time make it the perfect element to judge a school’s success. To that end, in February, 2015 the PSAA Advisory Committee recommended that the CCI be initially composed of SAT and ACT scores, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) scores, UC/CSU requirements (a-g course taking), and Career Technical Education (CTE) course taking.

Additional measures currently under consideration include dual enrollment, the State Seal of Biliteracy, the Golden State Seal Merit Diploma, Linked Learning, AVID, and STEM course-taking (12th grade science or math courses). Students will earn a CCI that indicates whether the student is “Not Prepared,” “Approaching Prepared,” “Prepared,” or “Fully Prepared.” Multiple measures would have to be met in order to obtain the benchmark of preparedness.

How well prepared is your district for the new API? How about the new CCI? Has your superintendent of instruction started the conversation about either measure yet? If he or she hasn’t, nudge ‘em a little bit. Its time has come.


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