Del Mar Union School District’s API scores highest in county

By Karen Billing

The Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD) has the highest Academic Performance Index (API) scores in the county. According to a report given at the DMUSD’s Oct. 24 board meeting, with a district-wide score of 961 on its Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) tests, Del Mar continues to perform at the top.

Surrounding local elementary school districts help round out the top three districts in the county: Rancho Santa Fe School received a 960 and Solana Beach School District is third with a district-wide API of 944.

Sage Canyon School received the highest API score in the district with 982 (out of 1,000). Its score of 982 is also tops in the county.

Carmel Del Mar School had the highest jump in scores from last year, moving up 19 points to a 950. Del Mar Heights also scored 10 points higher than last year with a 968.

“It’s such a pleasure to look at our test scores and the performances of our students,” said Shelley Peterson, assistant superintendent of instructional services. “It’s a direct reflection of the work our teachers are doing at every grade level.”

API is also measured in district subgroups. Peterson singled out the performance of English learners (which make up 11 percent of the district) and students with disabilities (14 percent).

Over a three-year period, the English learners have seen a 44-point jump in scores, up to 924 this year. In the students with disabilities subgroup, the district has seen a 13-point rise in scores to 832.

Eight out of 10 grade levels maintained or improved on the percent they scored proficient and advanced.

District-wide students performing proficient or advanced in English language arts (ELA) and math has increased steadily over the last three years. Overall the district is 92 percent proficient or advanced, high above the county average in ELA of 59 percent and 65 percent in math. Statewide the averages are 58 percent proficient or advanced in ELA and 60 percent in math, reflecting that the state has a way to go before reaching 100 percent proficient by 2013-14 as mandated by No Child Left Behind.

In both areas, there is only 1 percent performing below basic.

“For a district to have 1 percent performing in far below basic is a phenomenal testament to the wonderful work our children do and that the teachers do at meeting their needs to continue being successful,” Peterson said.

Peterson was most excited that 95 percent of the district’s fourth graders scored the highest possible scores on the writing tests. In 2011, 38 percent scored at an advanced level and this year that number leapt to 62 percent.

“That is phenomenal,” said Peterson. “Our focus in Del Mar has been writing…we’ve done a great deal of professional development for our teachers and that shows it’s really helping students. (The scores) show when you stay the course and choose a focus based on data, you get the results you were going after.”