Controversial Charter School May Clock in with Best Academic Score in OC

Oxford Prep projects an API mark of 997, three points shy of perfection. Only three schools in California scored higher last year.

South Orange County’s newest and most controversial charter school may end up logging the highest state test score in the county and one of the highest in California.

The so-called Academic Performance Index ratings – with a possible top score of 1,000 – are released by the state Department of Education in October, but they’re based on student results in the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, which were .

Using those figures, Sue Roche, executive director of Oxford Preparatory Academy in Mission Viejo, projected the school’s API for its first year of existence.

It’s approaching four digits: 997.

Last year, one school in the state hit the 1,000 mark, but that school enrolls only five students, according to the Los Angeles Times. Only two other schools scored higher than 997.

Even though classes don’t begin until next week, Oxford held a ceremony Friday to reveal how each grade level performed on the STAR tests and the total projected API. OPA is a K-8 charter school in the  and attracts students from all over the district.

The state considers 800 the performance target for all schools. A score of 900 is generally considered impressive. Capo Unified has 24 elementary and middle schools that have breached the 900 mark. Its highest-ranking traditional school last year was Chaparral Elementary in Ladera Ranch, with a score of 948.

OPA’s projected score combines the figures for the elementary students and middle school students. Looking just at the middle school alone, OPA students scored a perfect 1,000, said Chancellor Jason Watts.

“Students, parents: Give yourself a round of applause. You are phenomenal,” Watts said over a loudspeaker while Queen’s We are the Champions played in the background. The school's mascot is champion.

Parents said the results aren’t about cherry-picking some of CUSD’s best students. What they were most impressed with is the personal growth from one year to the next.

“My child was at basic and below basic” levels, said Julie Collier, one of the parent-founders of the school. “He went to proficient and advanced.”

Mom Gina Schumann said her children made 78-point and 118-point leaps year over year.

Afterward, Roche discounted the scrutiny OPA has experienced. Approval of the school’s charter attracted hundreds of supporters and detractors  and even more .

“There’s no scrutiny. We‘re focused. We just did our program like we always do,” Roche said. She said her projection may go up or down a point, but she’s become very accurate over the years at her predictions.

Oxford launched a charter school in Chino Valley the year before the CUSD campus opened. Its first-year scores quickly rose to the top in San Bernardino County. Roche projects this year’s API for the Inland Empire campus to be a 975, improving from its inaugural score of 958.

Last year, Orange County's highest-scoring school was the similarly named (but no relation) Oxford Academy in Cypress, a 7-12 school with an API of 989.

All throughout its first year, OPA urged its students to "soar to 924."

Roche said she got called to the carpet on that one. 

"I had a lot of calls from administrators and others saying, 'Are you crazy, Mrs. Roche?' Are you kidding me? We have champions here."

Kathleen K September 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I really must laugh when Ken Maddox whines about anyone lying. Every time his face appears in the Patch with his new fake name and his self-created title of "Policy Analyst", it is a lie. And the best part is when he asks readers to point on where we disagree with him, and then drops off and never responds. Like I said before...this is rich!
Capo mom September 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
What business is it of anyone's where parents decide to send their children? Families have the right to make decisions that are best for their kids. CUEA, union supporters and their board have a problem with that because the mediocre product they offer is a reflection of their priorities (feeding the teachers' union) not educating students. We have seen this in the decisions the union board members like Alpay and Pritchard have made - like secretly kicking back millions to CUEA right after they were sworn in and then lying about it or cutting 3 more weeks from next year. These decisions have negative consequences for students. Can you blame any parent for wanting an alternative? Thank goodness parents in CUSD have choices, limited though they may be; private schools for those who want and can afford them or charters like OPA that are free. And OPA is a great example of what can be accomplished when the demands of unions are excluded and the focus of a school becomes simply educating its students. Congratulations again to the OPA community!
Sharon Y. September 01, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I have read these blogs over the last few years and have been shocked a few times but never have seen anyone threaten someone like the FAKE Sharon has done here. So IMHO I am going to give my insight as the real Sharon, I believe the FAKE Sharon is Alpay. Why do I say this …..Alpay likes to bully and threaten, he has done it before and he continues. He also has no respect for democracy, as seen in the budget meeting in June 2012 and heard by many on the patch story. He shuts down democracy and then threatens private citizens not to get involved in an election, Sharon or Alpay who ever you are your behavior is appalling and shameful. OPA absolutely should voice loud and clear who they support and as a blessed American citizen has the god given right to, how dare you threaten OPA parents. Fake Sharon, who is either Alpay or is channeling Alpay go crawl back in your hole and only come Back when you can show a ounce of respect for this great country of the free!!!
Capo mom September 01, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Sharon Y. Alpay always struck me as a girlie man. I think you are right.
Mark S September 01, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Direct my previous comment to fake Sharon, whomever that coward may be.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 01, 2012 at 07:42 PM
OK, here's what I could glean from the STAR results, which of course, do not include the demographics for kindergarten and first grade. A total of 382 OPA kids took STAR tests. Of that: 13, or 3.4 percent, are disabled 24, or 6.3 percent are in a special education program 63, or 16.5 percent, are economically challenged 6, or 1.6 percent, are African-American 27, or 7.6 percent, are Asian 3, or .5 percent, are American Indian or Native Alaskan 35, or 9.2 percent, are Hispanic/Latino
Sharon Y. September 01, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Let’s not forget Aplay who has been yelping for years he is not a Union stooge just got the endorsement.......from the union Alpay, Hanacek, Pritchard Endorsed for School Board In a rare late-summer meeting, CUEA School Building Representatives voted Tuesday to endorse Amy Hanacek for Trustee Area #1 and John Alpay for Trustee Area #3 . Gary Pritchard, Trustee Area #5 , the current School Board President, was endorsed by Rep Council last spring. Hanacek, Alpay and Pritchard are also endorsed by Capistrano Unified Children First. Check out these websites for each candidate: Amy Hanacek, and Gary Pritchard and John Alpay. Next, the CUEA/PAC Interview team interviewed Hanacek, Schnell and Alpay. Based upon the written questionnaire and the oral interivew, the PAC Interview Team recommended to the CUEA Executive Board, the endorsement of Hanacek and Alpay. The Board deliberated, and then passed on the recommendation to the CUEA Rep Council, who voted to approve the endorsements on August 28.
April Josephson September 01, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Fake Sharon calls out Ken Lopez Maddox for using his own picture and a part of his full name as being a fake name. That is so funny! It speaks volumes for fake Sharon's credibility. I don't need to read any further to know that nothing written by this person is valid. It amazes me that people who choose to send their children anywhere but their neighborhood public school that keeps the union in control are anti-public education. Each child is different and learns in a different way. IMO, school choice is the best all-around answer for public education. The results at OPA speak volumes about how charter schools can address the diverse needs of students. I hope that future CUSD boards, which hopefully don't include the incumbents who don't believe in first amendment rights, will continue to support charter schools, and not let the union tell them it is bad for public education. I think the union is bad for public education.
Laura L September 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Congratulations OPA students, teachers, parents and staff!! This is amazing!! My third-grade daughter's CST score went up almost 200 points! She is so proud of herself, and of course we are proud of her too! Thanks, OPA!
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 02, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Thanks for reporting in. More than just comparing demographics (which do show a mix of people and backgrounds), I think the real story is comparing how the very same kids fared in earlier in their academic careers. Of course, that's a story that can only be told parent-by-parent.
MayMom September 02, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Each student learns in their own way. Some of them are fine in a public school and others need a quieter environment. Good for the students and staff at OPA. Those scores are great. I would like to see this continue and we will all be watching in the next few years to see if this remains the same. Until then, my three children who attend our local public school with 33 students per class are still getting advanced grades. I'm just as proud of my public school as those parents at Oxford are of their school. Kids adapt much better than their parents do. Capo has it's problems but the scores don't lie.
Kathleen K September 02, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Oh my God! Are you kidding? You are saying that because Maddox used his real picture, and only faked his last name that it's not a lie? Really? So using a fake last name is only half a lie? He must have half a brain. Luckily EVERY district voted him off the school board. So he wasn't half-recalled, he was 100% recalled!
April Josephson September 02, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Kathleen, based on your comment, I can only assume that since you don't use your entire last name, then you must be a fake too.
melissa kaffen September 02, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Bravo OPA! Speaks volumes about what can be achieved when the teachers and parents have high academic expectations. More educational choice and competition will strengthen our kids and schools.
fact checker September 02, 2012 at 04:52 PM
There are several other charter schools in CUSD that have an entirely different focus. If test scores are what drives you it looks like OPA may be an option for you, as well as all the other schools with test scores in the 900's. If attending the school with the highest test score is important then, for this year, OPA is the answer. Test scores have become extremely important to many people. I sincerely hope that this does not lead to the same results as an over emphasis on SAT scores led to.
SteveL September 04, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Dear "fact checker": as someone who actually sent their kids to OPA I can tell you that test scores were actually a small part of their experience this year. My daughter played a historical figure in a Living Museum, leanred to apply for a job, learned a foreign language, computer lab, science lab, martial arts and more -- in third grade. She did all this and only got one answer wrong on the Math portion of the Star test, after struggling with much lower scores in her traditional public school last year. So you are welcome to keep grasping at straws and trying to explain it all away, but facts are stubborn things.
fact checker September 04, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Not trying to explain anything. The commenters above seemed to convey that scores were very important to the success of a school in their estimation. The activities you describe are a better indication of what schools should offer in my opinion. There are many other schools that offer the same kinds of experiences for their students. I'don't like to think of schools competing and I have never experienced a school that didn't do everything it could to provide a good education for every student. I can't speak to your child's experience except to say I am happy you are pleased with her progress and with her school. I wish that for every parent. It is my experience that if the school, student and parent work together every student works to their potential.
SteveL September 04, 2012 at 03:59 PM
OK, thanks for the clarification. You say "you've never experienced a school that didn't do everything it could to provide a good education for every student". That strikes me as a sweeping (and naive) assertion that can't possibly be correct. But I'm glad that's been your experience. My experience at a traditional public school last year was very different--I could write a book about it--and I am so grateful I had the chance to send my kids to OPA.
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Pritchard and "I'llpay" voted for OPA because the attorneys for both OPA and CUSD told them there was no legal justification for denying OPA a charter. If there had been any wiggle room these two clowns would have voted no.
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 05:24 PM
There you go again Erika, telling the truth and setting the facts straight. Sharon Y (the fake one) could learn a lot from you.
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Fake name and fake info, a match made in hell.
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Wow, I'm shocked, the teachers union is endorsing Pritchard (who is a union man himself) and "I'llpay." Nah, not shocked at all. The fact that Pritchard and "I'llpay" are the tools of the teachers union has been well known and well established since they were elected. The teachers union is obviously concerned that it's de facto control of the board is in peril, and it needs to get actively involved in the election and mobilize its members to get parents to vote the union way. Hopefully, a majority of parents in CUSD have seen what happens when you let the fox run the chicken house.
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Kathleen K. Are you and Sharon Y kindred spirits? Sure seems so. By the way, Ken doesn't hide behind a moniker, you do, so that makes Ken much more credible.
Capo mom September 04, 2012 at 09:54 PM
"... if the school, student and parent work together every student works to their potential." Unfortunately, what we have in most of CUSD is CUEA focusing teachers to make maintenance of generous salary and benefit packages the priority. This is why we suffered the turmoil of a strike, the board take over by the union's candidates and subsequent back room payoff to the union of over $30 million. This why our school year has been cut by a month in the past couple of years. And why it will inevitably be cut again next year. OPA is a notable exception. Parents are enthusiastic, teachers are motivated and students achieve. Congratulations again!
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Sharon Y (the fake one) Reporting facts and the news does not make one an advocate, though you obviously believe otherwise. No surprise. You are apparently a tool of the teachers union because the union goes out of its way to control the news and how it and its members are portrayed in the news, just like you're trying to do.
Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 10:13 PM
FC The scores are important in the same vein that CUSD likes to report high and improving test scores. The initial scores are even more important for OPA because it makes any effort to close OPA, e.g. CUSD not renewing its charter after year 3, much harder and difficult.
shelly September 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Hi Penny, Here are some other demographics from OPA on parent education graduate / post graduate 165 college 129 some college including AA degree 29 high school 3 not high school degree 1 declined to answer 45 total 372 tested
Rachel Guzman September 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Unions do not belong in our children's education. Educators are professional enough to negotiate issues within their work environment on their own. We should be role modeling to our children how to collaborate and resolve conflict within the workplace. We should role model how to listen to each other's ideas, negotiate pay and benefits and how to lead in education on our own and without a union. There is ZERO need for a union in education- period. Educators need to role model what they are teaching. Keep the unions out and allow the experts to drive the decisions that are best for our children. Do you want a negligent nurse taking care of you or your sick child? Are you okay with having a negligent nurse who has been protected by the union taking care of your loved ones? Of course not. Thank you to Sue Roche and all those supporting OPA to give us a VOICE and CHOICE in our child's education. And I am sure her "huge" salary boils down to nothing at then end of her long day every day. The comment about her pay is yet another poor example of immature politics. I have to go by the facts of the API scores and my kids personal scores which are UP. The facts tell me loud and clear- she knows what she is doing and union ran schools do. Former unhappy mom of a child at a high performing Distinguised school and HAPPY mom of Chino OPA! Best decision I made 3 years ago. Thank u Mrs. Roche.
Rachel Guzman September 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Correction- union ran schools do not know what they are doing.
Kevin Brandon October 08, 2012 at 03:59 AM
It's not a scare tactic. Get involved, 'concerned parent,' and learn a bit.


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