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More Capo Elementary Schools Enter the '900 Club'

The state releases the academic-performance-index scores for all schools. Despite major gains, two local elementary schools remain on "program improvement," sort of like academic probation.

More Capistrano Unified School District elementary schools joined the “900 club” this year.

The state Department of Education’s goal is to have all schools score at least 800 on the academic performance index, an annual review to gauge mastery of English and mathematics across the state.

Last year, a dozen Capo elementary schools scored an API of 900 or above. This year, according to figures released Wednesday by the California Department of Education, the total jumped to 18 of the district’s 36 elementary schools.

“These numbers prove that this is one of the top school systems in the state,” Superintendent Joe Farley said in a press release.

Newcomers to the 900-plus club include  in Aliso Viejo,  and  in Laguna Niguel,  in Rancho Santa Margarita,  in Mission Viejo and  in San Clemente.

Las Flores and Moulton made the largest leaps to push them over the 900 mark, with Las Flores gaining 32 points over last year’s API score and Moulton moving ahead 34 points.

The gains were not enough to catapult Capistrano out of what it called “program improvement.” That’s a label the state and federal governments use to monitor districts that are not performing up to expectations. With the release of the 2011 API, Capo enters its second year for program improvement for English-learners and special-education students.

Still, the district has cause for optimism, said chief communications officer Marcus Walton. "We have already seen major improvements. Every student subgroup saw an increase in their API scores."

English-learner students saw their API score rise by 12 points on average, while students with disabilities saw a 25-point increase, Walton said. Hispanic students' scores rose by 16 points.

"Simply using the labels of a federal accountability system that many describe as flawed—including parents, elected officials and education experts—doesn’t diminish our students’ high level of achievement," he said. 

 in San Clemente and  in San Juan Capistrano both maintained their fifth-year status of program improvement. After five years, the district can take a number of restructuring steps that could include everything from conversion to a charter school, removing teachers and administrators or handing the school over to the state.

According to the California Department of Education, restructuring means the school district must take “intensive and far-reaching interventions to revamp completely the operation and governance of the school.”

Las Palmas and San Juan both saw 30-figure jumps in their API scores, but it wasn’t enough. Students at both schools are still behind in English-language arts. At Las Palmas, the school met 19 of 21 criteria that would have pushed it out of program improvement. Latinos and poor students are struggling with English-language arts. English-learners, however, met their goals.

At San Juan Elementary, the school met 17 of 21 criteria. Schoolwide, it did not meet its adequate-yearly-progress goals in English-language arts, nor did Latinos, poor students and English learners.

Both Las Palmas and San Juan are part of the district’s  that teaches bilteracy in English and Spanish to both English- and Spanish-native speakers.

But the Two-Way schools aren’t the only ones on program improvement. and , both in San Juan Capistrano, are both in their first year of program improvement. in Mission Viejo is in its second year.

Of all 54 traditional schools in Capistrano Unified, 40, or 71 percent, saw an increase in their API scores and met their targets. Twelve increased their APIs but didn’t meet their targets. Four schools’ APIs either remained the same or dropped and didn’t meet their targets.

Those schools with API declines were  in Laguna Niguel (down 10 points),  in San Clemente (down 12 points) and Richard Henry Dana Elementary in Dana Point (down 32 points).

Districtwide, CUSD gained 13 points, to 875 this year. That makes it the seventh-highest API score among Orange County schools, with Irvine Unified, , , Huntington Beach Elementary, Fountain Valley Unified and Cypress Elementary school districts all placing ahead of Capo.

Neighboring school district Saddleback Unified School District was not far behind, with a total API of 862.

School districts across the state averaged an API of 778.

With about 51,000 students, Capistrano Unified is among the largest 15 school districts in the state. Its API places it at the top of that field, .

CUSD schools with an API of 900 or higher:

  • Arroyo Vista Elementary in Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Bathgate Elementary in Mission Viejo
  • Canyon Vista Elementary in Aliso Viejo
  • Castille Elementary in Mission Viejo
  • Chaparrel Elementary (highest elementary at 948) in Ladera Ranch
  • Don Juan Avila Elementary in Aliso Viejo
  • George White Elementary in Laguna Niguel
  • John Malcom Elementary in Laguna Niguel
  • Ladera Ranch Elementary in Ladera Ranch
  • Laguna Niguel Elementary in Laguna Niguel
  • Las Flores Elementary in Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Moulton Elementary in Laguna Niguel
  • Oso Grande Elementary in Ladera Ranch
  • Philip J. Reilly Elementary in Mission Viejo
  • Tijeras Creek Elementary in Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Truman Benedict Elementary in San Clemente
  • Vista del Mar Elementary in San Clemente
  • Wagon Wheel Elementary in Trabuco Canyon
  • Aliso Viejo Middle School in Aliso Viejo
  • Arroyo Vista Middle School in Rancho Santa Margarita
  • Don Juan Avila Middle School in Aliso Viejo
  • Ladera Ranch Middle School (highest of the middle schools at 935) in Ladera Ranch
  • Las Flores Middle School in Las Flores
  • Vista del Mar Middle School in San Clemente

No high schools breached the 900-mark

shelly September 02, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Capo Mom, The immersion program does not cost any more than any other program in CUSD so the tax dollars used to educate my children who attend this school are no more than if my children attended their neighborhood school.
Capo mom September 02, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Oh I get it, ... it has to be the "right" kind of diversity. Statistics on socio-economic disadvantaged students are derived from participation in the National School Lunch program. Since funding of many federal programs are based on NSLP participation. students are encouraged to participate. Abuse is extremely common, but no one looks into it very carefully. After all more students means more money. Though students must qualify in theory, only a percentage of applications are verified. So who knows about socio-economic diversity. But there are 241 Hispanic or Latino students attending Oxford Prep compared to 196 white kids. And the scores look great in every sub-group.
Capo mom September 02, 2011 at 08:59 PM
shelly's message sounds like "School of choice is for me and my family. But not for anyone else."
PJ September 02, 2011 at 09:08 PM
My son is supposed to go to Viejo Elementary next year. 46% English proficiency... 56% math... I guess I know why no one in our neighborhood sends their kids there. I really wanted my kids to be able to walk to school, but those numbers are pathetic.
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Capo mom, As you are aware from numerous go arounds with Shelly she always has to have the last word. Apparently, her reading comprehension is low since she is unable to infer that some parents like to feel like they have gifted children whether that is true or not. Those children who come from educated or highly involved families will do better than those with less education or support for education. Shelly would be happy if all children in CUSD received substandard education because we must accept what is offered. There should be no other choice except for those able to afford $600 to $1000 a month tuition per child in additon to the property taxes they already pay for public education. If CUSD schools are working for your kids and they are thriving and succeeding you are very blessed. There is not consistency between all of the schools in our district. Some schools have better staff or nicer facilities. There are a lot of factors involved. Would you leave your child in a school that was a detriment to their education? My previous comments were in regards to Las Palmas which teaches primarily in Spanish and got a waiver to do so in direct opposition to the will of the voters a few years ago. Since that time they have recruited many families who aren't native Spanish speakers. I think that has improved the test scores and diversity at the school. Please explain why learning disabled students scores rose 25 points while non English speakers only rose 12 points?
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 09:31 PM
The bilingual teachers are paid more for being certified to teach in both languages. The school is probably receiving extra money via Title I. In the past this school was over 90% Hispanic. If that has changed it is only due to active recruiting of non Spanish speakers to the school.
shelly September 02, 2011 at 09:34 PM
capo mom, when and where did I say that choice is only for me and my children? Please be specific.
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Shelly, Please site your sources for your comments about there being only 2 economically disadvantaged students and 21 ELL. I'd love to see it.
Penny Arévalo September 02, 2011 at 09:44 PM
It's 27 ELLS. From the link already provided in the comments, I'll do a cut and paste: Number of Students Included in 2011 Schoolwide 632 Black or African American 31 American Indian or Alaska Native 3 Asian 105 Filipino 44 Hispanic or Latino 241 Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander 5 White 196 Two or More Races 7 Socioeconomically Disadvantaged 2 English Learners 27 Students with Disabilities 67
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Leaving your child in a school that is not a good fit for them and is either detrimental to their academic or mental health is child abuse. Doing that leaves them ill prepared to become productive members of society. I recently spoke to an acquaintance who is changing schools after several years because her child is being bullied. It's not physical bullying but excluding the child and mental bullying. I'm happy that this poor kid won't have to go to school and feel like an outcast everyday.
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 09:48 PM
I agree about the testing. Some kids are good test takers and others aren't. I'm glad that your kids are doing well. You being involved is probably a big part of that.
shelly September 02, 2011 at 09:49 PM
It is not surprising that Oxford Prep did well given the economic and education level of the parents. It is also not surprising because the parents are involved and sought out the alternative. Most kids who get free lunches need the free lunch. Not everything is political or a way for someone to make money off the system. The program started because of a need. Kids learn better when they are not hungry and not worried about when they will get their next meal. I do not know your experience with poverty. The economically disadvantaged really do exist even in Orange county and in Chino.
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 09:59 PM
Economically disadvantaged is a relative term. I wonder if the source of that statistic is based on whether or not the student receives free or reduced lunch? It is common knowledge that a lot of people lie about their income in order to have their children receive those benefits. I'm not so sure that the large numbers of economically disadvantaged students in regular schools is an accurate reflection of reality. I say that based on statements from relatives working in Los Angeles county public schools. The large amount of free lunches thrown away is sinful. Kids being dropped off to school in $70,000 SUV's while wearing designer clothes. My family shops at Target, aren't self employed, don't get paid in cash and don't qualify for any type of assistance programs yet my sister sent me a link for FHA and our income for Orange County is Low Middle. We are only middle class if we move to Riverside County based on our income. That's my reason for being so invested in getting my children the best education possible that our State offers.
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 10:05 PM
I'm glad you're informed. Now you have to figure out a way to get the District to allow your kids to attend another hopefully excelling school.
shelly September 02, 2011 at 10:11 PM
OC mom, I do not know any parent who put their children in Las Palmas so that their children can feel superior. Why would they do this? Is this really going to help them in the long run. Yes, the demographics has changed because of the immersion program. Native English speakers and Native Spanish speakers learning together. Sorry you see it as a negative. People helping people. A community. Test scores don't always tell the whole story. But at Las Palmas they have improved every year. Parents and families have a role in education. They can sit passively by and blame all the short comings of public education on the "system", the teachers or the administrators, the board, etc. or they can advocate for change, take an active role at their school, start programs and clubs, mentor and tutor and enrich their children. Nothing is perfect. Complain, insult, or do something about it.
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 10:15 PM
I agree that there are those in OC and CA for that matter who need and rely on free lunch. I wouldn't want to ever see a child go hungry. Teachers can usually spot who the truly needy kids are. However, I also believe there is rampant fraud in the program that is left unchecked. We have a lot of identity theft and people working under more than one Social Security number or collecting Government benefits in addition to working because they use various aliases and id. numbers. It's very sad that whenever the Government gives something away using tax dollars that people figure out a way to game the system and collect what they aren't entitled to. I say all this because I don't believe that the high numbers of economically disadvantaged in regular public schools is necessarily accurate.
shelly September 02, 2011 at 10:15 PM
The immersion program does not cost any more than any other program in CUSD.
shelly September 02, 2011 at 10:35 PM
Capo Mom, Please specify when I disagreed with bringing native English speakers together with Native Spanish speakers to model the language. When did I disagree with this? Can you please specify the context because I do not disagree immersion. My child learning Spanish benefits my child. Kids learning to read and write in their native language and another language benefits that child. Being bi-literate and bilingual is beneficial. Spanish is not a inferior language and being literate in Spanish and having it as your native language is not inferior. English is a hard language to learn. It is even harder when you are not exposed to it daily. Don't you agree? Please explore the scores. Kids do improve in the upper grades. All of my children did not do well on the English portion of the test in 2 and 3 grades (but that is because they were taught in Spanish but in the 4th and 5th grades and on they have excelled. Think or imply what you want. We chose Las Palmas. We love the community spirit and families at the school. In CUSD we all have school of choice. Start a charter and choose your school but why put down others for their choice or try to move schools that people have chose and worked for because you believe your choice is better?
OC Mom September 02, 2011 at 10:35 PM
I've done a lot more than complain for many years. I've taken control of my children's education. We just disagree about what that looks like.
shelly September 03, 2011 at 12:04 AM
OC Mom, You are entitled to your opinion. I do not believe there is rampant fraud. I do not believe that the majority or a high percentage of the students' parents who receive free lunches are unethical or fraudulant. I believe that the majority are economically disadvantaged. I believe that poverty is rampant in our Nation, our state and in portions of our community. People have lost their jobs and many are working multiple low income jobs in order to support their families. Poverty is real.
shelly September 03, 2011 at 12:07 AM
OC mom, I do not disagree with your choice for Oxford prep or to Oxford prep. What I disagree with is that you have many times stated that students should be moved out of their neighborhood school so that Oxford Prep has a more convenient location.
OC Mom September 03, 2011 at 01:06 AM
I agree with your earlier comment to Capomom when you said: English is a hard language to learn. It is even harder when you are not exposed to it daily. Why do you think CA voters wanted ELL to be taught in English only? If their parents are busy working and don't speak English themselves and the kids are in school all day at a school instructing only in Spanish till 4th grade when do you think those unfortunate kids will learn English? Even worse if those kids need to move (frequently happens when you're low income) and don't continue on in the immersion program they'll be in 3rd or 4th grade and know very little English. Kids whose neighborhood school is a dual immersion school who don't have transportation to another non immersion school aren't really getting a choice in education. What is good for your child or my child is not necessarily good for someone else's child. Education should be customized to the individual student's needs. Kids who aren't fluent in English need intense instruction in that subject. Kids who struggle with reading, writing or Math also need more consentrated instruction in those subjects until they master the subject. We need a literate society and a strong middle class in order to have a strong United States.
Capo mom September 03, 2011 at 02:08 AM
From CDE's website: "The lunch program must be open to all enrolled children. Free or reduced price meals must be provided to those children who qualify for such benefits according to specified family size and income standards. Agency staff must verify income ON A PERCENTAGE of those children receiving free or reduced price lunches to confirm their eligibility. Records must be kept to document that the lunch program follows all federal and state rules and regulations." Given that federal monies flow based on NSLP participation, schools know the more, the merrier. Agency staff means school site employees. The system is gamed to yield the maximum is federal funds. Staff knows the families who truly qualify and select them for review. In years past, I volunteered for the program. I quit volunteering when my school started serving meals in the summer to families where the kids had smart phones.
Capo mom September 03, 2011 at 02:10 AM
That is simply false.
shelly September 03, 2011 at 03:43 PM
OC Mom, Visit an immersion school and see what actually is going on. I would suggest that you do research in language aquisition and dual immersion programs. We need all our citizens to be literate including those who come from economically disadvantaged homes.
shelly September 03, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Capo Mom, It is great that you volunteered. But instead of judging these families did you look into some of the reasons why these kids had smart phones. Maybe their family could not afford a landline. Maybe many of these kids were homeless and this is a way for families to stay contact with each other. Maybe the parents worked and were worried about their kids during the day so a smart phone was a way to contact their children.
shelly September 04, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Capo Mom, Please be specific about the cost of immersion being more.
Immersion Program Parent August 17, 2012 at 06:53 PM
OC Mom- are you aware that Las Palmas and San Juan Elementary schools are full immersion schools? Do your research before you comment.
OC Mom August 18, 2012 at 12:53 AM
IPP, I'm well aware of the Las Palmas program because I used to live nearby. Just because we don't agree doesn't mean that I haven't researched the program. 700 scores for ELL, Hispanic and Socio Economic disadvantaged while the White elite from Talega have a 924 score doesn't seem like progress. What it seems like is the elite want their children viewed as gifted because they out score those who don't have the same advantages. It's really sad because I bet you could compare the scores of the disadvantaged group from 15 years ago and not see much change. How is this school benefiting those neighborhood kids without transportation to an alternate school such as Lobo Elementary? It is good that there is an option for non Hispanic parents who want their children to be bilingual in Spanish, but what has it really done to benefit the needy ELL students? http://www.greatschools.org/modperl/achievement/ca/3657#from..HeaderLink
Erika Schulte August 18, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Shelly - I just want to clarify a point in your post. Oxford Preparatory Academy in Chino was given the former El Rancho Elementary school site by the Chino Valley Unified School District, which had closed El Rancho well over a year before the Oxford charter petition was submitted for approval. It's not accurate to state that Oxford "took over" that campus and displaced students, as it was already empty and local students had been reassigned per district mandate long before Oxford was even an entity.

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