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 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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