In last week’s article, I discussed the Academic Performance Index (API) of the schools in Indio, CA. The information that I found shocked me. The fact that only six out of nineteen schools in the city of Indio met or passed California’s API goal of 800. As a disclaimer, many educators (including myself) believe that judging a school, district, or students by their test scores is absurd and wrong. Unfortunately, regardless of how we feel about test scores, many colleges and universities focus largely on them. The state of California also focuses on test performance with state mandated testing and high school exit exams. The SAT, ACT, GED, and high school exit exams are just a few tests that colleges and universities evaluate during a student’s application process. Test based evaluations may be considered uncouth, but we live in a world where tests scores rule supreme.
So, why does this API score matter to you? The API measures the academic performance and progress of individual students in California. The academic performance that the API is referencing just happens to be based on test scores, which are the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program, the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) to be specific. Our public school students are required to test consistently through their academic lives, which can result in failure for students with learning disabilities, English language learners, and students who simply do not test well.
After researching the California Department of Education’s Data Quest, found at, I have found that only two high schools in our valley meet and pass California’s API goal. I believe that it is important to note that our valley has three school districts that total fifteen high schools, including continuation high schools. Out of those fifteen high schools only La Quinta High School (LQHS) and Palm Desert High School (PDHS) are the only API winners. According to the California Department of Education, LQHS ended 2011 with a base score of 873, and PDHS ended 2011 with a base score of 817. Both of the high schools pass the API goal of California. These scores are school wide averages. Individual scoring may vary, but the average of every student is considered, calculated together, and averaged to create the school wide score.
The school grades below high school are important to look at, but I focused on the high school scores for two reasons: The first reason is that these students have passed through the lower grades and are still evaluated, and secondly, these are the tests most likely to be considered by colleges and universities. Remember, my focus will always be on education up to and including higher education.
On a side note, excluding the few continuation high schools that were very low, most of the high schools that did not meet the California API goal were within fifty to sixty points. Both schools have wonderful educational programs that make them successful. In a previous Coachella Valley Weekly article (Blackhawk High, week of 11-12-2012), I wrote about LQHS and their many programs. I encourage you to visit and read the Blackhawk High article found in the archive tab. I plan on spotlighting PDHS in the future, so please keep reading for this and more educational info in our valley.