Berkeley schools overall showed slight improvement in California’s Academic Performance Index (API) results, which are based on the state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) program.

Berkeley Unified School District’s API increased to 790 from 784, still below the state target of 800 out of a possible 1,000. Out of the 16 Berkeley schools calculated in the index, 12 surpassed the 800 mark and four were below, including both high schools.

“I was pleased that our APIs went up some,” said BUSD Superintendant Bill Huyett. “We had particularly good results in the middle schools and some of the elementary schools. In high school, it’s the first time we had a score in six years. I think Berkeley High scores should be higher, and we’ll keep working on that.”

In recent years, an insufficient number of Berkeley High students took the STAR tests for the school to receive an API. The new high school administration made a point last year of trying to increase participation in the testing.

Berkeley’s results once again show the persistance of the achievement gap between white and African American students. For the district as a whole, the API of white students is 908. For African American students it is 643. Hispanic or Latino scores showed good improvement in Berkeley, increasing from 730 to 744. Statewide, the average API score of white students is 845, African American is 696 and Hispanic or Latino is 729.

Berkeley’s API results can be seen in detail on the state Department of Education website. The table shown above, and the notes that accompany it, can be found here.

The Department of Education also released Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results, which are for the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. At the state level, AYP results threaten to label 913 schools as “failing”.

State Superintendant of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said today, “The failure here is in our politics, not our public schools.” Torlakson has written to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appealing for relief from the “flawed policies” of NCLB.

Only five Berkeley schools — Jefferson, Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks elementary schools, and King and Willard middle schools — met all 21 AYP criteria this year. Only 35% of elementary, 18% of middle, and 41% of high schools statewide met the AYP criteria. According to NCLB, 100% of students nationwide will be expected to be “proficient” in math and English language arts by 2013-14.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...