Del Oro High's API scores keep soaring

School's score hits 842 in state's Academic Performance Index rating
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Del Oro High School students are continuing their academic climb and better state performance scores are the result. For the second year in a row, Del Oro increased its Academic Performance Index (API) and advanced another 12 points to score 842. This number puts Del Oro just three points behind nearby Granite Bay High School. “When I heard we did well on the API, I was really excited. It’s always our goal to beat Granite Bay,” said Alexis Costa, a Del Oro senior. The school’s students also increased their STAR test scores, which helped boost the API. Last spring, students were tested in math, language arts, science and history. In addition to STAR results, the state uses growth targets for the school, individual ethnic groups, economically disadvantaged, disabled and English learners to determine the API. Lizzie Hinkey, another Del Oro senior, said, “I felt we were more prepared for the STAR tests last year. The school is making it more of a priority so it makes you try harder.” The two high schools in Rocklin earned the highest API’s in Placer County followed by Granite Bay, then Del Oro. Dan Gayaldo, Del Oro principal, said he’s pleased with the school’s score, and plans to continue the climb. But, he said, it is important to keep a balance between Del Oro's culture and its API. “The Del Oro culture is our most important feature. We are a comprehensive high school – we offer marching band, multiple leadership classes, FFA, shop classes, more choir – they don’t offer those at the schools with the highest API’s,” Gayaldo said. Paul Lundberg, a Del Oro assistant principal, said being tested on the standards is one important measurement, but that the tests require more rote learning as opposed to critical thinking. Other measures to consider, Lundberg said, are that Del Oro students’ have the second highest scores in the county on Advanced Placement tests and 90 percent of Del Oro graduates go on to attend college. He said 98 percent of the students pass the high school exit exam. According to Jeff Tooker, Placer Union High School District assistant superintendent, the Del Oro staff works hard to dissect the data to make sure all students are achieving at higher levels. “API is perhaps the simplest way for the public to try to academically measure a school, but that wouldn’t be complete. There are many other indicators of achievement and aspects of a school that can’t be measured,” Tooker said. “How would one measure all the great things at Del Oro where students demonstrate exceptional skills and talents?” John Cooper, head of Del Oro’s math department, makes it his job to crunch and analyze the school’s STAR test results and provide that information to the various departments. He said during the year, teachers within a department work together in “professional learning communities,” which helps with STAR results. “Instructors work together to analyze test results to see if students are understanding the concepts and to target those who don’t for intervention,” Cooper said. “It’s a group effort by teachers to work with the students who need more help.” According to Gregg Ramseth, the high school district’s director of assessment, “The API is based on an improvement model. It is used to measure the academic growth of a school. “The API is used to rank schools. A school is compared to other schools statewide and to 100 other schools that have similar demographic characteristics.”