Rocklin schools’ API scores best in county

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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The students, teachers and staff of Rocklin Unified School District have something to celebrate. Academic Performance Index scores, a single score ranging from 200 to 1,000 that reflects a school’s performance level based on the results of statewide testing, released last week, show that RUSD has the highest API scores in Placer County among unified districts and districts that service kindergarten through 12th-grade. Additionally, many of Rocklin’s schools have made the top of the list among high school and elementary API results. RUSD’s score of 869, is more than 50 points above the rest of districts with high schools. Tahoe-Truckee Joint Unified follows with an API score of 816. At the comprehensive high school level, Rocklin High School took the No.1 slot with a score of 859, followed by Whitney High School at 841 and Granite Bay High School with an API score of 840. Michael Garrison, RHS principal, said every spring, the school holds an academic excellence assembly, pumping students up to increase their test scores. The students were challenged to either increase scores by two points (they grew by 18 points from 2008) or maintain the No. 1 slot in Placer County — both were accomplished. “We throw the challenge before the kids,” Garrison said, by finding different ways to motivate them. A free dance and a barbecue did the trick this year, which students have the option to participate in next month, he said. Linda Rooney, deputy superintendent of educational services for RUSD, said she believes an increase of collaborative working days among teachers and staff may have helped boost the scores. For the 2009-10 school year, 16 Mondays are devoted to collaboration days among seventh- through 12th-grade teachers, while elementary teachers within the district collaborate every Monday. During the meetings, the staff reviews the progress students are making toward goals, Rooney said. “It’s really a tribute to the outstanding work that our staff, teachers, our families and students have done,” she said. Rocklin Academy, a kindergarten through sixth-grade charter school on Turnstone Way in Rocklin, has maintained the highest API score of all schools in Placer County, with a score of 948. David Patterson, executive director of Rocklin Academy, said the scores are a “tremendous accomplishment,” which the school has reached the last eight years as the highest ranking school in RUSD. “We continue to be thrilled that we constantly do better and better,” he said. Patterson said he believes the high scores are the result of three ingredients. “I think it’s built on, first the rich Core Knowledge curriculum that goes so much further than English and math,” Patterson said. “Second, it’s the teaching excellence — our teachers are really dedicated to their craft. And third, is a partnership with families.” Valley View Elementary School in Rocklin, with an API score of 940, reached the highest API score among “comprehensive, typical elementary schools” within Placer County, Rooney said. RUSD well-surpassed the state’s 800-point API target goal, with all schools except for Victory High School, a continuation high school, and Rocklin Independent School, a kindergarten through 12th-grade alternative school, passing 800 points. At the middle school level, Granite Oaks Middle School was the highest scoring middle school in Placer County with an API score of 918 - no other middle school within Placer County surpased 900 points. Spring View Middle School was also one of the top middle schools in the county with a score of 858. Rooney said the district’s success stems from the students and community. “Really, it is about the kids’ commitment,” she said. “It takes a whole community to provide high-achieving schools.” Lauren Weber can be reached at laurenw@goldcountry