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The Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 - CalEdFacts

This content is part of California Department of Education's information and media guide about education in the State of California. For similar information on other topics, visit the full CalEdFacts.

State accountability results focus on how much schools are improving in year-to-year academic growth. The Academic Performance Index (API) is a major part of the state's academic accountability requirements. Its purpose is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools.

API Reporting Cycles

Because the API measures a school's academic growth, it is reported annually in terms of a base score and the next year's growth score. The Base API, reported after the start of each calendar year, and its corresponding Growth API, based on the following year's test results and reported the following August, constitute an API reporting cycle. Base API reports include API scores and growth targets. Growth API reports include API scores and show whether the school met its growth targets. A school's Base API is subtracted from its corresponding Growth API to determine how much the school grew in a year. API results focus on schools showing year-to-year growth in achievement.

Since the first Smarter Balanced assessment results in English-language arts (ELA) and mathematics will be available in the summer of 2015, the Base API reports and corresponding growth targets will be produced for schools and released by spring 2016.

State API Growth Targets

Schools must meet annual schoolwide targets and targets for each numerically significant student group to meet state API growth targets. The growth target is the amount of improvement a school is expected to make in its API score in a year. It is calculated as 5 percent of the difference between a school's Base API and the statewide performance target of 800. The minimum schoolwide growth target is 5 points until the API approaches 800. A school with an API of 800 or more must maintain its API of at least 800.

In addition, each numerically significant student group must show API growth of at least 5 percent of the difference between its Base API and the statewide target of 800. Student groups with API scores at or above 800 must maintain an API score of at least 800.

In response to legislative mandates, the API is being revised. Therefore, the following content provides information about both the future of the API as well as the past. 

Future API

The API will be based on results from statewide tests administered in grades three through eight, and eleven. Specifically, the 2015–16 API reporting cycle is expected to reflect a school's performance on the following tests:

Future High School API

California Education Code (EC) Section 52052(H) states it is the intent of the Legislature that the state's system of public school accountability be more closely aligned with both the public's expectations for public education and the workforce needs of the state's economy. Therefore, Senate Bill (SB) 1458, California EC sections 52052(a)(3)(F)(i) and 52052(a)(3)(H) require that by 2015–16, the results of statewide assessments shall constitute no more than 60 percent of the high school API and that the remaining 40 percent must encompass other indicators such as graduation data and pupil preparedness for college and career.

The Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) Advisory Committee is now considering indicators of pupil preparedness for college and career. In June 2013, the Advisory Committee recommended to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) a methodology for incorporating graduation data in the API. All new indicators must be approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) at least one year before they are incorporated into the API.

Student Groups Used in Future API

Beginning with the 2015 Base Report, a "numerically significant student group" is a group with at least 30 students with valid test scores. Student groups include the following categories:

Prior API

The API has been a numeric index (or scale) that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. A school's score or placement on the API has been an indicator of the school's performance level. The current statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A school's growth has been measured by how well the school is moving toward or past that goal.

Test Results Used in the Prior API

The API has been based on the results of statewide tests in grades two through twelve. The 2012–13 API reporting cycle reflects a school’s performance on the following tests:

Student Groups Used in Prior API

A "numerically significant student group" was a group with at least 100 students with valid test scores or 50 or more students who represented at least 15 percent of the students with valid test scores. Student groups included the following categories:

Prior API Ranks

For the Base API Report, schools received a Base API score, statewide and similar schools ranks, and growth targets. Ranks were established by deciles. Deciles are ten categories of equal size from ten (highest) to one (lowest). The statewide rank compared a school’s API with those of all schools of the same type statewide (i.e., elementary, middle, or high schools). The similar schools rank compared a school’s API with those of 100 other schools (i.e., elementary, middle, or high schools) with similar challenges. Local educational agencies (LEAs), schools in the Alternative Schools Accountability Model, and student groups were not ranked.

Effective July 1, 2013, Assembly Bill 97, Chapter 47, Statutes 2013, California EC Section 52056(a) requiring API ranking of schools was repealed. As a result, for 2014 and beyond, statewide and similar schools ranks will no longer be produced.

How the API Is Used

The API is used to meet state requirements under the PSAA and federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements for elementary and middle schools under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Under state requirements, if a school meets participation and API growth criteria, it may be eligible for state and federal award programs. Under federal ESEA requirements, the API is one of the indicators for AYP.

API Use Differs in State and Federal Criteria

The API is used as a measurement tool to meet both state and federal accountability requirements for elementary and middle schools, but the criteria differ.

Under state requirements, an elementary or middle school must increase its API score by 5 percent of the difference between the school's Base API and 800 or maintain a score of 800 or above. Additionally, each numerically significant student group must increase its API score by 5 percent of the difference between the student group API and 800 or maintain a score of 800 or above.

Under federal requirements in 2014 and beyond, a school or an LEA must have a minimum API of  800 or have at least 1 point growth in the schoolwide API in addition to the other federal AYP schoolwide and student group targets (participation rate, percent proficient, and graduation rate).

Questions:   Academic Accountability Unit | aau@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0863
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