State accountability results focus on how much schools are improving in year-to-year academic growth. The Academic Performance Index (API) is the cornerstone of the state’s academic accountability requirements. Its purpose is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools.
Academic Performance Index
The API is 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 is an indicator of the school’s performance level. The statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A school’s growth is measured by how well the school is moving toward or past that goal.
Test Results Used in the API
The API is based on the results of statewide tests in grades two through twelve. The 2011–12 API reporting cycle reflects a school’s performance on the following tests:
- Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program
- California Standards Test (CST) in English-language arts (ELA) (grades two through eleven, including a writing assessment in grades four and seven)
- CST in mathematics (grades two through seven, and grades eight through eleven for end-of-course tests)
- CST in science (grades five, eight, and ten and grades nine through eleven for end-of-course tests)
- CST in history–social science (grade eight, grade eleven in U.S. history, and grades nine through eleven for end-of-course test in world history)
- California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for ELA and mathematics (grades two through eleven), science (grades five, eight, and ten)
- California Modified Assessment (CMA) (grades three through eleven for ELA, grades three through seven in mathematics, Algebra I, Geometry, and grades five, eight, and ten for science)
- California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) for ELA and mathematics (grade ten regardless of the results and grades eleven and twelve if the student passed one or both of the content areas)
The Public Schools Accountability Act (PSAA) requires that test results make up at least 60 percent of the API. Other indicators will be added to the API as they become available.
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, statewide and similar schools rankings, 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.
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.
A “numerically significant student group” is a group with at least 100 students with valid test scores or 50 or more students who represent at least 15 percent of the students with valid test scores. Student groups include the following categories:
- Black or African American
- American Indian or Alaska Native
- Hispanic or Latino
- Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
- Two or More Races
- Socioeconomically Disadvantaged
- English Learners
- Students with Disabilities
For the Base API Report, schools receive a Base API score, statewide ranking, similar schools ranking, and growth targets. For the rankings, a school’s API score is ranked as one of ten categories (deciles). A ranking in the first decile is the lowest rank, and a ranking in the tenth decile is the highest. The statewide ranking compares a school’s API with those of all schools of the same type statewide (i.e., elementary, middle, or high schools). The similar schools ranking compares a school’s API with those of 100 other schools (i.e., elementary, middle, or high schools) with similar challenges. LEAs, schools in the Alternative Schools Accountability Model, and student groups are not ranked.
How the API Is Used
The API is used to meet state requirements under the PSAA and federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements 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, but the criteria differ.
Under state requirements, a 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 2012, a school or LEA must have a minimum API of 740 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).