State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced that a majority of California schools improved academically for the fifth straight year, but only about half were able to reach their annual "growth targets."

While 62 percent of schools made progress under the 2003-04 Academic Performance Index (API), only 48 percent of California schools met their growth targets -- a measurement that indicates significant improvement by the school and by student subgroups that are defined by socioeconomics and ethnicity.

Last year, 90 percent of California schools improved academically, while 78 percent met their growth targets.

"While our schools continue to grow, their rate of improvement has slowed. These results mirror our test scores, which this year were mixed," said O'Connell.

According to the results, 46 percent of elementary schools, 55 percent of middle schools, 47 percent of high schools, and 48 percent of all schools met their targets. At the same, 58 percent of elementary schools, 75 percent of middle schools, 68 percent of high schools, and 62 percent of all schools had increased schoolwide APIs.

Compared to API schoolwide scores that were released in August to meet federal accountability requirements, the API information released Oct. 28 includes both schoolwide results and student subgroup information. A school is expected not only to meet a schoolwide growth target, but also demonstrate comparable improvement for all numerically significant student subgroups.

"The good news is that California’s accountability system is working as it was meant to." O'Connell said.

Schools were expected to meet their annual API growth targets based on the 2004 Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) and California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) examinations. The academic performance and progress of schools are measured by using a numeric index that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. The growth target for a school is 5 percent of the difference between a school's API Base, which was released last March, and the statewide performance target of 800.

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