Why is This Important?
A good education provides a foundation for children to become productive members of society, obtain high-quality jobs, and contribute towards their community’s general welfare. By providing equal education for all children, schools can play a large role in increasing the overall social equity of a community. Further, a highly skilled and educated workforce will attract new businesses to the area along with new jobs and their associated economic benefits.
What is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one where all children receive an education that equips them with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to fully reach their potential and become productive participants in society.
How Are We Doing?
The Academic Performance Index (API) is the cornerstone of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999. While comparisons of API scores between school districts may be problematic because of differences in student populations, API scores are an important measure of progress from year to year within a district or a region. To calculate the API for a school, student performance on standardized tests is aggregated at the school level and converted into a score between 200 and 1,000. The performance target for all California public schools is 800.
· For the school year ending in 2010, the median API score for all county schools and grade levels was 820. Performance improved at all school levels and within all demographic subgroups including socioeconomically disadvantaged students and English learners.
· Elementary schools had the highest median API of 832, while middle schools had a median API of 809, and the median API for high schools was 780. County schools at all levels had higher API scores than the comparable state averages.
· Using previous year’s scores as a baseline, all schools are assigned an annual “growth target.” The percentage of county schools meeting their growth target is an indicator of whether or not school performance is improving from year to year. In 2010, 85 percent of schools in the county met their growth targets. Growth performance was highest among elementary schools, where over 87 percent of schools
met their growth targets. Among middle and high schools, 80 percent of schools met growth targets.
· API scores vary widely by socioeconomic status and language skills, a condition commonly known as the “achievement gap.” In 2010, the median APIs for socioeconomically disadvantaged students was almost 100 points lower (727) than the average for all students (820). The median API score among English learners was 736. School Resources Each year, every school district in the state must calculate the “current expense of education,” a measure of the value of direct educational services received annually by students, excluding construction and non-instructional activities.
· The county average expenditure per pupil for all school districts in 2008/09 was $9,430 compared with the statewide the average of $8,736 per pupil.
· There is wide variability in expenditures per student across school districts in the county. Per pupil spending in the Woodside Elementary and Portola Valley Elementary school districts is more than double that in South San Francisco. The availability of supplemental revenue sources, primarily elective parcel taxes, explain much of the variation between districts. Funding differences can also reflect revenuesreceived for specific services, such as special education dollars.
Preparation for Higher Education
· In 2008/09, 46 percent of the San Mateo County high school graduating class met University of California (UC) and/or California State University (CSU) coursework eligibility requirements, a reduction from 52 percent in 2007/08. Statewide, 35 percent of high school graduates meet these same requirements.
Teachers and Instruction
· During the 2008/09 school year, 96 percent of the 4,884 teachers employed in county schools were fully credentialed, the same percentage as for all public schools in the state.
· The pupil-to-teacher ratio countywide was 20.0 pupils per teacher in 2009/10, better than the state average of 21.7 pupils per teacher. The pupil-to-teacher ratio has improved since 1992-93, when it was just over 23 pupils per teacher countywide.
Charter School Enrollment
In 1992 California passed legislation allowing for the creation of charter schools. Charter schools are publicly funded schools, and are open to all interested students regardless of geography. The primary difference between charter schools and traditional public schools is that charter schools are governed by an independent board, typically made up of teachers, parents, and community members, and they may have more flexibility in setting a curriculum for students. Charter school enrollment in San Mateo County has increased substantially over the past 10 years. In 2000/01, there were 3,518 students enrolled in county charter schools; by 2009/10, that number had increased 60 percent to 5,631. Currently, about 6 percent of San Mateo County students attend charter schools.