AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Schools and districts receive ratings from API test scores, with 200 at the lowest and 1,000 at the top of the range. The state goal is 800. That was met by about 28 percent of all public schools this year and is considered an all-time high. The most significant jump in achievement at the William S. Hart Union High School District came from students considered low income who overall achieved 22 points more than last year, reaching a score of 616. African-American students gained 20 points, and Latinos improved by 19. Hart district officials said they’re aware of the achievement gaps between races and income and have been working through the years to close it. They were pleased with this year’s results and said it reflects their efforts to narrow the gap. To raise API scores, Vicki Engbrecht, director of curriculum and assessment, said the district has aligned what’s taught in classrooms to the California-state standards, skills identified by the state that students should be able to perform at each grade level. VALENCIA – Many minority and low-income students in local public schools are making better strides these days in the classroom, according to test scores released Thursday by the Department of Education. But scores from the Academic Performance Index – or API – also show that these students still lag far behind their white and other peers. Students from low-income households have the lowest scores overall. It’s a gap that Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction, called unacceptable. “It’s quite clear that we need to focus even more sharply on our lowest achieving students,” O’Connell said. The API, a state-required test, is administered to students from second through 11th grades in spring and measures academic growth. Schools are held accountable for results. “We have made a concerted effort to make sure that all students, no matter what programs they’re in, have the opportunity to master that material,” Engbrecht said. At the Newhall School District, it was again low-income students who made the greatest leaps in testing, with a 32-point gain from last year. Overall, the students rank at 735. Latino students were next in line with a 27-point increase, while African-American students gained 12. Asian students led all others in the district with a total score of 928. “We have a long way to go to close that achievement gap, but we’re progressing in the right direction,” said Brian Skinner, assistant superintendent for instruction. The district has worked at refining instruction, Skinner said, and that is leading to better results. With those learning English, for example, the district offers before and after-school tutorials and small-group instructional programs. The numbers of teachers with certifications to work with English-learner students also have annually increased in the elementary school district. Students in the Sulphur Springs School District in Canyon Country increased scores this year as well. White students increased the most with 26 points. Low-income pupils grew the least with 10 points. District officials said they used last year’s test data to identify areas of weakness and then made sure they had the right materials and teacher training to succeed in those spots. In addition, they taught the state’s standards in the classroom. “We really stayed focused,” said Kathy Wright, assistant superintendent of instructional services. Thursday’s announcement marks the second set of API test results announced this year. Scores of overall achievement at schools were released earlier this year. Sue Doyle,(661) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!