Whittier Union High School District’s five comprehensive high schools rank as top schools among the state’s high schools with similar demographics, according to results from the 2011 Base Academic Performance Index (API) report released by the California State Department of Education (CDE).
According to the CDE, schools are ranked in 10 groups of equal size, called deciles, from one (lowest scoring) to 10 (highest scoring).
California, La Serna and Santa Fe high schools all ranked a 10 among comprehensive high schools with similar demographics, earning the schools the distinction of being three out of only six comprehensive high schools in Los Angeles County to rank a 10 this year, not including magnet and charter high schools. Whittier and Pioneer high schools both ranked an 8 among similar schools.
At the state level, Whittier Union was one of only two districts to have more than two high schools rank a 10 among similar schools. Only 10 percent of all high schools in California ranked a 10 among similar schools.
“We are all pleased to see that our schools continue to rank among the top schools in the state,” said Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson. “Continued growth in academic achievement is a challenge to maintain at the high school level, especially when one considers the deep budget cuts we continue to make due to extreme reductions in state funding.”
A school's statewide rank compares that school to other schools of the same type in the entire state. The school types are elementary, middle, and high. Each decile contains 10 percent of all schools of that type. A school's statewide rank is the decile where that school's API Base falls compared with the Base APIs of the other schools statewide of the same school type, the CDE said.
Each school also receives a similar schools rank. California public schools serve students with many different backgrounds and needs. As a result, schools operate within different educational environments. The similar schools ranks allow schools to look at their academic performance compared to other schools with some of the same opportunities and challenges, the CDE said.
Schools also are ranked compared to 100 other schools with similar demographic characteristics. For the similar schools rank, schools are ranked into deciles according to school type: elementary, middle, and high. To determine the similar schools rank for a school, a comparison group of 100 similar schools of the same type is formed for that school, based on similar demographic characteristics, the CDE said. The school's similar schools rank is the decile where that school's Base API falls compared with the Base APIs of the 100 other similar schools in the comparison group, the CDE said.
“In our case, the similar school rankings are more positive evidence supporting the work our faculty and staff have undertaken through our ‘Whatever It Takes’ initiative,” Thorstenson said. “We remain focused and dedicated to ensuring that all students continue to achieve at higher levels.”
In statewide rankings that do not take demographics into account, La Serna’s statewide rank is a 9 with its API now at 824, which is above the state’s 800 benchmark. Santa Fe High School ranked an 8 and its API score is also above 800. California High School’s state rank is 7, Whittier High School ranked a 6 and Pioneer High School ranked a 4.