API Scores: How Do Belmont-Redwood Shores Schools Measure Up?

The 2011 Academic Performance Index (API) scores have been released. All schools in the BRSSD (grades K-8) scored above 800. How did your child's school measure up?

As parents and care-givers, a quality education for our children is a top priority. Where a family sets down roots often has to do with the quality of the schools in the area - and one criteria often looked at is a school's Academic Performance Index, or API score.

The 2011 API scores for all public schools in California have just been released - and Patch has the low-down on how schools in Belmont and Redwood Shores measured up.

Below are the scores for all K-8 schools in the  (BRSSD) in alphabetical order.

But first, a little background info.

What is an API score?

The independent research organization EdData describes APIs as follows:

“The Academic Performance Index (API) is an annual measure of test score performance of schools and districts. The California Department of Education (CDE) calculates the API and disseminates the results directly to schools and districts as well as posting them on the CDE website.

“The API is a single number on a scale of 200 to 1,000 that indicates how well students in a school or district performed on the previous spring’s tests. An API is calculated for the whole school, plus its ‘numerically significant subgroups,’ including socioeconomically disadvantaged students, English learners, and students with disabilities.”

What do all these rankings/scores mean?

2012 API Target - Typically, if a school’s API score falls below the state’s minimum target score – which, in California, is 800 – the state will set a goal target for the following year of last year’s score, plus 5 points. If a school’s 2012 target is ‘A,’ that means the school is already scoring at or above the state’s minimum target, and therefore does not have a growth target, other than to remain at or above 800.

2011 Statewide Rank - How a school ranks within a grouping of schools equaling 10 percent of schools statewide of a similar type, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest.

2011 Similar Schools Rank – How a school ranks within a grouping of 100 similar schools from throughout the state, with 1 the lowest and 10 the highest.

2011 API Students Included – How many students from a particular school took the API tests in 2011.



  • 2011 Base API: 939
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 10th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 5
  • 2011 API Students Included = 274


  • 2011 Base API: 899
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 9th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 2
  • 2011 API Students Included = 238

  • 2011 Base API: 912
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 9th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 3
  • 2011 API Students Included = 241

  • 2011 Base API: 843
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 7th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 7
  • 2011 API Students Included = 177

  • 2011 Base API: 904
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 10th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 5
  • 2011 API Students Included = 888


  • 2011 Base API: 940
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 10th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 5
  • 2011 API Students Included = 139


  • 2011 Base API: 935
  • 2012 API Target = A*
  • 2011 Statewide Rank = 10th
  • 2011 Similar Schools Rank = 3
  • 2011 API Students Included = 317

*"A" indicates this school scored at or above the Statewide Performance Target of 800 in 2011. A school with an API or above has no growth target, but must maintain an API of at least 800.

Tune in to Patch later this week, when we will publish the API scores for the Sequoia Union High School District.

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Tim Hoffman July 17, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Well done!
Joan S. Dentler (Editor) July 17, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Yes Tim....it says a lot about BRSSD when every school scored over the statewide target of 800!
Michael Williams July 17, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Congratulations to the teachers, administrators, school board... and mostly to the students for laying the groundwork for success in achieving your highest hopes. Your effort and focus - often difficult - shows brilliantly in these results. Bravo!
Joan B. July 17, 2012 at 09:47 PM
It is indeed ironic that after all the hysteria in the District in the past year, around other neighborhoods getting reboundaried to Nesbit, which is the only school that scored in the top 50% of similar schools????? NESBIT!!! This just goes to show that most parents are more concerned with demographics than with the quality of the teachers. For shame.
Megan July 17, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Dear Joan B, Statewide Nesbit scores a 7 while the other schools score 9 or 10. And as the article mentioned, " Where a family sets down roots often has to do with the quality of the schools in the area - and one criteria often looked at is a school's Academic Performance Index, or API score." I would think that being forced to go from a school with a 9 or 10 to a school with a 7 would upset anybody. Especially, if you just paid premium prices for your house. I'm not sure what you or the CDE mean with "similar" schools, what is the CDE trying to say??
Joan B. July 18, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Megan, you have proved my point. Base API scores are for the lazy - they simply get at the demographics of the students, not at the quality of the school. Once you control for the demographics, you get a better idea of which school does the best job, given the kids that are in the classroom. The question is whether you would rather go to a school with the "best" student demographics or a school with the most effective teachers and administrators???? I have no doubt that home prices correlate with Base API scores. What you are buying are "better" classmates, not better schools.
Megan July 18, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Dear Joan B, I'm not referring to demographics or quality of a school. I'm just stating facts. You are the one talking about demographics and quality. Again, what do you and the CDE mean with "similar" schools. Similar to what???
Charles Stone July 18, 2012 at 03:18 AM
"Megan," Similar schools refers to schools with similar characteristics. Here is a link to the demographic factors that are looked at. http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/ap/glossary12c.asp You can use the website to learn quite a bit more as well. I have to agree with Joan that, when you actually take the time to understand the system, the similar schools rank is actually as, or more, important than the API base score or statewide band rank.
Charles Stone July 18, 2012 at 05:27 AM
For further information see page 57 of the information guide on the website.
Megan July 18, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Dear Charles, thank you for the info. If similar rank is as, or as you state more important, than why did you fight so hard to stay at Cipriani , the school with the lowest "similar ranking?" Hats of to Nesbit for being in the top 50% of similar schools.
Joan B. July 18, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Ugh. Looking at similar school scores, Central is in the bottom 50%, Fox in the bottom 30%, Cipriani in the bottom 20%, and Ralston in the bottom 50%. By comparison, San Carlos has a few schools in the top 30% for similar schools. Hardly cause to celebrate. No wonder the Sup. was canned recently.
Megan July 18, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Dear Joan B, you forgot Redwood Shores in the bottom 50% and Sandpiper in the bottom 30% of similar schools. I wonder what all those teachers and administrators have to say on this subject?
Jeff Selman July 18, 2012 at 04:12 PM
First, the API results of all of the schools are fantastic, and a significant improvement over the last decade for which all should be commended (with API up about 100 points at each location during the last 10 years). Second, as noted above, similar school rankings are an important measure for showing comparative school performance. It is important to note that at these top levels, small changes in API can have a large statistical impact on similar school performance (I'm sure that someone like Tim Hoffman can explain the statistical reasons for such distortions). For example, the difference in API from Central to Sandpiper is 4 points out of 1000, but the similar school effect is from a 5 to a 3 of 10. This does not mean that there is a difference between the two schools, both of which are nothing but excellent. But it does show that it is easy to make a change in similar school performance with small increases in API score (another example, Oak Knoll in Menlo Park is 4 points higher than Central, but improves to a 6 on similar school ranking, double that of Sandpiper for 8 points). Furthermore, those similar schools performing higher (with Hillsborough at the top and several other schools on the Peninsula also higher), tend to be those with greater funding. Hillsborough, with higher property values, collects more property taxes. Palo Alto similarly draws greater funding from the community through property taxes, parcel taxes and parent contributions.
Joan B. July 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Jeff, when they say that schools are similar, it is based on similar demographic criteria (per Charles' post), not similar base scores. There are 10 demographic factors considered. Thus, you can't simply assume that Central, Sandpiper, and Oak Knoll are all similar demographically. This applies to the schools at the top, too. When Central gets a bottom 50% similar school score, that means that of all the schools in CA with similar parents' education, ethnicity, income, etc., Central produces lower scores.
Jeff Selman July 18, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Joan - I am very familiar with the demographic criteria that is used, and Central, Sandpiper, Oak Knoll and the other similarly scoring schools on the Peninsula are all considered to be in the same strata. The point is that whether looking at BRSSD or Menlo Park, our schools are similar demographically and from a score standpoint, but that minor differences in performance can create large distortions.
Joan B. July 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
When you say they are in the same strata, are you referring to demographics? Where did you get this? I don't see defined demographic segments on the api site.
Jeff Selman July 18, 2012 at 06:51 PM
First answer is yes. On the second, school demographic info is available on the CDE site. Charles above posted link describing demographic considerations. To see characteristics for an individual school, first click on the individual school in an LEA (for BRSSD, all are here: http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2012/2011Base_Dst.aspx?allcds=4168866), and then click on the "School Demographic Characteristics" button). As examples comparing Sandpiper and Central, the former has 2% eligible for free or reduced-price school lunch vs 3% for the latter. Both have 2% reclassified fluent-English-proficient students, 13% students with disabilities, and 99% mobility. Parent education level for the former is 86% college graduate or graduate school and 87% for the latter, which results in an average parent education level of 4.20 and 4.30. These are similar schools and are so listed on the CDE report of similar schools for Redwood Shores (http://api.cde.ca.gov/Acnt2012/2011BaseSchSS.aspx?allcds=41-68866-0121111&c=R) as follows: San Mateo Belmont-Redwood Shores Element Central Elementary 939 San Mateo Belmont-Redwood Shores Element Redwood Shores Elementary 940 San Mateo Belmont-Redwood Shores Element Sandpiper Elementary 935 San Mateo Burlingame Elementary Franklin Elementary 960 San Mateo Menlo Park City Elementary Oak Knoll Elementary 943 San Mateo San Carlos Elementary White Oaks Elementary 932
Tim Hoffman July 18, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I'd need to think about it, but it seems to me that looking at the decile rankings for "similar schools" doesn't tell you... much of anything. It's not really a normal distribution, but just the clump of scores for schools all over CA found to be very similar in demographic makeup. By way of example, if you look at the 99 other schools listed as "similar" to Cipriani Elementary in 2011, only one other is in San Mateo County -- North Star Academy in Redwood City. However, several schools in each of the Poway and Capistrano county elementary districts are listed as "similar" to Cipriani. OK... Even if you look a the deciles, the deciles aren't significantly apart from each other. I'd only be concerned if there was a statistically significant difference between a particular school's score, and the average score for the others in that "100 similar" set. To be significant in Cipriani's case, it'd have to a score of 969 or higher, or 866 or lower, to be anything noteworthy in their little group. In other words, I wouldn't really bother with these 'similar schools' for Belmont -- they're doing as well as their peers. Again: well done!
Jeff Selman July 18, 2012 at 07:43 PM
And there is some aspect of inconsistency in what are listed as similar schools. Like Cipriani, Fox also lists North Star Academy as a similar school (as well as the Poway schools), but also reports San Carlos, Menlo Park, Portola Valley and Millbrae schools in the group, and a different set of Palo Alto schools than does Cipriani. Couldn't agree more with Tim that all BRRSD schools are doing very well.
Megan July 18, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Dear Tim, thank you for making a "lazy" person understand. Who was it that said, you can't compare oranges to apples!
Charles Stone July 18, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Great points, Tim and Jeff. Including north star as a similar school to cip or fox is ridiculous.
Joan B. July 18, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Yes, this is very helpful, Tim and Jeff. Thank you.
Jeff Selman July 18, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Charles - And since the state looks at Hillsborough North as a similar school to Sandpiper (for example), I trust that all of the readers of this article will assist you as SchoolForce Endowment Chair in raising similar funds to those generated in Hillsborough so we can maintain the excellent performance that our children are achieving and improve our similar school rankings.
Charles Stone July 19, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Here's hoping.
Joe August 07, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I would go to a school with the "best" students, then effective teachers, and lowest priorities adminstrators.


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