Foothill surpasses old API scores, hits 914 (14 photos)

Students+react+during+fourth+period+to+the+news+that+Foothill+increased+its+API+score+to+914.+Credit%3A+Chrissy+Springer%2FThe+Foothill+Dragon+Press.

Emma Huebner

Students react during fourth period to the news that Foothill increased its API score to 914. Credit: Chrissy Springer/The Foothill Dragon Press.
Students react during fourth period to the news that Foothill increased its API score to 914. Credit: Chrissy Springer/The Foothill Dragon Press.

Tension mounted in classrooms across Foothill Wednesday as students and teachers anxiously awaited an announcement about the 2011 API scores. The goal on everyone’s mind? Beat Oak Park High School’s score in order to become the number one school in Ventura County.

Cheers erupted at around 11 a.m. after Principal Joe Bova revealed that Foothill students had received a score of 914. The score is the highest Foothill has ever achieved and not only did it place ahead of Oak Park’s score of 908, it also beat last year’s score by eight points.

“I was actually kind of surprised,” senior Brinsley Farry said.

API, Academic Performance Index, is the only objective academic measurement used in the state of California. In the spring, a comparison of Foothill to schools with similar demographics will be released as well.

“I am very proud of our staff in that they continue to refine curriculum year after year,” Bova said. “When you look at the numbers and how much things can change…it’s very difficult to stay above 900.”

Foothill’s 914 still ranks ahead of Buena High School’s score of 768, El Camino High School’s score of 810, and Ventura High School’s score of 778. For a complete list of API results for schools in Ventura County, click here.

The API testing is measured on a point scale, ranging from Far Below Basic to Advanced. Far Below Basic earns schools 200 points, Below Basic 400 points, Basic 600 points, Proficient 800 points, and Advanced 1000.

“The goal the state sets is to reach 800, and most schools haven’t reached that,” Bova said.

Less than five Foothill students per section were in the Far Below Basic category. Last year’s freshman class improved in every subject area. Their score of 93% proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) is the highest ever at Foothill.

Tenth grade chemistry scores increased from 59% proficiency rate in 2010 to 70% this year.

“The vast majority [of students] take the test very seriously,” Bova said.  {sidebar id=28}

John Weldele, a Chemistry and Physics teacher at Foothill, was amazed at the scores.

“Every year we improve a little bit and continue on that trend,” Weldele said.

Weldele does very little prep geared directly toward the CST until a few weeks before the test.

“The most important thing I think is having a rigorous curriculum all year long, trying to teach the subject, not the CST,” Weldele said.

Richard Geib, who teaches ninth grade English, Advanced Placement U.S. History, and Bioethics at Foothill, has a similar view.

“I do almost no explicit test prep for any standardized test, especially those which measure two dimensional learning such as multiple choice exams,” Geib said. “Frankly, I don’t pay much attention at all to the California state tests, although I pay plenty of attention to the California state standards.”

Geib wants students to think beyond simple right and wrong answers.

“I teach critical thinking skills in the context of complicated real life dilemmas,” he said. “After doing this all year, I suspect students will do just fine on the simpler multiple choice questions…the test scores seem to partially bear this out, as far as my classes contribute to the overall school API score.”

Foothill has come a long way since its 2003 API score of 744.

“We have incredible teaching staff going well beyond the standards,” Bova said. “Combine that with students who want to learn and do well.”

Students will be rewarded with a day trip to Magic Mountain for the 6th year in a row. However, because current freshman did not contribute to the score, they will have to wait until next year for a chance to attend the theme park.

Photos by Chrissy Springer and Bethany Fankhauser/The Foothill Dragon Press.

What do you think?