Academic Performance Index (California public schools)
The Academic Performance Index (API) is a measurement of academic performance and progress of individual schools in California, United States. It is one of the main components of the Public Schools Accountability Act passed by the California legislature in 1999. API scores ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000.
A numeric API score ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. The interim statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A school's growth is measured by how well it is moving toward or past that goal.
An API score is calculated for all students in a school as well as numerous API scores for each subgroup at the school (such as by race, English Learner Status, students with disabilities, and socieconomically disadvantaged pupils).
The API Statewide Rank score ranks a school with all schools in California based on API score, while the API Similar Schools score ranks a school with 100 other schools in the state with similar demographic profiles (including parent education level, poverty level, student mobility, student ethnicity).
Each rank ranges from 1 to 10, with a score of 10 meaning that the school's API fell into the top 10%.
Indicator of performance
A school's score or placement on the API is designed to be an indicator of a school's performance level and is calculated annually by the California Department of Education, primarily based on CST and CAHSEE tests.
Due to the API's heavy reliance on standardized testing (although some factors such as attendance and graduation rates are considered), many criticisms of standardized testing can also be leveled at the reliability and accuracy of API scores as an indicator of a school's level of "academic achievement."
One criticism until recently was that a school's API score took no account of a school's student dropout rate. This created the incentive to let poorly performing students drop out, since this would increase a school's average test scores. SB 219 (Senator Darrell Steinberg, 2007) addressed this concern, however, by requiring schools' API scores to incorporate student dropout rates. These changes are expected to be implemented in 2011.
The API is closely tied to monetary and incentive awards by setting Annual Percent Growth Targets for each school and whether the school met or exceeded this goal. The Public Schools Accountability Act also establishes The Immediate Intervention/Underperforming Schools Program and the Governor's High Achieving/Improving Schools Program.
In addition, the API is used to determine Adequate Yearly Progress as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act.