Area school districts continue to show improvements on state standardized testing, but many still fail to meet federal expectations, according to Accountability Progress Reports, or APRs, released Thursday..

APRs are a compilation of state and federal standardized test results, and are used by educators to gauge how well schools and districts are performing academically.

Those figures include the state's Academic Performance Index, or API, and the federal Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, and Program Improvement designations.

With the exception of Castro Valley schools, districts in Hayward, San Lorenzo and San Leandro were unable to meet federal targets that continue to rise each year. In order for a district to meet the federal benchmarks set forth in AYP, all significant student subgroups in the district must score at proficient levels mainly in English and math tests.

If a district's English-learners subgroup fails to meet standards in English, for example, the district fails as a whole, despite having all other subgroups testing at proficiency.

"It's very frustrating that (the AYP criteria) is all-or-nothing," said Christine Quinn, associate superintendent of educational services for the Hayward Unified School District. "In 10 subgroups, nine had positive growth in English and eight in mathematics. To look at it that way, it's quite an achievement."

Meanwhile, a number of schools continued to stay in Program Improvement — a designation placed on districts and campuses that fail to meet the changing federal standards set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act.

The Hayward and San Lorenzo school districts entered their third years in Program Improvement.

"Our schools in PI moved up one year, and that's disappointing because we think we're doing a good job," said Katarin Jurich, director of assessment for San Lorenzo Unified.

Meanwhile, the Hayward district also placed eight individual schools into year five of Program Improvement, bringing the district's number of schools with that designation to 15 out of a total of 33.

San Lorenzo has three of its 18 schools in Program Improvement, while four of San Leandro's 12 schools are in PI. Castro Valley has no schools with the designation.

Schools and districts may face federal sanctions and fines if they fail to emerge from Program Improvement, which is considered difficult. Doing so requires schools and districts to meet all federal benchmarks for two years in a row.

Despite area schools' struggles to meet federal standards, some bright spots did emerge when APR results were broken down into the state level's API scores.

APIs are based on a scale of 200 to 1,000 points, with a score of 800 considered exemplary.

All Castro Valley schools scored in the 800-point range. Chabot Elementary increased its score by 25 points from the previous year, which helped the school break into the elite 900-point club, a status shared by four other schools in the Castro Valley district.

James Madison Elementary in San Leandro improved its API score by 15 points, raising it to 820, while Grant Elementary in San Lorenzo saw a huge improvement with a 63-point increase.

The boost helped Grant Elementary break the 800-point mark. The school has experienced a 161-point API score spike over a six-year period, which principal Bob Kaminski attributed to his staff teaching a progressive approach to time management, assessment and a commitment to engaging parents.

"For the students, it means they're going to have an easier time in their next grade level," he said. "Hopefully, they'll become lifelong learners."

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Staff writers Eric Kurhi, Karen Holzmeister and Gideon Rubin contributed to this report. Reach Kristofer Noceda at 510-293-2479 or knoceda@bayareanewsgroup.com.