The state Department of Education on Thursday released its latest school rankings — numbers from 1 to 10 that show how each California school matches up to others in the state, based on various tests that students took the previous spring.
The rankings are based on each school's recalculated Academic Performance Index, a composite score that ranges from 200 on the low end to the highest possible score of 1,000. Schools whose API scores are among the top 10 percent statewide receive a rank of 10, while those in the bottom 10 percent receive a rank of 1.
About three-fourths of Oakland schools received a rank of 5 or lower this year, and about half received a 1 or a 2.
In some school districts, such as San Ramon, every school received a state ranking of at least 6 out of 10, meaning that their students scored in the top half of the heap statewide.
In a telephone news conference, state Superintendent Jack O'Connell noted that API scores have risen markedly across the state since 1999. For example, a school with a 680 API in 1999 would have received a 7 out of 10 on the statewide rankings; today, such a score would net the lowest rank.
O'Connell touted the fact that more public schools are reaching the target score of 800 — about 40 percent of elementary schools, 30 percent of middle schools and 17 percent of high schools.
Still, he noted the large disparity between the performance of the state's white and Asian-American students and its black and Latino students.
"The majority of our schools' students continue to lag behind," O'Connell said. "This is a crisis that affects the future of our students themselves ... and our entire state economy."
The average API is 659 for African-American students and 683 for Latino students, compared with 814 for white students and 864 for Asian-American students.
O'Connell said a state council has developed a plan for narrowing that gap, in part through teaching colleges and on-the-job training. This year, for the first time, schools were not eligible to receive a California Distinguished School award unless they could show that they had made progress toward that goal.
Reach Katy Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Academic Performance Index
scores and rankings for individual
schools and districts can be found
SCHOOL DISTRICT SCORES
Percentage of schools in each district that ranked a 6 or better out of a possible 10.