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Beverly Hills, California
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February 3, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
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February 3, 2000
 

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coverst(,ry HIGHS AND LOWS What the Beverly Hills Unified School District isn't telling yo.u about the recently released Academic Performance Index Report... By Shidn Oanielpour [! LAST week the state of Califomia released their new Academic Performance Index-a program which serves at the heart of Govemor Gray Davis' attempts to hold public schools accountable for student performance. The results of the API are calculated based on the performance of 7,000 schools statewide on the Stanford 9, a standardized basic skills test that was given last spdng to approximately 4.3 million students. When the Stanford 9results were first released last summer, Bevedy Hills schools had reason to cheer and reason to cry. As we will explain, some of our schools scored nearly at the top in cer- tain grade levels and subjects and others lagged unacceptably lower. But what causes a school to perform well or perform poor- ly on a standardized test? We attempted to answer that question, and encountered an incredible amount of resistance from the administrators that we attempted to talk to. Apparently in Beverly Hills, even the mere suggestion that some areas of student per- formance might need improvement amounts to heresy. API $ Spent per pupil Los Angeles USD Warner Avenue Elementary 914 6300 Palos Verdes Peninsula USD Silver Spur Elementary 914 5500 San Marino USD Valentine Elementary 904 5500 Manhattan Beach USD Manhattan Beach Middle 894 6300 Pomona USD Golden Springs Elementary 888 5500 Bevedy Hills USD Beverly Vista Elementary 868 7050 Beverly Hills USD Horace Mann Elementary 868 7050 Beverly Hills USD El Rodeo Elementary 852 7050 Beverly Hills USD Hawthome Elementary 836 7050 API vs  Spent per pupil I0 7=-50O 0 0OO 700O = "=i i==. i 5500 1 2 3 4 5 e 7 $ 9 IT'S LONELY AT THE TOP As almost everyone knows, Beverly Hills Unified has long been regarded as one of the top school districts in the state. While we don't dispute this conclusion, we believe this distinction means we must take even a closer look at our own test scores from year to year, to ensure that we remain at the top of the pack. Complacency could lead to our downfall. Many of our readers can remember when Fairfax and Hamilton High schools were also top schools. But few would argue these high schools are at the top any- more. Why not? What causes a top school to become mediocre? Educational experts can give you a myriad of mumbo-jumbo explanations, but one thing is for sure. In the academic world, very little can substitute for low test scores. Love 'era or hate 'em, students must compete in a standardized testing environment from Kindergarten all the way through graduate school. Stated simply, students who are effectively prepared to compete in a standardized testing environment will succeed academically; those who do not, will not. It's as simple as that. Last week's API results confirmed something most of us already know: all five schools in Beverly Hills scored in the top 10% of California public schools. But if we go beyond this statistic, and dig a little deeper, what do we f'md? Being in the top 10% is laudable, but assuming we wanted to aim even higher, what would it take to make Beverly Hills the #1 public school district in the state? To do this, we set out to care- fully scrutinize the very Stanford 9 scores that make up the API rankings. In some areas, we were truly surprised with what we found. BEVERLY HILLS VS. OTHER HIGH-PERFORMING DISTRICTS Before compare ourselves to other schools, we should first highlight some of the dif- ferences between BHUSD and other districts in the state. 10 Beverly Hills Weekly