San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor San Carlos and Belmont 2011-2012 API Scores. | The White Oaks Blog

San Carlos and Belmont 2011-2012 API Scores.

by Chuck Gillooley

Always a Hot Topic.

Very few elements can sway the value of a given neighborhood the way that the API score of its respective school can.   Prospective buyers will forgo many items on their wish list just to increase their chances that they’ll get into the school with the highest API scores.   And over the long haul, the home values in these neighborhoods tend to mirror the relative rankings of their local school.  That’s one reason why the White Oaks neighborhood in San Carlos has always commanded a premium over other neighborhoods.

Now that school is out for the summer, I thought it would be interesting to look back at the 2011-12 school year and review the respective API scores for each school, and compare them to the previous school year’s performance.  These numbers were pulled from the California Department of Education website, which released the scores in April of this year.  An explanation for the “2010-11 Growth Target” letters can be found at the bottom of the post.

API
2011 Growth 2010 Base 2010-11 Growth Target 2010-11 Growth
SAN CARLOS ELEMENTARY 903 899 D 4
Elementary Schools
Arundel Elementary 945 922 A 23
Brittan Acres Elementary 870 870 A 0
Heather Elementary 917 921 A -4
San Carlos Charter Learning Center 918 907 A 11
White Oaks Elementary 932 932 A 0
Middle Schools
Central Middle 872 874 A -2
Tierra Linda Middle 922 919 A 3

Belmont Schools.

In this competitive housing market,  buyers often compare San Carlos and Belmont side-by-side when deciding which community they’ll call home.  We’ve talked at length in the blog about the difference in house prices.  But how do the schools stack up?  Below is the same API data for the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District:

API
2011 Growth 2010 Base 2010-11 Growth Target 2010-11 Growth
BELMONT-REDWOOD SHORES 908 904 D 4
Elementary Schools
  Central Elementary 939 934 A 5
  Cipriani Elementary 896 895 A 1
  Fox Elementary 912 907 A 5
  Nesbit Elementary 843 838 A 5
  Redwood Shores Elementary 940 B B B
  Sandpiper Elementary 935 947 A -12
Middle Schools
  Ralston Intermediate 902 893 A 9

 

Sequoia High School District.

What analysis would be complete without including the local high schools?  Since that decision also weighs heavily on home buyers, here’s the API data for the Sequoia Union High School District, which covers the southern part of San Mateo County:

API
2011 Growth 2010 Base 2010-11 Growth Target 2010-11 Growth
SEQUOIA UNION HIGH 789 780 D 9
High Schools
  Carlmont High 858 835 A 23
  Menlo-Atherton High 795 782 5 13
  Sequoia High 769 775 5 -6
  Summit Preparatory Charter High 853 826 A 27
  Woodside High 745 749 5 -4
Small Schools
  Aspire East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy 764* 791* 5 -27
ASAM Schools
  Redwood High 488* 573* 11 -85

Click on column header to view notes.
In order to meet federal requirements of No Child Left Behind, a 2011 Growth API is posted even if a school or LEA had no 2010 Base API or if a school had significant population changes from 2010 to 2011. However, the presentation of growth targets and actual growth would not be appropriate and, therefore, are omitted.
“N/A” means a number is not applicable or not available due to missing data.
” * “ means this API is calculated for a small school or LEA, defined as having between 11 and 99 valid Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program test scores included in the API. The API is asterisked if the school or LEA was small in either 2010 or 2011. APIs based on small numbers of students are less reliable and therefore should be carefully interpreted.
“A” means the school scored at or above the statewide performance target of 800 in 2010.
“B” means the school did not have a valid 2010 Base API and will not have any growth or target information.
“C” means the school had significant demographic changes and will not have any growth or target information.
“D” means this is either an LEA, an Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM) school, or a special education school. Target information is not applicable to LEAs, ASAM schools, or special education schools.
“E” indicates this was an ASAM school in the 2010 Base API Report and has no target information even though the school is no longer an ASAM school

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Comments 5
  • Hi Chuck, this is interesting data but I am not sure that I understand your comment on White Oaks commanding a premium due to API scores. While all of the scores are good, it looks like the schools within the White Oaks boundaries don’t have the best API scores for elementary, middle or high school. Can you clarify what you meant?

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    • Hi Ken,

      That’s a great question. For many years, White Oaks Elementary School was second to none in San Carlos for API scores. Consequently, many families with kids put the White Oaks neighborhood at the top of their priority list when looking for a home. They’d sacrifice a larger home or a view or a larger lot to get their child into White Oaks. With all of that constant demand, the real estate prices in White Oaks commanded a premium compared to other regions in San Carlos (there are other reasons, of course, like its proximity to downtown.)

      It has only been in recent years that Arundel has given White Oaks a run for its money on test scores. Even despite the fact that White Oaks no longer has the highest API scores of the elementary schools in San Carlos, its reputation over the years has made it one of the most sought after schools in San Carlos.

      Ironically, the part of San Carlos that feeds into the Arundel/Tierra Linda/Carlmont HS boundary (the highest combination of scores) are the in one of the more affordable parts of San Carlos!

      Thanks for your comment…

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  • Ken, Chuck, and all — I do want to caution everyone to ascribing too much meaning to individual school API scores. As a school board member, of I course I am proud that our schools all score very high, but unfortunately way too much emphasis is placed on these scores, and people (naturally) try to infer some meaning with respect to the quality of the school, especially as compared to others. This is an extremely limited metric, and although I appreciate that new home buyers have limited other sources of comparable data, I can say emphatically there is absolutely no material differences among our schools and in my opinion, should not reflect where within San Carlos one should choose to live (there are plenty of other good reasons to pick a location, e.g. if you like living near downtown vs. if you like living in the hills, etc.). First of all, at these level of scores, these differences are actually quite small and statistically meaningless. The fact is that the scores reflect more of the nature of the population than they do about the quality of the schools. For example, the District, at time to time, locates its Special Education classes at different sites depending on needs and what it is in the best interest of serving these students. However, these students will, as a population, score lower on standardized tests. That is reflected in bringing down the average of that particular school. But of course, the location of that program at any particular site in no way reflects the education that your child would receive. There are many other issues with relying on API scores — I wrote an op-ed piece in the San Mateo Daily Journal on this very topic last August (it’s not in their archives anymore, but it’s published on my blog at http://rosenblatt.org/blog/2011/08/31/the-most-important-unimportant-number/).

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  • I am really glad that Seth wrote the post above and I wanted to point out something from his article (which is excellent): “Once you get higher and higher, the differences among scores become increasingly irrelevant – Many realtors have told me that new families moving to San Carlos have said they want to live in one neighborhood because one school had an API score of 910 and the other had an API score of 890. Even if API was the most important measure (which it’s not), that difference tells you nothing. It’s more likely due to a random variance in the population in any given grade.”

    One thing missing from your summary of the test scores is the state wide similar schools ranking. The similar schools rank compares a to 100 other schools of the same type with a mix of similar demographic characteristics. When test scores are as high as those In San Carlos, I think this may be the more important number to look at.

    As an Arundel parent I can’t help but be proud of our students and thankful for our wonderful teachers and staff. I am also very aware that this data is fairly inaccurate assessment of student learning and overall school performance.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I agree with your and Seth’s assessment – there is clearly MUCH more to our schools than just a number on a standardized test. But like it or not, the fact remains that this number is still the primary metric by which prospective buyers measure one school (or district) versus another, and house prices follow suit.

      Regarding the scores of similar schools – you’re correct, those were omitted for brevity solely because I couldn’t get the entire table to format correctly and still fit on the blog.

      Thanks again for your comments…

      CG

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