By Councilmember Steve Okamoto
In an earlier article I described the process that many families follow when searching for their new family home. Location is usually the primary factor, but when school age children are involved, then one of the assessments of “location” is ‘how are the schools in the community doing?’
How do you measure how a school is doing? Do you look at the facilities, the teachers, the curriculum? All those factors are hard to compare from school to school…sort of an “apples to oranges” conundrum. However, there is one measurement that is used to compare one school to another or a school district to another school district and that is a Report from the California Department of Education that many parents use, the API. It is published annually and designed to measure the academic performance and growth of schools.
The Academic Performance Index (API) is the evaluation of a school’s performance based on statewide testing, and is represented as a single number, ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. It is calculated by converting a student’s performance on statewide assessments across multiple content areas into points on the API scale. These points are then averaged across all students and all tests.
How do the schools in Foster City score? Let’s look at the chart.
As these scores clearly indicate, our schools are well over the statewide target of 800 and close to the highest level of 1000. What does this mean to the family who is looking for a good community with a good school? It’s pretty obvious that Foster City becomes a much more desirable community in which to relocate.
As Foster City becomes more and more attractive to families with younger children, there is pressure on the school district to provide educational facilities for these children. The San Mateo Foster City School District has carefully looked at student enrollment projections and is planning now for a way to continue to provide their quality education to a growing student population.
It has become clear that existing elementary school sites in Foster City will not have adequate space to house the population of eager new students. Therefore the District worked with a community task force (SCORE) to develop a recommended solution whereby the Bowditch Middle School site would be renovated to accommodate facilities for grades 5-6 and 7-8 on the existing site.(It is important to note that the 5th and 6th graders will be physically separated from the 7th and 8th graders). This is exciting for many reasons: Foster City Middle School students would get a new state-of-the-art facility on a site that currently houses some aging facilities and the School District can continue to prioritize time and funding toward school programs rather than working toward locating and investing in the property that would be needed to build a fourth elementary school.
Our School District has demonstrated its commitment to provide top quality education for our children and that commitment is being realized through the excellent test scores of our students. These quality schools will continue to be a contributing factor to Foster City remaining the best place to live, work and play.
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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