SVUSD Report Card - Part 3. Beyond API Scores

Dr. Jim Gardner
Dr. Jim Gardner

The previous two articles examined API scores. It’s clear that compared to the 3 other school districts serving children in South Orange County –

  • SVUSD schools had the lowest average API scores.

  • Schools in SVUSD had the least number of schools appearing in the Top 100 schools

  • Schools in the City of Lake Forest had lower rankings based on API scores than 10 other cities, and exceeded only 1 city (Dana Point).

But academic performance shouldn’t be the only criteria against which to evaluate schools. The OC Register has its own system in which they examine each school based on academic performance (API scores) and other factors such as environmental, number moving on to college, diversity, California fitness test, etc.

For 2014, the OC Register ranked 70 high schools, 88 middle schools, and 371 elementary schools throughout Orange County. Here are the results.



Among the 70 high schools in Orange County, El Toro HS In Lake Forest ranked 22nd.

SVUSD had a total of 4 high schools. The highest ranked school was Mission Viejo (15th) while Laguna Hills (38th) and Trabuco Hills (43rd) were lower than ETHS. This is not a terrible record, but it’s nothing to boast about either.

According to the OC Register, 18 high schools were singled out for gold, silver, or bronze medals. Here are the medals for the 4 schools districts in South Orange County.

  • Irvine (1 Gold, 2 Bronze) 

  • Laguna Beach (1 Gold)

  • Capistrano (1 Bronze)

  • SVUSD (1 Bronze)



Among the 88 middle schools, Lake Forest’s Serrano ranked 19th.

SVUSD had a total of 4 middle schools. Serrano was the highest ranked school followed by Los Alisos (26th), La Paz (34th), and RSM (49th). This is not a terrible record either, but it’s nothing to boast about either.

According to the OC Register, 18 middle schools were singled out for gold, silver, or bronze medals. Here are the medals for the 4 schools districts in South Orange County.

  • Capistrano (1 Gold, 3 Bronze)

  • Irvine (2 Silver, 1 Bronze) 

  • Laguna Beach (1 Silver)

  • SVUSD - 0



Among the 371 elementary schools, Lake Forest had 8 schools. Here are their ranks –

    • Portola – 66

    • La Madera – 68

    • Rancho Canada - 133

    • Foothill Ranch – 165

    • Santiago - 175

    • Lake Forest – 186

    • Ralph A Gates - 253

    • Olivewood - 259

    The best school in Lake Forest ranked 66 out of 371 elementary schools in Orange County. If you look at the 8 Lake Forest schools, the average rank is 163.

    According to the OC Register, 22 elementary schools were singled out for gold, silver, or bronze medals. Of the 4 schools districts only Irvine received medals (2 Gold, 2 Bronze).



    Using the broad gauge of school performance used by the OC Register, schools in Lake Forest were found to be mediocre compared to the rest of the schools in Orange County. We were 22nd out of 70 in high schools, 19th  out of 88 for middle schools, and 163rd out of 371 for elementary schools. Converting these ranks to percentages, our percent for high, middle and elementary schools are 31%, 22%, and 44%. None of these results are good, nor are they very bad.

    Looked at from the perspective of medals, the OC Register awarded 58 medals across the elementary, middle, and high schools. Here are the totals –

    • Irvine 10 (3 Gold, 2 Silver, 5 Bronze)

    • Capistrano  5 (1 Gold, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze)

    • SVUSD 2 (1 Silver, 1 Bronze)

    • Laguna Beach 1 (Silver)

    Considering that Laguna Beach has only 4 schools, having 1 with a Silver medal is quite an achievement, compared to SVUSD that has 34 schools and achieved 1 Silver and 1 Bronze. IOW 25% of Laguna Beach's school received a medal while only 6% of SVUSD received a medal. So SVUSD had the lowest percentage of schools awarded a medal.


    Next time we’ll look at “distinguished schools”.

    This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

    OldTimer April 20, 2014 at 01:28 PM
    Mr. Gardner, as you do your follow-up report I suggest that you look at this So California Public Radio article on the 'Latino Achievement Gap' and note that there has been no narrowing of the wide gap between California Latinos and Asian/Whites (API scores) for decades. This is particularly serious because Latinos make up a fast growing percentage of our state and nation's population. You can understand the vast ramifications this will have on our society as the world becomes an increasingly competitive place in which we must compete against other nations to surivive economically. Here's the kicker, Mr. Gardner. Jerry Brown's solution is something called Common Core - described forthwith in the article "The school began making the switch to Common Core two years ago, which means students are being taught not just English, math, science and social studies, but are also focusing on "the four Cs": collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking." So when they can't compete in core subjects like math, english, sciences (WHICH DRIVE THE ECONOMY) they replace them with warm and fuzzy curriculum. Either that, or they rob the high achieving students of money and resources and give them to the low performing students when it has been TIME TESTED that throwing more money at education achievement gaps have proved FRUITLESS - and I have observed this first hand for the last 40 years!!! These ridiculous failed solutions are killing the future of our beloved nation, Mr. Gardner!!! Common sense points to CULTURE and VALUES as the primary culprit here - AND EVERYBODY WANTS TO AVOID REALITY and keep using the insanity methods (doing the same things over and over again, yet expecting a different outcome) to solve our problems!!! This, of course, is done to preclude offending other people! As a psychologist you know the danger of not confronting a patient with the truth during the course of treatment to make him well again. The problem does not go away! It festers and the patient continues to experience problems in his life that negative impacts his functionality in life!!! This is a very serious situation, Mr. Gardner. We are talking the economic survival of our nation here! http://www.scpr.org/blogs/education/2013/10/04/14893/latino-achievement-gap-threatens-state-s-future-ne/
    Bob Holtzclaw April 20, 2014 at 02:11 PM
    OldTimer, E-verify was never on the Lake Forest City Council agenda. Scott Voigts made the motion to put it on the agenda as a campaign promise to me a few months after he was elected. Both Rudolph and McCullough outwardly supported E-Verify and claimed they were always out voted with five City Council members. When Voigts made the motion both sat on their hands. As far as our schools are concerned I wonder if we just have a greater number of parents and students that view education as not a high priority. I can't believe students are that much smarter only one city away from us.
    OldTimer April 20, 2014 at 04:10 PM
    Thanks for the clarification, Bob. Yes, from the way you describe it, it appears as if McCullough wrote a check with her mouth on E-Verify that was uncashable. Typical for a politician. They know that E-Verify would eliminate the carrot that attracts illegals to come to California - of course, the last thing they would want to do is actually SOLVE THE PROBLEM by taking the those jobs away from illegals - and giving them to American citizens, 20 million of whom can't find full-time employment. It make you wonder which side of the border these nitwit politicians are working for? So you're saying that Voight proposed E-Verify - and that didn't work - so his next suggestion was to use City money to build a hiring hall in Lake Forest for illegals to eliminate the street eyesore so that the hoardes of illegal foreigners could violate Federal and State labor laws in a City funded builiding? Hard to make this stuff up, isn't it, Bob? Almost like living in a Mel Brook's movie. Isn't it? I think a predominant factor is the variance of academic performance in schools throughout California is CULTURE and VALUES. I have reached my opinion based upon decades of observation and reading about the problem. I linked an article above (@ 1:28pm) that describes a massive 'achievement gap' problem in California. There's a reason for it, Bob. And I think people intentionally refuse to accept the REAL predominant reason(s) (ie, Culture and Values) to avoid offending other people. But if we don't confront this problem honestly and truthfully it will end up killing our beloved nation and ruining the futures of our youngsters and our future generations. It was vitally important for my parents generation to ensure that OUR generation lived better than theirs did. And they were incredibly successful, on the whole. And my parent's generation SACRIFICED to make it happen. Now that WE are in charge WE are doing the exact opposite for the young and pending generations. We are setting them up for complete failure. And I personally find that incredibly repulsive and disgusting. That's why I have such strong feelings about this. A civilization should protect it's children. Not hang them out to dry!
    Bob Forsberg April 21, 2014 at 08:11 PM
    1st Problem: SVUSD is unfortunately burdened with cities, Lake Forest especially where Spanish illegals and other "entitlement" minorities reside. For the most part, education isn’t and hasn’t been a primary concern in their lives. 2nd Problem: Immigrating, purpose driven Indian, Vietnamese, African, Chinese, Malaysian or eastern European parents given a choice of Irvine or Lake Forest to live, choose Irvine based on the education advantages provided by the Irvine School District. Self supporting parents in Irvine expect their children to be taught in English instead of welfare and food stamp receipients in Lake Forest arguing that their native language should be used to make it easier and more government assistance checks will make it better. A quiet joke repeated to me by some Irvine educators I know; when encountering slow learners or individuals looking at education as something they have to do during the day is, “How can we help this family move to Santa Ana or Lake Forest?” We are actually known as Santa Ana South. Few will admit to it. 3rd Problem: The damage is done……unfortunately it cannot be fixed. Various CA Propositions have attempted over the years to reform the structure of our educational system, one voucher/charter school initiative actually passed, but was struck down by the courts. Also, the orchestrated cries of "outrage" from teachers unions when parents would have a larger say in terminating bad teachers and administrators was supported by the courts and voided. That’s how high the destruction goes. 4th Problem: This isn’t racist, but reality …….dwindling income producers support more and more on government handouts. Those on public assistance believe they deserve the money taken from the rich racist white people who have too much….where today even Asians have been added to the “wealthy mean people” group because of their sucess. The tax takers outnumber the tax makers and vote only for those who support government redistribution of wealth. That thinking is held by the vast majority of immigrants to America today, legal and illegal. Short of a government collapse, a hard reset, trashing all laws after the Constitution and Bill of Rights can it be made right. 5th Problem: In 3 generations, America as we know it will be gone….1950 America is long gone already on both coasts and anyone visiting the rust belt realize growth in that area is predominantly Muslim, legal or otherwise. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, an ultra liberal on our Supreme Court who I seldom agree with, said the other day on CSPAN, “Why would any country want to follow in our footsteps of Democracy as it exists today? Kudos to those of you who continue efforts in patching our old and damaged leaking dam while others destructively hammer away at it on a daily basis.
    OldTimer April 21, 2014 at 08:28 PM
    Mr. Forsberg, I love straight talkers. Thank you for sharing, sir. If we had a councilman like you chances are you'd get voted down 4-1 but at least the people would know the truth. I could not find one inaccuracy in your long-winded comment. But one comment I might add. We, the ones who have obeyed the laws all our lives and paid into the tax base to keep the boat afloat, must stand on the sidelines and watch while illegal foreigners are granted immunity to our laws - take money and resources from our children in the school system - retard the learning process in the classrooms for students who are motivated to learn - and instigate a 'dumbing down' of curriculum so that the bar is lowered and the slow or unmotivated learners are not placed at a huge disadvantage. For this is the government's "solution" to the problem that is eroding the fabric of our K-12 educational system and putting the nation at extreme risk and at competitive economic disadvantage to even some third world nations throughout the globe. Very, very disturbing. I have never seen such contempt for our own children in all my years. You get it, sir. And thank you for your honesty. Honesty is at a premium and God only knows.....we need more of it.


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