SVUSD Report Card - Part 2. API Scores By District

Dr. Jim Gardner
Dr. Jim Gardner

On Monday we began an investigation of performance by students in SVUSD, and our first look was at API scores in schools in Lake Forest and surrounding cities/areas. Today we’ll focus on scores by District.



Four school districts serve the people in South Orange County. They are-

  • Capistrano – 53,000 students in 55 campuses serving the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita, and the communities of Las Flores, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Ladera Ranch, and Wagon Wheel.

  • SVUSD – 35,000 students in 34 campuses serving Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, and Mission Viejo.

  •  Irvine – 30,000 students in 33 campuses serving Irvine

  • Laguna Beach – 3,000 students In 4 campuses serving Laguna Beach



Occasionally a single city is served by 2 different schools districts, and when this happens we can compare the ranks (based on API scores) for schools administered by SVUSD and the Capistrano USD. In each case, even though the city is the same, SVUSD schools achieve lower average ranks than Capistrano USD. In this analysis, a rank of 10 is the highest possible, meaning a school is in the top 10% of other schools.

  • RSM

    • Capistrano – 9.75 (4 schools/ 3 ranked 10)

    • SVUSD – 8.75 (4 schools/ 1 ranked 10)

  • Mission Viejo

    • Capistrano – 8.0 (9 schools/ 3 ranked 10)

    • SVUSD – 7.42 (12 schools/ 0 ranked 10)

In these two cities, that are served by two different school districts, the schools controlled by Capistrano USD do better than the schools under SVUSD. The average rank scores are not so different, but notice that across the 2 cities Capistrano USD achieves 6 of 13 schools with a top rank of 10, while SVUSD achieves only 1 top ranking despite having 16 schools. IOW, using the same city for comparisons, Capistrano USD has 46% of their schools with top ranks while SVUSD has only 6%.


Data is available for the school districts. Here are the average API scores for 2013 and 2012 by school district. The number in parentheses is 2012 –

  • Irvine – 924 (926)

  • Laguna Beach – 918 (923)

  • Capistrano – 874 (883)

  • SVUSD – 867 (871)

For both years, SVUSD had the lowest average scores among the four districts.



On average, SVUSD has lower average API scores when compared to the 3 other school districts serving South Orange County. We’re dealing with a set of scores that range from 200 to 1,000, so the average score of 867 for SVUSD in 2013 is pretty good if you are looking at the bottom of the range. But last is last, and there is quite a difference between the 867 score for SVUSD and the 900+ scores for Laguna Beach and Irvine.

What is most revealing is that when we have the same city served by two different school districts, in each case the students served by SVUSD do worse.

On Friday we’ll go beyond the API scores and look at other factors that go into evaluating school performance.

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 16, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Mr. Gardner is temporarily away. Does anyone other than me have an opinion on Jerry's Brown solution to the education problem (as stated above) in California? Maybe I'm missing something. Convince me it's a good move on part of the governor and it will help solve California's dismal and pathetic K-12 academic performance (standardized test scores) as compared with the large majority of other states in the union.
OldTimer April 17, 2014 at 12:16 PM
I view Jerry Brown like that old English folklore hero Robin Hood. With one exception. Jerry uses the law to rob you. Robin did it unlawfully. Take from the achievers and give to the underperformers. Now that is a real formula for success and achievement, isn't it? Kudos, Jerry. The Californian's love you, man! And the more you take from the producers and give to the ones on the dole the higher your approval ratings go! On the standardized tests in California why don't we just make the print so small for the high achieving schools that it's practically impossible for the scholars to read the questions so that it slows them down, thus comparatively raising the scores for the underperforming schools. We need to do something other than taking money from the high achievers and giving it to the underperformers. That trick hasn't worked for years. Let's think outside the box, okay?
Bob Holtzclaw April 17, 2014 at 03:34 PM
OldTimer, I don't like get in these discussions on why our city isn't on the same level as our neighbors. This all started over 20 years ago around the time we became a city and our County Supervisor was pro "undocumented alien". He received a lot of support from Latino organizations according to his aid at the end. We also had a completely incompetent City Council that had no idea how to deal with the problem. Both could have gotten rid of the day labor site and other problems when we had the law on our side. Now we have two to three families living in one home and illegally in garages. To be fair some of these kids really do try to improve their education, but the majority its a very low priority.
OldTimer April 17, 2014 at 06:18 PM
Mr. Holtzclaw, I love your straightforwardness. And, of course, you nailed part of the problem that most people just don't want to talk about out of political correctness. We can't solve the problems of the rest of the world, sir. We can't take on their problems and remain a productive nation with a high quality of life for our own citizens who want the laws that make us a civilized soveriegn land honored and respected. Once I called up the local police office. I asked a cop whether it was legal for 15 people to live in a 1400 square foot home and park 7 different cars on the street. He told me that if the health department didn't get involved that there was nothing they could do. Yet if a citizen taxpayer lived in a 5000 square foot home and owned 6 dogs or cats without permission from the authorities they would confiscate the animals and hit the homeowner with a substantial fine. We live in a crazy society, Bob. If you think about it too much it would drive you nuts. That's why diversions and a sense of humor are so darn important. I understand your point completely. And you are spot on. And this has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with protecting the soveriegnty of our nation.


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