Last week in 4 articles we examined performance by students in schools in Lake Forest (and elsewhere)with regard to API scores as well as the broader OC Register gauge. In both cases, results indicate students who attend school in Lake Forest do less well than most of the students in surrounding cities.
The California Department of Education has a “Distinguished School” designation which they give to schools that “made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.” In 2013 they awarded 218 designations to middle and high schools on a county-wide basis, and 26 in Orange County. In 2012 they awarded the designations to the elementary schools.
Here are the results for the 4 school districts serving South Orange County.
MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOLS (2013)
SVUSD – 3 (ETHS, Los Alisos, MVHS)
Laguna Beach - 2
Irvine – 1
Capistrano - 1
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS (2012)
SVUSD – 4 (Foothill, Del Cerro, Santiago, Trabuco)
Laguna Beach – 2
Irvine – 6
Capistrano – 4
It appears that SVUSD has good representation in schools that receive the designation “distinguished school”. However, being a “distinguished school” is a mixed blessing. The finest schools that maintain an excellent record can never be “distinguished” because there is little room for improvement. By giving the designation to schools that demonstrate progress, schools with children who achieve less are favored because they have more room to improve. Of course making positive change is a good thing, and SVUSD is o be applauded for having so many "distinguished schools", but it’s clear that being designated a distinguished school is not a clear blessing.
In an not unrelated matter, Baker Ranch is advertising their 2,300+ new homes and referring to “the highly regarded Saddleback Valley Unified School District”. They don’t indicate whom this high regard comes from. They claim that “SVUSD’s elementary, intermediate and high schools make frequent appearances on the list of California Distinguished Schools – in fact, more than any other district in the state” but when I checked the data for 2013, this was clearly not true. It is true that they make frequency appearances, as do almost ever other School District, including school districts than have little room to do better, but SVUSD did not have more than any other district in the state much less Orange County.
Tomorrow we’ll summarize the results and consider to what extent the comparatively lower scores by students who attend schools in Lake Forest (and by extension SVUSD) are a function of the quality of instruction at the district or based on the demographics associated with Lake Forest (and by extension SVUSD) when compared to the other districts in South Orange County.