SVUSD Report Card - Part 6. Update

Dr. Jim Gardner
Dr. Jim Gardner

We spent a week recently looking at school performance in Lake Forest, SVUSD, and the other 3 districts that serve about 100,000 children in South Orange County. U.S. News & World Report just listed the top high schools in the U.S. for 2014, so I thought I'd include those results here. The schools listed in the Top 100 from South OC were -

  • Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach) - #37

  • University (Irvine) - #50

  • Arnold Beckman (Irvine) - #55

  • Northwood (Irvine) - #59

  • Laguna Beach - #81

Among the 4 high schools in SVUSD here is how the schools ranked.

(FYI - We already discussed API. For “College Readiness” U.S. News calculated a College Readiness Index based on "AP and IB exam participation rates and percentages of students passing at least one exam.")

  • Laguna Hills was ranked #1,216 in the nation and #266 in California. API Index was 856 (which is pretty good) and College Readiness Index was 30.6 (which is not so good)
  • Mission Viejo was ranked #1,252 in the nation and #270 in California. API Index was 865  and College Readiness Index was 29.1.
  • Trabuco Hills was ranked #1,337 in the nation and #293 in California. API Index was 860  and College Readiness Index was 28.4.
  • El Toro High School was ranked #1,699 in the nation, #367 in California. API Index was 834  but College Readiness Index was only 22.5.

Comparing the 4 school districts, the average API scores were

  • Laguna Beach – 906

  • Irvine – 829

  • Capistrano – 818

  • SVUSD – 797

Comparing the 4 school districts, the average College Readiness scores were

  • Laguna Beach – 52.4

  • Irvine – 49.1

  • Capistrano – 41.4

  • SVUSD – 27.8

None of this data is incompatible with the data we previously reviewed. The College Readiness data is new and a little disturbing in that SVUSD does fairly well compared to the other districts in average API scores, but in College Readiness SVUSD is much further behind.


  • A look at the efforts of the City's Economic Development staff to bring more businesses to the city.
  • A follow up to the "park design" workshop at Baker Ranch.
  • Second part of the series about keeping campaign promises. Having covered Mayor Robinson, our next look is at Scott Voigts.



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Jim Gardner April 25, 2014 at 03:32 PM
BTW - this score is far more derivate than the API score and thus, I suspect, based more on assumptions and thus more subject to error. For example, I'd much rather look at the % of high school graduates who enroll in college, which doesn't tell us how well they did, but at least tells us definitively that they enrolled. Still, it's interesting to look at and I think it is more in line with what I would have expected given the demographics.
OldTimer April 25, 2014 at 04:19 PM
Well, I think you'd have to agree with me, Mr. Gardner, that the moderate variance between API scores of Irvine, Capo and SVUSD contrasts with the substantial variance in 'college readiness' scores that separates SVUSD from all the rest. No idea what's going on there. So, apparently, SVUSD is not completely falling off the edge when it comes to API scores (ie. 829 vs. 818 vs. 797) but are completely biting it on college readiness (ie. 49 vs. 41 vs. 27). This must mean that the SVUSD students are either not taking the entrance tests or are doing lousy on them. This comes back to my original premise (as several others on this board have pointed out as well) that family CULTURE AND VALUES plays a huge role in student performance. Huge. And if you extended the scope of your investigation to Santa Ana and Anaheim I think that would become crystal clear to all. Yet the State's solution is to dumb down the curriculum and steal from the achievers to give to the low performers when decades of experience tells us those methods are neither practical nor successful. They perpetually fail. But we continue to employ more insanity by doing the same things over and over again while anticipating a different outcome. Would a competent psychologist employ this technique when treating a patient who fell off the wagon multiple times?
Bob Holtzclaw April 25, 2014 at 07:10 PM
Jim, I want to thank you for presenting this information so clearly. I wish the Register would have some investigating reporters that could present a subject like this without any personal bias. It would be interesting if one of the school board members could explain some of the reasons for SVUSD API scores being what they are. I know for a fact that SVUSD is aware of these articles, but only a few regular non SVUSD people respond.
OldTimer April 25, 2014 at 07:26 PM
Bob, humans don't like to talk about what makes them look bad, especially when there is no good explanation. They can't really tell the truth with the family CULTURE and VALUES argument because if they did some clowns would get together and accuse them of being 'hateful' or even throw the "R" word at them, resulting in a huge controversy and uproar. And since they are gainfully employed by the system and making darn good coin - they would never risk telling the truth. They're running scared. So the only other option is to sustain the criticism and remain silent. I commend Mr. Gardner too for stimulating some conversation and providing us with his research. I love kicking around ideas and getting the opinions of others. It strengthens my own. But this segment of blogs only really touches on the seriousness and origin of the problem. Less than half the story was told. But an important part of the story nonetheless.
Tom Cagley April 29, 2014 at 06:53 PM
Old Timer: I wanted to answer your question to me about DLI, but that blog has disappeared into cyberspace. Yes, I know DLI. When I went there the first time it was known as the Army Language School (ALS) and about half way through (1963or '64) it changed to DLI. I went back twenty years later for another language. I visited the area in '98, and it has sure changed since I last was there in '84. The MP&L is a blue background (I think) with an eagle holding a couple of lightening bolts in his talons. I spent time at Two Rock Ranch Station, Devens, Goodfellow AFB, and Vent Hill Farms. Lots of travel!


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