How to Find Good San Diego Schools
When it comes to finding good San Diego schools, many parents look to the API and AYP. However, there's more to a school than scores and numbers. [*This information is for public schools.]
About API: API is Academic Performance Index: it's a number between 200 and 1000. This number is calculated from the performance of student on their Statewide Standardized Tests. These tests are the same across the entire state of California and includes the testing of English (Language Arts), Mathematics, and Science & History (Social Sciences).
Generally, scores of 800 or more are considered good schools. Click here to learn more about API and how they are generated. Click here to see the API score of any given school within San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).
"California Distinguished School" is an award given by the California State Board of Education to public schools which have exemplary and quality education. The award is valid for 4 years.
About AYP: Another number that parents like to see is the AYP. AYP is Adequate Yearly Progress: this is a Federal measure of student success based on their target goals. The Federal government sets goals for English (Language Arts), mathematics, other indicators, and graduation rate.
A typical AYP report shows the percentage of students who are proficient in each subject area. This value should be above the target defined by the US government. It is hoped that by the year 2014, all schools will be 100% proficient in the above 4 categories. Schools who do not achieve their target goals for 2 years in a row are designated as "Program Improvement" schools. Despite its name, this is not a good distinction.
Click here to learn more about APY and how they are generated. Click here to see the APY of a school that interests you.
If you love numbers, go to this Accountability page to find good San Diego schools based on their API, AYP, California Standard Tests, and High School Exit Exams. Certainly, scores and numbers are important, but they are only part of the story. Students can be trained to pass tests or in some cases, test results may be falsified. Parents should consider other attributes too.
Teachers and Administrators show that they care when they honor students with Awards of Merit.
About the school: how many students are enrolled in the school? How many students in each classroom? Is the school in good repair?
About the Students: what is the rate of absenteeism? How many students are suspended or expelled from the school each year? How well do the students perform in State tests?
About the Teachers: are the teachers credentialed? How many are not credentialed and how many are credentialed but not teaching in their area of expertise? Are their salaries comparable to their counterparts across the entire state? All this information is available to you online. Go to the School Accountability Report Cards page and type in your school's name to see its report card. Be sure to choose "long" to get the full report.
Site Visits: probably the best way to know which are good San Diego schools is to do a site visit. Call the school of interest to make an appointment. You will likely speak with the Principal or Vice Principal and while in the school, look around the school grounds. Is it gray asphalt or green grass? Is it tidy or littered and full of graffiti?
What are the students doing? Are they seemingly happy? Are they all asleep? Are they required to walk in straight lines or are they given a certain level of freedom?
Web Sites: It's not always possible to visit all potential San Diego schools. The next best thing is to visit its web site. What events do the schools emphasize? Martin Luther King Day or International Festival? Does the school make a big deal about Career Day or Earth Day? Do the students celebrate Cinco de Mayo or Chinese New Year? These things will give you a hint as to the students and teachers outlook in life. Find a school that you agree with and then move on from there. See a list of school web site here.