Three critical yardsticks define a thriving city: public safety, economic vitality and good schools. After the Oct. 11 release of the current California educational gold standard, the Academic Performance Index (API), Antioch has secured another stake in its claim of nailing down the school factor.
Not to get too heady, as there is bountiful growth opportunity, but the notable news is that Antioch gained an impressive 12 points districtwide. This was the seventh in the last eight years that we have progressed. Last year was the sole exception with a one point decrease, but in 2010 we jumped 15 points. Even if we are not fully satisfied of where we stand, we can be optimistic of where we are heading. It's worth noting that eight years ago we stood at 703. We are now at 742 and moving.
Obviously, nobody will take a breather until we're at the vaunted 800 mark and from there we will shoot yet higher. Remember, though, we're not an elementary, nor a small rural or suburban district. We're a K-12 district with 18,600 students, in the top 10 percent of the state size-wise. Inarguably, then, we're an urban center, with all the attendant complexities of transiency, high numbers of English language learners, special education students, minority populations, free and reduced lunch, and foster and group home children. Added to the challenges, we have lost $100 million in state funding over the last five years.
Where then does the credit go for
Particular kudos go to Live Oak High for leading the pack at an incredible 105 point increase; to Mission Elementary with an astounding 52 point increase; to Fremont at 47 points and Marsh closely following at 44. Proudly, five schools topped 800: Diablo Vista, Lone Tree, John Muir, Orchard Park Elementary schools and Dozier Libbey High School. Three knocked on the door of 800, just points away: Carmen Dragon, Grant and Sutter Elementary. Significant increases were also recorded by Kimball Elementary; Black Diamond, Dallas Ranch and Park middle schools, as well as by Antioch and Deer Valley high schools.
Of particular note in our battle to narrow disparity and the achievement gap, the African American group posted a 24 point increase districtwide and boasted an eye-popping 48 point increase at Antioch High.
We'd be remiss if we did not award resounding cheers for the Filipino subgroup which scored a breathtaking 848 and the Asian subgroup a collective 843. They are a model to us all of what high family expectations can mean.
I have seen firsthand how education influences a community. I grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, where in the 1960s we had one of the top 10 school districts in the country. People would literally leave notes at my family door asking that if we ever decided to sell to please call them. It was essentially a waiting list to get into our town. Antioch's positive news, then, spells good omens for real estate prices.
Our schools, hoisting increasing test scores and a state-blazing linked pathways career academy program, can do wonders for Antioch. We can make this a town people are knocking the door down to get into and not get out of. Congratulations students, parents and teachers for setting one of the blocks needed to establish the kind of town we all envision. It's all about placing one brick at a time.
Walter Ruehlig is an Antioch Unified School District board trustee.