Lamorinda students are again among the top performers in California, according to the latest data from the state Department of Education.

The state this week released its annual report showing how schools and districts scored on the Academic Performance Index, or API, which is based on a variety of standardized test scores and ranks schools from 200 to 1,000. The state target is 800.

At 957, the Orinda Union School District is the highest-performing in Contra Costa County and the eighth-highest in the state. The Lafayette and Moraga school districts scored 922 and 955, respectively.

The Acalanes Union High School District scored 903, up six points from 2010, although it lost the title of highest performing high school district to the Los Gatos-Saratoga district, which outscored Acalanes by a mere point.

"It's good news and we've got a lot of work still, even at (a) high-performing (district), whether we're the number one or the number two school (district) in the state," said Acalanes Superintendent John Nickerson.

School leaders say the API scores are validation that the districts' work is paying off and students are making progress.

"It's a reflection of the efforts of the community, our parents, our teachers in ensuring that our students continue to receive a quality education," said Moraga School District Superintendent Bruce Burns.

But a district's aggregate score is not as useful as some of the more detailed data that help identify which schools, programs or even individual students may need help, said Fred Brill, superintendent of the Lafayette School District.


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"It's not about getting a higher score on the API," Brill said. "What I care about is how do we move Johnny, who is struggling in this area, and get him up to proficiency, or advanced, above proficiency? Looking at that granular level is where our action is."

The state releases API annually, but districts monitor student progress year-round.

"We have to look beyond scores often times and really look at our students, and that's what our focus is, to really look at how are our students doing individually not only collectively as a district," said Kathy Marshall, director of curriculum and instruction for the Orinda Union School District. "That's where we can really break it down for areas where we need to continue our work and our focus. It's not always easy to stay at those high levels."

Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/sosaysjonathan.

By the numbers
Annual Performance Index (API) scores for Lamorinda schools and districts in 2010 and 2011:
School 2011 2010
Acalanes school district 903 897
Acalanes High School 910 897
Campolindo High School 923 919
Miramonte High School 923 929
Lafayette School District 922 922
Burton Valley Elementary 926 928
Happy Valley Elementary 965 962
Lafayette Elementary 939 940
Springhill Elementary 921 917
Stanley Middle School 907 909
Moraga School District 955 945
Camino Pablo Elementary 966 961
Rheem Elementary 976 971
Los Perales Elementary 961 953
J.M. Intermediate School 941 934
Orinda school district 957 954
Del Rey Elementary 968 969
Glorietta Elementary 961 966
Sleepy Hollow Elementary 977 975
Wagner Ranch Elementary 959 965
Orinda Intermediate School 946 938
Source: California Department of Education