South Orange County’s newest and most controversial charter school may end up logging the highest state test score in the county and one of the highest in California.
The so-called Academic Performance Index ratings – with a possible top score of 1,000 – are released by the state Department of Education in October, but they’re based on student results in the Standardized Testing and Reporting program, which were .
Using those figures, Sue Roche, executive director of Oxford Preparatory Academy in Mission Viejo, projected the school’s API for its first year of existence.
It’s approaching four digits: 997.
Last year, one school in the state hit the 1,000 mark, but that school enrolls only five students, according to the Los Angeles Times. Only two other schools scored higher than 997.
Even though classes don’t begin until next week, Oxford held a ceremony Friday to reveal how each grade level performed on the STAR tests and the total projected API. OPA is a K-8 charter school in the and attracts students from all over the district.
The state considers 800 the performance target for all schools. A score of 900 is generally considered impressive. Capo Unified has 24 elementary and middle schools that have breached the 900 mark. Its highest-ranking traditional school last year was Chaparral Elementary in Ladera Ranch, with a score of 948.
OPA’s projected score combines the figures for the elementary students and middle school students. Looking just at the middle school alone, OPA students scored a perfect 1,000, said Chancellor Jason Watts.
“Students, parents: Give yourself a round of applause. You are phenomenal,” Watts said over a loudspeaker while Queen’s We are the Champions played in the background. The school's mascot is champion.
Parents said the results aren’t about cherry-picking some of CUSD’s best students. What they were most impressed with is the personal growth from one year to the next.
“My child was at basic and below basic” levels, said Julie Collier, one of the parent-founders of the school. “He went to proficient and advanced.”
Mom Gina Schumann said her children made 78-point and 118-point leaps year over year.
Afterward, Roche discounted the scrutiny OPA has experienced. Approval of the school’s charter attracted hundreds of supporters and detractors and even more .
“There’s no scrutiny. We‘re focused. We just did our program like we always do,” Roche said. She said her projection may go up or down a point, but she’s become very accurate over the years at her predictions.
Oxford launched a charter school in Chino Valley the year before the CUSD campus opened. Its first-year scores quickly rose to the top in San Bernardino County. Roche projects this year’s API for the Inland Empire campus to be a 975, improving from its inaugural score of 958.
Last year, Orange County's highest-scoring school was the similarly named (but no relation) Oxford Academy in Cypress, a 7-12 school with an API of 989.
All throughout its first year, OPA urged its students to "soar to 924."
Roche said she got called to the carpet on that one.
"I had a lot of calls from administrators and others saying, 'Are you crazy, Mrs. Roche?' Are you kidding me? We have champions here."