School Ratings: New System, Same Results

Although the state no longer ranks individual school districts or schools in its annual evaluation system, San Marino Unified School District continues to distinguish itself as one of California’s high-performing districts.
The California School Dashboard, which has replaced the Academic Performance Index, uses state and local data to illustrate each public school district’s performance in a variety of areas relative to its improvement or regression from the previous year.
The evaluations — which are available at — are illustrated with color-coded pie charts, which, in descending order, use blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Each level also is represented by the number of filled slots in the chart, with blue having all five slots and red having only one.
SMUSD scored blue in four of the five applicable categories, including English learner progress, graduation rate, English language arts and mathematics. It scored green in the fifth category, which is suspension rate.
“The San Marino Unified School District should be very proud of these performance levels,” said Superintendent Alex Cherniss in a prepared statement. “We already perform at very high levels yet we manage to continuously improve.”
The state’s goal for all of its school districts is to score at least green on each of its evaluations.
SMUSD’s suspension rate system-wide was 1.1%, which is considered “low” by the state’s standards. It also reflected a slight decline by 0.3% from last year.
San Marino High School’s graduation rate last year was 98.1% of its students, which, at a 0.2% decline from the prior year, is considered “maintained” by the state. Breaking down those figures further, the Dashboard showed increases in graduation by English learners (4.6% growth) and socioeconomically disadvantaged students (5.1%), but also a decrease in graduation rate of students with disabilities by 6.1%.
English-learner progress across the entire system, which was rated as “high,” posted a 17.2% improvement from the previous year. English language arts and mathematics had substantial percentage increases from the prior year.
An evaluation for college/career readiness among 11th-graders will be included in next year’s Dashboard assessments. Data for chronic absenteeism also is expected to be added in the future.
In a statement, the SMUSD front office noted that the district “has historically had low chronic absenteeism and high college-placement statistics” and is expected to have a strong showing in those criteria.
Board of Education President C. Joseph Chang also prepared a statement for SMUSD’s Dashboard announcement.
“Congratulations to every teacher, administrator, staff member and parent for this remarkable success,” he said. “And special congratulations to our students who consistently show that they are the best!”

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