Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) Principal Ann Menna launched the new school year with unbridled excitement, welcoming a new freshman class and an Academic Performance Index (API) score that has SRHS at number one in San Diego County.
“I’m ecstatic about the score,” Menna said in an interview with students. “We were at 883 when I got here, and now we’re at 914. People ask me what my secret is, but I tell them I don’t have one. Scripps Ranch is just a supportive community that promotes excellence.”
API scores are determined through evaluations of student performance on the annual California Standardized (STAR) Tests administered in May.
Since Menna’s incumbency, changes have been made to the administration of the STAR Test. Instead of testing students daily over a single week, SRHS now allots a total of four weeks to testing with one subject administered each week. Menna said that the school found that student performance drastically improved with testing sessions disseminated over longer periods of time.
“Kids can’t think with a full week of testing,” Menna said. “There’s been a lot of research with student scores and we’ve come to the conclusion that with testing sessions spread out, students don’t get as burned out.”
SRHS edged out last year’s number one school, Canyon Crest Academy. Due to the breach involving social media that compromised the school’s 2012-2013 test material, Canyon Crest is not eligible for state or federal award recognitions during the 2013-14 school year.
SRHS’s API came as a surprise to many students who believed that district budget cuts would have a negative impact on student performance. Last year, Principal Menna was forced by the cuts to issue 15 notices of layoff to SRHS teachers.
“I honestly was surprised to hear that we actually did so well, given all of the teachers and academic programs we’ve had to cut at this school,” said 11th grader Anjana Srinivas.
Since 2007, the state has made cuts in school funding, and San Diego Unified School District has faced reductions of more than $500 million. District schools have been encouraged to host supply drives to have students contribute necessary supplies to the classroom. Donations to the SRHS Foundation, the school’s private organization for funding club activities through parent and student donations, have also been highly encouraged.
Despite ongoing funding issues, Principal Menna has good reason to be proud of the school’s progress and optimistic that students will improve more in the coming years.
“I can feel the energy with these kids,” Menna said. “Every kid here is going to do something.”