School Accountability Report Cards

School Accountability Report Card: Since November 1988, state law has required all public schools receiving state funding to prepare and distribute a SARC. A similar requirement is also contained in the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The purpose of the report card is to provide parents and the community with important information about each public school. A SARC can be an effective way for a school to report on its progress in achieving goals. The public may also use a SARC to evaluate and compare schools on a variety of indicators.

The Academic Performance Index (API) is the cornerstone of California’s Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999 (PSAA).

The purpose of the API is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. It is a numeric index (or scale) that ranges from a low of 200 to a high of 1000. A school’s score or placement on the API is an indicator of a school’s performance level. The interim statewide API performance target for all schools is 800. A school’s growth is measured by how well it is moving toward or past that goal. A school’s base year API is subtracted from its growth API to determine how much the school grew in a year.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is a landmark in education reform designed to improve student achievement and change the culture of America's schools.

The new law represents a sweeping overhaul of federal efforts to support elementary and secondary education in the United States. It is built on four common-sense pillars: accountability for results; an emphasis on doing what works based on scientific research; expanded parental options; and expanded local control and flexibility.

The tests in the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program are an important part of the state assessment system. These tests are administered annually in the spring to measure how well students in California public schools are achieving state content standards. These achievement tests target English-language arts and mathematics in all grades tested. In addition, tests in history-social science and science are given in selected grades.

All students in grades two through eleven participate by taking one or more of the following four series of tests that are included in the STAR Program:
  • The California Standards Tests (CSTs), achievement tests developed for California public schools to assess state content standards.
  • The California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA), tests developed for students with significant cognitive disabilities who are not able to take the CSTs and the CAT/6 Survey.
  • The California Achievement Tests, Sixth Edition (CAT/6 Survey), nationally norm-referenced achievement tests, given in grades three and seven only, that measure general academic knowledge and provide national comparisons.
  • The Aprenda, La prueba de logros en español, Tercera edición (Aprenda 3), a nationally norm-referenced achievement test of general academic knowledge in Spanish for Spanish-speaking English learners.

Beginning with the Class of 2006, all students must pass the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) to earn a high school diploma.

The purpose of the CAHSEE is:

  1. to improve student achievement in high school; and
  2. to help ensure that students who graduate from high school can demonstrate competency in state academic content standards adopted by the SBE.


There are two parts to the CAHSEE:

  1. english language arts, and
  2. mathematics.

By law, each part is to address the state academic content standards.