Controversial Charter School May Clock in with Best Academic Score in OC

Oxford Prep projects an API mark of 997, three points shy of perfection. Only three schools in California scored higher last year.

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."

Capo Parent September 04, 2012 at 10:13 PM
FC The scores are important in the same vein that CUSD likes to report high and improving test scores. The initial scores are even more important for OPA because it makes any effort to close OPA, e.g. CUSD not renewing its charter after year 3, much harder and difficult.
shelly September 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Hi Penny, Here are some other demographics from OPA on parent education graduate / post graduate 165 college 129 some college including AA degree 29 high school 3 not high school degree 1 declined to answer 45 total 372 tested
Rachel Guzman September 08, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Unions do not belong in our children's education. Educators are professional enough to negotiate issues within their work environment on their own. We should be role modeling to our children how to collaborate and resolve conflict within the workplace. We should role model how to listen to each other's ideas, negotiate pay and benefits and how to lead in education on our own and without a union. There is ZERO need for a union in education- period. Educators need to role model what they are teaching. Keep the unions out and allow the experts to drive the decisions that are best for our children. Do you want a negligent nurse taking care of you or your sick child? Are you okay with having a negligent nurse who has been protected by the union taking care of your loved ones? Of course not. Thank you to Sue Roche and all those supporting OPA to give us a VOICE and CHOICE in our child's education. And I am sure her "huge" salary boils down to nothing at then end of her long day every day. The comment about her pay is yet another poor example of immature politics. I have to go by the facts of the API scores and my kids personal scores which are UP. The facts tell me loud and clear- she knows what she is doing and union ran schools do. Former unhappy mom of a child at a high performing Distinguised school and HAPPY mom of Chino OPA! Best decision I made 3 years ago. Thank u Mrs. Roche.
Rachel Guzman September 08, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Correction- union ran schools do not know what they are doing.
Kevin Brandon October 08, 2012 at 03:59 AM
It's not a scare tactic. Get involved, 'concerned parent,' and learn a bit.


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