H-SANTA MARIA

Oct 9, 2013 7:07 PM by April Hansen, KSBY

Santa Maria High School improves state test scores for 2013

Santa Maria High School had some of the most improved test scores in Santa Barbara County this year.

California's Academic Performance Index, or API, monitors all state public and charter schools. It's part of a state law that keeps schools accountable for student performance. Schools get a number every year based on state tests. That number starts at 200 and goes up to 1,000.

The target number for schools is 800. Santa Maria High School isn't quite there yet, but had its biggest growth in three years.

"It just shows it doesn't matter where you begin, but where you end up," said Santa Maria High School Senior Samantha Galicinao.

For the past four years, Galicinao has been part of Santa Maria High School's mission to become the top school in the area and it starts with test scores.

"The score that we did have is a breath of fresh air. It's something everyone is extremely happy about even at school and even at school in our community," said Galicinao.

School leaders say the journey from the bottom wasn't easy.

"We were the only school below 700. We were in last place in all API test scores of any high school in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties," said Principal Joe Domingues.

He says when he was hired, he inherited a school that needed structure and a plan.

"We got the entire staff on board working together on strategic schooling. We got the students, parents and school community engaged in that focus and it just took off," said Domingues.

A handful of schools on the Central Coast didn't make their growth targets set by the state in 2013.

Santa Maria High School's goal was to break 700. It got 713.

"We started at 660 and we've gained almost 60 points in three years," said Domingues.

Senior Savannah Yerena says she's proud to be a part of new traditions.

"We stand up taller with our heads held high because we scored so well," said Yerena.

Principal Domingues says he made a deal with his students that if they met their goal of 700, then some of the administrators would shave their heads.

They will shave their heads at the school carnival on Friday.

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