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Test Data (AYP, API, CAHSEE) » Academic Performance Index

Academic Performance Index

What is the API?
The API is a single number, ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1000, that reflects a school’s, an LEA’s, or a subgroup’s performance level, based on the results of statewide testing. Its purpose is to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. The API was established by the PSAA, a landmark state law passed in 1999 that created a new academic accountability system for K-12 public education in California. The PSAA also established an alternative accountability system for schools serving high-risk students—the Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM). The API is calculated by converting a student’s performance on statewide assessments across multiple content areas into points on the API scale. These points are then averaged across all students and all tests. The result is the API. An API is calculated for schools, LEAs, and for each numerically significant subgroup of students at a school or an LEA.
The key features of the API include the following:
  • The API is based on an improvement model. It is used to measure the academic growth of a school. The API from one year is compared to the API from the prior year to measure improvement. Each school has an annual target, and all numerically significant subgroups at a school also have targets.
  • The API requires subgroup accountability to address the achievement gaps that exist between traditionally higher- and lower-scoring student subgroups.
  • The API is a cross-sectional look at student achievement. It does not track individual student progress across years but rather compares snapshots of school or LEA level achievement results from one year to the next.
  • The API is used to rank schools. A school is compared to other schools statewide and to 100 other schools that have similar demographic characteristics.
  • The API is currently a school-based requirement only under state law. However, API reports are provided for LEAs in order to meet federal requirements under ESEA.

Assessment Results Used In the API
The information that forms the basis for calculating the API comes from the results of the STAR Program and the California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE). More information about these testing programs is located on the CDE Testing and Accountability Web page at The PSAA requires that test results constitute at least 60 percent of the API. The chart on the next page shows the assessment results that are used in API calculations.

Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program
California Standards Tests (CSTs)
  • California English–language arts Standards Test (CST in ELA) Grades two through eleven, including a writing assessment in grade seven
  • California Mathematics Standards Test (CST in mathematics)
  • Grades two through seven and grades eight through eleven for the following course-specific tests:
  • General mathematics (grades eight and nine only)
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II
  • Integrated mathematics 1, 2, or 3 
  •  High School Summative Mathematics Test
  • Students in grade seven may take the Algebra I test if they completed an Algebra I course.
  • California History–social science Standards Test (CST in HSS)
  • Grade eleven (U.S. History)
  • Grades nine through eleven (World History) \
  • California Science Standards Test (CST in science)
  • Grades five, eight, and ten and grades nine through eleven for the following course-specific tests:
  • Biology/life sciences
  • Earth science
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Integrated/coordinated science 1, 2, 3, or 4
California Modified Assessment (CMA)
  • English–language arts
  • Grades three through eight
  • Mathematics
  • Grades three through seven
  • Science
California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA)
  • English–language arts and mathematics
  • Grades two through eleven
  • Sciences
  • Grades five, eight and ten

California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE)
CAHSEE (administered in February, March, and May [make-ups])