In its first year of existence, the seventh- and eighth-graders at the new charter school Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences in Santa Clarita scored better on California standardized tests than any other public middle-schoolers in the area.
Einstein, which was originally conceived as a Hebrew charter school, but which now offers Hebrew language classes as one option along with other languages, opened in August 2010 with 173 students in seventh, eighth and ninth grades.
Rabbi Mark Blazer, rabbi of Temple Beth Ami in Santa Clarita and executive director of Einstein, welcomed the recent test results as evidence of Einstein’s academic success.
“We knew that the scores were good,” Blazer said. “We didn’t know until today how they compared to the wider area.”
Charter schools, which are publicly funded, are required to test students as part of the Department of Education’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Tests cover four subjects: English/language arts, mathematics, science and history/social science.
In 2010-11, students across California took two or more of the tests. The results were released on Aug. 15 and showed that 54 percent of second-through 11th-graders scored at proficient or above in English/language arts. Fifty percent scored at proficient or above in mathematics. Both results were the highest since the tests were first administered in 2003.
At Einstein, the overwhelming majority of the school’s students — 91 percent of seventh-graders, 86 percent of eighth-graders and 89 percent of ninth-graders — scored at or above proficiency on the English/language arts tests. On math tests, 65 percent of Einstein students scored at or above proficiency.
The only school in Santa Clarita whose students scored better than Einstein’s is Academy of the Canyons, a public charter school established in 2000. Ninety-four percent of the school’s 288 ninth-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders scored at or above proficient in English/language arts; 71 percent scored at or above proficient in math.
In the past year, Blazer has been stymied in his attempts to open similar schools in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. He said that efforts to open an Einstein elementary school in Santa Clarita were progressing.
After-school enrichment classes with Jewish content are offered at Einstein by an organization unrelated to the school, and school administrators take care to keep those programs separate from the school’s regular operations.
Einstein in Santa Clarita will grow to four grades with 275 students for the 2011-12 school year. In addition to Hebrew and Spanish, which were offered in the last school year, classes in Arabic, Mandarin and Latin will be offered in the coming year.