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Mission High School made the largest gain for a San Francisco High School in the annual Academic Performance Index (API) report, a record that measures school performance based on a combination of state standardized test scores.

The data released Monday morning shows Mission High boosted its score by 70 points to 625 in 2010, making it the first time the school has reached or passed the 600-point mark.

“What they’re doing to close the achievement gap is tremendous,” said Carlos Garcia, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

John O’Connell High School also surpassed its target, gaining 55 points with a score of 603.

The neighborhood’s two middle schools were split on performance. Everett Middle School dropped 31 points to a score of 607.  Horace Mann Middle School gained 30 points to score 653.

At the elementary school level, Cesar Chavez and Bryant Elementary gained 29 points each, scoring 685 and 696, respectively; Marshall Elementary gained 13 points scoring 758; George R Moscone Elementary dropped one point scoring 843; and Buena Vista Elementary gained 38 points to score 776.

Overall, almost half of California’s public schools met the state target of 800 points, and more than 86 percent of San Francisco schools met or exceeded their own school-wide targets. The San Francisco Unified School District received an average score of 791. The API scores range from 200 to 1000.

In the Mission, only Everett Middle School failed to reach its target goal, and although George R Moscone Elementary dropped a point, it scored above the statewide performance target of 800.

The report also measures the growth of subgroups, or numerically significant groups such as English learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged students and minority students. Mission High met its growth target for all subgroups. English Learners increased scores by 54 points, African Americans by 66 points and Latinos by 70 points.

Statewide, Latino and low-income students had the highest gains, upping their API score by 17 points each.

Mission High School Principal Eric Guthertz credited parents, student achievement, staff, community engagement and a teaching collaboration that ensures students receive support both academically and socially.

At John O’Connell, Principal Richard Duber said, “The growth is the result of a huge effort on behalf of all members of the school community. We will use the data to see what worked and what didn’t in terms of preparation for our kids.”

Both John O’Connell and Mission High, along with four others in the Mission District, are on the state’s list of low-performing schools.  The API scores released yesterday reflect a time previous to when the schools were placed on the list. “Even before we were placed on the list, these scores show that we were moving in the right direction,” said Guthertz.

But high gains don’t mean a shortage of obstacles.

“We celebrate for minute, and we keep moving. We still have challenges, for example, with our African American and Latino students,” said Guthertz. “The teachers and I ask, ‘Why do we still have these issues? How can we sustain our good work and how can we grow?’”

As for the future, Guthertz remains optimistic about his school’s improvement. “If seniors can walk out of here and say, ‘I’m prepared for college’ or whatever it is they want to do in life because they got the tools and support from us, then that’s way more important to me than any test scores,” said Guthertz.

But for now, Guthertz has a different challenge on his hands. Last year, he promised students that if they met their target scores, he would get a famous chef to cook for the entire school.

When asked about his progress, Guthertz replied, “I have someone in mind.”

For a full list of the API scores, click here.

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