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More than a third of the schools in the San Diego Unified School District failed to meet their state targets last year, new test scores released Tuesday by the state Department of Education show.

In total, 66 district schools met their goals set by the state’s Academic Performance Index, which looks at the performance of all students and particular ethnic and socioeconomic subgroups on the annual standardized tests administered by the state. Nearly the same number of schools, 60, saw their scores drop. The rest posted modest score increases, but not enough to meet the state goals or not across all student subgroups.

Last year, 100 schools met the annual benchmark.

Under a 1999 law that created the state API regime, schools must receive a cumulative score of 800 by 2020 on a scale that ranges between 200 and 800. Schools that fall short of the 800 score are required to raise their scores every year; the annual growth target is smallest for schools closest to 800, and largest for the lowest scoring schools.

Across the state, most schools saw their scores increase.

A school’s API score is used to determine eligibility for various state funds.

The API numbers are different from the Adequate Yearly Progress targets established under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which are also based in part on the annual exams and require all students to attain the level of “proficiency” in core subject areas by 2014. Schools that receive federal funding must meet the annual AYP goals or face a series of escalating sanctions.

Because the two accountability systems are based on different principles — the state rewards annual growth, while the federal government sets absolute proficiency goals — it’s possible for a school to receive passing marks under one system but not the other. SDUSD is trying to develop a system that would combine both sets of scores into a single measure of school performance.

The new test scores made public Tuesday are an update to numbers released last year, and take into account student performance on a new science exam introduced in the 2005-06 academic year.

VLADIMIR KOGAN

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