Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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The data below includes a list of most schools in San Diego County, first organized by district, then by grade level. What do all the tables and distinctions mean? This is your guide.

Voice of San Diego teamed up with UC San Diego Extension Center for Applied Research and Evaluation to compile the data. We excluded some schools, including continuation high schools, juvenile court schools, special education schools and adult education centers.  


English Language Arts (ELA): This shows how the school’s students performed on the statewide reading and comprehension test in 2021. Our ratings for this indicator are based on a five-level rating and come directly from the state. They indicate whether students tended to score above, below or near the proficiency level. If a school ranks “medium,” that means most of its students achieved proficiency. Scores above medium indicate most students scored above a proficient level – and vice versa. Next to the “score” column, you’ll also notice a “trend” column. The trend column isn’t based on an average. It tells you whether a school’s test scores went up or down between 2019-20 and 2021-22.  

Math: This shows how students performed on the statewide math test in 2021. As with ELA, the state ranks schools on a five-level rating that shows student’s proficiency level. Again, “Rating” and “Trend” columns are based on the state’s data measuring the same as with ELA. 

Income vs. Test Score Metric: This is a metric developed by Voice of San Diego in partnership with UC San Diego Extension Center for Research and Evaluation. As many scholars have pointed out, test scores are flawed metrics. A school’s poverty level is a huge predictor of how its students will perform on standardized tests. As poverty level goes up, test scores go down. But there are exceptions. And that’s what this score measures. Our measure shows you whether the school exceeded or fell below its predicted performance level.  

If a school scores “0” on our scale, then it is performing exactly where you’d predict based on poverty level. Anything above “0” means it’s doing better than expected. Anything below means it’s not. The range on this metric is very large. More than half of schools scored between 25 and -25. Those schools are performing basically in line with what you’d predict. Pay attention to numbers that fall above or below that range.  

A note on methodology: To measure a school’s average income level, we used free and reduced-price lunch data. To qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, students must live near the federal poverty line. Looking at the percentage of students who receive free and reduced-price lunch effectively tells you a school’s poverty level. We compared poverty level to test scores from the most recent academic year for schools across the county to figure out a school’s predicted test score. Then we measured whether each school scored above or below that predicted outcome. Schools that scored in the positive are rising above their expectations.  

English Learners: The percent of students in the 2021-22 school year classified as English-language learners. English-language learners have a first language other than English.  

Free or Reduced-Price Meals (FRPM): The percent of students who qualified for a federally subsidized free or reduced-price lunch in the 2021-22 school year. Students qualify if their household income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty income threshold (free) or between 130 percent and up to 185 percent of the poverty threshold (reduced price). 

Chronic Absenteeism: This is the percentage of students at a school who were chronically absent in the 2021-22 year. To be considered chronically absent, a student must miss 10 percent of all the school days in a year. If a school has high chronic absenteeism, that’s not a good sign.  

Graduation Rate: This shows the percentage of students who graduated from high school in 2021-22, based on the number that started together in ninth grade. Students who move or transfer are subtracted from the total.  

Average Teacher Experience: This number shows the average years of experience of the teaching staff for each school for the 2020-21 school year.  

Special School Distinctions – What We Mean 

International Baccalaureate (IB): IB is a highly regarded curriculum and teaching approach. Schools are certified through an inspection process by the International Baccalaureate Organization. IB schools “develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills needed to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world,” according to the organization. 

Dual Language: This means the school offers grade-level content instruction to students in English and an additional language or languages. Students spend at least half the school day in a target language other than English within elementary schools, or at least two class periods of academic content in a target language other than English within secondary schools. The goal is biliteracy in English and the target language, according to the San Diego County Office of Education. 

After School: These schools host state or federally subsidized after-school programs. Many other schools may have after-school programs paid for by parent fees or donations. Unfortunately, these programs don’t show up in our list. To find out if a school provides an after-school program beyond what we’ve listed, you’ll need to call the school.  

San Diego County School Data Methodology 

This study was conducted by the UC San Diego Extension Center for Research and Evaluation and was paid for by Voice of San Diego to provide data on San Diego County schools. The Center for Research provided data from the California Department of Education and California Accountability Model & School Dashboard for schools in San Diego County. The time periods for datasets used to produce this report varied slightly and provides the most accurate, detailed and up-to-date information possible about each school. The research team provided most recently available data for all datasets, as follows: 

  • Basic characteristics for public schools in San Diego County 
  • Number of students enrolled at each school (Academic Year 2021-22) 
  • Percentage of students qualifying for free or reduced price meals (Academic Year 2021-22) 
  • Percentage of English language learners (Academic year 2021-22) 
  • Graduation rate for each school (Academic year 2021-22) 
  • English language arts and mathematics test scores (Academic year 2021-22) 
  • Chronic absenteeism data for each school (Academic year 2021-22) 
  • Percentage teachers with over two years’ experience (Academic year 2020-21) 

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