The number of students at Barstow Unified public schools may have decreased, but officials with charter schools that have students from Barstow say enrollment in their programs has grown.

Charter schools' Academic Performance Index scores for the 2010 school year have increased as well, according to the California Department of Education.

The Academic Performance Index ranks schools based on California Standardized Test results. Scores range from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. The state's goal is for all public schools to receive an API rank of 800 by 2012.

Student enrollment at BUSD schools for the first month of the 2010-11 school year is down by 207 students, district officials announced at the school board's Oct. 12 meeting.

Enrollment at Excelsior Education Center's Barstow campus, however, has tripled, according to director Camren Jones.

Roughly 49 students had been going to school at Excelsior at the beginning of last year when it was located on Williams Street. This year, 147 students are attending Excelsior at its West Main Street building, most of them from BUSD, Jones said.

Excelsior's API score for its Victorville and Barstow campuses grew this year by 11 points. In 2009, the school's score was 752. This year Excelsior's API score is at 763. Officials are still working to isolate the score specifically for the Barstow campus, Jones said. Excelsior has operated a Barstow campus for eight years.

About 100 students from Barstow have begun attending Riverside Preparatory School in Oro Grande since it began offering bus service this year, said Kim Moore, superintendent of Oro Grande School District. Roughly 1,800 students attend Riverside Prep, Moore said, adding that the number of Barstow students has likely doubled from last year.

Test scores at Riverside Prep have climbed from 809 in 2009 to 829 in 2010 — well above the state's goal of 800 — but according to Moore, the school doesn't spend much time preparing for standardized tests. The school focuses on hands-on projects rather than standardized tests, Moore said.

Oro Grande also oversees Mojave River Academy in Victorville, which functions as an alternative school with about 200 Barstow students. Its test scores this year have grown from 520 in 2009 to 534 in 2010.

"Test scores are quite low, which is indicative of the students we're trying to serve," Moore said, adding that students at Mojave River Academy focus more on passing the high school exit exam and getting the number of credits needed to graduate.

Officials with the High Desert Academy of Applied Arts and Sciences in Victorville did not return calls Friday. Its API ranking increased from 475 in 2009 to 572 in 2010, a growth of 97 points. Six Barstow students attended classes in 2008.

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(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com