The State Board of Education set the statewide API target at 800 out of a possible 1,000. The Public Schools Accountability Act calls for most schools to improve their performance each year by 5% of the difference between their API and the statewide target of 800, with a minimum target of five points’ growth.
For example, a school with an API of 340 would have a growth target of 23.
A school with an API between 691 and 795 would need to gain five points.
A school with an API between 796 and 799 would have a growth target of the difference between its API and 800.
A school that is at or above 800 is expected to stay above that threshold.
ASAM schools, special education centers, and schools without valid Base API scores have no growth targets.
A school's Base API score plus its growth target becomes that school's goal for its next Growth API. The process repeats each year.
In 1998–99, the first year of the API program, 13% of elementary schools, 11% of middle schools, and 5% of high schools reached or exceeded 800 on the Growth API. In most years since then, the percentages have edged upwards. In 2010, 51% of elementary schools, 40% of middle schools, and 25% of high schools scored at least 800 points on the Growth API.
When the Growth API is calculated, a school gets more credit for improvements at the bottom of the performance range than the top, creating an incentive for schools to focus on their lowest-performing students.
School districts do not receive API scores under the Public Schools Accountability Act. However, to comply with the state's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) plan, API has been added as an additional criterion for school districts. The district Growth API, for 2010–11, must be at least 710 or one point above the Base API. For each subsequent year the required Growth API score for NCLB will increase by 30 points until it reaches 800 in 2013–14. Under NCLB, API scores are also given to county offices of education when they operate schools directly.