El Centro's Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School improved 74 points to 638, and El Centro's Washington Elementary gained 73 points to 667.
Rounding out the top five most improved were San Pasqual Middle School and Westmorland Elementary, each with 70-point increases, bringing them to 428 and 571, respectively.
Eight Imperial County schools had decreases in their API scores, the most dramatic being a 56-point dive by Mulberry Elementary, whose score fell from 740 to 684.
The Department of Education's Web site warns that small schools like Mulberry have smaller numbers of students being tested, making API results less reliable. Such results should be interpreted with caution, the site states.
Imperial's Frank Wright Intermediate School fell 43 points from 711 to 668.
Across the state, the majority of public schools scored better on this year's STAR test — the exam from which API results are calculated — than the previous year.
The API is a numeric index ranging from a low of 200 to a high of 1,000. The 2000 results established the current baseline and academic growth targets for each school's academic performance. A school's annual growth target is set at 5 percent of the difference between the school's base API and the statewide performance target of 800.
Cash awards are given out to schools based on API growth. Those schools not meeting their growth targets also may receive assistance on a smaller scale.
In the 2001-2002 state budget, based on API growth between 2000 and 2001, $157 million have been allocated for the Governor's Performance Award and $100 million for the Certificated Staff Performance Incentive Act. A third award, the School Site Employee Bonus, given last year, was not continued for this fiscal year.
The future API will incorporate not only the basic skills test such as the Stanford 9 but multiple academic indicators such as the California standards-based tests and the California High School Exit Exam.
Beginning next year, the California English Language Arts test will be included in the 2001-2002 API.
A list of Imperial County schools and their scores will be published in Wednesday's edition of this newspaper. A complete listing of scores from across the state can be accessed at http://api.cde.ca.gov
Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.