CITY HALL — Students in Santa Monica and Malibu public schools continue to perform well compared to their peers across the state, according to a report on 2008 test scores released by the California Department of Education on Thursday.

Based on the 2007-08 state test scores, nearly all schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District are in the upper echelon for academic achievement as opposed to similar schools throughout California with a handful even climbing the ladder this year.

The report includes the 2008 Base Academic Performance Index, which reflects the level of student achievement using results from the California High School Exit Exam and Standardized Testing and Reporting program (STAR) from the previous school year. The Base API, which is scored on a scale of 1,000 points, marks the beginning of the annual reporting cycle and serves as a benchmark from which growth will be measured in this year’s round of tests, which students are currently taking.

The Base API will be compared to the Growth API — the actual test results for this year — when they are released in August.

Maureen Bradford, who heads educational services for the district, pointed out that the Base API is not necessarily new data, just a recalibration of last year’s test scores with a few adjustments to changes in the tests this year, including the elimination of the CAT/6 in grades three and seven.

Released with the base scores were schools’ ranking compared to the performance of other institutions in the same class, such as elementary schools. The ranking is based on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest. Several schools rose in the state rank this year, including Edison Language Academy, which went from a 7 to an 8, Juan Cabrillo Elementary, which went from an 8 to a 9, and John Adams Middle School, which jumped from a 6 to an 8.

The report also showed schools’ ranking compared to other schools that have similar demographics. The majority of schools in the district saw their rankings change this year, some seeing their place slip down a few notches.

“It’s very pleasing that we had three schools that moved up in the statewide ranking,” Bradford said. “We don’t have any schools below a 7 in the statewide rank.”

The majority of the schools have also met the target score of 800, which is considered to be proficient, the lone exception being Santa Monica High School where the API is 772.

Statewide, the Base API showed general improvement in academic achievement, with more schools meeting the target score of 800.

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell said during a press teleconference on Thursday that while the improvement in scores deserve acknowledgment, there is a deep concern with the impact that the budget crisis will have on public education and the achievement gap.

He pointed out that the majority of students in the public schools are from minority and socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

“California simply cannot afford to leave a majority of our students behind,” he said. “In fact, I don’t believe we can afford to leave any of our kids behind.”