News

School board to discuss math task force tonight

Parent-teacher group would share ideas on how to challenge elementary students

The Palo Alto school district would convene a parent-teacher task force on elementary school mathematics under a proposal to be discussed by the Board of Education tonight (Feb. 22).

The purpose would be to share approaches currently in use on the district's 12 elementary campuses to challenge and stimulate children, particularly those who are strong in math.

The idea stems from a Jan. 25 school board discussion in which board members noted some campuses have developed "flexible groupings" and other approaches to challenge children, and that those ideas should be shared with other schools.

Board member Barbara Klausner said the fact that some schools have such programs -- staffed by parent volunteers or in some cases math specialists -- while others do not is an "equity issue" that needs to be addressed.

The Jan. 25 discussion was prompted by an earlier board pledge to consider how to offer greater math challenge for high-performing students as well as to find a "metric" to measure math progress for the large number of children who perform above grade level.

More than 70 percent of Palo Alto elementary students perform at the "advanced" math level on the California Star Test. And more than 40 percent of Palo Alto elementary school parents said in a 2010 survey that their children are not sufficiently challenged in math.

The Jan. 25 discussion evolved into a three-hour conversation among board members, parents and district staff members that touched on the full range of students -- including special education students and "middle students" -- as well as critiques and defenses of the district's elementary math curriculum, Everyday Mathematics, which was introduced in the fall of 2009.

Skelly's proposal places any discussion about the "merits of the existing adopted curriculum (Everyday Mathematics)" specifically outside the purview of the task force.

Rather the role of the group would be to consider what's currently being done in Palo Alto and elsewhere "to promote intellectual curiosity and excitement around mathematics, particularly to more fully engage students at grades three through five with an interest in and talent for the subject."

After meeting monthly beginning this spring through March 2012, the group would "make recommendations for the superintendent, considering a whole range of potential resources and the way the recommendations would affect each elementary campus."

The school board will discuss the task force proposal tonight, and is scheduled to vote on the idea March 8.

Under Skelly's proposal, the panel would consist of one parent and teacher representative from each elementary school, one middle school math teacher and one or two principals. It would be co-chaired by one principal and one parent, with support from district staff.

Parent representatives would be selected by the site council of each elementary school.

In other business tonight, the board will discuss a proposal for a pilot full-day kindergarten program at Barron Park School beginning in November of this year.

The board also will discuss schematic designs for stadium improvements at Palo Alto High School, and bid authorizations for a new two-story classroom building as well as a media arts building at Paly; and bid authorizations for classroom air conditioning, a new two-story classroom building and a new gymnasium at Gunn High School.

The high school construction projects are among the upgrades to the district's 17 campuses being financed under a $378 million facilities bond that was approved by 78 percent of voters in June 2008.

Tonight's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters 25 Churchill Ave.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by More-Smoke-And-Mirrors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

> Skelly's proposal places any discussion about the "merits of the
> existing adopted curriculum (Everyday Mathematics)" specifically
> outside the purview of the task force.

Huh??? Parents are complaining about this new teaching method, and the Superintendent doesn't want to talk about it?

> Rather the role of the group would be to consider what's currently
> being done in Palo Alto and elsewhere "to promote intellectual
> curiosity and excitement around mathematics, particularly to more
> fully engage students at grades three through five with an interest
> in and talent for the subject."

And this is going to improve math scores for the 30% (which has been an on-going problem in the District for a long time), or help those who are not being sufficiently challenged in the current curriculum, how?

This is why so many people want vouchers--so that they can move their kids to private schools [portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Hopefully the Board will be responsive to the parents' (and kids') needs than the Superintendent seems to be.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Not Again
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

Why is Barron Park the only school who wants to increase the kindergarten school hours? could it be that the teachers are not as effective as other kindergarten teachers from other PAUSd schools are? or could it be that the principals are not being effective at their job, and that they just let the teachers teach whatever they want to teach. Now are they going to offer the extra hours to "all students," or at least to all the ones who they want to? or is this going to be another case like the college bound where they pick and choose? I hope they do not discriminate students and parents this time. I hate when they do not accept the special ed students in these programs. It is just not fair. Hopefully the new principal will change this. What is wrong with Barron Park?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2011 at 11:06 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

A math task force that does not evaluate the experience with Everyday Math...this is crazy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2011 at 12:29 pm

i have noticed since the district adapted the every day math, teachers have to use up more time to explain to students in order to keep up the scores in the star exams, although the scores are preey high but it is done at the expense of other subjects like english and social study.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Barren[sic] Park Mom
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] It is my observation that there has been a bit of an exodus from Barron Park over the last few years. Several involved parents either decided to send their kids to other schools or move out of Palo Alto. Time will tell whether Cathy Howard's grand plans to close the achievement gap were successful.

I truly hope Kevin Skelly finds the right principal for Barron Park Elementary for the sake of the kids.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by almost funny, but it's not
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm

"Board member Barbara Klausner said the fact that some schools have such programs -- staffed by parent volunteers or in some cases math specialists -- while others do not is an "equity issue" that needs to be addressed."

equity issue?

how can you legislate parent volunteers? or the other equity math issue that some kids get engineer parents, some kids don't - does that also need to be addressed outside the Everyday Math curriculum that was championed by the very same Board member?

am I wrong, or is the issue that too many kids are not being challenged enough by Everyday Math?

and what are "flexible groups" - is that code for laning in elementary?

I hope the committee considers the social emotional implications of laning kids, when there is the obvious and less obvious "attitudes" that can come from being laned higher than others.

these "flexible groups" turn into the stupid math group, the smarter kids math group, and smarter smartest math group.

a committee of all elementary parents? and only 1 MIddle School rep???

it should be 1 middle school teacher for EACH middle school

middle school parent reps from each school,

at least 1 middle school principal

plus a school counselor from Middle school, and

1 parent, and 1 Math teacher from each High School

you can't plan if you don't know where you are heading, and the only ones that can tell you that, are not in elementary school


 +   Like this comment
Posted by almost funny, but it's not
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm



meant to say 1 middle school Math teacher from each middle school


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Janet Dickens
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 23, 2011 at 6:45 am

Thank you Kathleen Blanchard, Marielena Mendoza, Jasmine and Berta for making comments on the district's highest priority goal of social emotional well being including bullying. These two topics should be standing agenda items at school board meetings that happen at the beginning of the meeting with with an update on what is going on to resolves these problems in our schools. Middle College is a great alternative. Also, there were audio issues on TV when Jasmine spoke so viewers could not hear what she said. I hope Bill Johnson will reprint. Lastly, please make plans to modernize these meetings with a crisp agenda, time limits for board members to weigh in and breaks every two hours or so. Then, perhaps, more people with busy work schedules would attend and get involved.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by What is highest priority?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

Sorry to be ignorant, but is the social emotional well being actually the district's "highest priority?" According to the PAUSD website, their mission is:

Strive for academic excellence,
Acquire the knowledge and skills that support learning
Value creativity and life-long learning,
Demonstrate respect for self and others, and
Participate meaningfully in our democratic society and interdependent global community.

In a few individual school SARC's it says, "Safe, orderly schools are the highest priority of the Palo Alto Unified School District."

Did a new goal get adopted somewhere that I missed?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

To What is the Highest Priority?

In addition to having a strategic plan and long lists of policies, the school district adopts a list of "focused goals" for each academic year. Here's more information about this year's list: Web Link

There are a number of items on the list for this year, but the item about student social-emotional health and "connectedness" at school have dominated the board's conversations in this area and is sometimes mentioned as a 'top priority.'


 +   Like this comment
Posted by What is highest priority?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Feb 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thanks Chris, you are a wealth of information these days ;-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Is it really a top priority?
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I do not think so, as we all know that in was not even in the agenda. The district priority continues to be to push our children (the ones who can) to achieve as much as they can, so the district can look good, and the ones who are not achievers can either accept failure or commit suicide as a result of preasure, bullying or mental illneses that were not taken care off, even though there were signs, but nothing was done.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 2,417 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,730 views

Palo Alto and Bay Area Election Facts and Thoughts on the Implications
By Steve Levy | 11 comments | 1,194 views

Campaign Endorsements: Behind the Curtain
By Douglas Moran | 10 comments | 983 views

Mothers, daughters, books, and boxes
By Sally Torbey | 4 comments | 564 views