Uploaded: Thu, Sep 1, 2011, 9:55 am
Despite top test scores, Palo Alto 'failing'
State testing results illuminate achievement discrepancies in school district
Despite scoring among the top six K-12l school districts in California, Palo Alto failed to make "adequate yearly progress" in a state Accountability Progress Report issued Wednesday.
The results underscore the failure of certain subgroups -- socioeconomically disadvantaged, Latino, African-American and students with disabilities -- to meet growth targets under the federal No Child Left Behind law.
"Our scores for these particular subgroups are very similar or higher than last year, but the expectations have risen as well," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.
"In order to not be failing, you need to meet the standard overall, and in every group, and if you miss it for one you're considered failing."
The Academic Performance Index scorecard illuminates a well-known achievement gap in Palo Alto's high-performing schools.
Palo Alto is one of 17 out of California's 1,000 school districts to be labeled by the state Department of Education as having "significant" overrepresentation of minority students in special education.
"It's certainly an area we're making a big effort in," Skelly said.
"We'd like to be doing well with all of our subgroups."
The Oakland-based Education Trust West, which works to close "opportunity and achievement gaps," said Palo Alto's results indicate problems.
"When we look at why Palo Alto did not meet AYP, we get an even clearer picture of how low-income students and students of color are faring in their district," Education Trust West spokeswoman Valerie Cuevas said.
"Their Latino, socioeconomically disadvantaged, student with disabilities did not meet the federal targets of getting just two-thirds of students to proficiency in English Language Arts and math.
"Slightly more than half of Palo Alto's Latino students were at grade level in English Language Arts and math, and just 50 percent of African-American students were proficient in math."
Posted by The-Numbers-Tell-The-Story,
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm
> .. is to assume that kids have access to a public library and
> the internet. Assuming that a percentage of these underperforming
> students are VTP kids, in middle school they take the bus from
> school to home (makes it hard to get to the public library)
> often/usually do not have internet access.
This poster seems to have some definite ideas about East Palo Alto, and its residents, which almost defy reality. For instance, claiming that students must take public transportation to go to a public library seems to be ... well .. not exactly accurate. East Palo Alto is about 2.505 sq mi in area, making the end-to-end distance about 1.2 miles, and the edge-to-middle-of-the-town distance about .6 miles--not all that difficult to walk, and certainly not that diffcult to bike. And it's hard to believe that there are no automobilies owned by the parents of VTP students. (Of course, perhaps walking .6 miles would be too difficult for a child in Palo Alto?)
The technology plan for the Ravenswood School District (available on the Ravenswood site) states that about 71% of the students in the 4th-8th grade live in a home with a computer and Internet access. Additionally, 17% have a computer, but no Internet access. That makes the PC availability at/about 90% (which is what the City of Palo Alto has claimed for its residents for some time now).
Even thought there is absolutely no reason to go to a brick-and-mortar library any more, for those students who might not actually have a PC at home, then the East Palo Alto Library is located at: 2415 University Avenue, which is sort of in the middle of this tiny, postage-stamp, city.
East Palo Alto Library
The East Palo Alto Library is a part of the San Mateo Library System, which is probably the best library system in the greater Bay Area. It most certainly is one of the most technologically advanced. (Oddly, however, they don't seem to be a member of the Link+ system.)
There is also a group called "Plugged-In":
Not certain how effective this group is, since its mission is to serve East Palo Alto. However, the supporters and funders of this organization are extensive, and comprised of all of the important technology purveys of the Silicon Valley.
These days, PCs/Laptops/Netbooks are very inexpensive. Netbooks are down in the $300 range (HP Mini 110 series). Used computers are also not that expensive. Internet access is available from AT&T for about $15/month for the first year--jumping to perhaps $30/month after that. High Speed Internet is also available from Comcast. A City-wide WiFi (or regional LTE) network could be installed in East Palo Alto for very little investment--which might be a way to provide very low cost/free Internet access. (Unfortunately, when wireless equipment has been installed in "disadvantaged communities", the hardware has been destroyed by thugs/vandals/kids, and the power of the Internet has not been available to the people who might have benefited from it.)
Additionally, the VTP students have access to the Palo Alto libraries, and the PAUSD on-line information resources. Claiming that a child in EPA is "disadvantaged" because of where he lives (meaning a lack of digital infrastructure) is simply no longer true to those to take the time to examine the reality of the situation.
To top of the publicly-funded resources, there are the fantastic private sources, which have become literally "awesome" in the past five years--
And Youtube, which has been mentioned via references to the Khan Academy.
One can only wonder how often the public librarians, or public school librarians, actually refer students to the private on-line archives, which will sooner-or-later have about 10M books scanned, and on-line for free download?
It would not be hard to contine to deconstruct the misconceptions of this post, but hopefully the point has been made that short of a few dollars in hardware/Internet access, that the "digital infrastructure" that Palo Alto kids have is also available to the VTP kids, and all of the other EPA children, too. It's not clear how many Palo Alto parents are fully aware of the broad array of on-line resources exist, because these resources have become so vast that almost no single person can keep track of these sea of knowledge out our collective finger tips. To many posters continue to suggest that public libraries are important for their kid's education, when, in fact, public libraries have become irrelevant for schools, since most of the information that public libraries used that public school libraries might not is now on-line.
Perhaps the PAUSD is failing its VTP students by not providing a comprehensive list of these resources for its non-Palo Alto parents, as well as putting some tutorials on-line for parents who may not have grown up in this country, and who may have no sense of what an "Information Society" is all about.