Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto schools hire new expert on test data

Original post made on May 18, 2011

The Palo Alto school district has hired a new, high-level data cruncher to analyze student performance and other testing information. Diana Wilmot will replace William Garrison, who is retiring after eight years with the district.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 9:51 AM

Comments (22)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by DDee
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

No wonder our kids are stressed out, they are surrounded by adults with Dissociative Identity Disorder!

On one hand we wage a campaign to reduce stress, take some of the more noxious and toxic elements of our collective perfectionism out of the mix;

On the other we - who nickle and dime our city employees and easily laid off those lower on the earning totem - hire a stress maximizer... a "high-level data cruncher", a perfectionist's wet dream.

I guess that is about as sound a decision as laying of 65 people who actually provided direct service to us (and who created 65 points of support for our local economy), only to turn around and hire 1 full-time "consultant" - who was supposed to bring in the businesses and revive our town as if there wasn't a depression going on in main street America.

How's that particular piece of genius working fer ya so far?

So, back to the numbers cruncher.

Has it already been ruled out that maybe what we should be looking at is pedagogical method and inovation?

Do we need a statisitcal testing expert or a breakthrough in teaching approaches to meet the demands of today's world while defending our kid's right to a childhood and preserving their mental health by building a healthier overall community?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm

> The research director reports on trends and comparisons in Star,
> SAT and AP test scores as well as percentages of students who
> complete a four-year-college-prep course load.

Why can't a computer program do this .. at virtually no cost to the taxpayers?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by computer
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Can a computer do this?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marielena G-M
a resident of Midtown
on May 18, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Welcome to PAUSD Diana Wilmot, I hope the data that you collect gets analyzed and is used in benefit of the students social and emotional health, not just compared with other schools and then get buried among other piles of data. I hope the data is not used to push our students even harder because this will only create more stress on their lives. Hope you can make a difference in students' lives.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Welcome Dr. Wilmot! Having the ability to bring data to bear on questions of educational policy and practice is crucial to good decision-making in the district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2011 at 7:49 pm

> Can a computer do this?

And a whole lot more!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2011 at 8:41 pm

> Having the ability to bring data to bear on questions of
> educational policy and practice is crucial to good
> decision-making in the district.

It would be very interesting to see what decisions on policy have traditionally been made by the person doing this job.

And .. why couldn't a computer program do this job for the whole state? Why wouldn't the issues be pretty much the same .. at least in similar school districts?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 18, 2011 at 8:46 pm

@Bill
You ask too many sensible questions!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by no more bond!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 18, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Is this where our money is going? Do we really need to hire
someone to do this? Consultant? outsourcing? computer?
I wonder how much Mr. Garrison's retirement pension is.....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Vote NO
a resident of El Carmelo School
on May 18, 2011 at 9:04 pm

@ no more bond!
I second your post! Vote NO!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OMG
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm

"Data to be used in benefit of the students social and emotional health" Doubt it!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA Mom
a resident of El Carmelo School
on May 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm

How about getting SmartBoards in our High Schools instead of Kindergartens?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ConcernedParent
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

Once again way too much emphasis on the #s more than the actual skills of the students. As a teacher of over 25 years, I would never consider test scores the most important indication of a student's skill progress or potential to succeed. This sounds like a nearly complete waste of our money that could be better spent a variety of ways. (sigh)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm

ConcernedParent,

I have not seen anyone argue that test scores are the most important indication of a student's skill progress or potential to succeed. I believe the district administers standardized testing and analyzes the results to comply with state regulations and to measure student progress in specific areas. That data is then used by principals, teachers and others to tailor their educational approaches.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm

-so that means EACH of the zillions of school districts much hire such a person for this exclusive duty? Sounds like excessive duplication to me.
I think there ought to be a lot of school districts combined. They did it in Mountain View (two elem districts) and I think it worked out fine. They saved taxpayer $$$, too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm

"How about getting SmartBoards in our High Schools instead of Kindergartens"

@PAMom - that would be a bond expenditure. The bond is paying to bring smart boards to all the elementary class rooms (I believe). I imagine that the high schools could have them too, I know that some already do. The bond spending at the high schools is driven by school-specific committees that prioritize spending for across all that school's projects. If they prioritize getting smart boards (and they might, I don't done), I'm pretty sure they would get them.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Just wondering
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I am just curious about the expenditure of our school district.
I was able to find our neighboring city, Los Altos' expenditure summary which clearly states teacher's salary, administrative cost, etc.

Web Link

Where can I find Palo Alto District's expenditure summary? Thanks in advance.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I believe Smart Boards were paid for (at least they were in some of the elementary schools when we were there) by PTA funds or other school fundraising. I think the same happened at middle schools.

High School fundraising seems to be centered around sports boosters, music programs, etc.

From what I see in the classrooms, the high tech toys in classrooms seem to be VCRs, overhead projectors and the teacher's own cell phone. I may be wrong, but I see very little compared to what I saw in middle and elementary schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on May 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Like most parents in town, I fully support the schools' efforts to raise funds and ensure they have adequate resources to do their job, but a hiring like this one really surprises me and makes me question a few things. Would anyone know if other highly rated school districts also spend money on something like this? I have to believe there are more pressing issues than having an expert on test data.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm

@Carlos - pretty much every district has a department of "Evaluation and Assessment" (or similar) headed by someone with a director title. Big districts have big staffs (e.g. Fresno about 30), smaller districts small staffs (e.g., Berkeley about 4). I'm not sure if it is a mandatory position, but given the amount of testing done, and various kinds of data required to be reported out, it makes sense to have the analytical capability.

@Paly Parent - some smart boards may have been put in with PTA funds, but the bond covered putting SmartBoards and sound-assist systems in all elementary classrooms, including upgrades to older systems (I believe). According to the latest monthly report, all the elementary schools have been completed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on May 20, 2011 at 10:24 am

I think it is a great choice Kevin is making to bring in a trained data analyst. This district has reams and reams of data that it has collected that lie unanalyzed in district offices. Perhaps this will make the district's decision-making process more data-driven. However, it would be a shame if accountability extends only to STAR, SAT, ACT, etc. Those benchmarks for academic excellence are important but social-emotional data analysis is far more important at this juncture.

Good job, PAUSD. Now give Dr. Wilmot the right assignments and direction so that she can report on what really matters most.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by No more administrators!
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 29, 2011 at 9:22 pm

@Michele,

Do you know the admin staff vs students vs teachers ratio in Palo Alto School District? Theoretical study is all good when there is no budget problems. Would you agree that we should keep our classrooms away from cuts?


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

Early Decision Blues
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 2,206 views

One night only: ‘Occupy the Farm’ screening in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 2,100 views

First Interview
By Sally Torbey | 10 comments | 1,373 views

Death with Dignity
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,305 views

Guest Post #2 from HSSV: Labradoodle Back on His Feet
By Cathy Kirkman | 2 comments | 395 views