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Teachers: Support needed for graduation proposal

Original post made on Mar 14, 2012

High school teachers Tuesday said a move to stiffen graduation requirements, by itself, will not boost the achievement of struggling students. Department heads met with the Board of Education to discuss a proposal to align graduation requirements with entrance criteria for California's public, four-year universities.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 14, 2012, 9:48 AM

Comments (131)

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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:21 am

There are clearly issues in teaching math - but it is not a high school problem. The laning starts in Middle school, and that is where students have accumulated enough low-quality teaching hours to fall behind. (Yes Mr. Skelly - there are low-quality teachers. They are a small number, but that is why there are a small number of failing students. Duh.)

These kids need MORE help when they are laned-down; the gaps in learning math extend back well before High School - they need to be fixed at the source. Here's how:

- Eliminate the poor math teachers. They are out there, they are doing great harm.

- Get the struggling kids extra hours/week DURING SCHOOL time in Math instruction, starting in 6th grade. Move something else aside.

- Design the Math program to help these kids CATCH UP - it takes more work, not simply a different lane/different room. You will need your best teachers on this, and they will need more time, more support, more professional development.

- Finally, and this cannot be stressed enough: these kids need engaging teachers. Someone who can tell them clearly and enthusiastically that they CAN learn math, and that the teacher WILL help them. Ensure the kids don't check out of the learning process that put them behind in the first place.


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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

@Paly Parent: I don't see you placing any responsibility on the parents of these struggling kids or the kids themselves. The parents should get them to stop playing video games, turn off the TV, stop tweeting or FBing and actually study. The results would be wonderful and we could end this debate.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

So you have not actually met a struggling student. Many work quite hard, up until the point where the factory farming system fails them repeatedly and they check out.

If you read my posting, you will see that I recognize many of these kids have disengaged - that is when they turn to video games, FB, etc.

It is in the second bullet: the additional help must be offered DURING SCHOOL. Then the distractions can be kept to a minimum.


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Posted by The Truth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:29 am

Palo Alto Schools are very well run! Majority of the problem is a parent problem. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] All of this new program stuff is a bandaid for the true problem: Education starts at home with parent buy in and these kids and parents are failing in almost every case to put forth a great effort.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:35 am

I'd like to agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

I have seen multiple first-hand examples of hard working kids discouraged by the system, chaotic teaching, and the resulting poor performance. The parents were engaged, the kids engaged, the effort being made.

They are not all EPA kids - that is a gross generalization, and disturbing.

We agree that education starts at home. It ends with a poor teacher though; no matter how hard the parents push.


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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

"When students in my class have difficulty I don't make the quiz harder with the expectation they'll work harder and do better. I ask, 'what can I do differently to improve my instruction?'"

So true!

"Regardless of race, if you're in a basic lane in the Palo Alto Unified School District you're attending a failing school"

What?! So, everyone who's not taking an AP class in Palo Alto is now attending a "failing school"?


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Posted by mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

One modification to the article. The article says in the 4th paragraph:
20% of students (170 students) graduating in the Class of 2011 (828 students) did not have the A-G courses to APPLY to the UC/UCS colleges.

". . . the roughly 20 percent each year who graduate without fulfilling them, a group that is disproportionately low-income, African-American or Hispanic."

THE FACTS ARE: Of the 170 students missing A-G well over 50% are white, fluent in English, and are not socio-economically disadvantaged.

The disproportionate part is that only 3 out of 20 African American graduates had A-G and only 27 of the 66 Hispanic students had A-G. Furthermore, of the 17 African American students not meeting A-G, only 5 were in the VTP program and 12 were not.

This is a problem for everyone!!





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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm

The statement about the failing school was made following a recitation of some statistics about how minority and poor and struggling students fare in our schools. That data has been endlessly rehearsed in these forums, so I won't repeat it. However the upshot is that the basic lane is disproportionately comprised of poor and minority students. These students have very low CST (star) test scores not only relative to white and Asian students but also relative to the poor and minority students of many other districts. On certain subjects, notably math and biology, PAUSD disadvantaged kids are doing very badly relative to other districts. You can view this data here:

2010
Web Link

2011
Web Link

Some additional facts: In the 2011 CSTs only 38% of white students in the basic math lane taking Alg 2 in 11th grade scored proficient or above (out of 146 white students). For students of all races on the basic track in biology (10th grade) only 36% scored proficient or above (out of 50 students).

These statistics point to what has come to be called in the literature a "failing school." If poor and minority students (as well as white and Asian students who struggle) who comprise the basic lane were in a freestanding school and it had this record, it would likely be regarded as a failure by most measures. The students are not college ready, are below proficient in many subject areas, have disproportionate disciplinary problems, have social-emotional stress associated with a curriculum and pacing that is inappropriately difficult for them, and so forth. The point of my comment was that because they are not in a free-standing school but in a school vastly dominated by high achievers, their outcomes are masked and the district has not to this point treated this situation as an urgent need.

As I think Kevin's comments reported in this story make clear, Palo Alto school officials have a very difficult time with the idea of failure. Board meetings and meetings with officials tend to be dominated by happy talk about all our great successes and bringing up statistics that puncture that image is regarded as "flogging," rather than the presentation of data. The board likes to hear about how marvelous it is. In many ways things are great. But for this group of kids, things are not great. For this group of kids, what we are doing is failing.


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Posted by Past-Time-To-Document
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

> I have seen multiple first-hand examples of hard working kids
> discouraged by the system, chaotic teaching, and the resulting
> poor performance.

So have you documented this situation, passing along your observations, and facts, to both the school board and the superintendent? And what about posting your documentation on-line, and sharing that information with the whole community.

If not, it's never too late to start.


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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

How many students are in the basic lane classes in Palo Alto schools? You seriously assert that all these students are now attending a failing school. Across all subjects and across all divides?!
Or are you going to continue to cherry pick your data?


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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. These so called "struggling" students have been given the opportunity to go to school in an outstanding school district. If they can't succeed we don't need to engage in prolonged bouts of self-flagellation. These students and their families have to step up to the plate and deliver. If they truly work hard and put in genuine effort they will succeed. If they slack off they will not be as successful at school. They can of course be successful in life in general despite this.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:13 pm

@Past-time-to-document:
"So have you documented this situation, passing along your observations, and facts"

I hardly feel a community chat room is a good place to post personal information about existing students. But, yes, I have brought up issues with Teachers, Principals, and School Board members. There is a myopic belief that BECAUSE we have a GREAT school district we have NO lemon teachers. Of course this is silly, GREAT Schools still have lemon teachers. The result of discussing with administration: nothing is done.

@Huh! - The idea that this is all the students fault really does nothing to address the root causes - poor teaching is happening. I doubt this is unavoidable. However, if a students gets a lemon one year, but the SYSTEM end-to-end is built to help them catch-up the next year; then the outcome is still acceptable. We don't have that system.

What we have is different - if a student falls behind, they are laned-down, and forgotten (or blamed). Meanwhile some proclaim we have an "Outstanding" district. Well for some kids, yes - a great district. For others, not so much.

This cannot even be debated - the statistics show that students are getting left behind. What should be debated is how to fix it, not whether or not we are "Outstanding".


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Posted by Paly supporter
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Some students are going to fail. It is a fact of life. Making it harder for kids to graduate is not the solution.

Why are we talking about making it harder to graduate, instead of: having a 6 period day instead of 7, limiting how many AP classes students can take, having a "homeroom" like Advisory, but having it EVERY WEEK for every grade level, increasing our counseling staff, increasing our Advisory program, lowering class sizes, ending social promotion, and creating a summer school that is designed to meet the needs of lower performing students????

As a staff member at Paly, I see how hard we try to help kids and I see kids refuse the help, refuse to attend Tutorial, refuse to meet with teachers when they are struggling. I see parents refuse to allow us to have their struggling students tested for learning disabilities. I see 32+ students in a classroom and wonder how on Earth teachers can connect with and reach every one of them. They can't. It's not their fault - there are too many kids and not enough time. They are overworked and under-paid, and haven't had a raise in several years. And to bash them in the press and blame a systemic problem on THEM is offensive and certainly not going to make matters any better. Don't bite the hand that feed you, people.


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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm

@Paly Parent: Some subjects like mathematics are cumulative disciplines. If you fall behind in year N because you didn't understand 25% of the material you will suffer greater deficits in year N+1. Unless of course you put in the effort to catch up in the summer. This catchup can't take place in the regular school year. The instructor cannot stop progress in year N+1 to allow a small group of students to catchup. Supplemental help, which fills in year N concepts, for the small group of students that they can take concurrently with year N+1 coursework will not be hugely effective because year N+1 concepts will not be understood. I have made this more confusing than I would have liked too. I had better stop.


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Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

@Huh! - you describe exactly the system. It is very clear.

And it does not work. If you let even a small number of kids fall behind every year, the cumulative losses compound. 2% of kids falling through the cracks each year amounts to 20% entering High School unprepared. I can see why the High School teachers cannot address this.

The system you describe does not serve these kids well. Affluent families struggle with this, and hire tutors. Even they may not succeed. Others cannot afford the time/money to fix these gaps.

I believe that the system must be changed to build-in CATCH-UP for these kids.

Of course, it has to be a different system. We cannot keep doing things the same way and expect different results. Find the kids early - before the cumulative losses are overwhelming (5th/6th grade). Put them in extra hours of math per week, with more resources, better teachers, more training, and without the distractions of TV, video, etc.

Offer this every year for any kid that has catch-up needs.

Basically, take responsibility for the system, and build in recovery processes that work for these kids.

Without a doubt, if we keep doing things the way they are, you are correct year N+1, N+2, N+i continues until the kid gives up on themselves. Then you have a VERY hard problem to solve.

You exactly hit the nail on the head.


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Posted by retired educator
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I wonder how many times Ms. Dauber can use the term "failing school(s)" in a single post. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I hope she (and others) are aware than outside auditors are not unknown in school districts since they are sent from the State of California to evaluate schools (curriculum, school climate, etc.) as well as Special Education and 504 Accommodation Plan programs and procedcures.


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Posted by mommy dearest
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Get rid of block scheduling and offer a seven period day of 51 minute periods. Kids need regular hours and not to sit in 90 min. stretches. I haven't witnessed one site where "tutorial" wasn't a huge opportunity to cut and yet another supervision responsibility for teachers.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Getting a diploma from one of our high schools is not a "failure" it is a SUCCESS, whether one goes directly into the workforce or elsewhere.

Michele, we see your point, but please do not fall into the habit so many in our community do, of silently putting down the significant achievement it is to graduate from one of our nationally ranked high schools.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm



retired teacher,

I've heard the word "failure" often, for several years, from the Board when referring to the achievement gap in Palo Alto.

The options for the students in the lowest lanes need an audit, review, something, because they don't work as well as the higher lanes do, for the high achieving students.

As an unaffiliated parent observer, I think Dauber is correct, and I'm not sure why this word failure is a source of insult. It's not a personal issue, it's simply an issue that needs to be challenged.

The auditors you mention sound like a good start, so they can compare to other schools and so forth.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:28 pm

@parent

I certainly mean no offense to the students who have graduated under the current standards. I believe that I am being clear that the failure is on the part of the schools to create basic lanes that are truly basic, rather than on the part of the students.

MLD


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Posted by A Shame
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Ms. Dauber, if you want factual, analytical discussion, please lead by example. If you want loaded terms and polemics, I'm sure you'll get some coming back at you.


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Posted by the truth
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Mar 14, 2012 at 7:16 pm

The truth is that Palo Alto parents pay 1 million dollars and up to live in Palo Alto for the schools!!! That is a fact. The majority of Palo Alto parents could care less about this whole issue. They value education and want a good education for their children. You try lowering standards for the few and it is not going to happen.

Reality is those math teachers at Paly are caught in the middle. Water down the teaching in math lanes and parents will go crazy, don't water it down so everyone can be successful and you have people like the Daubers.

Teachers today are no better or worst than 10, 20 years ago. Social structures have changed and the breakdown of the family structure has played a huge part.

Palo Alto Schools cater to excellence and high expectations! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Again, lots of these Palo Alto kids have tutors because they have passion for getting a good education. If a child cannot afford a tutor than ask the teacher for extra help, get to the library. Fact of life is some kids will just have to work harder to achieve and overcomke tougher obstacles.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Please keep in mind, Dr. Young pointed out in his memo that of the 17 African American students not meeting A-G in 2011, only 5 were in the VTP program and the other 12 are not. So, comments about 'going back to Ravenswood schools' are incorrect and not appropriate for so many reasons.


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Posted by Done
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm

[Portion removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Struggling or Brain Maturity or Talent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 14, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Children get behind education requirements when 1. They aren't prepared to start school, kindergarten 2. Don't have a mentor (parent, other adult, or sibling) to encourage or have fun learning to help with their self confidence at home, 3. Early teachers or school counselors don't observe difficulty learning, participating in class, need quieter, less distractive learning environment, more physical activity during school, fewer students in classroom, need more teacher or aide attention for certain subjects, and/or have trouble socializing, etc. Most difficulties show up in the K-8 years and need to be addressed. There are many elements that help a student mature and find their internal desire to learn and succeed at something. Not all children are alike, the one size fits all mentality has never worked. Smaller classes, more one on one instruction with adults and mature peer students is essential for brain development and self confidence. Hurrah for the Board of Ed and Mr Skelly for opening the dialogue with everyone. Now it's time for fundraising to hire the additional teachers that are needed!!!!


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Posted by the truth
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Bottom line: Majority of Palo Alto Parents could care less about this issue. They live in Palo Alto for the excellent education offered their children.

If a student has a so called lemon as a teacher then "work hard", get a passing grade and move on. Good experience for future when they have to maybe work for a lemon.

Whether they live in EPA, Palo Alto, the moon, these kids who are struggling are in almost all the cases not putting forth the effort. Attending extra study halls, asking for help, etc... just walk around Paly one day after school or during lunch and observe.

As is common nowadays lets look outward for the problem, teachers, classes to hard, etc... and not inward, what is the STUDENT'S ROLE IN COMING UP SHORT. That would be way to honest, honesty and the truth shall set you free!


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Posted by the truth
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm

As far as Palo Alto Schools: it is a privelage to attend Paly and Gunn with the high expectations! Some families pay 15000 to 30000 a year for type of educations these schools offer. Palo Alto Schools are not failing, are you kidding me. Students who are struggling need to ask themselves why they are struggling! Maybe work harder, and if working hard already than work harder.


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Most parents in this town are very happy with the schools, grateful that we have such wonderful teachers, including Paly math teachers, and satisfied with our children's education.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Daubers are correct
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:02 pm

As an older observer - parent of young adults - I believe the Daubers are intelligent, caring, and correct.
Shame on the vicious, uncaring people who are making nasty posts here.
Teachers make an enormous difference in student learning and performance,and there is a full range here from extraordinary to regular - to shouldn't-have-been-rushed-to-be-given-tenure-but was. I remember all these types of teachers here quite vividly.
That said, I had minimal contact with teachers - I was not the type of parent to have pull.
We ALL know there are a variety of teachers out there - especially Math teachers - who have a massive effect -- especially in middle school. I could get really specific about awhile back at Jordan - when there was an unbelievable difference in the Math teachers, and students were presented with totally different learning environments. This was crystal clear and known by many.Parents of affected students were highly concerned and they were justified in that.
Note: current situation at Jordan not known by me so I offer no opinion.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Designation of a district or school as "failing" comes from the US Department of Education, and ultimately from the No Child Left Behind law, which mandates that schools and districts report disaggregated data by numerically significant subgroups and show that each group is making adequate yearly progress toward goals. Palo Alto as a district failed to meet that progress for 2010-11. To quote PAUSD Superintendent Kevin Skelly, "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." See Web Link.

API growth report for Paly for 2010:
Web Link

API growth report for Paly for 2011:
Web Link

Paly specifically failed to make targeted API growth for Hispanic students in 2011 and 2010 (there were not enough black students or poor students to be counted in those years). Gunn failed to meet API growth targets for Engish learners or HIispanics in 2011. Neither school met targets for disabled students in either year.

As the quote from Kevin Skelly (from September 2011) indicates, the fact that our schools meet the federal definition of "failing" is well known and not in dispute. They meet this definition because underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged students are achieving at less than acceptable benchmark levels, and are not making adequate progress towards these goals.

I can certainly appreciate why the use of the term "failing" is upsetting and disappointing, but it simply reflects the designation set out in our federal and state accountability systems.


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Posted by Struggling or Brain Maturity or Talent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 14, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Children get behind education requirements when 1. They aren't prepared to start school, kindergarten 2. Don't have a mentor (parent, other adult, or sibling) to encourage or have fun learning to help with their self confidence at home, 3. Early teachers or school counselors don't observe difficulty learning, participating in class, need quieter, less distractive learning environment, more physical activity during school, fewer students in classroom, need more teacher or aide attention for certain subjects, and/or have trouble socializing, etc. Most difficulties show up in the K-8 years and need to be addressed. There are many elements that help a student mature and find their internal desire to learn and succeed at something. Not all children are alike, the one size fits all mentality has never worked. Smaller classes, more one on one instruction with adults and mature peer students is essential for brain development and self confidence. Hurrah for the Board of Ed and Mr Skelly for opening the dialogue with everyone. Now it's time for fundraising to hire the additional teachers that are needed!!!!


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Posted by A Shame
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2012 at 12:17 am

"One-third of the 90,000 U.S. public schools, from affluent suburbs like Scarsdale to poor cities like Reading, Pennsylvania, didn't make adequate yearly progress, which has the practical effect of labeling them as failures...."

"In California, 61 percent of schools failed to make AYP in 2010, up from 34 percent in 2006"

Great, glad we clarified the "failing school" situation in Palo Alto. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by RetiredTeacher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 15, 2012 at 7:13 am

I'm glad that struggling brought out a key point--many students who are later unsuccessful enter KINDERGARTEN with deficits. Not special ed deficits--not attention deficits--basic skills and background deficits. I've worked with kids who have never been read to at home. There are no books, magazines, or other reading material there. The constant conversational stimulation most of our kids get from birth is missing, because of economic demands, socio-economic differences, and other problems. People who argue that these kids are just lazy or have "fallen through the cracks" or are turned off by our "failing system" are missing the point. The process of supporting and preparing these students must start in kindergarten and preferably before.

Paly and Gunn teachers are right--it's major support that's needed, not a "high standards" movement!


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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:03 am

I like how you continue to try to re-define what "failing school" means. Why not just say you got it wrong and apologize? After all, Skelly has apologized, a pity we don't see the same politeness from WCDBPA.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

I'm not wrong, and I am not saying I am wrong about the definition of "fail". I am saying that I am not the only one who thinks that our schools are failing our minority kids. The federal government also considers our district to be failing in the specific way that I am suggesting, and the superintendent has acknowledged that fact publicly and the papers have reported it.

No Child Left Behind is doing precisely what it is supposed to do, which is surfacing the fact that even in high-performing, high achieving schools there are groups that are being "left behind" that are poor and minority. Those failures have traditionally been submerged in districts with very small minority populations and the aggregate data made it hard to discover the problems.

What I said was actually kinder to PAUSD than what the government said. What the government said was "your entire district is failing because you are not educating minority kids," and what I said is "well, the entire school isn't failing, it's more like a failing school within a school." I think describing it this way helps to counter the objection by people like Kevin Skelly and "shame" who want to defend against the moniker "failing" by pointing to all the white and Asian and affluent kids who are doing very well in our schools.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:28 am

"Designation of a district or school as "failing" comes from the US Department of Education, and ultimately from the No Child Left Behind law"

Just eliminate that law, since almost nobody is complying with it, anyway. Then Paly won't be a failure, anymore. Problem solved!


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:35 am

Also it is very hard to make clear arguments in 3 minute segments, though more time doesn't seem to aid clarity where the members of the school board are concerned. But if I had a less constricted timeframe I could obviously explain better that the law is designed to classify schools as failing with reference to whether they:

(1) educate all subgroups of students to reasonable, pre-defined benchmarks; and
(2) make adequate progress toward those benchmarks for groups who do not meet them currently.

In order to avoid being considered a failing district, as PAUSD is currently, the district is not required to get all the minority and poor subgroups up to the benchmark, or up to the level of the majority kids. It is required only to make progress toward those goals. That is what we didn't do, folks. And we didn't do it for years. What grade would you give that performance? An "A"?

Again, what I said, which is that what we have here is more akin to a failing-school-within-a-school is actually a nicer way to say it, because it allows the school board, which needs to have praise heaped upon it to feel good about the fact that the whole operation isn't a failure, which is what the government thinks.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:36 am

"No Child Left Behind" mandates that no child can get ahead, since that would mean that another child must be behind the one that got ahead. Crazy law! It makes no intellectual sense. Get rid of it!


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Posted by Really
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:42 am

Daubers throw out all these numbers and "Quotes" from government programs which right there is a joke, anytime government involved all about politics and votes.

WHY are these kids failing? WHY? Because they do not value education and the work that goes into getting a good education. It's happening with same groups in Redwood City, San Francisco, etc.... all about valuing education and working hard.

truth only comes out when these students and Daubers stop making excuses and look at their
OWN ROLE in why failing. Could it be bad choices? Different priorities?

This whole thing is a joke and people behind it don't want to see or find the truth and just have to much time on their hands!

I invite the Daubers to go to Paly during lunch or after school and see what is really going on, reality!!!


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 8:43 am

Jim,

Eliminating that law is a thought. We could also eliminate standards. Schools with multiple lanes, with different customers being served different pie. I imagine you have "winners" in mind.


A Shame,

You bring up your stats like a badge of honor to be among the one-third of public schools from affluent suburbs, deemed practical failures.

Being affluent somehow makes failure attractive?

"In California, 61 percent of schools failed to make AYP in 2010, up from 34 percent in 2006"?

Who knew, we have a public school version of Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Truth and A Shame,

Going after the Daubers is a way to attack the students, although truth be told, "Truth" has also been attacking them directly.

After hearing about the student who works 30 hours a week to help his family with food, I think you're missing the point which is that the teachers themselves, and the schools want to make things better.

Our teachers are among the best, and certainly most, if not all, are likely less worried about how offended they are, than about making progress.

There is no shame in anything here, it's the joys of participating in a democracy.


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Posted by truth/really
a resident of Monroe Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:01 am

I would like to apologize for my comments, never meant to attack kids and maybe a little frustrated with whole situation.

Daubers are trying to make a difference and help and that needs to be respected. This is a huge situation that is kinda bigger than me or anybody, a human, socio-economic issue at the very least.

I hope for the best! and to make a difference where I can and that is all anyone can hope for.

Just a tough situation but as always, always hope for the future!!!


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:02 am

@Michele - Using your own request on your web page "elevate the conversation" it would be very helpful it you would not make snarky comments such as the one posted above:
"Also it is very hard to make clear arguments in 3 minute segments, though more time doesn't seem to aid clarity where the members of the school board are concerned."
People might be more willing to pay attention to what your are saying.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:03 am

No, that's not what the law says. This is a common misconception. It is not measuring success or failure by the size of the achievement gap between lower and higher achievers. Kids that are high achieving can go right on achieving to the heavens.

What it does is set minimum acceptable thresholds for all kids, regardless of subgroup. These benchmarks are usually pretty modest. In California, the requirement is that a school must have an API score for each group (which measures proficiency on the CST tests that we keep talking about) of 800 OR that it increases its score each year toward that goal.

Web Link

For high schools, AYP is based on the CAHSEE exam, which most of your kids passed without even thinking about it in 10th grade. This is a pretty easy test. Yet at Gunn, for example, only about half of socioeconomically disadvantaged kids passed the English and math sections of this test (compared with around 95% of advantaged kids).

At Paly, only 35% of black kids passed the math portion of the CAHSEE. I should just be able to stop there, because to me that makes it obvious what the problem is. (Also only about half of black kids passed the english portion, also really unacceptable).

We aren't failing because these black kids aren't achieving at the same level as their white and asian peers (95%). We are failing because they aren't achieving at anything like acceptable and aren't even making much progress toward that goal. They have been consigned to go work at Lozanos and Walmart. That in a nutshell, is why the federal government considers PAUSD to be a failing district.

So, how is the best way to characterize this unsavory situation? My judgment is that saying that Paly is a failing school or PAUSD is a failing district is not quite right, since most kids are succeeding. Rather, we have a segregated school-within-a-school that comprises the basic lanes. These lanes are made up mostly of minority, disabled, struggling, and poor kids. If you treated this as a stand-alone school, it would be failing. Hell, the entire district is failing because of our performance for these kids, so obviously the hypothesized smaller group would be failing.

What grade would you good people of Palo Alto give a school in which only 35% of the kids pass the CAHSEE math test? An "A"? Would you knowingly send your child to a school which such a record? If white and Asian and rich kids were only passing the CAHSEE math test at the rate of 35% would that be acceptable to this community? Stop blaming the failure of the schools on the law and start looking at what we can do better. On that note, I think an independent audit (hardly a radical suggestion) would be helpful since we have already proved that we can't solve the problem by years of not solving it.

Finally, 41% of California high schools are NOT failing That means that nearly half of high schools in CA are doing better than we are at educating minority and poor kids. Why aren't we in that half of the schools rather than in the failing half? Could it be because of the very attitudes of indifference, paternalism, and low expectations that are represented here on this board and in the Paly math letter?


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

"No, that's not what the law says"

Well then at least change the title of the law to "No Child Allowed to Fail". At the same time, eliminate the "F" grade in all schools.

Once you get the law properly titled, we can begin to ask whether we, as a school district, want to spend the funds on such a nirvana.

BTW, what is wrong with working at Lozanos or WalMart? Very snarky comment, suggestive of an elitist attitude and also suggesting that you don't believe in hard work...humm...perhaps I am detecting a partial cause of the achievement gap.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:36 am

Here is a helpful article from the SV Foundation for Education website that provides some illuminating comparisons.

Web Link

First, for background, the article notes that the math portion of the CAHSEE goes only through 7th grade pre-algebra. That is the test that only 35% of black students at Paly are passing. Again, what grade do you give that?

Second, for reference, the article notes that statewide, 68.4% of black students passed the CAHSEE math test in 10th grade. That is double the proportion of black students in Paly who passed. So before you reflexively defend the school district against the idea that what it is currently doing is not working, consider these numbers.

I don't doubt for a minute that the teachers care about the students and are doing their best. I think the conclusion we are forced to draw from that fact is that despite all that caring and despite trying their hardest, the district is still failing. That means we have exhausted our resources locally and need expert assistance. There is no shame in admitting that we can't fix this without help. The shame would be in continuing to insist, against all the evidence, that we can do it without help.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:39 am



Jim,

So much huffing and puffing, our resident Rick Santorum.

It's not "snobbish" to promote a college track instead of Lozano's.

and in higher performing places, in the absence of a college track at least there are decent vocational options


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

When I see how posts are moderated here, I can only conclude that some users have special privileges granted to them by paloaltoonline editors. Some of the eliminated comments are only factual and far from inflammatory but apparently removed just because some influential people don't like them.


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 9:57 am

Back to teaching math, from having children in the school district as well as from my experience as a volunteer in various classrooms, my conclusion is that it's not at the high school level that there is a problem with teaching math. It's prior to high school.

The kids that arrive in high school are not ready for high school math very often. Math is not taught properly BEFORE high school, and it's particularly true in elementary school where the math program is not near rigorous enough. We want to make it easy prior to 7th grade... well, then we can't expect everybody to have it easy once real math hits in high school.

If we want more kids to do well in high school, what needs to be revisited is the way math is taught from 1st grade through 6th grade, and beef it up.

However, to think everybody will be a math wiz, even if we do things right throughout, is just Utopian. Sorry, not everybody will succeed. It may be unfair, but that's how life is. In the end, though, if we want things to improve, we need to make math "harder" in elementary school.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

@Typical

Do you think that a tenth grader who has spent his or her entire educational years in PAUSD should be able to pass a 7th grade pre-algebra test with a C or better? Because that is the criteria, not being a "math wiz (sic)".


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Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:17 am

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

Typical parent,

Your posts won't get deleted if you avoid words such as "witch hunt" or accuse other posters of harassment, which is why your earlier post was removed and your most recent one wasn't. Just stick to the issues rather than attacking other participants in the discussion and the discussion can be civil and hopefully productive.


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hello Bill. As far as I know, I did not use the words "witch hunt" and did not accuse anyone of harassment. I have questioned some of the other posters' motivations at times. I did not think this was prohibited.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:25 am



Typical parent,

If the problem is before High School, the Paly Math department could have taken that up with the Middle Schools and Elementary. You would think they talk to each other?

To me it sounds like High School wants to wash their hands with that focus. Not our fault!

The lanes are messed up, lanes set by the High School, so they are mostly responsible for driving this system, which partly succeeds and partly fails.





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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:26 am

Where is the CAHAEE data being referenced? ("At Paly, only 35% of black kids passed the math portion of the CAHSEE." etc.)

At this link to 2010/11 Paly-only CAHSEE scores, it shows for blacks 82% passing in math, 79% English; for Latinos, 82% and 78% respectively. Note these are based on relatively small populations of about 35 hispanic and 18 black test-takers.

Here's the link: Web Link

California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) Results
for Mathematics and English-Language Arts (ELA)
by Gender and Race/Ethnicity Designation, (Combined 2011) for (Grade 10)
Palo Alto High - 4335782


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:36 am

@ Michele

If the problem is that a 10th grader can't pass a 7th grade pre-algebra test with a C or better, I think it goes back to that same student never being ready for 7th grade pre-algebra. This actually points to the exact problem I mentioned in my prior post when I said that math is not taught properly in 1st to 6th grades. In my opinion, again, what needs to be fundamentally fixed is how math is taught BEFORE 7th grade, as the main solution, rather than wait to try and tackle the problem for the first time too late, in high school.


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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:00 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:01 am

I'd like to add something about math in elementary school. It may be anecdotal, but I think it may also be relevant to the discussion.

I helped as a volunteer during math class in various elementary school classrooms over the years. What I observed while volunteering was this:

Most kids got the activity, understood what was expected and were able to perform the tasks and demonstrate an understanding of the concepts. Then, there was sometimes on or two lone kids who obviously did not get it. No matter how hard we tried to explain it to them, in different ways, they still could not do the activity. You could see they were stuck. Sometimes the kids' attitude was not very positive either. I won't blame the kids, but something in their lives made it so. I'd always ask for the teacher's help then, and the teacher always tried to help. I certainly won't blame the teacher either. The teachers were outstanding, and had to deal with 20 + kids. Nothing worked. Then, well, the teacher moved on, (s)he had to. What that one lone, lost kid really needed in my opinion, was one on one help outside the regular classroom, some sort of individual remedial action. Did they get it? I can't say for sure, but i don't think so. And if they did, they kept not progressing with math anyway.

So, clearly there are some kids who need remedial help as early as in elementary school, but I am not sure if or how they get it. They do tend to be kids belonging to the same groups that later fail at a greater rate than other groups of students in high school as mentioned by WCDBPA. Sad to say. Not a prejudiced comment in any way. Just an observation.

Above and beyond that, I know that, as a parent, I always felt we had to supplement our own children's math education when they were in elementary school. I did not hire tutors but I used other means, such as sending them to Score (way back when) for the first ones, when the math program in PA was in complete fantasy land, and later using special workbooks, software, flash cards, the whole gamut.

There is a basic knowledge of math facts that is necessary, although long and sometimes boring to acquire, that requires some level of drilling and that they don't receive at school in general at the elementary level, at least not enough.

Again, just my opinion. My family is almost done with Palo Alto schools. We've been very happy with them. They are not perfect, but if we want them to get even better, I thought I'd put in my two cents. I really don't have anything at stake here.

Someone says that high school teachers drive the curriculum before high school. I am not so sure they have much of a say regarding what happens before 7th grade. That's all.


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Posted by Typical parent
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

Good points Data please? and Huh!

Thanks for the info.

We are lucky to have such good schools in Palo Alto.


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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:21 am

"I'm not wrong, and I am not saying I am wrong about the definition of "fail"."

Such confidence!
And you accuse the district of not being able to see when it has made mistakes?


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

The data is from the district's own website, on the most recent School Accountability Report Card (SARC):

Web Link

If you scroll to page 9 for the CAHSEE data, you will see that PAUSD is reported that 65% of black 10th graders were "not proficient" compared with 2% of Asians and 8% of whites, 45% of Hispanics, and 50% of poor kids.

I agree that there appears to be a discrepancy between the two data sources, however, the 35% is consistent with the district's CST proficiency scores so I do not find it implausible. Perhaps the district failed to report correctly to one of these two data sources. Perhaps one can "pass" while still being "not proficient." I have no idea. You would have to ask Kevin why the numbers don't match.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

> These statistics point to what has come to be called
> in the literature a "failing school."

Ah .. "the literature" .. certainly a source of truth, and knowledge. A source that is never wrong .. about anything ..

Most of "the literature" is generated by college/university employees. So, just how good is their success rate at educating/graduating students that enroll in their own schools? The following link points to the 6-year graduation rate, by state, for US Colleges/Universities:

Web Link

Notice that the highest success rate is only 69%, dropping to a discouragingly low 30% at the bottom of the list. So, would it be fair to use the same claim—that these Colleges/Unis have created a "failing school within a school"? And if education is supposed to be the primary business of the Colleges/Unis, why have they been so casual in their disinterest in actually teaching students, rather than failing them. (4-year graduation rates are truly atrocious.)

Maybe, given the lack of success of the educators in the higher education system to actually teach/educate/graduate their students in high numbers, why should we be looking to them for guidance here in the PAUSD?


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2012 at 11:43 am

Ms. Dauber thank you for your link and I agree there appears to be a discrepancy. It seems like this discussion should be put on hold while we figure out if there actually is an issue. Perhaps this will remind us to tread slowly and carefully in drawing conclusions (and casting aspersions) when looking at statistical data.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm

@data

Yes, though I got an email from Kevin Skelly this morning about this and when I responded with the cite I asked him to let me know if I was reading the table wrong or whether the district had misreported the data, he never responded, so I assume that he is either looking into it or that the SARC is correct. If I hear back I will post the response.

In terms of not casting aspersions, I do not believe it is wrong to rely on the district's own report card on its own website. And I do not believe that it is "casting aspersions" to characterize the district as failing when the US Department of Education is doing so. I don't even thing characterizing the district as failing is an "aspersion" since it is merely a fact.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

It appears "pass" is not same as "proficient". Many apologies, and I promise greater civility in the future. I still think this is a fantastic school district and we don't need to mess with what works great.

Web Link

For AYP, proficient or above in high schools is a scale score of 380 or higher for either the ELA or the mathematics part of the CAHSEE. (The advanced scale score cut point is 403 for the ELA part of the CAHSEE and 422 for the mathematics part of the CAHSEE.)


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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

It appears that the score for "pass" on CAHSEE is 350.

Web Link

So we can conclude that a large percentage of our black students score better than 350 but less than 380 on the math portion of the CAHSEE. It would seem they just need a slight push to get over that higher bar.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

"It appears "pass" is not same as "proficient". "

How does this circumstance occur? Anyone who passes a course should be proficient, if not, necessarily, expert. It would appear that we have a problem of definitions. If a student is not proficient, he/she should fail the course, not pass it. That is the efficient beauty of the "F" grade.

At what point shall we all agree on the definitions? Only then, can we attempt solutions.


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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I think some of the gap could be explained by the difference between "proficient" and "passing" that Huh mentions. I am not confident in this information for 2011, because the number of items needed to pass is changed by ETS from year to year, however as near as I can figure it out it appears you can "pass" the math section with around 54% correct (I leave it to you to decide whether 54% correct seems like "passing" to you) and in order to be proficient you need to have around 70% (or a "C").

As huh points out, proficiency is the standard used to calculate the AYP which determines whether or not a school or district is "failing" and I think it is obvious why this is. The standard for passing is actually a failing grade (55%) and an institutionalized system of low expectations and social promotion that NCLB was intended to overcome.

Ultimately this is a difference in terminology (and a very sad fact about our schools). The salient fact is that 65% of Paly's black students are "not proficient" in middle school math. I don't see how anyone can view that as anything other than abject failure. It should make us very willing to seek outside help to find a solution.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm



Data please?

You're hallucinating about a conspiracy. Other than the posts which use different handles for the same message (some got caught, and thanks to PA online for letting us know), several posters are largely in agreement with the Daubers and you can't seem to consider that as a possibility. I have no connection with the Daubers or PA online.

With or without data, I see the school-within-school failure. I see the kids in the different lanes, I understand their options, the lanes are a mess.



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Posted by Huh!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

With respect to the black students, my interpretation is that this is a small problem (scoring a measly 30 extra points) for a small number of students (less than 17). The law of small numbers is at play here and we cannot draw any significant conclusions.


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Posted by Daubers are correct
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 15, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Once again, a point from Ms.Dauber I agree with and will expand on (and I have never met Ms. Dauber): PAUSD school board meetings have been incredibly slow over the past 10 years and run too late to be appropriate for many district residents to attend and participate in or even stand to watch on tv. To be fair, I have not watched any endings for a couple of years so I don't know exactly how late they are currently running, but historically they sure have been doozies.
Sometimes the discussions seem circular to me. I think civic engagement is not encouraged with these factors.
Board member statements tend to be numerous, stated very slowly, and overly lengthy. Questions asked of staff are numerous and vary in terms of necessity.
It has the feeling of loving process and bureaucracy (some of which is imposed by the state and feds, I get that).
I believe Mr. Dana Tom undertook an effort several years ago when he was chair to instill more civility in the meetings and try to move them forward and end earlier, however when I randomly watch portions of the meetings on tv they seem to be stuck in that old pattern. One would not call them snappy.
May need an entire new set of people to make this happen.
The one bright spot is the (associate superintendent? - I forget his name - Dr. ?) who is kindly and occasionally shows a slide show of photos he has taken from some district campus or event that he wishes to quickly share - this gentleman conveys real information enjoyably and quickly.


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2012 at 3:36 pm

@no offense - if your above post is directed to me, I am afraid I do not understand what you are referring to ("hallucinating about a conspiracy" etc.). Perhaps you meant to address your post to another participant?


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 15, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Am I correct in recalling that there was a similar finding about certain math CST scores for minorities, which when the district looked the the specific performance of the students involved (knowing their identifies and having access to individual student scores), it was found that they did much better on tests that had consequences for the test-takers (SATs, others) than those that did not (CST). Now it appears that some test-takers may have done just well enough to pass the CAHSEE, though no better than required. If true, this seems like an interesting finding that may tell us something.

Again, I believe we are all well served by taking a slow and thoughtful path to interpreting test data, and not just grabbing data points from web sites. Leaping to conclusions and casting aspersions can block understanding and progress.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

> CAHSEE

This test is a joke, and should either be terminated, or re-designed to actually test student knowledge/capabilities. At the moment, it simply demonstrates that they showed up on test day, and that they could sign their names to the test forms.

Using the results of this test is not particularly meaningful to any discussions concerning quality of education.


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Posted by cahsee
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

the majority of 10th graders who do not pass the cahsee have an IEP (read: they're in special education)

furthermore, any special education student only needs to sit for the test, sign their name, do nothing, and then can be waived from the test.

if you really want the truthful data on who's not passing the cahsee, you need to divide the students into two camps: IEP or no IEP.

For the "no IEP" students, this is an issue that should be discussed. We are failing these students.

For the "IEP" students, this is a different issue that really is an elementary and middle school problem, probably due to a lack of RtI at our schools and "study hall" type classes that exist at these levels where kids focus solely on getting homework done instead of word and math fluency. (sorry for the run-on sentence)

Anyway, the WCDBPA group only addresses the "no IEP" students and for every kid in that group, I'm sure there's a story why they're not passing the cahsee.

Everyone can carry on with the discussion, but if I'm being honest here, it feels like everyone's running around in circles.


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Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm

@cahsee

For the most recent CAHSEE data (2010-11), almost exactly half of students not passing for both math and ELA were in special education (see Web Link).
Of those students who were not proficient, 43% were in special education for math, and 41% for English (that data is unfortunately not in Dataquest, but can be downloaded at Web Link).
I agree with you that there's a difference between IEP and non-IEP students, but that's mitigated by a couple of factors: the disproportionate assignment of minority students to special education in PAUSD, which suggests that at least some of the special education students are misclassified; and the fact that only a subset of special education students have significant cognitive impairments that would make it unrealistic for them to perform well on a middle-school level test in 10th grade.
I also agree that reading these comments, it seems like there's a lot of running around in circles. The basic facts aren't in dispute, yet we seem to be spending a lot of time disputing them.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 16, 2012 at 7:49 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

#1- STOP ANY AND ALL CLASSIFICATION OF STUDENTS BY RACE!
#2- A basic education, the ability to read and understand the daily newspaper, the ability to read and understand the average sales contract and the ability to check the accuracy of a bill will satisfy the requirement of 90% of entry level jobs.
Additional requirements for UC admission should be available at the student's request and responsibility.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

> #1- STOP ANY AND ALL CLASSIFICATION OF STUDENTS BY RACE!

Anyone who spends any time researching educational data/statistics quickly comes to the conclusion that people who work in this profession are OBSESSED with race and gender. An inordinate amount of information is available (online) from various departments of education, from the US DoEd, and the state level education departments. The data that focuses on race/gender goes on, and on, and on. Data that attempts to provide insight into teacher quality, say, is almost none existent.

The reality of the American education system is that Asians/Whites test at the top of the heap, and Blacks/Hispanics/Others test significantly lower. There does seem to be some movement upwards for both Blacks and Hispanics over the past decade, but the "performance gap" between these two racial groups and the two at the top is still significant.

Given how entrenched the "racialists" have become in the American education system, it's unlikely we will see "color-free" statistics about education performance any time soon.


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Posted by Engineer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

@Bob

I'm having trouble understanding the point of your post, but I guess I can try 2 responses:
1. I think the OBSESSION is actually with educational equity and equal opportunity, rather than with race and gender. Are you disagreeing with that?
2. For "color-free" statistics about educational performance, you can tune into most PAUSD school board meetings, where you are unlikely to see achievement numbers broken down by race or gender. Notice Skelly's prickliness when parents try to bring those numbers forward.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2012 at 10:14 am

> I'm having trouble understanding the point of your post

The point of the post was to pass along a little information that has come from wading through many years of education performance data, and data about schools in general. As stated in the original posting, "race and gender" predominate in the data published by most education departments. Data about other parameters that might help to explain educational performance is often non-existent. Even when there is some data, like the educational levels of parents—which is very important—this data is generally included in the mass of published data, and then ignored for the most part.

> I think the OBSESSION is actually with educational equity and equal
> opportunity, rather than with race and gender.

Perhaps. But just how much data, and what data exactly, would you say is needed to make this point? My point is that there is far too much data that dwells on "race and gender" that does not prove anything, or help to reduce the current "performance gaps" found in American schools.

If you have not spent months reviewing educational data in depth, then perhaps this observation will not resonate with you. It is very difficult, however, to discern a "passion" for "educational quality and opportunity" in this data, by the way.

> Are you disagreeing with that?

Yes, I suppose I am.

> For "color-free" statistics about educational performance, you can tune into
> most PAUSD school board meetings, where you are unlikely to see
> achievement numbers broken down by race or gender.
> Notice Skelly's prickliness when parents try to bring those numbers
> forward.

Well .. the PAUSD has not been known for providing a lot of "high quality" educational data over the years. If it were not for the current statewide tests (STAR), then it's likely there would not be any "score card" for this school district. Data on education is typically published by "education departments", which is based on all of the schools/institutions within a state, or the nation. As such, comparing the rather limited data released by the PAUSD to the national data does not advance this discussion very much.

As to current Superintendent's "prickliness" about "parent data", I can't comment at the moment. As mentioned in other posting in this thread, school board meetings are not very much fun. And, they are not archived on-line, so that people can use the "fast forward" feature of a "media player" to review just one section of the meeting that might be of interest.

And let's not forget the problem of "cherry picking" data. The on-line data, available from the CA DoED, runs to millions of records per year. It is very easy to generate a lot of "reports" from this data that easily could be in error—so the Superintendent does need to be cognizant of that fact. It would be better for all concerned if the State were to develop some metrics for school performance that are better than the current "API scorecard".

That said, there is nothing wrong with parents publishing this data/reports, opening their ideas/observations up to review by the public at large.


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

"School board meetings are not very much fun..."

I'm sure this is correct. If someone can point to other districts that have more enjoyable meetings, particularly ones with frequent heavy meeting participation by the public like PAUSD, that might be a helpful source of process improvement.

"And, they are not archived on-line..."

Happily, that is incorrect. Video recordings are archived online, with the meeting agenda, and each portion can be separately reviewed using Quicktime. The archive goes back to 2007. Here is the link: Web Link

"And let's not forget the problem of "cherry picking" data..."

True that. It is very tempting, and not very difficult, to cherry pick data that supports one's pre-existing point of view. We have all done it, and some knowingly and some without even being aware. But the data is usually incomplete and out of context (and sometimes just wrong), and so must be used with caution. Again, I think we serve our community better with slow and thoughtful interpretation of data, always with a skeptical eye, and to avoid jumping to conclusions (and casting aspersions) even when the answers seem "blindingly obvious."


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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Mr. Dauber wrote: "The basic facts aren't in dispute, yet we seem to be spending a lot of time disputing them."

Mr. Dauber, how can you say that? Ms. Dauber (your spouse?), presented this "fact" above: "At Paly, only 35% of black kids passed the math portion of the CAHSEE. I should just be able to stop there, because to me that makes it obvious what the problem is." But it turns out, that "fact" appears to be quite incorrect - according to the state data source (link above), 82% (27 out of 33)of black test-takers at Paly passed the math portion of CAHSEE in the most recent year. It turns out she may have mis-interpreted data on the school's web site; or one or the other data source is wrong; or something else. Contrary to your assertion, the one thing that appears clear to me is that the "facts" are NOT known; and even if they were, the context that make them meaningful (specific student circumstances, statistical variance) are absent.

Leaping to conclusions and issuing prescriptions is very tempting for all of us who want to improve the world; unfortunately, it is frequently quite harmful too.


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Posted by Engineer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

@Data please

My observation (which I think can be confirmed just by looking at this thread, and many others on this board), is that most people who post here are in no danger of "jumping to conclusions" based on the data presented. Instead, they seem to be working as hard as possible to avoid reaching any conclusions at all. The energy that people put into denying that the data says what it obviously says about inequality in Palo Alto and in PAUSD is amazing, and probably driven more by fear than it is commitment to the scientific method.
One example is turning pointing to evidence into "casting aspersions". If you don't agree with the data presented, why not say what is wrong with it? Sometimes I think it's less "data, please" than "data, no thank you" on this board.


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Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

@Data please

Michele already explained the difference between the rate that she cited (which was for CAHSEE proficiency) and the CAHSEE pass rate, which is set at a lower bar. I'm sure you realize that, since you wrote above: "Ms. Dauber thank you for your link and I agree there appears to be a discrepancy. It seems like this discussion should be put on hold while we figure out if there actually is an issue."

I do agree with you that more data is almost always better than less data. However, you seem to be suggesting that until we have all of the data, none of it is useful. Since we can never have all of the data, that's essentially a recipe for never having an informed discussion of the issue.

You seem to be both interested in this debate, and somewhat conversant with the data. Why not engage in a substantive discussion about the issue that we've raised (are our schools successfully educating underrepresented minority and poor students, and do courses in the basic lane constitute a curriculum that meets but doesn't exceed state standards)?

I also encourage you to use your real identity. "Data please" is a charming pseudonym, but I think, in the spirit of your suggestion, that using real names would elevate the discussion. I certainly don't think there's anything in your comments that you should be afraid of taking public responsibility for.


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Posted by Data please?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Mr. Dauber, since Ms. Dauber's first, very authoritative assertion about pass rates ("I should just be able to stop there, because to me that makes it obvious what the problem is") turned out, upon simple checking, to be quite incorrect, I do not give much credence to her second assertion. Since I don't have time to investigate each claim that gets made, I consider the source - Ms. Dauber seems prone to leaping to conclusions.

As I said, contrary to your earlier assertion, the only thing that seems clear in this case is that we don't have good facts or good context here. When you say "you seem to be suggesting that until we have all the data, none is useful," you employ the standard debating technique of setting up a straw man to knock him down. I do not suggest that. What I in fact said that we should be slow and thoughtful in looking at the data, with a skeptical eye, and seek out context to inform our judgments.

I can tell this approach frustrates you (and others) in that it slows down the process, requires working closely with school personnel, who control the access to data and context and may not agree with you, and makes it harder to get to the fun and rewarding part of implementing hoped for change. My experience in working with data and policy over the years is that these barriers are par for the course, but working through them is the only way I know of to make progress (as opposed to just generating activity, which is much easier).

As for your encouragement to "engage in the substantive discussion," I believe by checking assertions, pointing out some serious errors, and promoting good methods, that I do contribute to the debate about the issues. I encourage you to take my suggestions to heart, rather that simply dismiss them.







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Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm

@Data please

I can help with you the problem of following up Michele's statement about the CAHSEE proficiency rate -- she posted the link above to the SARC on the PAUSD website: Web Link (see p 9).

I have to confess that I do enjoy the process of wrestling with the data, talking about it with others who are also interested, and even arguing with school personnel about what it all means and what should happen next. That's why I'm disappointed that you're not fully participating in that, at least in this particular public forum -- but that's of course your choice.

In any case, give me a call if you'd like to meet and chat. My number is 650-906-4340 -- though perhaps you already know that?


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm


Data please?

"....My experience in working with data and policy over the years...."

I thought you were a teacher, but now am wondering maybe board member? or a higher up in the district. Who else works with data and policy?

My feeling with people who work with data and policy, and actually talk about it is not fuzzy. Just throwing the word "policy" around is obnoxious, but combined with data?

Don't take the board comments personally, have a chuckle, the potted plants comment Ms. Dauber made is pretty funny in a symmetrical kind of way. It's not a stretch to imagine that kind of thing would enter one's mind during the long meetings.

About the failing schools, without looking at the data, or nit picking the Dauber comments, are you not able to see the issue with the lowest lanes?

Are the lanes, equitable in terms of post graduation opportunities, as the higher lanes are? The lower lanes are an after-thought in the district compared to the more important lanes. Even if the teacher-student ratio would be 1:1, the lanes are still the stepsister. I now get the audit because the obsessive arguing is pointless.

You said something about "working through" things for progress, with who? with more data/policy people?





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Posted by Michele Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

The Paly School Accountability Report Card reports that 65% of black students were "not proficient" in math on the CAHSEE. It also reports numbers for "proficient" and "above proficient." It does not report any numbers for "passing/not passing." The state and federal government use "proficient" as the accountability measure not passing/not passing.

To be honest, it never really even occurred to me that you could "pass" this test even if you were "not proficient" and the comments on this board seem to indicate that most people were as surprised by that as I was by this fact.

Here's the recap: This is a test of middle-school math. It is taken in 10th grade. In order to pass, a student has to answer 54% of the items correctly. In order to be proficient a student has to answer 70% of the items correctly. I leave it to you, the reader, to decide for yourself whether it seems like 54% should be passing.

I also reiterate this fact: last year 65% of Paly's black 10th graders, and around half of its other disadvantaged students were "not proficient" on middle school math. There is no interpretation of that fact that does not lead to the conclusion that there is a total failure for certain students over there.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm



Maybe I don't dislike you data types. But for those of us who are not data people, what the Daubers have been saying makes sense from just knowing the process in our schools, the culture. If data is what moves people, fine, but some of this is also common knowledge. It's a national problem, wealth and education gap, and not an easy one to solve,but Palo Alto will hopefully lead with some real progress soon.


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Posted by Resources
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 16, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Fundamentally, a lot of these questions come down to where our local community (Palo Alto) and our larger community want to spend our resources, and what people feel is equitable. Students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds certainly are starting from a huge disadvantage. However, quoting from above:

>At Paly, for example, student-teacher ratios in "regular lane" math >classes are 12:1, compared to 37:1 in advanced calculus, according >to math department head Radu Toma.

This tells me that our school districts are already spending an enormous amount of money on the "regular lane" students. And judging by the postings here and the agendas of the city council meetings, it seems to be taking up a similar amount of energy.

To the Daubers, can you clarify if you want additional resources moved to the "regular lane" group, or if you're just unhappy with how the current resources are being used?


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Posted by mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

From no offense:

"It's a national problem, wealth and education gap, and not an easy one to solve,but Palo Alto will hopefully lead with some real progress soon."

I agree wholeheartedly. We have a wonderful school district that should be one of the first in the country to solve this problem.


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Posted by mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Student teacher ratios of 12:1 are the same or better than private schools. So, I am really puzzled about why the kids are not doing better.

looking at the pie charts in the board packet for the meeting on Tuesday, March 13, they show 1)over 50% of the students are white, 2) over 70% are fluent in English and 3) over 75% are NOT socioeconomically disadvantaged and 4) close to 70% do NOT have an IEP.

This looks like it is a problem for EVERYONE!


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Posted by mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm

My last post should read:

Looking at the pie charts in the board packet for the meeting on Tuesday, March 13, they show that of the students not meeting A-G 1)over 50% of the students are white, 2) over 70% are fluent in English and 3) over 75% are NOT socioeconomically disadvantaged and 4) close to 70% do NOT have an IEP.



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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm

@Resources

We've posted on several occasions CST scores for PAUSD compared to other districts in California for black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students for math and science courses. For a number of courses (notably Algebra I, Algebra II, Biology, and Physics) PAUSD is doing much worse than other districts in California, almost all of which have less resources than we do. Given that, I doubt that making substantial improvements will require devoting more resources -- instead, we should figure out what other districts are doing better than we are, and make whatever changes are needed. I suspect that some of those changes will be curricular (there's plenty of evidence that some regular lane courses are not well aligned to student skills, for example, in Algebra II at Paly), others will be in teaching methods, and still others in counseling or other services.
At Tuesday's session, in fact, I made the point that ensuring that regular lane courses are correctly aligned will reduce the need for additional supports -- why spend resources on tutoring to compensate for the fact that our courses are not being taught in a way that is accessible to students, for example? As Kathy Hawes, the Gunn math IS, suggests in the article above, a good question might be, "what can I do differently to improve my instruction?" That's a great spirit to bring to the task of improving learning for these students.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2012 at 7:53 am

> Here is the link: Web Link

Thanks for setting the record straight. Just want to add that the availability of the archived videos is relatively new, as there was no such archive just a couple years ago. Getting the school board meetings videoed was a feat in itself, when this happened many years ago. The school board was opposed at the time, and didn't want to spend any school money to support the activity. One school board member stated: "I don't want to spend one dime to inform the community about school district business" (or words to that effect). One gentleman went so far as to offer to pay the recording costs out of his own pocket. Over time, the recording was funded.

Having these recordings on Qucktime, and not on the school district's web-site presents another set of problems, but bringing those problems up in this discursion would be a distraction.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2012 at 8:28 am

> This is a test of middle-school math. It is taken in 10th grade.
> In order to pass, a student has to answer 54% of the items
> correctly. In order to be proficient a student has to answer
> 70% of the items correctly.

This is why the CHSEE is a joke. The test was passed by the Legislature as some sort of knee-jerk reaction to various criticisms of the schools some years back. However, it proves nothing--in terms of skills.

Every couple years there is a "tear-jerker" story in a newspaper somewhere in the state that points out that some group of students have managed to get grades that should allow them to graduate, but they have failed to "Pass" the CHSEE, so they can not obtain their diplomas with their class.

The CHSEE does provide a certain check-and-balance against "social promotion", but there does not seem to have been much follow-up on the failure rates, or level of unpreparedness of students for graduation, by the State, or the Legislature. We have seen the effects of the failure of the California schools, in general, in terms the large number of students who have been required to take remedial English and remedial Math at the CSU/CCs, before they could enroll in "freshman" Math and English. There has never been much work done backtracking the schools, the graduation rates, and the various test scores of those students requiring these remedial courses. Much work needs to be done here in California along these lines.

> I leave it to you, the reader, to decide for yourself
> whether it seems like 54% should be passing.

While an interesting question, there simply is not enough data on the table to come to an answer. As has been pointed out in numerous responses to this "WCDB" crowd, the test data alone does not provide enough insight into a school system, or a group of students in that school system, as to what is "right" or "wrong" with a given school system. There are too many variables in the education process that simply are not captured (or released) by the schools during/around the testing process. For instance—there is an "attitude" in some cultural subgroups that "school isn't cool". That sort of attitude is lethal to attempting to analyze a school's teaching/educational "product" when students are not attempting to achieve at their highest potentials.

It would be reasonable for the PAUSD is look into this CHSEE failure rate. Since there are not a large number of students to track, assembling their math scores, teacher evaluations, and cumulative grades in all subjects, would not be difficult. Unfortunately, it's all too possible that the collected data would not be available for public review, or would have to be heavily redacted. At any rate, it seems like this sort of review is long overdue. We, as an involved community, would probably not be able to review the actual data ourselves, unfortunately.

BTW—the CHSEE can be taken multiple times. Few schools seem to report that they have a significant dropout rate, or a "failed-to-pass-CHSEE" percentage of students. If there are any such numbers, they are small, tending to show up in media accounts, rather than official data released by individual schools, or the state.


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Posted by Data Hound
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 17, 2012 at 8:53 am

There's a lot of very interesting information about student performance and graduates attitudes about their time in our high schools in the board report on secondary student achievement. It includes the fact that graduates say taking hard classes is really important. All students in PAUSD pass the CAHSEE either on their first try or before they graduate. The report also shows how the environment of our school district features so many talented students. Web Link.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

Data Hound,

There doesn't seem to be any question that a majority of students exceed requirements.

article:
"The proposal would not affect the vast majority of Palo Alto students, who already meet or exceed the UC/CSU prerequisite coursework, the so-called "A-G requirements."

My understanding about this particular thread is that it was not not about those exceeding.






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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2012 at 9:37 am



Bob,

Are you saying that the failing California schools you mention are the students' fault?

Or that too many variables make it impossible to see what causes failure anyway.




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Posted by here we go again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Again, Ken, you quote out of context. Kathy continues with:

"When students in my class have difficulty I don't make the quiz harder with the expectation they'll work harder and do better. "

Which is the direct opposite to the WCDBPA group's approach for helping student.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 17, 2012 at 4:56 pm

@ no offense - re: equal economic opportunity between lanes?

Do you honestly expect that to happen? The Stanford's of the world are not looking to admit the lowest lane student - nor should they be told to do so. Same goes for the top UCs, the Ivies or even the military academies.

We're going to have high achievers who are smarter and will get opportunities that other students will not. That's life and it is fair. This is not an everybody gets a trophy world.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2012 at 7:13 pm



Crescent Park Dad,

Equal economic opportunity between lanes? I'm not a billionaire, and you probably aren't either, and no, I do not bemoan equity in economic opportunity between myself and my neighbors, nor between the school lanes.

Economic equal opportunity is different from equal educational opportunity in a public school system. In private school, tuition payers call the shots, in public school it's currently the ideals of a democratic society, not the society of imperial elite intellectuals.

I see no conflict between assuring a basic quality of education for the lower lanes, leading to post-secondary success, and doing the college arms race stuff with the higher lanes. Life is not Stanford or nothing, there's a lot in between.



This idea of a trophy for everyone, is this about all schools getting a trophy no matter what they do?






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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2012 at 8:45 am

> Are you saying that the failing California schools you
> mention are the students' fault?

To the extent that students do not fully participate in the educational offerings, and opportunities provided—yes, students are contributors to the California's "failing schools".

> Or that too many variables make it impossible to see
> what causes failure anyway.

While "failing" schools might be a little harder to understand than "successful" schools, there are a number of variables in successful schools that don't seem to show up in failing schools. Parent involvement, and "home life", seem to be key components in successful schools, and missing (or hard to find) in failing schools.

Trying to parameterize/characterize "home life" is something that public schools don't do, other than in a qualitative way (such as classifying a child as "economically disadvantaged). Sometimes, one finds studies by organizations, like RAND, or university types, that dig into the details of "home life". However, these studies are hard to find and public schools rarely even admit that these studies exist.—much less embrace them Most public schools focus on ideas like "quality teaching" and ignore all of the contributions of parents.

For example, I came across a study once that claimed that "white" mothers generally talked to their children more than "black" mothers. The study (as memory serves), went on to say that a "white" mother might use 500,000 words speaking to her child before the child enters school, and a "black" mother might speak only 250,000 words. (Please don't ask for a source, as I can't remember—it's been a while back when I cam across this paper.) Another RAND study focused on the education of the mother as a significant predictor of student performance. Certainly in the pre-school years, parent involvement is key to a child's interest in learning new things .. and becoming excited about school. After beginning school, parental reinforcement, and augmentation of the learning experiences in the school setting also enhance a child's interest for life-long learning, in and out of school.

Clearly, there is no way for a public school to capture all of this sort of "involvement" information in a dataset that is meaningful. Yet, all of these "variables" are real, and all have significant impacts on child development, and subsequent performance in school.

For decades now, "education" has claimed that problems could only be fixed with "more money, more money, more money". Well, we have thrown a lot of money at the American school system, and it just doesn't seem to solve any of the problems in ways that seem to matter. The reality is that no amount of public money can provide the positive learning experience of a good home life and parents involved in educating their children.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2012 at 10:04 am



Bob,

You seem to be defining school failure and success by only one standard, parenting.

By your standard, and it has been widely discussed, the success of Palo Alto schools is largely thanks to the"involvement" and the "home life and parents involved in educating their children."

Contrasting your words-per-mother analysis, to the Tiger mom phenomena, there are extremes on either side of parenting. I think that schools are influenced by one extreme or the other, and teaching and expectations get distorted. I would add that it's unclear which produces better people for society or who is happier, rich or poor - children of multi-word moms or fewer-word moms. We certainly have equal or bigger white collar crime than any other color crime.

Is Palo Alto defining success by parenting alone?


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Posted by Trish Davis
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2012 at 10:46 am

There is no dispute that there is an achievement gap in PAUSD (as there is throughout most of the country) and that one of the stated goals of PAUSD is to narrow that gap, not by holding back high achieving kids, but by raising the scores and outcomes of lower achieving kids.

The question is, how do we accomplish this goal? It is not productive to cast aspersions on members of the community who point this out and try to provide data to those who request more information.

It is also undisputed that many kids have things going on in their personal lives at any given time (divorce, homelessness, hunger, depression, poor self-esteem, etc.) that may interfere with their success in school. However, as Phil Winston stated at a recent board meeting, the focus needs to be on controlling what the district can control and improving outcomes for all students, not on blaming lower achieving kids and their parents for their lack of success.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by JP
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

Stop blaming the schools. There is only so much a school can do when the parents at home are not supporting their children's academics or school environment. At the elementary level these children are getting so much extra help in the classroom and then you see that many of them don't even turn in their homework and the parents don't show up for any classroom events. The kids themselves can see that their parents are not involved and I'm sure this has a negative impact on their success.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 11:35 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by JP
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

It starts at the root - the family/home environment. The value of an education is instilled in our young through parenting. As our children go through the educational system they need building blocks built from both parent and school support. If one is lacking they have a chance of falling through the cracks. In my opinion it is the parent side of these underachieving kids that is lacking and it started way back in elementary school. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 18, 2012 at 12:29 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] I think JP's last comment summarizes it quite well. It's as simple as people/families taking personal ownership for their priorities and actions. This is the foundation of the American system, and we all know that relaxing standards to help certain groups just ends up backfiring by creating a permanent underclass and/or a culture of entitlement.


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Posted by Haha
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

So Carlos asks the editors to remove quotes fairly, and his request is promptly removed! This is getting comical!!!

Editors, you really owe an explanation of your policy.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

And my latest post - with direct quotes no less! - also removed. Sad day for Palo Alto online. Editors, you have gone overboard I'm afraid.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm



JP,

It's not a sin to fall behind. In academics, there is no dishonor in racing with an engineer parent in Math when you are not an engineer. Schools adjust for that, and that's why there are faster lanes, and slower lanes. It may shock you to learn that there are non-Tinsley students who fall behind too.

Educational opportunity is ideally measured k-12, and does not end when someone falls behind. Oops sorry you are behind, game over. I guess before we can argue further, we'd need to define opportunity.






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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 18, 2012 at 1:40 pm

WOW, I never expected this level of censorship from a community newspaper.

I had respectfully requested earlier that the editors apply fair and consistent standards before deciding which comments to remove, and my request itself gets removed!!!

This reminds me of the story of a well known review website which removed a review of the website itself. And this level of censorship just confirms my earlier suspicions about connections between certain posters and the editors.


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Posted by JP
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I agree with Carlos's statement - "It's as simple as people/families taking personal ownership for their priorities and actions. This is the foundation of the American system, and we all know that relaxing standards to help certain groups just ends up backfiring by creating a permanent underclass and/or a culture of entitlement."

To "no offense" - I define the word opportunity in my post as opportunity presented in the classroom. Example, all Kindergarteners receiving the same learning material with equal help and support.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2012 at 2:36 pm



JP,

I disagree with you in using the same materials, or providing equal teacher support because different students demand different teaching approaches, with possibly different materials and different levels of teaching support.

For example, high achieving students may need more challenging materials and different types of support from teachers.








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Posted by Bill Johnson
publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on Mar 18, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

Haha, huh? and Carlos,

Our policies are pretty straight-forward. If you attack another poster, your post will be edited or removed. From years of experience, we know that when one poster attacks another, it quickly results in the discussion degenerating and driving out thoughtful participants.

If you stick to the issue(s) being discussed, you will be fine. We try to apply this to those who post on all sides of an issue. Additional factors that are considered by those who moderate the forum include whether the poster is simply making the same point they have previously made all over again, adding no new information, whether the post is detracting from a thoughtful discussion and whether the poster is anonymous, registered or using their own name. In addition, criticisms of public officials will always be given more leeway than those of others.

We readily admit that we have to be subjective when making these editing decisions and that sometimes one moderator will apply the above factors different than another. In the end, this is our forum and we'll edit it the way we think will result in the most civil dialogue. There are plenty of other forums available to those who don't wish to be subject to editing and prefer absolute freedom in posting whatever they want. Censorship is when the government stands in the way of free expression. It is not when a private organization establishes and enforces terms of use, whether or not you think we do a good job of it.


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Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park School
on Mar 18, 2012 at 4:26 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

The point of public education is not to deliver to every child the same services, no matter what their needs (whether those needs stem from social disadvantage, advantage, disability, or ability). It's to take each child as he or she is, and to do the best that we can given the resources we have to educate them. For those who believe that every boat should rest on its own bottom, or some other metaphor involving bootstraps or whatever, it's probably useful to remember that no child, not to mention adults, arrives without a full complement of background circumstances. We shouldn't treat those of some of our children (particularly the affluent ones) as natural and invisible, while decrying those of others.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Bill -

Thank you for your policy statement.

So attacking people who are NOT posters (specific teachers, school board members, the superintendent) is ok. But pointing out that other posters are making those attacks is is NOT ok? Teachers are of course not public figures, though the other two are. I would argue that the Daubers, in their role as leadership of a community pressure group, have made themselves public figures, not simply individuals.

And making a general statement like this "It is not productive to cast aspersions on members of the community who point this out and try to provide data to those who request more information" is ok. But saying that specific posters who "cast aspersions" are not productive is NOT ok?

You are completely right of course - deletion here is not censorship, it is an editorial choice that you alone are entitled to make. But when certain posters have a close relationship with your publication - having signed editorials published, directing comments to YOU by first name - it behooves you to manage your forum in a way that it does not appear biased.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm

@Ken Dauber, I believe you misdirected your comments to me. I have not accused anyone of anything, excepting my comment directed at you, which were removed by the editor.

Bill, I suggest your review and delete the first paragraph of Dauber's fairly venomous posting above, which is simply one poster attacking others (and unrelated to the topic under discussion), which as you pointed out detracts from the discussion.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm




Huh?

You generalize, and mislead. It's 1 teacher who has been discussed specifically on this subject because of a very public issue regarding graduation requirements. This teacher chose to personally attack students in a letter about this topic. Public school, public issue. This teacher's views have every reason to be challenged publicly, it would be extremely convenient to censor anyone against these personal attacks on students, on the idea that these are private affairs or off limits.

Why don't you stick to the issues?





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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm



Huh?

I don't see a problem with the first paragraph in Dauber's post. It may sound "venomous" only because the paragraph is largely repeating quotes from JP, Huh, Haha, and Carlos.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm

The editor can decide if the teachers (it was several, not just one) who signed a letter to the board of education are public figures or not, for the purposes of this forum. The statements I have pointed out made about those teachers were, in my opinion, mis-characterized their letter to the point of slander, and I am quite surprised were allowed to stay online. But the editor makes that choice.

My over-riding point is about whether making these types of accusations ("casting aspersions" as other posters have put it) is productive for our community. I feel they are not. Others may not agree, but I think it is important to point out what is happening, especially with the attacks are made by public figures trying to influence policy.


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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

@no offense, the problem with Dauber's post is not the quotes (though, interestingly, when I quoted Dauber's posts, they were removed). The problem is that he "casts aspersions" about the motives and "responsibility" of other posters. As Bill Johnson pointed out, "if you attack another poster, your post will be edited or removed."

Seems like a clear-cut case, we'll see what happens.


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Posted by adblock
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm

@ no offense: One of your early postings discusses "economic equity for lower lanes". Perhaps that was a typo. No worries.

As for making comments about others, in another thread I questioned the validity of M. Dauber's assertion that the entire Paly Math Department was biased against a certain set of students (I don't want to get censored). I quoted her statement and suggested that her assertion was irresponsible and few other items that were censored.

Then a thread war started.

The point - let's not call people names, suggest that they have some sort of bias against some sort of class of student or parent, etc.

I think one of the problems here is that some people are expecting tailored education methods for a subset of students. And the reaction by many is that they want the PAUSD schools to still be considered top notch and continue the reputation as nationally top-ranked. There is no reconciliation so far and neither side trusts each other.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2012 at 5:13 am


Crescent Park Dad,

You are incorrect, not even as a typo have I posted "economic equity for lower lanes" which is a quote you came up with. I suggest you confirm this by doing a search on the page yourself.

As a matter of fact, the search will show you that I've never even brought up the word "economic." except to respond to your quote. It would be nice if you acknowledged this, instead of telling me it must have been my typo.

At least your post resulted in a conversation about educational equity, which is relevant to the original article.

Regarding your comment

"....people are expecting tailored education methods for a subset of students. And the reaction by many is that they want the PAUSD schools to still be considered top notch and continue the reputation as nationally top-ranked. There is no reconciliation so far and neither side trusts each other."


I'd say "tailoring" is what education, in theory, is supposed to be about. The discussion, to me, seems to be that tailoring is ok with many people, as long as it serves the top-tier students, but not worth it for the lower lanes, which according to you, will never be wanted by Stanford anyway. It's time Stanford get involved in this discussion, what do they think?

If this thread is any indication, instead of focusing on the big questions, people will detract from the real issues and make it about being offended, censored, slandered, or a contest about who cares more. Skelly himself is insulted, saying

"There's a tone here where this idea that, 'if you cared more, you'd be more successful with these students,' and I think that's insulting.

I can think of several things I would do to improve the lower lanes, does that mean I am insulting?

Sounds to me that everyone cares very much, and it's not about who is right or wrong, focus should be on progress.





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Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2012 at 11:09 am

> to be defining school failure and success by
> only one standard, parenting.

For the purpose of this thread, which is dealing with why a certain group of PAUSD students is ot "succeeding", parenting is clearly an issue. It generally is ignored, but the data to make the case is available from the State DoED web site.

> Is Palo Alto defining success by parenting alone?

In the late 1800s, the Census claimed that there was a fairly high level of literacy (over 85%)—when the public school system was still not fully in control of the education of the nation's children. By 1900, the high school graduation rate was about 6%. By 1950, it had jumped to 50% and by 1970, it was about 70%. Today, it is maybe 75%. Palo Alto posts graduation rates around 95%. So—it would seem that we should be couching Palo Alto's results in terms of "excellence", rather than "success".

The bar on American education has risen over the years. Unfortunately, it has not risen high enough for many people's expectation of a "return on our investment". We are spending too much money for what we are getting back in terms of a "product".

Publicly funded education is a public-private partnership. For public education to be a good investment, every family needs to understand that there is a home-based component to the model, and when the home-based component is missing—the children in that home suffer.

In terms of your question, sadly, too much of Palo Alto's "success" seems to be couched in terms of much money the District spends. The District tends to "test" well, which has been the other metric of "success". Other metrics, such as college graduation rates, long-term economic success, etc. are outside the District's information gathering scope, but should, at some point, be included in any such discussions about the value of education, and the "success" of the PAUSD educating students.


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Posted by no offense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm



Bob,

If you consider "home component" as having to be a Ninja, to keep up with qualifying for all the right Math and Science lanes, maybe one could talk about a "partnership."


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Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Web Link


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