Original post made
by Daunna, Fairmeadow,
on Feb 2, 2007
Having spent countless hours in the last five years working with Grace Mah in her pursuit of a Mandarin Immersion choice program, I have come to admire her enormously, not only because she's an advocate extraordinaire, but more importantly because of her personal qualities. I could list a string of complimentary attributes (collaborative, upbeat, honest, diligent, thorough, persistent, etc.), but there's one particular trait that I admire greatly: her respect for others as human beings, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with her. She reaches out to those who disagree in effort to understand their concerns, and she accepts differences without personalizing the disagreements. She has managed to turn the other cheek and see the opposition as opponents, not enemies. What impresses me tremendously is that I have never heard Grace badmouth anyone who attacked her character or stood in her way. There are no nasty nicknames or character assassinations in her private conversations.
There is no reason anyone should be reviled for championing an educational program of merit. There is no reason anyone should receive hate mail and phone calls for engaging in educational advocacy. All of us--choice supporters or choice opponents--would do well to take a page from Grace's book, and remind ourselves that each of us deserves respect for advocating for our kids, regardless of our viewpoints.
We all have dreams for our children's education. Let's not denigrate each other's dreams. When a new idea comes along, let's critique the proposal without crucifying the advocate.
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2007 at 12:27 pm
Immersion Parent - you still did not provide a link to the LL presentation, so I can't read it, just taking your word for it. But if they presented a slide set in March 2006 about 5th grade results, they must have been presenting 5th grade results from a prior year? Kids in 5th in 2005? or 2004? or 2003?
Lets work our way down each year, using the actual Cupertino MI 11th Day enrollment stats...
2003 kids in 5th grade started the program as second graders in 2000. There were 19 that started in that strand as second graders, and by 2003, 6 kids remained in total. So six driven kids scored better than the PAUSD average. How many were Mandarin proficient to start with? High likelihood that all were proficient Mandarin speakers at entrance, because the Cupertino program tests for kids to be proficient at grade level in both languages for entering after Kindergarten (see their website). So far, not very convincing.
2004 kids in 5th grade started the program as first graders in 2000. There were 19 that started in that strand, and 18 remained into 5th grade by 2004 (not bad - looks better.) But again, they started as first graders, so probably a higher likelihood that they started as Mandarin proficient. Still 18 kids tested better than PAUSD average. Looks like an imporvment trend, right? Wrong...
2005 kids in 5th grade started the program as Kindergarteners in 2000. This strand started with 28 kindergarteners in 2000. Let's assume 50/50 mandarin/English speakers as would be the MI conceptual starting point. So 14 Mandarin, 14 English. Then they loaded this strand up to 39 kids by the time this strand entered the 3rd grade, so they loaded the strand with 11 more TESTED Mandarin proficient speakers. They're up to 25 Mandarin proficient, with 11 of those tested for proficiency at entrance. So the program is at this point is 65% loaded with ringers. They end at 34 (By the way, they lose 5 between 3rd and entering 5th. , that's 12% attrition.)
So you are now teaching a class of primarily Mandarin speakers in Mandarin.
And you then test a 5th grade class that's been loaded at 3rd grade, with kids tested as proficient by 3rd grade, and find that they are proficient.
And just in case they were talking about the 5th graders in 2006, that class has even worse results. They started in 2001 Kindergarten with 25, they loaded up to 40 by third grade (proficiency tested), and they ended with 31. They lost 9 ... 25% attrition from 2nd to 5th! And they loaded the strand up to 70% Mandarin/Proficient by 3rd grade and then tout their 5th grade test results. (13+15 = 28, 28/40 = 70%)
And you and LL are using these 5th grade testing results to claim that the MI program is successful not only for native Mandarin speakers, but for students of any language??? They load the program with proficient students in 3rd grade, then test them for proficiency, and they find them to be proficient??? That's a huge surprise? And this is meant to prove to us that the Cupertino MI 5th graders are getting better results than the PAUSD average?
(And keep in mind the predominance of the kids in this program are likely going to be the highest performers, most driven for differentiation by their parents so the Cream of the Crop is doing just about 'average' by PAUSD standards. I'm impressed.)
And did the program teach them to speak Mandarin? Or just teach Mandarin speakers in Mandarin?
And you are also claiming the program has low attrition? 68%, 5%, 12%, 25% leave the program between 2/3rd and 5th.
Did LL presentation disclose all this stuff? If not, this proves the point that the LL presentations are biased. If she did, did immersion parent just fail to mention all this fine print?
WHY? What's immersion parents motive for skewing her message?
It's intellectually dishonest to claim this program works as you say it does. I have no doubt the program teaches mandarin speakers in Mandarin effectively. It has not proven even remotely that it teaches anyone else effectively.
The thing is - we can't and won't convince immersion parent and the MI charter supporters, and we don't have to. They are fanatics that have moved out of the realm of what's real, into the realm of obsession. They will not be swayed by holes in their reasoning, or holes in their data. They want,what they want, when they want it, - it's in their gut, not in their head.
The question is - will immersion parent and her charter school convince the average PAUSD parent that she has something REAL to offer????
Not with these statistics (not if they present the real facts).
The real PAUSD parent (in this dimension), is faced with a very simple choice - the reality of the proven quality and competitive PAUSD results, or the empty unproven promises (backed by feather weight, biased, non-evidence) of the PACE MI Charter.
And they're going to look their kid in the eye on the first day of school, and make that very real choice.
I think immersion parent has her work cut out for her.
I'm still really fascinated by the fact that obviously competitive, driven persons such as those driving the PACE MI Charter would actually put their kid in this program which will give their kid at best a great fighting chance achieving average results.