The Palo Alto school district has hired a new, high-level data cruncher to analyze student performance and other testing information.
Diana Wilmot, previously coordinator of assessment and accountability for the Santa Clara County Office of Education, will come to Palo Alto to replace William Garrison, who is retiring after eight years with the district.
Wilmot will track and report on student testing data and work with teachers and principals on instructional approaches.
The research director reports on trends and comparisons in Star, SAT and AP test scores as well as percentages of students who complete a four-year-college-prep course load.
For example, a 2010 graduate who ranked in the 25th percentile in SAT scores in Palo Alto -- with a score of 1750 -- would rank in the 75th percentile if compared with students across California or across the nation, Garrison reported to the board last fall.
The average SAT score among Palo Alto students in 2010 was 635 in critical reading, 672 in math and 640 in writing, adding up to 1947.
Gunn and Palo Alto high schools ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, among California high schools on SAT scores in 2009, Garrison reported.
Wilmot previously has worked for many research institutions, including Educational Testing Services.
She holds a PhD in quantitative methods and evaluation and a master's in education from the University of California at Berkeley.
Earlier in her career she taught math and statistics at Los Altos High School.
"I'm excited to join such a distinguished education community and look forward to working with the incredible professionals at PAUSD to help make a positive difference for our students," Wilmot said.
Superintendent Kevin Skelly said, "I am thrilled that Dr. Wilmot will be on our district team.
"Our community places a high importance on accountability and measurable success for its students. Dr. Wilmot will be a wonderful support to our schools and staff in this regard," Skelly said.