News

Local STAR test results show mixed progress

Many Palo Alto students 'advanced,' but a persistent 5 percent score 'below basic'

Palo Alto students continued to score well while East Palo Alto students showed mixed improvement on California's Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) exams in English, mathematics, science and history.

The results, released Monday (Aug. 15), showed "steady" across-the-board improvement for California's 4.7 million schoolchildren, with 54 percent scoring "proficient or above" in English and 50 percent scoring proficient or above in math -- the highest percentage since the program's inception in 2003.

Palo Alto students far exceeded state averages, with majorities scoring "advanced" in many subject categories. But consistently, at least 5 percent of Palo Alto students were "below basic" or "far below basic" in many of those same subjects.

School-by-school results are available on the California Department of Education website.

"After a very strong upswing last year, we sort of stayed the same this year," Palo Alto Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

"There's not that much change in the results. I guess I'm a little disappointed because you always want to see improvement, but with the gains we made last year this isn't surprising.

"I think I said at a board meeting last year that we'd have a hard time matching these results. I haven't seen our average SAT scores yet. Overall, I'm pleased with the results."

Students in East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District showed mixed gains in some categories, including mathematics.

For example, 63 percent of fourth-graders scored "proficient" or "advanced" in math in 2011, compared to 40 percent in 2010. And only 16 percent of this year's fourth-graders were "below basic" or "far below basic" in math in 2011, compared to 31 percent in 2010.

Ravenswood Superintendent Maria De La Vega was not immediately available for comment.

Chris Kenrick

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

Ever since I started following these reports a few years back, I've noticed that Barron Park Elementary always has the lowest scores, by a far margin. Would anyone know why this is the case?


Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2011 at 11:16 am

Carlos, nice try at provoking the readers. The year my son was in fifth grade at BP, he and his classmates came in third in the district, right after Hoover and Duveneck, in the math portion of the STAR test. (These kids will be freshman in college in the next couple of weeks.)


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto teacher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2011 at 11:39 am

Remember people, these tests are indicative of a child's performance on that day and that time only. They do not show a student's overall ability, skills, or talents. Particularly true of non-English speakers who take the test whether they understand the language or not!


Like this comment
Posted by Don't-Believe-Everything-You-Hear
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

> these tests are indicative of a child's performance on that day
> and that time only

Keep telling yourself that ..

What a crock. Give a child the same test five days in a row without providing any feedback. Are you claiming that the child would end up answering the same questions five different way?

The STAR tests are reported as aggregate scores at the grade-level. It's hard to believe that a whole grade will fail the test one day, and Ace it then next. Testing methodology is far more sophisticated than that.

The API scores offer a hint of an answer to this question. The education of the parents is included in this score. If one takes the time to correlate the education of the parents vs the API scores of the students, there is a positive correlation. So, look into the parents' education as a clue to why BP tests lower than the rest of the district (if in fact it does).


Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Look at the scores across grades and over several years...the standout school with outstanding performance is Hoover and the school that sits at the bottom is Ohlone.
In both cases, students make a choice to attend the school, so it can't be chalked up to a more transient population.


Like this comment
Posted by BP Mom
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

For some reason, people that don't attend Barron Park school like to make unfair comments about the school. Yes, our API score is the lowest in PA and we all know it and we understand why.

My son has been at the school for 2 years. He has developed strong academic and socialskills. The person that said "Barron's teachers spent more time in teaching English than other subjects", this is just not true. I have spent many hours in the classrooms and feel very strongly that we have amazing teachers, who know how to teach.

Please be careful of your criticim it creates uncessary negativity.

To answer the question about why our scores are the lowest, it is simple we have a much higher percentage of students that are ESL.
Look at any other school, our numbers are more than double. This however doesn't hurt our kids. Everyone grows and learns, each at a different pace. My son loves school, his friends and his teachers.
As long as he is motivated to learn, I can't ask for more.


Like this comment
Posted by Data Guy
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I know this is not PC to say, but there's a strong correlation between a school's demographics and test scores.

If you look at the data for Palo Alto and other affluent cities in California:

The higher the % Asians, the higher the API test score (e.g. Hoover, Gunn, Whitney HS in Cerritos)
The higher the % (not-Asian or white), the lower the API test score (e.g. BP).

Yes, there are exceptions, but demographics seem to be the strongest predictor of API scores. The encouraging thing about Barron Park Elementary is that in previous years, you could see significant score improvements as the kids went up grade levels - this could be an indicator of high value-add from the teaching.


Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Mom,

That's simply not correct. Ohlone's scores veer from middle to bottom third, while every now and then Hoover swaps places with Nixon or Duveneck.

Barron Park tends to be consistently on the bottom and then Ohlone and Escondido have, in recent years, gone back and forth--gee, large schools with multiple programs.

(Though, just for the fun of it, it's worth seeing that there's a huge gap between the percentage of Ohlone fourth-graders who are advanced in language arts--78 percent--and the the second and third graders below them--less than half. And, yes, the oldest Mandarin Immersion kids just finished third grade.)

The difference among all the schools, though, is small enough that Hoover's strong performance can be seen as less about a superior overall education than the fact that the kids are tested frequently--i.e. the differences are small enough that test-taking skills come into play.


Like this comment
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm

The part about demographics are true. When you look at API for low-socioeconomic status in Palo Alto, they score about the same as the same group in Ravenswood -- East Palo Alto. Ravenswood has amazing teachers doing really good stuff, and most of the schools came up a lot this year. District API went from 688 to 710. I've spent a lot of time in both districts, so know them well.


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

"(Though, just for the fun of it, it's worth seeing that there's a huge gap between the percentage of Ohlone fourth-graders who are advanced in language arts--78 percent--and the the second and third graders below them--less than half. And, yes, the oldest Mandarin Immersion kids just finished third grade.)"

OP,

Which language? If the test was given in Mandarin, I would bet the ranch that the MI kids would be in the top 5%!

OK, seriously, how did the Asian kids do in math and science? Is it broken out by ethnicity? Are the Asians starting to insist on rigorous standards (similar to Hoover), yet?


Like this comment
Posted by Don't-Believe-Everything-You-Hear
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

> but there's a strong correlation between a school's demographics
> and test scores.

The strongest correlation between student performance and some "other variable" is that of the education of the parents, and particularly the education level of the mother.

Asian parents may add another difficult to measure component to the educational equation--strict oversight of their kids. Obviously, kids that do their homework, and study for their tests, are going to perform better than those that don't, as both individuals, and a group.




Like this comment
Posted by Chinese-American Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Hoover students are good at test-taking because they are tested every week. Somehow, other PAUSD elementaries think it is too hard-core to test too often. But it is a skill to be taught to children and the more they take tests, the less stress they will have when presented with a test. Tests are a big part of education and our children should be learning this skill.

Adopting Everyday Math was a mistake. There are no math drills in the Everyday curriculum. Hopefully, teachers are supplementing. Wonder why Asians do well at math? They learn math the old-school, traditional method, as we learned growing up in the 70s. Why do educators think memorizing facts and doing math drills are so traumatic for students? It's a necessity for children to be able to calculate in a split-second if they want to progress to higher level math successfully. Unless children are naturally gifted at math, the successful math students will be the ones with the parents who supplement their children and the losers will be those with parents who do not supplement.


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 16, 2011 at 6:21 pm

C-A Parent,

Good post. You nailed it.

I hope more Asian parents will speak up on this site.


Like this comment
Posted by Don't-Believe-Everything-You-Hear
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2011 at 7:12 pm

> Adopting Everyday Math was a mistake.

Yes .. lot's of parents opposed this shift, but not enough. Once again, we see the failures of elected school boards.

> Why do educators think memorizing facts and doing math drills
> are so traumatic for students?

Teachers more likely get bored teaching the same thing over, and over, and over. They come to think that the job is about "them". And, there is no feedback from students who have moved up in grades. If there are failures in methodology, it takes forever to get the problems identified, and fixed.

> the successful math students will be the ones with the parents
> who supplement their children

Yes. but it shouldn't be that way. Hopefully PA parents will make EDM an election issue next school board election. The Board can't re-elect itself next time, like they did last time.



Like this comment
Posted by Asian-American Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm

The good thing about Everyday Mathematics is that it provides context for math and helps my son think about how to apply the concepts. I'd rather have his teachers focus on helping him think rather than doing drills. My biggest beef with the math program is that the pace seems too slow and there's a ceiling for each grade.

For drills and traditional math learning, there's a fun way to supplement for free online: www.khanacademy.org. It turns math learning into a fun game that is self-paced. I don't need to push it because my son loves the game dynamics (in fact, I have to limit his time on the site). Anyone can learn everything from basic addition to college math.


Like this comment
Posted by Chinese-American Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2011 at 12:30 am

Asian-American Dad: It is clear that your child already has an aptitude for math, so you can sit pretty and enjoy the way Everyday Math makes your child "think". Elementary school should at least produce children who can calculate fast because they will need it when they reach middle school. Paly has five lanes of math and the top two lanes are considered honors lanes. Your child will learn to "think" in those classes, guaranteed.

There was plenty of quality opposition to Everyday Math but the program was adopted because of politics and was won by one vote. Extensive data presented to the School Board showed school districts with outraged parents and teachers all over the nation regarding Everyday Math. Just wait a few years to see if our math scores fall due to Everyday Math. If they don't, it's because parents are supplementing. Meanwhile, the Everyday Math salespeople are using Palo Alto as a selling point to sell to other school districts their million-dollar program which requires parents to attend seminars so they can learn how to teach basic math to their children, the Everyday Math way, because Everyday Math has their own untraditional methods of calculating, which don't apply to higher level mathematics. Asia is killing us in teaching math.


Like this comment
Posted by Gotta Laugh
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2011 at 8:07 am

The undercurrent of Asian vs Other here is laughable.

In the town I grew up, the undercurrent was Jewish vs Other...to the same end.

I think it is more important to look at how engaged the parents are rather than their ethnicity.

In my experience, the same parents who never show up to "Back to School Night" or who never volunteer in class, or who don't participate in PTA typically have kids that have the most social and academic trouble.

Parents who are active participants in the school environment are more likely to have kids who are more engaged in learning.

Kids are impressionable. If you make it a priority to be an active participant in their education, they will be an active participant.


Like this comment
Posted by Asian-American Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 17, 2011 at 8:50 am

I applaud Gotta Laugh's posting. I totally agree with everything s/he said.


Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:14 am

Uh, math is barely being taught at all at the elementary school level in Palo Alto. The high test scores are the result of tutors. People don't like to admit this as it reflects poorly on property values since the success is not the result of the schools. Tutors equal better test scores. There is no magic in being born in one or another ethnic group. Also, the only reason Ohlone kids don't do as well on these tests is that they are being taught a broad variety of skills and subjects, which are not reflected in standardized tests. These skills, however, make them resilient, able to work in groups, independent, and capable of thinking for themselves. All of these skills will continue to develop as they progress through the system and stand them in good stead in the long run. Other schools are teaching these skills as well, although not as much.


Like this comment
Posted by Chinese Asian mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2011 at 10:22 am

I always try to find a balance between Western way and Asian way in teaching my kid. I don't want to push my kid too hard in studying and homework. But I won't let her give up on academic things/music practices too easily. I try to encourage her to keep on trying. Things won't be too hard after you try a few times in general. Plus people find the enjoyment after several trials. I think it's important parents spend time with kid in the beginning. They need our support even we just sit to them & watch/listen.


Like this comment
Posted by Data Guy
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2011 at 11:44 am

If you look at the data (www.greatschools.net), you'll see that Ohlone API scores are in the ballpark with most of the other schools. We're talking about a 30 point differential on a 1000 point scale.

2010 data:
Ohlone: 916
Walter Hays: 935
Fairmeadow: 934
Escondido: 905
Addison: 945


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 17, 2011 at 12:16 pm

If the same local tests (math segments) are given to Asian students in Japan, China, Vietnam, India...they would blow them out of the water! These are watered down tests, designed to make us feel good about ourselves. Were they designed by parents who encourage their kids to go into glass blowing classes? Completely absurd!

Our competition is not ourselves, anymore, it is the world. Our kids deserve to know where they really stand. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.


Like this comment
Posted by Dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Don't most Palo Alto parents supplement in elementary school?

If you're a well-educated parent, how could you not be sharing your education/knowledge with your kids for fun?

Arithmetic games/problems, reading more advanced books with your kids, discussing science/history, doing art projects....basically sharing your love of learning.


Like this comment
Posted by RussianMom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I am so sick of Aaron putting down our kids achievements. Yes, Asian kids are hard working, but so are a lot of other ethnic groups in Palo Alto. If everything is so great with educational system in Asia, why are a lot of kids are coming here? Kumon for example will triple your scores, but what about logic? Try to give some math program with no trivial decision to an advance Kumon student and check the results. There are great number of talented, hard working kids in our area and yes parents are involved. Wonderful! Why not have fun with learning? Not replace learning with fun. Just be happy for our kids.


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

RussianMom,

If international level math tests are given to our kids, I have no problem with it. Let Russia and China and India and Vietnam and Germany develop the test, though...not the United States.

It is important that our kids understand where they really stand, whether they have fun with it or not.


Like this comment
Posted by Gotta Laugh
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2011 at 4:49 pm

We need to be very careful about assuming that Chinese, Russian or Indian schools are actually better at teaching math and science.

Remember, in those countries, only the most socioeconomically gifted kids progress in the education system.

While the US may not be doing the best job of pushing the best students to greater heights, our educational system is based on providing every child the opportunity for a public education through 12th grade. The same can not be said of China, India or Russia.


Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

@Gotta Laugh, your point is well taken, and that is exactly what is wrong with public education in the USA. We squander our resources trying to make everyone "equal", and dumb everything down in that pursuit.



Like this comment
Posted by Gotta Laugh
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2011 at 8:28 am

Outside Observe tracks a dangerous path.

US education is not trying to assure that everyone is "equal". What it attempts to do is provide all students with the opportunity to get a K-12 education.

It is a personal responsibility issue if you choose to waste your opportunity. Stupid as that sounds...you are free to do that here.

I would argue that that a poor child in Modesto has a greater opportunity to receive an education and move on to college than a poor child from the slums of Mumbai. (First hand knowledge here...argue all you want...this is a fact proven out by the author).

A Soviet style of education is the logical extension of Outside Observer's proposition. Take the kids that are the best counters in kindergarten and move them into progressively more challenging schools. Teach the other kids to dig ditches. Did not work out well for the Soviets....will not work well for anyone else either.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2011 at 8:46 am

Gotta Laugh

You are making some interesting points.

Take a poor child from Mumbai and put them in school and you will be educating not just the child but also to some extent the family. The child will feel special because of the ability to go to school, and work hard as a result and achieve something that will enable them to improve their lot in life.

A poor child from a poor neighborhood here (don't know much about Modesto) will struggle in school to achieve a high school diploma. Many of these children will not graduate and the cycle of family circumstance will not change.


Like this comment
Posted by if you've got the $$$
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm

It's become widely known that "winning" standardized test results that make you "better" than others...oare ften the result of careful paid tutoring. SAT scores and AP scores are doctored in this way, for certain.
For some people, "beating" others on standardized tests is a major priority; these are the same people disgruntled when perfect SATs do NOT necessarily score a spot at Harvard or Stanford - which they assumed would be the case and a bragging right for their family.
Certain parents here have complained their kid did not get into Stanford even though he or she had high scores (and a lot of them -- 6 yrs tutoring, EPGY, Johns Hopkins CTY, multiple SAT test sittings, pressure to perform on AP tests, etc.)
These things cost a lot of $$$
Not all parents have it. $$$ has been closely linked to raising test scores. I assume this applies to Hoover, also.
(I have read interesting things about SAT scores of Stanford students; you may be surprised that they aren't consistently that high, though successful applicants clearly have a lot going for them in quite a multitude of ways - these attributes are recognized by the admissions folks.)


Like this comment
Posted by certainly
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Everything costs a lot around here,piano lessons,private sports coach,dance tuition,even debate club's frequent national competition trips,you name it.


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

Asian kids do much better at tests. That is a fact.

Another fact is that no ethnicity is any smarter than any other ethnicity.

Therefore Asians should NOT score better than Caucasians or African Americans or Latinos if it were IQ alone.

Therefore it is because these kids are drilled at home and coached and huge emphasis is put on TEST SCORES that they are good at TESTS.

More and more evidence is pointing to the fact that these kids may be better at tests but statistically not any better at life, either emotionally or in entrepreneurship, or even in academia where creativity is necessary. In fact drilling your kids throughout their childhood may in fact make them dumber not cleverer.

So we must now reassess how kids coming out of the schools with higher grades are not only not that much brighter, but may in fact be less intelligent in real terms, and so are squeezing out their brighter and more creative kids at top universities. We must, I believe de-emphasize testing to give a fairer assessment of ability and potential.

This is already unofficial practice at Stanford admissions. Dont quote me but its true. In recent years Asian students have been examined more closely for abilities beyond test scores as too many recent Asian graduates have not shown the natural creative intelligence but a rote test taking ability. This is the truth. Unmentionable except but true.


Like this comment
Posted by Chinese Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 23, 2011 at 11:29 am

Well said, Susan. I completely agree with your assessment. Some of the Asian immigrants understand this and allow their children additional opportunities, yet others do not.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's Be Honest
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Susan - What you just said about Asian kids and how the colleges should "de-emphasize testing" reminds me of what I've read about how the WASPs and Ivys reacted to high academic achievements of Jewish kids a hundred years ago. What Stanford (and I suspect many other top colleges as well) is doing to Asian applicants today is not that different from what the top colleges did to Jewish students back then. The only difference may be that the discrimination is less overt now.

It's probably true that Asians here are "statistically not any better at life" than whites. But let's not forget that Asians as a minority, especially those of recent immigrant background, still face prejudice and glass ceilings in many work places which their white counterparts don't experience. Asians certainly don't lack entrepreneurship in their home countries.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Good point, Honest. Striving, education-oriented "outsiders" will always work their butts off to get educational opportunities. I would hope that admissions departments don't just scrutinize Asian over-achievers but frankly any "super applicant" who may have been packaged up for college admissions success - they come in all colors. Targeting Asian kids in particular is about as twisted and wrong as it gets.


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm

This crazy notion that Asian students, who score high on tests, are less creative than their non-Asian counterparts, is raw racism. Asians are quite creative. Their high test scores should be celebrated and rewarded, not punished.

I say this as a white American male (who fought hard to make it out of poverty, and worked and studied my ass off).

I admire the Asian parents and kids, who are driving the standards upward. They are our future. Those who want to lower our standards are part of the past.

There is no contradiction between high standards and creativity. All it takes is hard work and an inquisitive mind.


Like this comment
Posted by Wowow
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 23, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Susan, really? Drilling your kids throughout their childhood may in fact make them dumber not cleverer? Where did you get this from?

And there is evidence that they are not statistically better at life? Can you kindly cite the evidence please to enlighten us?

Furthermore, you state that kids coming out of the schools with higher grades are not only not that much brighter, but may in fact be less intelligent in real terms...

Wow. Who woulda thought that... kids who have higher scores in Math and English are actually dumber and will be less successful in life! LOL.


Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 23, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Hello boys and girls,

Just getting back in here.

Aaron, we're in the U.S. Fluency in English is what's tested here and what's required. What we're seeing is the classic score drop in 2/3. We're also seeing kids move out of MI. Expect to hear the usual deception about kids "catching up" in grades 4/5--i.e. the kids having problems in the program will have mostly dropped out. Some fairly die-hard MI parents have had to face an unpleasant reality--MI is hard work for *everyone* in a family if there are no native Mandarin speakers. While there may be the ruse of MI being part of no-homework Ohlone, the truth is that kids are told to get tutors and non-Mandarin speaking parents are encouraged to take Mandarin lessons.

And, yep, this gets in the way of picking up literacy skills in English.

Data guy, exactly. The range is pretty narrow--small enough that the differences can pretty much be explained by practice in test-taking and some other variables.

Aaron, for someone who's so impressed with test scores, you seem to have done little analysis of what they mean. They aren't a test of creativity--Singapore's had the highest math scores, but performs woefully when it comes to international math prizes.

American kids from affluent suburbs score similarily to kids from Singapore on math. Our great failure in the U.S. is to educate poorer kids.

We also stretch out our curriculum over 13 years and spend somewhat fewer days in school each year.

Given the large percentage of top universities that are in the U.S., I'm not convinced that our leisurely way of doing things is the end of the world. I think one of the huge strengths of the U.S. educational system is its relative flexibility. You can be a late bloomer here.

By the way, the U.S. has never done well internationally:

ww.good.is/post/debunking-education-myths-america-s-never-been-number-one-in-math/

Yep, we were delivering crappy math scores while simultaneously producing engineers and scientists who've been transforming our world for the last several decades.

Most standardized tests are too short and too primitive to say a whole lot about a child's potential. You can see general trends--i.e. a kid who scores consistently as advanced picks up concepts. A kid who consistently scores at the bottom needs help. But among five kids scoring in the advanced range, the test won't tell you which kid did well because s/he takes lots of practice tests or which one drills multiplication tables or which one started learning algebra at the age of nine for the fun of it. It won't tell you which kid read the instructions so carefully that s/he made a mistake because the instructions actually weren't clear. It won't tell you which kid got nervous.

As I say, they're primitive. The big differences mean something, the small ones don't.




Like this comment
Posted by miprogram
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2011 at 8:35 pm

Chinese laguage is among the hardest of all.Not only you can not know how it sound by looking at the words but also the tones of the the words,the us students just do not have clue how to say it even if there is the hint of the pronouncation in front of you,But they are getting bigger and powerful,we have to know their culture and language.


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:09 am

Ill tell you why drilling your kids through childhood makes them dumber not clever. Because it BORES them. Their time is filled up with learning how to take some stupid test which is only as interesting as the non-rocket scientist who wrote the test! This kill initiative, kills imagination, kills divergent creative thought, and kills childhood brilliance. It turns out dull, conformist, ruthlessly competitive, amoral, machines. Is this what we want for the world? Is this our future.

You see two kindergarteners. One is throwing blocks around - she is studying newtonian physics. The other is doing flash cards with a coach. She is learning how to pass a test. Which one will do better at advanced physics in the future. The one throwing the blocks around internalizing the complex patterns of nature which are used to describe hard to imagine concepts. The other one is learning a language - which everyone will learn anyway - learning that language a year or so ahead of the explorative child.

Really its a no-brainer. AND Universities are seeing this dullness in the Asian test takers. It is NOT like the jews of last generation which emphasized creativity and the cult of genius. It is a new type of oppressive misguided and ultimately fatuous parental stupidity.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

"this dullness in the Asian test takers"

Susan, do you realize how racist this is? Do you think only Asians use flash cards or focus on doing well on tests? The point isn't that the Asians are the same as the Jews, it is that you and others like you are like the people who discriminated against the Jews in higher ed!


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:27 am

And dont cry racist to me. I started by saying that Asians do better at tests because they study harder for test. And I am finishing by saying that doing all these tests makes a child stupid. The connection is that all this testing is therefore making more asians stupider because more asians study for tests. Is this racist? I dont think so. Its logical and undeniable. And i am not going to stand by and watch our schools and communities be turned into amoral robot factories without saying something because I am being - WRONGLY - called a racist. And what i say about Stanford admissions is true.


Like this comment
Posted by wrong
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

I have seen recently,students from asian countries are trying to be creative along with practicing their strict testing abilities.I have seen their culture shifts from admiring high education to high abilities regardless which school they go to or even the high education matters in there,because there are so many opportunities outside of test taking high education area.Look at their newly rich, a huge chunk of them receive no high education at all,but they have the abilities and vision to get what they want.


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

There are tons of Chinese creative people, and they probably all studied their flash cards. One has only to have watched the last Olympics in China to understand how creative the Chinese are. I think it was National Geographic which featured the amazing and amazingly beautiful new bridges in China. These are not stupid people. And yes, to suggest that they are, because they study flashcards, is racist. And pathetic.

Oh, btw, that little girl in kindergarten, the one throwing the blocks around the place, will probably not become a physicist, but she will have hellish tantrums when she doesn't get her way, as an adult. The proper word for this is: BRAT!


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

Susan, I'm not sure why you are focused on "Asians" (a pretty broad brush - are Indians included? How about Japanese? How about Asian-Americans who have been in the US for multiple generations?). Can you provide any back up for your generalization "more asians study for tests"? Since all kinds of people study for tests, that sounds like a racist stereotype to me. Then saying they turn our community into "amoral robot factories" completes the stereotype.

Most racists don't recognize themselves for what they are ("some of my best friends are XXX"). You remind of young woman at UCLA complaining about "Asians using cell phones in the library" (Web Link). It's fine that you think some people study too much, but blaming an ethnic group collectively (multiple groups, really)is wrong.


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

That is the problem here. If you have been coached through childhood you cannot think for yourself - as is evident in these posts.

My first comment was that NO ethnic group is smarter than any other. To think that is racist.

It is not racist to say that Chinese tend to drill their kids to take tests more than Caucasians, and that drilling your kids to take tests makes them dumb, so that more Chinese kids are being made dumb by their parents AND that they are therefore filling up all the advanced placement classes leaving no room for the JUST AS BRIGHT caucasians. What I want to happen is for the schools to say ENOUGH! and stop this mad test taking obsession. To try to teach the kids to be brilliant creative original thinkers. My problem is with the Chinese attitude to drilling kids, not with a racist idea that chinese are inherently different. Mine problem is with the culture - I am recognizing the problem with our communities importing this dreadful chinese attitude to stopping childrens natural brilliance. I see it happening and I dont like it!


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:06 am

Susan, so let me get this straight. You're not a racist against the Chinese people, just that Chinese "culture" and that "dreadful chinese attitude." Ok, that makes it clearer.

You're not the mom of the UCLA girl in the YouTube video by any chance, are you? She mentions that "her momma raised her right."


Like this comment
Posted by wrong
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

Do you know even when you do ap exams you need to have this creativities to solve those creative problems? We only know that those subjects can be very hard if your kids do not have this ability to solve problems outside regular homework drill. It constantly requires out-of-box thinking and changing to different route thinkings.


Like this comment
Posted by susan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:32 am

Me too. Why dont you address my issues with the Chinese culture of cramming and drilling rather than simply trying to call me a racist. It is NOT racist to say that Chinese culture drills kids and that makes them dumber. Address the issues. Dont just finger point and name call. Your education is showing! See you cannot distinguish between calling out a part of a culture I dont like and a racist expectation that a person who is genetically chinese is somehow born to make their kids dumber. You need a good education.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:42 am

Any parent who is organizing their child's time somuchso that there is no time for free play (with blocks), time with friends to hangout and socialize, time to run around outside for exercise, and time to do things or get to go there for themselves even allowing them to make the occasional mistake, is doing an injustice to the child.

It is the children who do not have these things who are going to have trouble as adults because they have not learned the childhood lessons of creativity and independence. These type of children may be great at taking tests due to tutoring, but the application of the knowledge may never have been experienced.

I have seen parents who overorganize their kids lives when they are young so that when they leave home to go to college they have no idea how to manage their lives outside their studies and often have all sorts of difficulties.

This happens across the board. It can happen within any group.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

Yes, Susan, it IS racist to characterize the Chinese culture that way. Just adding "culture" to your rant doesn't make it better ("I don't hate Jews - it's that Jewish culture that's so money-grubby" - see it just doesn't work, does it?). You've gone from making slurs against Asians, to Chinese, to "Chinese culture" - but they are still racist slurs.

I wish you and your kids luck!


Like this comment
Posted by 21 Dads
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

The question is not high academic achievement OR creativity.
The question is how we help our children attain BOTH?
Focusing only on one is not enough in a 21st century world.

As parents, we cannot 100% outsource our children's development to schools or tutors.
Education and creativity begin in the home and we need to lead that effort.


Like this comment
Posted by Susan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm

rac·ism
noun \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\
1
: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

In other words to not like an aspect of a culture is NOT racist by definition.

So saying that I dont like Chinese attitudes to drilling children is not racist. I repeat. It would be racist for me to think that some inherent racial differences make chinese smarter or dumber. And I dont. And it is not racist to say I do not like the predominant Chinese attitude to drilling children.

Me too. Look up your dictionary if you dont believe me. Please get off this and on to the topic. Another cultural phenomenon I dont like is the suppression of a topic because it can easily be misconstrued as some wicked characteristic. That is not politically correct. That is the disallowing of topics of valid concern.


Like this comment
Posted by Let's Be Honest
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 4:22 pm

We don't really need to debate on whether people like Susan are racists [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]. From Susan's rants against Chinese and other Asians, I see a mother bittered by the reality that her self-proclaimed "bright" and "creative" kids are losing out to their hard-working Asian peers. She seems to find consolation in deluding herself into thinking that those who score higher on tests are actually "dumber" and "stupider." If she raises her kids with this kind of attitude, I doubt they'll get into schools like Stanford, even with the benefit of a biased admission practice.


Like this comment
Posted by another asian parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm

One thing I can say is that Asian parents are more likely to blame themselves for their kids' failure. That's why they push their kids harder and they believe that's the only way to succeed. Unlike Susan, they don't blame others or other cultures.


Like this comment
Posted by pamom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 24, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Susan I think you are mistaken to generalize that the Chinese culture is to blame for making their students dumber. Really, that sounds absurd! You painted yourself in a corner on that one.

It sounds like you object to Tiger Parents (of all ethnic groups). The reason we have more and more Tiger Parents is due to the difficulty of getting into the top universities. I've seen some people argue don't worry about it, there are plenty of good universities in the states besides the Ivies. And I think there are quite a few good ones. What most of us parents want is a good curriculum that challenges our children but does not stress them out too much. I don't want a dumbed down curriculum either.


Like this comment
Posted by Don't-Believe-Everything-You-Hear
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm

> My first comment was that NO ethnic group is
> smarter than any other.

Maybe .. but maybe not ..

---
IQ and Race:
Web Link

Intelligence quotient (IQ) tests performed in the United States have consistently demonstrated a significant degree of variation between different racial groups, with the average score of the African American population being lower—and that of the Asian American population being higher—than that of the European-American population. At the same time, there is considerable overlap between these group scores, and individuals of each group can be found at all points on the IQ spectrum. Similar findings have been reported for related populations around the world, although these studies are generally considered less reliable due to the relative paucity of test data and the difficulties inherent in the cross-cultural comparison of intelligence test scores. While the existence of racial IQ gaps is well-documented and not subject to much dispute, there is no consensus among researchers as to their cause.
---

If evolution is at play, as most rational people would agree, then there is no reason to believe that human evolution has worked at exactly the same rate during the last 2M-3M years, wherever humans might have lived.

Depending on what IQ really is, it would stand to reason that some races might actually be, on the whole, more "intelligent" than others.





Like this comment
Posted by Another PA parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I am a 2nd generation Asian American. I was educated here from elementary school. I believe in the hardwork and dedication traits of
the Asian culture. But I also love the creativity and individuality of the western education. That's why I balance both for my kids. My daughters are passionate about school and they're curious and confident. That I believe is how we should measure our kids' success. Drilling or not is really up to the individual kids. You as a parent, are the best person to know your child's learning style. Help your child to achieve his goals. Every parent wants the best for her child. Drilling may not be the best for your child. Choose what works for you and your child. There is no need to blame other culture or kids.


Like this comment
Posted by OMG
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Wow! I have to say I had fun reading all these comments. You people seem to take things personally very easily and start attacking each other in a way that you completely lose focus on the issues being discussed.

Here's my two cents on why I think Susan is right and has made a very valid point against the test-taking, score-driving culture of our schools. With kids still in elementary school, I can only speak from my personal experiences as an adult immigrant who grew up in a creative, Western country but married
a Chinese (whom I met in college and got straight A's and almost had heart attack
when he was about to get a B). From what I've seen in both of our families, success later in life does not always correlate with an Ivy League/Stanford education or with top grades. I can go on and on and give you lots of stories, but I'm typing this from my iPhone in bed and won't have the patience to list them all.

A common thread between the Chinese members of our family who were very high achievers in school, college, and grad school is that when they enter the workplace they do not know how to best maneuver the social, political, and other dynamics of their work environment and are lost without having the goal of getting high grades. In school these kids were used to parents or teachers (or tutors, peers, etc) tellling them that they needed to have a 4.0 and above to succeed, a clear and measurable goal that can be achieved with hard work and good testing skills. When they start their careers, there is no tiger mom manager giving them the recipe for success or test that they can ace as a measurable goal. Without the goal and a clear-cut path for success (like getting good grades), these kids are lost in the workforce. They are good executing clear directions or working hard and long hours but as Susan pointed out, they often (and I emphasize often because exceptions exist of course) lack the creativity required to innovate and take risks. Even in R&D organizations that are dominated by Asian (Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, etc) engineers and scientists, the big risks or crazy ideas with world-changing potential often (disclaimer here again) come from the more creative types.

Creativity is not taught with rote memorization or test taking abilities; it is taught by giving students projects to think on their own and with a team, and to use resources effectively and in new and interesting ways to solve a problem. Our curriculum should emphasize creative problem solving and independent thinking rather than tests. The tests don't show much more than test taking abilities. Let's have our students work on a project together for a whole semester to get their creative juices flowing more. Look at Steve Jobs - one of my heros. Can't get more creative and innovative than that. Where are the Steve Jobs of the Asian world? Not to offend anyone, but I see a lot of copycats of innovative American products and ideas in Asia.

Can't type much more on my phone, but I look forward to future discussions!


Like this comment
Posted by onemore
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Yah,the free creative thinking type always know how to come up with crazy ideas without any scientific foundation or unpractical unproven bases. Yes,Jobs is great,how many of them are successful?one in a billion,so how would the rest make a living if everyone only promote his crazy ideas?


Like this comment
Posted by pamom
a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

OMG, the devil is in the details. If the curriculum is heavily based on project learning the curriculum will be dumbed down. If the curriculum is heavily based on rote learning the students will be dumbed down. DUH! We need both. How to achieve that is the important thing.

But I don't get OMG and Susan's argument because students going through the Palo Alto schools (even those taking the AP's) will get some project leaning and opportunities to develop creative thinking skills. So why are these tests so bad?

If Susan is saying some parents push their children too much, well, yes that is probably true but it's not limited to one ethnic group.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 3,865 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,610 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,336 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 901 views