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'Broad action' encouraged to fix district's achievement gap

Original post made on Oct 15, 2014

The Palo Alto school board and members of the public Tuesday night looked back at the district's history of attempts to improve minority achievement and lauded Superintendent Max McGee's creation of an advisory committee as a promising, fresh step forward in a more actionable direction.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 9:26 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by The Sixth Board Member
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:12 am

I watched the board meeting on TV (can't go down there until all hours of the night myself). Ken Dauber presented new data showing that we actually are doing worse in some classes (math and science) than we were in 2011 for these students. That blew me away. While this school board and super were off spending our money on fighting the federal government OCR, Rome burned. And why are we learning this from Ken instead of from the district staff?

[Portion removed.]


Posted by What's The News
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:23 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by How to Apply?
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 15, 2014 at 10:48 am

How do I apply to get on the committee as a parent?


Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2014 at 11:33 am

Included in this discussion should be the fact that struggling students whose parents have means pull their usually white students out of PAUSD and send them elsewhere for school. Parents without these resources must rely on PAUSD to educate their kids.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

> Ken Dauber presented new data showing that we actually are doing worse in
> some classes (math and science) than we were in 2011 for these students.
[Portion removed.]

Will he be putting his data on-line, including the sources he has used to make his findings?


Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm

> Included in this discussion should be the fact that struggling
> students whose parents have means pull their usually white students
> out of PAUSD and send them elsewhere for school.

Is there any meaningful data to back up this claim?


Posted by Really?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm

This from the same school board that shot down the well researched plan to un-lane English classes at Paly? [Portion removed.]


Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:46 pm

@Really? - unlaning is the problem, not the solution. If you want to help low achieving student, create a new remedial lane for them. delaning is reducing the gap by putting a ceiling on the high achieving students.


Posted by Voter
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Bob,
[Portion removed.]

The source of the data is the California Department of Education, which releases data files containing all of the standards test results for every test and every demographic group in the state. Here's a link to the web page where you can download the 2013 STAR test results: Web Link It's the second result for the Google query "download star test results 2013".


Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Oh .. and as to the PAUSD's doing more poorly in math over a two year period--we have had Everyday Math in place for about five years now. Those promoting it--namely a small group--if memory serves, should be asked to explain any dip in scores.

We were assured by teacher after teacher that EDM would help those on the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum. Well, we adopted EDM--so why should there be any dip at all?

Can anyone explain the dip?


Posted by Goodbye Bob
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 15, 2014 at 1:26 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2014 at 5:04 pm

@Bob - the problem with the declining test scores is that they need to be realigned to to EDM, and ask how students feel about math, not if they can actually solve problems (there are calculators for that).


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2014 at 11:10 am

Hopefully something good comes out of this effort.

Certainly changing the HS graduation requirements to the UC A-G requirements will help a great deal. Students can't slip under the radar by just doing the minimum and therefore not becoming college eligible.

Unfortunately other factors such as the lack parental encouragement, involvement and support is not something that can be solved in the classroom.


Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm

> the problem with the declining test scores is
> that they need to be realigned to to EDM,

Sorry, but this answer makes no sense. The whole idea of standardized tests is to determine whether students within the domain of the test are learning the materials (ie “standards”) upon which the tests are based. Suggesting that we have to somehow “align” the CST scores to accommodate the EDM approach to teaching not only is nonsensical.

> and ask how students feel about math,
> not if they can actually solve problems

What? This is not why we spend over one-half trillion dollars a year running the public education system!!!

Why not just ask the students how they feel about school, and then teach to that level?

> (there are calculators for that).

Calculators are for doing arithmetic—which arguably is “mathematics”, but only at the lowest level.

Mathematics is about solving problems with symbolic logic, using a set of rules to manipulate the symbols. It’s a shame that the complexity of mathematics exceeds the ability of young minds to grasp. But certainly adults should be able to know the difference between arithmetic and mathematics.

As to the use of calculators—it’s totally possible that as tablets and smart phones become more powerful, handheld calculators will be replaced with tablets/software. It’s even possible that these devices will be able to do simple algebra. But without understanding the rules, and techniques, this sort of technology might well prove more disruptive, then helpful.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Multiyear experiments with smaller High Schools has produced impressive results. Schools with 100 or less student per grade provide more attention and less differentiation.

Web Link


Posted by Why dip in math scores
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 18, 2014 at 6:55 am

Agree with Bob.."--we have had Everyday Math in place for about five years now. Those promoting it--namely a small group--if memory serves, should be asked to explain any dip in scores.
We were assured by teacher after teacher that EDM would help those on the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum. Well, we adopted EDM--so why should there be any dip at all?"

My kids were in 1st when EDM was enacted. Basic math skills were not covered that well for my child. She did not have the basic number/addition/concepts down after 2nd grade. She needed a lot of remedial help and practice at home. Now, a 5th grader,, after 1 1/2 years of private tutoring she is mostly caught up. However her self-esteem and belief in herself and feeling proficient in math is at a low level. I expressed a lot of concern about all children being required to memorize their math facts in 1st/2nd when some did not understand the basic number concept (my daughter). This concern fell on deaf ears, it was a grade level requirement at the school. I

EverydayMath should be studied and reviewed if the scores are going down. There are a lot of deficiencies in the Program. The Consultants that pushed this program should be held accountable for the results or lack thereof.


Posted by stanhutchings
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2014 at 4:16 pm

stanhutchings is a registered user.

I see a lot of discussion about an "achievement gap". How are you going to encourage our best and brightest to develop to their full potential? Gen Z presents a whole new challenge that will require you to review and update the educational paradigm.
The implication I see is that "closing the gap" would involve a Procrustean policy that would attempt to flatten the difference between high and low achieving students to a mediocre average. That is NOT acceptable! There needs to be MORE gap, not less. It must be up to individual students and parents to decide how much effort to make to be below or above average, and by how much. There is a critical need for ALL of our students to be challenged to achieve their fullest potential.
And how about closing the achievement gap in sports? Since I lacked the bulk to be a football player, should I have lower self-esteem? Should I have been in a "remedial" sports program? And why did my teachers lower the classes expectations just so the jocks could maintain passing grades? Yes, I got great grades, but I suffered in college as a result, I had not been sufficiently challenged in high school to perform up to the expectations of a top-tier college. Yes, my good grades got me in, but I was at a big disadvantage to those who came from schools that had properly prepared them.
If parents want their children to succeed and excel at top-tier colleges, they must INSIST their children be exceptionally well educated, not just given an "average" education.
cc: PA School Board


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