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Anyone experienced with Alta Vista?

Original post made by adhd/ld mom, Midtown, on May 10, 2013

My daughter has gotten so little help at Paly as an LD kid (she is on a 504, and was on an IEP in elementary school) that she will very likely end up at Alta Vista in my last-ditch attempt to help her graduate.

(She is an art/music kid who does very well in those areas, and could succeed if she can get to college.)

Does anyone have any experience with Alta Vista to share? Or thoughts for other public/free options?

Thank you so much for any thoughts!

Comments (31)

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Posted by not good
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Mission College would be a better choice.

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Dear adhd/ld mom,
A while ago I heard that Alta vista staff is extremely dedicated, and that a motivated child can do well. Small classes etc. I am sorry - my info is not current, and I never had any personal experience with alta vista. As to graduation -there may be other options out there. If your child is motivated in the areas of interest - you may want to check the Home schooling network. Graduating was possible using a "home school administration", remote - by definition. Kids could go to community college etc. and have transcripts verified and organized by those who the home schoolers trust. There may be other options. Again - the above is not current, and needs to be verified. I wish the best to your child and you.

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Posted by Hang in there
a resident of Community Center
on May 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm

@adhd/ld mom

I was in your place a few years ago. It does get better and there are many paths to get your child to college.

Alta Vista has great staff but when we tried it the students only received one hour of instruction with their teacher per week. It did not seem geared for kids with learning disabilities who need extra attention. It might work if you can afford a private tutor.

Foothill Middle College can be a good fit for kids who are not succeeding academically in high school. Students take high school English and History with their peers (~80 kids) and then select two college courses. I know several students who struggled academically at Gunn and Paly who became A and B students at Middle College. You can continue to take classes at Paly and participate in Paly extracurricular activities if it fits in your schedule.

In addition to Middle College the district used to purchase a few extra "seats" that allowed students to take classes at Foothill while still enrolled as high school students. Once your child reaches 18 they can attend any community college without a high school diploma. You can also take the CHSPE, which is the equivalent of a GED for the State of California only, if you want to enroll in a community college before turning 18.

We also tried West Bay High School Web Link a small relatively affordable (~$500/mo)private school in San Carlos geared for kids who are not succeeding in mainstream public schools. Students spend four hours per week with a teacher with course work much less rigorous than Paly. West Bay is WASC accredited and most of their graduates continue to four year colleges including UC's.

Three years ago the district was providing independent study services at Paly and at the district office. They were using a software program called PLATO to provide some of the curriculum. The students could access PLATO from home and then check in as needed with teaching staff. I don't know if that is still the case.

There are also other free virtual online high school programs available that are government funded but I think you have to enroll as a full time student. PAUSD does accept online coursework but it has to be first approved by the Instructional Supervisor. Our child did this with the help of a tutor.

Send me an email to if you want to chat.

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Here is another resource that was highly recommenced few years ago. I had no personal experience, nor do I have any personal interest in promoting, now: Web Link
Good Luck!!! I second 'hang in there' warm wishes.

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Posted by Been There
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm

As a parent of an LD child, I would advise you to register your daughter with the state as a learning disabled adult as soon a s she turns 18. her counselor can help with that. it is very important that she be able to receive certain benefits as an college student/adult, so do not neglect this. it needs renewal every six months, so do not neglect that. it can mean the difference between success and failure as a college student and adult

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Community Center
on May 13, 2013 at 8:59 am

Every time we turn around it seems there is another expression of disappointment or frustration with the district regarding its treatment of disabled students. Here we have a parent who just states, matter of factly, that her child "has gotten so little help at Paly as an LD kid (she is on a 504, and was on an IEP in elementary school)" that now she probably will not graduate.

No one on this thread even seems surprised that a learning disabled child "has gotten so little help at Paly" that she may not be able to graduate. Instead, the parent is receiving a list of work-arounds and suggestions from others who have similarly not received the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for their student to which they were entitled. The student, as described, should have been able to graduate at least with the minimum state requirements. Now her life, already complicated by a disability, is being made immeasurably harder by the lack of a high school diploma. Now she has a sense of shame and failure to overcome.

The people who should have that sense of shame and failure are not the disabled students who were poorly served by our district but the school and district officials who fail them.

The interesting puzzle from my perspective is why so many middle and upper class families with education, money, and resources have been willing to silently accept such poor service for disabled students for such a long time.

My theory is that Palo Alto is a community that individualizes failure and socializes success. Every achievement of every student is hailed as an achievement of the school system even when it had little or nothing to do with the schools. Meanwhile, every failure is interpreted as the fault of the parents or the student. High test scores? Our great schools. Low test scores? Bad parenting/kid didn't try/not everyone can be a winner. Kid founded a nonprofit and started a small business? Our great schools! Kid arrested for marijuana on the path outside Gunn? Bad parenting.

Many kids who are supposedly too screwed up or have bad parenting or whatever wrong with them, just being "not typical Palo Alto students" (as Kevin Skelly once very arrogantly described my children to me in a typical inappropriate blurting) go on to be highly successful in JC and in universities and colleges. Some can get As at Foothill in math but cannot pass the same course at Gunn right now, as Gunn counselors have observed. Why is that? What is going on when we have students with disabilities who are pronounced educationally DOA by our high schools who succeed in college?

One explanation is that we pour all our resources into the top and neglect the middle and bottom. That is clearly demonstrated by the fact that US News dropped both Paly and Gunn from its ranking due to the fact that our white and Asian students rank well above the state average for that demographic while our black and hispanic and poor whites rank well below the state average for that demographic. If we plotted those achievement rankings on a line graph we would have a picture of where the money is going. And if we looked at things like teacher salaries for those teaching high achieving students versus for those teaching black and brown students we would also see the resource gap that explains that achievement differential.

Until parents like "adhd/ld mom" who started this thread stand up for their rights instead of slinking off silently to Alta Vista and merely accepting whatever portion of second-best is handed to them, it will stay this way.

This Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 pm, the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will be holding a workshop for parents about their rights under the law. Please come adhd/ld mom and find out your rights. You can speak with an attorney after the session or take a business card and follow up later. You may be entitled to services that you don't know about.

My adhd child who was definitely "not a typical Palo Alto student" as certified by the superintendent and did not even graduate high school is graduating from a top 10 University this week. So much for PAUSD.

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm

@More civil rights issues - Thank you for noticing, and taking the time to articulate your experiences and observations.
As you mentioned- learning differences are not "reserved" to a certain segment of the population - that was the reason that had me post more than once the question as to possible quiet settlements in prior quiet years. Possibly, community members who could afford to buy legal information did that. If that happened - nothing wrong, of course - just may be part of the explanation as to how come all seemed to be quiet prior.
Your input as to your child, and your personal interactions at the district is quite compelling. Such possible inputs had me address Ken Dauber, asking to form a Shadow Board, collect inputs. I thought it may be easier for a former parent to step forward and share experiences that possibly reflect the atmosphere and culture. Personally, I doubt it has to do only with one district official.
Also - not everything is "OCRable" - time frame and context frame. Best practices were mentioned many times. The hope of having such.
There were several threads during the past that dealt with these issues, some were made available only to those logged in. It is fascinating to notice that more log in to comment about EPA gang crime than about PAUSD. I find it very telling as to the atmosphere and culture.

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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm

ADHD mom - I think one reason that your daughter is not getting much help is that a lot of kids with learning issues get pulled from the school by their parents and sent to private schools. I have one kid with dyslexia who struggled at Paly, didn't receive much help, but is thriving in college.

More civil rights - I totally agree that LD kids don't get much help in high school (BTW, they need to ask the individual teachers to use any accommodations they receive, the teachers won't automatically grant them) BUT Alta Vista is a public high school so if a student is going there, they are receiving their Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

More civil rights issues,

Interesting way to measure the achievement gap, comparing high scoring students' test scores - a stat that is quite high in university towns across America - to those of underrepresented minorities in town.

The Federal government doesn't measure the gap that way though. It tells states to set the bar ("proficient") and measure how far away URMs are to that goal. California's bar is one of the highest in the land.

So Newsweek's list is measuring the gap in that non-standard, non-Federally endorsed kind of way.

You might find this alternate explanation in the New York Times helpful ("No Rich Child Left Behind"):

"much of our public conversation about education is focused on the wrong culprits"

"schools don't seem to produce much of the disparity in test scores between high- and low-income students."

"we blame failing schools and the behavior of the poor for trends that are really the result of deepening income inequality and the behavior of the rich."

"academic gap is widening because rich students are increasingly entering kindergarten much better prepared to succeed in school than middle-class students"

"High-income families are increasingly focusing their resources - their money, time and knowledge of what it takes to be successful in school - on their children's cognitive development and educational success. "

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Community Center
on May 13, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I'm sorry I cannot tell what you are saying.

What I am saying is that Palo Alto has more than just a gap between its high and low performing students. Palo Alto's poor and minority students do worse in the same classes and on the same measures (i.e., the CST for Algebra 2) than similar students in other districts around the state. Palo Alto's poor and minority students often perform worse than the state average while its white and Asian students perform significantly higher than the state average.

That is a measure of intra district inequality and of where district resources are spent. It's also an indicator that many of our teachers lack the belief that all students can learn at a high level. We have high expectations for one group of students and low expectations for another. Students respond to those teacher expectations.

The best schools have high expectations for all students regardless of race or income. That is what differentiates good schools from less good schools and that is why PAUSD was dropped from the USNews Ranking. Because USNews, to its credit, decided that it would not produce a "ranking" that merely laundered money and privilege. The measure of greatness isn't how we educate those with every advantage it's how we educate those with fewer or no advantages. By that measure, PAUSD is doing worse than many districts in CA on many measures.

Many of those districts outperforming us are in poor rural areas.

Special education students are among those who are not receiving services that they should, also due to low expectations.

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 7:03 am

More civil rights issues,

Granted that our "white and Asian students perform significantly higher than the state average" but, as the NYTs said, you can't pin that all on the schools. Those students come from wealthier families who give their children out-of-school educational advantages that that wealth can provide.

In our district, 50% of African American and Hispanic students are economically disadvantaged while only 2% of our white and Asian students are.
- Average family income in California: $62,000.
- 10% of students are African American or Hispanic, most who live in East Palo with its average family income of $50,000.
- 80% are white or Asian. Palo Alto's average family income is $123,000. Los Altos Hills' is $220,000.

"Palo Alto's poor and minority students do worse in the same classes and on the same measures (i.e., the CST for Algebra 2) than similar students in other districts around the state."

Here are the numbers for Algebra 2 (proficient and above):

- PAUSD (42%)
- CA (23%)

African Americans:
- PAUSD (27%)
- CA (16%)

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Many at my school are happy to have their children in a district that has more resources than their home district and which uses the extra money on smaller class sizes, music, art, free summer school and after school programs, giving their children some of what high income families provide privately. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2013 at 7:52 am

This thread is about disabled students not minority students so I am reluctant to carry on this debate. The key point is that PAUSD has a gap, not just a regular achievement gap, but a gap in the ranking of its white and Asian students compared to other white and Asian students, and its poor and minority students compared to other poor and minority students around the state.

For example, in 2011, on the Algebra I CST, PAUSD ranked 7th for Asian students and 8th for white students compared to all other districts in CA. PAUSD ranked 165th for African American students and 143rd for Latino students. That means that 164 districts did better in terms of black achievement on the Algebra I CST than did PAUSD, but only 7 districts did better than PAUSD on white achievement. It is true that PAUSD has wealthier and more ambitious white and Asian students but the same is also true of its minority students. Even VTP students are a self-selected group of families that are educationally motivated and ambitious enough to sign up and go through the difficulty of busing and so forth.

Given the population characteristic and the resources of the district it is not defensible to see gaps like this in the relative achievement of population subgroups. Some of the districts that outperform PAUSD with respect to minority achievement are poor and rural such as Visalia and Clovis.

One reason for these gaps as I have said is differing expectations. Another may be differing resource commitment. Another may be the extreme tracking in use in our high school math and science program. Another may be the fact that in many of these courses we do not have a curriculum that meets but does not exceed state A-G standards, so the course is just harder than it needs to be. No analysis has been done despite the fact that the district has this data and is aware of the issue.

This gap is the reason that US News dropped Paly and Gunn from its ranking.

Whether this is good or fine or normal is a closed question. Other districts are doing better than PAUSD in minority achievement and we need to find out what they are doing and see if we can do that.

Here is the data: Web Link

Special education students also may suffer from the same low expectations reflected in these numbers.

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Posted by Data please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

The overall state averages that "gap defined" refers to are pulled down by some very large districts that have very low scores. LAUSD is by far the largest district in the state, and has only 8% of African-American students ranked proficient and above in Algebra II.
The important question that "More civil rights" raises is, how does PAUSD do compared to other districts around the state in educating poor and minority students? The answer is, not very well, as indicated by our relative rank.
It's true, as "gap defined" says, that realizing that fact might lead poor and minority parents to conclude that they would be better off in many other districts in the state. But that's not the point of exposing these facts, at least in my opinion. The point is for the district to realize that it could be doing better, that there are many districts that are doing better, and that we should get to work on that problem.

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

Thank you "data please."

Here's another interesting piece of data from the 2012 CSTs that rebuts "gap" as well:

In the 2012 CST for Algebra I, only 8% of PAUSD 8th grade black students were "proficient or above." However 32% of black 8th graders were ranked proficient or above statewide.

For all black students taking the Algebra I CST at any point during their educational career, in PAUSD only 15% were proficient, compared with 21% of black students in the state as a whole.

No black students in PAUSD in 2012 ranked as "advanced" in Algebra I, compared with 5% in the state as a whole. Zero were "advanced." If that makes sense to you, you can stop reading now because you are impervious to facts.

For white students in 2012 the story is the reverse. 70% of PAUSD's white 8th graders were proficient or above on the Algebra I CST, including 47% who ranked as advanced. This was better than the state average, which was that 60% of 8th graders statewide ranked proficient or above on the Algebra I CST.

2012 data available here: Web Link

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 8:34 am

It is mildly amusing that you would look to the definition of achievement gap devised by a for-profit publisher which increases readership (and advertising dollars) when it does something unconventional.

US News is NOT using the Federal or California legal and long-standing achievement gap definition adopted by our elected US senators and representatives.

The link you provide is to a We Can Do Better spreadsheet which was long ago discredited for containing cherry-picked data. And why use 2011 data when 2012, the most recent, is widely available? Because 2012 disproves your points?

Here are the 2012 numbers for Algebra 2 (proficient and above) for students with disabilities:

- PAUSD (22%)
- CA (15%)

So I ask again, what purpose is served by your promulgating misinformation? Giving minority families (and now families who have children with disabilities) a false reason to leave PAUSD?

Sure there is always more that can be and I suspect is being done, but the Weekly did recently report that that achievement gap is closing. No small feat given our district’s huge wealth gap which schools cannot close.

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Posted by Data please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

@gap defined

That is an astonishing amount of misinformation and deception, wrapped in a charge of lying directed at others. My hat is off to you for chutzpah, if not accuracy.

The data in the spreadsheets referenced by the other poster is completely accurate, has not been "discredited," and is not cherry-picked. Superintendent Skelly himself acknowledged its accuracy, at a school board meeting that I imagine you were present at. Stop lying, or state your evidence.

If you're disputing that many other districts do better than PAUSD in educating poor and minority children, then state your evidence. Otherwise, you're just "promulgating misinformation".

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2013 at 8:52 am

gap you seem confused. Please see the 2012 data I posted above regarding Algebra I.

For disabled students in 2012, 24% of disabled 8th graders in PAUSD were proficient or above in Algebra I versus 27% of disabled 8th graders statewide. For Algebra II the PAUSD number of disabled students even taking the test is too small to report by grade level but statewide, 48% of disabled 9th graders and 24% of disabled 10th graders were proficient or above, numbers that PAUSD would not likely be able to approach given that overall it only has 22% at the end of course.

Not only was the data I posted not "discredited," Kevin Skelly acknowledged that it was absolutely correct in an open board meeting last year. The board asked him if the data was correct, he stated that he would check, and then he came back at the following meeting and stated that it was correct. It is simply the CST data. The 2012 data looks much like the 2011 data. Some of the achievement gap numbers are moving. That's good. But this core problem of PAUSD doing worse by our minority students than other districts in the state (and even than the statewide average in some classes as shown above such as Alg I) has yet to be addressed.

Arguing the data with you is like arguing that the earth is round. You are impervious to facts. That's too bad because you sound very much as if you might work for the district in some capacity and that is unfortunate.

USNews did the right thing by assessing the relative performance gap between high and low status groups in assessing school performance. Schools that have lesser performance gaps score higher. That reflects appropriate values.

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2013 at 9:03 am

And finally, it is telling that you equate giving people facts and knowledge about the district's shortcomings to "Giving minority families (and now families who have children with disabilities) a false reason to leave PAUSD?"

That is a totally weird thought but it is very telling.

Giving people information and tools to find information (called data "transparency" or "data advocacy") helps them to access their rights. It does not give them a 'reason to leave' and it is odd that you think people will leave rather than fight for fair treatment and justice. My original post into this thread was urging adhd/ld mom to find out her rights and gain information.

It is very consistent with my other observations about PAUSD that you, who seem likely to be connected to the district in some official role, think that the right reaction on learning that the district is ill serving certain kids is to "leave PAUSD."

Yes some people with money and resources do leave and place their children in private schools. But some insist, stubbornly, on their rights. Some do both.

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 9:47 am

I mentioned Algebra 2 because it was the example you said proved your point, which it doesn't. But OK, let's look at Algebra 1 which you are now pointing to.

2012 Algebra 1 (proficient and above):

- PAUSD (34%)
- CA (26%)

African Americans:
- PAUSD (15%)
- CA (21%)
[This is an extremely low sample size so no statistically sound conclusions can be drawn from it. Just 3 students getting slightly higher scores - because they weren't coming down with a cold that day, for example - would have brought PAUSD from below the state average to above it.]

- PAUSD (23%)
- CA (12%)

LA Unified does not skew the results; it represents less than 10 percent of the students in California schools.

Certainly you can find other districts which do better than we do on CST scores. But until you study the specifics and compare them to ours - recognizing that skin color is just the beginning of the information you need to collect to figure out if two school districts' students can be compared apples-to-apples - it is irresponsible to draw any conclusions.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Data please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2013 at 10:05 am

Notice that "gap defined" has done 2 things:
1. Abandoned the false claim that the CST comparisons in the spreadsheets are "cherrypicked" and "discredited". Very nice -- try a big lie, and when it doesn't fly, just move on.
2. Acknowledged that "you can find other districts which do better than we do on CST scores." Actually, you can find well over a hundred districts that do better, by looking at the spreadsheets that "gap defined" now acknowledges are correct.
It's not "irresponsible" to draw any conclusions based on that fact. The responsible response is to say, "Wow, that's a lot of districts doing better than we are, despite the fact that we have the highest per-pupil funding of any large unified district in the state! What can we learn from them?"
It is, though, irresponsible to lie about the data, and then try to ignore it -- because there are actual children behind those numbers.
And of course LA Unified skews the results, as do some other very large urban districts like Oakland Unified.

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Posted by stumped
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2013 at 10:13 am

@Data Please,
Ad hominem attacks aren't data. Please provide counter data based on multiple year results disproving "gap defined" assertions.

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Posted by Data please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2013 at 10:20 am

Hi "stumped"

I don't think you know what "ad hominem" means. Pointing out that someone isn't telling the truth based on facts (that is, that the data "gap defined" describes as discredited isn't) is not ad hominem. Ad hominem would be, "I know x isn't telling the truth because she is a well-known liar."

The data has already been provided to you. Here it is again:
Web Link
Web Link
See also Web Link, on why PAUSD didn't make the US News and World Report ranking.

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 11:13 am

I have not abandoned the cherry-picking claim. I just pointed out examples how you've done that. For example, you started off calling out 2011 data ignoring the improved data for 2012. You mentioned just one grade of Algebra 1 but when one looks at all disabled students taking Algebra 1, the numbers tell a different tale, etc.

What is sound is your ask: "what can we learn from" others.


I am not acknowledging the accuracy or completeness of your spread sheets.

Oakland Unified educates less than 1/2 of 1% of the state's students so it, even when added to LA Unified, does not skew the results.

I said nothing to the effect that children should leave the district. To the contrary. But repeated cries of crisis will quickly send people packing.

Their children only have one chance at an education; there are no re-dos.

They can rally to your cry and fight an idealistic battle that undoubtedly will take years and years to figure out and in the end may not resolve the way they want or in time for their children.

Pragmatic people will flee instead of fight and move on to what they think are greener "public" school pastures. It will be our district's loss to lose them and their children’s misfortune if it turns out that they are uprooted because they trusted someone’s slanted cries.

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Posted by Data please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

gap defined: Not true, sorry. Look at the spreadsheets, which cover all math subjects and science subjects.

You say, "I am not acknowledging the accuracy or completeness of your spread sheets." That is a far cry from calling them discredited, where you started. That just says, "I don't have any contrary evidence." That has no implications for the truth of the data -- in fact, it supports it.

The idea that telling the truth will cause people to "flee" and so we shouldn't do it is sadly prevalent in Palo Alto, but there's no actual basis for it.

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Two quick corrections to your post for now:

-You mislead with the conclusions you reach from cherry-picked data.

-"the idea that telling the [SLANTED] truth will cause people to 'flee' and so we shouldn't do it is sadly prevalent in Palo Alto"

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I can tell you why I first referred to 2011. That's because WCDB already did the work of ranking districts and made it public. Then when you asked about 2012 I spent the time to get that data, described above. It is not cherry picked. What you are doing is cherry picking in fact by looking only at EOC on Alg 1 when Alg 1 is designated an 8th grade standard and PAUSD does worse than the state average. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by gap defined
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You said: "Alg 1 is designated an 8th grade standard."

Kinda, but not really.

Nearly as many 9th graders (34%) as 8th graders (39%) take Algebra 1 in California.

As a result, California recently lowered the state standard because 8th grade Algebra 1 aimed too high. Very soon, Algebra 1 will be the 9th grade standard in high schools throughout the state.

"The new State Board of Education position, adopted this year [2013], is that Common Core 8th grade math will be the default curriculum; students should take Algebra in 8th grade only if they've demonstrated they're ready for it."

Web Link

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I wonder if there is any information as to the demographics of past students who left PAUSD high schools to go to Alta Vista?
I think that there are many seemingly anecdotal inputs which impact this situation - some of these inputs can not be compared to other districts. The famous math letter, for example. It brought to discussion the graduation requirements, not to mention institutional attitude. Interestingly - the dynamics that brought this letter to the public attention are not very different from the way the FIRST OCR investigation was brought to the public attention. The math letter set in the dark for about half a year. It was known to by far more PAUSD employees. The teachers, school officials, board officials etc. Nobody thought this letter should be of any interest to the public. Possibly, the officials understanding of transparency, best practices etc. is presented in these two examples. A quick search of threads related to the math letter produced many links - here is one: Web Link

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Ok editor you don't want to lock the thread. In that case would you please go back and review "gap's" posts to ensure that they comply with your Terms of Use, to wit: that they are respectful of others and truthful.

Here are the statements that do not meet that criteria:

1. "You made this up: "Palo Alto's poor and minority students do worse in the same classes and on the same measures (i.e., the CST for Algebra 2) than similar students in other districts around the state."

Obviously I did not "make that up." I posted reams of data and the Weekly has reported on that same data. It is not made up. The statement is false and it is also, by the way disrespectful since it is a false accusation of making things up.

2. The accusation that I am waging a "misinformation campaign." That is neither true nor respectful. Disagreement about interpretation of data is not "misinformation."

3. "We Can Do Better spreadsheet which was long ago discredited for containing cherry-picked data". This is false. Those data have not only not been discredited but they were validated as accurate by the Superintendent. Editor, you know this. Please don't make me go find the video of him saying it just to get you to enforce your own Terms of Use. The allegation of cherry picking makes no sense, and the "discredited" assertion is just made up from whole cloth since it never happened and the opposite happened.

4. the allegation that the data presente is "[SLANTED]". This is false and there is no evidence for it.

Please enforce your terms of use and delete the above false and disrespectful portions of these comments.

Thank you.

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Posted by More civil rights issues
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2013 at 8:32 am

OK, here it is.

At the regular board meeting on Januarly 31, 2012, Kevin Skelly reported personally on the item "Algebra 2 Performance and Learning." He prepared this report in response to the data presented by Ken Dauber and We Can Do Better, in support of PASS and SEAN, showing that our district's minority students are doing less well than similarly situated minority students in the same classes in other districts.

The focus of the presentation here is Algebra 2 because the Paly Math department wrote a letter in which they argued against extending the a-g college readiness requirement of Algebra 2 to all students because they felt that many poor and minority students, particularly those in the VTP program were not capable of passing Paly's algebra 2 class. Ken Dauber presented data showing that similar students passed Algebra 2 at a far higher rate at over 100 districts elsewhere in the state. At that meeting, on January 17, 2012, Ken Dauber presented those data and Kevin Skelly stated that he did not dispute the data's accuracy but told the board he would check and report back.

On January 31, he reported back. He opened his presentation by saying that "The data was accurate, I checked on that." He also stated that while he wanted the board to consider some other data as well, including some SAT scores for the district's black students, he was presenting that "not to negate the data that was reported."

There was no allegation at any time by anyone of "cherry-picking." Those words were never uttered, and no one participating in the discussion gave that as a concern. Instead, the accuracy of Ken Dauber's data and analysis was validated by the Superintendent.

You can watch the Superintendent validate the accuracy of this data here (starting at the beginning, first 2 minutes):

Web Link

Here is a transcript:

KS: "Thank you very much. At the last board meeting, this issue was brought up and I said I would go back and look at it and that’s what tonight’s about. There was some presented around the test scores, the CST scores for our African American and Latino students. The data was accurate, I checked on that. And at that last meeting, I said that my sense is that many members of the community were alarmed and angered by the data, and then there was some conversations about the math letter and some other topics. I wanted to look at some other work we did, not to negate the data that was reported, but also to have a larger conversation about some of our strategic plan goals about the performance of our students."

Read the Paly Math Letter here: Web Link

Is the person who has failed on the job here Michael Milliken? As the director of Secondary Education, Michael Milliken is the official who should have followed up on these issues, and developed a plan to correct them. Michael Milliken is the official who should have dealt sternly with the Paly Math Department after they wrote in their letter that "VTP students or underrepresented minorities" were "slackers" who could not pass the district's Algebra 2 course. Has he responded? Not in public.

After the discussion of this data, Michael Milliken was the official who should have then attemtped to find out why over 100 districts are doing better than PAUSD with minority students, and how we can find out what teaching methods are being used there so that we can emulate that success. Has he responded? Not in public.

Michael Milliken is also the official who was responsible for overseeing the principal, assistant principal and others at the middle school that was the subject of the OCR complaint that resulted in a finding of noncompliance with the law. He was the official responsible for secondary education and thus for the fact that our teachers, principals and other staff were not properly trained in disability harassment. Has he responded? Not in public.

Michael Milliken also is the official who instructed the Gunn Guidance committee to ignore the key board direction of ensuring "comparable" services with Gunn because he didn't know what "comparable" meant. That speaks for itself.

Michael Milliken also deleted "TA" from the board policy on counseling, thus causing the district to have a policy that violates the law, until Ken Dauber (with Scott Bowers affirming him) pointed out that you can't have TA under the law at Paly unless the board policy provides for having teachers provide counseling services under the supervision of an accredited counselor.

When asked why he deleted TA from the policy, Milliken said it was "optional." Yes, Mike it is optional for districts who have the "option" of TA. That's us. We have that option.

Perhaps Milliken is the one who has been "discredited"? Perhaps the board's time would be better spent finding out why we have a staff member running secondary education who makes so many mistakes so repeatedly in such important matters as counseling, minority education, and bullying in our middle schools.

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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm

village fool is a registered user.

@More civil rights issues - thank you for elaborating as to the math letter I mentioned, and much more!
I wonder as to the timing of the decision to make this thread available only to those logged in. Seems to me that most trust the editor as to the facts, but trust seems to vanish once log in is requested. Fear of retaliation was mentioned many times. I am mentioning here, again, because of the name you chose. I started a thread after the info about the first OCR investigation became public, and the editor called others who have issues to come forward. Seemed to me that the concerns may be possibly related - Web Link

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