Posted by Annie, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2010 at 6:04 pm
Breaking news, the achievement gap is widening as two schools, Monta Loma and Therakauf just entered Program Improvement with this last batch of scores. That means, parents can force the district to move them onto other higher performing campuses. The Voice could do better to report the meaning of the scores rather than just the results which don't tell the whole picture.
Posted by le dude, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2010 at 2:47 pm
No matter what the current test scores say in terms of improvement, readers need to realize that only %50 of MVWSD students are at grade level. Plus, two schools are now forced to allow transfers because the schools are technically failing by government standards (which is a pretty low bar to begin with).
Posted by le dude, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2010 at 2:48 pm
Improved significantly from how low? I can score 2 out of 10 on a quiz and then next time score 4 out of 10 and say I improved significantly but I still failed both times even though I have been advancing to the next grade each year.
Posted by vfree, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm
The cost of public schools has continued to rise and the quality of education is miserable. It's time to close our public schools, sell the assets to the private sector, and let them open schools where our children can get the education they need to succeed in life. Private schools are far ahead of the public school system that has become nothing more than a retirement fund. Sorry if offended the few excellent teachers in the public school system, but when the first question you ask about change is, how does that effect my retirement package....the kids get the shaft.
Posted by Mom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 10:01 am
During all these on -going discussions about test scores and how poorly MVWSD kids are doing or how slowly they are improving - why are the parents not asking the questions of the Associate Superintendent of Curriculum, Mary Lairon? She is the one that is being paid the BIG bucks for years here. Before her it was another one that hid in the shadows and didn't speak to the public either about what they are doing for our students and what plans they have in place. This a position in the district admin. that should be out at public meetings explaining the scores and taking responsibility for them. The taxpayers pay her too much for her to hide at the district office. She has the largest impact upon your students and the type of education they are (or not) receiving in MVWSD.
Posted by le dude, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 11:37 am
Wow. Excellent point, Mom. You'd think Lairon could at least step up and provide some detailed analysis of the scores and make it public through meetings or the paper. Present 3 positive trends and 3 negative trends and actions that might have led to the positive and measures that can be taken to improve the negative. No, wait a minute, that just makes too much sense.
Posted by vfree, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 3:49 pm
You're right Dave there isn't any data. I'm not sure why you would bring that up, I didn't. The Data you want is compiled by the public sector for their own manipulation. Private Schools are not included, and they don't use the standardized test required by Public Schools.
You will soon see a ballot measure asking for more money for public schools. They are hoping you will remember this insignificant success story and vote for it, contiuing the cycle of failure, and funding the retirement pool.
Given the oppurtunity($$), and the availability parents would take their kids out of Public Schools in a heart beat.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm
Mom and de dude,
I've been to several public meetings were Lairon has addressed the issues and presented data. These are called SCHOOL BOARD MEETINGS. And guess what - you can each have 3 minutes to ask questions (better if sent before meeting) and usually (not 100%) there is a preview of the text and graphs in the 'meeting packet' that is avaliable before the presentation.
My only big complaint - this system often does not have previews of the data (it should for any important presentation by a senior employee making 6 figures).
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm
The only differences I've seen at private schools like Challenger are they start Kindergarten earlier ( 3-4 instead of 5-6 ), and the teachers seem to be younger, less experience = cheaper? Plus the parents tend to be more afluent since they can afford the tuition.
I don't really understand folks complaining about the curriculum, what i've seen in the classrooms is great. Parents who complain should volunteer in the classroom and see firsthand.
Posted by parent, a resident of another community, on Aug 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm
I'm willing to bet a nickel that NONE of the above posters (except for Steve Nelson) has ever been to a school board meeting, has ever attended any kind of parent meeting where scores are explained, have never set foot on Monta Loma or Theuerkauf campuses, and have never volunteered in the classroom to be part of the solution.
MVWSD has fabulous teachers, every public school in CA is underfunded, all our students are adorable and eager to learn, and many of them, by no choice of their own, have never sat in their mom or dad's lap and been read to in English since they were babies.
How about if everyone turns off the computer and calls up any one of our local public schools and offers to read to or tutor a child who needs some individual attention and a little extra help? You can improve those oh-so-important test scores, see the look of anticipation and joy on the face of a little child when he or she sees you arrive at the classroom each week, broaden your world view, learn a bit about what actually happens in our schools....all in just one hour a week.
Posted by Mom, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 10:34 am
Good Grief, "Parent"! If you think that is the simple answer to helping our students, then why do we need to pay the Associate Sup. in charge of Curriculum a BIG salary??
Guess what, Steven and Parent - I've been to many, many board meetings in the MVWSD for years. Been there, done that. Why do you think no one shows to them? Nothing of substance is discussed! 3 minutes to ask your questions or state your comments?? The admin and board members each take triple that just to list all the events they have attended for the month! Who cares?
I was talking about Lairon, the person in charge of the curriculum for the entire district, actually having a meeting dedicated to outlining the programs she has in place that address the needs of ALL students. She could elaborate on the curriculum being used, explain how our teachers are being trained and supported. She could actually answer questions and have a TWO way discussion - not hide behind the 3 minute question period at a board meeting. If she believes that the curriculum and programs she institutes are good, why would this be a difficult or bad thing to do? You want parents involved and to care? Hold a meeting specifically for them.
Parent, while it is popular and trite to say that "underfunding" is the problem these days, it is not the major problem in MVWSD. It hasn't been for years. It is spending what we have in a responsible, effective way. It also has a LOT to do with effective leadership - which MWSD has lacked on MANY levels for many years.
And by the way, James, I've volunteered in classrooms for years. Every classroom can be vastly different due to teacher experience, training and support. Class management is a huge problem that has an impact on how much learning goes on. Spending time on things like Continuous Improvement does too. Have you ever volunteered in a middle school classroom? It is greatly different from elementary school . Although I will say, both school levels have the same issues, just to a different degree.
Posted by Tina, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:54 am
Two of MVWSD schools are currently in Program Improvement (PI), meaning that in terms of state monitoring, they are failing schools. Castro School might also slip in to PI this month. Right now it is borderline. Nope, nothing to worry about here. No need to hear anything from Lairon beyond the 3 minute comment periods and dog and pony show during school board meetings.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Aug 26, 2010 at 2:55 pm
So I just picked Theuerkauf school, Hispanic population and looked up the test score data on the CDE website for just two years, 2009 an 2010. That one little snapshot does show an upward trend. Percent proficient or advanced went up significantly for second graders. Lanugage arts - in 2009 only 34% of second graders scored proficient or advanced,but in 2010 51% did; for math, in 2009 50% were proficient or advanced, in 2010 67%. And other grades' cohort groups show improvement. Not universally, but looking at cohort scores (comparing 2009's second graders to 2010's third grade ers; last year's third graders -- in other words, following the same kids, not just comparing third grade to third grade) - 5 out of the 6 showed improvement, some by quit a bit (26% of third graders were proficient or advanced in Language Arts in 09. Those same kids in fourth grade had 51% proficient or advanced).
I know this sounds confusing (it is), but you can look it up at www.cde.ca.gov; it's easier to figure it out looking at the charts. At any rate, schools can go into Program Improvement even if they are making big gains, because they are not at the percent proficient specified by the NCLB law. It doesn't mean they are getting worse, they could actually be getting a lot better, but the law doesn't give points for how much you improved, just for hitting specific numbers.
Posted by Nick V, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer, on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:47 am Nick V is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
If you are a parent of a child at Monta Loma or Theuerkauf and are concerned about the schools entering program improvement -- or if you are a parent who had your child moved from either of these schools due to them entering program improvement -- please drop me a line. I'd be interested to talk to you for a followup article.
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Aug 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm
Fuzzy Math: Where in my post did I say that 51% was great? What I was talking about was that the percentage of kids scoring proficient or advanced, in that one measure of one school (Hispanic students at Theuerkauf) had improved significantly from the previous year. Merely stating a fact.
Posted by eric, a resident of another community, on Aug 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm
Funny, there are more people on this thread claiming to be regular school board attendees then I've EVER seen at a meeting (I'm an irregular attendee).
The two schools in program improvemement have increased scores. Thanks to short-sighted politicians punting a problem past their term in office, the minimum standards now increase at an ever less realistic rate.
Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2010 at 11:25 am
James (of WS) and parent (of WP),
thank you for your intelligent and diligent perusal of the educational data we have (however thin a metric they may be). James $$, MVWSD currently has $36,000 less per classroom every year compared to LASD. More than 12% of general 'school tax' property revenue is being diverted every year in this city ($6 million) by the TAX DIVERSION DISTRICTS of Shoreline and Castro Street. $0 are diverted every year in Los Altos (and Palo Alto). The $5.2 million diversion from Shoreline will increase and continue FOREVER!
WE in Mountain View need to take personal-local responsibility for relatively underfunding our elementary schools compared to their future cohorts attending Los Altos schools.
Eric and mom - I too get frustrated, but the 3 minute rule applies to EVERY ITEM on the agenda. So take several items for input per meeting (+ the 'general community comment'
time). The sup(s), CFO, and a few Board members actually listen and think about what you have said.
My understanding is that Lairon is not 'an effective facilitator' at her meetings. If I want a 'report' I'd rather have it in writing. When the District holds a curriculum input meeting, it needs a different "Facilitator"! The Curriculum Committee at this point seems to be non-functioning. There are no District links - and Google search shows no postings in 2009 and 2010 !!!!
Posted by Confused, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Aug 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm
I've lived here in Mountain View nearly 15 years and since day one the schools have been struggling and since day one there is constant denial and rationalization and manipulating of test scores to show, what some would like us to believe, that the schools are actually improving. Hmm. And now parents at Monta Loma and Therakauf have an option to move their kids because the schools have been determined to be officially failing failing once again. And now it looks like Castro will be added to the list of failing schools. Don't even get me started on the state of the Middle Schools and the whole gangs in the schools debate. Can someone sort this out for me.
Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community, on Aug 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm
I'm a teacher in the MVWSD. The results of the standardized tests have to be put in perspective, especially the math. On the math portion the teacher can only read the question twice and the question is NOT printed in their test booklet. How many 7-11 year olds do you know listen the first two times? Just because the scores are low doesn't mean they cannot do math. Some kids do well with auditory information while others don't. The reading passages are painfully BORING and itís hard for young children to focus on information that is not engaging. This doesnít mean they cannot read. Some kids simply donít try to do well. They donít read the passages or donít use the scratch paper for the math. Remember, these are young children.
Mary Lairon is fabulous and she deeply cares about this community and the success of every child. There is much more that goes on that parents are unaware. If you truly care about the kids and the community, volunteer. If you feel nothing gets done at the School Board Meetings, then be someone who is willing to change that. Be the change you want to see...
Posted by Huh?, a resident of the Martens-Carmelita neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2010 at 8:01 pm
"The reading passages are painfully BORING and itís hard for young children to focus on information that is not engaging. This doesnít mean they cannot read. Some kids simply donít try to do well."
So according to MVWSD Teacher (who shouldn't be teaching), kids need to be entertained to learn? They can't comprehend something read twice to them (or at least maybe not by a teacher who is already front loading the questions as 'boring')!?! Guess what, many of the tough subjects do present as boring and quite difficult. Kids need to learn to push through and apply themselves. Same with the teacher. Sad to know a MVWSD teacher is already making excuses for them, or perhaps him or herself. Many kids do very well on these tests. No doubt because their teachers are truly engaging them. They will go on to do great things.
Posted by James, a resident of the Whisman Station neighborhood, on Aug 29, 2010 at 11:16 pm
I think what teacher was saying is that even if kids are good at math or good readers, they may not be very good at taking tests. Our kid has been reading since before kindergarten is a very good reader, but still doesn't remember everything read, so doesn't score perfectly on the reading quizes. Likewise, while being very advanced in math, makes simple mistakes and doesn't check the work.
I think the primary difference between Mountain View, and Los Altos or Cupertino is that the parents don't have the time and/or money to invest in tutoring their kids at home. If a study were done, I expect that kids at Faria in Cupertino probably spend as much time at home practicing math and reading as they do in school, and they probably practice the exams themselves at home too.
There's an interesting documentary "2 Million Minutes" about what it's like for kids in China and India trying to get into College versus the US.
Posted by Teacher, a resident of another community, on Aug 30, 2010 at 3:33 pm
I just feel too much emphasis is put on the scores, when the test is faulty and is not a good measure of a child's ability to think, reason, or solve problems. Since you made several assumptions about me and my teaching, I will venture to assume that you don't work with children.
My students score well on this test each year and teachers are held accountable for their scores, therefore I seriously doubt any teacher would be saying the test is boring to their students. Being honest about the test doesn't make me a poor teacher. Many of the kids are not old enough to sustain their attention for hours on a test with unfamiliar verbiage and uninteresting passages. Yes, there are students who don't do well on the test, but that doesn't mean they can't read, write, and do math at grade level.The students that do well generally have a lot of support at home and have parents who volunteer in the classroom. As teachers we work 12 hours a day 6-7 days a week. We pour all of our energy and skills into children that are often dropped off tired and without breakfast. You want high scores? Get parents to put their kids to bed at a decent hour and provide nutritional meals. Have every parent in this city read to their kids everyday. I find it hilarious that people in the community are quick to blame the administration and the teachers, but who's monitoring the parents? We are working with a very challenging population with NO support and our funds continue to be cut. Simply this test does not give the whole picture. Take the results with a grain of salt.
Posted by Kevin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Aug 31, 2010 at 2:56 pm
My experience with the teachers in the dual immersion (Spanish/English) program at Castro is that they are very good and hard working. I think you need to look past the high-level scores to see some context.
At Castro, over 50% of the kids are "English learners". Only about 20% of "English learners" are proficient or above in English Language Arts and only about 50% are proficient or above in Math. For the "English fluent" their scores are about >90% proficient or above in English and Math. Clearly, the fact than half the students don't speak English as their first language, puts them and their teachers at a disadvantage in these English tests (especially when their scores are compare to schools where 90% of the kids are "English fluent".
A similar story is true with parent education and resources. At Castro, over 60% of the kids are "economically disadvantaged," meaning either both of their parents do not have high school educations or they are poor enough to qualify for the school lunch program. Again, these kids score only about 30% proficient or above in English and 60% in Math. Compare this to the kids who are not "economically disadvantaged" where >90% are proficient or above.
If the teachers or school are so bad, why are they able to do well with the students whose parents speak English, have high school educations (or college), and have additional financial resources (time, books, tutoring, etc.).
Posted by frustrated, a resident of the Monta Loma neighborhood, on Sep 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm
I am very frustrated at the majority of the comments posted on this topic. I have had 3 kids at Monta Loma who scored advanced on every portion of the state tests from 2nd all the way through 5th grade. 2 of the 3 actually had perfect scores on the entire battery of tests. (they had a score of 600 for both math and language arts in 3rd grade!)
You cannot tell me that the school is failing or that the teachers are not effective. The reason for being identified as a program improvement school is due to a very small subgroup of the entire school population that did not make 'adequate yearly progress'
The students who are learning a second language or who are economically disadvantaged are working like crazy as are the teachers to improve the test scores but really, do you think academic mastery of a second language happens overnight??
How would you score on a test administered in a language other than English??