Castro, minus PACT, faces new challenges

For the first time in years, students at Castro Elementary School will have full access to the library, computer lab, counseling and tutoring services and classrooms, resources that are sure to help the school's many English language learners.

But even with more resources, Principal Judy Crates expects test scores to drop at Castro now that PACT, the district's parent participation program, has moved to its own site, taking many high-scoring students with it.

With PACT's departure, Castro said good bye to about 200 students, including many who scored "proficient" and "advanced" on standardized tests.

According to district records, in 2008, 57 percent of Castro's students were Latino and 56 percent were English language learners, both groups that typically score below their white and Asian counterparts on standardized tests.

Now that PACT -- short for Parent Child Teacher -- is moving to its own campus, those percentages will increase, Crates said. Although some students in PACT also are English language learners and Latino, most are white.

"Our percentage of English language learners will increase because the majority of PACT students were native speakers," Crates said. "We are going back to where we were before."

Castro had been hosting PACT for three years, along with the district's dual immersion program, and this year the school's population of nearly 700 was too much. Trustees voted in January to move PACT to its own site on San Pierre Way.

Castro will find out its 2008-09 test scores later this year, and if students did not meet requirements for a second year in a row it could become a "program improvement school." The federal No Child Left Behind legislation gives the state more control over schools which do not meet certain standards on test scores.

"We are not the only school in the district that faces that quandary," Crates said of the testing, adding that "It is a very high target for English language learners."

Crates said Castro's priority is to help these students, some of which start school speaking no English at all, develop their language skills. Now that PACT is gone, the school has nine additional classrooms, a full library and more testing areas to focus on this.

Teachers now plan to group students with similar needs to help with the learning process. Crates also wants to work on community outreach and hopes to incorporate parents in an effort to increase student development.

"We are going to have to be very focused, very efficient, and bring in more help when we need it," she said.


Posted by mvwsd mom, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 25, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Here we go again. Lets hear how great the pact.

Posted by what?, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 25, 2009 at 2:22 pm

The article was about Castro having access to facilities to help Castro students improve. mvwsd mom, what is your point about PACT?

Posted by janet l, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 25, 2009 at 3:27 pm

MVWSD mom,

I am you could sign your kids up for pact. No need to be jealous and bitter.

I am SO tired of seeing people use these comments for their own agendas - get over yourself. The article is not about how "great the pact program is".

Read it again, and keep your non-related comments to yourself

Posted by one voice, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 25, 2009 at 5:25 pm

What I don't understand is the need for any comments to be written concerning ANY of the articles in the Voice. Most of the posted comments are bitter and don't address the article anyway. It seems that most of the folks posting comments just want to have their voice heard on whatever topic they want to address, whether or not it pertains to the article.

Posted by paren t, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm

PACT was at Castro to bring up the test scores? That's crooked.

Posted by School Mom, a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 28, 2009 at 6:15 pm

Get real. We always knew that the trick was to move PACT to Castro to improve test scores and pull the school out of Program Improvement which would have meant that the state would have taken over the school. All of it is a shell game, manipulating data to avoid real solutions and work.

Posted by fan of castro school, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Actually, PACT was brought to Castro after a very intense debate by the community and the school board re: the closing of Slater. All three programs worked very hard to bring up those test scores, and they all worked well with each other. It became very difficult to manage all three programs and of course, there was the unexpected growth of PACT and DI. I wish Judy Crates the best of luck in managing the campus and I have faith that Castro will continue to show improvement in its test scores.

Posted by Mom, a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Scores have gone up at Castro for the non-PACT kids. The percent proficient and above among Hispanic kids, English Learners, and Socioeconomically Disadvantaged are higher than they were in 06. This had nothing to do with PACT.

You can look it up on the Dept' of Ed website:
Web Link
Type "mariano" in the school name and click submit. You can see several years' data.

Posted by Observer, a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Another example of where The Voice could have drilled down deeper on the issues raised here. Instead we really on the bits we can pick up from other posters.

Posted by mvwsd mom, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 1, 2009 at 9:09 am

The pact is what hurt our beloved schools.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

mvwsd mom- how did PACT hurt the schools (by the way, I saw information that says that 30% of PACT is Hispanic and 25% has free and reduced lunch). This is an honest question. I don't understand - can you explain clearly (please don't be flip - I honestly want to know real information, so I can check it out and make some decisions.).

Posted by Carolyn, a resident of Shoreline West
on Jul 5, 2009 at 9:19 pm

wondering, I'd like to know too. I see this type of sentiment posted often here, but no one ever seems to be able to explain why.

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