Town Square

Mountain View schools show improvement in standardized tests

Original post made on Aug 18, 2010

Local elementary, middle and high schools showed an overall improvement on state standardized test scores last year, according to education officials.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 1:27 PM


Posted by You can call me SuperDad, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 18, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Let us take a moment to thank the kids who rocked these tests and are such great kids - Daddy is very proud!

Posted by EC, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Glad to see that our standardized test results are so much more accurate than those on the east coast:

Web Link

Posted by Annie, a resident of Blossom Valley
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 James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Those schools have a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged students, otherwise the scores are similar.

Posted by Me, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 20, 2010 at 8:55 am

Per Annie's post above. Yup, I totally agree that this news doesnt tell the whole picture and is quite deceiving.

My kid goes to Monta Loma and we got a letter a while back about how poorly this school's test scores were.
It was shocking that they not only did so poorly, but they would actually let us transfer our child to a better school.

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

I think the answer is universal high quality preschool from age 3.

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

Preschool Article Link: Web Link

Posted by le dude, a resident of Old Mountain View
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 James, a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 21, 2010 at 8:40 am

"%50 of MVWSD students are at grade level."

From looking at the results well over 50% are Proficient or Advanced, which would be like As and Bs, a larger percentage are Basic or better which would be Cs or better.

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 21, 2010 at 9:40 am

Looking closely at the Monta Loma and Therakauf scores for 2009 and 2010, both improved significantly.

Posted by le dude, a resident of Old Mountain View
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 James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 23, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Looks like ~60% were proficient or advanced in 2009 and the 2010 score it's more like 70%. Our kid has always been in the advanced group, but had like 2 years of preschool.

Posted by vfree, a resident of Waverly Park
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 Dave, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 23, 2010 at 3:06 pm


What data are you referencing that indicates that private schools are far ahead of public schools?

Let me answer for you. There isn't any. Can you find for us how well any private school has done in the same standarized tests? I don't think so.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Cuesta Park
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 Old Mountain View
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 Waverly Park
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 Cuesta Park
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 Whisman Station
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 Dave, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm


I bring up the data question because you state that "Private schools are far ahead of the public school system " and I am asking what data leads you to that conclusion and they are far better how?

I ask the question because I am not sure that is the case.

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 Cuesta Park
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 pta mom, a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

to Mom. Your the boss..

Posted by Tina, a resident of Shoreline West
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 James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 26, 2010 at 12:52 pm


The Math scores at Castro look pretty good to me.


I've been in the classrooms at Theuerkauf, no different from the classrooms where I volunteer.

It is a fact that MVWSD is underfunded by comparison to the national average.

Posted by Parent, a resident of Waverly Park
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; 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 KD, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:12 pm

To parent, a resident of another community, who claims that none of the posters (other than Steve Nelson) has been to school board meetings and that "all our students are adorable and eager to learn":

I have been to school board meetings, but perhaps you have not visited the classrooms at Graham and Crittenden.

Posted by Fuzzy Math, a resident of Castro City
on Aug 26, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Wow, 51% proficient in math. Is that supposed to impress everyone. That's called failure in any other educational setting.

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:19 am

I calculate 67% at Theuerkauf are proficient or advanced, so you have like 4 classrooms of kids that need intervention in math, how much would it cost for the teaching aides to do that?

Posted by Nick V, Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Aug 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

Nick V is a registered user.

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.

-Nick Veronin

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm

What math textbook are they using in the Middle Schools? I really like the Saxon Math texts, I hope they use those by the time we get to Middle School.

Posted by mom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Saxon textbooks are some of the best! To my recollection this district has never supplied them (at least in my children's classes). We had to go out and purchase them for our own students ourselves.

Textbooks are another great topic to discuss at a parent meeting with our Asst. Sup. in charge of curriculum- Lairon!

Posted by Parent, a resident of Waverly Park
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 mom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm


Clarification: I USED to attend board meetings. I gave up going. They were too frustrating.

Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
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 Sylvan Park
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 it's hard for young children to focus on information that is not engaging. This doesn't mean they cannot read. Some kids simply don't try to do well. They don't read the passages or don't 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 James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 29, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Kind of off topic but I stumbled across this reviewing a math proof.

Kahnacademy: Web Link

I think it's very cool.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Aug 29, 2010 at 8:01 pm

"The reading passages are painfully BORING and it's hard for young children to focus on information that is not engaging. This doesn't mean they cannot read. Some kids simply don't 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 Whisman Station
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

Dear huh?,
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.

Feel free to view the CST sample questions:

Web Link

Posted by Erin, a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Dear Teacher:

You are paid to teach, not second guess the process. No wonder the test scores are a disaster. Get back to work.

Posted by James, a resident of Whisman Station
on Aug 30, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I think it's a problem that teachers and teaching are not respected in this country in the way they are in some other countries.

Posted by Kevin, a resident of Cuesta Park
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 Monta Loma
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??