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Mountain View school test scores rise, but some students fall behind

Original post made on Oct 24, 2019

Most public schools across Mountain View saw modest gains in test scores this year, with some making huge strides in student performance across the board and some losing ground, according to state data.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 24, 2019, 3:18 PM

Comments (7)

34 people like this
Posted by Standing Ovation
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 24, 2019 at 3:40 pm

There go Rudolph and Wilson spinning nonsense and trying to take credit for just about anything and thereby justify the fat cat raises given before test results were put out.

These aren't gains to be proud of when you are leaving the most vulnerable behind. Besides, the cause of any increase are more due to a changing, more affluent student body with educated parents involve and promoting school work and study at home than anything else while more and more socio disadvantaged students are leaving the district. In other words, the poor performing student population is shrinking. That's the only reason the scores are going up so slightly on average. And it apparently has nothing to do with his new crony principals who were supposedly brought in to raise the scores of the very students whose scores are still sinking.

Or maybe it's just now time to play last principal standing gets the boot and fire former board member Gloria Higgins, the Principal of Monta Loma (talk about cronyism) and the now longest serving principal in the district, Terry Lambert, at Castro.

Either way, with these results it's way past time to fire Rudolph and his cronies and recall the board. Until that happens, don't expect much folks.

22 people like this
Posted by Joel Lachter
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 25, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Joel Lachter is a registered user.

Every year when they release the new numbers there is a lot of triumphalism about this group at this school doing so much better and a bunch of hand wringing about that group at that school falling behind. Those with long memories may notice that often a group that does well one year does poorly the next and vice versa. In fact, careful readers might notice that in this article several instances of this are alluded to: "Despite being a success story in recent years with test scores rising considerably, performance this year shows a slump," "High schools claw back last year's losses." It is called regression to the mean. When you have noisy data, sometimes you get a good result just by chance. The next year when you get a normal result, it looks bad by comparison. To get meaningful results you need to be averaging across years and/or schools and/or categories of students. I hope that the school district is not changing policy every year based on this group at this school doing better or worse than they did last year, and I hope that parents will not push them to do so.

15 people like this
Posted by Allie
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 25, 2019 at 5:16 pm

These scores are NOT a cause for celebration, Mr. Superintendent. They are embarrassing. Those in education power have their heads you-know-where. How is our kids' education so sub-par in this area of great wealth, intelligence (?) and resources?? It's absolutely shameful and inexcusable. Those with decision-making power need to stop self-serving, and really start SERVING STUDENTS!

6 people like this
Posted by Loss of Instructional Time
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2019 at 8:01 am

When we talk about students falling behind, we should examine loss of instructional time. The MVWSD Educational Services Department has become hyperfocused on assessment to the detriment of instructional minutes. English Languag Learners in particular loss the most amount of instructional minutes due to assessments.

Below is the assessment calendar for middle schools for 2019-20. These are assessments that the district chooses to give students. These are not required by the state.

The school board should be asking Cathy Baur and Tara Vikjord the following questions. How much instructional time is lost due to each test? What information is derived from each assessment? What could be eliminated? What do teachers see as valuable?

• August: All students took the i-Ready Math and Reading Assessments (District required assessments). Students lost at a minimum three days of instruction in Language Arts and Math. Student who did not finish the assessments in two days were then pulled out of class to finish. These students lost one or two additional periods of instruction to finish. Many students were pulled from classes to finish.
• October: English Language Learners will take the Literably test (District assessment). They will lose 2-4 periods of instruction in their English Language Development classes. This assessment provides almost the same data as the i-Ready assessment they took in August.
• November: All students will take their first Writing Benchmark (District Assessment). At a minimum, students will lose 2-3 periods of Language Arts instruction.
• December: i-Ready Math and Reading assessments will be administered again with lose of multiple days of instruction in core classes. Any student who does not finish will be pulled out of classes to finish.
• Februaryr: English Language Learners will take the Literably test (District assessment) again. They will lose 2-4 periods of instruction in their English Language Development classes.
• March: All students will take their second Writing Benchmark (District Assessment). At a minimum, students will lose 2-3 periods of Language Arts instruction..
• April/May: i-Ready Math and Reading assessments will be administered again with lose of multiple days of instruction in core classes. Any student who does not finish will be pulled out of classes to finish.

11 people like this
Posted by Toxic Leadership
a resident of Jackson Park
on Oct 26, 2019 at 8:14 pm

Holy cow! How can Castro School keep doing so poorly? How much lower can they go? They are going in the opposite direction in spite of all the money being thrown at everything and with all the personnel changes going on? I agree that at some point one has to wonder if the people running the schools, and even the teachers, just aren't any good at what they are doing or have just given up.

7 people like this
Posted by JA
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2019 at 10:10 pm

I wanted to respond specifically to comments about Castro Elementary. It is a very challenging population of students, with many new-comers from non-English speaking countries arriving each year, throughout the year. They are placed into the grade their age indicates, not according to their level of education, nor their fluency with English.

The overwhelming majority come from low income households, and many have experienced trauma, which adversely affects learning. Many live in housing situations which are far from ideal, with so many people in the residences it can be a big challenge for young students to get enough sleep. Parental work hours also effect their students sleep and life-enriching opportunities.

Further, many of the students which arrive there have not even been attending school regularly in their native countries, so there is a language barrier on top of an education barrier.

Throw in the trauma, sleep challenges, housing insecurity, lack of opportunities because of parental work hours and cost, and sometimes just plain hereditary learning challenges, and it's a wonder the students are doing as well as they are.

The teachers at Castro are extremely dedicated and work very hard in an exceptionally challenging learning environment.

I'd invite any naysayer to put their time where their mouth is, and go over and volunteer to help. With boots on the ground you'd understand much better just how challenging the environment is. That invitation extends to MVWSD board members and administrators as well.

It is a small and fluctuating group of students, so there should be expected changes in test results every year. Kudos to Terri Lambert for fighting so hard for the kids and bolstering the morale of her teachers so well in the face of great odds against them.

8 people like this
Posted by What Stinks in the D.O.
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2019 at 5:42 pm

The problem around student outcomes predates Rudolph.

Shuffling around principals won't do anything but give sites excuses of adjusting to new administrators and team building processes that take schools even longer to get traction without solving the systemic problem at hand. Arguing instructional minutes vs. assessments (i.e. regular collection of data that is used to inform instruction) seems too small a contributing factor with regard to student outcome concerns, but 'Loss of Instructional Time' was on to something.

We should consider the cronyism of staff in the D.O. who aren't the ones involved with facilities or HR issues, but are responsible for educational outcomes, who have been there a long time, and haven't been able to affect district-wide performance or the underserved student communities in any meaningful way. Would BMV even have had an opportunity to present their "solution" if the district had a stronger story to tell about student outcomes and the achievement gap? No.

So, after so many years of lackluster growth or backsliding, and challenges from outside the district, shouldn't someone in the district should be *full-time-laser-focused* on student outcomes regardless of facilities, student locations, HR issues, ...?? Regardless of whether you call that person "Chief Academic Officer" or Assistant Superintendent of Ed. Services, that person *should* be Cathy Baur. The board seems rather complacent with her students' outcomes, putting *minimal* pressure on Rudolph to require more of her. Shouldn't she be held accountable for the district performance? Of course they should: "Academic" is in her title.

Rudolph should be held accountable for his staffing choices, especially if they are proving ineffectual or require such patience in performance that the world's glaciers will have melted before students are served properly. The data should be enough to wake the board up from the hypnotic stupor they are in and remind him: they are there for today's MVWSD kids first, not tomorrow's kids. We need a proven, effective "Chief" educator. Why accept exactly the opposite? If Rudolph doesn't have such accomplished visionary leadership in Ed. Services to back him up, swap that "C.A.O." out with someone who can provide it for him.

We should pressure the board to find someone else to do it if Rudolph refuses. Of course, board members are welcome to explain why they are satisfied with the continuous stream of mediocre to disappointing news from students and teachers under Ms. Baur's care. With everything else going on, we're all ready for some comedic relief.

Maybe we're even ready for some new faces on the board that have their primary, unwavering focus be student success across all demographics through core instruction time students get with prepared and supported teachers, instead of being indirectly interested through facilities improvements, shuffling kids and adults, indifferent HR benefits programs, misguided affluential parents, or a magic STEM program.

No new principals until you get a new C.A.O. worthy of the title.

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