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'No Child' law finally catches up with schools

Original post made on Sep 16, 2009

Schools in Mountain View have cause to both celebrate academic achievement and take action for improvement after the release of this year's progress report by the state Department of Education on Tuesday morning.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 16, 2009, 3:40 PM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Claire
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 16, 2009 at 5:34 pm

"It is widely agreed by educators that this is an impossible goal to meet."

So the expectation among these administrators is that the schools can never be 100 percent proficient (with proficient meaning meeting expected grade-level standards).

"While we knew some of our schools were going into PI, we could not be more proud of what our teachers, principals and administrators are doing," [Ghysels] said.

It's just unbelievable how this guy is always patting himself on the back, and spinning it his way.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 16, 2009 at 6:32 pm

I think the reporting is all wrong on this. Two schools and the district are in Program Improvement, meaning they are poor performing.

The slight gains made, are not gains enough to make a difference for many children who will find themselves further and further behind each year the schools don't meet the progress benchmarks. How is this in anyway good.

I agree. These chuckle heads only want you to hear good news.

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Posted by Reader
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Sep 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

I'd rather these people be honest and say the schools are in trouble, rather than implying that once NCLB goes away, they can throw accountability completely out the window.

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

Landels has a system of intervention that has been proven to work as shown by the 31 point improvement in the results. I think it is possible to get 90% proficiency 900+ api by continuing and improving this system. 100% proficiency should be the goal, but I think it would require some kind of manditory preschool, and intervention prior to kindergarten.

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Posted by Laurel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

When a goal is set of 100% proficiency, that means all students, no matter what their home situation or their health, no matter if they're new to the school, to the district, or to this country.

My two kids have gotten an excellent education from talented teachers at Landels Elementary, Graham Middle School, and Mountain View High School. I've seen the challenges those teachers face, though, when kids arrive without any preschool(which makes it hard to meet state standards which require kids to read and write starting in kindergarten), and/or from families where the parents may never have attended high school, or where there is little stability at home. In my daughter's kindergarten class, her teacher found that one of her students had an undiagnosed and very significant developmental delay; lack of health care for this family may have played a role.

Our local schools and our teachers do a great job of helping all of their students succeed when they are able to work with them from kindergarten through all the grades. But public schools accept all students, no matter what their background; there needs to be some way to take this into account in evaluating the work they do.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I agree that 100% proficiency is a noble goal and that the schools must be accountable. But the NTSB rules, as they are set up, make that virtually impossible to attain, especially in a district with a transitory population.
When my son was in 3rd grade, 2 students joined his class (from another country, speaking no English) one week before the STAR tests were administered. By law, they are required to be tested along with the rest of the class. So, even if all other students in the class met the proficiency goals, the class "proficiency rate" would still only be 90%. Theoretically, in this case, the teacher and the school could be penalized for not meeting the grade level improvement goals, and those scores could also be counted, unfairly, as measures of failure in some of the subgroup scores.
It's not logical, and it sets up a system that may not really accurately measure teaching ability. It certainly undermines the ability of a school to show improvements made by intervention or other programs that are in place (if enough students are tested that never were given the opportunity to use the programs in the first place).

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Posted by Arianne
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I don't think that what Dr. Ghysels said was patting himself on the back. In fact, he was patting his teachers & Administrators on the back. And righfully so! They do a great job in Mtn View, and our children are getting a very good education.

The challenges are close to impossible for some students - who's 2 parents must work 3 full time jobs; who's parents don't speak English and cannot help with homework or even read to their preschoolers in English.

NCLB has a pie-in-the-sky goal. The idea of accountability is admirable (and frankly our Superintendent takes it very seriously - beyond NCLB), but 100% is improbable and impossible.

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Posted by NeHi
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 17, 2009 at 4:51 pm

I'm glad that many feel their children are getting good educations. Ours went thru Graham & Awalt in the '70s and got a poor education from what were considered to be good schools.

A large dose of parent involvement made a big improvement.

But it was the schools that told us they were good schools and, as there was no way to measure, what proof was there. Now there is a way to measure imperfect though it may be. I consider this an advance.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 17, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Overall, the schools in this district offer excellent programs delivered by competent to excellent teachers. There are special funds allocated to intervention programs for every imaginable deficit. At the end of the day, is it possible that not every kid has the interest and/or capability to perform at a proficient level?

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Posted by parent
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Sep 19, 2009 at 4:35 pm

The scores of Hispanic children are lagging further and further behind.

These children make up 40-50% of the student population.

How can this be ignored and claim that everyone is doing a great job!?!?!?

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Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm

"District-wide, English language learners saw a 16-point gain in their API scores, and Hispanic students saw a 17-point gain for their subgroup with an API of 717. Still, an average score of 918 for white students suggests that a significant achievement gap persists."

parent on Carmelita-Martens,

How can you say that Hispanic children are "lagging further and further behind" when they made a 17-point improvement??!!

Are you earning 17% more this year than last? What specific skill did you improve by a measurable increase of 17% last year?

For reasons that I'm not sure even people with a PhD from Stanford in Educational Measurement understand, there is this thing called "test bias" and "the achievement gap" and some ethnic groups everywhere score lower than others. The point is, in MVWSD, ALL "sub-groups" improved their scores!

And yes, whites and Asians still score higher. Maybe if only the wealthy, highly educated people from Mexico and Latin America, and the poor, uneducated people from China and India moved to the US, the numbers would be different. But IMO as long as you have mostly lower SES Latino's and higher SES Asians immigrating to the US, you are going to have this kind of discrepancy. ALL our teachers and students are working very hard in school and it would be helpful for people like you to celebrate their accomplishments instead of their inadequacies.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 20, 2009 at 1:08 pm

And that is why the schools and district are in Program Improvement and face being taken over by the state and federal government.

More spin and more dodging of the bullet.

Gains from the depths of low, do not equate to problem solved.

Last time I checked CA schools were in the gutter, and the business as usual approach is not working.

No doubt a district troll working the boards.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 20, 2009 at 1:12 pm

To say:

"ALL our teachers and students are working very hard in school and it would be helpful for people like you to celebrate their accomplishments instead of their inadequacies." grossly naive and irresponsible. Let's just ignore the facts staring us in the face. The district is spinning numbers to make a negative a positive. Look at the results yourself, and you'll see what a mess were in.

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Posted by Drew Seutter
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm

This is a tough story to comment on, but I generally see it as very good news. Good schools are important to me and hopefully are important to many in the community.

I want to recognize the teachers, staff, monetary donors, and volunteers for helping the Mountain View students in achieving these gains in test scores. I am confident that there will be more.

The fear and negative on my end is that resources that could be expended in a way to help all students somewhat equally seem to be slanted towards students on the lower end of the test scoring scale. From an administrative standpoint, this makes sense; there is more ground to make up on the low end, and it is probably easier to recognize a larger score improvement in that area, and thus help the total score. However, beyond the scores improving, the resources do help each and every student, and therefore, a more equitable distribution should be targeted as a goal. I am sure many donors, taxpayers, etc. see this as their goal.

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Posted by Elaine
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2009 at 9:26 pm

I agree with Drew regarding funding resources. The part that bothers me the most is that the district's administration doesn't have great plans to use resources to improve curriculum for all the students or assist teaching. Here is one example - look at the "GOAL" Program that is offered at Graham M.S. (it is on their website). The principal took away the concept of honor roll. Now it is a program that rewards all the students that make 4.0, 3.0 and even a 2.0 GPA. It also rewards those that raise their GPA .5 above their previous GPA so in essence, a student can earn an F and raise it to a D+ and receive rewards!

The rewards are in the form of a free tshirt, privileges, prizes, food events and fun field trips (non academic kinds like ice skating, bowling, playing at Shoreline, etc.) There are so many things wrong with this on so many levels!

First, they have now lowered the bar on honors - almost anyone in the school can obtain this recognition with little effort. In fact, I heard that many parents said their kids were de-motivated to obtain straight As now since you can get as low as Cs with minimal effort and still qualify for "fun".

Secondly, there are only a handful of students left at the school when all the students that qualify for the field trip or rallies leave - does the humiliation of not qualifying for this program really provide incentive to those kids to improve their grades or does it just cause further resentment? How does this help those who need to improve their grades?

Thirdly, they are rewarding students by taking them out of school for these events. How many times have you heard the district tell us that there aren't enough teaching hours to improve scores?

Can the money be better spent? You bet it could. Last year I heard over 20K was spent on these rewards for the students. How do our tax dollars of this $20K really help our students and improve learning?

And the worst thing is that the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum bless this program. We hear about budget cuts and needing more money and this is what they were using valuable funds for last year. This year the principal is asking the PTA to help fund this program. It is time for parents to question just how the money is being spent for our students and how it really benefits the students - in the long run, not just for fun.

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Posted by Monita
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Good point, Elaine. Unfortunately the superintendents only want to see scores being raised. It's a lot easier to bribe a kids into raising their GPAs from an F to a D, and paying them off for it. The result is that those in charge can say scores are going up this year! And then the next year they ask that their salaries do the same, since they are showing improvement.

It's all political, all the time. This is what I've come to expect from the leadership of this school district.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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