Town Square

Post a New Topic

U.S. News & World Report: Foothill, Amador Valley among top high schools in country

Original post made on May 17, 2013

All nine Tri-Valley high schools scored among the top high schools in the country in the latest U.S. News & World report ranking of high schools nationwide.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 17, 2013, 7:16 AM

Comments (37)

Posted by Lynn, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Its great that Amador came in first of the Tri-Valley schools. However, my son graduated there last year and is still trying to pass remedial math in college. Not everyone excels there.



















































































































































































Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 17, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Is there another way to frame your comment so that you son feels good about what he doing? Kudos to your son, keep trying guy and Buena Suerte/Good Luck!


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 17, 2013 at 9:29 pm

There is nothing like a good struggle to accomplish something...VIVA!


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm

If your son is in college, I wonder, at what point is he responsible for his learning? At what point does the blaming of everyone else stop and personal responsibility for learning start? Might be a bigger problem than failing math to be honest.


Posted by Bad Parenting, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 17, 2013 at 10:26 pm

In a case like that, one has to ask: Just what was the parent doing with the kid over the years to ensure he's ready to perform at a college level. Oh, the parent did nothing but expect the schools to do it all by themselves? Thought so!


Posted by Don, a resident of Birdland
on May 18, 2013 at 7:45 am

I would be a bit careful about blaming the parent. My company interviewed one of Amador's valedictorians from the late 90's and declined to hire him because his math skills were so shockingly low. Pleasanton will benefit from the influx of Asians into our city. I believe we are now over 30% asian and growing. They have extremely high expectations of themselves, their children, and even more so the teachers


Posted by AVMom, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 18, 2013 at 8:39 am

I must chime in on this thread. I agree that the school is not as great as the test scores show. My daughter is a freshman and has had great success in school until now. Particularly in math. This year we have had to hire tutors to help,her and essentially they are teaching her. The tutor we are working with is shocked by how little math instruction is happening. Mt child is a good student but she's not in super advanced math, just geometry which is normal for her grade. She says that the teacher has a hard time controlling the class and that the normal day consists of the teacher showing the class how to do a problem then the class doing their homework. She said the teacher does not walk around to help but sits at his desk. We've talked to the school to no avail. Our only solution is to pay an outside person to do the job of the school. What about the kids who can't afford the tutoring? It is very expensive, I think Amador could be doing a better job and I agree with the previous poster that the scores have gone up because fm the Asian students not because the teachers have gotten any better. My daughter says that her teachers seem to prefer Asian students because they are easier to teach. It's sad if you ask me.


Posted by Some Dude, a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 18, 2013 at 8:46 am

While I agree that the math teacher--if what you describe is accurate--could be doing a better job, it seems pretty extreme to say this represents the whole school, especially as your daughter, as a freshman, has so far spent so little time there.

However, please consider that the wise parent does not uncritically or blindly accept the perceptions of a 14-year-old, however special they may be to you. To say that she is a good student but that she's a struggling student in the same breath suggests that you may be letting your feelings cloud your judgment.


Posted by AVMom, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 18, 2013 at 8:54 am

And you dude have no clue. Do you have a kid at Amador? I've spent time there this year, talked to her teachers and administration. She's a good student in that she has the skills and habits she needs to learn and succeed. And she is very successful when she has a competent teacher. I never take anything my child says at face value. I understand what she says comes through her perspective. But, she's never had trouble before Amador and she receives no help from Amador. By the way she's getting great grades, probably. 4.0 this school year. But a lot of teaching has to happen outside of school. This should not be the norm. She will test well on the star tests because we have paid to educate her and this will mask the problem even more.,


Posted by Some Dude, a resident of Bridle Creek
on May 18, 2013 at 8:59 am

Okay, now that you've outted yourself as a crazy mom, I can move on.


Posted by AVMom, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 18, 2013 at 9:03 am

Sorry you can't come up with a persuasive argument to help me understand your point of view, easier to call me names and move on.

I want the school to be better, if that makes me crazy then fine. Seems like you just don't care.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2013 at 9:16 am

My son is a freshman at Amador as well and the picture you portray is not anywhere near the experience he is having. He too is struggling in math but his teacher is available for study sessions outside of class time, has been open to helping on lunch breaks, before and after school, through email...etc.

This teacher has multiple levels of ability in the classroom, we know that if my son is struggling it can be quickly solved with our help as well, it's not a controversy, it's what struggling learners need. As a parent, my role is to encourage my son to try multiple ways to understand the concepts and if he still isnt getting it, maybe he needs help above and beyond all that Amador is already doing.


To make such blanket statements about the teachers and their programs, when this article is a positive one, speaks loudly of character like I mentioned above. Blame others first and avoid personal responsibility for learning. You see thats what learning is, struggling, not getting it. To throw in cultural bias assumptions is clearly a personal issue, one which completely ensures I disregard the rest of your claims.

I cant tell you how many parents in this community do the same for pitching, hitting, ball skill coaches. They get outside private coaching, I know, my husband is one of them. Yet not once do I hear this lack of skill blamed on the team coach.


Posted by AVMom, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 18, 2013 at 9:21 am

Great that you child's teacher helps, my child's teacher does not. Isn't that enough of a problem for us to point out? There is not consistency from teacher to teacher. If you are lucky you get a teacher that helps if not you don't. That's a problem in my book.


Posted by AVMom, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 18, 2013 at 9:23 am

And your comparison to sports is a little far fetched, I'm talking about an education, something essential for all kids. Sports are an extra curricular. Math and English skills are not.


Posted by Carl Peterson, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 18, 2013 at 10:07 am

Parents should best elect politicians who will raise taxes on the wealthy in order to provide our schools with more funding. The classrooms are too full; teachers are overworked; and parents are clamoring that teachers spending their lunches and breaks and time after school helping students is not enough; that they should all be robots, uniformly at the beck and command of the needy parent/student. Somebody's got their priorities screwed up.


Posted by AVMom, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 18, 2013 at 10:09 am

I agree with you Mr. Peterson.


Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm

AV Mom, as the parent of a recent AVHS graduate, my third in five years from Amador, I can say that I think you are not getting the whole story from your daughter. The math department pools their time and resources for tutoring. She may have Teacher A but can attend the help sessions of Teacher B, C D or E any time.
My middle child struggled with math as a freshman, then started routinely attending help sessions before school with any teacher available that morning, and he graduated with an A in AP Calc. If your daughter says she's not being taught, maybe she should try reaching out to other faculty.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I'll try to point out something that I think is easy to overlook. High school math is fairly hard and some students are way better at it than others. Reading and writing isn't as hard. Some people just need a lot more attention in math than others. Some just need to see things once and can master it.


Posted by Carl Peterson, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm

What an odd thing to say, john. I don't know how something like that could be measured so as to validate or invalidate your statement. From where I sit, I see lots of evidence right in front of me that a lot of people never quite got the hang of reading and writing. By the same token, I've known a goodly number of scientists and mathematicians who can't write worth a lick (and their reading skills were never quite mastered either).

Perhaps for some folks math is more difficult than reading and writing; but I suspect for other folks math is less difficult than reading and writing. Personally, I've always found math to be far easier than reading or writing. Numbers don't lie, or deceive, or equivocate. Reading and writing involves the polysemy of language forms, multiple intents, and parsing through such things as metaphor and irony, not to mention forms of deception.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Carl,

" I've known a goodly number of scientists and mathematicians who can't write worth a lick "

I've known some nonnative English speakers who were good in math but couldn't write clear English easily. I'm not sure that really counts. They may have been able to write very clearly in their native language. I haven't known that many native English speakers who excelled in math and physics but couldn't write clearly. It may not be true in general, but it is something I've observed. It was just an off the cuff remark. I really wanted to emphasize that some people need a lot more personal attention an hand holding than others.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 18, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Okay, fair enough. I agree with you that some people need more help than others.

Your effort to combine science and math with ethnicity, however, strikes me as another oddity. [...] Probably just another off the cuff remark. But, for what it's worth, you have wrongly inferred that I was referring to non-native English speakers who have difficulty reading and writing. In fact, I was referring to native speakers.

Different cognitive functions are at work. A very analytical scientific mind may fall short of being able to appreciate nuances of meaning in literature, for example. A decent mathematician, immersed in the purity and simplicity of math, may experience cognitive overload when confronted with the interpretive subtlety demanded when, say, reading some of Shakespeare's beautifully messy plays. I've been embarrassed by some mathematicians' efforts to write even the most simple prose.

I continue to maintain that reading and writing are inherently more difficult than math and science. The latter deals with objects that do not talk back; the former deals with very complex human beings, and in so doing must anticipate human responses, often not to their liking.

Don't mean to stretch this out too far. I'm merely suggesting that you've offered a bias that has math and science being more difficult subject matters than reading and writing. I think the bias is unfounded. Take any sample of writing off of these PW posts.... See what I mean?


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm

"our effort to combine science and math with ethnicity, however, strikes me as another oddity."

I don't see anything odd about it. Many of the people I know personally who scored much lower on the verbal section of the GRE tests than on the analytical sections did so because they didn't speak English natively. I high percentage of students in STEM majors in American colleges and universities are nonnative English speakers.


Posted by Carl, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm

John,
I think you're changing the subject. Yes, it may very well be that recent immigrants who are non-native speaker do not speak English as fluently as native speakers. But, beyond that being obvious, I don't think it addresses the question of science/math v. reading/writing that I thought defined our dialogue. If you want to persist in claiming the obvious, with a somewhat curiously overwrought emphasis upon non-native speakers, by my guest....

My argument was that your claim/assumption that math/science is more difficult than reading/writing is a bit wrongheaded and reflective of a bias. I provided my reasoning, but rather than respond with your own, instead you've pointed out the obvious, viz., that new immigrant arrivals don't speak English as fluently as native speakers. Like I say, be my guest....

Do you have anything substantive to add about your questionable claim that science/math are inherently more difficult than reading/writing, or does the intensity of your beliefs about ethnicity prevent you from so doing?


Posted by !, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 19, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Nevermind that there are a total of 13 people in total who actually subscribe to US News and World Report.


Posted by Amador Parent, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 20, 2013 at 8:32 am

Reading thiese comments just amazes me at the level people go to avoid their OWN responsibilities..I have a daughter who is a senior at Amador and close to a 4.0 student in her fourth year of Math there (currently in Calculus)..we are neither a wealthy or Asian family and have had NO problem with the teaching at Amador or finding inexpensive tutoring for her, both within the school and online. There are countless online FREE math tutoring websites out there..you can't just sit back, listen to your child whine about poor grades and call it the "schools fault"...teaching a student some of these skills is tough but part of a PARENT's obligation..don't just blame the school and then do nothing..Step up yourself.


Posted by Foothill parent, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

PUSD please take note! Just replace AV with FHS in the string above and we hear parents voice the exact same concerns about the success of the PUSD HS math program across town in Falcon Territory. It's pretty sad when most students have to turn to tutors to succeed or get by.


Posted by Ranking, a resident of another community
on May 20, 2013 at 11:43 am

In the past I have not agreed with every US New ranking methodology. I do not know the method used in this ranking. Suburban schools will rank higher than most city schools, probably, regardless of the quality of individual city students. That said, I would not say that 331st place is impressive.


Posted by AnnaS, a resident of Foothill High School
on May 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

When we had to find the place to live, we chose Pleasanton because we believed that it is one of a few places where kids are not going to be beaten because they love to read and are not fans of a football. We had plenty of unpleasant discoveries about education system in California, but we were right about kids at Foothill High. The point is, that the quality of schools is not defined by teaches, definitely not by bureaucrats from school districts and above. The quality of schools is defined by community, by how much parents care about their kids' education and their plans for a future.


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on May 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Ranking wrote: "Suburban schools will rank higher than most city schools, probably, regardless of the quality of individual city students. That said, I would not say that 331st place is impressive."

There are about 27,000 public high schools in the US, so 331st place puts the school in the top 2%. I would say that that's pretty impressive.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm

"Do you have anything substantive to add about your questionable claim that science/math are inherently more difficult than reading/writing, or does the intensity of your beliefs about ethnicity prevent you from so doing? "

"Intensity of your beliefs Ethnicity?" Please tell me, what are these beliefs? Have I expressed any? Maybe ypu can help me discover my own hidden beliefs?

As to the subject at hand.

"The researchers say: "Stem subjects are not just more difficult on average than non-science subjects. They are without exception the hardest A-levels."

Web Link

Here's an interesting perspective.

Web Link


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

" I've known a goodly number of scientists and mathematicians who can't write worth a lick"

I'm not sure how you're defining "mathematicians", but most of the math and science professors I know write fairly well, but who I am to judge?


Posted by Carl Peterson, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

John,

The two links you provide are interesting. Neither of the two, nor yourself, provides any reasoned backing of the claim that math/science is inherently more difficult than reading/writing.

The links you provide show that mathematicians and/or scientists tend to grade harder than experts in other disciplines. That is not the same thing as saying one cognitive activity is more challenging than the other. Since children have a head-start inasmuch as they acquire language competence well before they're taught math, and since all children with very few exceptions manifest this competence, the activities involved in converting language skills to reading/writing skills may not seem as challenging as math and/or science.

I think it is in Socrates' Meno that he demonstrates how all of us have 'innately' within us the capacity to think with mathematical concepts. Kant, too, in his Critique of Pure Reason, gives evidence of mathematical concepts being universally present for consciousness. On this reasoning, figuring out the total number of degrees in any triangle may be 'easier' than figuring out the meanings of Socrates or Kant.

In any event, I think it is easier to plot out a trajectory to the moon and back than it is to interpret Socrates' Meno and write up a synopsis of Socrates' thesis. There is always 180 degrees in any given triangle; Socrates' meanings, however, are always changing, and the skill involved in giving the text a sensitive reading is in many respects more difficult than, say, geometry.

Your two links point to how we live in an increasingly technological world in which science/math is valued over reading/writing. (See, for example, twitter.) It's unfortunate that as technological emphases increase, our appreciation for the complexities of reading/writing seems to be diminishing, even among the professoriate who teach their respective areas of expertise.




Posted by woggut, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I think one challenge is teaching a classroom with students at multiple skill levels, particularly for math. Our child is a high performing student and is totally underwhelmed with the class, pretty much ignoring the teacher, doing homework and reading ahead.

I strongly recommend Khan Academy, it's just about as good as a tutor and covers elementary school math through calculus & diff eq. The curriculum is broken into small, single concept parts running 5-15 minutes. You can track your child's time working and achievement trend. In the long term I see the traditional stand & deliver teaching approach being replaced for math & science.


Posted by AVstudent, a resident of Amador Estates
on May 30, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I am a junior at Amador. Since freshman year I have always struggled with math. However, I know for a fact that the math teachers here are completely open to helping anyone that is struggling. I know the majority of them are there before, at lunch, and after school to help. I stay after school very often and do my homework in my teachers classroom. If I have a question he is there to help me out. My experience at Amador for the past three years has been nothing but positive. The teachers are there to help, the initiative just needs to come from the student. Just thought I'd share some input!


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm

AVMom - "She said the teacher does not walk around to help but sits at his desk"

So does the teacher refuse to help your child when she goes to his desk and ask for help? The critical question to ask would be if your child is seeking out assistance from the teacher.


Posted by Me Too, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I think it is funny that we always talk about how education needs to reform and the students need to learn more critical thinking skills, yet when we look at how schools are doing we always revert to standardized test scores and these made up rankings. The US News ranking started by just a ratio of students in a school to the number of AP tests taken. They still use that data but have added standardized test data.


Posted by Ptown Lover, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm

"So does the teacher refuse to help your child when she goes to his desk and ask for help? The critical question to ask would be if your child is seeking out assistance from the teacher."

The teacher should know who needs help and make him/her self accessible by checking in on kids. Some kids are shy, others are polite. My own son has told me many times he does not like to "bother" his teachers when they are working at their desks.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

and my friend here will have the kibble."
By Tom Cushing | 12 comments | 1,297 views

Sentinels of Freedom Newsletter
By Roz Rogoff | 0 comments | 787 views

Understanding Early Decision in College Admissions
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 254 views

When those covering the news become the news
By Gina Channell-Allen | 0 comments | 246 views