Test scores show Pleasanton's on top Schools & Kids, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on May 14, 2010 at 3:52 pm
Twelve out of the 15 schools in the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) are in the top 10 percent of schools statewide, according to API (Academic Performance Index)statistics released today from the California Department of Education.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 14, 2010, 2:30 PM
Posted by Parent, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm
"How did PUSD achieve such high scores with UNIONIZED teachers who only work 6.5 hours a day?"
How you ask? With parents like me, who make sure our children are at or above grade level in all academic areas. This year we have been lucky and have good teachers, excellent actually. Last year, however, it was a nightmare, and I had to tutor my kids to make sure they learned what they needed especially in Math.
PUSD has some EXCELLENT teachers like the ones my kids are lucky enough to have this year. It also has some horrible, incompetent teachers like the ones we got stuck with last year.
I think you cannot thank the union for the students' success, but rather, the thanks go to individual teachers, those who are very good and actually teach and love their jobs. The CTA is bad both for the students and the excellent teachers.
Posted by Eric, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on May 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm
Doesn't seem like we even need these teachers. Our kids are the ones who are taking the tests and not the teachers. We are the one who are working with our children at home in order for them to achieve.
Posted by letsgo, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 14, 2010 at 10:46 pm
I'm with Cyndi...fire them all, they are worthless. I truly believe that Pleasanton could score at least average if not above without one student every going to school. So why do it? Let the kids be kids and do drugs and stuff and make movies about Pleasanton.
Posted by letsgo, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 14, 2010 at 10:54 pm
Actually, it is sad that we can not celebrate any success in this town. Yes, the parents are spectacular, helping their kids through projects, homework, etc. And yes, the teachers are very good. Yes, there may be a few you disagree with, but for the most part the teachers care and want to help the students succeed.
Yet somehow, the unions are to blame, the obnoxious parents are to blame, the school board is to blame, etc, etc, etc... blame for what, I don't know because the students are still performing
Posted by Devon, a resident of the Valley Trails neighborhood, on May 14, 2010 at 11:21 pm
Some teachers here do care. The teacher both my children have this year are wonderful. They're both very experienced and really show that they love their profession. I cannot be any happier with their current teachers. Teachers deserve most of the credit for the high test scores. They have a good idea what will be on those tests and armed our children with the knowledge to be successful in those tests. Kudos to the teachers!
This is not to say that every teacher is good. One of my son's teachers from last year frequently practice favoritism in class and made it quite obvious who were her "pets". But she is likely an isolated case and just glad it's behind us.
Posted by Anne, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 15, 2010 at 10:01 am
Well isn't that just "special"...to see the PW stroking their "government" schools as compared to other "government" schools in this State. Now try to compare their "government" schools to area "non-government schools." I have a 7th grade child in a "non-government" school, for example...who has friends in the Pleasanton "government" schools. The "non-government" curriculum and performance of their students on average is at least one, perhaps two grades beyond the "government" schools in Pleasanton.
Posted by Thomas Paineful, a resident of the Canyon Oaks neighborhood, on May 15, 2010 at 10:56 am
That's right, we need to fire all those UNIONIZED TEACHERS. Actually, I think Pleasanton kids can get by with some volunteers occasionally supervising their studies--we could even disband the school district altogether and let the kids learn at home. This is what's best for teachers, who will then be forced to go out and get real jobs at Starbucks, and best for the kids, who will then get to progress even faster under the tutelage of their parents and without the "professional" teachers dragging them down with Socialist indoctrination.
The budget crisis for PUSD will go away because PUSD will no longer exist!
As for working or single parents who cannot stay home to school their children, well, they should've thought of that before they reproduced. I'm sure there are many manual labor occupations the children of poorer parents can fulfill in our society--perhaps replacing the Castlewood workers who were locked out of their jobs by their employer. Kids would work for maybe $5 a day, another HUGE savings for Castlewood.
The main thing is, Pleasanton does NOT want to be like those Obamanal Socialists on the peninsula, who are putting MORE money into their public schools. It's a huge conspiracy that goes all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt and Roswell--just watch Glenn Beck, he'll set you straight.
Posted by Disagree with Sarah, a resident of the Golden Eagle neighborhood, on May 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm
I manage an organization with 87 people and I'm ALWAYS demanding improvements year after year. And guess what? My reports always find ways to deliver additional improvements by doing more with less. A business will cease to exist the moment it stops looking for ways to improve its overall business strategies and tactics. So I would challenge our school district to find ways to improve the quality of our schools and to do more with less.
Posted by Patriot, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm
"The "non-government" curriculum and performance of their students on average is at least one, perhaps two grades beyond the "government" schools in Pleasanton. "
Funny, when I compare my government school (University of California at Berkeley) math classes with the supposedly great non-government school that some of my friends attended (which will remain unnamed because these people are easily offended), I see that they were doing easier work at a less advanced level than I was. Oh well, I must have gotten a terrible education from this government school. Strange that so many Fortune 500 companies were so eager to hire me and my classmates. Don't they know that Cal is a lousy government school?
Posted by Kate, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 15, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Wasn't this column supposed to be positive? Anne, best of luck to you and your children in your Race to Nowhere. I'll look forward to seeing you on the blogs discussing how to deal with your stressed out kids but I'm sure they will experience stress at least two years before their peers.
Posted by Sarah, a resident of another community, on May 15, 2010 at 7:24 pm
To the person who disagreed with me. I am so glad I don't work for you. I would do my best and you would want, more, more, more. We are talking about a school, not a business. These are kids, not adults. What I am saying is,these scores are great, why not take pride and enjoy the fact that the students in Pleasanton are doing so well. People like you have issues. Relax, you don't have to be better, better, better!
Posted by Thomas Paineful, a resident of the Canyon Oaks neighborhood, on May 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm
Caesar, it's well-established that Pleasanton USD teachers are not only useless, they actually hold back the brilliant children of this town.
Once again, can we get a consensus on MY plan? We dynamite the schools, salt the earth so nothing ever grows there again, and the parents homeschool the children. Teachers will then replace the locked-out Castlewood workers, but at a wage of only $5 a day. The former teachers will be allowed to live in a makeshift camp in the hills, but no campfires during fire season.
Posted by resident, a member of the Vintage Hills Elementary School community, on May 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm
The test scores are high for a variety of reasons.....but not necessarily purely attributed to the Pleasanton schools. You can't exclude that some of it is based on good teachers and a pro-active district but you also can't exclude the demographics of the city and the family influence on achievement. If students aren't learning in the classroom or are not performing to the family's expectations - they supplement the learning with tutors and outside classes. Also teachers are expected to teach to the test......that isn't necessarily a positive thing in my eyes... Creative thinking and critical reasoning skills are out the window and have been replaced by multiple choice tests. Test scores are one measure but they shouldn't be everything.
Posted by As a person who went to a non-gov't school, a resident of the Canyon Creek neighborhood, on May 16, 2010 at 8:05 pm
Non-government schools do not need to hire teachers with credentials, do not have standards they need to follow, and do not have to test their kids using the STAR. How in the world you could compare your non-gov't school to Pleasanton gov't schools is beyond me.
This community is full of amazing people. The spoiled rotten idiots always seem to ruin it.
Posted by Sarah, a resident of the Val Vista neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 8:26 am
To answer Thomas P. question regarding how did they score such high scores when they only work 6.5 hours is that there is soooo much homework and projects. With 3 children there is homework going on all night. I couldn't donate money to the schools if I wanted to because all the projects cost between $10.00 to $50.00. There is at least one project a month, from building cricket cages or making poster boards.
Posted by Swami, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am
The PW article magnified what is non-news, singling out Alisal and Lydiksen. There could have been more nuanced interpretation of that data.
Alisal and Lydiksen are excellent schools. 887 at Alisal is a good score for a school with more kids that are learning English. The school is doing a great job getting them ready for middle school, clearly Harvest Park is benefiting from Alisal's efforts. Now THAT is something PW could focus on in followup articles.
Don't know why there are any questions about Lydiksen either, 903 is a good score!
Looks like Pleasanton's schools performed excellently in the API testing. Believe a large part of this is a combination of good teachers and kids whose parents mostly encourage academics with good behaviour at school.
As to the comment about teaching to the test, my experience indicates to the contrary. My daughter's teacher has been very focused on analysis, expression and creative writing for much of this school year, and has thus added a lot to her students' learning - we couldn't ask for more. So there may be a case of teacher-by-teacher variance here.
Organizations like PPIE have also been helping with other important aspects, though not necessarily measured via API.
Overall, the scores reflect that we have a good environment for education of kids, and the credit belongs to the combination of kids, teachers and parents in the district.
Posted by jill, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 11:23 am
oh my! I feel that there are GREAT teachers and some that are not so great. If your child doesn't fit the mold though, watch out! If your child needs extra help, they will try and help but the rest is up to you and your wallet. I can't tell you how many times we have been told to get a tutor. So, now I can go pay someone to teach my daughter what her teacher is failing to do. I'll I hear is that class sizes are too large for her teacher to handle, and some how it is our fault because the bond didn't pass.
Posted by Andrea, a resident of the Birdland neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 11:38 am
We have some really GREAT teachers! I am very happy with our school and what they have done for my son. This year, I have not been to trilled with his teacher and her teaching skills but luckly so many others have stepped in to help. It is not just the teachers at our schools who help kids learn. It is the reading teachers, the science teachers, the math lab teachers. It is anyone who can inspire our kids to want to learn. I think that this is why we score so high, so many people are willing to step in and help. I know even his past teachers help. There is a lot to say for that!
Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of the Val Vista neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 1:31 pm Parent of Two is a member (registered user) of PleasantonWeekly.com
THIS ISN'T ABOUT THE TEACHERS OR THE TEACHERS' UNION! This is about the kids. The teachers aren't responsible for the scores, nor is this in spite of the teachers. Every district has a teacher's union, pointing to Pleasanton and saying our high test scores are because of the teachers is like pointing to Oakland and blaming the teachers for the low scores. In order, it's the kids who deserve the credit first, second, and third. Parents and teachers come next, and the unions come in a distant last behind the janitorial staff and the cafeteria workers and district administration.
Posted by The The, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Unreal! Lets create a reason to bash teachers. Our students score well (very well) and its not the teachers that caused those great scores.??? The students scored well in spite of the teachers.??? Many would like the teacher’s salary based on these test scores. How can Some claim that the teachers’ pay should be based on the test score that teachers have nothing to do with???
I am convinced more and more that this is a community that can’t or won’t give teachers the credit and respect they have earned.
Posted by Thomas Paineful, a resident of the Canyon Oaks neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm
If Parent of Two (two human children, I assume?)is correct and when test scores are high, "it's the kids who deserve the credit first, second, and third." then it's also the kids who deserve the blame when test scores are low.
So logically, it follows:
1. Teachers in PUSD do NOTHING--the children in PUSD are all autodidacts. This lends further support to my "let's disband PUSD schools" plan (i.e., dynamite the schools and turn them into vacant lots, fire all school district employees, and let the children be homeschooled). Every single cent being spent on PUSD schools is not only wasteful but counterproductive--imagine how much more the children could be achieving if only the teachers were not there to interfere with the parents' efforts!
2. If the children claim all of the credit for high test scores, then the kids who score low--like those in Oakland--are to blame. Therefore, the children should be fired in Oakland and a new, better group brought in. As for the children who are fired from the Oakland schools, they can replace the locked-out Castlewood workers (and little kids will work for $2 a day since they don't know any better).
If you have all the facts in hand, the way the geniuses do who blog on the P-Weekly, the solutions come quick and easy. I'm glad I stopped reading books and only read the P-Weekly now! It has all the answers!
Posted by To The The, a resident of the Avignon neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm
The people on this message board represents probably 1/10000 of 1% of the good people in this community. Most of the teacher bashing is done by some idiots who probably never got anywhere in life and want to build their happiness upon others' misery. That's why they only post crap here anonymously.
Posted by tina, a resident of the Beratlis Place neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm
One of the biggest reasons kids do well in Pleasanton is because so many parents are involved with their child's education, but let's not forget about the private tutors and organizations that are helping our kids too. My child getting an A has nothing to do with his math teacher, it's all to do with the $6,000 that we are forking out to keep him at grade level. If the state knew how many kids were receiving private help, then should our schools be receiving these so could education awards? It's just a question.
Posted by The The, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm
We can all look at a teacher here or there that was not up to par but as a district PUSD is better that good. The numbers that we use to judge a school say so. Here is a link to a speaker at TED. He talks about the denial of fact.
“People wrap themselves in their beliefs, and they do it so tightly that you can't set them free. Not even the truth will set them free. And, listen, everyone's entitled to their opinion; they're even entitled to their opinion about progress, but you know what you're not entitled to? You're not entitled to your own facts. Sorry, you're not. And this took me awhile to figure out.”
Posted by I think it's funny, a resident of the Castlewood neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm
I think it's funny that some people on this blog think teachers only work 6.5 hours a day. You are hilarious! Get off your booty, get your credential, and then you can see how much extra time we put in.
Posted by james, a resident of the Avignon neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm
A year ago I had a meeting with teacher in this district about my son's progress in an area that he was struggling in. This teacher told me my son was not engaged in the class. I told him perhaps it was because he was struggling and simply loss. The teacher advised us to get a tutor. Well, at a very expensive cost, that is what we did. Her name is Mary, and she gave more to my child in a month than his teacher gave him in a year. When he asked her a question, she didn't tell him to look in the book!
Our children are often told to work things out for themselves, but if a child asks for help it should be given, because if that child didn't understand, you can bet there are others who don't understand too. People praise this district, but our kids are asking for help and many don't get it, because many teachers know they'll get it at home. I absolutely agree with Casar, kids in this area are getting private help to pass school, so what's so good about that?
Posted by Ginger, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm
My 2 kids are in special education and we've been with Lydiksen for 6 years. We left private school because they did not have teadchers who *could* teach special education. Unlike many of the other elementary schools in this district the special ed kids test. I feel that this provides my kids with more real world experience and opportunities to see how the rest of the population lives. The results, sometimes Lydiksen's scores are lower than the rest of the district. The real result, my eighth grader is complete her transition out of special education as she enters high school. She's ready and will succeed in the "real" world.
I'm so proud of Lydiksen for doing what's RIGHT by the kids and not what's right by the homeowners who can only think of test scores and property values. Bragging rights that your town has high scores is really short sighted. Bragging that there are schools in your district who accept special ed kids and treat them like kids and teach them the skills is where the focus should really be.
Posted by Deb, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm
It would be more meaningful if the scores were based on the child's movement, e.g. 1st to 2nd (same level or higher; improvement would be higher) When schools merge, e.g. the middle schools and high schools, use percentage of the students moving into the school. In this way, tracking improvements of English Language Learners (like my son) and Special Needs would be easier to see than just this year to last year (this year might have many more ELL and SN kids than the previous year).
We had the good, the bad and the ugly when it came to teachers. Thankfully, most were good to great! Our kids were definitely encouraged by us and sometimes tutored (especially math) by us. Each of our kids had different learning styles. The style of our son is the minority of students & often ignored when teaching a group. We did use some of the private reading programs. We also supported our kids in their interests. The only push was to complete the commitment made by the kid.
Our kids also learned about how their expectations influence others. So our son said he planned on a 4 year college when he was in 9th grade (he had wanted to put down 2 yr because he knew he could make it.) He was not an academic student. His classes were easier and he succeeded. If it hadn't been for his 7th grade English teacher (mainstream after ESL in 6th), he wouldn't have believed he could. HP did a huge disservice to him in 7th and 8th. In 7th he was mainstreamed over our objections (he had not tested well enough to have been removed.) His 7th grade teacher worked hard with him - he went up in grade levels making a courtesy "B". He was still below grade level, but never gave up hope. She worked with him and his potential as she did with his classmates. In Feb the VP called to say he needed CLAD teachers - yes, I knew that and it was written each year. It took HP that long?!? The same thing happened when he moved up to 8th grade. We are assuming he had trained teachers. He only tested out completely in his senior year of high school. Our daughter worked much harder in high school - more difficult classes to get a similar GPA and finally exceed him.
At college (yes, 4 yr state) he did seek out help in English. That help improved his grades in other subjects because his writing improved. Second semester was when he actually took English. His sister is definitely more prepared for a different 4 yr college.
I'm surprised no one is congratulating the schools and the teachers. It doesn't look as if you need that extra tax to support the superintendent but is stated for the "schools".
Posted by Swami, a resident of the Pleasanton Valley neighborhood, on May 17, 2010 at 11:47 pm
Someone seems to have been irritated by my comment regarding Alisal doing a good job with English learners. Clearly, the proportion of kids that need additional instruction matters more for API scores than the number of kids in that category, so my apologies if that wasn't clear.
Here is a link that shows relative proportions for elementary school... Web Link
According to this, Valley View has the highest Proportion of EL (15%), and Alisal and Mohr are next in proportion (12%), followed by Fairlands(11%). There is a bit of a demographic correlation in this website's info, that probably needs parsing to make further sense of this. It appears that overall that Alisal is doing fine wrt teaching, given its particular mix of students.
The key question to answer is this: "If my kid were to go to Alisal rather than of the other elementary schools, would there be a difference in education from Elementary through High school?" -
This viewpoint would essentially pin the variables wrt each particular kid other than the school itself. API rating in isolation is insufficient information to make this call. Nothing in the API/CST testing indicates there would be a difference, since there are multiple factors at play and the gaps are not large enough to warrant a conclusion.
btw, at third grade, Alisal has CST pass rates for English of 72%, while Mohr has 79%, and Walnut Grove has 82%. These three feed into Harvest Park, which has a 7th grade English pass rate of 88% - so clearly the system is able to pull kids up wrt English by 7th grade, assuming the CST scales test-difficulty appropriately between grades.
As a side-note, Valley View is at 76% pass rate at third grade CST test for English, and this may mean their innovative dual-language immersion program does not yet show up in 3rd grade CST results dramatically. Anecdotally, however, parents with kids in that program think highly of it, so there must be quite some merit that doesn't get tested in standardized tests (e.g. Spanish proficiency, comfort with extended family, etc.). Clearly education is about more than API scores in English and Math.
Lets focus instead on preserving the quality of education kids have received in the past in Pleasanton, and hence support the schools and teachers as much as possible.
Posted by Test Scores Schmest Scores, a resident of the Country Fair neighborhood, on May 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm
We really need to not look at these test scores and try to read too much into them. I have seen most of the tests these kids take and I can tell you that, for the most part, they are measuring things like reading ability and memorization of trivial facts that they will soon forget.
When teachers try to get the kids to think and learn and figure out how to solve problems on their own they are bombarded by complaints from some parents (not all, but some). Our parent community is so paranoid about what will happen to their little angels if they do not graduate with a 4.0 that we are losing track of the bigger picture.
It's obvious that PUSD has figured out how to take some well cared for literate kids and make them excel on some tests. That's all fine and dandy but that does not mean that the district has to fail in terms of creating kids that are lifelong learners and who are able to think critically. I am amazed sometimes at some of the demands that I hear coming out of the mouths of my friends when they talk about the teacher. It's always "The teacher should do this or the teacher should do that". I guess I should not be that surprised though since I do find myself shocked at how much these parents do for their kids.
We need to back off, we need to let them learn and grow and make mistakes. They need to learn how to get up and dust themselves off and try again. They need to feel the joy of truly mastering something in life. They need to understand that cheating is wrong and it's hurtful in the long run. They need to learn to work hard and realize that sometimes when you work hard you still don't end up where you want to be. We need to support the teachers, in fact we need to encourage their efforts to get our kids to think for themselves. We need to stop doing their homework and projects. We need to stop micromanaging them. And we need to protect them from the neurotic insanity that school can sometimes induce.
We have kids that test well in Pleasanton and we are lucky to have a very caring and smart group of educators. We need to move past the test and help our kids rise to the next level.
Posted by Caesar, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on May 21, 2010 at 5:11 pm
You seem to be fixated with my posts. Is this a sensitive area for you? You must be a teacher. Don't worry, the board will protect you. Let me know if I made any mistakes because I don't use a spell checker.