News


Pleasanton school district launches calendar survey

Survey to be available until Jan. 4

Pleasanton Unified School District has launched a public survey to garner opinions about how the district could best adjust its instructional calendar.

The survey, launched Dec. 11, will be open to teachers, school staff, parents and students grades 8-12 until Jan. 4.

The results from the survey will be used by Pleasanton's school board and staff to decide what changes community members would like to see in the district's calendar, as well as to evaluate whether the community wants a change at all.

Answers from the survey will be collected and analyzed in time for the next school board meeting on Jan. 12.

The survey itself casts a wide lens on the issue, asking stakeholders whether they support certain changes -- such as altering the amount of time off in summer -- but not limiting how many options they can select for changes.

One change that some stakeholders had advocated for is a schedule that allows the first semester to end before the winter holiday break, allowing high school students to take exams before the break. One question in the survey addresses this issue, asking whether such a calendar would provide certain benefits to families, teachers and staff.

The survey also addresses stakeholders' concerns, asking what drawbacks students would face if the instructional calendar was changed, such as trouble scheduling summer camps, student internships or losing winter break to study for finals or to catch up on end-of-semester work.

The survey has been emailed to students grades 8-12, teachers, classified staff, administrators and parents, and a student or employee ID is required to take the survey. Reminder postcards and phone calls will go out to families, and the survey will be advertised in school-related newsletters and local newspapers, such as the Pleasanton Weekly. It is also available on the school district's website.

The district is emphasizing the survey after an attempt to change the instructional calendar last year caused tension among parents.

The board approved a modified calendar in June 2014 that rescheduled the start of school in 2015 for early August and set the end of school in late May. That calendar was rescinded by the board in January after the board received criticism about the transparency of the decision.

The answers in this survey could be used to help the board as it eyes changing the calendar for the 2016-17 year, although some board members showed support for waiting until the 2017-18 year to make a change -- if one is made at all.

The San Ramon Valley Unified School District recently adjusted its instructional calendars to end the first semester before winter break. The Dublin Unified School District is also considering changing its calendar.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Avila
on Dec 18, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Can someone share the rationale behind the survey being sent to only 8-12 graders? I'm wondering why cant the parents of middle schoolers or older elementary parents vote?


14 people like this
Posted by ???
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Dec 18, 2015 at 11:30 pm

I don't think this story quite reads correctly. It should be that all parents with a child in the district can vote but only students in grades 8-12 can vote. I just wish people would look to those that have experience with children going through high school and onto college or something else for their perspective on how this all fits together!! Until you've had children in high school and beyond, you can't really see the complete picture


8 people like this
Posted by WG Mom
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:04 pm

I just took the survey. I'm disappointed in the quality of the questions - they are not worded very well. I hope that the committee gets the answers they need from it.


8 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I agree, poor survey, confusing and poorly worded questions.

It matters little if they get the info they want, as San Ramon and Dublin have changed calendars for next year, school will start on August 15h. Pressure will be on Pleasanton to go with those calendars next year or shortly thereafter.


9 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2015 at 4:13 pm

The survey was written with a desired outcome in mind.

Since I could not say it directly on my survey:

1)Ok sending my HS student to school mid to late August - but not earlier
2) Ok with slightly different semester lengths
3) no need for a stupid week off in October (duh duh)
4) Things are OK with the status quo
5) If lifelong learning is the goal, you can not make a loss of retention argument for the change:
* The retention loss will be the same whether the semester ends prior to or after the break
* The test scores will not reflect the lifelong retention well
6) The president of the teachers union (JC) desires should not be relevant to any decision


12 people like this
Posted by Ptown Parent
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Dec 22, 2015 at 5:10 pm

Most of the elementary, middle and high school parents I've talked to would have welcomed an earlier start with an October break. We are in a fortunate position to have an Indian Summer to speak of and enjoy a decent vacation during an off (cheaper time to travel) period. High schoolers get it... see video (it's the second one) Web Link Listen to what they are saying.


6 people like this
Posted by Selective hearing?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2015 at 5:35 am

@PTownparent, you say "listen to the students", as if every student supports your view. I watched the link, and what i saw was a few handfuls of kids being interviewed by the superintendent. To his credit, he was not leading or influencing. What i saw was a small, statistically insignificant, group of kids having a great discussion in which they understood both sides of this debate. The kids were knowledgeable, factual, and respectful. But not in agreement.

So @PTownparent, do you not listen to the students who disagree with you? Are they "bad"? Maybe you should have typed " listen to the kids, but only those who support my view ".

There are two sides to this decision. Intelligent stakeholders without hidden agendas can appreciate both sides.


3 people like this
Posted by Ptown Parent
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Dec 23, 2015 at 9:50 am

@Selective hearing? Your comprehension level based on your interpretation of a very simple statement I made "listen to the students" leads me to believe you think its okay to twist my words - it's not. My point is that just that "listen to the students" and take their perspective into consideration. I did, are you capable of doing that?


15 people like this
Posted by logical conclusions
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 23, 2015 at 10:02 am

Get the facts - Thank you for pointing out that we will be the ones that are not on the new schedule. We lost the opportunity to be the first.

It would be nice if the students best interests were all that was considered for school decisions, unfortunately that is rarely the case. I truly believe the last school board tried to make the right decision based on the facts, and were genuinely surprised by the vocal minority that came out to question there decision.

The issue is now clouded with parents that simply don't want to make a change, a long first semester without a break (if no October break is agreed to), sports and after-school programs that are reluctant to change, "loss' of summer, etc. My favorite last year was the parents complain that European summer vacations would have to be shortened... we really have it good here is P-town if this is the major problem, shortening vacations by a week or two. The saddest was to listen to young kids (under 10) that were sent up to the podium to read off cue-cards written by parents. I am all for encouraging public speaking but young kids only hear the headlines, they can't see the big picture yet (well some parents too I suppose). You would truly have believed we were considering year-round school with the way some parents complained to the board.

The fact is many school have or are considering a modified school calendar because the current one does not work for the students. If you look back at the history of the "current" calendar (the one we have) it was agreed on in the 19th century and academic achievement was not part of the discussion.

Lets let our elected officials decide what is best for our students based on the facts this time. Please write to the board and have them only listen to sound reasoning this time.


8 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2015 at 10:19 am

@ (il)logical conclusions

And just how does the current school calendar just not work -- I know of many successful young adults that were products of the current calendar.

Just saying it does not work is ridiculous (IE what facts do you have to support it)

If you bring up the retention issue - I will ask you what facts do you have to support it (have you retested students one year later under both systems? can you point to any research that has? No!

The only argument I have heard is the coddling argument -- Our kids won't have stress over the break, and their final exams will make it look like they learned more (due to short term memory access)
I believe our kids are more likely to fail if they are over coddled (notice I did not try to project FACT into my opinion!


1 person likes this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Get the Facts is a registered user.

@Me: "Ok with slightly different semester lengths"
The problem is that there are semester long classes in high school that need to be balanced. For example, if we simply changed the end of the semester to the holiday break, and kept the start and end dates the same, there would be 16 weeks the first semester and 22 the second semester. Would a teacher then teach more content to the students of the second semester, or teach slower perhaps?
"The president of the teachers union (JC) desires should not be relevant to any decision"
If there is one person who doesn't care about the calendar, it's "JC". I encourage you to call her and ask her, if you doubt this statement.
"And just how does the current school calendar just not work"
'logical conclusions' did not state the calendar does not work, she said that "many school have or are considering a modified school calendar because the current one does not work for the students". He/she is stating what other districts have done or might be doing, not what he/she feels they should be doing.


9 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 6, 2016 at 12:26 pm

When will the 2016/17 calendar be released? We are trying to make summer plans and really need to know. Other school districts have released school calendars - why is Pleasanton so far behind??


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 6, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Likely to be some time if the current survey is for 16-17. There would be tallying of opinions, promised meetings with parent community, board discussion/action, and negotiations with teachers' union . . . at a minimum and not necessarily in that order.


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2016 at 4:49 pm

@get the facts

I believe I read correctly
(il)logical conclusions wrote

"because the current one does not work for the students"

The modifier to the statement that many schools are looking at modified schedules (the fact part) was an opinion.

Many school districts may be looking at modified schedules because they may believe the current ones do not work for the students, or because of facility constrains would be more accurate.

The point was the writer tried to pass off as fact that "the current one does not work for the students" is not founded in fact but opinion.

Modified School Years brought to you by the people that brought you social promotions.


2 people like this
Posted by Well...
a resident of California Somerset
on Jan 7, 2016 at 7:37 pm

Yes this survey was poorly written. But thank goodness they asked more detailed questions than the last survey. That one was written for a specific outcome.


12 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Zuanich
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 8, 2016 at 3:30 pm

@Me - Here's one of several non-coddling reasons to change the calendar: Starting the year earlier and ending it earlier would give us about 2 more weeks of instructional time before high stakes exams take place, particularly AP and SBAC testing. These are exams that determine whether or not students get into colleges, and they are exams that determine the relative success of our district, which influences demand for houses in Pleasanton and our property values.

Currently, in many classes we have to teach the entire content of a course by May, which leaves late May and June as time often being underutilized.

No, the calendar change is not brought to you by the same people who brought social promotion. It's brought by practical people who see that the current calendar, while good for a farming society, is not in the best interest of our high school students.


6 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2016 at 5:16 pm

@Jennifer Zuanich
You only made an argument for campaigning to have the AP test moved. Incidentally I have several grown children that received 4s and 5s on the AP exams under the current system. Incidentally they would have been busy during the break either way as is required for retention for those AP classes. So what has changed, that it is all of a sudden harder? Or is it the coddling mother or father "If only Timmy had two more weeks?" Timmy is still has to study their rump off for an intense period entering the exams.
Is there evidence that the test scores will improve? I doubt it!

While I will acknowledge that school districts drive home prices - there does not appear to be a problem which needs fixing in Pleasanton. Besides that many of the residents do not agree with either of our assessment about correlation of home price with school district as can be witnessed by the vote down of the property tax twice.

I do believe adding additional weeks in the hot summer and long day months will decrease the effectiveness of instruction (my opinion.) I also think that those summer days are a right of passage.

Our school district already does quite well placing students into college, this despite the constant competitive nuttiness that has consumed us all. We should be careful not to ruin our children's childhood and family experience for marginally or even unfounded perceptions of some elusive benefit. The we've got to get one up mentality is not very healthy and has caused terrible unintended consequences with teen suicide in competitive district rising to alarming rates (Palo Alto is the Poster Boy for this.)


If some yet to be validated benefit exist for semesters ending prior to the holidays, why further dig into family time in the long summer days for a marginal weather week in October? Why not eliminate two days at thanksgiving and not add a week of vacation and add only 3 days out of August? Perhaps some of the stay at home's will not get the opportunity to go to gym quite as much and will have to whine (or wine) about parenting a little longer.

As far as the underutilized days in May and June there is some upside for the Senior students who are in the midst of a major life change and are overburdened with emotions, spring fever, and apprehension about the need to grow up.

SBAC is not used as part of college entrance criteria. College acceptance is determined on three types of factors
* Relative GP calculated by comparing a student graded compared to the grades common to the school district and historical student college success based on those grades - Rigor maybe considered an element of this as well
* ACT and/or SAT scores (leaning toward ACT lately)
* Other activities that show leadership, determination, perseverance and character
** an area the coddlers often try to fake for their offspring


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