News


Pleasanton school district ranks among Bay Area's best

Middle, high schools also receive high ratings in new report

The Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD) has been ranked the third-best school district in the Bay Area, according to the 2015 Niche rankings -- a website that provides reviews and rankings on K-12 schools, colleges and neighborhoods.

Factors that were considered in the ranking included: academics, administration and policies, educational outcomes, health and safety, student culture and diversity, survey responses (from current students, recent alumni and parents), teachers, resources and facilities, extracurriculars and activities, and sports and fitness.

According to the Niche report, PUSD received B's or higher on eight factors but received a C+ for extracurriculars and activities.

"A lot of extracurriculars, but fees are expensive," wrote a Pleasanton parent in a review dated May 8, 2014.

Niche gave PUSD a score of four out of five for overall experience, based off a parent/student survey that had 79 respondents.

To assess the district, Niche used data from various government and public agencies. Statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Education represent the most recent data available, typically from 2011-12, according to Niche's website.

Niche also ranked PUSD 16th in its list of Best School Districts in California, out of 100 eligible school districts that have at least 100 students enrolled.

"Our students are provided stellar education and continue to excel because of their hard work taught by our innovative teachers, supported by exemplary administrators and staff, and a community that goes above and beyond to support their children and our schools," said PUSD superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.

Trailing right behind PUSD is San Ramon Valley Unified School District, ranking fourth in the Bay Area and 20th in California.

For a full list of school district rankings, visit the Niche website.

Middle and high schools

Niche also released a list of the best public middle schools and high schools in the Bay Area, placing all three Pleasanton middle schools in the top five and Amador Valley High School ranked as fifth.

According to the report, Pleasanton Middle School ranked second, Harvest Park ranked third and Hart ranked fourth.

All three middle schools received an A+ in academics, overall district experience and teachers, and a B+ in student culture and diversity.

In Niche's 2015 Best Public Middle Schools in California rankings, Pleasanton Middle School ranked 18th, Harvest Park ranked 25th and Hart ranked 26th -- out of 100 eligible middle schools that have an average grade size of at least 15 students school-wide.

According to the 2015 Niche rankings of best public high schools in the Bay Area, Amador Valley ranked fifth and Foothill High School ranked 12th.

Amador received either a B- or higher in academics, health and safety, student culture and diversity, teachers, resources and facilities, and sports and fitness. The high school received a C in extracurriculars and activities. In addition, Niche gave Amador a 4.2 out of 5 for overall experience.

Foothill received a B or higher in all ranking factors, but received a 3.8 out of 5 on overall experience from parents and students.

In Niche's California ranking, Amador ranked 25th and Foothill ranked 61st.

Comments

14 people like this
Posted by MOM
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2015 at 8:38 am

I know a lot of parents struggle with this because unless you're having private school tutors, private music lessons and private sports lessons, then your kids are just average and in this community that's not okay
I wonder if this is truly earned? If parents were not able to do these things would we have such an advantage over studies like this?


13 people like this
Posted by Looks more like 6th place
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Feb 12, 2015 at 9:34 am

While 1st in the tri-valley, it looks more like 6th place in the Bay Area, right behind Palo Alto, Los Gatos-Saratoga, Acalanes, Fremont Union HS (where Dwyer went), Mtn View/Los Altos and then Pleasanton.

Nice to see PUSD in the top rankings. Despite the problems with administration in recent years. It's really the terrific kids and involved families who deserve the credit for making PUSD great.


24 people like this
Posted by NamelessinPleasanton
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Feb 12, 2015 at 9:44 am

"Our students are provided stellar education and continue to excel because of their hard work taught by our innovative teachers, supported by exemplary administrators and staff, and a community that goes above and beyond to support their children and our schools,"

Once again our Superintendent fails to give parents or family or even the children themselves, any credit for the success of our school district.

Frankly I think the kids do well in spite of the administration, not because of them.

Sad


13 people like this
Posted by Reality Seeker
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

Make no mistake that this district ranks high based on the teachers and parents that work hard to educate their kids. The administrative gaffs that we continue to see will impact this district if it continues. We have done well even though we are handicapped by an administration that is out of sync with reality. The recent board transition will help us get back on track.


6 people like this
Posted by NamelessinPleasanton
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Feb 12, 2015 at 9:49 am

The Niche website also says we have a 24:1 teacher child ratio. Interesting. I must be at the wrong school.

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Amador
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm

I blame the Teachers Union...It is ALL their fault!!!


34 people like this
Posted by Wanted: Administration that doesn't hate "privileged" parents
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:01 pm

"Our students are provided stellar education and continue to excel because of their hard work taught by our innovative teachers, supported by exemplary administrators and staff, and a community that goes above and beyond to support their children and our schools," said PUSD superintendent Parvin Ahmadi.

Really? This is the most articulate comment PUSD can muster? Was this comment submitted in written form to the Weekly by our Superintendent? Maybe an "Exemplary" staff member crafted it. Having watched the live broadcast of Tuesday night's board meeting, I can assure the voting community that this sentence IS absolutely consistent with the administration's public speaking prowess. Go watch the TV30 streaming broadcasts, and you’ll see for yourself. The well-educated and articulate teachers in our district (and we have many of them) must cringe when they hear our superintendent and her administrators speak.

It's pathetic that PUSD is jumping on this news as an opportunity to praise themselves. Let's look at the statistics: 100 CA school districts were included in the rankings, and PUSD finished 16th. 85th percentile is good? A solid “B”? That’s “exemplary”? 4 out of 5 star overall experience rating. that's 80/100 = B-. And we're proud? The student/teacher survey had 79 respondents. Is that a statistically relevant sample for PUSD’s size? If not, the survey results are just as meaningful (and poorly engineered) as the recent Calendar Change surveys… They produce sound bites that are used to push forward a single-sided agenda.

I believe many of our teachers ARE exemplary. Not all, but the majority. I feel sorry for their plight – being led by a crippled and ineffective administration. The students ARE exemplary. They were raised by parents who are far above “average” by any measure of parental success. While their “helicopter” parenting strategy can have unintended negative consequences, you cannot ignore the impact of hover-parenting on grades and test scores. This survey mainly ranks PUSD high for grades, so let’s give credit where it’s due. Our administration drones on how “incredibly great” every employee of PUSD is, how many copies the classified employees made (they work so hard making copies), and how “perfectly awesome” the district has done everything, ever! Yet, they refuse to give credit for the biggest reason for their current success: the demographics of the parents. Ms. Superintendent, PUSD’s high rankings in surveys are NOT the result of your obsession with the “Opportunity Gap”, paying off massive employee “settlements”, trips to the “Museum of Tolerance” or the hiring of a Director of Nutritional Services. It is the INTOLERANCE of academic failure by a highly educated and successful parent population. From kindergarten on, Pleasanton’s successful parents have taught their children the secrets to success, with a low tolerance for failure. Please note that "success" and "wealth" are not synonymous.

So where do we go from here? A smart superintendent would read the tea leaves, and shift strategy. Instead of screaming “I’m doing a great job” at the top of your lungs, try saying a statement that starts with “I’m disappointed with our progress on XXXX, and we have terminated several people for not performing”. Instead of being dismissive and combative with parents, maybe you should start asking parents “how can we do things better?” and then act on those suggestions. The trust and confidence of your parents and voters has been shattered by an arrogant and deaf administration. Maybe it’s too late for this administration to recover. Perhaps the best next step for the administration is to move to another school district, as a team. They should take over a school district with a demographic dominated by poverty and misfortune, where the families don’t suffer the curse of “privilege”. Then, when Ms. Ahmadi and her team takes that perennially low-scoring district to #1 in the state, she will prove to us how right she was!! It’s all about having a great Superintendent with great administrators! I won’t hold my breath.


10 people like this
Posted by AVHS Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 12, 2015 at 2:45 pm

"Niche gave PUSD a score of four out of five for overall experience, based off a parent/student survey that had 79 respondents."

What is Niche and 79 respondents is hardly representative of anything in a district this size. Any opportunity to toot her own horn. laughable.


3 people like this
Posted by Agree with wanted
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2015 at 4:22 pm

This is based on 79 respondents?!? Again our family was not asked and it's just like the calendar where the traditional calendar is not mentioned in the last article.

Believe me - I want our schools to be rated at the top and I congratulate those teachers who give their all and I hope that they can continue their work.

Can anyone tell me what is the percentage of high school graduates for Amador, Foothill, and surrounding areas.
That is the most important thing so that our children can continue their education or go to trade schools (which we need a lot more of)


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 13, 2015 at 8:44 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here is some background information from Ed-Data: Web Link

Here is a press release from CDE: Web Link

Amador: Web Link

Foothill: Web Link

Ed-Data, EdSource, and CDE all provide plenty of data and information about California schools - unlike Niche and any of the random matrix, self promoting sites or media rankings. Clearly I have a bias.


8 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Feb 13, 2015 at 11:32 am

The school district gets these high scores by crushing the kids with abusive levels of pressure, and piles of junk homework.

The price being paid is ADD drug addition (rampant in high school especially) depression, suicide, burnout, and family strife.

Other schools in the bay area...like Gunn high in Palo Alto...are starting to implode, as parents pull their kids out in a panic. Suicide after suicide, and teachers refuse to back off. Those school districts are facing ruin as people become aware that the health of the children is being sacrificed so that teachers and administrators can pat themselves on the back.

Pleasanton is not far behind.


9 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 13, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Pleasanton Parent, It is not so simple that you can blame any district for "crushing the kids with abusive levels of pressure and piles of junk homework." You need to broaden your limited sources of information before you speak about suicides, schools, and teachers who refuse to back off.


8 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 13, 2015 at 2:39 pm

I don't need a survey to tell me we have good schools here. My son graduated from Foothill 2013 and joined the US Army Reserves his senior year. He had to take an apptitude test (the ASVAB exam)when he joined and without any test prep or study scored an 86%.
He was in line with a 22 year old who had flunked the test and was there to re-take the exam. After talking to him he was worried about how he'd do but in the end it turned out ok.
My son is not a genius by any means but his entire education, from Gingerbread through Foothill, came from PUSD. He is now in college and is doing fine there as well.
So I have to assume that PUSD did something right all those years he was in the system.


1 person likes this
Posted by Bias
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 14, 2015 at 9:03 am

Pleasanton Parent, what Kathleen really means is that you can say that about Pleasanton Schools just not about Palo Alto schools. Her own words are so prophetic "Clearly I have a bias."


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Bias, Jumping right in with Twist and Shout!

My bias is about sources of information. For example, where is the evidence for "implode" or "as parents pull their kids out in a panic" or "so that teachers and administrators can pat themselves on the back"? Merely looking at where to place blame will not prevent these tragedies. Even the experts are struggling.


5 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Feb 15, 2015 at 5:30 pm

@Kathleen Ruegsegger

I absolutely can say PUSD is "crushing the kids with abusive levels of pressure and piles of junk homework." I am a eye witness who has watched and lived this nightmare.

My husband and I have lived here for 15 years. We were warned of this by other parents in our neighborhood. We've seen seen this happen over and over again. We've seen kid after kid end up prescribed to ADD medicines, not because they have ADD, but simply because they needed dope to "perform better". We've seen kid after kid with anxiety, depression, and worse. We've seen time and again as teachers and school administrators gyrate, twist...anything, ANYTHING to distract and deny, the simple truth that those of us who have lived this, know so well: the schools slam innocent children with abusive levels of junk work.

How do you think the school gets these high scores? It's not magic. It's unbelievable levels of pressure on children and parents both. The results are not "high achieving kids". The results are a huge proportion of kids who crash and burn before, during, or after college. The results are families living a daily frustration dumped on their heads by teachers.

I absolutely blame the teachers and schools, and I am not alone. Sure I understand that the State and Federal standards have made the system impossible. But I simple don't care about the reasons any more. The fact is, the teachers make the kids the scapegoats. It's the kids...the weakest members of society, who have no power in the system...who are paying the daily price of pain for an educational system out of control.

Hundreds of parents in Pleasanton tried pushing for a homework policy, and we have seen the result: a homework policy that teachers simply ignore, that school principals refuse to enforce.

We parents are past the negotiation stage. We've lost all faith in the school's honesty on this issue. Some of us will simply leave, some will taking more direct action.


8 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm

"who are paying the daily price of pain for an educational system out of control."

I'm one of the parents who isn't seeing this at all. My kids don't have that much homework, and it doesn't seem that tough to me. I remember having more, and I think it did me a lot of good.


5 people like this
Posted by vinny
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 16, 2015 at 7:58 am

If your kid is gifted its a great district.
If your kid is struggling it is terrible.

PUSD will not address this problem.
I took my failing kid out and put her in a private school.
Its costing me, but it's straight A's now.

Why can't public schools do this?
It has to do with unions, bureaucracy, drugs in schools, social network bullies, and horrible teachers (there are a few good ones).

It is a challenging problem, but directing more resources to kids that need help keeping up is needed.


2 people like this
Posted by Long time PUSD parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 16, 2015 at 8:54 am

I wasn't going to comment but then read BobB's comment. Wow Bob, I haven't talked to one single parent in my 15 years in the district who has said they had more homework than their kids. You either have brilliant kids, your kids haven't taken honors or AP classes or they are in kindergarten (which still does a lot more than I did in kinder!).

I have kids at all academic levels and do agree that if you are advanced it is an advantage. If you are above average it is harder and if you are average forget it. I do agree with all the comments about the parents are the ones supporting the kids. I would say on average 80% of the HS parents use a tutor for math. That would be a big red flag for me as a district to find out why the kids aren't understanding the material and having to use outside tutors. Not to open Pandora's box BUT, when your paying your HS math teacher the same or less than your MS PE teacher that should answer your question. That's another thing I don't get at all.


2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Feb 16, 2015 at 10:01 am

@BobB

Here's a video from a kid at Gunn high school in Palo Alto (another "high performing school" with a similar culture to Pleasanton).

Web Link

I dare you to watch this video. It's literally crushing, to watch a sweet girl begging for adults to stop the pressure.
Why did she make the video? Because of her friends at Gunn who have been jumping in front of the train. Since the video, another kid jumped in front of the train. Another kid becomes a corpse.

Pleasanton and Palo Alto, 2 of the highest performing schools with the highest suicide rates as well. Feel free to read past headlines about high school suicides in Pleasanton.

Sure there are kids who do great in a "challenging" school. There are kids who love to skydive and climb sheer granite cliffs. But there are just as many kids, if not more, who are NOT comfortable in these environments. When you ram these less-agressive kids into a mold they don't fit... they crash and burn. And they commit suicide, in record numbers.

"The price of pain" -- yes, I wrote that intentionally. Suicide and drug addition. But hey, it wasn't "your" kids.

Unfortunately in Pleasanton I find this "I don't care, as long as my kids are doing well" attitude is commonplace. Which makes Pleasanton's slogans "A Community of Character" even more hypocritical. I propose that we change Pleasanton's slogan to: "If you aren't a top achiever, get the heck out of town -- you're dragging down the test scores."


1 person likes this
Posted by Laverne
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 16, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Despite our 8 weeks of summer and the semester ending after winter break...we still rank high!
8 weeks is just right!! If it aint' broke, dont fix it & it appear to not be broken, or we wouldnt rank so darn high every year!!! LOL


11 people like this
Posted by Privileged Parent
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 16, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Dear Parvin,

Benecia needs a new Superintendent next year. What a great chance for you to prove that our high test scores and rankings are the result of your stellar leadership! Once you get Bencia's scores and rankings to match or beat Pleasanton's you will prove all of your critics wrong. To be fair though, you have positioned us for a drop thanks to how you and Odie rolled out common core so it will be easier to catch us.

I'm sure Benicia's parents will embrace you far more than we do. No more distractions from entitled parents who have no clue what's best for their spoiled, rich kids.

Benecia already approved their 2015/16 calendar so one less distraction for you. The current super only makes a base of $190 compared to your $222 base so I'm not sure if you can get by on that but please think about it. It's very selfish of Pleasanton (and you) to stay here when less fortunate communities could use your leadership.


7 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2015 at 5:41 pm

"...Wow Bob, I haven't talked to one single parent ... in my 15 years in the district"

Two things come to mind. It could be that the parents you are talking to who are the ones doing the most complaining. Many parents are happy with things as they are. Also, there has been a shift in the educational backgrounds and expectations of parents in the last 15 years in Pleasanton, and I'm personally grateful for that. Let's hope we get a lot more highly educated and motivated parents moving to Pleasanton in the coming years.

I went to private college preparatory schools on the East Coast for grades 7 to 12, and expectations, demands, and workloads were tougher than what I've seen here with my kids here in PUSD. I think the education I got there really prepared me well. If anything, I'd like to see classwork, projects and exams get tougher, not easier.

In my opinion, the business about the students at Gunn has a lot more to do with the parents than the workload at school. Above all, parents need to love their children and understand that they can only ask that there children do the best that they can. That is all I ever asked of my children, and I think a good parent can tell when I child really is trying his best and when he is not. A good parent should also realize when a child is under too much stress.


3 people like this
Posted by Summer hasn't changed
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2015 at 7:01 pm

Laverne, summer is ten weeks long. Eight weeks would have been only if the calendar had been changed, but no change will happen so we have ten weeks. I agree with you, "8 weeks is just right."


2 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 16, 2015 at 8:19 pm

This award is inspite of the administration. There really is no reason why PUSD cannot be number one. The School Board is discussing and aware that a majority of parents want to see the upper administration replaced. Here is a link to all of their emails. Write them all and tell them what you think. I cannot think that there will be many in support of Ahmadi and her crew.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Greetings from Gunn
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2015 at 9:40 pm

Kathleen was the administrative assistant to Kevin Skelly, Palo Alto superintendent during the suicides of four to five years ago, and now she is back with Max McGee, new superintendent, who finds himself thrust into the same leadership challenge. Sadly, Kathleen is whistling the same tune as Skelly: it's not my fault. Those of us with kids in Palo Alto are reliving the horrors of 2009-2010, when we had several suicides while the administration, Kathleen included, reminded us that it wasn't their fault. And it wasn't. But we wish that the employees that we pay would spend more time treating the current three suicides in six months as an emergency.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 16, 2015 at 10:00 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

@G from G, This is being treated as an emergency; but if there was a simple solution, the community wouldn't have suffered these most recent tragedies.


2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Feb 17, 2015 at 10:29 am

@BobB

Parents are already doing what you suggest. Constantly.

The point is, the schools and the teachers are satisfied with that. If you have a kid who doesn't thrive in high-pressure environments, then they pound you and the kid relentlessly. Endless pressure from teachers... "MORE MORE MORE".

I'm glad your kids did well Bob. I guess that runs in your family. But there are a lot of parents who have average kids, who don't prosper in the high pressure environment you describe.

Maybe you don't care about those kids. That's what your comment seems to say. So then, you are just like PUSD. For average or struggling kids, nothing. Your kids have trouble with high-pressure school? Just crush them with teacher criticism.

Next time there is a suicide, we in Pleasanton need to consider a class action lawsuit. That is probably the only thing that will make the school districts...and the smug parents of the top students ... pay attention.


3 people like this
Posted by José Jiménez
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 17, 2015 at 8:33 pm

José Jiménez is a registered user.

Removed because it was irrelevant to the thread.


3 people like this
Posted by José Jiménez
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 17, 2015 at 9:40 pm

José Jiménez is a registered user.

Are students in PISD taught about the First Amendment ???

The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It forbids Congress from both promoting one religion over others and also restricting an individual’s religious practices. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government.

The Pleasanton Weekly censor must have powers greater than Congress.....watch out for the censor....OR maybe the censor should watch out...."Removed because it was irrelevant to the thread"...really ?? who decides??


5 people like this
Posted by caywen
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 19, 2015 at 10:36 am

caywen is a registered user.

The first amendment doesn't cover censorship by private entities over their own property. People or corporations have no public obligation to publish or promote anything you feel like saying.


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

Couples: "Taming Your Gremlin" by Richard Carson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,304 views

Battle over downtown Livermore plan heats up
By Tim Hunt | 2 comments | 645 views