News


Pleasanton students score high marks on new state standardized test

75% either met or exceeded levels set for Common Core

About 75% of Pleasanton students who took the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), the new state test meant to check if students are learning Common Core standards, either met or exceeded those standards, according to testing data released today.

"I am thrilled to see the positive PUSD results of the SBAC tests," said interim superintendent Jim Hansen. "This is a product of the hard work and dedication of our classified, certificated, and administrative staff and is indicative of the amazing work of Dr. Odie Douglas and his Ed Services team. Our students showed that they are capable of meeting the challenges of this rigorous test, which will prepare them for their future."

He also praised assessment coordinator Mike Kuhfal and staff of the district's technology department at large, all of whom helped teachers and students get ready for the test.

The test replaces the annual Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) examinations and aligns with the Common Core standards that were adopted statewide last year.

A total of 80% of Pleasanton Unified students tested met or exceeded English language arts and literacy standards, and 73% met or exceeded math standards. The CAASPP test was given to students in third through eighth grade in the spring, as well as 11th grade.

California as a whole did not fare nearly as well -- particularly in poorer areas. As a whole, 44% of California's public school students met or exceeded English standards, and 33% met or exceeded math standards.

However, state superintendent Tom Torlakson emphasized since this is the first year students have ever taken the CAASPP -- and the first year they've ever been exposed to Common Core standards -- these numbers should be a benchmark for growth.

"The results show our starting point as a state, a window into where California students are in meeting tougher academic standards that emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, and analytical writing," Torlakson said. "California's new standards and tests are challenging for schools to teach and for students to learn, so I am encouraged that many students are at or near achievement standards. However, just as we expected, many students need to make more progress. Our job is to support students, teachers, and schools as they do."

Surrounding districts scored similarly to PUSD, with 77% of Dublin Unified students who were tested meeting or exceeding English standards, and 69% meeting or exceeding math standards.

At Livermore Valley Joint Unified District, 58% of students tested met or exceeded English standards, and 44% met or exceeded math standards. At Sunol Glen Unified, 72% met or exceeded English standards, and 70% met or exceeded math standards -- although 11th grade data wasn't available or factored into that district's averages.

In nearby San Ramon Valley Unified, 81% of students met or exceeded English standards, and 73% met or exceeded math standards.

Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 11, 2015 at 9:01 am

Congratulations to all in PUSD ! Despite all the drama, great job. Happy our kids are getting the best possible education!


4 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 10:05 am

Yep, me too


13 people like this
Posted by Piece of Cake
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm

Congratulations to the staff of PUSD and to the students who endured the new test. It is truly great to have such an amazing and stellar school district!


11 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 11, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Challenging status quo and constructive conflict are positive things.

Well done PUSD, continue to improve!


19 people like this
Posted by Commentor
a resident of Pheasant Ridge
on Sep 16, 2015 at 8:51 am

While it's comforting to know that 73%/80% of PUSD students met or exceeded Math/Language Arts standards, we need to remember that the role of public education is to provide a free and appropriate education for ALL kids. I hope we can use this data not just to pat ourselves on the back at being "better" than district xyz,, but to delve into why the remaining 27%/20% all with unique circumstances, aren't doing so well. That's where the real work is and challenges lie and where I would like to see us to put our energy and resources. PUSD is already good at educating MOST (neurotypical, coming from above average socio-economic backgrounds) kids, it's time to focus on those kids whose learning needs are different from the norm.


1 person likes this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 16, 2015 at 6:00 pm

You bring up an interesting point. I think understanding why these kids struggle is important and how are they brought up without disrupting further forward progress from the majority of kids.

If typic data holds true, the effort and dollar spend per student will be much greater to move the lower distribution to the middle.

Perhaps a method to achieve this without putting greater burden on teachers and taking away from other students is to require greater parent involvement for struggling students. Perhaps that tightens the distribution.


10 people like this
Posted by BullSheet
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 17, 2015 at 1:32 am

NOT a good job!

1/4 students has NOT met the standards! In a district supposedly as "great" as our own- it should be MUCH higher!

Don't blame the teachers- Common Core is garbage and the teachers don't know how to teach it, while the students don't know how to learn it.

Why are we letting our kids be guinea pigs? Remind me again why we don't just all refuse this new (communist) garbage Washington has thrown at us??


5 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Sep 17, 2015 at 7:17 am

@Commentor: "...but to delve into why the remaining 27%/20% all with unique circumstances, aren't doing so well. That's where the real work is and challenges lie and where I would like to see us to put our energy and resources. PUSD is already good at educating MOST (neurotypical, coming from above average socio-economic backgrounds) kids, it's time to focus on those kids whose learning needs are different from the norm."

I agree with 'Pleasanton Parent'. Every school has finite resources. While devoting resources in trying to bring up the scores of students performing at the lower end of the spectrum, I hope that no school forgets the importance of devoting resources to other students including those performing at the upper end of the spectrum. Students at the upper end of the spectrum are also often kids "whose learning needs are different from the norm".


3 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Sep 17, 2015 at 7:21 am

@Bullsheet: "Remind me again why we don't just all refuse this new (communist) garbage Washington has thrown at us??"

Because going back to the old way of doing things is not an option. Common Core was introduced to address problems with our educational system, as evidenced by the fact that our students perform relatively poorly in international test comparisons.


9 people like this
Posted by pleasanton was nice forty years ago
a resident of Castlewood
on Sep 17, 2015 at 8:15 am

WOW. Last time I checked 75% is a C. That is average. So our schools are doing average work. Maybe the headline should have been Schools get a C in teaching common core. Is a C grade acceptable to pleasanton parents.


10 people like this
Posted by read again
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 17, 2015 at 10:27 am

@Pleasantonwasnice:
The scale is different for SBAC testing than the traditional grading scale. If you reread the article, you'll notice that the average was 44% for English and 33% for math.


Like this comment
Posted by Genny
a resident of Castlewood
on Sep 18, 2015 at 6:37 pm

The real question in why are Foothill High School's scores so much lower than Amador's scores?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Avignon

on Sep 18, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


6 people like this
Posted by ahmed
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2015 at 8:46 am

If you don't think that PUSD scores are good, look at other schools/districts. Look at Woodside elementary. This is a single K-8 school/district. Guess the parental support/background at this school. Take a guess at the funding. They get ~19k per student from state/local funding. Their fundraising (PTAish) asks for 5k per student. Their school looks like something from a brochure. Google it.

What were their scores? 100% meet or exceed? Nope, 87% met or exceeded. Consider that a top for scoring. You can not compare a 75% to a "C". Go study up on standardized test scoring, normal distributions, standard setting, etc.


5 people like this
Posted by Remember the bell curve?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2015 at 11:06 am

The nonsense of NCLB perpetuated the myth that 100% of students could/should demonstrate proficiency. It's a perpetuation of the ridiculous notion that everyone gets a trophy. The bell curve reminds us within any
population, a number of students will always lag
behind. 73/80% proficiency is actually quite good!


Like this comment
Posted by Agree
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Sep 21, 2015 at 9:06 am

Agree with Genny: "The real question in why are Foothill High School's scores so much lower than Amador's scores?"

The gap in math scores between these two high schools is most disturbing, even when comparing among the same ethnic group. There is something really wrong with the math classes offer at Foothill and someone should take a hard look at the cause for the discrepancy:

AV: 94% Asian 76% White met or exceeded math
FH: 77% Asian 57% White met or exceeded math

The Foothill Principal and the PUSD Superintendent need to investigate and explain to the community why Foothill has such a "below par" program. We need to hear what corrective actions will be taken immediately.


5 people like this
Posted by Local Dad
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 21, 2015 at 10:42 am

Pleasanton kids also have some of the highest rates of ADHD over-medication in the nation. Why? The schools. For example In my neighborhood, 1 in 3 parents said that teachers had "tried to pressure me into giving my kids ADHD meds, when we had problems doing the homework" Note that ADHD drugs are the primary gateway to amphetamine abuse.

Also lets look at other teenage ills: self-harm, depression, cutting, bulimia, chronic insomnia, and a whole host of other mental illness.

These are largely caused by a community policy of relentless, insane, and abusive levels of stress and homework in the local schools.

Congratulations Pleasanton on having very high-performing kids. But... you will paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for rehab and/or hospital bills. Plus you'll get to see your kids medicating themselves for life...teenagers put on ADHD or anti-depression drugs stay on them forever.


15 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

@ Local Dad,
Good lord, we just can't do anything right in this community, can we?


3 people like this
Posted by Local dad
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 21, 2015 at 5:57 pm

@teacher

In Palo Alto...similar district...they've had a rash of suicides that led the local pediatrician group to actually intervene and force the district to eliminate zero period to help the kids get more sleep. The district cut zero period completely...in the face of almost certain lawsuits if they failed to follow medical advice. They also now are under pressure to make other dramatic changes including strict monitoring to ensure that teachers don't assign too much homework.

In several other states it's been made illegal for teachers to push medications on parents, because it became such an abused issue. Drugging kids to raise test scores...very disturbing practices indeed.

So don't be dismissive. This are serious issues, with lifelong consequences for children's health. And potentially serious impact on teacher's careers.


12 people like this
Posted by teacher
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 21, 2015 at 6:23 pm

I wasn't being dismissive. I just think that when the test scores are moderate, we're not doing enough and need more rigor. When they're high, we're accused of pushing drugs on kids (never heard of this in my entire 15+ year career, as it's totally outside the scope of our expertise as teachers to recommend medication) and causing them to be overly stressed from too much work. Can we ever get a "good job" on this horrible blog? Anonymous posters on the PW who constantly ridicule the very people who dedicate their lives to helping kids are the source of a lot of stress, too. Let's not be dismissive of that.


16 people like this
Posted by Dark Father
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Sep 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm

When my children do well, it's because of me. When they do poorly, it's because of the teachers.

Both here and in Palo Alto, I'm sure it's the teachers that over-schedule the children, tell them to take 5 AP classes, and that they're failures if they don't get straight A's. Are there teachers who give too much homework? Yes. Are they to blame for the excess of medication in our schools? I'd say no. With precocious children at all levels, I'm confident in saying no teacher has ever recommended that I medicate my kids.

I'm happy with the education my children are receiving, and I'm tired of the posts that try to blame teachers for all of society's ills, especially with anecdotal evidence like that from Local Dad.


5 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 21, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Teachers are not doctors. Parents, if a teacher is saying your kid has trouble keeping focused or paying attention you should take it as - please spend some time with your child on paying attention. It is not a call to medicate. A teaspoon of discipline will work in 95% of instances. In the remaining instances medication may be the correct course and should be considered.


3 people like this
Posted by Serious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm

"Pleasanton kids also have some of the highest rates of ADHD over-medication in the nation."

Wow- Local Dad, that is an astounding fact. Teachers pushing drugs on kids? That is a pretty serious accusation. Have you contacted the police department?

Im concerned that parents must not know their kids are being medicated, that they are waking up to Ritalin addicted kids and had no idea!

Youre right, this shouldnt be taken lightly.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 21, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Local dad, Zero period is not eliminated, only zero period academic classes (still p.e. and student journalists who produce morning news and the library opens early I believe). They moved to block scheduling of the school day which is now at both high schools. Not all the pediatricians were local and they were recruited. The data did not consider students who chose zero period academic classes (so they didn't miss class time for away sports games and in pursuit of other interests--one student was an equestrian). The data did not include interviews with Palo Alto students, many who signed petitions or spoke at board meetings against the change, many who got sufficient sleep, and all who took zero period voluntarily to meet their individual needs (although not every student liked taking zero period). Sleep deprivation is a serious issue for teens, but eliminating zero period doesn't eliminate teens' staying up late or getting up early. Homework workloads are being worked on, and there is a more formal parent process for taking multiple AP classes. There are efforts to destigmatize when a student needs to seek help for mental health and student well being. District staff is working with City and Caltrain staff and with Federal and local experts as well. Death by suicide is a complex and, yet so often, a wholly individual issue. The whole community is rallying to support their children.

Teacher, sadly, we had an elementary teacher suggest medicating. Wrong, but understood how with 30 students in cramped quarters and with a few who are energetic this could cause someone to cross that line.


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Let's not forget the kids who really aren't sufficiently challenged by the level of homework given. Not every student works at the same pace. Some need more homework, some less. A one size fits all approach doesn't best serve the students. I'm glad the middle schools are offering accelerated math courses for the kids who need it. It seems like a slower pace path might be good for kids who need to spend more time on their homework than others.


Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Sep 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

@Kathleen Ruegsegger : "Teacher, sadly, we had an elementary teacher suggest medicating. Wrong, but understood how with 30 students in cramped quarters and with a few who are energetic this could cause someone to cross that line."

Well, actually, no. It's not understandable how a Pleasanton elementary school teacher, a professional trained in dealing with small children with all of their traits and foibles, could seriously suggest medication as a means of establishing control over a normal group of elementary school children.

I'm not talking about the outliers here. In my experience as a parent of a Pleasanton elementary school student I've been aware of two students who were just completely out of control and apparently needed to be placed in a special class so they wouldn't ruin the education of all of their classmates. If a professional psychiatrist came to the conclusion that some of those troubled students would be helped by medications, then I would be fine with that. But professional psychiatrists have medical degrees and are authorized to prescribe prescription drugs. Elementary school teachers aren't and have no more business suggesting the use of prescription drugs than they do in giving advice about open heart surgery. Who is this elementary school teacher who was suggesting medications? Is she still working as a teacher?


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2015 at 8:20 am

@Kathleen Ruegsegger, @Damon,

Maybe the teacher recommended that the kids be referred to a doctor? That doesn't seem too bad. But if the teacher prescribed or provided the drugs herself, of course that crosses the line.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 22, 2015 at 8:37 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

It was more of a, " have you considered medications" comment. Agree it was totally inappropriate, but that's as far as it went.


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

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