PUSD fails to meet 'No Child Left Behind' standards | October 26, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 26, 2012

PUSD fails to meet 'No Child Left Behind' standards

District posts big gains in test scores, still placed into federal program improvement status

by Glenn Wohltmann

Despite increasing its Academic Performance Index score by nine points, from 906 to 915 over the last year, and better test scores for nearly every minority group, the Pleasanton school district has joined a lengthy list of schools that don't meet federal standards.

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Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Oct 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I don't respond to articles, or blogs or such normally. But this article begs for a response. Especially when " some board members joked about inviting Tom Torlakson, the state's superintendent of public instruction, to visit and see how it can be done."

PUSD being placed on Program Improvement status is a wake up call for this community and this district. As a parent with children in this district who learn differently, teaching to tests is a ridiculous waste of time and resources. Personally we have children who score in the "advanced" category in LA consistently, but they struggle with reading comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. Why? Two reasons. First, schools spend a good deal of time preparing for the STAR test annually. If you practice enough, you will score high, but scoring high DOES NOT mean you are functioning high. Most parents are very aware of this. Most parents disagree with the amount of classroom instruction time allotted to STAR testing preparation. Parents see clearly, yet somehow the district supervisors and board of education members who are supposed to be in the know and competent to determine policy and cuts, are blinded by the STAR scores.

What PUSD needs to ask itself is: Why do we have subgroups that struggle in reading, writing and math? What is it about today's child, today's lifestyles, that make classroom learning such a challenge for many? How can education be overhauled, reinvented and done differently? As a community if all we want are higher test scores, then let's agree to spend even more educational days preparing for the tests. If we as a community want to give our children the gift of reading, writing and problem solving and a love of learning, it is time to think outside the box. Budget cuts are NOT the reason many kids are falling in the cracks. Teacher union power and keeping poor teachers, that we all know are poor, over newer, eager, hungry young teachers is sinful. All kids can learn, some faster, some slower, but all can learn. Make learning fun and interesting, make learning real and tangible and watch the lightbulbs turn on! Too many kids are having to be privately tutored at parental expense, or privately placed in this district.

Let's take a survey: Do any of your children receive tutoring (Huntington, Sylvan, parental, mentor, or other form?) Do any of your children NEED tutoring, but you cannot afford it? What does needing tutoring do to your child's self-esteem? What would NOT tutoring your child to keep up do to his/her self-esteem?

Great schools teach all. Good schools teach some. PUSD needs to quit patting itself on the back and dig in, the gig is up. So what if PUSD is #1 in the state? CA is still 47th in the nation! So what are we patting ourselves on the back for? Being the best of the worst.

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Posted by hmmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 9:38 pm

PUSD is doing great. The federal standards are ridiculous to anyone paying attention. We would have been fine if we joined race for the top, but the unions didn't let us. Our children are being educated. Probably one student didn't pass the test as well as the others. That happens, people move in and out of the district etc.

Overall well done PUSD - horrible times and you somehow did better than last year. Cudos!

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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 10:39 pm

While tests scores aren't everything, to me they are the most important thing. I'm talking about SAT, ACT, and AP exam scores and the like (not so much STAR tests, but they are better than nothing). You don't get in to Cal Tech with low test scores, no matter how you learn. That said, I agree that we should make learning fun and interesting, and much could be done in that area.

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Posted by PUSD schools are mediocre at best
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Concerned parent raises very valid points.

Many parents spend several hours a week tutoring their children themselves or sending youngsters to the two dozen tutoring centers in this city.

40 years ago, people that were teachers knew their subject matter well. Chemistry teachers had majors in chemistry. Math teachers had majors in math. History teachers had majors in history. Then education majors came into fashion where separate colleges were formed for Education at the university level. The actual content courses were very watered down and the focus became on theories of learning and how to teach rather than what to teach.

Also at the university level, the entrance requirements for entering an Education College morphed to be very basic compared to the stringent requirements for entering a college focused on Liberal Arts or Engineering. Teachers and administrators coming out of these Education Colleges just don't have the skill level of people that you would see coming out of Engineering Colleges.

Also, 40 years ago, about the only occupation open for women were to become a teacher or a nurse (women make up a high percentage of teachers). Very smart and talented women entered the teaching and nursing profession.

Now, with all the opportunities available to women, these very smart and talented women who 40 years ago would have become a teacher, now become a Doctor, Engineer, Chemist or Physicist or some other profession.

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Posted by john
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2012 at 12:14 am

To "PUSD schools are mediocre at best",

Compared to what? Dublin Schools or San Ramon schools? Private schools like Valley Christian?

I can't say that the high school I went to 35 years ago was any better. I had a physics teacher who barely knew physics. Chemistry was not taught by a Chemistry major. Were you in Pleasanton 40 years ago? What are you basing your comparison on? Were the Pleasanton schools really that good back then?

Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2012 at 8:44 pm

"Many parents spend several hours a week tutoring their children themselves or sending youngsters to the two dozen tutoring centers in this city."

You mean they have to spend a whole "several hours" helping their children every week? That is unacceptable. They shouldn't ever have to talk to their kids let alone about school.

How many of the Pleasanton chemistry teachers do not have a chemistry major? There is one the has a doctorate in chemistry.

My guess is that you don't even know, but feel like you should jsut spew forth information and tell everyone how much better the world was 40 years ago.

The problem is that the schools HAVEN'T changed from 40 years ago because of too many people like you who say stuff like "well, I turned out just fine from my school, so we should keep it like it was"