ETS finds cheating took place on AP tests at Skyline

Education Testing Service investigators believe some Skyline High School students cheated on their advanced placement tests, Principal Troy Johnston told families in a letter he sent out this week that details some of the findings (see below).

The Skyline Oracle published a story in June about the ETS’s investigation into possible procedural breaches. In its report, Assistant Principal Marisol Arkin, the school’s testing coordinator, and other school staff downplayed the potential consequences of the inquiry.

“The worst-case scenario is that one or two tests may have to be retaken,” said Ms. Arkin.

Or 30.

Troy Flint, a spokesman for the Oakland school district, said ETS canceled 30 scores on various tests it deemed suspicious; the exams in question were in various subjects administered during a two-week period this spring. Flint said the rest of the results — which were withheld for weeks, pending the investigation — have been or will be released soon.

Flint said ETS was vague on the specifics, but that its response to the district suggests they believe some students were looking at other students’ tests and that they were sitting too close together.

Flint said the central office will assume responsibility next year for directing advanced placement administration and for making sure all of the testing coordinators have been properly trained.

How has this situation affected you or your kids?

Skyline principal’s letter

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Can’t believe it

    There are 3 failures here- the teacher who taught the class and poorly prepared the kids, the kids who failed to study and cheated, and the counselors and AP Coordinator at Skyline who should suffer some consequence as a result of this scandal.

    A million students take AP exams. If this was AP Statistics, the national pass rate is close to 60%.

    OK- everyone should get the picture in their mind. There is a Skyline counselor in a small room with 30 students sitting next to each other. He/she reports nothing unusual went on during the test

    Reading between the lines, the administration was investigated two years in a row, and did
    nothing, including providing no training for the AP Coordinator.

    And the kicker is that it only affects a “few” kids because only a handful out of 30 passed,
    even though they were copying from each other!

    Dysfunctional…Will anyone adult be disciplined and fired or will only the kids suffer? will the same teacher teach Statistics at Skyline again, once again doing a poor job of preparing kids? will the same VP once again administer AP exams? Do you think ETS will investigate Skyline again next year?

  • Nextset

    While there is wrongdoing by the people in the room, the responsibility is with those who set the stage for the players to act.

    Administration makes such things happen, or not happen.

    Look at Atlanta – which is a bigger incidence of the same thing. At the highest level the cheating was requested implicitly. As the line in “Mission Impossible” goes, if you are caught, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

    Fire the people at the top.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I was going to start by posting that instead of the headline that cheating takes place, perhaps the headline should be “Untrained assistant principal takes over as AP testing coordinator, chaos ensues.” I sure hope she is not the same person who is going to be taking over in charge of the counseling staff who were all fired for budgetary rationale.

    Katy, the above posting more or less slanders the counselors, and I do not believe they had any role in the AP exams this year, except to be told to go sit in an assigned room. I also understood that they tried to raise concerns about testing integrity and were not listened to.

    We do know one thing: when you provide children (yes, high school students are still definitely children) with a chaotic environment, stuff happens. From the start, these tests were doomed from a lack of planning, a lack of institutional knowledge, and inadequate space.

    The above posting #1 seems to be filling in a lot of blanks with conjecture. do they actually have info that only 30 passing scores were garnered? I find this difficult to believe, as there are some stellar students up there who may take/pass 5 AP exams each in any given year. Troy Flint stated that 30 tests will need to be retaken; that is not the same as there being only 30 passing scores. Another thing that is not clear is how many different tests are in question, as it was my understanding that ETS was looking at multiple tests, which means multiple rooms/proctors.

    As a parent I would have to say that the admin in charge should be held responsible. Also, the AP coordinator should have had the sense to stand up and say “I want/need to attend the training. I am not qualified to be in charge.” Learning research shows us that those at the very bottom of the curve (with the least skills) consistently overestimate their ability/knowledge. This appears to be a good example of those studies, but it will be the students who are forced to pay the cost.

    We all agree that unless a student was observed directly cheating, they could be innocent, regardless of what their answers reflect (perhaps they were copied off of). Those students worked hard all year, studied for those tests, and will never be able to replicate their work. I would expect that even for the best students, their scores will be lower the second time around. AP tests are very specific content based, and info is forgotten over the summer, students will not feel motivated to study as hard the second time around. There will also be some students who will refuse to take the tests again: taking them the first time was stressful and they won’t be willing to repeat that. I hate to think of how these scores/lack of scores will be reported to college, affecting kids futures in a major way.

    My heart goes out to the students who were put in this situation in the first place.

  • Katy Murphy

    According to Troy Flint, when ETS did its analysis, it only reviewed the passing exams. In other words, if a student cheated but scored a 1 or 2, that wouldn’t have surfaced in the investigation, he said. So all 30 of the invalidated tests would otherwise have been scored a 3, 4, or 5.

    I asked Troy the total number of passing scores at Skyline that were not invalidated, but he didn’t have that number yesterday.

  • Can’t believe it

    so just to be clear Katy, only 30 AP exams received passing scores at Skyline out of 500 plus exams in all AP subjects? There is a story there too… Look at the national exam pass rates. These are some poorly prepared students.

    Ask Troy Flint how many of those students are taking the exam on the taxpayer’s dime- a reduced rate of $5 per exam underwritten by the State of California(normal cost is $85). This is a huge waste of taxpayer funds and requires a serious upgrade of AP classes in the OUSD.

  • Katy Murphy

    I don’t know the total number of passing scores at Skyline; Flint didn’t have it yesterday. But all 30 tests in question would have otherwise received a passing score.

  • oakland

    ETS knows how to look for suspicious tests. From their investigation, out of the 500 tests that were taken by Skyline students, 30 passing exams looked suspicious (for example, similar erasure marks). School administrators do not sit in on the tests during the exam time. It is the proctors’ responsibility to monitor students’ progress during a test. Any teacher who has proctored a test understands this. Students also need to be responsible for their dishonesty. Retaking the test seems more than reasonable.

  • Katy Murphy

    And just to clarify, I’m told that ETS only bothered to analyze tests that would have received a passing score. So I don’t know how many were included in its analysis.

  • Oakland Teacher

    RE #5 above re complaint of students taking these exams on the taxpayers dime: The new, untrained admin in charge of these exams refused to accept any applications for reduced AP testing fees, saying that it was no longer an option. So, you can rest easy knowing that students had to pay full price for poorly administered tests that were declared invalid through no fault of most students.

    Your posting was offensive in all regards. You are also guilty of erroneous thinking/interpretation when you keep saying there were only 30 exams that received passing marks. No one has said that; what has been said is that all 30 of the exams that are not being given a score had passing marks. That does NOT mean that only 30 tests had passing scores. Since you were ranting about statistics in your first post, I suggest you go back to the classroom.

  • Recently Graduated Skyline Student

    Some people were completely waived from paying for AP scores. I don’t know if that relates into being paid for by taxpayers, but I am positive that certain students were not required to pay anything because of income.

    This whole situation is terrible for the students, especially those going into college. Scores have been trickling in randomly and it would be nice to be immediatly notified if one of our tests is ruled invalidated instead of waiting around anxiously hoping we weren’t falsely convincted.

    I will echo the sentiments of many and state that much of the testing was the same situation as the other years, just the counselors who proctored weren’t as strict so it probably resulted at worst, taking longer to start the test, or someone snickering at a funny sneeze because they didn’t think they would be convincted for doing so with such lax counselors.

    The ONLY test that has been travelling around the student circle as being outrageous and out of control was the AP Statistics test. The AP Statistics class at Skyline last year was one that was populated mostly by friend groups who chose that class in hopes to be with their friends. As they succeeded in having a class with their friends, the class throughout the school year was mostly just loud talking and cheating off tests even by looking online and just screwing around, so the majority of the class learned almost nothing.

    As a result, they took their antics to the AP test where I have heard outrageous stories such as one student flipping over another’s desk, the students holding a rave, and the MAJORITY of the students leaving early. That is the ONLY test I have heard of issues to that magnitude. The other tests were basically the same as they had always been.

    So unless that is 30 Statistics students (even though probably only a handful of them passed) this is pure crap. I wanted to use a harsher word but I don’t know the language restrictions for this blog. Like said before, we study all year for these tests, and being notified that our score got cancelled monthes after taking them, and weeks after seeing people from other schools get their scores is nonsense. They can’t possibly expect us to take these again as we prepare to deal with heading off for college and have been done with the material for 2-3 months. I have a hunch that most of the tests that were convincted of cheating will probably be honest students while cheaters get away with it knowing the ETS.

  • Recently Graduated Skyline Student

    So in short: Certain students, counselors, and the administration are all at fault for this in their own different way. No if, ands, or buts.

  • J.R.

    The result of familial/school and or community breakdown.Honesty is an active choice modeled by parents and the community at large. If we have actively disregarded morals and or doing what is right since the 60’s, what did we really expect to happen? It is no mystery as to why involved parents and their children perform well(irregardless of external forces)but still many are oblivious to the connection between hard work,honesty,diligence and success. Kids learn what they live.

  • Nextset

    Recently Graduated Skyline Student Says:

    Interesting post. You don’t seem to understand the price you pay for going to a bad school/district. In this instance your test scores were thrown out. You see, that’s how life works. You get involved with a bad hospital, a bad workplace, a bad bank… the list goes on, and you get hurt. Getting hurt is the price you pay in life for the association with: BAD. Much of the time you are not going to clearly see where the pain is going to hit and how bad it will be. Often you will escape without injury. Many people invested with Bernie Madoff and withdrew from the (recognizable) Ponzi Scheme before the bubble burst and got clear from the collapse, many more were wiped out. That’s just one example. the important thing to learn is that if you make a practice of associating with BAD the odds are you are going to suffer for it.

    It’s your problem to learn to judge, to recognize bad for what it is and not be swayed by PC or what you want to see. This is a critical and discrete skill that some well brought up people are taught at their parents’ knee – “discrimination” if you will. It requires both the curiosity and willingness to seek and pay attention to stats, reputations and experiences of others (we do it online nowadays by checking “reviews” and “ratings”) as well as the steel to avoid problematic associations even if they are cheap and fun. (I almost bought a Fiat when I was young).

    Which is why many Bay Area families sacrifice to go to Piedmont or Orinda type schools, giving up whatever they have to to do so. A smaller house in a better neighborhood, having the mother go to work, or whatever economic trades are required to avoid OUSD.

    I recently had a chat with a female relative who is going on a trip to South Africa. Being young and schooled in PC – which means she never calculates risk/benefits the way I do as an older person who has seen how bad bad can get – she had no concept of the dangers especially to young women posed by tourism there. She’s going anyway of course. I hope after our talk she will at least read up on the particular danger so she isn’t blind walking in the minefield. I’d prefer she stay out of the minefield in the first place but she’s young and I’m old and it’s a “free” trip. I don’t know if “free” includes medical evacuation insurance, though. She wouldn’t purchase that on her own – so goes some of the risk…

    Don’t expect others to be especially moved by your protestations of woe and your own innocence as you react to some pain you are now experiencing because you thought your school would keep you safe and comfortable. You knew you were at OUSD. The important thing is to go forward and resolve not to ever be in such a situation in the future. It won’t be a school next time – you may use the wrong ATM machine one fine day, go to a restaurant in the wrong neighborhood, buy a car without the better safety rating, see a medical specialist who is not board certified, and all the other things some people do without a care. I’m not saying that I don’t do some of these things – but when I do I’m aware of the issue of risk and I proceed for some overriding reason. Then if I do suffer a loss I don’t treat it as if I was struck by lightning. Life is a gamble but I don’t want to bet against house odds and I like good (ie more expensive) insurance. Younger people don’t bother.

    Good luck to all.

  • Nextset

    Quick links to some of the issues related to Single Women as tourists to SA:



    I stopped before finding links about the drug resistant TB and problems with the hospitals lack of infectious disease controls. I don’t see why it should be on a list of a young woman’s vacation spots. It should be regarded as a combat zone with the combat going on sub-rosa.

    Young people should be more aware of issues that can hurt them. Maybe I’m overdoing it on this thread about the testing – hopefully I can make this point rhetorically.

    This may seem off thread but it does go to a recurrent theme of mine with public school education. The US is moving into very interesting times. There are very dangerous hazards especially for blacks in this Brave New World. The difference between those who make it – do well in the Brave New World and those who have crash landings sometimes comes down to the coaching had by children who even sat in the same classrooms. Immigrants seems to get it from their families, we all used to get it in class.

    It’s wrong to produce a generation of public school graduates so self centered and so unable to dispassionately appraise risk and rewards.

    It makes it hard for them to function in ways as varied as job interviewing and safely walking down a street.

    I find the students from better schools so much more effective at both.

    And it is NOT the money. Some of the Catholic and Public Students I grew up with were Poor, from broken homes, of all ethnics (although few blacks and no pandering to black sensibilities). We didn’t have to worry about graduates’ ability to take care of themselves. After the schooling we got (tough discipline even at the public schools) many, many of them have gone from rags to riches, some of the poorer of the class are some of the richer now. This by hard work and no false steps from as young as 18 when they were on their own in rented basements. A good school can do this with poor people.

    And there was no cheating or appearance of cheating in my Public and Catholic Schools. Maintaining (all) standards even on a budget was a point of pride.

    So why did Skyline have this problem?

  • Recently Graduated Skyline Student

    Thank you for your views on the situation. But yes, most of the students of Skyline realize the shortcomings of our school and the school district. A schoolmate of mine summed it best when he closed the school paper for the year with an article titled “Skyline may be a crappy school but it’s getting you prepared for a crappy life,” or something of the sort. But I definitely see where you are coming from. I know complaining about it on an education blog most likely won’t fix anything, but I just want to give a point of view from those directly affected and clarify some things that aren’t clear to the readers.

  • Recently Graduated Skyline Student

    And I agree it isn’t the money. The thing about Skyline, specifically the ring of AP classes, is it has students who are wealthy, and students who are poor. The people in the AP Statistics class have people who have stable incomes acting a fool and some who come from families with difficulty finding financial stability who were also acting a fool.

  • Can’t believe it

    Thank you recently graduated student for telling us how it was…

    turning over a desk during an AP exam and leaving early? both verboten during an AP exam. did the counselor make a report? I agree with you that no one will take the test over, and thanks for wasting a year in an AP class.

    An Oakland Teacher- The ETS finding was that cheating did occur, and that 30 students did not receive scores as a result. I would assume those 30 students took other AP tests and may have cheated on their other exams too, and I would further assume that they cheated all year to get into college. It is a culture of cheating as Nextset describes.

    And, as it turned out the taxpayers DID pay for this according to recent grad. Maybe those cheating students should pay the taxpayers back, and they can split the coat with the teachers and administrators. I’ll bet a dollar no student or OUSD employee gets disciplined. Isn’t cheating against Skyline’s student code of conduct?

  • Nextset

    Recently Graduated Skyline Student Says:

    Today I was interviewed by a Cal State College student from Latin America (below Mexico) who was brought to the US at age 2. She wants to be a criminal lawyer for some reason. We talked for a couple of hours about my career ladder and her situation.

    So I’m responding to your comment about Skyline being a crappy school preparing you for a crappy life (as you reported a classmate saying).

    Baloney. No matter how bad that school is, your life in this country and this state is what you make of it. Her parents want her to start having babies and get married – not in that order maybe. She is getting signals that her continued talk of education is a waste even without the concept of going to professional school. And I’ve heard this and worse from an East Indian (foreign born and brought to the US by immigrant parents) Girl who was once a law clerk of mine. These kids – especially the girls – carve out a place for themselves in the professions despite complaints and derision from their families that span years. And they do it from urban public secondary schools and state colleges.

    No matter what the ups and down of Skyline High are, if any of you fail to make it in this country it’s only because of your own personal shortcomings – the immigrants to the USA constantly show that you can make it from our urban schools especially if you are tough enough, willing to do without, willing and able to make the grade, and are personable enough to network with strangers and friends to find the way and get where you have to go to make it.

    The Indian Girl went on to have a law career every bit a fun and lucrative as mine. After Bar Passage and years into practice, yes, she did marry an Indian Doctor and have children. She also went on to have a great law practice across the international border with Canada and take Bar membership in multiple states. This being a girl who was once confined to her room at her parent’s house and not allowed to open her mail when in college. I won’t even repeat what she was told when she asked permission to apply for law school. She first worked for me when in college.

    The amazing thing is her putting her immigrant parents’ behavior and feelings in perspective and not bearing any kind of grudge – she seemed to find them charmingly protective while evading their controls and getting everything she wanted. There was the concern that her parents would kill her at one point. And she meant that very seriously. She had a hidden lover at one time (this was decades ago). They had to be very careful. She did mention her father would kill the boy first (I got the impression use of a knife was expected). All this while juggling class schedules, finals and work. She dismissed the boy when that had run it’s course and did very well in school (ran into him in Costco much later and he was still pining for her). I was very impressed with her steel. I knew she’d be my kind of lawyer.

    No typical American child is going to get very far with a pity party when the immigrants go to the same “crappy” schools with additional cultural adjustment problems and come out of them with this kind of success.

    The interview today ended with useful stories of how students I have known managed to get into school with large scholarships – this student will get not a cent from her family (that money is for her brother) and must raise funds for grad school and we discussed the need to keep the loans low to be able to afford taking a public service job. You be prepared to go to a state you never heard of if that’s where you get the scholarship to an acceptable grad school – and cast the new wide. The schools are still buying minorities – or whatever they want to buy. Get a suitcase and get ready to move if that’s what you have to do. With 450 ABA accredited law schools you can’t always get Stanford and a scholarship.

    Anyway, I can be the pessimist, I’m old and don’t have to change or move. Young people had better be ambitious, flexible and good researchers.

    This is what the public schools have to beat into these kids.

  • concerned parent

    I was part of the proctoring team last year (2009-10) not this year’s 20010-11, when another teacher ran the AP testing program. That teacher worked very hard to train me and oversee the other proctors. Although we were plagued by faulty equipment, the extra efforts made by last year’s AP Coordinator made it all work. Every test I participated had very good student behavior, and strict enforcement of the rules. All the proctors were volunteers, teachers or paid subs. We all read the rules, and enforced them and time limits. I tried to volunteer this year and was told there was no need….

    Hopefully the administration will not take AP testing lightly this next year. I remember wondering when the change was made this year why there wasn’t continuity, and was worried when I heard it would be done so very part time by an inexperienced administrator–who didn’t seem to take it very seriously.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I think posting #19 pretty much says it all: the year before the person who ran the AP testing program made sure that things worked and that the proctors were prepared. This year an administrator who did not even bother to go to training herself ran the tests, and everything fell apart. I agree that she did not take the task seriously, much to the detriment of the students.

    As classroom teachers, we learn that preparation is the key to successful teaching. We learn to teach students explicitly what will be expected of them, we practice the skill with them, we even quiz them on what are the expectations (e.g. how are we going to clean up, move to our seats, etc…). We don’t just tell them to do something and expect it to happen. We make sure it happens: the buck always stops here.

  • Skyline Student :-/

    Complaints were issued in multiples triggering the extensive investigation. Fist pumps to the Skyline citizens willing to fight the culture of cheating.

    Skyline staff set the culture of cheating and accepting irregularities. Students were advised by the test administrator to state the test started on time when it started nearly an hour late. Three proctors left mid testing and came back with food. It doesn’t require the missed AP training session to know this is inappropriate behavior.

    Scores are late. Students have been held accountable. Will Skyline staff be made accountable?

    Still waiting on scores. This appears to mean at least one passing score. Hope it doesn’t get erased per irregularities.

  • Karen Katz

    Just to get back to the subject at hand:

    If a student is reported to have been cheating and ETS investigates and finds the accusation to be true, that score is cancelled and there is no retake.

    If a report of irregularities is made (regarding room conditions such as seating, generalized student behavior, etc.) and the ETS investigates and finds support for concerns about the validity of test result, or as a result of the investigation does not feel they can vouch for the reliability of the test result, either for an individual or for an entire roomful of individuals, a test or a roomful of tests can be challenged. In these situations, there is an oportunity for a retake.

    To say that individual students found to have cheated are given a chance to retake the test is incorrect.

    Katy, your response that you don’t know whether the number passing scores at Skyline were more than thirty reminds me of Hilary Clinton saying “No [pause] not to my knowledge,” when asked if Barack Obama was a Muslim. Do you ever do any independent investigation? You could have checked past years stats as a guide, they are online! You could have called ETS for some general information or contacted our administration by email and asked for specifics. Instead, in your newspaper article you quote a letter fumbled by a PR man, then rely on his lack of knowledge and pass it off as news.

    I am sure that you will learn a lot about journalism when you read the Skyline Oracle article that will cover this fiasco.

    In addition, when Ms. Arkin was quoted about one or two tests, I believe that she meant one or two rooms. As you would know if you looked into it at all, when ETS feels that the testing conditions were significantly unreliable, they invalidate the scores for an entire room, whether cheating has been proven or not.

    As a Skyline parent, I will add this: My children will be seniors this year. Every summer, our family has dealt with a Skyline crisis that affected other families as well, even during the summer before ninth grade. In previous years, we have been able to convince the appropriate parties of the rightness of our position, usually after many tense hours of effort. This summer, we are still waiting for two AP scores to be released by ETS. Four of our childrens’ scores have been reported so far, three of them just in the past week. We did not expect to have to go through these challenges.

    What we did expect, however, are the good, very good, and excellent teachers our children have had at Skyline. Only two teachers have failed to meet our standards. If it’s not one challenge, it’s another.

  • Recently Graduated Skyline Student


    The point I was trying to make with the “crappy school preparing for a crappy life” is there will always be places that don’t run well and are a hassle to deal with. A example in the article at school was the DMV. It sucks and no one wants to go there.

  • Katy Murphy

    No, I was clarifying that 30 didn’t represent the total number of passing scores — just the number of scores that were invalidated. Not that I wasn’t sure whether the total was more than 30. I’ll post more info when I get it.

  • AP Skyline teacher

    It is so sad that some of these comments are generalized. I am a very good AP teacher and I have total faith and respect for my students.

  • Can’t believe it

    Counselors going out to get food in the middle of the test leaving a proctored national exam?

  • Nextset

    Recently Graduated Skyline Student Says:

    You do make that point. In return I suppose I’m making the point that there are people who are now taking classes beside you – the immigrants – who are grateful for every day they have here and not have to go “home”. They are ready willing and able to take your jobs, your women, your cars, your position in this society – despite the crappy public school. They would even make the case that our DMV is heaven compared to their native government agencise.

    I have a relative who went to Europe on a college exchange 35 or so years ago and stayed. She has children – two teen boys (14 & 17) just got through a month long visit to the East Bay first time without their parents. They didn’t want to leave – even called their parents and asked to extend the vacation. No way, get home. They left bearing electronic gifts which they inform us cost far more in their country. We asked them about their education plans, one wants medicine and the other law. Apparently they must test and apply to the professional school to start upon completion of high school – their country combines the 4 year degree and the professional training and degree. So if things go as expected they will be in professional school at 18 and unlikely to be free to travel back here for some time. And the school will be rigorous. They see the US as a big party, but they are really very serious about life, even the younger one. Their English is functional also. They take English in school continuously, it’s not the native language. The younger child will return at 16 and take driver’s ed and training privately while on holiday and get a CA driver’s license – at least that’s his plan, he has a couple of years to set it up. He’s a dual national so he can do it. I love the ambition. He visited DMV and got the driver’s handbook to read.

    I’m afraid no matter how much we complain about conditions here, bright foreigners can walk in here and make whatever they want out of it. So maybe it’s not as bad as we think – at least when the horses we are backing are high IQ horses.

    While the foreign tourists were here they went to car dealers and posed for photos in the cars they wanted, a $31k red ford mustang for example. They really liked Fry’s Electronics and Costco – saying they had nothing like them. In my town we drove through the ghetto so they could see that – they also toured Bel Air and Irvine in Southern CA. They think we live in paradise. They live in Ancient Europe. You need small cars to get through the small streets. They are relatively well off, their parents are professionals with the country villa and the city townhouse. If they were dropped here, into OUSD, I think they’d come out on top of the heap. Despite the AP testing problems.

    In my posts complaining that the our schools should be more like they were 1960s and “better” I am not refering to conditions for the children of Drs and Lawyers. Those kids are either gone to the better schools or will be turning out Ok no matter what. I’m complaining that the children of single mothers and low class parents – the dull students – are the people being cheated out of the preparation for military, industry and higher education that they used to get and now is increasingly not there. The brights take care of themselves, they always will. The average to below avg – 100 IQ to 85 IQ – are the ones that will have lifelong earnings deficits (below what could have been) if the public secondary schools don’t do right by them.

    There are a lot of jobs that don’t require college but do require language skills as well as deportment and basic understanding of your place in society and your obligations to it and yourself.

    This thread is on the bungling of the standardized testing at OUSD. The indifference to their charges here is also reflected on the cessation of driver’s ed and the notoriously bad English Verbal scores of the black students. How smart do you have to be to go from a Dick and Jane reader to being able to read the Oakland Tribune out loud? I’m afraid the very low black verbal scores call into question that either is taught to the black kids at OUSD. In this thread we bemoan the fact that OUSD isn’t careful with the fates of the preppy kids either.

    Why do you think this is?

  • Anonymous

    This article presents the all too familiar perspective of disgust for Skyline. I’ve never seen this particular column publish an article when something positive happens at Skyline. Only when something negative happens that helps parents who chose private schools over Skyline sleep at night does this column bother to mention Skyline.

    In my eyes, the cheaters are not the Skyline administration or students, but entities like this article that don’t take the time to do research on what is going on at Skyline until mayhem erupts, producing easy news.

  • Can’t believe it

    Nextset- to be fair in your social commentary you have to factor in the shockingly low preparation and support for school among many African- American kids caused by the breakup of African- American families, poverty, drugs, as well as the effect of social media, music and television in reducing the amount of readers. (Reading is the key to those verbal scores you talk about) All these factors rob kids of the tools they need to “do” school. these are huge changes from the 1950’s and 1960’s when school in Oakland worked much better for African- Americans, and enabled kids to become part of the working class and aspire to the middle class. the criticism of schools now is that they have not made meaningful change to deflect social changes, but then again, the changes raw so profound how could they? Schools are only part of the solution.

  • Nextset

    True, but you have to remember the “shocking” changes we went through in WWII – even in WWI. The men were all gone either to war (and you didn’t always know where they were) or to round the clock factories in distant cities. The women were left with the kids and went to work also. People moved fast and far away.

    So the public schools got a lot of kids who didn’t know where Daddy was and Mommy was working. But the schools didn’t tolerate any back talk and kept everybody working not hanging around the building Mac-ing on the younger girls.

    I believe the federal government systematically destroyed the black family. So what. The local schools compounded the problem by not stepping up and imposing discipline on the students from day one and keeping them in their places. Like they used to.

    No, there’s nothing new going on as far as blacks without daddies. Old Story. What’s new is we have teachers made to be afraid of the black kids and not backed up by the school when they start housebreaking them.

    The way some of the older black teachers would and could.

    I still say the public schools have made this worse no matter how bad the stock of black kids started out.

  • alice spearman

    I counld not have said it better! By the way folks, there are many more cultures other than Blacks who experience the same. This has affected them also, caucasion included.

  • Nextset

    Alice Spearman: Perhaps, but as far as Oakland goes the black population is more fragile for falling off the ladder of social mobility. There are reasons for this, but suffice to say when whites get a cold blacks get pneumonia.

    The East Bay white population clearly has always been better able to deal with change and to protect their own social and economic interests. Maybe I’m saying they are now no longer as dependent on the public schools, at least the Oakland Public Schools, as they might have been prior to 1950.

    And by “white” I’m not talking about the Blue Bloods transplanted from back east either, I’m talking about the Irish, Italians, eastern Europeans and even the Jewish immigrants and their first generation children (I am old enough to remember poor Jewish immigrants.)

    These whites who went from factory jobs or less in the east bay of 1960 and now are in Danville. I don’t have memories of any poor white sharecroppers transplanted to Oakland in 1960, I think they stopped in the Central Valley and have their own set of problems in the current generation.

    My point is that OUSD is all about the Negroes for a little bit longer until they are going to be all about the Mexican Indians – Like Los Angeles Unified.

    Either way the schools are expected to train each boatload that lands on these shores in how to make it in America, Parents or no. I think we can do it if we actually cared enough about the students to do so. As in caring enough to secure the testing as we mention in this thread.

    That’s a rhetorical statement. I’m not a teacher. I just don’t agree that there is anything special about this point in history compared to the Great Depression with the accompanying immigrant waves, or WWII. I say OUSD can get control of the black or brown kids if they decided this PC nonsense is out – and triage, tracking and training is in.

  • Lisa Shafer

    To #28 Anonymous: I think you are totally off-base in saying the only posts about Skyline on this blog are negative. As a journalism teacher (not at Skyline) and a former education reporter (not for the Tribune), I read this blog almost daily and have seen a nice mix of entries. Maybe the problem is not with Katy’s coverage but with the disproportionate number of comments from the public on blog entries that reveal something negative. For example, I don’t remember too many people commenting on the blog entry about Skyline’s national debate participants or on the one on its top-notch performance of The Wiz.

    And there is some good news coming out of the “bad news” about the AP Testing. Skyline’s student journalists on The Oracle staff got the scoop!

  • make it go away

    Does anyone have the AP pass rates for OUSD in 2010 and 2011? What about the pass rates for each AP class at Skyline? I know each principal is given this list from ETS. The only thing I could find is that in 2007, the pass rate for all AP exams given by the District was 29%. The national AP exam pass rate in 2011 is well over 50%.

  • Katy Murphy

    The latest data posted on the California Department of Education’s website is for 2009. The pass rate that year for OUSD was 33 percent. In other words, of the 2,489 exams taken (note: some students took more than one exam), 825 received scores of 3 or higher.

    At Skyline that year, the pass rate was higher — 43 percent. Of the 667 exams taken, 289 received scores of 3 or higher.


  • livegreen

    One thing I don’t like about either the AP pass summaries, or High School graduation summaries, is it fails to take into account all the students who jumped ship and switched to private schools. The negative that brings passes down through the Middle and Elementary schools and induces people to leave early.

    To truly capture the level of Oakland’s students, the level of education of Private School students should somehow be taken into account.

  • Nextset

    Livegreen: That’s an interesting concept. Let’s export that to South Africa during apartheid.

    Because that’s what’s going on here in Oakland. We all know the private school types “Ken & Barbie, etc” can take care of themselves. It’s Otis, Tyrone & Latifa I’m worried about.

    I’m not pretending the black Oakland population is ever going to match the white Oakland population in school academic performance. (No, you can’t “educate” your way out of different aptitude) I do contend that the OUSD’s approach to “education” is directly responsible for worse stats and worse behavior than if OUSD dissolved and the students sent to any charter that would have them.

    It seems to me that OUSD is allowing the black students (that includes the “students” who drop out) to sink as low as they can – this in the face of the coming Mexican majority.

    The alternative is to triage, track and train the population so that you do get the best performance from the various levels of student aptitude you have to work with, from basic & vocational level to college prep. That might involve making students good and uncomfortable – flunking, transferring, disciplining, expelling as needed. You might have to keep everybody in fear all the time – kind of like McGeorge Law School – so in the end you have a diverse student population that actually is competitive. There is no reason why the non-academic students should not be competitive in McDonald’s work (retail sales), Hotel Maiding, basic technical work, bus driving (or any kind of driving and delivery work, and all the service jobs that are quickly taken by immigrants and their families. OUSD should prepare students for this (at least in deportment, basic literacy and fund of knowledge to pass the hiring screens, as well as AP classwork for the favored fewer.

    We talk here about the AP students – most of the black students are nowhere near an AP class. What is OUSD doing for black (or any other) students who demonstrate no interest in academics? Where’s the Vocational Ed? Occupational training or even occupational placement? Are these kids not worth some attention – as the AP kids are?

  • Can’t believe it

    I think the point is that OUSD is not serving the kids at the top very well either, given the basic failure to properly administer an AP exam, or adequately prepare students for the test.
    And what about discipline for the administrators and students involved in the Skyline incident?

  • Gordon Danning


    AP score statistics for 2010 for the entire USA are on a spreadsheet here: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/exgrd_sum/2010.html The spreadsheet includes breakdowns by race, gender, public school attendance, etc.

    By the way, the mean score for all students was 2.84 I.e., the mean score was NOT passing, but about 58% of grades were passing grades.

    Also, please note that the mean scores very widely from test to test, from 2.44 (Human Geography) to 4.61 (Chinese Language). For classes taken by a large number of students (more than 100,000), the scores run from 2.52 (World History) to Spanish (3.39)

  • Cranky Teacher

    I bet Nextset and the other chronic critics didn’t even know “non a school” Skyline HAD AP classes, much less has 300 passed AP tests a year.

  • Lougin

    A testing coordinator shouldn’t take given responsibilities lightly. Training should be mandatory, and this is evidence that administrators need to be highly scrutinized and not given carte blanche to turn the CA public education system into a circus. Parents, community, and students, blow the whistle if it needs to be blown…