California’s 2011 test scores are out

It’s every k-12 education reporter’s favorite time of year: test score day! (I meant to post this earlier, but after sorting my 27th spreadsheet, my mind was rendered temporarily useless.)

Do you want to see how your school did last school year? You can find a spreadsheet with multiple tabs (East Bay, Oakland, and Oakland sorted by API score and growth) here. If you want to see it in print, we’re running a big chart listing the API scores and No Child Left Behind status of all the schools in our area in tomorrow’s (Thursday’s) paper. Here is a link to the California Department of Education’s website.

For my story on No Child Left Behind, I talked to two Oakland principals — Marco Franco, of Sobrante Park, and Charles Wilson, of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy — about their experiences with Program Improvement, a status that is shared by more schools each year as the student proficiency standards get tougher. (By 2014, all students are supposed to reach proficiency in reading and math, as the federal law is currently written.)

Franco was at Sobrante Park when it successfully exited Program Improvement five years ago; now the school is back in. He’s preparing for a second round of school improvement efforts and hopes his school will eventually see some of the funding that allowed his school to do things it can no longer afford (before-school intervention, librarian, literacy coach, another classroom teaching position).

Franco said he blamed himself for the ways in which his school fell short — for not “plugging all the holes,” as he put it. But, he said, even before he learned the Program Improvement news, he and his teaching staff had come up with a plan — and undergone training — to change how it taught its kids to read and write.

“We have to change,” he said. “Our school will turn around next year. You’ll see.”

Wilson, principal of Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy, a small elementary school on East Oakland’s Stonehurst campus, was reveling in his school’s dramatic test score gains. “It is absolutely an amazing, amazing experience,” he said. “It’s validation that some of the choices that we made, that made our lives a little bit harder, were worth it.”

Korematsu was one of just five schools in Alameda County and 85 statewide to do get out of Program Improvement this year. In Contra Costa County, none did. The school made a 103-point gain on the state’s 800-point Academic Performance Index, bringing its score to 788 out of a possible 1,000 points. Most of his students are English learners, and nearly all live in poverty.

“Our kids are not failures,” Wilson said. “They don’t need to be labeled failures. So we were going to do everything possible to remove that name.”

In reading last year, the school moved 22 percent (about half) of its students out of the lowest two rungs of the test score ladder — below basic and far below basic. Even if those students didn’t yet demonstrate proficiency, he said, that shift is significant because “the kid has the basic skills to do the work at grade level.”

Other Oakland schools that said goodbye to PI: Brookfield Elementary, Howard Elementary, Rise Community (elementary).

Schools entering Program Improvement this year: Aspire Millsmont, Community United, East Oakland PRIDE, Grass Valley, Learning without Limits, Prescott, Sankofa, Sobrante Park, West Oakland Middle School, Lionel Wilson College Prep, Life Academy, Metwest.

How do you think NCLB should be revamped? Do you think California should apply for a federal waiver in the meantime, even if it means adopting reforms promoted by the U.S. Department of Education? (OK, maybe that’s not a fair question, since we don’t know yet what those reforms are…)

Here’s the letter California’s superintendent of public instruction sent to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the subject.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Sue

    The student profieciency standard was unrealistic from the start under NCLB. Look how long Bush has been out of the white house( he can no longer be blamed). All students proficent by 2014 was unrealstic.

    Although there have been some positive aspect to NCLB such as the subgroup focus, threat of school reorganizations…..it has not produced what was promised because the goals were unrealistic.

    PI is nothing more than throwing money at problems, but produces no long term plans for success. Its like a yo yo diet- no long term changes, just band aids provided- however for taxpayers PI money has proven to be an expensive bandage.

    I think that more resources should be oferred to those schools , district or charter, who have proven themselves as sustainable and good schools. These schools do not recieve money for success, while the PI schools get money as they yo in and out of PI?

    Also, charter schools may die in 5 years due to lack of success- how about traditional district schools? We have seen in OUSD how difficult it is to close schools, so low performers can continue to bottom feed forever…..is this equitable accountability? I think not.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Please consider if instead of “equitable accountability” you started with a different frame, say: “all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…”

    Then NCLB or RTTT would not be possible because the process would treat people as if they did not have “certain unalienable rights”. The latter frame builds in rights that when it comes to NCLB is an inconvenient truth.

    If unalienable rights are accepted the bell curve cannot be eliminated and there will always a top and a bottom. Just because one attempts to eliminate prostitution as a goal does not mean that it is practical to achieve that goal. Some goals are utopian and/or the resources and values that must be sacrificed in pursuit of the goal a fool’s mission.

    Unalienable rights excludes concept of equitable accountability.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    The racial games played with NCLB is a farce. From the beginning those in the business of measuring brainpower were well aware of certain unpopular truths.

    Moving forward to today we have years and years of huge data collections. So when we are asked to believe that now all of a sudden there is a new coursebook or magical teaching method that can move numbers, profiles and stats that have been stable for a century – only the most clueless believe it with no grain of salt.

    The racial numbers are vulnerable to cooking – especially in relatively smaller lots of numbers. The Atlanta and the DC schools were caught with cheating parties and wide scale alterations of the test sheets. It doesn’t take a lot to move the numbers in smaller lots for short periods of time. But after 20 years of people claiming they have the cure for cancer, the magic bullet, the leprechaun and the pot of gold, smart money doesn’t even blink anymore. Go right ahead with the latest claim. Good luck to all.

    You cannot change the “gap” by education (numbers involving large groups of people). Too bad, so sad. You can only change it by changing the physical people themselves. Which is to say you can make changes, just not by teaching methodologies and not within one generation. You can do something with individuals perhaps – within limits – but we’re talking about LA Unified and OUSD numbers of people.

    I believe those on the left side of the bell curve would be far better off if we measured their potential at various times and made darn sure they were pushed with carrots and sticks to live up to their potential. There is a thin line between some prison guards and some prisoners. And I rather like the $100k a year the guard can make vs being unemployable in the Brave New World. Ditto other occupations that don’t require higher functioning – and there will always be such occupations no matter how high-tech people claim the US society is getting. Good tax policy can help that process along also.

    We very badly need tax policy in CA to create and maintain jobs for the left siders. And to finally put a stop to the presence of “illegals” in the state who stand ready to occupy those jobs. Also end birthright citizenship – which is something other nations generally don’t do for obvious reasons.

    Back to the thread of the school test scores. Until NCLB is repealed we will continue to have score cooking. We will also have to listen to these endless annual proclamations that some charlatan has magically turned lead into gold by the virtue of a perfect teacher. Then flog the other teachers for not all being perfect.

    Children should not be in schools or programs without a reasonable basis for expecting them to function in them. That’s how you maintain safe and proper schools. The left side of the Bell Curve should be in (offered) suitable programs that end in a prospect & expectation of honest work, regardless of how menial that work is. If they want more, they need to put out the needed effort to have more.

    It’s not the teacher’s fault a student is a dummy or too disordered for a given program. The teachers should not be expected to do the impossible, they should be expected to produce as much as any other teacher with a cognitively similar group of students to start with. Some teachers are truly gifted. However we are working with large numbers of students in a finite time to process them. Mis-placing a student in the wrong program is hard to recover from and not the teacher’s fault.

    So I have no faith on these annual exercises of looking at the numbers for the schools and claiming that this school has good teachers and this school doesn’t. Fluctuating demographics is by far the main reason for the fluctuation in the numbers – even if you teach to the tests.

    And the Internet which allows self teaching and fast research is a game changer in primary and secondary schooling. It also will change the ability of “good teaching” to control relative test numbers. Everybody has the same Smart phone, Ipad, PC or whatever including the “poor”. If you are too poor to have any access at all to the internet then you (your family line) also have a poor DNA problem and that’s why your scores are depressed.

    Brave New World.

  • http://www.AimSchools.org AIPCSParent

    Congrats AIPCS/AIPHS students for getting the top spot in the rankings again.

  • Turanga_teach

    Raise a glass to Brookfield Village Elementary, a school deep in the heart of East Oakland which has just exited the PI system after yet another year of solid performance. The commitment shown by teachers and community members goes beyond just this year and is reflected in the school’s growth on many measures, not just AYP.

  • Kloe

    @AIPCSParent aren’t you the school that has Asians as the majority of students?
    Asians are pretty smart! Well congrats to your school.

    As a parent its sad to know how the system is failing our kids, but even more sad to know that the parents don’t seem to care, because if they did care they would be pushing the students to do better at school simply by teaching them respect and discipline and checking in with teachers to see how the child is doing. Teachers don’t like to be question by parents but you know what who cares if we as parents don’t do it then who will?

  • anon

    And congrats to East Oakland School of the Arts, on the Castlemont campus, for their 81 point gain…impressive! Deserving of some love in their last year as EOSA before the merge

  • http://www.AimSchools.org AIPCSParent

    @Kloe actually Asians are not the majority at AIPCS.. Hispanics are.

  • Katy Murphy

    Unless there’s been a major demographic shift since last fall, I don’t believe that’s the case. The ethnic breakdown for AIPCS (the original middle school) shows 44 Latino students, 24 African American students and 99 Asian students in 2010-11. The other two American Indian schools, located in downtown Oakland, have a greater percentage of Asian students.

    California Department of Education link: http://bit.ly/nY8Pco

  • http://www.AimSchools.org AIPCSParent

    I stand corrected (I admit that I did not check the specs… going from memory…). I think I must have been thinking of my kid’s classes, both of which had non-Asians as valedictorians.

    Of course, I resisted the urge to say: “That’s a pretty racist comment” :-)

  • Ms. J.

    Hey Katie,
    I couldn’t get anything when I clicked on your first link. Is there a problem on your end or mine?
    Ms. J.

  • Oakland Teacher

    It may be a pretty racist comment, but some people look at the AIPCS demographics as an indication of a school that is racist.

    There are many schools that made great gains, and they all deserve to be proud of their work. Crowing about being on “top” does seem unnecessary.

  • Katy Murphy

    I just tested it out on my phone and it came up. Maybe it just takes a little while to load?

  • AnaR

    A. “Unalienable rights excludes concept of equitable accountability.” This is utter nonsense. I won’t waste anyone’s time explaining why.

    B. AIPCS parent should be proud. The school is incredible. Even though they are hated by many in Oakland circles. I always marveled at how flaming liberals become flaming racists when trying to explain AIPCS’ success – and they somehow don’t see the irony.

    C. Nextset has his Shtick. So be it.

    D. The awards:

    1. Well Done Award (in order)
    Korematsu, Glenview, KIPP Bridge

    2. Phoenix Award (from the ashes)
    Melrose, Santa Fe, Aspire Millsmont, Aspire ERES, Lazear, Mazwell Park, Westlake Middle

    3. We’re Not Satisfied Award:
    Glenview, Kipp Bridge, Crocker Highland, Acorn Woodland

    4. Yawn Award:
    Laurel, Chabot

    5. Something’s Wrong, But Nobody has the Courage to ask What Happened Award:

    International Community, Sequoia

    I’d love to hear what a principal thinks about the No Child Left Behind Act. We know what the teachers think. Well, at least we know what Jim Mordecai thinks, and he pretty much assumes to speak for all Oakland teachers.

    Do principals have thoughts and opinions, are they too buried in paperwork to participate, or have they been told to stay quiet.

    Schools will be shutting down soon. So are we going to replace an effective teacher and principal at Korematsu, for example with more tenured and less effective people from a shuttered school?

    If your school has a great principal but they only have 2 or 3 years experience you can forget about it. They will be moved to make room for somebody who has 20 years of experience leading a school into the gutter. We wont even talk about the teachers.

  • james


    How do the blacks and latinos do on the state tesst at the indian school? Do the asians make them look better than they are on test?

  • Sue

    C’mon! 147 out of 169 students are Asian at AIPCS 2. That is suspect, and you know I would not be that much of a skecptic were it not for the school’s arrogant and gloating approach to their program.

    Something is amiss- but the kids should be congratulated anyway .However I cant say much about the teachers and leaders who have a inherently easy go at it in comparison to other schools- and that is not fair in the competitive nature that is now prevalent among schools.

    Just my opinion however.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Gloating – that was the word I was trying to think of. Thank you Sue for your concise response.

  • Katy Murphy

    All groups of students at American Indian score highly on these tests.

    I have to bow out of this discussion now — heading to the mountains!

  • Mary H.

    Kloe, I guess we could get into a semantic discussion about what being “smart” means, but I believe the tendency towards excellence among Asian students is due to cultural priorities, not natural gifts. There are groups of Asians who do not do as well, and this can be traced to such things as their families’ station or class in their native countries.

    Those of us who teach in Oakland see the same kind of correlations. Students whose families value education tend to do well, regardless of ethnicity. Those who have other priorities…not so much. There are always exceptions, of course.

  • Turanga_teach

    Quick response to #14:

    I teach at Sequoia, and I politely decline your award. We are very much in possession of the “courage to ask what happened” with our test score slump last year. Off the top of my head: in the upheaval caused by our previous principal being promoted mid-summer to a district level position, we lost our after-school tutoring sessions for students on the cusp of proficiency because the interim principal did not pursue it. Our early literacy specialist got cancer, and our math intervention teacher died of it. And, randomly, we had previously had a 5th grade who tested insanely high through all the years: they exited the testing population right when these things happened.

    And we still scored above the state requirement.

    We now have a permanent principal who is dedicated, experienced, and firmly committed to continued progress. Our staff is united in sharing her vision: our school, which has never in my honest opinion been a “wrong” place for children, is well on its way to becoming yet more “right”.

    This is the danger with one number in isolation: it takes a deeper look to unpack all the stuff.

  • David

    Every year test scores are released and blame and gloating begins. Never fails. Is this a sign of schools more focused on getting better, or schools doing anything to get ahead?

    I think the Indian School (who by the way has no Indians- how racist is that) is an example of what can and has gone wrong in education. It’s all about a score and not much else. While I think that keeping an eye on the API is vital, its not the end all. That is what this school is in danger of being all about.

    What is so innovative about teaching Asian students to do well on tests? I mean, if over 85% of you school is Asian- does that merit gloating or a freaking book?

    I tip my hat off for school replacing their old “Indian Chief” as he referred to himself, and replacing him with others and yet maintained success. This is what they should be proud of instead of simply scores. Cause if thats all- that aint much with a bunch of Asians right?

    Schools that have a large number of Asians , do well, and more importantly- dont assume they are the mightiest thing since Godzilla are to be respected in my humble opinion. Look at Lincoln- a Blue Ribbon school yet no book or God’s answer to education claims!

    There are many things wrong in Public Education and a high score does not simply mean that particular school has solved all problems. It should not be that easy and people should not be duped in that rhetoric.

  • Nextset

    Demographics is destiny.

    At least when dealing with large numbers.

    Brave New World!

  • AnaR


    While you’re busy “unpacking”, the elephant is going crazy in the next room

    Acceptable: It was a hellish year and we just didn’t respond well to some pretty tough challenges. We’ll figure it out.

    Unacceptable: The principal blew it, we used to have better kids, we were grief-stricken, we still score higher than the basic level for schools!

    What happened to the pride and high expectations that Sequoia used to have?

    I won’t assume that all teachers at your school share your views. And rather than beat this into the ground, I wonder if there are other schools in OUSD who overcame tragedy, principal newness, and losing gifted kids who still managed to improve student achievement. Maybe it doesn’t exist. Maybe you are a realist. That would be extremely sad.

  • Yazstremski

    @David in post #21…
    I’m glad that you recognize the achievements of Lincoln, however, did you know that the majority of those kids choose to go to the American Indian school right around the corner..? They have to hold a lottery because they fill up quickly. The parents from Lincoln consider it their neighborhood middle school. So, my question is, why do they go down in your estimation because of their choice? Same kids, different school.

  • Nextset

    Mary H.:

    “There are groups of Asians who do not do as well, and this can be traced to such things as their families’ station or class in their native countries.”

    No, Mary, “groups of Asians” not doing as well can be traced squarely to their IQ averages. Hmongs are not the same as San Francisco Chinese.

    If you think that IQ changes materially over the lifespan of an individual because the natal family had modern appliances or dressed for dinner, you really missed something in college.

    And success is also not changed by the schooling forced on a particular student. It’s a physical attribute the student walks in the door with.

    Which is why I have a problem with praising or blaming the teachers as if they are primarily responsible for the high or low scores the class they were merely assigned to gets. Teachers are stuck with what walks in the door – with the bright or dull and with the behavioral problems engendered by the natal families – or not.

    Nobody seems to want to give the Piedmont teachers a gold star because their students do well. They are EXPECTED to do well.

    A teacher can influence student outcomes for better or worse, but all things being equal, the real determining factor in the success of a class as a whole is how bright thoses studest are, followed by the educational program not messing things up by failing to present the material, or running a bad school the the associated chaos which gets in the way of covering the course material.

    All this is expecially true at the primary and secondary levels where basic skills are honed and basic course material is delivered. You can get it all from the Internet – which is why homeschoolers consistently outscore urban schooled kids.

  • Steven Weinberg


    Although I am not familiar with anything that took place at Sequoia last year, I can say, based on 10 years of experience as a testing coordinator and data analyst at another Oakland school, all the things mentioned by Turanga_teach are legitimate reasons for test scores to decline in a given year.

    Much as we might like test scores to increase each year at every school, it is unrealistic to expect it. For test scores to stay the same means that you are able to continue doing all the things you did well in past years. To improve you have to keep doing everything you had done, plus do something better. When programs are eliminated because of budget cuts or the illness or death of staff members who cannot be replaced, students don’t get the same quality of education. In those situations scores will often drop.

    At the school I worked at, increases in test scores came in years when there were increases in funding. When funding stayed the same, so did scores. When we experienced cuts, scores fell. If there was no negative impact when programs were cut, no could question how valuable the programs that were cut were.

    I also know from experience the effect that one strong group of students can have on scores. We had one extraordinary group at my school that raised scores every year they were there, but when they were promoted to high school the gains stopped and it took huge efforts just to keep from dropping steeply.

    One year my school suffered a serious drop in scores. Like Sequoia, even before the test results were issued we had taken steps to correct the problems, and the next year the scores more that made up for their loss. There were people from outside the school who reacted to our explanations of what happened in the same way you have, accusing us of making excuses and saying we lacked the proper attitude. Luckily those in the district administration were more reasonable. They saw that we had learned from the experience and were taking steps to correct it and supported us in doing so. One thing I remember clearly is that after our scores went back up none of those who had claimed we had been making excuses or lacked the proper attitude ever showed up at the school to apologize.

    You asked in an earlier post what principals think about No Child Left Behind. I am not a principal, but I have a number of friends who are or have been principals, and all of them have very negative feelings about NCLB. They recognize that it sets unreasonable expectations, and they resent the amount of time and energy they must spend on testing and test preparation.

    In that same post you indicated that you believed that when school were closed effective principals with one or two year’s experience would be replaced by “somebody who has 20 years of experience leading a school into the gutter.” First of all, principal positions are on based on seniority. Any principal can be replaced at any time. Second, I don’t know of any principals with 20 years experience (definitely not at middle school, anyway). Thirdly, I know of no effective principal in Oakland who was ever removed to replace him or her with someone with more experience. We lose effective principals to other districts where the pay is higher. We lose them to the central or area offices where pay in higher. We lose them in cases where they don’t feel supported by the district administration. But we never lose them because of bumping.

  • http://www.AimSchools.org AIPCSParent

    @Sue , @Oakland Teacher . …Gloating? Perhaps… but I like to think of it more as a “hallelujah” after all the sacrifice and hard work by the kids, the parents, and the teachers.

    It ain’t easy being associated with AIPCS/HS.

    And theres no magic attributable just to genetics. Its all about going above and beyond and putting in the hours.

    One small example. One of my kids is having difficulty with Chemistry. Her teacher tutored her for approx. 8 hours over two days during this past labor day weekend. To make that happen takes commitment and self-motivation on the part of the student, the parent, and the teacher.

    The teacher was not paid overtime. This was not about studying to the STAR test. And I am not Asian.

    I can tell you that the pride that comes from setting a goal and achieving it is something that boosts the self-esteem of the kids.

    When asked about school, my son (after the obligatory “school is hell comment”) will glow and tell people that he goes to the top performing middle school in all of California — even though 85% of the students are speak english as a second language.

    AIPCS (or more accurately, American Indian Model schools) is definitely not for everyone. Dr. Chavis (the “Indian Chief” who is,BTW @David still very active) is the first to tell you this. But there are certainly MANY more kids in Oakland (of all races) who could and should benefit from it .

  • J.R.

    Celebrating is wonderful,ard work should be celebrated, and more importantly emulated. Congratulations to AICPS on reaping the benefits of hard work, and not surrendering to the victim-hood mentality. Kids will rise to expectations and beyond when adults do the same(it’s all about modeling). As for one of the supposed causes of academic failure(such as poverty), Americans in general have no earthly idea what true poverty is.

  • Mary H.

    Nextset, against my better judgment, I will respond to you. Please reread my post and note that I refer to cultural priorities, by which I meant things that are highly valued by a particular group of people–not their daily customs.

    I’ve been teaching too long and have been exposed to too many children to believe that IQ is THE determining factor in student success, or that IQ is determined by race. Generally speaking, students whose families establish learning as a priority at home tend to be more successful in school. As I said before, there are exceptions.

    Your last paragraph seems to contradict your premise, in that you admit that home-schooled students do very well. This is an environmental factor–not genetic. Their success is directly linked to the individualized instruction they received at home.

  • Nextset

    Mary H: I really don’t care about your better judgement.

    But I do enjoy a debate. Maybe we have some common ground. Maybe not. Let’s see.

    Your paragraph 2: “…have been exposed to too many children to believe that IQ is THE determining factor in student success, or that IQ is determined by race.”
    You seem to be saying 2 different things, some of which is not controversial to me. yes, individuals are unique. You as a teacher can affect an individual and that individual can have any particular IQ. We can agree there. Your statement however does have a negative pregnant. You seem to acknowledge that although individuals vary from dull to bright, large groups of people, say California or US Hispanics – Non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, whatever groups we have stats for – do have their averages, which are distinct. Actually I’m pointing this out because you by describing individual cases appear to be acknowledging the flip side. Maybe that wasn’t your intention, but there you have it. It’s not “determined” by race – that’s an “of course” – on the individual level – however isn’t that a also an admission that racial group averages are not the same?

    “Generally speaking, students whose families establish learning as a priority at home tend to be more successful in school. As I said before, there are exceptions.” Well that is a loaded statement. Do you admit or contend that German Jews (who score the highest in group IQ) are of high intelligence because of study habits?? Do you think that being bright or dull is a matter of study habits, not nutrition, genetics or some/any physical asset the subject carries around? Do you think that starving Jewish WWII immigrants and their children are/were brighter because they had good study habits in the ghettoes of Europe – or in the concentration camps? Maybe you haven’t known any poor Jews. I have. Maybe you think they (and other high average groups like East Indians) sit around and study all day. They don’t all do so. You should have seen some of my friends in high school and college. Ability to grasp abstract concepts quickly and to manipulate them isn’t like learning piano. You just have it. The difference is stark – visible (at the extremes) in childhood, through puberty and becoming crystal clear in adulthood.

    We can go on but I think I’ve made my point this post. You have no studies that “culture” carries faster brain processing speed. There are retarded children in the higher IQ groups, just not as many of them – they do have an abundance of anxiety disorders though. Like wise there are very bright poor black children, perhaps not in huge numbers and they may learn to hide their brightness so they aren’t beaten. Whatever.

    You are mainly interested in individual students. I am only interested in large numbers and large systems. You do not express any interest in the well published studies in the USA and elsewhere charting averages for the various groups from decade to decade across the 20th Century. How’s that working out for you? Any opinion on why the school districts in DC and Atlanta had to systematically cheat just to turn in the laughable fake scores they did in basic reading and math? I assume you would say that the chillun can’t read – can’t learn to read actually – because they’re poor and their single mothers don’t work with them. Not that they’re maybe too dumb to learn how to read and to master the English language as well/easily as the other group’s poor people. I suppose you are aware of stats where the children of wealthy blacks score on the average below the scores of children of poor whites on College admission tests. Would you contend that’s because of culture or lack of help with the homework? (again, we are talking about large numbers of people, not a particular black or white subject)

    Like we have never seen poverty before worldwide or historically? Sorry. Poverty does not by itself equal illiteracy (it has multiple causes including war, casualty loss & economic depressions). Being of low intelligence does equate to poverty as well. One of the many triggers for it.

    I’m not here to argue why these facts exist or what would move the numbers. I am arguing that as a debate of education policy you cannot ignore the numbers and pretend they don’t exist and that you can change things with just a little more unlimited money for handholding. Pre-natal vitamins might be worth a try. More money for the schools, Not worth a try any more. More hand holding in the schools, No. Not on my budget. Makes no more sense nowadays that pouring money into the Postal Service so they can avoid change.

    No more increased funding for the left side of the Bell Curve in a futile attempt to flog them into magically being something other than what they are, which is free people able to say “I don’t want to take that class, do that homework, sit for that subject, or do that work.” Regardless of race the thing to do now is to set the different tracks up, test and counsel the students as to what their best potentials are and let them and their families decide which school program to enroll in and which programs to avoid. Maintain standards for the various programs ruthlessly. No affirmative action and no coddling. And no test cheating either, that’s real easy to stop.

    There is an argument that the current PC policy of pouring in the $ and flogging the non-asian minority kids to not be whatever it is they are does more harm than good and sets the students up to be very unhappy adults by pushing them into mismatching schools and career paths. Pushing them past their failure points if you will.

    I’m all for pushing students – I only say that I don’t set students up for failure by pushing them into a course that they have no reasonable expectation of success in (so half of them drop out from scholol entirely). And I wouldn’t dumb down the HS diploma so that an IQ of 80 can pass it. When you are that dumb you should not expect to get a standard diploma. You should expect to be diverted to Voc and Tech education.

    And believe me, I know lots of people that dumb and I see what it takes for them to stay out of trouble and survive – not to mention to try to keep employed.

    I suspect you do believe we are to give such a student a high school diploma, that they can “overcome” their lack of abstract thinking ability by extra credit or something and get a condolence diploma.

    Life doesn’t work that way. Teachers cannot give a “brains” transfusion.

    You may have very bright students, I don’t know what level and what schools you are in. I have heard Montera is good. I’m not referring to schools specifically but the Oakland Flats generally where the scores and performances are the most lacking. A non-college prep track should be firmly established for those who want no part of academics and currently just drop out and walk away from the OUSD system. You know, those nearly 50% of black students who start at OUSD and vanish. Those in the flats who are ready and able for the academic path should be allowed to enroll themselves. And no, we don’t have to give them extraordinary help.

    Properly coached there is still a good living in the US for people of below average (IQ of 100) intelligence. Deportment and training is key. We offer neither to our black urban proletariat in typical public schooling. Maybe they do at American Indian. Maybe they do in Redding. We used to in Oakland.

  • wdcrachel

    Is there demographic date for elementary schools versus high schools? Striking how all of the high schools are below 700 but many elementary schools above 800. I know there is flight with middle school. Is that the primary reason for this big drop? Is “catching up” so much more pronounced by high school? More supplemental services/programs for younger children? Other explanations?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Wdcrachel, Demographic differences in Oakland are part of the answer, but you also need to realize that the CST tests produce lower scores at high schools than elementary schools statewide. The average API in California if 808 for elementary schools and 742 for high schools. I can’t find a similar breakdown in the state reports for Oakland, but maybe someone else can.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Wdcrachel, I did my best to get the ethnic breakdown you asked for. Based on the percentages shown on the state STAR reports for Oakland, elementary test takers in OUSD were 26% Black, 9% White, and 36% Hispanic. High school test takers in OUSD were 31% Black, 6% White, and 30% Hispanic. The figures for Asians were 12% in elementary and 18% in high schools, but I don’t know if that includes Chinese and Vietnamese students who are listed separately at about 7% and 2% at both levels. There is also a category called two or more races which shows 7% at elementary and 3% at high school. I believe the two or more races category was created after most high schoolers entered the school system, and ethnicity is based on district records from the time of enrollment, which might explain the low high school numbers.

  • formeraipcsteacher

    I used to work at AIPCS. FYI –
    1. Teachers regularly stay until 6 PM with students every day of the week except Friday. Teachers hold Saturday schools at least 1x a month for those that struggle. The tiger mother mentality of the Asian families doesn’t hurt, but this is why the school is #1.
    2. The grade level curriculum must be finished by March. These students cannot afford the luxury of wasting time on glue and construction paper when they come to the school without knowing how to multiply or read. (I am speaking of my old class – the “high” class was fine w/multiplication.)
    3. Most importantly, a teacher has complete control over the classroom and can publicly embarrass and punish a student as he/she sees fit. Once the kids test the boundaries, class runs smoothly. Since the teacher is a benevolent dictator, students are compelled to finish the work.
    4. The parents that stay with the school love/ accept the culture. They understand students need discipline and structure. No, they don’t need to go to the restroom to waste time. Yes, they have to take notes. Yes, they have to read the novel. Yes, sometimes they stay up late at night. There is no argument. Oh, they cheated? They can clean out the bathrooms and pick up trash.
    5. The school doesn’t do well because of the Asian students. Asian parents see the API of the school and word spreads. The downtown campus is located in Chinatown; the school can’t help it if Asian parents comment about the API in their newspapers. This is particularly distressing because the black and latino kids work JUST AS HARD as the Asian kids and thrive under the structure. This pisses me off; why don’t you visit the school and SEE the concentration and effort put forth by these kids?
    6. Is AIPCS for everyone? No. From informal observations, the attrition rate of black students is particularly high. For example, one student left because his detention stated he was “acting like a fool” since he hocked a loogie on another kid’s backpack. Both kids were black. This teacher was called racist by his mother. Another student left because the mother felt he was being picked on. This student ran away from the school and used foul language with a teacher. Another black student couldn’t handle reading a chapter of Maniac Magee a night. The mother thought it was too much homework. Another black couple wanted the pace of the class slowed down to accommodate the needs of their daughter. While accommodations are made, some kids need another year to catch up. Another black parent did not want to have her daughter to repeat 6th grade even though she scored below basic on the CST. Another student left because he couldn’t use his cell phone in class. I can go on… generally speaking (and yes, we shouldn’t generalize….), black parents become upset because the school doesn’t make exceptions for them. They want to be heard; they feel like they don’t have a voice. It’s unfortunate because there is a community that this high performing school is only partially serving.

    New DEO high school observations –
    1. The staff has done a great job to create a culture where kids feel safe and welcome. However, the majority of students won’t do the homework. They are used to checking out, sleeping in class, TALKING in class, getting up without permission, thinking they can use the bathroom every five minutes, dancing/jumping/running/hugging/kissing/playing music in the hallways, talking openly about how much they drank/smoke that weekend, cursing on a regular basis in class, arguing with the teacher about rules, etc. I cannot make this up.
    2. My current high school students desperately want to learn, are easy to like, and are also easily manipulated. It’s sad to see they haven’t been taught how to learn. It’s heartbreaking to hear that they hate to read. I feel like I’m just doing damage control at this point.
    3. Many teachers try their best but choose not to focus on standards or grade level material. I can’t really judge them. (How in God’s name do 11th graders have a 2nd grade reading level?!)
    4. How do I introduce rigor while still being flexible? I see the potential (in several students) behind a lazy work ethic.
    5. Yes, several students have faced trauma, and we need to be sensitive towards their needs. My attitude is that they cannot afford to think of themselves as victims if they are going to be successful.

  • Mary H.

    Nextset, you make several (incorrect) assumptions about my beliefs based on what little I said. If I thought it would be constructive, I would respond point by point. I don’t think it would be, so I will just restate the original thought I presented on this topic.

    Asian students who do well do not do so because they are just “smart.” Any child (who is not suffering from some kind of learning disability) can excel–if his/her family values education, and, consequently, makes sure all measures are taken to ensure the child’s academic success.

  • Nextset

    “Any Child” Mary?

    Based on what? Your wish? Your college training? Your scholarly research?

    By what authority or experience do you opine that any child can “excel” whatever that means to you, just because their parent(s) wish it so and do everything humanly possible to make their child excel?

    Do you even live in the real world? What is your occupation and training?

    That statement is utter hogwash. It also is the liberal nonsense that blames teachers and parents for the child’s exercise of choice not to perform as directed. They do have a choice you know. I talk to parents who’s children decide to stay stoned or lose themselves in sex at 12 or 13 (puberty is when these stories seem to really intensify). And that’s not mentioning the exasperated parents who have one child noticeably duller than the siblings. No amount of money and attention can make these kids be what they are not.

    No, Mary. Education does not add what is physically lacking in a child. Some are tall, some are short. Some are aggressive, some are not. Even within the same family grouping some are bright and some are just morons. All are not the same. Deal with the difference.

  • Paul D

    Former AIPCS teacher makes a good point. I have worked as a teacher in the Richmond, Oakland and East palo Alo areas and I have witnessed the same thing when it comes to black students. They and their families feel as if the school owse them something.

    I was expected to dicipline lightly, change grades, tolerate nonsense, and was even threatened by a parent because I told his kid to “be quiet” yet he called me a “racist MF!”

    This is all the doing of the liberal democratic public school slant- i say that as a former bleedidng heart liebral. Yet having a child of my own and witnessing the disparing attitude of the predominate number of black families I have had to contend with was sobering to say the least. I was even called a racists for saying” Black as a charcoal” when teaching an ELA lesson!

    My hat goes off to a school that can reach the black and Latino families and I completely agree with the observations of the former aipcs teacher.

    However, I must admit that the Indian school antics can only be done because of Asians ( yes Tiger moms) but also different submissive stances. I dont care who you are- you will not be able to tell a Black family to stay until 6 pm monday – thursday!Yuo will not be anble to get away with humiliating them( they will threaten you)!
    Same as many are willing to talk about the “gloat” of the school- lets talk about the thuggery that soft racism has created in the ghetto’s. Expecting schools to change black culture is unrealistic- a financial menltdown just might do the trick though.

    And I know…………….im racist right! Ha Ha!

  • Mary H.

    Nextset, the hostile tone of your response is unnecessary, and this is why earlier I said I would respond to you against my better judgment.

    If you read my post carefully, you will note that I said “Any child CAN excel if…” I did not say any child WILL excel. As I stated in two earlier posts, “there are exceptions.” There are students who fail in spite of tons of support at home–as well as those who excel with little or no support.

    Generally speaking, however, students who excel have parents/guardians who value education and do what is necessary to insure their children’s academic success. I base this assertion on my experience with children as a teacher, mother, grandmother, friend, neighbor, community member, etc.

  • aipcs2student

    I am an Asian in eighth grade in AIPCS 2. I have had 5 teachers so far in the fisrt month of the school year even though we are only supposed to have only one for three whole years. I agree that asians are filling up the population at our school and that a lot of blacks get punished. However you are mistaken that all asians are smart.I had a classmate that didnt do any homework from summer school to december for two years.I met people in seventh grade that taught nonsense in class. My class is totally chinese and i had classmates made of wood. I dont appreciate people saying that teachers arent a major part of API score because they are. I had a teacher who is now teaching high school that gave her heart and soul teaching us. She made us take the amc8 in 6th and 7th grade.I got 19 out of 25 while my friend got 23She made us take the SAT and drove me to LA for CTY.She has spent her weekends in school for month helping us prepare for eighth grade. She helped me get a perfect score on the star test along with another student in my class. Dont say that she wasnt a great contributor to my success. Also, dont say that we are naturally bright because we have some stupid kids in our school. There are schools filled with Asians so our school is not aiming to take just Asians.Our school aim for hardworking students not for smart students.Our teacher wil rather have a hardworking student than a smart lazy student anyday.I get good grades because i put homework, grades, tests and quizzes over everything including friends,family,hobbies ,sleep,and even my life. I dont want to ever diasappoint my parents so i feel that success in school is worth my life. Our school got our scores through hard work, determination and good teachers helping students.We dont have a big budget especially with only one field trip that is dependent on our attendance. We had broken books but we still learn from them. Money isnt the only way to get a good API.

  • A Hills School Mom

    @aipcs2student – Great job and congratulations on your success at AIPCS2. It must be frustrating to read all of the critical comments about your school on this blog. Us adults often make sweeping generalizations about all kinds of people forgetting that it’s really not fair or accurate. Sounds like you are doing great so keep up the good work.

  • Nextset

    Mary H: That’s is not a hostile tone. That’s my standard debate tone.

    Your distinction is without a difference. You still don’t acknowledge that people – school children – are distinct personalities including aptitude and ability which in the case of failing students is typically a hardwired non-performer that is just not up to performing at average or acceptable levels in the given grade at the schools. No amount of “teaching” can make such a child perform up to par. Keeping these failing students in the mix of normal kids is what drags down the public schools such as OUSD to failing schools. Prior to the civil rights movement of the mid 60s these failing students were swept out and put in schools of their own – which allowed the districts to maintain standards in the normal schools.

    For reasons of political correctness the urban schools refuse to flunk out and transfer out bad students. Their “schools” and staff suffer greatly as a result.

    White students – and especially Jewish students are disinterested in sharing classrooms with dummies and seek real schools such as Piedmont, Orinda or whatever. Black students who do not have the families & economics for better neighborhoods are stuck in Oakland’s failing schools where previously they would have been able to go to more refined Oakland Schools. I’d like for OUSD to start fielding better schools such as Lowell High in SF – before the Charters take every high scoring Oakland student.

    Actually maybe I shouldn’t care about this – let the Charters take all the higher IQ students. AIM seems to do OK. Free enterprise rules I suppose.

    But then we have the “Brave New World” problem where the bad public schools are allowed to exist and raise generations of black students who are led to think they are “normal” and have no idea that the world outside their failure-factory schools exists. If the public school districts operated good, better and best schools, the students of all stripes within the district would be aware of the world as it is and where they stand in it.

    Look at it this way, Sears customers are well aware of what top of the line looks like even if they buy the cheap appliances. They can see the Kenmore Elite appliances alongside the base model and they really get it that their house has the base line. Reality is maintained.

    As much as I like these educational policy debates – I’m afraid the events on the world stage indicate that we are going to have far more problems than local schooling of Oakland’s young. If the Euro and Dollar – fiat money after all – reaches the point of collapse we’re going to have other things to think of first. The likelihood of an economic crash has been climbing for some time (welfare policy, open borders, free trade) and we know from history that when it happens it occurs swiftly. I’m running the pros and cons of buying a plug in Prius despite the huge price premium – trying to weigh the value of it as a hedge against gas price/availability in the next 5 years. It’s a robust analysis and an interesting decision.

    People who sink that kind of money into such a purchase can be expected to have strong opinions of the viability of the municipal schools too. Remember, like the original Prius buyers, they are betting on the marketplace value of the used car (depreciation) which is an inflation calculation as well as direct savings on future gas costs.

    Evaluating these schools involves similar balancing. While I’m not a pro-teacher pro union person I believe there is far too much emphasis on teacher quality as opposed to student quality. I can’t fairly judge teachers and the issues of their pay and class size with no adjustments or allowance for the quality of the students the teachers are issued.

    So when these test scores are released year after year I cannot say “good teacher” or “bad teacher” when the classes and schools are assembled at random with no regard for the aptitude of the students assigned to them.

    Teachers are not responsible for bad test scores when the test subject is of low cognitive skill. Time pressure tests are (often become) proxies for IQ tests – especially when it’s given that a large number are tested and all were exposed to the similar subject material.