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MDUSD superintendent unveils test scores, but doesn’t mention district is in second year of federal Program Improvement

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, October 12th, 2012 at 10:34 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

Since test scores are a hot topic in the Mt. Diablo school district, I am posting Superintendent Steven Lawrence’s message to the community about student achievement in district schools below, to allow blog readers to comment on it.

“Mt. Diablo USD News Update
Where Kids Come First
October 11, 2012

The California Department of Education has released the 2012 Accountability Progress Reports for California public schools. According to the reports, students in Mt. Diablo Unified School District continue to show improved academic achievement indicated by the Academic Performance Index (API) and the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).


In the newly released Academic Performance Index (API) rankings, most Mt. Diablo schools are performing at increasingly higher levels. The goal of all California schools is to achieve an API score of 800. 34 of our 47 schools met school wide growth targets and 27 of them met all school wide and subgroup growth targets. 17 schools made double digit gains. Overall, the district API improved 7 points from 786 to 793.

All three elementary schools with the School Improvement Grant (SIG) made substantial growth: Bel Air improved 58 points, Rio Vista improved 26 points, and Shore Acres improved 61 points.

Besides the SIG schools, we are especially proud of the following schools which made over 20 points of growth from their 2011 base API. El Monte improved 24 points from 800 to 824. Fair Oaks improved 31 points from 722 to 753. Mt. Diablo Elementary improved 29 points from 902 to 931. Pleasant Hill Elementary improved 25 points from 869 to 894. Valle Verde improved 21 points from 926 to 941. College Park High improved 29 points from 786 to 815. Concord High improved 41 points from 709 to 750.

District wide, 8 elementary schools scored above 900; 10 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, and 2 high schools scored between 800 and 900. Below is a list of all schools/programs and the API growth from 2011-2012 (Due to technical constraints, I am not able to reprint the chart in this blog. Please see the chart at


The California Department of Education also released the 2012 Federal Accountability Measures, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP reports on percentage of students scoring proficient and above in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics on the California Standards Test (CST). For 2012, federal target in ELA is set at 78.0% and 78.2% in mathematics. District wide, 61.0% of our students met the ELA target and 61.1% met the mathematics target. These represent a gain in both ELA (58.7%) and mathematics (60.6%) from the previous year.

While not all of our schools met these federal targets, the following results show some continuing promising trends. At grades 2-5, 73% of our students scored proficient and above in Mathematics, surpassing state averages. Notably, 40% of 2nd graders, 49% of 3rd graders, 51% of 4th graders, and 44% of 5th graders scored advanced in mathematics.

As a district, we are committed to high expectations and outcomes for all of our students with the goal of ensuring every MDUSD graduate will be college or career ready. Administrators and teachers work collaboratively analyzing student achievement data in order to implement teaching and learning strategies that support all students in mastering critical skills and knowledge embedded in state standards. While an achievement gap still exists for some of our subgroups, our schools are committed to providing necessary support to ensure that every student achieves at the highest level. We are proud of our teachers’, support staff members’, and administrators’ commitment to improving student learning opportunities to ensure their future success. It is with the ongoing support of our School Board, parents and community that our schools and district continue to move in a positive direction.

For the complete California Accountability Progress Report, go to


It is interesting to note that Lawrence did not mention the fact that the district is in Year 2 of federal Program Improvement for failing to meet No Child Left Behind requirements. In addition, he did not mention that 10 district schools are in Program Improvement for failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress on tests, including nine that are in Year 5 and Sun Terrace Elementary in Concord, which was newly identified for Program Improvement this year.

Here is a list of schools in Program Improvement:
Bel Air Elementary in Bay Point
Cambridge Elementary in Concord
Fair Oaks Elementary in Pleasant Hill
Meadow Homes Elementary in Concord
Rio Vista Elementary in Bay Point
Shore Acres Elementary in Bay Point
Sun Terrace Elementary in Concord
Ygnacio Valley Elementary in Concord
Oak Grove Middle School in Concord
Riverview Middle School in Bay Point

As Lawrence noted, the three elementary campuses that received School Improvement Grants made great gains in their API scores: Bel Air, Rio Vista and Shore Acres.

Meadow Homes Elementary and Oak Grove Middle School have been awarded School Improvement Grants for the next three years. Both schools got new principals last year as a requirement for receiving the grant.

Under Principal Mary Louise Newling, Meadow Homes exceeded its API growth target of 5 points, jumping from 701 to 707. Under Principal Lisa Murphy Oates, Oak Grove posted the biggest drop in its API score of all the district’s regular (non-alternative) schools, falling 37 points from 639 to 602. It was the second-lowest-scoring middle school in the county, just behind Lovonya DeJean Middle School in the West Contra Costa district, which scored 599.

Although Lawrence didn’t mention the district’s PI status in his community news update, the district was required to send a letter explaining PI to every parent. The letter, dated Sept. 21, states, in part:

“…our district must continue to implement our addendum to our LEA (Local Educational Agency) Plan, use 10 percent of Title 1 funds to provide professional development for teachers and administrators, and continue to provide assistance to schools identified for PI.”

The letter also informs parents that they can “ask about school choice options to transfer your child, with paid transportation, to a public school in Mt. Diablo that is not identified as a Program Improvement school.”

In addition, parents of children in all the PI schools except Sun Terrace can request “supplemental educational services,” which are available to students in schools that have been in PI for two years or more.

Finally, the letter encourages parents to contact Rose Lock, assistant superintendent of Student Achievement and School Support, at 925-682-8000 ext. 4015 for more information or to become involved in the district’s PI efforts.

This letter, however, does not appear to be posted prominently on the district’s website. It also does not inform parents that the transfer application period has already begun. Parents must apply to transfer their children betweeen Oct. 1 and Jan. 15, according to the district’s website:

Do you think the superintendent should have included information about Program Improvement in his message to the community?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

28 Responses to “MDUSD superintendent unveils test scores, but doesn’t mention district is in second year of federal Program Improvement”

  1. g Says:

    Lawrence: “These represent a gain in both ELA (58.7%) and mathematics (60.6%) from the previous year.”

    NO! A quick glance at your way of putting it might throw some off, but good authorship says you shouldn’t represent last years base figures to make them appear as if those were the percentages of gain.

    The numbers actually represent a gain in ELA of 2.3% and a gain in MATH of .5%

    Nice try!

  2. g Says:

    An even better indication of improvement would be to say that in ELA only 2 out of every 130 students improved, and in MATH only 1 out of every 200 students showed improvement!

    Chew on that a minute while you are bragging!

  3. Doctor J Says:

    Smoke and mirrors: Wonder what Desert Sands will have to say about his pathetic record ?

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Lawrence was not the only superintendent to gloss over NCLB and PI.
    The San Ramon Valley district also failed to mention its PI status in a similar news update to its community:

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrences failures are legion. Just take SASS — 4 times the size he projected, nearly 10 times the cost, and just a measley 7 API point gain district wide, which when you take out the 3 SIG schools massive API improvements due to the Fed/State audit of SIG resulting in a Corrective Action Plan it resulted in a gain of 150 points +/-, the district would have LOST 25 API points or more !!! High school principals Sue Brothers [his sidekick from West Sac and Roseville] and Kate McClatchy [haven’t figured out her hold over Lawrence unless its ToiletGATE or QEIA-GATE or is it Rolen(?)] were the only two high school principals to lose API points — yet Morones gets a 1 point gain, and gets promoted as an exemplar principal after one year with just ONE POINT gain — go figure. One word of advice to Steven: don’t tell Desert Sands you will bring your “own” strategic plan — that would be a clue you don’t have a clue as to how a strategic plan is developed !

  6. MDUSD Parent Says:

    Reading these blogs is like reading a horror story. Things keep getting worse and worse. Who oversees MDUSD and our board? Our kids are getting short changed, our tax dollars squandered, can’t anyone help? Sherry definitely needs to go. I’ll be voting for Oaks for sure. Hiring Mr Lawrence was such a terrible error in judgement, he wasn’t prepared to handle a district this large. Sorry .ayo, I think you are done for also. Sending out a S O S!

  7. Doctor J Says:

    @TH, remember that the LEA Addendum referred to by Steven Lawrence in his Sept 21 letter, was required to be developed with parent and community input — it wasn’t and my comments at the time so reflected. Lorie O’Brien told the board it was — when it wasn’t. She didn’t know. She claimed Jennifer Sachs involved the parents, but that isn’t true. There are no records of any meetings with parents on the development of the LEA Addendum — it was a pure SASS developed document — they know better, and Rose Lock sat their silent in the Board meeting and failed to correct the inaccuracy. Look what wonderful results SASS has produced. More concerned with their potlucks than what improves student learning. More concerned with preserving administrator retirements. TH, want an eye opening for the public ? Do a PRA request on all emails mentioning potlucks in the last 3 years. Great use of district resources.

  8. Anon Says:

    Sherry Whitmarsh must go.

    We will then focus our efforts on recalling Mayo.


  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have added a new blog post that shows how San Ramon Valley and MDUSD both highlighted successes, while glossing over the fact that they failed to meet NCLB requirements, in community news releases:

  10. Doctor J Says:

    Schools don’t have enough money ? Don’t kid yourself: The exploding Bureacracy under Steven Lawrence. On May 11, 2010 Lawrence proposes to the Board to eliminate Curriculum & Instruction dept to save over $50,000 — Agenda 14.4. He proposes the creation of SASS with just 9 employees: Asst. Supt, Director of Secondary, Director of Elementary, 4 Administrators for School Support, a Program Administrator for English Learners, and Asst. Director for Categoricals with a budget of just under One Million dollars. Two years later, Lawrence has exploded the bureacracy of SASS into 31 employees — from 9. Yes, in just two years, they are so big they grew beyond Dent and now occupy some of Willow Creek. One by one Lawrence has added so now SASS more than triple in size, and yet we see just a measley 7 point API gain — not much bang for the buck. TODAY SASS has Asst. Supt, Director of Secondary, Director of Elementary, 5 Administrators for School Support [one new], Director of English Learner Services [new],a Program Administrator for English Learners, Asst. Director for Categoricals, 13 Teacher Coaches [new and housed at Willow Creek], 1 Administrative Assistant to Rose Lock, 1 Admin Secretary to the Directors of Secondary and Elementary, and 5 Senior Secretaries. Is there any wonder that taxpayers don’t want to support exploding bureacracies of local school districts, which have more than tripled in size. The thought of saving $50,000 is but a fleeting memory.

  11. Anon Says:

    Will CC Times report how SASS tripled in size and who’s accountable?

  12. g Says:

    Dr. J: Spot on! With all of the so called cut-backs, woe-is-me, ADA falling off a cliff, the state cuts are killing us, etc., per the Times Salary data, the district only went from 5,467 employee count in 2010 to 5,462 in 2011.

    Down 5!!! ($11.00 Noon Supervisors? Single day Subs?) (Special Ed Assistants?)

    But outside consulting contracts, legal firms, Pedersen’s team? Like Topsy, they “just growed.”

    They’ve increased some class sizes, cut programs in the schools and plan huge cuts in busing, and yet, API just 7 points up–and that thanks only to SIG requirements that they failed to implement until the very last second!

    Let’s give the big 5 another raise!

  13. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In the past, MDUSD Superintendent Steven Lawrence has said the district had the fewest administrators per student in the county. But at a recent WCCUSD candidate forum I attended, that district is now making that claim — as well as saying WCCUSD has the fewest teachers per student and the lowest-paid teachers in the county.
    I believe some of the SASS expansion has been paid for through School Improvement Grants and other categorical funds. But, with all of these staff coaches, it’s unclear why the district is still hiring outside consultants for $900 or more per day to coach SIG school staffs.
    Regarding Measure C, Pedersen gave a PowerPoint analysis defending the in-house management team at the Sept. 24 board meeting, saying it was more cost-effective than the 2002 Measure C outside management team:

  14. Doctor J Says:

    Very significant that the Times editorial board recommends NO on both 30 and 38 — despite the bogus claims of Lawrence of “we’re broke !”, the substance of Lawrence’s whining is “deficit spending” but give us another raise at Dent ! Watch for a photo op at noon with Lawrence and Susan Bonilla. “Good News” will have that pic on the front page !

  15. Doctor J Says:

    @TH#13 Lawrence said on May 11, 2010 agenda that SASS was paid for with mostly categorical funds from the beginning. Categorical funds are TAXPAYER’S money ! And you are right — why is Meadow Homes Elementary hiring expensive consultants when SASS is available ? Not to mention that Meadow Homes overflowed lots of children who are now forced to walk to school.

  16. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Times’ editorials do not say that schools don’t need the money. They fault Sacramento for spending in other areas, such as High Speed Rail and water diversion.
    In the Prop. 30 editorial, they say the Legislature needs to stop spending beyond its means and shouldn’t hold children hostage as a way to force voters to keep the money flowing:
    They say Prop. 38 doesn’t offer districts enough flexibility and could lead to waste at school sites:
    I understand that MDEA and the superintendent may jointly draft an opinion piece supporting Prop. 30. I wonder if Trustee Linda Mayo supports this idea.

  17. Doctor J Says:

    The OC Register’s editorial from yesterday on Prop 30’s troubles is no surprise citing a recent poll with support now dipping below 50%. Sully ought to be giving a warning to MDUSD: BRACE FOR IMPACT !
    Since the BIG5 contracts have not been signed — perhaps the Board should reconsider them. They weren’t a matter of negotiation — just a gift from Whitmarsh and Eberhart of the taxpayer’s hard earned tax dollars. I just don’t think the MDUSD crash is going to be as successful as Sully’s heroic feat on the Hudson. BRACE FOR IMPACT !

  18. Doctor J Says:

    Steven Lawrence is no Sully.

  19. g Says:

    General or categorical or bond–a dollar is a dollar and it comes out of our pockets, and is supposed to result in improved education for all students.

    Trying to understand or justify Lawrence’s staff expenditures is like trying to untangle a Slinky!

    I believe the answer to the problem lies in one word; “Un-accountability” at all levels, starting at the top.

  20. Theresa Harrington Says:

    One area in which the district lacks accountability is in its failure to accurately code expenditures, so they all get lumped together as “centralized services.” This became apparent during the charter debate. In fact, the COE has come out with its own analysis that disputes the district’s accounting and says that instead of taking the lost revenues from other schools, the district should make centralized services cuts, since it is now serving nearly 2,000 fewer high school students and operating one less high school facility.
    One area that Bryan Richards acknowledged needed improvement was accounting for substitutes. Instead of charging those to schools, he said, those expenses all show up in centralized services. This doesn’t give the public (or the board) an accurate picture of how much is being spent at each school site and how much all the data analysis days related to testing are costing the district (while also causing teachers to leave their students, with the potential for less effective instruction).
    When I asked the board candidates if they would support a parcel tax, they agreed that one is needed. But, many said the district needs to rebuild community trust prove to the public that it is spending its money wisely, before they would consider asking voters to approve such a tax.
    Meanwhile, other districts (that have the trust of their communities) are passing parcel taxes.

  21. Doctor J Says:

    G, so right. A TAX dollar is a TAX dollar, whether you call it General Fund, Categorical or Bonds. It is paid by TAXPAYERS. The Feds put restrictions on SIG funds to prevent people like Steven Lawrence and Rose Lock from promising one thing and then not delivering — and Steven and Rose got caught by the auditors, and the Feds/State stopped the SIG money until Steven and Rose implemented the “Corrective Action Plan” on the SIG grants — look what happened when the Feds forced Steven and Rose to comply with the increased instructional time for children in the SIG schools: NEARLY A 150 API POINT JUMP in three elementary schools. Next year Steven and Rose will cut the increased instructional time in those SIG schools in favor of raises to themselves. And who puts “kids first” ? Its not Steven and Rose.

  22. Doctor J Says:

    TH, can you share the COE statement identified in #20 ? Then you can erase this post.

  23. Doctor J Says:

    I raised the substitute costs issues earlier this year and believe several million dollars can be saved — I would love to see a breakout by school, but also by reason for the substitute– illness, personal necessity, training, conferences, etc. The fact of life is that when a substitute is in the class not much is learned: proof, Sun Terrace fiasco.

  24. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Unfortunately, the COE has not actually presented its analysis publicly. It was presented at a Clayton City Council meeting by Neil McChesney, but was not included in the agenda attachments or specifically noticed on the Clayton Council agenda. A copy of the analysis has also been given to Rep. George Miller.
    It is based on budget documents submitted to the county and does not break down revenues and expenses the same way the district did in its analysis, so it’s a bit hard to compare on an apples to apples basis.
    I will try to upload the documents to DocStoc and post them later.

  25. Theresa Harrington Says:

    More proof: The Northgate fiasco several years ago and the Oak Grove whistle-blowing fiasco last year.
    Speaking of that, I have heard from substitute Rebecca Richter that she believes the district is retaliating against her by removing her from the substitute list this year. She has contacted the board and is awaiting a response, I believe. Meanwhile, the Clayton Valley Charter is happy to have her as a sub, she says.

  26. Doctor J Says:

    While you are posting, can you also post the two Grand Jury responses by MDUSD

  27. Doctor J Says:

    Retailiation in MDUSD ? Round up the usual suspects . . . . again. Awaiting a response from the Board ? The only way you get a response from this Board is to speak up at the Board meeting and have it hit the newspaper.

  28. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I’ll try to get to the Grand Jury responses later.
    Regarding the alleged retaliation, I understand that other media outlets may be interested in this story as well.

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