Board to Monitor Achievement Gap Progress

achievement-gapBy Nicholas von Wettberg

It should be an eventful next few weeks for the Davis school board, which meets on Thursday at the Community Chambers.

One of the action/discussion items on the meeting agenda is a presentation report, by way of Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) staff, about closing the achievement and opportunity gap for English-language learners, or English as a second language (ELS).

Included in the report will be information on the problem that was gathered nearly a decade ago by a district-led Achievement Gap Task Force, which, following its studies from December 2006 to May 2007, made a list of recommendations for the board.

Current outcomes, resulting from those recommendations, will be used in the upcoming report as a barometer of success.

For example, one recommendation asked for the hiring of an English-language specialist at Patwin Elementary School.

Fast forward to the present, and an EL specialist is employed at every elementary site in the district.

At a board meeting last month, when the achievement/opportunity gap discussion centered on testing scores, it was trustee Barbara Archer who brought up the task force and its recommendations, asking about specific results and commenting on the importance of “knowing our history.”

Spring tests results, for district students in grades 3-8 & grade 11, reveal a gulf in language arts and mathematics achievement levels, for kids falling under the categories of ELS and low socio-economic status (SES).

Unfortunately, there has been little to no change in the type of student affected most by disparities in learning.

The task force found that, when using the data provided through California Standards Test (CST), there were “disproportionately high percentages of the following groups of students in the Davis School District grades 2-11 (that) are not performing to their academic potential.”

Included among the groups were Latinos, African-Americans, SES students, and English learners – in particular, those living in Spanish-speaking households.

Days from now, Davis voters head to the polls, where they will decide the fate of two interrelated local educational matters.

The first subject concerns the school board and its membership.

Two of the board’s five seats are up for grabs, with current trustees Susan Lovenburg and Alan Fernandes both vying to retain their positions.

Also in the race is longtime Davis resident Jose Granda and UC Davis professor Bob Poppenga.

While the school board does have the final say on the terms of a school parcel tax, measures like the one Davis residents are preparing to vote on this Tuesday have been the norm for over three decades.

If passed by a majority two-thirds vote, Measure H, which combines two previous measures, costs eligible participants $620 per year over an eight-year span.

The money generated from the taxes (totaling $9.5 million) would account for roughly 12 percent of the budget, maintaining current services and programs for a district constrained under the current state funding system.

Results of the school board election should be finalized by the time the next regular meeting rolls around, which is set for Thursday, November 17.

The action/discussion item, scheduled for that evening, is a presentation on the district’s AIM program.

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20 thoughts on “Board to Monitor Achievement Gap Progress”

  1. quielo

    “Unfortunately, there has been little to no change in the type of student affected most by disparities in learning.” Has anyone shown progress in any district? Not in closing the gap, that’s easy, make the better performing kids worse. I am specifically asking about raising the lowest scores.

    1. quielo

      There has been hundreds of task forces in most states and nobody is publishing any progress. Until they prove they can do something about a problem I would not set too many resources against it.

        1. quielo

          Not really lots of things have been tried at many different places. Unless they can show that something has worked somewhere similar to our district I don’t see much point in spending.

        2. wdf1

          quielo:  Not really lots of things have been tried at many different places.

          The conventional strategy in most districts, even in Davis, is to focus exclusively on math and English language arts proficiency, usually with an eye specifically to raise standardized test scores.  I don’t think it’s worked very well.

        3. quielo

          I don’t see putting significant resources into something without some reasonable belief it is going to make a difference. Many things have failed and without solid evidence a small pilot is the most they should do. Given the political leaning of the current board they will take lots of money from programs that do work and spend them on new programs that have already failed other places so they can say they are doing something.

        4. South of Davis

          quilio wrote:

          > Given the political leaning of the current board they will take lots

          > of money from programs that do work and spend them on new

          > programs that have already failed other places so they can say

          > they are doing something.

          They way we are going DJUSD will probably eliminate AIM/GATE and all AP classes and replace them with programs to “help” low SES kids “using alternative methods of therapy including meditation and aromatherapy or by surrounding themselves with relaxing colors.”  Nothing will change, but at least “we are doing something”…

          http://www.cagw.org/media/press-releases/taxpayer-group-applauds-bush-cutting-wasteful-program

        5. quielo

          ” “using alternative methods of therapy including meditation and aromatherapy or by surrounding themselves with relaxing colors.”” As long as they offer the same program to disgruntled parents I may sign on.

        6. wdf1

          Don Shor:  So how do you get a district to set aside conventional strategy and try something different?

          It is probably going to take a change in state education policy to bring about local change the fastest.  The administrative staff follow the guidelines of the state in providing conventional “remedies” to low standardized test scores.

          The district staff warns off suggestions of changes by school board trustees by pointing out that they’re responding to state policy.  State education policy is too hairy an issue for a non-professional to take on without a lot of study.

  2. Marina Kalugin

    oh goodie..the same incompetent majority on the board that got rid of the GATE tier and the GATE expert and hired some 100% “differentiation speciialist”…who made a dog’s breakfast out of the simple administration of the GATE test this year….does anyone really mean that same board?

    We are supposed to trust them to monitor anything besides the trash disposal.

    Cannot wait…

  3. Jwood

    It would be interesting so see some current real-time data about that achievement gap.

    What exactly are we talking about??

    The rest of the world is exploring MTSS, maybe Davis should consider a little science on the subject.

      1. Marina Kalugin

        I have no idea who you are, Q, but I just might ask them…

        some of my dearest friends and colleagues at the moment are named Larry and Sergei and also Sergey….are you following my FB page  haha  Sergei number 1 just bought my house…Sergey number 2 was one of the movers…Sergey 3 was one of my dearest and closest faculty at UCD who left for a competitor private CA college some years ago….one of the Larry’s I met at Mariko’s fundraisers….another owns a beachhouse in Baja not far from ours….  anyone care about this offtopic garbage….nahhh..have a good day…Q…

        I was kind surprised that you didn’t say MO and Curly instead of Sergey…

        is MTSS the latest and greatest replacement for the latest failed experiment called Common Core?

         

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