Property Values and Quality of Education Will Decrease If School Board Has Their Way

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school-stock-2by Alicia Sullivan

My husband and I work at a pharmaceutical company in Vacaville. When our family decided to leave the city of Vacaville and purchase a home in Davis, it certainly wasn’t because Davis is more affordable or closer to work. Like many Davis families, we moved our family here to offer our boys the best education we could. DJUSD is known for its high test scores and its choices among multiple educational programs.

But these two qualities that attract students to Davis are now in danger. That is all thanks to the current members of the school board. Prior to the election these “trustees” went on record that they had no intention of getting rid of the AIM program. They promised to do everything they could to build back the community’s trust — trust that was lost after it was discovered that board members were lying to the public and using personal agendas when making hiring and firing decisions. Talk about history repeating itself! Within the last three months the Davis school board has voted to eliminate private testing for AIM, fire the AIM coordinator (against the advice of the Superintendent), and have a proposal put together that would eliminate the program from being offered to anyone not “failing” in the standard classroom. All without ever stating to the public what their agenda was or explaining how eliminating this educational program would benefit our children.

What this school board is failing to see are the following:

  • We have options for our kids. The government has enabled the creation of public charter schools for times like this when the district is not serving the best educational needs of its students. It would cost the parents nothing and we could create an amazing STEM school that is not controlled by the school board. It would be easy to do with the 20% of Davis students eligible for AIM who would be displaced following the Superintendents recommendations for the program. In fact, I think the majority of Davis parents would actually prefer this charter school because children would be allowed to learn at their own pace, even if it meant getting ahead of their grade level. They wouldn’t be ostracized for trying hard, they would be celebrated.
  • Davis homeowners’ financial health depends on the large number of high-achieving students in the district. Without those test scores we would all see an immediate decline in the amount of potential homebuyers causing a dramatic decrease in the value of our homes. In a city with low academic achievement, there is no incentive to move there and pay an average of $500 a month in school district taxes alone. People would choose Woodland, or Dixon, or West Sac and pay a mere fraction of that.
  • EVERY child in Davis deserves to have an education that will allow them to reach their full potential. Not just those children that are failing. Every child! That is why we continue to add on parcel tax after parcel tax – to ensure that programs are added, not taken away, so all of the children are given the best chance at a bright future.
  • AIM is one of the most successful programs in the district. It has nearly a zero percent turn-over rate, costs next to nothing ($33 a child/school year), and always has a huge waiting list. Despite these facts, certain members of the board think that instead of offering this program to the 2000 children it currently serves, the community would somehow benefit if they closed the program down to allow just a handful of students.
  • The board’s actions thus far with respect to the AIM coordinator job do not add up. The work of a coordinator who made $30,000 a year is now being done by four Superintendents making $150,000-200,000 a year. Board members: you must justify this fiscally irresponsible decision!

Since the current school board is trying to take away the only successful options that our children have at thriving in school, we were hoping for a report from the Superintendent that was sensible and would ensure success for all Davis students. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Just like the report that was presented to the board recently from the UCD “researchers”, the Superintendent’s 200 page report isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

In his report the Superintendent stated that in 2004 the qualifying score was adjusted down to the 92nd percentile in an effort to identify more students from underrepresented groups, but that the demographics of the GATE program still did not mirror that of the district. So now the suggestion is to move the requirement up to 98% and that will somehow make the program more diverse and get rid of the perception that gate is elitist and exclusive? His own research states that all of the other districts use a score between 90-99%, so why would we error on the high side thereby removing the option of AIM from so many children of the district?

Just the elimination of private testing alone will take the current program down to a ridiculously small group of 60-100 students. Then on top of that, out of the 60-100 students, only the kids scoring 98% or better would be admitted. Is the district hoping for an AIM program of 10 kids? This report goes on to state that an “analysis from relevant research as well as conversations with GATE teachers, principals and community input has led the administration to select a qualification score that is meant to best serve the DJUSD student populations”. With the current interest in this program requiring wait lists to be created, how is further restricting the eligible students benefiting the “student population”? This is in addition to the fact that he is asking for an additional $6000-$10000 dollars a year for this new program. Huh? Pay more and have less kids benefit, who comes up with this stuff?

The OLSAT, like any test, is known to have a standard rate of error. Currently students scoring within the error percentage are given a retest to ensure that they are not restricted from the program that, had it not been for the error, they would have tested into. This safe guard is being done away with in the 2015-2016 school year and those children will no longer be able to show that they should be AIM identified.

The district is talking about piloting a program using the HOPE scale, but 1) it will not be used in at least the first year of this new program, so any child with one or more risk factors will not have that factor taken into account and 2) the district is not even sure if it will work correctly before implementing this new method so there are going to be many years ahead where kids are not appropriately identified and therefore will not be eligible for the program. This is a perfect setup for this school board because all of these new restrictions and eliminations of safeguards will mean that AIM will no longer be a program that represents the diversity of Davis and will give them a reason to state that it needs to be eliminated. Talk about setting a program up for failure.

Now let’s talk about the almighty panacea that they claim differentiation to be. It doesn’t matter what they hope it will bring to the classroom or what it may offer some students because the fact is that the teachers are NOT required to practice differentiation because it is NOT in their contracts! The district talks about offering classes to the teachers given in the summer on differentiation but there is no requirement or expectation by their contract/union that these are ever attended. In addition to the fact that the district failed to recommend clustering as an option for the standard classrooms which further indicates that differentiation will be impossible to implement. There is not a single student in Davis who will be better off after they implement the Superintendents suggestions. Just more kids in the classrooms with an even broader spectrum of needs for the teacher to try to deal with. There is no chance that any of the children, more or less all of the children, will be given the tools to reach their full potential.

You don’t decrease the achievement gap by bringing the top down. You do it by bringing the bottom up. We need to come together to build more programs and make them bigger and stronger, not break successful things down and take programs away. It may be the AIM program they are trying to eliminate now, but soon it will be AP classes, Spanish immersion, and the Montessori program up for elimination.

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71 thoughts on “Property Values and Quality of Education Will Decrease If School Board Has Their Way”

  1. Barack Palin

    In a city with low academic achievement, there is no incentive to move there and pay an average of $500 a month in school district taxes alone. 

    Should that be $500/year?

    Otherwise I agree with this article.

    You don’t decrease the achievement gap by bringing the top down. You do it by bringing the bottom up.

    Ms. Sullivan has this right but it always seems to be the Democrat solution.

  2. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

    Ms. Sullivan seems to have moved to Davis because of its public schools. She is right: if we reduce programs for high academic potential children, our property values will fall.

  3. Greg Brucker

    I posted this on the Enterprise as well in the comments of Ms. Sullivan’s shortened piece.

     

    As a teacher in the DJUSD, I find it quite insulting to all of us for any parent to state that effectively, without the AIM program as it currently is, that the quality of our schools and education for our children will fall. We have some of the most phenomenal teachers here at all levels of our district, and to state such things is to basically say that teachers that currently don’t teach AIM (and some that do who will in the future be teaching non self-contained AIM classes) are not good enough to teach your child and will lead to lowered standards in our district. This is the farthest thing possible from the truth. Having worked in the district for over a decade, I am always more and more impressed with what all of our teachers are able to do. Furthermore, Emerson JHS, which has never had a self-contained AIM program, but has many AIM students as part of the population, typically has some of the highest overall test scores in the district historically, so to just assume that students would not receive as good of an education is just completely wrong, and again, insulting to all of us who work so darn hard to educate all students in the district.

     

    1. David Greenwald

      Greg:

      An honest question here. You write, ” to state that effectively, without the AIM program as it currently is, that the quality of our schools and education for our children will fall…” Does that mean you see no value in the AIM program to the students currently there?

      1. Greg Brucker

        Thanks for the question, David. First, I’m not stating that there shouldn’t be a program, which is what your question seems to infer. I see value in all of our programs, including the AIM program.  I am not going to comment publicly on either side of this issue of how the AIM program should look/work, but I believe that having an AIM program is as important for that segment of the population as any other program we have in the district.

         

        1. David Greenwald

          That is a reasonable response. But if you believe that students are benefiting from the AIM program, then it would seem reasonable to believe that at least some will do less well with no AIM program. That was the point of my question.

        2. Ingrid Salim

          I think the question is really about what segment of the population we are all defining as GATE, and how we can evaluate whether a student is or is not thriving in a regular classroom setting.  The consensus for those modifying the program is that identifying 30% of students as being in this part of the bell curve of intelligence is missing the mark.  Exactly what that mark should be is not a scientific idea, but rather one that each community is needing to define for itself.  What, exactly, does it mean to be gifted and talented as a young person in our schools — this is what we are grappling with.

          The second questions is, in addition to meeting the needs of our GATE students, how can we ensure that all students, high achieving or not, are challenged and thriving.

           

        3. Greg Brucker

          But if you believe that students are benefiting from the AIM program, then it would seem reasonable to believe that at least some will do less well with no AIM program.

          Not necessarily. Here, we don’t know that they won’t benefit and have just as much success in differentiated classrooms.  At this point, since it has never really been enacted after the AIM program grew to its current status a while back, we really have no recent local data to make that judgement call, so to say it won’t happen or that those kids will not learn as much is in my opinion purely subjective and based on guesswork. The UCD study suggests that it would be fine for the kids, and that the kids will do just as well with regard to the bigger picture of a student’s overall K-12 education, but there is disagreement on that point. To outright dismiss that though, I think does no one any good.

          Maybe it is worth looking at the stats for how things went before the current structure of the AIM program was put in place. How did kids in general fare when the program was only 1-2 classrooms (such as what is being proposed by the District Admin for the next school year)?  Mind you it was a different time and this was a different place then, so it may not have or give us all the answers, but I think it is worth looking into.

          1. Don Shor

            Here, we don’t know that they won’t benefit and have just as much success in differentiated classrooms. … we really have no recent local data

            http://davisexcel.org/districtdata/

            — Davis and other districts with similar self-contained GATE programs improve much more on statewide rank than other school districts without such self-contained GATE programs.
            — From 2nd to 6th grade, Davis consistently does a better job of maintaining its percentage of students scoring advanced in Math than other school districts without self-contained GATE programs…
            — In Math, Davis improves much more in statewide rank than school districts without similar self-contained GATE programs.
            — The result is even clearer when one considers that, back in 2002-03, when Palo Alto and Lafayette had self-contained GATE programs similar to the program at Davis, their performance was more similar to Davis’.

        4. Greg Brucker

          Mr. Shor,
          Isn’t Davis Excel is a lobby group with the sole purpose of pushing its wants for an expanded GATE program? And hasn’t it been linked to the falsifying of citizens’ comments on a change.org petition some years ago? Does it really have the credibility to be used in this discussion?

           

           

           

          1. Don Shor

            Greg: do the statistics have validity, or not? An individual involved in the group was linked to that petition scandal. Does that, in fact, cause you to discredit the whole group? Ok, I suppose I could go try to dig out the statistics myself, but it’s pretty evident that wouldn’t make any difference to you.
            I see where you’re coming from here.

        5. wdf1

          Don Shor, quoting DavisExcel report to refute “Here, we don’t know that they won’t benefit and have just as much success in differentiated classrooms. … we really have no recent local data”:

          — Davis and other districts with similar self-contained GATE programs improve much more on statewide rank than other school districts without such self-contained GATE programs.— From 2nd to 6th grade, Davis consistently does a better job of maintaining its percentage of students scoring advanced in Math than other school districts without self-contained GATE programs…

          and

          — The result is even clearer when one considers that, back in 2002-03, when Palo Alto and Lafayette had self-contained GATE programs similar to the program at Davis, their performance was more similar to Davis’.

          In summary, DavisExcel claims: “From 2nd to 6th grade, Davis consistently propels a greater percentage of students into scoring advanced” and of course it continues to say that this is due to DJUSD having self-contained GATE.

          I find this assertion very suspect.  Are there differences in demographic characteristics between DJUSD and the compared districts?  are other factors ruled out that can explain the data?  For instance, maybe DJUSD does a lousy job of preparing 2nd graders on those standardized tests, but does a better job in 6th grade.

        6. MrsW

          ….are other factors ruled out that can explain the data..

          A significant number of students in my children’s GATE classrooms had tutors, starting in 4th grade.  In a fit of keeping up with the Jones, we interviewed a few of them in the 2005-2007 timeframe.  The going rate was $35 an hour.

        7. MrsW

          I’d also like to point out that, assuming the effect is true–elementary grade median math scores are higher in schools with a self-contained AIM program–if the effect doesn’t persist through high school, so what?  A statistic that showed that students who enroll in the AIM program are more likely to complete four years of high school mathematics would be good information.

      2. hpierce

        ” to state that effectively, without the AIM program as it currently is, that the quality of our schools and education for our children will fall…” Does that mean you see no value in the AIM program to the students currently there?…

        Wow!  the “all or nothing” BS argument!  So, tit for tat David, does your retort mean that AIM is perfect, as it currently is, except it doesn’t include more kids?

        I believe you have keyed in why there can be no consensus.  I have seen NOT ONE individual suggest the elimination of AIM, yet many of its ardent supporters keep claiming there is a cabal of those who want its elimination.  Paranoia runs deep, into your lives it will creep. People carrying signs, mainly saying hooray for our side.

        1. David Greenwald

          Did you read my column? I expressed a number of concerns with the AIM program I hope to get cleaned up. Given my views expressed in that column, I don’t think you can believe that my question was based on a belief of perfection of the AIM program.

        2. hpierce

          Yeah, I did, read your piece (this is Ms Sullivan’s) which is why I was a tad surprised with your response to Greg.  My comment was primarily aimed towards those like Ms Sullivan, in THIS thread… not your other article.

          1. David Greenwald

            I was trying to understand Greg’s position given his comment. I know Greg well enough I think he took it for what it was intended to be.

        3. hpierce

          Fair enough, but have kinda’ a hair trigger where I think (and have said) the AIM program deserves scrutiny and reformation, but get labelled as ‘anti-AIM’ despite my strong support for the mission of the program.

        4. Ingrid Salim

          I do think there is much fear around this issue.  I may have missed it, but I too have not seen anyone call for a complete eradication of the AIM self-contained program.  I have seen many calls to decrease the number of students we identify, and I believe that is where the fears lie.  If parents are afraid that their own child may not qualify, and will be placed in a program not able to meet his or her needs, it makes sense to fight for what is.  To that end, though, there has to be some trust in the professionals in the district who claim this CAN work , and who have a plan to expose staff to differentiation over the next few years and provide opportunities for training in varied pedagogical methods that have been shown, in educational research, to work with most students.

          1. David Greenwald

            Hi Ingrid:

            First, I really want to see a proposal that can get a 5-0 vote because that will enable us to move forward. I have sent a request to Winfred because I want to see the projections for minorities in the AIM program. That is my biggest concern. And while I have some trust in the professionals in this district, they really do not have a great track record on issues like the achievement gap.

    2. Napoleon Pig IV

      Greg, the problem goes well beyond the current attempt to dismantle the AIM program, one small step at a time (or not so small). The way the board and the administration has handled this so far – lack of transparency, ignorance coupled with dismissal of real research, propaganda instead of rational, fact-based public policy – is a threat to the entire Davis public school system, not only the AIM program.

      The problem, Greg, is not with the teachers and their good work. The problem is with petty politics, ignorance, and the wrong people holding the reins of power with intent – understood by them as such or not – to do harm.

  4. ryankelly

    Davis homeowners’ financial health depends on the large number of high-achieving students in the district. 

    This seems to be the focus of her article.  I wonder about her methodology and how she came up with this correlation.  It makes me wonder about the quality of scientists at Genentech (her letter to the Enterprise stated her employment).

    Alicia sent pages and pages of emails to the District and are included in the attachments of the report.  The tone of her emails are similar to this article – alarmist, insulting, and demeaning to staff and teachers.  She heavily pulled information from the Excel website.

    I wonder why she thinks high-achieving students will not continue to be high-achieving, just like they were before the GATE program ballooned.

    1. lotaspark

      I think her point was that there is the risk that high achieving kids may: 1) continue to be high achieving but will now do so while being taught in other districts 2) will be high achieving but while enrolled in a charter school where there scores are not included in DJUSD metrics or 3) may no longer be high achieving because their success was a direct reflection of the alternative instructional methods used by the teachers in AIM. If any current student falls into any of those three categories then the DJUSD has failed them and I guess so have we as a community for letting that happen!

        1. Anon

          Because some believe there is unfairness in determining AIM eligibility.  But instead of taking a scalpel to surgery to fix the problem, the DJUSD has taken a sledge hammer!

        2. wdf1

          Anon:  But instead of taking a scalpel to surgery to fix the problem, the DJUSD has taken a sledge hammer!

          This is a proposal.  If you have thoughts on a better way to determine eligibility, perhaps you can offer them.

        3. wdf1

          Anon:  To wdf1: I have offered a better proposal – a charter school.  Just bypass the DJUSD altogether.

          Such a school will still have to define who is GATE-identified and perhaps be prepared to defend any demographic anomalies.

    2. VoiceOfReasonInDavis

      RyanKelly–as always, demeaning others first. “It makes me wonder about the quality of scientists at Genentech”

      Hmmm–the economics is pretty clear. Some people choose Davis because it offers a high quality education. Some of those people will now not choose Davis, or will leave Davis. This reduces the number of people buying homes in Davis. That reduces property values.

  5. Anon

    The government has enabled the creation of public charter schools for times like this when the district is not serving the best educational needs of its students. It would cost the parents nothing and we could create an amazing STEM school that is not controlled by the school board.”

    A charter school sounds good to me!

        1. wdf1

          Anon:  But hardly impossible.  Isn’t DaVinci a charter school?

          Da Vinci is a charter school that was formed with the blessing of the school board.  It operates with some independence, but still under some oversight of the DJUSD Board of Trustees and the administrative staff.

          I can’t speak for her, but I think Sullivan has in mind a charter school that would operate completely independent of the school board and the district.  It means for instance, that such a charter school would likelier have to duplicate the administrative staff of the district, and would thus have higher admin. costs per student than the rest of the district.

        2. Anon

          To wdf1:

          1. So a charter school is possible, since we already have an example in Davis of DaVinci.  DaVinci seems to have been quite successful.

          2. I don’t think it is the case that the author of the article would necessarily object to some oversight of a charter school by the DJUSD.  You would have to ask her.  She is frustrated, I’m sure, at the entire public process, or lack thereof, that has taken place in regard to the AIM program – it has been pretty heavy-handed.

          It will be interesting to see how the School Board handles the DJUSD recommendation.  My guess is the recommendation will be scrapped almost entirely as unworkable, but I could be wrong.

        3. wdf1

          Anon:  1. So a charter school is possible, since we already have an example in Davis of DaVinci.  DaVinci seems to have been quite successful.

          Yes, but you’re missing the fact that DJUSD and the board helped Da Vinci to transition to a charter school.  It was originally a regular DJUSD school.

          What Sullivan is suggesting is forming a new charter school, whether DJUSD likes it or not.  Given the current board sentiment, I don’t think they would cooperate. That would create greater hurdles to overcome. Granted, not impossible. As I said originally, I think this is easier said than done.

      1. wdf1

        Many charter schools are having problems nationally because of issues with money management.  I understand that charter schools, privately-operated ones in particular, have appointed boards rather than publicly-elected boards.  This has raised the question of whether charter schools configured that way truly have public oversight and transparency.

        In Washington state earlier this month, their supreme court determined that charter schools that are privately operated but publicly funded were unconstitutional, because they did not have a publicly-elected school board to oversee them.  source

        Another issue is whether many charter schools truly serve all students.  In particular many private charter schools have been criticized for taking in fewer ELL, special ed, and at times fewer lower income students.

        1. Barack Palin

          This has raised the question of whether charter schools configured that way truly have public oversight and transparency.

          By what we’ve been witness to coming out of our elected school board members the last few years maybe not having public oversight is a good idea.

        2. wdf1

          BP: By what we’ve been witness to coming out of our elected school board members the last few years maybe not having public oversight is a good idea.

          You’d prefer to abdicate having any say?

          That seems un-American.

    1. Greg Brucker

      I would challenge anyone who suggests or threatens (such as Ms. Sullivan) to form an independent “AIM” charter school here to explain how this would not be creating a far larger problem of the haves vs. have nots in town, and not lead to further division, competition, and a worse situation for everyone in Davis. Considering the verdict up in Washington State recently, Charter schools that pull money out of the district while acting as private entities, as Ms. Sullivan is suggesting to have happen as a threat to the district here, were just ruled unconstitutional as it is basically taking public funding and using it toward a private source transparently wrapped in the name of “Charter.”

      These type of threats do nothing to help further any conversation that should or could happen, and paint all people who side with the person doing the threatening as using fear, threats, and intimidation to get their way. This serves no one, and anyone that sides with Ms. Sullivan in the want to keep AIM as it is should stand up against this type of speech and use of threats.

      1. Don Shor

        If Valley Oak couldn’t get a charter, I seriously doubt anything else would fly with the county board, much less DJUSD. There’s plenty of inflammatory language going around across the spectrum of this issue. The problem is, people are very frustrated by the actions of the board, and this proposal by staff does nothing to assuage the suspicion and frustration.
        Perhaps rather than being reactive here, you could suggest what you would like to see the board do to improve gifted education in Davis.

        1. Greg Brucker

          Perhaps rather than being reactive here, you could suggest what you would like to see the board do to improve gifted education in Davis.

           

          I would suggest the same for you, Mr. Shor, as your rhetoric has been quite strong and very inflated over this issue on the Vanguard. Have you given your thoughts directly to the board? I encourage all people to send their respectful thoughts to the board.

          And to respond, how do you know that I haven’t communicated with the board about my thoughts? That really isn’t a fair assumption on your part.

          1. Don Shor

            My comments on GATE from August: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/08/guest-commentary-self-contained-gate-is-needed/
            I didn’t assume you hadn’t communicated with the board. I was referring to the discussion on the Vanguard. You have been defensive about comments about teachers, and have now criticized the comments about charter schools. I was urging you to share your constructive thoughts about GATE here, where the conversation is actually taking place. The Board majority has not been conversing. It isn’t even clear if they have been listening.

        2. ryankelly

          It has been suggested in the past to create a AIM only K-9th or 4-9th grade school and put all of the AIM students in one school, separated from the rest of the students in the District.  It was a dud on arrival.  No one wanted this.  So I don’t think people would want it now.

          DaVinci started out as a program housed at the High School, funded for several years by a Gates Foundation grant.  It evolved into a charter school when the grant funding ran out.  This was managed by the District and students are DJUSD students in every way – participating in school sports, extra-curricular events and activities, sometimes even attending classes at more than one site, etc.  A separate charter school, formed as a protest against the District, may not afford the students these opportunities.

          Some parents who wanted a Montessori education for their child tried to start a charter school in Davis.  They tried to house it at the Methodist Church on Anderson Road.  This did not get support from the community and the Church membership chose not to rent the space to the group, citing the harm that would be done to the local schools.

          It takes years to form a charter school.  You have to have teachers sign on, broad support from the community, fulfilling a long lasting community need, etc.  By then, the children of these parents will age out and their parents will lose interest.

        3. Davisite

          Yet somehow six charter schools in Yolo County have managed to overcome these obstacles.  Not all charter schools do a great job, but many of them are extremely successful, such as the Science and Technology Academy in Knights Landing, which is far higher in both test scores and parent satisfaction than the other schools in its area.  The law is set up to encourage and facilitate the founding of charter schools.  A charter school could flourish without the support of the district – the prospective charter school can go to the county and state, which are likely to be much more receptive.  One of the trustees on the Yolo County board in fact works for a charter schools association.

          The Montessori project failed because its organizers lost steam, and because the Birch Lane Montessori program expanded to take many children on the waiting list.  If parents are really committed to a charter school, it doesn’t have to be an impossible or multi-year process.  The AIM issue is exposing the deep dissatisfaction many parents have with the district’s policies, governance, and lack of commitment to excellence.  Charter schools are thriving all over the state, in all sorts of districts.  It can happen in Davis too.

        4. wdf1

          Davisite:  In the context of standardized test accountability, under which charter schools were supposed to thrive and prove themselves, most are doing very poorly with the latest SBAC test:

          San Jose Mercury, 9/14/2015:  California charter school scores dive

          Like paragliders caught in a downdraft, test scores of many once high-flying charter schools plummeted on state results released last week.

          Even more so than their public-school counterparts’ tests, a number of charter schools’ scores took a nosedive. Now schools are scrambling to examine why.

           

          Among them is Rocketship Education, which has attracted generous high-tech funding and national attention for its success with the hardest-to-educate students, but now is grappling with some test scores no better than those of surrounding schools. Just-released scores from tests taken last spring show Rocketship’s nine elementary schools in San Jose generally performed from poor to middling in both English and math. At its flagship Mateo Sheedy school, once the third-highest performing in the state among elementary schools serving low-income children, just 36 percent of students met or exceeded English standards, and 44 percent met or exceeded math standards.

           

        5. Barack Palin

          WDF, a quote from the article:

          “It wasn’t a surprise that we went down,” said Aspire’s chief academic officer, Elise Darwish. “The test is harder.”

           

        6. wdf1

          BP:  It was harder for all schools.

          From my quote above: “Even more so than their public-school counterparts’ tests, a number of charter schools’ scores took a nosedive. “

        7. Davisite

          wdf1’s article does not present any overall data about the performance of charter vs. noncharter schools; it simply discusses a few charter schools in the Bay Area that had worse-than-expected test scores.  That’s not a surprise.  Some charter schools are badly run.  Others serve highly disadvantaged populations that may have particular difficulties preparing for a new and more challenging test.   None of that means that charter schools are categorically inferior (look at the numbers; they’re not) or that a group of well-organized and motivated Davis parents couldn’t start a highly successful one.

        8. wdf1

          Davisite:  it simply discusses a few charter schools in the Bay Area that had worse-than-expected test scores.  That’s not a surprise.  Some charter schools are badly run. 

          Do you think that lower standardized test scores indicate that a charter school is badly run?

        9. Davisite

          Not sure what you’re getting at.  Yes, poor test scores could reflect a badly run school.  They could also reflect a school that serves groups that have historically done poorly on standardized tests, or a school that focuses on skills other than those measured on standardized tests, or simply a statistical blip.

      2. Napoleon Pig IV

        Seriously considering the establishment of a charter school is not a threat. It is simply a rational alternative worth exploring by people who care about the quality of education available locally. Many of us who respect the importance of education and value quality have given up standing by patiently in the face of further obfuscation and ignorance-guided recommendations and actions by “leaders” we no longer respect.

        1. Frankly

          Well said.  I see many people as their own worst enemy preventing higher quality education.  They demand that nothing escape the control of the old education establishment while also demanding increased choice. There is a conflict of interest there and so inadequate change takes place. 

          Unless the old education establishment completely retools to a complete and adequate differentiation model, allowing more independent charter schools in likely the only way to get close to adequacy in choice.

  6. hpierce

    Will try a different track… I sorta’ wonder how many of those who support GATE/AIM, “right or wrong”, actually went thru self-contained ‘gifted instruction’, or had one or more children in it.  I claim both instances.  I lived it.

    Don, how would I change/improve it?  I’d focus (as one of my teachers did) on “sharp students”, who were ostracized, ‘put-down’ by their ‘peers’, and figured out that their gifts were OK to have.  They could definitely benefit from a self-contained program  [Got the T-shirt].  And develop them and use them.  Some really bright students are also athletic, pretty/handsome, and they didn’t get the negative messages.  I didn’t fit in that mould.

    Both in my generation and my children’s, I’ve seen really bright kids “dumbing down” to fit in.  Had a great teacher (not ‘G&T’ teacher) ask us to treat one transfer student well (a stretch for me as I was not particularly ‘social’ in 5th grade, being on the “outside”).  Within months, he ‘blossomed’ and went from “C’s” to “A’s”.  Which level is what he had done before the transfer.  He was an “at risk” kid, not from a social-economic perspective, but because of his academic gifts. And the reaction from other students.

    If a parent tells you, in normal conversation, that their kiddo is GATE/AIM, it isn’t about their kid.  They are ludicrous braggarts (IMO).  When I was in a G&T program, my parents never brought it up, and neither did I or my spouse in talking about our child who was in GATE, or the one who was “identified”, but we had not chosen the program for him.  Am only doing so to establish my “creds”.

    To give you an idea, I was transported by a “special mini-bus” to the G&T school.  Of the six of us (they also transported other “special ed” kids, other than the 6), at least two had clinical depression/nervous breakdowns before they graduated college.  The others had varying degrees of success in college (measured by GPA), but went on to have successful/fulfilling careers (actually at least one of the kids who had a ‘breakdown’ was very successful after he got treatment.)  I believe the outcomes would have been worse, had there been no ‘special program’.

    Some ‘gifted’ students have a life ‘constellation’ that places them at risk.  These are the students we should be focussing on.  IMO, AIM should be focussed on at-risk kids, not for “enhancement” or bragging rights.   But to thrive, where they cannot do so in the standard setting.

    I believe that DJUSD has strayed from the core need for AIM/GATE. There is a critical need for the program, but it needs modification.

     

     

     

  7. Ingrid Salim

    For David:

    I have seen that you are a proponent of consensus on the Board on this issue.  But I’m not sure where that is coming from.  Legally, a 3-2 vote is all that’s necessary for ANY decision, and a lack of consensus hardly means an inhibition to move forward in enacting the change deemed important and necessary by the majority.  If there is not consensus, because of one or two dissenters, we accept that. As many have pointed out, if there really IS a consensus in the community on this issue in terms of preserving the program as is, and the Board is simply not listening,  people will be able to replace Board members through the election process at the appropriate time, and if successful in electing representatives who share their view on this policy issue, to reinstate it.  All of this is as intended.  There clearly is NOT consensus with the current Board majority motions and likely won’t be with the recommendations. Those who are disagreeing are welcome to join the majority at any time.  If consensus is so important to you as a citizen, I strongly urge you to work with those Board members in the minority and get them to support the majority position.  That would be the most effective way to solve your perception of this problem.

    As for the issue of diversity in any of our programs, I don’t disagree with you about our dismal performance as a district in closing the achievement gap.  However, it is the case that ethnicity itself is not the primary factor for that achievement, but rather the risk factors  that were delineated in the report, such as the socio-economic level of families.  That is one of the risk factors that would prompt a re-screening.  It is an aspect we should all watch closely, but is honestly no different in concept from what exists now, except to say that we are more closely defining what it means to be GATE, and so fewer students from all backgrounds will fall into this category.

    1. Davis Progressive

      As for the issue of diversity in any of our programs, I don’t disagree with you about our dismal performance as a district in closing the achievement gap.  However, it is the case that ethnicity itself is not the primary factor for that achievement, but rather the risk factors  that were delineated in the report, such as the socio-economic level of families.

      correct me someone if my memory is lacking but didn’t the study of the star scores for the achievement gap reveal that the gap holds even controlling for factors such as education level and ses of the parents?  that the black children of college professors do more poorly on the tests than the white children of college professors?  to me, this is the biggest issue we face in the school district.

  8. Jim Frame

    The title of this article reveals its real purpose:  to try to scare members of the Davis community into backing the author’s perspective on AIM by making a hyperbolic claim that the proposed changes are going to reduce their property values.  As far as I’m concerned the author discredited herself before the start of her first sentence.

      1. Greg Brucker

        Those two things are not comparable, BP.

        The AIM program is one of many many programs that would be negatively affected if the parcel taxes fail. Changes to the structure of the AIM program (read: no loss of general funding to all programs) are nothing like what taking $10 Million out of the budget (that goes purely to programs and students at all levels) would do to tear apart our schools.

  9. Grant Acosta

    “Davis homeowners’ financial health depends on the large number of high-achieving students in the district. Without those test scores we would all see an immediate decline in the amount of potential homebuyers causing a dramatic decrease in the value of our homes. In a city with low academic achievement, there is no incentive to move there and pay an average of $500 a month in school district taxes alone. People would choose Woodland, or Dixon, or West Sac and pay a mere fraction of that.”

    Goodness gracious – perhaps we should be paying Alicia and other AIM parents a small stipend for blessing our city with their high-achieving students!

  10. Anon

    hpierce: “I believe that DJUSD has strayed from the core need for AIM/GATE. There is a critical need for the program, but it needs modification.

    Just curious – do you believe the proposed recommendation is a  modification of the AIM program that will be beneficial?

    1. hpierce

      Not sure, as I haven’t drilled down through it.  My initial read is that it has some ‘poison pills’ in it, that perhaps go too far at this point, to set the Board up to reject it completely, keep on trucking with the same-o, same-o, with the “cover” that ‘they looked into the matter’.  I hope I’m wrong.

      I haven’t seen enough discussion to differentiate who “need” the program (and, some do) and those (parents) who “expect” to participate, including the “tiger parents”.

      I hope the result of the discussion will result in a beneficial outcome for all students, whether AIM or not.

    2. Davis Progressive

      i think you hit the nail on the head here – is the modification of the aim program beneficial?  someone needs to explain to me how.  i get the problems with the identification, but they are doing more than just fixing the identification.

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