In a PUSD "NEWS RELEASE", dated August 16, 2010, it boasts that secondary school "REFORMS TRIGGER GAINS IN 2010 STAR TEST RESULT". The "Release" uses percent of increase of scores to give PUSD performance a positive slant. One has to read carefully to see that only one paragraph highlights the fact that about 38 percent of elementary students, grades two through five, are not scoring proficient or advanced in mathematics. Additionally, 39 percent of seventh graders that took the Algebra I test did not score proficient and advanced levels.
There are no references to scores or other information that indicate the percent of high school students that are not performing at the proficient or advance levels. The number of PUSD students that enter college and have to take remedial non-credit classes after receiving high school grades that indicate mastery could be one indicator of failure by the PUSD for many students. These students end up victims as a result of believing the grades they have received are "legit".
The "Release" ends with a paragraph that has a quote by State Superintendent O'Connell that states he is concerned that we are not seeing trends where the achievement gap is narrowing for African American students and "students of poverty".
What portion of the approximately 40 percent of the students that are not performing at the proficient and advance levels are African-American, Latino and "students of poverty"? Is there a real concern by the PUSD Board and Administration such that they are developing strategies to address the lack of success for the approximately 40 percent of the PUSD students? When one looks at decisions that are made and where emphasizes are placed, it appears that there is lip service but no real action as reflected by Board agenda items and the lack of request for strategies from the administration. This shows lack of concern.
Two years ago the Board, Superintendent, district and school level Administrators were asked what strategies were being developed to meet the educational needs of a significant number of PUSD students:
1. From Group Homes
2. Without many of the prerequisite skills needed to successfully do legitimate high school level courses, yet they are enrolled at John Muir High School
3. With attendance problems
4. Without, initially, the confidence or motivation to complete or attempt assignments
5. Whose parents frequently are non-responsive to communications from the school or from classroom teachers
6. With some type of "street gang" affiliation
7. With inadequate study habits and skills
8. With low literacy and computational skills
9. With often times unacceptable citizenship during class
10. With sometimes defiant behavior
A definitive answer was never given. Instead persons that raised the question were sent in a circle of district and school personnel that ended with the person to whom the question was initially addressed without an answer. Subsequent attempts to get answers from the Superintendent and several Board members went unanswered.
If one compares the number of discussions at Board meetings and information requested by the Board, few, if any, action items address the district's failure to meet the needs of the 40 percent students compared to agenda items or actions that address the needs of the other students.
The fact that the Board has not demanded that the administration develop and bring back to the Board strategies related to the question above show a real lack of concern for the students involved. Maybe the position of the Board is to continue to feed large numbers of youth into the criminal justice system as a strategy.