In his Jan. 21 CALmatters column, Dan Walters zeroes in on a troubling statistic uncovered via the dogged effort of his colleague Jessica Calefati, who covers education.
Writing about the state’s stumbling attempts to close the achievement and educational attainment gaps, Walters quotes this paragraph from Celefati’s Jan. 18 story “Dozens of California districts with worst test scores excluded from extra state help:”
“If extremely low, declining performance on math and reading exams alone were enough to trigger state support, the number of California districts that could expect it would almost double from 228 to more than 400, a CALmatters analysis shows.”
Walters opines that California’s public officials and public education leaders are masking the true number of schools districts that are failing to educate students who are poor, learning English or both.
So-Called Dashboard Hides the Reality
While wanting to fix the problem, Walters writes, leaders “also have minimized it by adopting an accountability system, called “the dashboard,” for schools that make academic achievement only one of several measures of their competency, and leaves improvement largely in the hands of local school officials.”
Walters adds, “The situation is particularly galling because there’s no inherent reason why disadvantaged kids can’t learn, graduate from high school, go to college and otherwise become successful members of society.
“There are many examples of how certain schools and certain school districts have found ways to overcome poverty and other negative factors.”
Among those examples: Brawley Union High School in Imperial County, where Principal Jesse Sanchez dramatically elevated English language art scores by focusing on writing in every class.
Concludes Walters: “Instead of covering it up with the dashboard and other tricks, the state’s politicians and educators should be concentrating on how the successes in Brawley and other school systems in educating at-risk kids, preparing them for successful adulthoods, can be replicated.”
Walters’ complete column is here.
You can read EdSource reporter Theresa Harrington’s story on the Brawley Union turnaround at this link.