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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 18 ~ Jan. 17, 2001

Well, the comparative API scores came out today, and they frankly don't look so hot for Monrovia. Not, you understand, that you'd ever really know this by attending a board meeting.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

SORRY ~ The good news was last issue. Monrovia schools all far exceeded their academic improvement goals. But this time it's the bad news. Compared to other schools in the state, Monrovia's performance is rather sorry. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn put the best light on it that he could. He said that the district "has no control over its rankings; it can only control it's improvement," which, though I understand what he's saying, does not impress me. Then Superintendent Louise Taylor said the new figures are "not that informative." Funny, I find them quite informative. Apparently the State of California, which spent a bunch of time calculating them, does too.

THE NUMBERS ~ The board didn't give any numbers at its meeting tonight, but they've been in all the newspapers, so let's go over them (I won't deal with the absolute scores, which I handled last time, but just the relative rankings). The first number below is the school's score relative to *all* California schools. The second number is the school's score relative to *similar* California schools. Both numbers are on a scale of 1-10 (10 high):

4 2 Bradoaks
7 7 Mayflower
4 4 Monroe
3 1 Plymouth
4 4 Wild Rose
6 8 Clifton Middle
5 7 Santa Fe Middle
4 5 Monrovia High

FIRST NUMBER ~ If I'm understanding this correctly, basically anything 5 or under is below average. For the first number (the school relative to all schools) Mayflower is doing pretty well, Clifton is okay and Santa Fe is tolerable, but everything else is mediocre. Plymouth is very low, but it has a fairly large number of lower income families, but Bradoaks is in a fairly well-off area. What is its problem? I averaged the first column, and compared to all other schools in the state, Monrovia ranks a mediocre 4.6 - well below average.

SECOND NUMBER ~ For the second number (the school compared to similar schools), the story is mixed. Mayflower, Clifton (nice!) and Santa Fe look pretty good. But there's Bradoaks again - at two! Bradoaks ranks a *two* compared to similar schools? That's bad. And Plymouth is even worse. Granted it is in a poorer part of town, but it is being compared against other schools in poorer parts of other towns; it's not up against San Marino. Really rotten! And it all averages out to an unimpressive 4.75.

NEIGHBORS ~ To depress myself further, I calculated the (school relative to all schools) averages for some neighboring districts:

9.5 Arcadia
3.7 Duarte
4.8 Garvey
4.6 Monrovia
4.0 Pasadena
5.8 Rosemead
9.0 Temple City

Well, we scored better than Pasadena (which must be one of the most messed up districts in the area) and Duarte, but even Rosemead and Garvey school districts - in much poorer areas - did better than we did. Economically, I'm sure Monrovians are not making half as much money as the residents of Temple City (I'd much rather live here than there), so if economics is the issue, why are our scores half of Temple City's?

COMMENTS? ~ And what did the school board members have to say about this? Nothing. I take it back. Board President Roger Graziani said that it is "important to note" Taylor's comment (which I quoted earlier) that the figures are "not that informative." Sigh.

GOOD SHAPE ~ On to more pleasant stuff. An auditor - I know not whom - reported that the district is in "very good financial shape," and Superintendent Louise Taylor said Monrovia is one of the most fiscally solid districts in California.

CONGRATULATIONS ~ to the Santa Fe Middle School Marching Band, which won first place in the Monrovia Holiday Parade, and treated us all to a tune; and to John Ace, a 20-year teacher of US history at Monrovia High School, on receiving the Seaver Award ($1,500 - not bad).

PARKS & CHICKENS ~ The district got seven copies of the book, "The Man Who Made Parks" for the schools' libraries from the Monrovia Garden Club and 198 roasting chickens (worth $937.71) from an anonymous doner, to be distributed to low-income pre-school families.

MOUSTACHE ~ Board Prez Roger Graziani grew a moustache. From a distance it looks like it droop down a couple inches from the corners of his mouth. Cool! Honey, can I grow one of those too?

ENERGY ~ As you no doubt are aware, we've got an electrical power crisis. So Superintendent Taylor said there will be a report at the next meeting about how the district plans to save electricity and money.

TEXTBOOKS ~ I am pleased that the district is in the middle of approving a new textbook-adoption policy that gives the public a little more opportunity to comment. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn said when textbooks are being considered, they will be on display for public review at the board meetings. Great! Now if the staff members could just add their titles to their nameplates on the podium, as I've been harping on for so long. Hmmm. Maybe that would cost too much. Maybe not having their titles on their nameplates is why the district is in such good fiscal shape. I'll bet that's it.

OOPS! ~ Last time I called Board Vice President Bruce Carter "Roger." This is what is known as a stupid mistake. My apologies. Of course, tonight's agenda calls the board president the "chairperson," so I'm not alone in mislabeling people.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The board meetings are starting to come thick and fast now. Two a month for the next few months. The next one is on Jan. 31, 2001 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

Copyright (c) 2001, Brad Haugaard