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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 37 ~ Feb. 27, 2002

It was the first time out for a new measure of student skills (I like measures). This time measuring their English proficiency. Kinda-sorta interesting. Also, do we need a test to show student confidence levels? And what about more mosquito education?
~ Brad Haugaard (

LEARNING ENGLISH ~ In a report surrounding the English Language Learners policy the state requires the board to adopt, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Joel Shawn said about 17-18 percent of the district's students do not speak English proficiently. He also presented some rather shaky data (he said it was shaky) that kinda-sorta shows what you'd want to see (that the longer students are in school the more fluent they become.)

SHAKEY ~ Okay, so why is the data shaky? Well, here's the background. First, the test that generates the data ranks students' English skills from 1 (poor) to 5 (okay). Also, only students whose English skills are doubtful take the test. So, what you want to see each year is that students are moving towards a score of 5. Also, each year you want to see fewer students taking the test, indicating they're becoming fluent and don't have to take it anymore.

REDESIGNATED ~ While you sorta see that trend, one weirdness is that there's almost nobody at level 5! Another is that while the number of students taking the test declines little by little through eighth grade, it suddenly drops to almost nothing at grade nine. Are all the students miraculously jumping over level 5 into fluency and instantly becoming English masters in the ninth grade? No. Shawn said they were simply "redesignated" as fluent (by the state, I guess). And incorrectly, he believes. Well, hopefully the data will become more helpful in the future.

PLYMOUTH ~ The board approved the Plymouth School Site Plan, which has the school's goals for the year. The goals were okay but pretty safe. I mean, nothing tangible the school needs to worry about being measured against. Here's Language Arts: "All students will acquire the listening, speaking, reading and writing skills necessary to function confidently as they progress through the educational system." Mushy. Is someone going to measure the students' confidence level each year? Instead, how about this: 50 percent of all students will score 20 percent higher on some standardized language test. At least that's measurable.

GUESS ~ More from the Plymouth Site Plan. Tell me what course this sentence describes: "The curriculum and instruction strategies used focus on developing self-esteem, encouraging positive behaviors, instilling democratic values, developing mutual respect and promoting participation in community activities." Give up? "History-Social Science!" Why do I get the feeling that the history part has been totally eclipsed by the fuzzy-wuzzy social science.

CONGRATS ~ To employees of the month Richard Tamez and Donna Martino. Richard is an instructional aide at Plymouth, but has expanded his helpfulness far beyond his kindergarten classroom. Donna is an upholstery instructor at Monrovia Adult School. Her nomination paper says "she remembers what her students are doing from week to week, even if they don't."

WINNERS ~ Students Will Bingham and Mitchell Maertens won the 2002 LA New Car Dealers Association Automotive Technology Competition. They and their instructor, Phil Jelinek, will compete at the national event this April in New York.

IMPROVEMENT ~ Congratulations as well to instructor Nicholas Delgado's Canyon Oaks High School students for their dramatic improvements in math (sometimes their scores were several times as high as when they first took the test): Guido Cabrera, Christopher Carroll, Joe Hernandez, Lamone Lacy, Vanessa Rios, Joseph Romero and Jose Valle.

MOSQUITOS ~ A representative of the City of Monrovia asked the school board to have more mosquito control information in the classroom. Hmmm. Whatever.

HEADSETS ~ Logitech, of Fremont, that purveyor of fine computer mice and controllers for shoot-em-up games, has donated 950 headsets, worth about $9,500 to the district. The summary said they were all for Mayflower School, but I think that was a misprint since the actual report said they were for the whole district.

BUNTING ~ Get out the bunting and champagne. The board has passed a resolution proclaiming March 4-8 as the "Week of the School Administrator."

REPARTEE ~ I missed the last board meeting. I don't understand why. They're so exciting it's awfully hard to forget them, what with the music, the dancing, the neon lights, the witty repartee, and best of all, no cover charge... Not funny, huh? Okay, okay. I'll tell you what. I'll credit your account for an entire extra issue for free!

MOON ~ The moon followed me to the board meeting tonight. Did you see it? Floating there on the eastern horizon, all big and round and peaceful and paley-orangy? It followed me right into the parking lot, then hid in a pine tree just above the school district offices. I think it wanted to come in but was too shy. See what romantic things happen when you go to school board meetings? Did I convince you?

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ Although I don't think there'll be a full moon, you can expect all the normal excitement at the next board meeting, on Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. I'll hold a seat for you.

Copyright (c) 2002, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: