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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 29 ~ August 16, 2001

A qualified yuck! Congratulations to the elementary schools, but aside from that, Yuck! Here are the SAT9 scores.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad_h@iname.com)

If the Stanford 9 test results published in the Star-News are anything near correct (and I did find the paper had some trouble with addition and subtraction), Monrovia's elementary schools are to be applauded, but it looks as if something is *seriously* wrong beginning with sixth grade, though I'm sure we'll hear at the next board meeting that it's really not as bad as it looks and in any case, it's not the district's fault.

Anyway, figuring that Monrovia is somewhere between Arcadia and Duarte, both physically and economically, I put the scores from the three districts into a spreadsheet and compared them.

First, I think the Monrovia fourth grade deserves a round of applause. Those teachers must be doing something very right. Compared to 2000, fourth grade students went up 5 points in Reading, 12 in Math (yeah, 12!), 7 in Language, and 12 (yup, 12 again) in Spelling. They basically kicked Duarte and Arcadia's butts. Duarte's scores, in the same order, were 0, -1, -1, and -2. And Arcadia's were -1, 3, -1, -2.

And it wasn't just the fourth grade, though the fourth graders did particularly well. All the elementary grades improved respectably.

But what in the world happened at the middle and high school levels? With the exception of the eleventh grade, it's awful!

I do notice that a number of districts in the area didn't do very well in the upper grades, which suggests that part of it could be the test itself, but that doesn't explain it all. These numbers are just bad.

Board Member Bruce Carter is quoted in the Star-News as saying, "What we're seeing here is the effect of really concentrating efforts on the elementary grades. We're basically not making very fast or much progress in the upper grades."

Wrong.

First, I do not see why concentrating on the elementary grades should make the upper grades go DOWN. I can see why concentrating on the elementary level might mean the upper grades would not move up, or would not move up very much, but why are the upper grade scores *down*?

Second, if I'm reading these numbers correctly, it is baloney to say, "We're basically not making very fast or much progress in the upper grades." No. What we are basically doing is losing ground.

Enough ranting. Here are the stats for sixth grade and up. These are the number of points each district advanced or retreated for each subject:

(Numbers are for Reading, Math, Language, Spelling)
SIXTH
Arcadia: 4, 4, 4, 4
Duarte: -1, -3, -3, -3
Monrovia: -5, 0, -6, -6

SEVENTH
Arcadia: 3, 1, 3, 3
Duarte: 2, 8, 2, 6
Monrovia: -6, 0, -2, 0

EIGHTH
Arcadia: 8, 5, 8, 9
Duarte: 2, 8, 4, 2
Monrovia: -3, -3, -2, 3 <- Hey! A positive number

(Numbers are for Reading, Math, Language, Spelling, Social Science)
NINTH
Arcadia: 0, -1, 0, -2, 0
Duarte: -4, -9, -5, -7, 0
Monrovia: -3, -1, -2, -3, 0

TENTH
Arcadia: 0, -1, -3, -3, -4
Duarte: 1, 3, 3, -1, -1
Monrovia: -6, -3, -7, -2, -3

ELEVENTH
Arcadia: 6, -1, 3, -2, 3
Duarte: 4, 2, 2, 0, 6
Monrovia: 4, -1, 4, 4, 5 <- Hmm, at least they're mostly positive

Now, I understand that it probably becomes harder to improve scores year after year, and that the district improved last year, but Monrovia's scores are still way low overall and there's lots of room to improve. Generally, Monrovia students scored in the lower half of all students nationwide.

Finally, the dog award goes to tenth grade reading. Believe it or not, the students scored a wretched 28, which means that in reading, 72 percent of tenth graders nationwide scored higher than Monrovia tenth graders. To make this even worse, this score actually DECLINED by six points from 2000 to 2001.

Man, this is discouraging.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular meeting is on August 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. Come and listen to the excuses.

Copyright (c) 2001, Brad Haugaard. Also on the Web at: monroviaschools.tripod.com