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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 49 ~ Oct. 9, 2002

Well, I was really quite pleasantly surprised to hear a pretty good explanation for what initially looked like rotten scores for students taking the high school exit exam. But, sigh, buried in the numbers of another report was more bad Bradoaks news. The school has the lowest percentage of fully-credentialed teachers of any school in the district.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

EXIT ~ From reading the Star-News article (Oct. 1) about the percentages of students who have passed the high school exit exam, I was pretty bothered at Monrovia's performance. It showed that a dismally low number of Monrovia students who took the test in 2002 passed (22 percent in Math; 43 percent in English). But after hearing Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joel Shawn explain it, it looks a lot better. As you may recall, every student who hopes to graduate in 2004 (or thereafter) must pass the exit exam. However, the students get lots of chances to take the test, starting in 10th grade (earlier 9th graders could take it). So, if I understand Shawn's explanation, since a lot of Monrovia students successfully took the test earlier, the total percent who have passed the test is 92 percent for English and more than 50 percent for Math, better than the overall county or state rates. And remember, the students still have a lot more opportunities to take the test between now and graduation.

BOTTOM ~ So anyway, this makes me feel a lot better about what I read in the Star-News. I'm still a bit concerned that of the 10 local districts the paper reported on, Monrovia's 2002 exit exam passage rate was the absolute lowest in Math and tied for lowest (with Duarte) in English. But this is really slippery. That could simply be that in Monrovia the top students have already passed the test and now the less academically inclined students are beginning to take it and are having a rougher time. Maybe other districts didn't begin testing as soon as Monrovia, so maybe they had more top students taking the test in 2002. I dunno. I guess what really counts is how many students pass the test by graduation time.

BAD SEED ~ The Monrovia High Drama Program will present The Bad Seed, a Halloween play that is "not recommended for children under eight years of age." Board member Roger Graziani - a theater arts teacher - said it's a classic about a 10-year-old psychopathic girl. The show will be on Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. at the MHS Auditorium. Tickets are $5 (or $4 if you have an ASB card), except on Halloween night, when it's half price, $2.50.

SHOWS ~ Speaking of shows, the board agenda says a very generous person donated 15 pairs of dancing shows for the drama, choir and dance programs at Monrovia High. Wow! I didn't know dance shows came in pairs. Oops. The actual agenda item says it's dance *shoes*. Well, it's still a generous gift, maybe not as generous as 15 matching dancing shows, but generous all the same.

CONGRATULATIONS ~ To Monroe School fifth grade student Anne Marie Singer for getting an honorable mention at the LA County Fair for her art work.

AUTO PROGRAM ~ The Monrovia High auto program got a letter from a national auto repair organization certifying the auto repair program. Board President Bruce Carter said that maybe five percent of all high schools in the country receive this award. Congratulations!

CREDENTIALS ~ An interesting little report from Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Debby Collins on the number of fully credentialed teachers each school has. The non-fully-credentialed teachers are either interns or have emergency teaching permits. Notice the school with the lowest percentage of fully-credentialed teachers.

PERCENT CREDENTIALED
61% Bradoaks
79% Canyon Early Learning Center
80% Mayflower
97% Monroe
97% Plymouth
87% Wild Rose
80% Clifton Middle
68% Santa Fe Middle
83% Monrovia High
92% Canyon Oaks High

GROWTH ~ Superintendent Louise Taylor said district enrollment has grown by 400 students since the beginning of school. Now, she said, the district has 30 more students than projected.

NEWS ~ Board President Bruce Carter said he is pleased to see that Monrovia has "really been showing up in the news lately." He mentioned articles about the Monrovia Village learning program, and the district's one-stop career center.

PRETTY HAPPY ~ A letter I should have run last issue: "I'm pretty discouraged by the Bradoaks scores too. I'm a Bradoaks parent. :-( But, I should add that we're not long suffering and have been pretty happy so far with Bradoaks, albeit this is only our son's second year so there isn't that long of a period from which to judge. I volunteered last year in his kindergarten class and also observed a first grade class. My only criticism is that there is general lack of discipline. It reminds me, coincidentally, of the UN's approach to Iraq - "You better listen and behave... I REALLY mean it this time."

VICTIM ~ And from another writer: "I am a former Bradoaks parent. My son (who is now in 10th grade) was a victim of whole language. My other son (who is in 4th grade) is on transfer to Mayflower."

BAD STUFF I HAVE WROTE ~ A letter: "Brad, since you are so quick to criticize the MUSD, please note your own mistake in referring to 'the principals (sic) of morality, truth...' etc. I believe the correct use of the word is principles, as you will find in the documents from the MUSD. Surely, a writer of newsletters and other paraphernalia should know the principal/principle rule." -- Charlotte Schamadan. Oooo! And I knew that. The principal is your *pal*. I guess if I dish it out I gotta take it.

SARCASM ~ Actually, Charlotte, I think I can go you one better. Aside from my rotten spelling, I've been pondering my rotten attitude. In looking at the newsletters, especially the last one, I find I occasionally stray from legitimate criticism into gratuitous sarcasm. You know, sneer-y sort of stuff. I apologize for that and I'll try to rein in my bad attitude.

BRADOAKS ~ In examining the newsletters in a fit of self-examination, I looked at the very first one, from early 2000. In it I expressed my annoyance at the board's silence regarding obvious problems at Bradoaks School. Since then, nobody on the board - to my knowledge - has ever once publicly acknowledged that the school has a problem, although state test scores proclaim it with a megaphone. But as my mommy would say, that may be an explanation for my sarcasm, but it's not an excuse. My apology stands; I'll try to do better.

FIRE ~ One of the last items on the agenda was to proclaim Oct. 6-12 Fire Prevention Week. President Bruce Carter said, "All in favor say 'Yes'." And everybody responded: "Aye!" I wonder if "Aye" counts. I mean, he said to say "Yes." No, I'm not being sarcastic. That was just in fun. A little pleasant ribbing. No malice aforethought. Really!

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next Monrovia school board meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive.

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