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Monrovia School Link ~ Number 50 ~ Oct. 23, 2002

Some pretty good news about the API scores, though there are some sticky points too. Also, a board member asks an insightful question that she should have followed up on but didn't.
~ Brad Haugaard (brad@sacklunch.net)

A QUESTION ~ Wow! A hundred thanks to Monina Diaz. Last year I complained that the summer school scores didn't mean anything. The students were said to have "exceeded expectation" or "met expectation" or were "below expectation." I said that if you set your expectations low enough, anybody can exceed them. Well, this year we got precisely the same kind of scoring, though this time - hooray! - Board Member Monina Diaz made my point. "I was interested in more objective results," she said. How, she wanted to know, do the results relate to the school's standards. Yes, indeedee! In response, she was assured that the summer school scores are objective. Hmmm... If you say so. But if they are objective, it's like measuring everything objectively in meters and then suddenly start measuring things objectively in furlongs. Makes it rather difficult to compare.

LEAD! ~ If I have any fault to find with Monina in this little exchange, it is the fault I have to find with everybody else on the board. The members seem to be unaware that they are in charge. What I should have heard Monina say during this exchange is, "And when could we have some scores that relate the the scores the students get during the regular school year?" Or, "Will we be able to institute more standard measurements for next summer school?" Or, "I would like to schedule a study session on how we can move to more standard scoring." For Pete's sake, Monina, if you are a leader, lead!

GOOD API NEWS ~ Pretty good news about the API scores. They scores for all the schools in the district are up this year, according to Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Joel Shawn. No downers. Board President Bruce Carter said he compared our scores with those of Arcadia, which had some schools go down. (True. I checked Duarte and Arcadia, and they both had some scores go down.) Of course, he said, the Arcadia schools started a lot higher. Shawn said that since the 1998-1999 school year, there has been progress at all the schools, though, he said, "it is true that middle and high schools not made same amount of growth." Yup.

DRIZZLE ~ Because it's progress, and I'm in favor of any kind of progress, fast or slow, I'm not going to rain on the API parade. But I'm going to drizzle a bit. The things that concern me are these: Santa Fe and Bradoaks (sigh) came as close as you can get to not making any progress at all. Each progressed by just a single point. Among the elementary schools, Mayflower, Monroe, Plymouth, and Wild Rose ripped ahead with growth of 40, 44, 45, and 24 points. And Bradoaks got one point. One crummy point. And did any board member ask about it? Noooo.

HALF ~ To continue my drizzling, as you probably know, schools that meet their goals qualify for a state financial award (at least if the state has any money for it). Of Arcadia's schools, 33 percent failed to qualify for the award, 28 percent of Duarte's failed to qualify, and (drumroll) 50 percent of Monrovia's schools failed to qualify. Of the three high schools (Arcadia High, Monrovia High, and Duarte High), only Monrovia failed to qualify.

EXIT EXAM ~ We got some examples of the questions on the high school exit exam. Here's one from the math section. "Len runs a mile in 8 minutes. At this rate how long will it take him to run a 26-mile marathon?" (I figure if Len can only run an 8-minute mile, he should stay home.) But actually, it's tougher than that. You gotta take this question and figure out which of four other questions can be solved using the same logic. Yuck.

EXCLAMATION POINTS! ~ The Monrovia Chamber of Commerce and Board of Education recognized four employees for their "outstanding service," including: Carolyn Starbird, office manager at Mayflower; Randy Haley, a Mayflower teacher; Belle Gagne, an instructional aide at Canyon Early Learning Center; and Peggy Jaffe, a teacher at CELC. Charlotte Schamadan, representing the Chamber, said the letters from the district (about these honorees, I guess) were filled with exclamation points. It kind of got annoying, she said, but then she realized this is a district of "exclamation point kind of people." I should say so!!!

EN MASSE ~ Honoree Peggy Jaffe said she's not just a teacher for altruistic reasons, she also does it "for the hugs and hand-picked dandylions." And the Mayflower team turned out en masse to honor Randy Haley and Carolyn Starbird. They sang Randy a really awful (but cute) song to the tune of "Dinah Won't You Blow Your Horn," and poked fun at Carolyn's tendency to use clichés. She "burns the candle at both ends" and knows that "a rolling stone gathers no moss," and way too many more.

CLICHÉ, ~ Speaking of cliche's, President Bruce Carter said, in introducing new Police Chief Roger Johnson, that "it takes a whole community" to raise 6,000 kids. Didn't Hillary Clinton write a book about that?

PLUG ~ By the way, a friend and I are planning a little e-newsletter listing events for kids in the San Gabriel Valley. It'll be called The Orange Cat and it will be free - except to advertisers, if we ever get any. So, if you'd like to subscribe, lemme know. We hope to send out the first issue next month. And no, I'm not the editor.

NEXT BOARD MEETING ~ The next regular Monrovia school board meeting is on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the administration office at 325 E. Huntington Drive. But if you simply can't wait until then, there's a joint board/personnel committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 13.

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