Palo Alto Unified School District 25 Churchill Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94306 Subject: Brief Comparison of PAUSD/Manhattan

Beach Unified API Data. Elected Board of Trustees: An article in one of the local papers reports on concerns of a group of parents and interested parties complaining about the difference in academic performance between the various so-called ethnic groups attending the PAUSD. It seems that this group has looked at the most recent API data and picked a SoCal school district, Manhattan Beach Unified (MBU), to make comparisons between the education outcome at the PAUSD and Manhattan Beach. The local papers rarely provide much in the way of details, so I downloaded the latest API data, and decided to take a quick look at these two school districts to see if there were any “key indicators” in the data that might prove interesting in discussing differences between the PAUD and MBU. Key 2012 API Datapoints The following are a few key datapoints from the State-provided API dataset for 20122013 comparing the PAUSD and MBU-White (WH) 941 938 3 PCT_AS 34 9 25 ACS_46 24 30 -6 Asian (AS) 976 968 8 African American (AA) 761 839 -78 PCT_HI 10 12 -2 MEALS 9 4 5 Hispani c (Hisp) 795 901 -106 PCT_PI 1 0 1 ADA $13,406 $8,147 $5,259 Parent Avg Ed 4.57 4.41 0.16 PCT_WH 45 62 -17 White / Asian Diff -35 -30

District Name Palo Alto Unified Manhattan Beach Unified Difference:

API13 932 935 -3 PCT_AA 2 2 0 P_EL 9 1 8

Valid 9247 5136 4111 PCT_AI 0 0 0 ACS_K3 21 23 -2


Palo Alto Unified Manhattan Beach Unified Difference:

PCT_FI 1 1 0

PCT_MR 6 14 -8

Palo Alto Unified Manhattan Beach Unified Difference:

ACS_CORE 25 28 -3

Where: Avg Ed: Average Education of Parents PCT_AA: Percent African American PCT_AI: Percent American Indian PCT_AS: Percent Asian PCT_FI: Percent Filipino PCT_PI: Percent Pacific Islander PCT_WH: Percent White PCT_MR: Percent Two or More Races P_EL: Percent English Learners ACS_K3: Avg. Class Size, K-3 ACS_46: Avg. Class Size, 4-6 ACS_CORE: Avg. Class Size, Core Curriculum MEALS: Students Qualifying for Free Meals ADA: Cost-Per-Student-To-Educate

Observations The fields in the tables above, highlighted in color, are presented as key to understanding the differences in performance between sub-groups at the PAUSD, as well as differences between the PAUSD and MBU. Similarities 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) 6) The API scores for the two school districts are (effectively) the same The percentage of Asians is much lower at MBU than in the PAUSD. The percentage of African Americans at MBU is the same as in the PAUSD. The Parent Education at MSB and PAUSD is the same. The percentage of Hispanics at MBU is effectively the same. The API scores for both Blacks and Hispanics are higher than the State Average for these groups at both the PAUSD and the MBU.

Differences 7) The API scores for Hispanics and Blacks are about 100 points higher at MBU. 8) The class room sizes are larger at MBU, than at the PAUSD. 9) The percentage of English Learners is significantly higher at the PAUSD. 10) The Cost-Per-Student to educate at the PAUSD is over $5,000/student higher than at the MBU.

Discussion One key datapoint necessary for a discussion such as this is that the performance of Black and Hispanic students at the PAUSD is somewhat higher than the State Average for these two subgroups. State-wide API Average Scores For Black and Hispanic Students HI_API: AA_API: 743 707

English Language Skills Deficiencies The relatively high percentage of students at the PAUSD which have been characterized as “English Learners” goes a long way towards explaining any perceived differences between minority groups at the PAUSD and the MBU. With English being the “gateway” skill needed to participate in the education process in the US, any deficit in this area will hinder academic performance in all other areas. Questions 1. It would be interesting to provide the public with the following information about the experiences of teaching “English Learners” at the PAUSD and MBU: 2. How long is it taking students as ESL students to master English? 3. How much is this handicap affecting academic performance? 4. What technology can be brought to bear to help ESL students achieve proficiency in English? 5. What are the absenteeism rates for AA/Hisp students? 6. What technology can be brought to bear to help struggling students with homework? Writing as a Fundamental Skill Writing, in any language, is very different that speaking. The skills needed for conversation are very different than those needed for writing. It’s not hard to hear people of every stripe say that writing skills were not the focus of their English public school experience. So: 7. What is the PAUSD doing to increase writing skills of ESL students? 8. What technology can be brought to bear to help ESL students achieve better writing skills?

Importance of Parent Education On Student Academic Achievement Previously, the impact of parent education on student academic performance was examined in great detail, using the communities surrounding the PAUSD: This relationship can not be ignored. Attempts to model success in an educational setting without including the role of the parents, beginning at birth, will produce an incomplete understanding of the relationship between the school, and student performance. Learning From Others When it comes to education methodology, sadly we have come to see that there really are not cut-and-dried methods. Therefore, it can not hurt to attempt to learn from the MBU situation. In this day and age, there really is no reason that PAUSD Staff, parents, and other interested parties can not connect to MBU Staff, and parents, to exchange ideas, and data. The following are just a few of the many ideas that could be pursued to better understand the differences in outcomes between PAUSD and MBU minority students— 1. 2. 3. 4. Skype VideoChats Between PAUSD and MBU Staff Skype VideoChats Between PAUSD and MBU Parents Skype VideoChats Between PAUSD and MBU Students Streaming Video of MBU Classroom situations

Conclusion It is more than clear that parental involvement at every level of a child’s development is critical to the child’s view-of-the-world, and the place of “education” in that world view. Schools can not create a stable home life, nor can they assume the role of “in loco parentis”. There simply can be no assurance of an “equality of outcomes” for every child in the world, backed up with a “bona fide” government guarantee of those outcomes. That said, there are always things that schools can do—particularly in identifying areas where parents can help their children. Technology, particularly information-based technologies, can help to reduce some of the educational asset deficiencies—provided there is support in the home for the child to pursue these goals and use these tools. While it is true that we can always do more, one can only wonder it having gone the extra mile—we have actually done “better”?

One Last Question for the PAUSD BoT How is it that the Manhattan Beach Unified can outperform the PAUSD for $5,000 less per student? Does this not give you cause to wonder: “what are we doing wrong here?” Wayne Martin Palo Alto, CA On-The-NET: Manhattan Beach Census Data: MBU Academic Scorecard: Data Souces: CA DoE WEB-site

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful