August 3, 2013

What should you do if your schools are overcrowded?

We know! We know! The answer is build more houses!

Fremont school officials warn of worse overcrowding if development goes ahead

130802-patterson-aerialBy Chris De Benedetti, The Argus
POSTED:   08/03/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

FREMONT — Builders of the Patterson Ranch subdivision are expected to break ground next year, but school district officials fret that its 500 new homes will add more students than nearby schools can handle, worsening the Ardenwood neighborhood schools’ already major overcrowding problem.

"Our goal is to provide neighborhood school seats for kids, so that they can attend school close to where they live, as opposed to being shipped across town," said Fremont school superintendent James Morris. "We don’t want to tell families that their children have to go to different schools."

But that’s exactly what might happen to families who will buy homes in Patterson Ranch, where the nearest elementary schools already are overflowing. The district’s newest K-12 campus was built a quarter-century ago.

Student enrollment in the district’s 41 schools is 33,000, and steadily rising. Last year alone, Fremont Unified increased by 600 students, district officials said. That was a sharp spike from the past half decade, when enrollment grew 300 students each year. Rising enrollment can be "a good problem," Morris said, but it also poses severe challenges to North Fremont parents.

130802-patterson-classroom70% of Fremont residents, according to Friends of Coyote Hills, are against more development near Coyote Hills. That’s why all five Fremont City Council Members okayed building another 500 homes in the 100 acre area (marked in red on the map we included and the Murky News didn’t).

One thing we found interesting is the family selling the land is only being asked for $6 million for the school district, while it will cost $22 million to build another school for the new homes.  This sounds like a great deal, as long as you’re not a) the Fremont School District or b) living in Fremont (unless your name is Patterson).

Like they said, “a good problem.” Can’t wait for the overbidding!

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:09 am






May 26, 2013

UPDATED: A Bay Area School Ranking Mysteriously Heavy on the East Bay

Now how did this happen?  ZipRealty has produced a school ranking report that justifies buyers staying in its own East Bay backyard. A number of news sites ran completely uncritical parroting of this news release.  Let’s take a closer look to find out exactly how this happened, because there’s a reason there’s a Real Bay Area and the East Bay will never be part of it.

See updates below.

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Top Schools and Affordable Homes: East Bay Dominates ZipRealty’s List of Best Places to Live for Families

San Ramon Valley, Sunol Glen and Piedmont schools top the list.

EMERYVILLE, Calif., May 16, 2013 – ZipRealty, Inc. (http://www.ziprealty.com) (NASDAQ: ZIPR), the leading online residential real estate brokerage and technology provider, has released its first annual ranking of the Best Places for Families to Live: Top School Districts with Most Affordable Housing in the Bay Area. The public school rankings were compiled by factoring each school district’s School Score on ZipRealty.com with median price per square foot in that district. To be considered, at least 10 home sales must have closed in that school district over the course of 2012.

"We all know lots of factors – not just price per square foot – go into determining home values," says ZipRealty CEO and President Lanny Baker. "Among the most important of these factors for many families today is the quality of local schools in relation to the price of their local real estate. In our ongoing effort to help home buyers make important decisions, we are thrilled to bring these two sets of data together."

ZipRealty’s proprietary School Score ratings measure the performance of each school district, including elementary, middle and high schools on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. ZipRealty calculates School Score ratings based on test-score data as well as student/teacher ratios, says Jamie Wilson, Senior Vice President of Technology.

130525-zipr-supermodelNotice that dateline? Emeryville. You think a realty portal located in a region with an inferiority complex is going to play fair with school rankings when up against the Real Bay Area? Ha. You can see how this is shaping up with the name of that list: “Best Places for Families to Live: Top School Districts with Most Affordable Housing in the Bay Area.”

Now if you’ve been reading Burbed for more than a couple of weeks, you already know that “Top School Districts” and “Most Affordable Housing in the Bay Area” are Two of Those Things That Don’t Go Together. It’s kind of like finding America’s Top Supermodels Who Live In Trailer Parks.  Only the supermodels are probably easier to locate because there’s less overbidding.

But it was the Top 10 on this list that made us write in to ZipRealty to ask just how the heck this list came to be.  Have a look:

  1. San Ramon Valley Unified: School Score 9.1/Median Price per SF $304
  2. Sunol Glen Unified: School Score 9.3/Median Price per SF $356
  3. Piedmont Unified: School Score 9.5/Median Price per SF $539
  4. Palo Alto Unified: School Score 9.2/Median Price per SF $885
  5. Castro Valley Unified: School Score 8/Median Price per SF $265
  6. Dublin Unified: School Score 8.4/Median Price per SF $265
  7. Pleasanton Unified: School Score 8.6/Median Price per SF $332
  8. Albany Unified: School Score 8.6/Median Price per SF $419
  9. Benicia Unified: School Score 7.8/Median Price per SF $181
  10. Martinez Unified: School Score 7.8/Median Price per SF $185

Okay, what the heck? Not only is every single school district on this list but one on the East side of the Bay, every single one is also single.  Where the hell are the non-unified school districts?  And look who’s sticking out like a sore thumb on this list. Yes, everyone’s favorite Palo Alto, sailing in at a Most Affordable Housing Price of $885 a square foot (which is too low because they calculated it more than a week ago).

Needless to say, that Most Affordable Housing figure made us write to ZipRealty’s media contact and ask just how this list was ranked.  Their answer is they put all the 9s in one bucket, then ranked the per square foot prices within the rank, then did the same for the 8s, the 7s, etc.  The school score itself was calculated based on “test-score data as well as student/teacher ratios.”  So Palo Alto and its sky-high price per foot represented the “worst” or Least Affordable of the Most Affordable of the 9s category, which had all of four school districts in it.

We were also sent the full list of 70 school districts, and there actually were some non-unified organizations therein. The highest scoring non-unified district was Los Gatos-Saratoga High School District, with an 8.3 (and a Most Affordable Housing Price of $601 a foot, which then pushed it below the Tamalpais and Fremont Union HSDs, which scored lower but were much more Most Affordable, reinforcing what we said above about those supermodels).

130525-zipr-overcrowdedComparing a high school district (grades 9-12) to a unified district (grades K-12) is batshit insane pretty silly, though.  Elementary schools have lower student-teacher ratios because, and stop us if this concept seems a little too technical, but State Law mandates smaller student-teacher ratios for elementary classes.  Therefore a Unified district would score more highly, benefitting both from that smaller student-teacher ratio and the resulting higher school test scores than a district that only has high schools.  You know, because high schools have… larger classes… and more students in the school from more diverse backgrounds than elementary schools.

Talk about a stacked deck: Alameda County has no high school districts at all, only unified districts.  Same with Solano County.  And you know else how they shuffled the cards funny?  Where the HELL is Cupertino Union School District?  You may have heard of them, they’re the one that scores 998 on the danged STAR tests from a couple of their elementary schools. But they’re nowhere to be found on the list.  And that’s rather interesting, because we looked up a house in the district on ZipRealty, just to find out CUSD’s ranking.

It’s 9.4, which means it beats every other district on the list except Piedmont (which got a whopping 9.5, or 10.2 on the list of 70 we were sent, which makes us wonder about their copyediting). Yet for some reason there’s no mention of Cupertino at all. Maybe it’s that Most Affordable Housing Price of $750 a foot – except that’s still less than Palo Alto.

130525-zipr-unfairfightPerhaps they only wanted to include school districts that had high schools? Maybe, but that doesn’t explain the presence of two (yes two out of 70) elementary school districts on the list (Howell Mountain and Pope Valley, both toward the bottom).  How many of the 70 were unified school districts? 53. And 14 high school (only) districts.

Sorry, that’s whacked, comparing unified districts with high school only.  We can run similarly helpful lists, showing East Bay city values jumping by huge margins… and forgetting to mention that they utterly imploded after 2006.  Oh wait, that’s what realtards do every time they tell you that NOW IS ALWAYS THE TIME TO BUY.

We’ve helpfully pulled out all the high school districts from the ZipRealty list, to get a better idea of how they rank against each other, since we don’t see the value in comparing apples with horse apples.  The two numbers after each high school district are the price per square foot, and the ZipRealty School Score. 

Updated 4:30 PM: The number in parenthesis in front is the rank amid all those unified districts. And we’ve separated them into their respective school score buckets, which is how the entire list was ranked (first digit of score, followed by ranking price per foot from least to most).

(11) TAMALPAIS UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $486  8.1
(12) FREMONT UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $545  8
(13) LOS GATOS-SARATOGA JOINT UHSD  $601  8.3

(17) WEST SONOMA COUNTY UNION HSD  $255  7
(19) ACALANES UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $307  7.6
(24) SAN MATEO UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $474  7
(25) MOUNTAIN VIEW-LOS ALTOS UNION HSD  $626  7.6

(27) LIBERTY UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $124  6
(32) SAN RAFAEL CITY HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $338  6.4
(36) CAMPBELL UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $408  6
(38) SEQUOIA UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $515.5  6.8

(45) SAN BENITO HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $153  5.5
(52) EAST SIDE UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $272  5.7
(54) JEFFERSON UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT  $344  5.8

Jefferson was 54th out of 70 districts, which means it still managed to beat out 14 unifieds despite the structural handicap of not having any K-8 students.

Update 4:30: Just for giggles, let’s take a look at the bottom 10 schools on their list. East Bay in yellow, and the two WTF elementaries in green (both in Napa County).

61. HAYWARD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $192  4.2
62. HOWELL MOUNTAIN ELEMENTARY SD  $201  4.7
63. OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $210  4.9
64. SAN LORENZO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $211  4.8
65. SAN LEANDRO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $218  4.6

66. PAJARO VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $247 4
67. SONOMA VALLEY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $269.5 4.4
68. CALISTOGA JOINT UNIFIED SD  $405  4.7
69. POPE VALLEY UNION ELEMENTARY SD  $55  3.8
70. EMERY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT  $270  3.6

No RBA here!

130525-zipr-4pinocchios

We rank this press release 4 Pinocchios and 5 Lereahs

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And seriously, shame on Yahoo Finance and HuffPo Parents for not doing the slightest bit of due diligence on it. Do we have to do everything?

Update 4:30 PM: We’ve asked ZipRealty to explain their mooshing together unified and high school districts, as well as the two elementaries in their list. We will run any response of theirs in full.

Comments (15) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:03 am

March 3, 2012

Some schools are just Way More Special than others

Have you ever heard that life just isn’t fair?  It’s true.  You know what really isn’t fair?  School funding.

Some California schools get twice the funding — and more — of others

By Sharon Noguchi, San Jose Mercury News
Posted:   02/26/2012 05:37:03 PM PST, Updated:   02/27/2012 03:09:47 AM PST

120302-merc-music

Thirty-six years after the California Supreme Court ordered the state to fix its unequal system of funding schools, a gaping disparity remains between haves and have-nots.

And it may not improve much any time soon.

A scathing report on California’s school finances not only repeats the indictment of an inequitable, insufficient and irrational funding scheme, but also details how California spends on average $620 less on a student living in a high-poverty area than one in an affluent neighborhood.

The report by the Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based education advocacy group, also attacks the complexity of California school financing. "The system is a haphazard collection of arcane and hard-to-navigate policies that manage to hide funding disparities from district leaders and policy makers, not to mention parents and the public," the report, released last week, reads. "The maze of programs and formulas makes it nearly impossible to understand whether dollars ever reach the schools and students for whom they are intended."

120302-cruel-divide-reportHere’s the report by Education Trust-West mentioned above.  Clearly this is a complex problem, which would probably require a 40,000 word essay on the topic to identify the problems and begin to propose some reforms and solutions to this mess. 

I could create lots of lovely charts, comparing and contrasting financing among different districts in the Real Bay Area (by going here to Ed-Data, and clicking Districts and then Compare Finances).  I could brood over these 40 pages of state and local per-student revenue by school district across the entire state. 

Then I could make a bunch of sarcastic comments so you couldn’t tell if I was in favor of replacing all public schooling with Google Search or wanted to buy every government school student a gold-plated Tesla Roadster to ensure they showed up on time.  (Plus I would make sure I got the statewide school parking lot contracts via no-bid.  And a Lamborghini.)

The heck with it.  We’ve been having some beautiful weather, so why doesn’t everyone merely gripe about school funding, Prop 13, basic aid vs. revenue limit, and “voluntary” donations in this thread while you all pretend I said something brilliant.

This is also an Open Thread for everyone who doesn’t give a foreclosed lien about school funding.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:37 am

October 8, 2011

School Score Map Confirms RBA Boundaries

Here’s what happens when you head over to a site called apiscores.com: you get a map with little pins representing how well each school scores on the California API.  It’s all sunshine and rainbows!  At least the pin legend uses a rainbow, where 1, the lowest ranking, is really bad apple red, and 10, the highest, is the purest purple.

image

I don’t know what they’re doing with that light blue for rank 6 (they should have used something more like teal or at least aqua), and the dark purple they used is more suggestive of blue (and a lower score) than the light purple.  So given that whoever made the map didn’t spend enough time playing with the Color Wheel during Art Class (which has been cut to raise API scores), let’s have a look and see who’s in the Real Bay Area (RBA) and who isn’t.  Remember, the deeper the purple, the larger the college fund balances!  And the redder, the deader (at least in real estate terms).

image

Whoa, check out that swath that runs northwest through southeast alongside I-280.  Does that area look familiar?  It should.

Obviously there’s more to being in the RBA than just having top school scores (you also need to be score top sushi and get to the GooglePlex in a reasonable amount of time), but it’s nice to have confirmation that this map was onto something.  Admittedly this RBA map used purple the way the school score map used green, as a mixdown.  But the core RBA comes through on both:image

Anyway, zoom in on your neighborhood and check out what color your neighborhood schools are.  The more you embiggen the map, the more pins pop up, so if you can’t find a particular school, you may have to zoom in some more or not show as many school types.

This is a Weekend Open Thread.

Comments (24) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

September 4, 2011

Cupertino Union School District: Fail!

imageIf you’ve been reading this site for more than a few months, you’ve heard about the world-famous Cupertino Union School District, and how foreigners with suitcases full of cash will pay anything to buy a house with Cupertino Schools.  You’ve also heard about Palo Alto schools and the Mission San Jose area of Fremont.

The state API test results are in, and Cupertino has two of the highest scoring schools in the state.  They, along with Palo Alto and Fremont, also have been marked for Program Improvement, which means they have failed to make their required targets.

Santa Clara County schools tops in state scores, yet feds see failure

By Sharon Noguchi, San Jose Mercury News
Posted: 08/31/2011 12:00:17 PM PDT, Updated: 09/01/2011 03:45:45 PM PDT

image

(Photo, left) Second-graders work on their reading skills in their class, taught by Lisa Gregoire at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, in San Jose, on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. The K-5th grade school has vaulted 63 points this year on API — the state’s measurement of academic achievement — after climbing 64 points last year. (KAREN T. BORCHERS)

In contrasting scenes of celebration and chagrin on Wednesday, South Bay schools again topped the state in annual test scores, while more of them than ever before are being labeled failures by the federal government.

Two schools in the Cupertino Union School District, Faria and Murdock-Portal, tied for first in the state, with 998 on the Academic Performance Index, among elementary schools. Yet simultaneously the district fell into the feds’ failing category. It’s among plenty of surprising, and surprised, company. Santa Clara Unified’s Millikin placed second with 997, Fremont Unified’s Mission San Jose placed third with 996 and Palo Alto’s Hoover placed fourth with 995 among elementary schools on API. Yet all three school districts landed in "program improvement," the federal equivalent of a report card "F."

Meanwhile several districts with students that traditionally have struggled — Alum Rock, Gilroy and Sunnyvale elementary — posted strong gains. They’re still on the federal watch list, but teachers were elated to see their progress.

So with rising scores at the top and bottom schools, and in a valley known for stellar public education, how is it that 19 of Santa Clara County’s 31 school districts, plus the County Office of Education, appear poised to suffer federal sanctions and embarrassment?

imageHow can this be?  19 out of 31 districts in the county synonymous with Silicon Valley not meeting federal goals?

This graph (right) from the Merc helps tell the story.

No Child Left Behind required all subgroups, not just the school district as a whole, to maintain increasing proficiency levels, and for 2011, schools and every subgroup need to hit 67% proficient on all state tests.  The reasoning behind it made sense: help all students, not just the ones who had money and college-educated parents.

The graph shows California schools were improving their test scores.  They just didn’t improve them as fast as the goals were going up.

By 2014, all students are supposed to be proficient in every school district everywhere.  How is such a goal going to be met?  When some students have parents who work two or three jobs and aren’t home to read to them or help with homework, why is this the schools’ fault?  When some students don’t get fed regularly, or live in the middle of a gang turf war, or don’t actually have a regular place to live, are they somehow magically going to score “proficient” on a state test?

imageThat’s a wonderful goal, but expecting schools to make all children proficient without putting programs in place to support the students who most need it is insane.  In fact, programs shown to help student results in poor families, such as Head Start, have been cut.

This is the equivalent of demanding all students be proficient at track events, but not providing track facilities to schools that didn’t have them, or excusing students from track meets who have to work to help their family pay the monthly rent check.

imageNow, where do Cupertino, Palo Alto, and Fremont school districts come in?  The first two had excellent API scores.  But some of the subgroups didn’t hit that 67% proficient mark. Now, if you know anything about statistics, you know that the smaller your data sample, the more scatter your see.  What do you think will happen if you start measuring small subgroups of a school district population and demand that every single one of these various smaller samples, many of which are chock-full of the kind of students who don’t test well, all hit the overall goal?  These subgroups include economically disadvantages, English language learners, and students with disabilities, and yes, every one one of those groups with these academic, financial, and societal challenges are expected to score as well as the overall school district, or to put things more bluntly, their target is the same as the groups with all the advantages.

Now what will happen if the goal is moved up 11 percentage points a year?  How many schools are capable of moving all groups up at that rate?  How realistic is it to demand that all English-language learners score 100% proficient in 2014, or all students with learning disabilities, or all students that qualify for reduced-lunch prices?

As the graph shows, it’s going to be more and more difficult for schools to “pass” the NCLB standards in the next three years, since if any subgroup “fails,” so does the entire district.  Unless the standards are changed within the next year or two, any school district large enough to have disadvantaged subgroups will be accorded an NCLB Program Improvement school.

Getting back to Cupertino, two of the 25 schools in the district had subgroups missing the targets.  That’s right, even if a school district has a 92% success rate in meeting these difficult targets, the whole district is a failure.  One of the schools has the most transitional population in the district (Nimitz).  The other is an alternative school whose philosophy embraces an integrated curriculum with small group projects, and many parents refuse to let their children take the state tests (McAuliffe).  Amazingly, Cupertino didn’t get dinged for insufficient compliance overall (95% of a district and all subgroups must be represented on the tests.)  They met 33 of 37 criteria.

In Palo Alto Unified, the only school failing to make the “grade” was Escondido, and again, the problem was not API scores.  They met 25 of 34 AYP criteria. In particular, not enough students with disabilities participated in testing.

And in Fremont, also finding itself in Program Improvement for the first year, a whopping 19 out of 33 schools failed to meet the requirements.  Fremont Unified met 37 of 46 criteria.

Here’s the list of school districts in Santa Clara County that aren’t in Program Improvement:

  • Lakeside Joint (one elementary school)
  • Loma Prieta Joint (one elementary, one middle)
  • Los Altos Elementary (7 elementary, 2 middle)
  • Los Gatos Union (4 elementary, 1 middle)
  • Los Gatos-Saratoga Joint Union (2 high schools)
  • Luther Burbank (one elementary)
  • Orchard Elementary (one elementary)
  • Saratoga Union (3 elementary, 1 middle)
  • Union Elementary (6 elementary, 2 middle) Since this district has both middle schools marked as not meeting all requirements, I think this is a mistake saying the district is NOT in PI

What do these school districts have in common? They’re SMALL. The more schools in a district, the higher the odds one of them is going to miss a requirement somewhere, pulling down the entire district. That’s a guaranteed recipe for failure, and seems to be exactly what some people wanted.

This year, over 4000 California schools have “failed.”  What will happen when almost every school district is considered “failing” by these insane standards, statistically guaranteed to make almost everyone a loser?  And who were the idiots who agreed to them?

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:14 am

August 20, 2011

Fremont to Palo Alto, Cupertino: We Rulez, You Droolz!

imageIt’s back to school time, and that means it’s time for another completely arbitrary ranking of our educational institutions!  US News and World Report set loose on our high schools, and have come up with the latest, greatest, most up-to-date rankings… using data from two years ago! (You’re probably valuing your house based on old prices too!) 

We also have the Newsweek numbers, which carry much less weight for two reasons: Newsweek is now just a subsidiary of The Daily Beast, and they don’t have the same concern as US News that a school needs to do well by all its students.  The Newsweek stats are skewed beyond belief toward college readiness, and only college readiness.  So let’s ignore them for now.

The top 100 schools that survived US News’ “three part” testing were given the “Gold Medal” and ranked 1 through 100 based on a “College Readiness Index,” showing how many of their students took AP or IB exams.  A few of these top schools actually scored a perfect 100, which meant every single student took at least one college-level exam.  That Quality Adjusted number is the exams actually passed, as opposed to taken.

imageTwo states couldn’t survive this rigorous data-parsing at all, so all high schools in Nebraska and Oklahoma were thrown into the trash-heap of non-Specialness!  The other 48 states plus the District of Columbia had all their high schools thrown into the Mixmaster of Mystery.  But you don’t care which school had the highest score unless you could consider sending your kids there while holding down your high-paying job at the Googleplex!  So here are the Bay Area schools that got the Gold, and the third-highest school may be a surprise.

Schools within 20 miles of Google are conveniently marked in Bay Area Blue.

Bay Area High Schools on US News & World Reports Gold Medal List

Rank School Name Quality Adjusted exams per test-taker College Readiness Index (CRI) Rank in 2009
7 Pacific Collegiate School
Santa Cruz
4.5 100 3
28 Lowell High School
San Francisco
4.8 89.6 39
36 Mission San Jose HS
Fremont
3.4 85.0 60
67 Henry M. Gunn HS
Palo Alto
4.9 71.5 74
70 Monta Vista HS
Cupertino
3.5 70.6 73
73 Piedmont HS
Piedmont
3.0 70.2 64
83 Palo Alto HS
Palo Alto
3.2 67.0 Silver (54.0)
86 Campolindo HS
Moraga
3.1 66.4 Silver (51.8)
89 Miramonte HS
Orinda
3.2 65.4 Silver (58.9)
93 Saratoga HS
Saratoga
3.7 64.4 80
98 Lynbrook HS
San Jose
3.1 63.3 Silver (58.7)

imageUnfortunately, the Silver and Bronze medal schools aren’t conveniently (I mean meaninglessly) ranked.  But here are the Bay Area also-rans, because I’m sure you’re looking for your kids’ or your own school and wondering if you made this “grade” for the bragging rights.  Silver Medal schools met the same criteria as Gold, they just didn’t score as well on the CRI and thus missed the Top 100.  The cut-off for Silver is a CRI of 20.0.

Bay Area Schools Ranked Silver Medal
(no rankings given, but sorted by CRI)

School Name CRI Poverty Adjusted Performance 2009 Silver Results
Acalanes HS
Lafayette
58.4 1.31 54.0
Redwood HS
Larkspur
58.1 1.22 59.5
Tamalpais HS
Mill Valley
57.0 1.02 49.1
Mountain View HS
Mountain View
54.4 1.08 52.4
Homestead HS
Cupertino
47.9 1.03 39.0
Amador Valley
Pleasanton
45.1 1.05 43.1
San Ramon Valley HS
Danville
43.8 1.04 39.4
Foothill HS
Pleasanton
43.2 1.14 42.6
George Washington HS
San Francisco
37.9 1.05 30.8
Monte Vista HS
Danville
35.4 1.21 27.7
Galileo Academy of Science & Technology, San Francisco 30.8 1.09 27.5
Lionel Wilson College Prep (Charter), Oakland 30.1 1.72
California HS
San Ramon
26.5 1.04 28.7

imageAnd I’m sure you noticed who’s missing, too.  Where’s Los Altos High?  Where’s Los Gatos?  Where’s Cupertino?  Go away Fremont, nobody expected you to show up. 

Bronze Medal schools did well on state tests (parts 1 and 2 of their filtering) but not college-readiness (taking and passing AP or IB exams). .

Bay Area Schools Ranked Bronze Medal (no rankings given)

School Name CRI Poverty Adjusted Performance 2009 Bronze?
Alameda Community Learning Center, Alameda N/A 1.24 Yes
Alameda Science & Technology Institute, Alameda N/A 1.53 No
Geyserville Educational Park HS
Geyserville
N/A 1.1 No
Middle College HS
San Pablo
N/A 1.21 Yes
Roseland Charter
Santa Rosa
N/A 1.06 No
Technology HS
Rohnert Park
N/A 1.15 Yes

Honorable Mention schools are the reverse of the Bronzes: they have the college readiness scores but fell down on the state test results.  There are only two California schools with Honorable Mention. Here is the Bay Area entry:

Bay Area Schools with Honorable Mention

School Name CRI Poverty Adjusted Performance 2009 HM?
Summit Preparatory Charter High, Redwood City 83.1 0.85 No

imageThis school may seem familiar to you: it’s the Bay Area charter featured in Waiting for Superman.

So getting back to that surprising Fremont showing, here’s one reason why Mission San Jose blew Monta Vista, Lynbrook, Gunn, and Paly out of the water.  Turns out Useless News and World Distort ranked the schools a lot of different ways.  Here’s one of their rankings that MSJ also did well on.

So, home prices in the Fremont Hills should be higher than Palo Alto or Cupertino?  Why or why not?

Oh, yeah, Newsweek’s Top 500 School list, as if anyone cares.  Not one Cupertino school.  Paly isn’t on the list either.  Or Lowell!  The score is made up of the graduation rate (25%), the matriculation to college rate (25%), AP tests per graduate (25%), average SAT scores (10%), average AP/IB test scores (10%), and AP classes offered (5%).  And note that again, AP tests per graduate, not per test taker.  Riiiiiight.  Because we can’t have kids not going to college in our “best” high schools.

The Newsweek Nonsense of Supposed High School Bestness: Bay Area

Rank School City Stu/Tea ratio grad rate AP/IB tests college bound % Average SAT Newsweek score
42 Henry M. Gunn Palo Alto 28 98 4.1 96 1942 1.072
61 Mission San Jose Fremont 27 99 3.5 94 1958 0.949
83 Piedmont Piedmont 12.5 100 2.2 95 1902 0.811
132 Summit Prep Charter Redwood City 26 94 4.7 100 1610 0.63
184 Analy Sebastopol 38 99 1.3 95 1743 0.535
225 Hillsdale San Mateo 27 100 2.2 99 1578 0.482
244 Mills Millbrae 23.6 96 2.1 94 1696 0.451
250 California San Ramon 30 99 0.8 97 1692 0.443
497 George Washington San Francisco 34 95 1.9 91 1441 0.092

imageHey Newsweek, I hear Paly’s lawyers will be calling you real soon, and both Monta Vista and Lynbrook are going to beat you up behind the gym after PE.  With their 16 inch laptops.

No, I can’t walk home with you, I got band practice.


Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:19 am

February 26, 2011

Gasp! Openings in Prestigious High School District!

Here’s an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day!  Wouldn’t you like to enroll your teen in Lynbrook High School, in the “we’re actively throwing nonresidents out of our schools” Fremont Union HSD?

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Of course, there’s a catch.  To take advantage of this amazing offer, you have to already live in the FUHSD attendance area.  Talk about the rich getting richer!  Here’s the most recent test scores, for those fortunate enough to consider this amazing (and very limited) opportunity.

School City 2010 Growth, 2009 base API
Cupertino HS Cupertino 891 / 879
Fremont HS Sunnyvale 730 / 740
Homestead HS Cupertino* 858 / 852
Lynbrook HS San Jose 939 / 925
Monta Vista HS Cupertino 943 / 935

*Located right at Cupertino/Sunnyvale border and the vast majority of students are from Sunnyvale, with remainder from Cupertino and Los Altos.  Hey Fremont, the “growth” API means it’s supposed to get BIGGER than the “base” score.  That means the growth number is supposed to go UP.  You know.  MORE.

And some other wanna-be high schools are almost as aggressive about removing “illegal students” as FUHSD.  What a sincere form of flattery, hiring a private detective to ferret out people living on the wrong street.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

November 9, 2010

All parcel taxes for schools fail in Santa Clara County; bonds pass

All parcel taxes for schools fail in Santa Clara County; bonds pass

By Sharon Noguchi

snoguchi@mercurynews.com

Posted: 11/05/2010 07:00:00 PM PDT

Updated: 11/05/2010 10:28:12 PM PDT

When it comes to school taxes, Santa Clara County voters in the past have marched to their own education-boosting drummer, usually amassing the 66.7 percent supermajority required to tax themselves extra for schools.

School leaders counted on the same reception to their pleas this year, hoping voters would approve taxes to help avert drastic cuts to classrooms and libraries and increases in class sizes.

But this week, all three school parcel taxes in tax-friendly Santa Clara County failed, although four bond measures passed. Only two of 18 school parcel taxes statewide passed, among them Fremont Unified School District in next-door Alameda County, which received 69.5 percent of the vote for its first-ever parcel tax.

To obtain approval, Fremont campaigners focused on pounding home their message: Because of recession-induced state budget cuts, the district needed dollars for basics such as reading, math, science and libraries, which last school year were cut 50 percent. They stressed that the district had been a responsible steward of public funds. Not only are test scores rising, but also all the projects promised for a 2002 bond measure were completed on time and under budget.

By contrast, Santa Clara County voters mirrored statewide trends: California voters this week approved 70 percent of school bonds but rejected 89 percent of school parcel taxes. The record was similar in San Mateo County, where the lone parcel tax failed but four school bonds passed.

It’s pretty obvious why this happened – it’s unfair to landlords, other businesses, and retirees who don’t have children that they should be paying for schools. If kids want better schools, their parents should pay out of pocket directly – just like they do in Cupertino and Palo Alto.

Congrats to the Bay Area for finally reaching fiscal sanity. The next step is to divert money from schools into rebating property taxes. After all, what do you get from spending money on kids? Not much. But what about reducing property taxes? Now that’s a smart ROI!

Comments (16) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:50 am

October 16, 2010

School Budgets Cut Again, Ho-Hum

Another day, another school staving off impending doom.

Teachers, school staff OK salary freeze

by Nick Veronin,  Mountain View Voice Staff

Teachers and staff of the local high school district have agreed to forego salary increases for two years.

The pay freeze, together with a change in retirement benefits for some staff members, will help the Mountain View Los Altos high school district save money, officials said.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the high school board approved salary freezes for teachers and school staff represented by the California School Employees Association.

The teachers union and the local chapter of the CSEA went along with the district’s plan, which ensures that salaries will not increase for employees represented by either union until the 2011-2012 school year at the earliest.

Cupertino Unified School District added five furlough days to this year’s calendar as part of the staff contribution to covering a $3.4 million shortfall.  San Jose Unified schools took last week off.

State legislators budget deal, after 100 days of no action on allocations, does not pay schools the full amount they are owed.

Some schools are asking the voters for help.  Three school districts have placed parcel taxes on the November ballot, including Cambrian (Measure L, $96 a year), Foothill-DeAnza (Measure E, $69), East Side Union HSD (Measure I, $98),  Another four are seeking bond measures: San Jose/Evergreen (Measure G, $268 million), Santa Clara Unified (Measure H, $81.1 million), Franklin-McKinney (Measure J, $50 million), and Moreland (Measure K, $55 million).

The parcel taxes require a 2/3 vote to pass, the bond measures require 55%.  And if you want some political intrigue, two neighborhood associations have organized against the San Jose/Evergreen bond measure, claiming the community college district has wasted money on unneeded projects, needless travel, and consultants.  The best quote from the arguments against the measure is “The San Jose Mercury News has said that their fiscal credibility on a scale of 1 to 10 is zero.”

How are things in your school district(s)?  Any stories of treachery in budgeting?  Wait, isn’t Los Altos in the Real Bay Area?  Why are they dealing with budget issues?  What do you bet nobody read down this far? 

Comments (9) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:09 am

July 16, 2010

Congratulations to the Real Bay Area’s Best High Schools!

Congrats to the world famous Real Bay Area high school! Let’s see where they placed this year in the US News and World report rankings!

Let’s look and celebrate the ones in the Top 20!

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Uh… Santa Cruz at 19? Well, that’s sort of Bay Area, but not Real Bay Area.

Let’s look and celebrate the ones in the Top 40!

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What the heck? Where are they? Maybe we should filter by state. Let’s look at California only:

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There we go. Now, sure, you can say that these are 76th, 134th, and 169th ranked nationally… but they are in the Top 10 in California, which means… drumroll… that they are Top 10 in the world!

Let’s take a quick look at our arch nemesis, New York:

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These must all be lies!

Ok, let’s take a look at our other arch nemesis, New Jersey.

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Hah. So it turns out those famous, good, New Jersey schools were just a lie. (This is pretty strange…)

Comments (25) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:32 am