August 30, 2002

Editorial

City School’s Test Scores Don’t Tell the Whole Story!

Proponents of the Blueprint for Success have been under heavy pressure for the past four years from the initial firing of 600 teacher’s aides, to the manipulation of test scores to-show improvement where there wasn’t any. But they were giddy with joy over numbers released this week showing gains in the test results, feeling vindicated for their dogmatic loyalty to the Blueprint.

But before the supporters of Superintendent Alan Bersin, Chancellor of Education Anthony Alvarado, and the Blueprint for Success pop the Champaign, we need to stop and take a look at some disturbing trends.

After four years of test taking and teaching to the test it is only natural that test scores will improve, particularly in the lower grades. The real gauge of improvement will be determined when test scores are compared to the rest of the state, at which time we can better evaulate the Blueprint. And the preliminary comparisons, San Diego Unified released their test scores early versus the rest of the state whose scores were released Thursday, don’t show much variation from the rest of the state despite the millions of dollars spent on the Blueprint.

What is really disturbing is that the students in middle and high schools have not improved and in most cases have slipped lower in scores. This after those students who did not test well in years past, were put into intensive reading, writing, and math classes which, according to the test, did little to improve their skills. Not only are they not prepared for college, now they are not even prepared leave high school for a job in the trades.

Another disturbing trend was the recently released report that Hispanic students are scoring lower on the SAT than they were ten years ago. They are regressing! Which means they are not going to college. A big part of this problem has been the over emphasis on standards. This failing in teaching Hispanic students was recognized at Sherman Elementary School and when they wanted to do something about it, by going Charter, their proposal was denied by the majority within the school board. Also recognizing the failure of the stringent guides by which the teachers were forced to follow La Jolla High School recognized the inherit failure of the Blueprint and threatened to go Charter, but due to political circumstances, were allowed to create their own educational program to prepare their students for college.

And despite the crowing about test scores improving, parents in Mira Mesa are fed up with the Blueprint for Success and are planning a one-day boycott, September 9th, to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the direction the school board has taken. And this is not just a small group of disgruntled parents, but a collection of three schools within the area.

Yes the supporters of Bersin and the Blueprint may be feeling giddy, but it is just a reprieve. When you have parents in Mira Mesa, La Jolla and Sherman Heights all dissatisfied with the direction of the school district, this should be a clear indicator that there is a broad-based dissatisfaction with the Blueprint and that there are still some rough waters still ahead.

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