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  • Thursday, September 14, 2006



    a community service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/

    The California Department of Education released the latest school testing data on August 31, 2006. Orange Unified School District, like California as a whole, had bright spots and as has happened since standardized testing was instituted some scores went up. However, the released state testing data results reveal continued troubling results for OUSD at schools across the district. Those continuing problems continue to be overlooked by the current OUSD administration with its “one size fits all” approach of top down management style and millions of educational dollars invested in the controversial consultant program called Focus on Results. For the millions of educational tax dollars invested, OUSD has yet to see any bang for its buck. In fact the test data points to Focus on Results appearing to have caused unfocused results in schools across the district.

    While a hallmark of the model Good to Great companies (a model that OUSD Superintendent Dr. Godley has embraced) is to acknowledge and take ownership of “bad news”, as in the past the current OUSD administration has again tried to put the best spin possible on the overall troubling test results just released and ignored the ownership required from the Jim Collins’ Good to Great business success stories. Despite the millions of educational tax dollars spent on the OUSD administrators’ pet bureaucratic Focus on Results program, OUSD did no better than the rest of Orange County in “test growth”, but at the same time had two more schools named by the state as underperforming Program Improvement Schools. In addition, subgroup populations at schools across the district had dropping test scores which are yet another early warning for the OUSD Administration.

    An examination of the just released OUSD scores shows major problems in the important Academic Progress Index (API) test scores for the federally mandated student population subgroups. Orange County has 12 unified (K-12) school districts. Orange Unified was second only to Santa Ana Unified ( the only other Orange County school district that has had a significant Focus on Results commitment) in the number and percentage of schools failing to meet their mandated API goals.

    Below is the number of schools in each of the 12 Orange County unified school districts failing to meet API testing goals (from most to least):

    Santa Ana Unified 43 schools representing 73% of the district schools
    Orange Unified 14 schools representing 33% of district schools
    Saddleback Unified 9 schools representing 24% of the district schools
    Capistrano Unified 9 schools representing 15% of district schools
    Placentia Unified 8 schools representing 29% of district schools
    Newport-Mesa Unified 7 schools representing 22% of district schools
    Garden Grove Unified 7 schools representing 10% of district schools
    Brea-Olinda Unified 1 school representing 12% of district schools
    Tustin Unified 2 schools representing 0.07% of the district schools
    Los Alamitos Unified 1 school representing 1% of district schools
    Irvine Unified 1 school representing 0.03% of district schools
    Laguna Beach Unified All schools met goals

    More Trouble for OUSD Elementary Schools:
    2 New Underperforming Schools

    Despite 47% of the OUSD elementary schools having negative or no API growth, various student subgroup population scores dropping throughout the district, plus two new state designated underperforming Program Improvement Schools in OUSD, the just released September 1, 2006 OUSD published District Dialog “News and Views” remarkably declares: “Elementary Education-Test Scores are Up!”.

    In one part of the District Dialog OUSD Executive Director of Elementary Education Rachelle Morga wrote:

    “Once again we are proud to note that one of our schools is no longer termed as a program improvement school. The five remaining program improvement elementary schools are supported by the County and District…)

    What Morga fails to note is that as of August 31st, two new elementary schools have been added to the “five remaining [elementary] program improvement schools” thus bringing the total number of elementary underperforming Program Improvement schools to seven. This year’s scores at Taft Elementary and Lampson Elementary have qualified both schools as first year Program Improvement Schools. The five other elementary Program Improvement Schools and the number of years they have been designated are: Esplanade (4 years); Fairhaven (3 years); Handy (2 years); Prospect (3 years); Sycamore (4 years). Two OUSD middle schools, Portola (5 years) and Yorba (3 years) bring OUSD’s total number of state designate underperforming Program Improvement schools to 9, or 21% of the 42 OUSD schools.
    (To view Morga’s report in the September OUSD District Dialog CLICK ON ).

    A Record Number of OUSD Schools with Falling Scores
    In addition to the 14 OUSD schools failing to make their API growth goals, 13 OUSD schools also had falling API scores from the previous school year. Those 13 schools represent 30% of all OUSD schools. In Orange County, only Santa Ana Unified had a larger percentage of schools with falling scores (43%). Of those 13 OUSD schools with negative test scores, 12 were elementary schools representing 40% of the 30 OUSD elementary schools. In addition, two schools McPherson Magnet and Fletcher Elementary both had a “0” (zero) growth (three other schools had negligible growth scores: Yorba Middle School 1 point ; Serrano Elementary 2 points ; Villa Park Elementary 3 points).

    The Orange Unified schools with dropping negative growth scores are:
    Anaheim Hills Elementary- Negative 10 points
    Canyon Rim Elementary- Negative 7 points
    Chapman Hills Elementary- Negative 3 points
    Crescent Intermediate- Negative 23 points
    Handy Elementary- Negative 21 points
    Imperial Elementary- Negative 12 points
    Linda Vista Elementary- Negative 6 points
    Olive Elementary- Negative 9 points
    Riverdale Elementary- Negative 8 points
    Running Springs Elementary- Negative 2 points
    Sycamore Elementary- Negative 4 points
    Taft Elementary- Negative 11 points
    Richland Continuation H.S.- Negative 52 points

    Two schools did provide a bright spot for OUSD with scores climbing to over 900 (800 is the statewide goal), Nohl Canyon Elementary students scored 910 and Panorama Elementary students scored 906. Panorama Principal Michelle Moore had been criticized earlier in the year by the Greater Orange Community Organization for her article in School News Roll Call attributing her top API Similar School rankings to the controversial Focus on Results consultant program (Panorama’s top 10-10 score was later changed by the state to the still above average 10-9 score). In their responding community editorial, the Greater Orange Community Organization attributed Panorama’s success not to the millions OUSD spent on Focus on Results, but to the “fairytale school status” of Panorama. The watchdog group pointed to the fact that Panorama had only 200 students tested and has nothing close to the diverse student populations found at the failing OUSD schools. Only the school’s 137 white students’ scores counted toward Panorama’s outstanding 906 API score because Panorama’s other subgroups were too small in number to be considered statistically significant. Those subgroup scores that did not impact Panorama’s 19 point API jump this year included: a total of only 28 Hispanic/Latino students; a total of 27 socioeconomically disadvantaged students; and a total of only 12 designated English learner students.

    A "Focus on Data" supports Focus on Results
    is failing OUSD

    In a now infamous public report to the OUSD School Board on the consultant program Focus on Results, OUSD Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Cohen compared the multi-million tax dollar program to “marriage encounter training” while speaking in support, Trustee Wes Poutsma incorrectly labeled it as a “reading program”. Cohen then used the principal of OUSD’s Yorba Middle School as an example of an OUSD’s Focus on Results “instructional leader”. The Greater Orange Community Organization polled teachers at Yorba and found almost no one knew what Focus on Results was, and no one knew of any useable classroom applications from the program. Yorba’s just released scores show that Cohen’s model Focus on Results school only scored a 1 point improvement over last year, the lowest of all OUSD’s middle schools. Furthermore, Yorba is now in its third year as a state designated Program Improvement School.

    While Yorba made large gains in their math program as part of the CSUF Tassel M consortium, other statistics are alarming. Yorba’s 116 white students make up only 16% of the 708 students tested and scored 47 points higher than the previous year. The white subgroup helped give the school an API of plus 1 point instead of a negative score. All of the other subgroups in Yorba’s No Child Left Behind mandated student subgroups were all down from last year. The school’s 542 students in the Hispanic/Latino subgroup dropped 3 points. The 402 students in the English Learner subgroup dropped 9 points and the 367 students in the Socioeconomically Disadvantaged subgroup dropped 12 points over last year. The scenario of one group carrying a school’s scores played out at schools district wide. So while huge numbers of student scores dropped from last year, the OUSD Administration, based on a small group of students, declared scores are up.

    Official subgroup statistics released by the state last week for selected schools throughout OUSD are listed below. The positive or negative points spread from each school’s subgroup scores from last year are shown (the negative scores have a minus sign [-] and on most screens will appear in red numbers):

    Anaheim Hills E.S. : White (208 students) -15 pts; Asian (62 students) – 4
    Canyon Rim- White (279 students) -1 pt; Asian (93 students) +3
    Canyon H.S.: White (1002 students) +4 pt; Asian (326 students) +23; Hispanic/Latino (215 students) +6 pts; students with disabilities (124 students) +1 pt.
    Crescent Intermediate: White (253 students) -11 pts; Asian (90 students)+26
    Chapman Hills E.S.: White (177 students) -12 pts
    California Elementary: English Learners (257 students) +22 pts; socioeconomically disadvantaged (254 students) -3; Hispanic/Latino (364 students) +19 pts
    Fletcher Elementary: English Learners (69 students) – 42; Hispanic/Latino (143 students) -3 pts; White (139 students) +11; socioeconomically disadvantaged (77 students) +39;
    Handy Elementary: White (73 students) -64 pts; English Learners (245 students) -15 pts; socioeconomically disadvantaged (262 students) -29 pts; Hispanic/Latino (344 students) -9 pts
    Imperial Elementary: White (174 students) -6 pts.
    Lampson Elementary: Asian (115 students) -23; socioeconomically disadvantaged (275 students) -19; Hispanic/Latino (356 students) +29 pts.; English Learners (191 students) +14 pts.
    McPherson Magnet: White (374 students) +7; Hispanic/Latino (153 students) -6 pts.;
    Olive Elementary: White (140 students) -13; socioeconomically disadvantaged (80 students) -14; Hispanic/Latino (167 students) + 7 pts
    Orange H.S.: Students with disabilities (151) -29; White (282 students) + 4 pts; Asian (114 students) +44; Hispanic/Latino (1136 students) +10 pts.; English Learners (784 students) +10 pts.; socioeconomically disadvantaged (691 students) -17; White (282 students) +4
    Palmyra Elementary: Hispanic/Latino (266 students) + 14 pts.; English Learners (158 students) + 1 pts.; socioeconomically disadvantaged (122 students) -17; White (123 students) +18;
    Portola M.S.: Hispanic/Latino (610 students) + 33 pts.; English Learners (453 students) + 29 pts.; socioeconomically disadvantaged (409 students) -1
    Prospect Elementary: White (54 students) -29; socioeconomically disadvantaged (183 students) “0” growth; Hispanic/Latino (242 students) + 26 pts; English Learners (152 students) +24 pts.
    Riverdale Elementary: Hispanic/Latino (86 students) -7 pts; White (71 students) + 8
    Running Springs E.S.: White (330 students) -9; Asian (137 students) +15
    Santiago M.S. Socioeconomically disadvantaged (82 students) -4; White (158 students) +9; Hispanic/Latino (94 students) +21 pts
    Serrano Elementary: Hispanic/Latino (72 students) -11 pts.; White 158 (271 students) +8 pts.
    Sycamore Elementary: Hispanic/Latino (343 students) -6 pts.; socioeconomically disadvantaged (196 students) -6; English Learners (218 students) -4 pts
    Taft Elementary: Hispanic/Latino (273 students) -4 pts.; English Learners (191 students) -12 pts.; socioeconomically disadvantaged (173 students) -17; White (116 students) +12
    West Orange Elementary: English Learners (106 students) -25 pts; socioeconomically disadvantaged (116 students) “0” growth; Hispanic/Latino (231 students) + 21 pts

    As the OUSD Administration declared “Test Scores are Up”, some community leaders who understand the data have expressed concern that the current state of OUSD denial, or outright disingenuous public spin, will ultimately catch-up with the district and the unsuspecting public as the No Child Left Behind testing stakes continue to increase yearly . Others in the community express concerned that the OUSD Administration’s top down approach is ignoring problems and inconsistencies in test data across the district as the OUSD Administrators continue their dump of millions of educational tax dollars into OUSD’s consultant driven Focus on Results program. Concerned community members call the various falling scores across the district a reflection of OUSD’s continued unique “Focus on the Program” approach (what some describe as an almost “religious devotion” by upper level administrators). Meanwhile as test scores drop across the district most of the current OUSD Trustees continue to approve the OUSD expenditures and vision without question as they read they are told “Test Scores are Up” and two more OUSD schools are added by the state to the underperforming Program Improvement list.

    California Department of Education API Information:

    For a school API report CLICK ON:

    Special Reports are ecast over the
    Orange Communication System /OCS/

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    Greater Orange News Service is a community service of the Orange Communication System /OCS/, the communications arm of the Greater Orange Community Orgainization