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  • Tuesday, October 12, 2010

     

    OUSD jumps on the Loophole Cruise Ship

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE
    a news service of Orange Net News /O/N/N/
    Independent insight into OUSD

    All aboard for the voyage to Safe Harbor…
    OUSD jumps on the Loophole Cruise Ship

    At the September 23, 2010 Orange Unified School Board Meeting, Information Item 13 A was a report by OUSD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Gunn Marie Hansen on OUSD student test scores (Student Achievement Results) that were released by the state in early September. The report was frank and honest highlighting OUSD successes and for the first time publicly addressing OUSD’s challenges under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. In fact Dr. Hansen at one point became stunningly frank and honest for an OUSD administrator when she made it clear that OUSD was going to use a provision of the federal NCLB law that some call a loophole and others a safety valve, known as Safe Harbor to try and move the district out of Program Improvement the program for schools and districts not meeting student testing mandates.

    In the past, OUSD administrators glossed over OUSD’s Program Improvement challenges, but Hansen several times readily embraced the label and reminded the Board that the district was in the second year of Program Improvement. Her presentation charts outlined the challenges, and yes, in case they missed it, she pointed out the charts plateau in the math and English scores and publicly noted the subgroups OUSD was struggling with: Hispanic/Latino; low social economically disadvantaged; Special Education; and English Learners. Hansen’s candor then was turned to addressing the district’s challenges with Program Improvement. There for all to see, Hansen’s presentation slide flashed Safe Harbor across the large Board Room screen.

    No Child Left Behind is currently stalled in Congress for reauthorization, under the current version of NCLB is the unreal goal that in two years (by 2014) , every child in America is to be at the predetermined “proficient” level measured by standardized test as the ever increasing target goals grow more statistically impossible to achieve .However, since 2003 when the bill was passed, statistical experts have become very familiar with the so called loopholes of the bill: Confidence Interval; Highly Mobile Exclusions; Change Cut Scores; 9th grade Exclusions and Safe Harbor. Similar sounding to the legal financial derivatives that brought Wall Street down, these legal provisions of the law are in some cases as statistically complicated, but are what school districts across the nation are turning to hold off the No Child Left Behind Armageddon date of doom in 2014.

    Safe Harbor is no secret and is perfectly legal. Also known as the “poor man’s growth model”, many districts and schools have used it now for years. It has created some confusion as schools with lower scores that do not meet all their target goals are still hailed as making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) when other schools that have higher scores are listed as not. How this confusion occurs can be readily seen in the OUSD Press Releases from September 24 and September 30 of this year. Both hail Fairhaven Elementary School for exiting Program Improvement. The September 24 Press Release on Hansen’s September 23rd Board presentation states “ Fairhaven accomplished this by meeting AYP targets two consecutive years” and the September 30 Press Release states: “Fairhaven accomplished this by meeting Annual (sic) Yearly Progress targets two consecutive years on the California Standards Test (CST).” Neither Press Release notes that Fairhaven did this by an alternative measure called Safe Harbor. While Safe Harbor is part of the law NCLB , stating that exiting Program Improvement was done by “meeting Annual Yearly Progress ( yes it is really called Adequate Yearly Progress)” is misleading. Neither Press Release mentions Safe Harbor.

    The key to using the Safe Harbor, as outlined by Hansen, is to improve just 10% of non-proficient students in all of a school’s subgroups (i.e. Hispanic, poor, African American). In fact, Hansen told the Board and so the world-that’s how OUSD’s Fairhaven Elementary School did it. Hansen went on to explain that Orange County has 186 Program Improvement Schools and the four in Orange County that exited this year (Fairhaven was one) all used Safe Harbor. In theory and in practice, by finding 10% of your students you need to move and making them improve, a school exits Program Improvement. Little else matters.

    So, move over Wall Street brokers as OUSD teachers now become statisticians trying to sail to the promised Safe Harbor, taking 10% of their students with them. Perhaps with the reauthorization, the new law will be called At Least Ten Percent Were Not Left Behind.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION (or not) on Safe Harbor
    ED WEEK
    Washington Post 08
    Washington Post O6
    SWIFT
    PR #1
    PR#2

    Canine demonstration at OUSD Board Meeting
    OUSD Board members watched a playful golden retriever drug sniffing dog as part of the approval process for voting 6-0 ( Trustee Deligianni absent) to approve the dogs on OUSD high school campuses. The dog “alerted” on a backpack with a small sealed bottle of booze in it, then proceeded to play with the small bottle. Trustee Mark Wayland then asked that his carry bag be sniffed. The demonstrator trainer brought the dog over to the bag and it sniffed and alerted and sat quietly. Wayland then produced a prescription bottle of painkillers and explained he was concerned about the playfulness of the dog with his familiar training backpack, but was satisfied with the calmness of the dog in altering on his unfamiliar bag.

    OUSD will start a publicity campaign to inform the community and schools the purpose of the new drug sniffing dogs.

    County Board could decide on October 20th on Canyon Transfer Request
    Information Item 13 B on the October 14 OUSD School Board Agenda (page 10) is an update to the OUSD Board on the Canyon Communities request to be transferred out of OUSD and to Saddleback Valley Unified. A meeting by the Orange County Committee on School District Organization on the environmental impact of the transfer will take place on October 20 at the Orange County Department of Education Board Room. It is possible that action on the request could take place at that meeting.

    INSIDE the October 14, 2010 OUSD Board Meeting
    Action Item 12 A- Student Calendars a vote to finalize 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 calendars.
    Information Item 13 A- Naming of Facilities review – more on the move to rename Esplanade Elementary for El Modena city rights leader Lorenzo Ramirez.
    Information Item 13 C- Budget Update- Yes we finally have a state budget…now what does it mean for OUSD

    INSIDE Community Donations
    McPherson Ed Foundation- $15,000 Computer Software; Villa Park HS Cheer Booster- $11,819-Accompanist; Running Springs PTA-$3,000 PE Teacher; Target- - $676 - supplies Nohl Canyon; Cambridge Fathers Club- $823 Playground balls.

    For a complete list of the $78,521 in donations see Agenda page 13.

    INSIDE the OUSD Budget
    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2010:
    $ 385,000
    2010 Attorney Fee Tally:
    5/27/10 Dannis, Woliver & Kelley $ 30,000
    5/27/10 Parker & Covert $ 55,000
    5/27/10 Parker & Covert (to 6/11) $300,000
    TOTAL $ 385,000

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2009: $1,041,000

    2009 Attorney Fee Tally:
    11/13/08 Parker & Covert (for 1/09 -6/09) $ 200,000
    3/12/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (Sp. Ed) $ 50,000
    3/12/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 98,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (09-10) $ 400,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (Special Ed) $ 200,000
    6/18/09 Parker & Covert (property) $ 55,000
    6/18/09 Atkinson, Andelson, Loya (property)$ 35,000
    Total $1,038,000

    2009 Consultant/ Speaker Fee Tally:
    01/24/09 Leadership Associates Consultants $ 3,000
    2009 TOTAL $1,041,000

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2008: $901,200.00

    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2007: $704,090.00*


    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2006: $849,717.00*
    2006 Administrative Conference/Travel: Total $ 18,317 *
    * JUNE 8th, 2006 Trustees VOTE to Give OUSD Superintendent the power to
    APPROVE OUSD Travel Requests taking this item OUT of the PUBLIC AGENDA


    Total for Watched Tax Dollars approved in 2005: $978,300.00

    Former Superintendent Godley’s Retirement Bonus running total (beginning 8/2008):
    $29,250.00*
    * The Godley Retirement Bonus presented here is an estimate of the amount in “bonus retirement” accrued since the Superintendent’s retirement on 6/30/08 using a 6% lifetime formula calculated here at $1210 a month since 8/08. The actual retirement plan the former OUSD Superintendent opted to take is not public information and the figures presented are only as an estimate of the taxpayer costs after the OUSD trustees voted against an amendment to exclude Godley from the retirement program. The on-going estimated figure is presented as a reminder to the community of the high cost in educational tax dollars the OUSD Board vote to allow the former Superintendent to participate in the 6% retirement incentive cost the OUSD education community in tax dollars. Godley retired from OUSD on June 30, 2008 after he worked for the school district for a little over five years.

    NEXT BOARD MEETING: THURSDAY October 14, 2010 OUSD BOARD ROOM
    For AGENDA-CLICK ON OCTOBER

    CLOSED SESSION- 6:00 pm
    OUSD Regular Session: 7:00 pm
    For more information call the OUSD Superintendent’s office at 714-628-4040
    For budgeting questions call Business Services at 714-628-4015

    ORANGE Unified Schools INSIDE Independent insight into OUSD
    is an independent news service of /O/N/N/
    “Independent Local Insight”

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