The children in our district deserve a quality education that sees them through to college. Our district is the third worst in the county in High School drop out rates. Our API scores are slipping yearly and our students test scores are unreal they are so low. We can't sit by as parents and let this go when such a high percentage of the children in our district are scoring below proficient. We need to give our children a strong voice and let the district know that we expect and our children deserve results not excuses. They have had more than enough time for us to see solid results and that is not the trend we are seeing.
Here is the trend our children are dealing with:
14.6% High School drop out Rate
MHUSD CST 2012 STAR Results Percentage of Students NOT PROFICIENT on the STAR Test:
CST-English Language Arts - NOT PROFICENT
2nd grade - 42%
3rd grade - 52%
4th grade - 33%
5th grade - 43%
6th grade - 37%
7th grade - 41%
8th grade - 44%
9th grade - 40%
10th grade- 41%
11th grade - 48%
CST - MATH - NOT PROFICIENT
2nd grade - 34%
3rd grade - 34%
4th grade - 31%
5th grade - 40%
6th grade - 41%
7th grade - 53%
CST - General Math - NOT PROFICIENT
8th grade - 97%
9th grade - 100%
CST - Algebra 1 - NOT PROFICIENT
7th grade - 17%
8th grade - 65%
9th grade - 85%
10th grade - 96%
11th grade - 96%
CST - Geometry - NOT PROFICIENT
8th grade - 11%
9th grade - 58%
10th grade - 94%
11th grade - 97%
CST - Algebra 2 - NOT PROFICIENT
9th grade - 35%
10th grade - 76%
11th grade - 94%
The state of California API target is 800. In order for a school to have most of the students proficient the overall API at the school must be 875.
Morgan Hill Unified School District (MHUSD) API is 789.
Gilroy Unified School District (GUSD) API is 802
San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) API 805
MHUSD has 4 schools in the district that have met the 800 API target.
Charter School of Morgan Hill (Independent Charter) (WAIT LIST of 473 Students)
Los Paseos Elementary (South San Jose)
Paradise Elementary (experienced a 21 point decline in API)
There are NO Middle Schools in MHUSD that have met the 800 API target.
There are NO High Schools in MHUSD that have met the 800 API Target.
SJUSD has 19 schools in their district that have met the 800 API target.
14 Elementary Schools
3 Middle Schools
2 High Schools
GUSD has 10 schools in the district that have met the 800 API target.
5 Elementary Schools
3 Middle Schools
1 High School
1 Independent Charter (K-2)
Dr. Wes Smith
Morgan Hill Unified School District
15600 Concord Circle
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
We, a group of concerned parents and residents of the Morgan Hill Unified School District, write this letter in response to your comments reported in an article by the Morgan Hill Times on Monday, October 15, 2012, wherein you are quoted as saying of the 2012 API scores that the district doesn't “put a whole lot of weight in any one year. We look statistically for trends over time and make analysis based on those trends.” and you desired to “remind the public that this is one indicator.” “It's one test that really doesn't give us as much information as the public thinks it does,” and that “There are many other things we have to look at.” The article reported that you said seeing ethnic/socioeconomic subgroups of students through to college, as well as graduation and dropout rates are a few examples. (All quotations are from the Morgan Hill Times article).
The public policy for yearly testing of all students in basic language and math is to ensure that the District is held accountable for the overall performance of all the schools in the District. The API and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) indices derive from the No Child Left Behind federal law. The law ensures that every year, Local Education Agencies (LEA) obtain a snapshot of the overall performance of the students in each school and the overall performance of subgroups within each school. The yearly API and AYP indices generated from the test scores allows one to measure and compare the achievement gap between subgroups of students in any particular school. Those indices provide a gauge to measure the LEA's progress or lack of progress in eliminating the achievement gap that continues between students with traditionally high scores from those with traditionally low scores. That is valuable information for parents and the District.
From a systems perspective, interested parties examining the Morgan Hill Unified School District's 2012 API and AYP Indices will be able to evaluate the overall performance of each school and examine the different levels of achievement among subgroups within each school. Such information provides a clear picture of the progress made by each school, from year to year, to meet its goals to eliminate the achievement gap and in implementing the policies behind No Child Left Behind. Every year, The No Child Left Behind statute imposes a percentage increase in the number of students whose individual test scores in standardized tests will be at the level of proficient or above proficient. The 2011-2012 benchmark was 79% of all students.
Here are the hard facts for the District schools. Two examples will be provided that gives rise to great concern and indicates the District has to give importance to the 2012 API and AYP indices. In the 2011-2012 school year PA Walsh Elementary tested 414 students. In the category labeled "Hispanic or Latino" were 323 students (78% of total students ). The target percentage for Walsh students to test at or above proficient in English Language Arts was 78.4 %. The actual numbers and percentage of Latino students that tested at or above proficient was 124 (38.4%). The remaining 199 students (61.6%) had a score at below proficient. Examining those same students' scores in Math, with a target percentage of 79% , the data shows that only 156 (48%) scored at or above proficient. The remaining 167 (52%) had a score below Proficient. Across all categories, there was large numbers of students that scored below proficient. In the Asian category, 7 students had a score below proficient. In the White category, eleven students scored below proficient. School wide, of the 414 student tested only 186 (44.9 %) scored at or above proficient. The remaining 228 students (55.1 %) scored at below proficient.
Here are the hard facts for Barrett Elementary. In the 2011-2012 school year Barrett Elementary tested 382 students. In the category labeled "Hispanic or Latino" were 221 students (58% of total students ). The target percentage for Barrett students to test at or above proficient in English Language Arts was 78.4 %. The actual numbers and percentage of Latino students that tested at or above proficient was 66 (29.9%). The remaining 155 students (70.1.%) had a score at below proficient. Examining those same students' scores in Math, with a target percentage of 79% , the data shows that only 89 (40.3%) scored at or above proficient. The remaining 132 students (59.7%) had a score below Proficient. Across all categories, there was large numbers of students that scored below proficient. In the Asian category, 13 students had a score below proficient. In the White category, 29 students scored below proficient. School wide, of the 382 student tested only 173 (45.3 %) scored at or above proficient in ELA. The remaining 209 students (54.7 %) scored at below proficient.
The same trend is apparent in all of the District schools. A large number of students in all categories of race are scoring below proficient. And an examination of the API test results from previous years indicates that the numbers have held steady.
Those hard numbers indicate that District schools have not been able to extract Latinos as a group in large numbers and students in all categories of race from the low end of the achievement gap. A cursory examination of the District school's prior years API and AYP indices for all subgroups confirms that despite the District's efforts to ensure that an acceptable percentage of students score at or above proficient, that is not happening. The information the hard facts provide is important and should be given great weight in the present year. PA Walsh and Barrett's hard data reflecting a low academic achievement for the various subgroup is repeated across all schools, even those that are in year 3 through 5 in Performance Improvement (PI).
We are of the opinion that the API and AYP indices for every year are important in that they yield important information useful to parents and concerned citizens to gauge how effective the District's strategies and methodologies are working at each particular school. They also allow those individuals to gage the District school's success or lack thereof to meet the No Child Left Behind requirement that presently at minimum 80% of total students score at the level of at or above proficient in standardized tests. Low scoring students do not remain static in one grade until they reach a level of at or above proficient score in their individual test. Those same students will graduate to the next higher grade the following year, already handicapped as reflected in the their low standardized test scores for any given year.
Moreover, this year a significant number of district schools experienced a down slide in their students overall test performance, even those that are in Program Improvement. The District should want to closely examine and analyze the factors that led to a downward slide in overall test performance. The decline in test performance this year is a significant indicator that should push the District to carefully evaluate the plan each school devised and implemented last year to improve overall student test performance. The District has to determine if individual schools have to reevaluate or revise its strategies, or implement new programs as is required by law to ensure that we have forward improvement in performance and not a repeat downslide.
There is no doubt that in the past several years the District implemented new instructional strategies and has had to deal with personnel changes. Most of the changes that the District has made in the recent years are in response to the fact that the schools where changes were implemented failed to meet the mandated API and AYP benchmarks. The fact that in the 2011-2012 school year there was a downward slide in overall performance in many of the District's schools raises questions about the efficacy of all the changes that have been put in place. In the past the District assured parents that all of the changes implemented were going to increase the overall performance of student's scores in the standardized tests and close the achievement gap. But the opposite has occurred. There was a reversal of overall test performance and the achievement gap continues to persist in significant measure.
One can logically conclude that the District needs to give substantial weight to this year's API and AYP indices and reevaluate what the District as a whole and each school in part, will need to do to ensure that the District's students do not repeat a downward slide in test performance next year. At the very least, the District has to reevaluate what additional resources or changes the District will have to meet this year to decrease the achievement gap for all students, including in the Latino category, that is so apparent in this year's API and AYP scores.
Current parents and students must give great weight to all of the information that flows from the API and AYP indices. They need to make choices about alternative educations choices that are available to them if their son or daughter is attending a poor performing school. They need to be reassured that their sons and daughters will achieve at or above the level of proficient as reflected in their standardized test scores. They cannot rely on expected future trends when all of the trends from the past point to continuing low achievement in their children's education.
"Graduation or seeing subgroup members go through college" is not a trend which would weigh in more than API or AYP scored for lower achieving students. With more than 50% of those subgroups in the low end of the achievement gap scoring below proficient in standardized tests, one can conclude that a large portion of those low achieving students will not have the benefit of graduating or being ready to attend college.
The District should urge parents to give great weigh to the 2012 API and AYP indices. The District should too. It needs to examine what worked and did not work and contemplate new strategies to make a difference in the API and AYP scores that the District schools hopes to achieve next year. Every parent and concerned citizen wants to see an upward trend in test scores from one year to another. The District should be of the same mind. The District should not accept that more than 50% of students at some schools are achieving at a level of below proficient in standardized test scores. And, the District will need to work with parents to come up with the corrective action strategies required of those schools that are in 4 or 5 year PI. The 2012 AIP and AYP indices are important indicators of the state of the school District in implementing and reaching the goals of the No Child Left Behind law and the District should give serious thought to the implications that flow from those indices.