Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hot topic: Class size increases

This from a reader:
I read in today's Chronicle that the district will likely not increase class size in K-2 next year. I'm sort of bummed out about this. Honestly, I was hoping they'd increase class size by just a few students so I might have a better chance of getting into my wait pool. Anyone else in this situation?


  1. You've got to be kidding me.

    Every additional student divides the teacher's time and resources THAT much's definitely not a desirable situation. Even if the increase is "only" from 20 to 23. Each additional child in a classroom means less focus on yours.

  2. I am in your situation but I am glad they are not increasing class sizes because it hurts all kids going forward.

  3. I so agree w/you. I think the only way we would get in our WP school is if there is a class size increase. I don't think it would matter if there were 22 or 24 kids in the class. I think people are fixated on this too much.

  4. Do the teachers have to agree to this, or is it something the district can spring on them, last minute?

    Because I noticed Miraloma's class size went from 20 to 22 during the last waitpool run with no warning or prior explanation--even though they have funding from the state to keep it at 20. It was ridiculous they still had that grant because they are not a high-need school anymore.

    Carlos Garcia IS pretty crafty.

  5. It is not about whether small class size is better. It is.

    Nothing works in isolation. The real question is comparing bigger class size and fewer instructional days, which one is lesser evil.

    Studies have shown both smaller class size and longer instructional days are beneficial. I doubt anyone can say for sure the damage of 7 furlough days is less than increasing class size from 22 to 24.

    There are other factors. With furlough days, parents must take days off, have extended family, or have hired help on those days. That's additional expense, and it can be difficult.

    However, with bigger class size, the number of classes must be cut somewhere. Given the cut in bus services, we cannot only cut classes in the SE neighborhoods. Instead, cuts will spread all over the district. So, your chance to get in your WP may not be higher, because I am sure the kids who are assigned right now, but then class gets cut, will get higher priorities.

    I am sure this issue will be re-visited again in the next couple of years (unfortunately). With a neighborhood system and better geographical data on who's going where, I wouldn't mind an small increase in class size to reduce furlough days.

  6. They mean they won't increase class sizes MORE. They already increased Kindergarten to 22.

  7. It went from 20 to 22 last year. Some day it may go up and then down again. Of course smaller classes are better, but what is the magic number? Where is the cut off between good and bad? Is it between 20 and 22 or 22 and 24? Who knows.

  8. It was widely reported in the news last year that Carlos Garcia raised K class size by 10% to effect cost savings of $1 million. We now have a $113M deficit and we managed for the most part to save class sizes. Why did the BOE allow Mr. Garcia to raise those class sizes last year for a paltry 1 mil that could have been acquired with relative ease elsewhere? To add insult to injury, literally speaking, he was also busy at the same tme increasing the size of central staff (Francesca Sanchez, the credit card abuser and Ass. Sup., got 13 new employees) so that the cuts he knew were coming down the pipe could be achieved from a higher personnel baseline. That is to say, given that flexibility that gave school leaders tremendous leeway on what monies could be used where, in order for Mr. Garcia to safeguard central office staff jobs he took it out on the kindergarten classes. That's why when I hear stories about Mr. Garcia and other schools leaders chatting on the phone during BOE public comment, it tends to confirm my belief that our leaders have very little interest in those that they serve and are more interested in serving themselves.

  9. When I heard about the bigger classes sizes last year (20-22), I was conflicted. I felt lucky because that may have helped us get our first-choice school, but at the same time, I wouldn't wish bigger class sizes on anyone.

    I can't imagine actively hoping for increased class sizes so my kid gets a better chance of getting into a chosen school. Seems a little self-centered. Even one additional kid makes a difference to a class.

  10. 10:58

    When you look at numbers, please look at the whole picture.

    1. Last year, the K increased class size. Some 1 to 3 might have increased too (not sure) but definitely not across the board. Re-shuffling kids at upper (1 and higher) involves a lot of chaos.

    So, that 1M saving comes from 10% class size increase in ONE grade.

    2. The 113 budget cut you quoted is for the next TWO years, so it is about 56M per year. Among them, 8M/yr saving comes out of the classrooms. We don't know the contract detail yet, but probably 4 furlough days + other cuts. Note, furlough days applied to ALL GRADES.

    I agree with your points on Francesca Sanchez's expense abuse. However, where did you get that she gets 13 new employees? Is that another sound bite taken out of context?

  11. I agree. I was hoping they would increase class size so we'd have a better chance of getting into a better school than the one we were assigned. We went 0/7 twice and it looks like we might end up at Sanchez. For those on this board who think it's so selfish to want to hope for the extra chance to get into a better school, I imagine your kid is not at one of the worst performing schools in the country? I don't quite understand Sanchez -- is it particularly for a certain type of student? What I don't understand is, with all these contortions to make SF schools diverse, why is Sanchez -- which arguably is in the middle of the most diverse neighborhood in the city (latino, gay, yuppie, etc) -- why is the school 80% latino, 2% white, and 80% english language learners? Where's the diversity here?

  12. The 09 state API scores are out:,SAN,FRANCISCO

    Among 64 elementary schools, 23 scored below 800. JS did not get a score (why?)

    Middle schools did much worse. Only 5 got 800+.

    Other than Lowell, no other HS got above 800.

  13. I'm puzzled how there can be a substantial number of layoffs, yet no reported class size increases? If K-2 class size is holding at 22, which teaching positions are primarily being eliminated? 3 to 5? Middle? High school? I thought most lay-off notices went to elementary teachers. Will 3rd grade teachers with seniority bump K teachers without, and become K teachers?

  14. It seems to me that 1 million saved for kindergarten class size increases this year was not good policy. with a half billion budget, we couldn't find one million anywhere to prevent doing the one thing that everybody agrees is counterpreoduction, increase class size? I'm not buying it.

  15. Sorry, meant "counterproductive"

  16. The class size increase in K would have an accumulative effect in future years, so the overall effect would be substantially greater than $1 million.

  17. The budget deficit is going to be more than 113M. That is only a projection. It has already grown since announced. The one million savings from K class size increase was not good value. The recent and massive deficits were covered with no or almost no class size increases. So how can anyone think the savings of a piddling million was worth increasing K class size for?

  18. 12:45 and original poster: the desire for larger class size to give you a chance at your WP school is very short sighted. Class size already went up last year by 10%. I volunteer in my daughter's classroom once a week (at a trophy school with an amazing teacher) and I can not imagine how she could continue to do what she does with any more. her response to going from 20-22 was to increase the number of parent volunteers in the classroom to allow her to continue to provide smaller group lessons and individualized teaching. We are fortunate to be at the school where parents are able and available to dedicate that kind of time in the classroom (and while we parents are a great help, we certainly are not teachers!). In the schools with a lower socio-economic makeup, many of the parents are both working full time and assisting the teacher might not be an option. What is that teacher to do? If class size goes to 24, then essentially you are asking the teacher to increase his/her workload by 20% without any additional support/pay/etc.... Imagine if your boss increased your workload by 20% without any increase in pay or any support. We would not stand for it in the private sector. Why would it be ok in the public sector?

  19. Why is SFUSD advertising for more teachers on craigslist (dated 5/10/10) while laying off over 300 of them? I realize they are looking for particular types of teachers. Does that mean that none of the 350 they are laying off fulfill the requirements of the ad below:

    It seems a bit ironic, doesn't it?

  20. That's why I said the best way to deal with the deficit is to reduce everyones salary by 15%.

    Let's face it, the union armed with professional accountants and lawyers have go through the budget. This is probably the best they (sfusd and uesf) can come up with. It is silly for us outsiders to speculate what other options there may be. If parents want to be involved in decision making, we desperately need to have a district wide parents organization to participate in the negotiations.

  21. 2:20 - I'm wondering the same thing, how much bumping is going to happen? I'm terrified of administration folks bumping principals & teachers. Many schools that won't lose any teaching positions could see a lot of new faces in the fall, and some of those faces haven't taught in a looong time. Perhaps some were moved to administrative positions to get them out of the classroom (easier than trying to fire them?). Is the central office SFUSD's rubber room? I have no idea. How many of the central office pink slips are going to credentialed teachers and administrators? Are these central office layoffs done by seniority or by areas of expertise? How many middle and high school teachers will be showing up in elementary schools? Yikes.

  22. I volunteer in a middle school Math classroom. The teacher told me that no qualified Math teachers received lay-off notices. The unfortunate thing is there are quite a few teachers in hard to staff subjects that do not have the qualifications for that subject matter. So SFUSD continues to try and find teachers who do have subject matter competency, even in the face of lay-offs. I believe the subjects listed in the ad are all subjects that currently have more openings than personnel qualified to teach them.

  23. All I can say to the original poster is -- be careful what you wish for.

  24. I agree with the last poster (about being careful what you wish for).
    Ultimately increased class size will result in more teacher lay offs and fewer available classes for all students. The cost savings come with consolidating classrooms and laying off teachers. If a school goes from having three kinder classrooms to two (over time, of course). There will be 25- 30 students each in two classes, instead of 20 each in three. This saves money, but it does not increase anyone's odds of getting into a school. in fact, it could hurt one's odds. There will be more split grade classrooms. It will be a high price to pay.
    To the poster who suggests an across the board 15% pay cut, the furlough days are in essence an across the board pay cut.

  25. No, furlough is different from pay cut.

    A straight pay cut won't cut instructional time. No activity is changed.

    With furloughs, kids get fewer instructional days. Parents must find help to watch the kids on those days. That's additional expense for the parents for less education.

    Plus, furlough itself is not enough. Even with the agreement with the union, close to 200 teachers will be laid off. I am not sure what areas they teach in, but in any case, kids' education suffer.

    A lot of administrators at central office get laid off too. I know some people automatically think central admins and teachers are two opposite sides. However, a lot of district-wide programs (for both teachers and students) get cut.

    They are not the same.

  26. I love the mom with her kid in K at a trophy school posting about how awful class size increase is. She, who benefitted from last year's increase, to secure a spot in that trophy school. If you were 0/15 at this point you'd be singing another tune.

  27. True that furloughs are not the same as a straight pay cut, but for the teachers who are trying to live in the Bay Area on that salary, the cut in pay will hurt. As a parent I would be very strongly opposed to a 15% pay cut for teachers, and fear that it would cause many of our best teachers - who already earn less in SFUSD than they would in some of the surrounding suburban districts (but more than they would in Oakland) - to feel forced to seek jobs elsewhere.

    Also, my impression is not that the administrative positions are "rubber room" positions. In fact, I think it tends to be many of the most successful teachers who get brought into the administration. So while they've been out of teaching for a while, and while I am very upset about some of the junior teachers at our school who will likely lose their jobs, I would expect the administrators who are going back into the classroom to be pretty strong teachers.

  28. Isn't one of the main issues that the teachers with less seniority (even if good) get laid off first. So, the teachers making more $$$ (even if awful) stay. Seems to me if you got rid of the seniority system that we could save a lot of money with less lay offs.

  29. How many good teachers do you think will go into the profession and stay in the profession if they know that as they get more senior and earn more money they will be laid off to cut costs? And while seniority and quality are of course not perfectly correlated, studies consistently show that new teachers do get better each year until around 5-10 years of experience (when quality levels off), so do you really want an incentive for school districts to have lots of inexpensive first and second year teachers?

  30. 10:02

    The reality is that there is only so much money. Everyone's getting less. It can be in the form of pay cut (which a lot of private companies do) or furloughs.

    The silly thing is, even without a pay cut, schools don't have money for the supplies, and teachers must pay out of their own pocket. To make things worse, the tax deduction for out-of-pocket teaching expense is very limited ($250?). In the other thread, someone mentioned that his wife (a teacher) spent over $4000 on supplies.

    So, the take-home income for a teacher is higher, if they have lower salary if it ensures the school have enough budget to pay for the supplies.

    With furlough days, the teachers still have to cover the same amount of material. Their job only gets more stressful.

    Now, I am not blaming the teachers/union for not considering it. Pay cut lowers the baseline for future income, furloughs do not. I am just saying that's the best way to cut the budget without lowering the quality of education (which seems to be what SFUSD and UESF like to say).

  31. 8:49: we are there because of an older sibling, so class size had nothing to do with it.

  32. Really, teacher layoffs should be based on merit not seniority, like most jobs. If the only reason teachers go into the profession is to they cannot get fired if they last 10 years, there is a real problem. Assuming teachers improve after the 5 year mark, then make it tiered, and all teachers who have taught 0-5 years will be measured on merit for layoffs and then all teachers with 5+ years experience. If teachers truly get better with each year than those who have been around for awhile should embrace getting rid of the seniority system.

  33. While I agree in principle, in reality, it is impossible to rank teachers by performance.

    How do you decide who has better performance? Test Scores? Then the teachers in poorer neighborhood automatically rank lower.

    Parent evaluation + test scores is probably fair within the scope of the same school. However, how do you compare two teachers in two different schools with different demographics?

    Warning: Many will find the following politically incorrect -

    One huge example is El Dorado school. I know it is devastating to have 67% of the teachers receiving layoff notice. However, honestly I cannot say they are the best teachers. Its API scores DROPPED from 721 in 2008 to 691 in 2009. It is ranked 1 among schools with similar demographics. Maybe replacing half of the teachers with more senior ones would help, no matter how much bounding the students have with the existing teachers?

  34. 1:00 p.m. is so right. I was going to add some anecdotes about teachers who some people thought were awful and some thought were great, but I can't do it without just too much revealing detail.

    Also, in my experience in private industry, most management perceptions were based on sucking up to or otherwise pleasing the boss, which often had nothing to do with true merit. I had one co-worker who was spectacularly incompetent at the actual job but who was always winning and charming and gave great meeting, and now is close to the top of her field.

    Of course real problem teachers shouldn't be teaching, but the idea that teachers can be clearly ranked, or pinpointed by their degree of merit, is not realistic.

  35. You ask any teacher in a school and they will be able to tell you which teachers are good at their job and which ones are not. Teachers should receive evlauations from thier principals, their families as well as a review of the test scores of their students. Also, why not ask subsequent teachers to rate whether the kids in their class were adequately prepared to move on as a whole. Does this mean you look at test scores alone or kid It does mean, if there are multiple complaints on file of a teacher having kids watch videos while they read the paper, I could care less how many years of seniority they have, the complaints should be followed up on and the teacher terminated. Further, many people are terminated because of their attitude or inability to get along within a Company. Why not teachers?

  36. Since you all mentioned the API scores that just came out and way off topic, did you see the big jump in API scores at Everett Middle? Looks like they are well on their way to turning around now. I think I caught something on the notes from one of the recent BOE meetings that big plans are in the air for Everett. Anyone know the details?

  37. 2:17

    That's fair. However, it can only be used within the scope of a single school. One school's teacher cannot judge teachers in another school, so we are back to ground zero.

    The layoff is done district-wide. The problem is how to compare teachers from different schools.

    To make things more complicated, a good teacher for middle-upper class kids may not be a good teacher for kids from poorer families.

  38. 2:23 did you really say that a teacher could be good for upper-middle class kids and not poor kids?! kids have problems with societal forces for sure, but that is taking it too far.

  39. I think it makes much more sense for each school to identify its strong (last to be terminated) teachers and its weak teachers than handing out pink slips to numerous teachers who are less senior at harder to teach schools who run the gamut from strong to weak.

  40. How about if I make it even further? Would you agree if I say a good private school teacher may not be good in public schools?

    We like to say "every kid is different". Different kids have different learning habits. I am quite sure managing a John Muir classroom is not the same as managing Claredon classroom.

    I am just keeping my mind open. In other thread, I have advocated evaluating teachers instead of seniority. However, I realize the difficulty to actually implement the evaluation.

    Even in this thread, I said earlier that given El Dorado's dropping API scores, it may be better off to have more senior teachers. However, I am aware there is a difference in schools and a teacher could excel in one but not the other.

    Basically, I don't know. I am willing to hear your opinion if you believe a good teacher is always a good teacher no matter what school she/he teachers.

  41. Frankly, I find this criticism of El Dorado teachers to be highly inappropriate.

    You likely did not visit the school.

    The demographic at the school is highly challenged.

    Improvements were being made. You can't track improvements year to year.

    Now that they've fired all the teachers there, no one will want to teach there.

    You should all have to have your kids assigned to El Dorado and have to deal with the tumult of driving to that corner of the city (as well as have to deal with the fearful teaching staff.)

  42. Sorry, I do not believe a bit that El Dorado is turning around:

    1. It has a significant DOWN trend (30 points drop in 2009 API)
    2. It is ranked 1 among schools with similar demographics.

    Want to share your opinion why it is? I want to learn all the factors in a kid's education.

  43. How will unionism and progressivism survive if liberal minded people want to end seniority? The cracks in the structure are starting to appear as the efforts by larger forces seep into the collective conscience. First you redefine seniority with exceptions, then raise a stink over bad teachers and bumping rights and pretty soon everyone is agreeing that teachers don't deserve job protection. Game over

  44. "1. It has a significant DOWN trend (30 points drop in 2009 API)"

    Yes, well, maybe you didn't notice, but 2009 was not a good year, economically speaking.

    And since these kids are almost all from poor and struggling families, I would imagine that the drop in their API scores might have something to do with the economy.

    I fail to see how that is the teachers' fault.

  45. 5:27

    Nowhere have I blamed on anybody. However, I won't automatically exclude anyone from reasonings either.

    The economy impacts everyone. Even if the impact on the poorer population is higher, that's no excuse to rank 1 among schools with similar demographics.

    And meanwhile, a lot of SF schools see improvement in testing scores.

  46. "The economy impacts everyone."

    No, the economy does not equally impact everyone.

    Are you an expert on poverty?

  47. "How do you decide who has better performance?"

    Why, Yelp, of course.

  48. 7:00

    No, I am not. However, I don't assume anything unless I see data.

    It is you who indicated the families of El Dorado kids were hit harder by the recession. Any evidence? I don't know either way, so I am interested in knowing.

    By the way, earlier you said it has been improving. Can you show me how it has improved?

    You still haven't responded why you think it ranked 1 among school with similar demographics. If some school in some other district with similar student body is doing better, we'd better know why. Inquiring mind wants to know.

  49. Regarding test scores at El Dorado - I'm not sure how large this school is but if you dig deeper, you may see that the scores can be really knocked around by an above average or below average class. I remember looking at our schools historical CST scores (Miraloma) by grade when we first started way back when. The school was smaller than most and you could clearly see a particularly talented class move through. Now that the school is full, the APIs have smoothed out, this had nothing to do with the teaching as the teachers really haven't changed much - other than some new additions as classes were added.

  50. 8:13 here again - Didn't come out quite right. I meant to say that the hiccups don't necessarily have anything to do with the staff. The changes at our school were started by a fabulous principal who made a number of staff changes, but that all happened before our time. The scores had jumped initially (the staff totally owns that jump) and then flatlined and even wobbled for a while. Eventually the demographic changes, the great staff, and the supportive families really combined to push the scores upwards.

    You also have to remember that when you tour a school, you can see a lot of great things happening in classrooms that have no effect on the API at all. Last years API reflects the performance of grades 3,4, and 5 of the school you're looking at. There is no quantitative measurement of the lower grades. Similar schools is really squishy. It depends on self reporting, which many people do not do. I assume the demographics used are those of the entire school, not just the tested kids, but I'm not sure of that.

  51. Why bother teaching a well rounded curriculum when everyone is concerned about one thing: test scores.

    I've been teaching for nearly ten years. Every single year all I hear is "you really should be working harder, scrutinized more, and paid less."

    This is difficult criticism to take considering I had to pay $2000 for supplies this year and worked my tail off to raise test scores when half of my students barely spoke English. Five didn't speak ANY English at all and arrived in December.

    I doubt many of you realize how the budget cuts truly impact the classroom, but one thing you should know...just because we cut our staff doesn't mean the curriculum is modified to accommodate the change. For instance...

    Our P.E. instructor was cut because of budget cuts. That doesn't mean P.E. is taken out of the curriculum. It means the teachers have to take over the P.E. classes.

    Our inclusion para was cut. That means the teacher has to modify all the work for the one or two inclusion students in class.

    Our lunch lady cut her hours. That means the teacher has to take time out of her break to help out in the lunchroom.

    No computer lab teacher? Teachers take over the lab.

    It never stops. Think about all the work it takes to run a successful school. Now work in the fact that there is NO budget for basic needs and imagine how much of the work falls on teachers. It's staggering.

    Everyone wants what private school has to offer, but there is NO MONEY. How can you say teachers need to cut their salaries and work harder when we are already stretched thinner than thin?

    Please, give us a break. The budget is killing us, and the lay offs and consolidations are destroying the public school system. The majority of teachers are doing their best, even if that doesn't get advertised as much as the "rubber room" teachers in New York.

  52. 10:37. I feel your pain. People are looking for someone to blame. I am pretty shocked at the teacher bashing I have read on this blog.

  53. I am a teacher in SF. We are underpaid, our resources are slim, and we pay out-of-pocket for many of our supplies. But for most of us in the profession, we love what we do. We love your kids. We want to make a difference in their lives and in their futures. We do not believe that we are running a business, and we do not wish to be treated as if we were. One of the very few benefits we enjoy is the seniority/tenure system that protects our jobs once we have been teaching for a number of years. Does such a system shelter poor teachers? Yes, sometimes. But for the most part, our years of experience benefit your children, and our job security keeps us working in an undervalued profession. It is worth reconsidering whether you really want to see that system overturn in exchange for a business model with your children as the "product."

  54. Oops, make that "overturned"!

  55. 10:37 PM, 2:30 AM, thanks for all you do and for such thoughtful posts. I don't think the selfish, teacher-bashing parents on this blog have a clue about what it means to be a teacher. For parents to call for a 15% pay cut or reduced security of employment for a job that barely keeps you in the middle class in this city but contributes so much to its civic life, economy, and so on, is cruel and stupid. Public education has been gutted in California, K-16. We will all pay the price, but teachers are paying it on a daily basis.

  56. 8:13

    Regarding El Dorado, I am not blaming the teachers or the principal. I am sure they did the best they could. However, something's missing. Often, the best intention and best effort is not enough.

    So, I have to wonder whether the problem is the concentration of young teachers in that school. I am not blaming the teachers. It takes courage to work at a disadvantaged school. However, a mixed teaching body probably would work better so the younger teachers can learn from the more experienced ones. The district need to give better incentives to work in those schools.

    Something has to change for that school, and John Muir and others. I want all SF schools to be good, not the huge gap we see right now.

  57. 2:30 AM posting again. Those of us who have been at this a longer time do tend to gravitate toward the stronger schools (though you'd be surprised how many of us grow attached to schools where we student teach or where we are first placed -- we're not all after the "trophies"). That does mean that lower performing schools can end up staffed with more rookie teachers, and I agree with 10:12 that incentives to attract veteran teachers would be a good idea. But it is also important to note that lower performing schools are NOT unattractive because of the students. We're doing this job for them. No, the problem is that lower performing schools are so closely scrutinized and so micromanaged that it is harder to be creative or bring extras into the curriculum. And of course there is the constant dread of having the entire teaching staff removed in one fell swoop. It's enough to make most of us run from schools where we might otherwise choose to teach.

  58. "Also, in my experience in private industry, most management perceptions were based on sucking up to or otherwise pleasing the boss, which often had nothing to do with true merit. I had one co-worker who was spectacularly incompetent at the actual job but who was always winning and charming and gave great meeting, and now is close to the top of her field.

    Of course real problem teachers shouldn't be teaching, but the idea that teachers can be clearly ranked, or pinpointed by their degree of merit, is not realistic."


    Sucking up doesn't only happen in the private sector. Oh no. It is rampant everywhere.Why would profit hungry entrepreneurs kiss asses? They want results, unlike in government,which is not results-based,but who-you-know based.

    About merit based performance, try to convince the public that teachers cannot be judged on merit for this or that reason. Yes, let the status quo continue. Nothing needs to be done. Nothing at all. It is obviously impossible I say to rank teachers,though somehow it is done all the time in other industries.

    I'll bet there are some good ways to do in-house performance evaluations, but don't tell anybody.

  59. I'm also an SFUSD teacher, and 10:36 makes an excellent point about the straitjackets into which teachers at low-performing schools are forced. Schools with low test scores are monitored by the district; they have to give many more standardized tests and report the scores online to ensure that they are both using the mandated curriculum, and adhering to pacing guides that do not allow for reteaching or remediation. In many cases, the students cannot read their textbooks or the instructions in their workbooks nor do the work without extensive teacher support. Even when it is painfully obvious that the required materials are several grade levels above the students' abilities, the teachers must use them, and the disconnect only exacerbates behavior problems.

    3:49, there are good ways to do "in-house" evaluations, but they all cost money. It takes a lot of time and expertise to do meaningful evaluations; how do you propose we fund the training, the personnel, and the bureaucracy required to manage such a system when we can't even pay for basic supplies or a 180-day school year? Lay off more teachers?

  60. I completely agree with the first part of your comment. The straightjacket approach to monitoring teachers and the methods and practices is not respectful of the teachers or their students. Teachers have to be given the freedom to do what they feel is right.

    On the second point if there is so much monitoring going on, for better or worse, and I think it is for worse, it doesn't seem a far cry to apply it to teacher evaluation. Not that it would be the best way to do evaluations. I don't think you have to spend a ton of money to evaluate people.

  61. The level of monitoring in place at low-performing schools is nearly non-existent at schools that score 800 or above on state tests. The extra testing and district walk-throughs do not measure the quality of the teachers, they merely indicate the teachers' level of fidelity to delivering scripted programs on a predetermined timetable. Is the answer then to force all teachers in all schools to forgo creativity and best practices, to teach according to a schedule that requires all students to learn at exactly the same pace, to administer more tests and report results so we can make them "accountable"? Or is accountability only for teachers in schools where students fail to perform adequately on state tests?

    Again, how exactly do you propose we implement extensive evaluations for no cost? Because it isn't that we don't have a "ton of money" for assessing teachers, it's that we don't have any, not a single cent to spare.

  62. I don't think many non-teachers realize that teachers CAN be let go. In fact, last year a teacher was removed from his position in my school. It can be done, and it has been done many, many times. No one hears about it, but principals have their ways. There is a lot of autonomy that is left unchecked by the district.

    The reason this can happen and DOES happen is that the union doesn't support every teacher and their cause. If you have a grievance and the union doesn't feel your issue helps their agenda, they refuse to support you. I know from experience, as I had an issue with my principal a few years ago.

    I am pro-union, but that doesn't mean I love everything about them. They support the greater good, which is their job. But yes, they need improvement, as does every organization. They're not perfect, but they are the only safeguard we have.

    As for merit pay for teachers, who are you to rate a teacher? How will you rate their performance in the classroom? Who will make up the rules and how will it be carried out? Who is going to PAY for the implementation of this new "system" of rating?

    I, for one, have a different group of problems in my classroom every year. One year alone, I had students who were not fed at home, students who had parents brutalizing each other at home, students who were dealing with taking care of their baby siblings because their mother/father was drunk all the time.

    Public school accepts the students that are summarily rejected by the private schools in San Francisco. There is no "screening" done when kids arrive in my school, or I wouldn't be teaching.

    But this makes it very difficult to be consistent in testing scores. When you have a stellar class one year, your scores shoot up. But the following year your students may have issues like the above mentioned, and scores will ultimately drop. It's hard to teach when you have to be in meetings with child protective services.

    Judging a teacher by their merit is a very complicated idea. The execution has yet to be explained. How exactly are you going to rate me as a teacher? By my scores? My ability to discipline a room of kids? My ability to know when a child is hungry because he is not being fed at home?

    I know teachers in my school who are "best friends" with the principal. They may be the worst teachers in the school, yet they are under the protection of their "bff" in the office. How is this going to be taken into consideration when you rate teachers?

    There are too many variables that are being swept under the rug when discussing merit pay. There is simply no way to judge a teacher based on one standard. There's no way to judge a student that way, either, as (unfunded) NCLB testing has shown.

  63. "The level of monitoring in place at low-performing schools is nearly non-existent at schools that score 800 or above on state tests."

    You lost me.

  64. I wish more people read the posts above before criticizing teachers. I think you all are doing an amazing job. To my mind, the issue about poor teachers basically boil down to an extremely small percentage -- that 2% of teachers who are just "mailing it in" or have other major issues. In our school of 450 kids, for example, there are two deadweight teachers. Everyone knows who they are -- principal, teachers, and most parents. (Thank goodness, one of them is finally retiring this year!) The issue of bad teachers is by no means the epidemic it is claimed to be. I just wish that the unions would take a common sense approach to these situations. I think that, with less teacher bashing, maybe the unions would be more willing to work with the District to move the very few poor teachers to administrative positions, to early retirement, or to other situations. Just a thought . . .

  65. So you think if there were less pressure to fire unsuccessful teachers the union would be more successful in doing something about bad teachers? That's an interesting take on how to get things done. I suppose if you just stay quiet people will do the right thing of their own accord. So before the union bashing started the problem must have been solved and poeple are making a big deal out of nothing.

  66. I don't think the layoffs are about bad teachers. The layoffs are being made so they can hire spanish speaking teachers to staff the Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese schools in the city.

  67. to 9:27: I'll try to rephrase. If a school has good test scores, their teachers have much, much more freedom to teach as they see fit. Teachers in "good" schools are not monitored to ensure they are using the mandated curricula. They do not have to give frequent standardized tests to show that they are in step with the district-mandated pacing guides. District administrators do not tour "good" schools with checklists to verify that the required items are posted on the bulletin boards and classroom walls.

    That kind of scrutiny is reserved exclusively for schools with low state test scores.

    Hope that helps. I'm still waiting to hear your cost-free plan for improving teacher evaluations.

  68. 9:38:

    According to Dennis Kelly the union has its own disciplinary procedures for bad teachers. Bad and good is a poor way of categorizing the quality of teaching, but lets just say bad means the worst teachers that do not have the respect of their colleagues.

    Ideally, it make sense that the union should do evaluations. After all, it is the union that is paid to safeguard the teacher jobs and this cannot include those jobs that are filed by failing teachers. So the union should be the first line of defense for maintaining the professional integrity of the union. Otherwise, the union is working to safeguard the wrong jobs and is undermining the profession. That is what it is currently doing.

    In lieu of union oversight, principals can do what every other manager has to do. Document the problems on the job. Provide assistance or discipline as required and make the necessary recommendations after sufficient interventions have not resulted in better job performance.

    Why do you think every problem needs to have a funding source to be fixed? That is what principals are for. We pay them to oversee the staff and obviously a major part of that is job performance.

  69. 12:14, I don't feel that the evaluation system needs to be changed, period. I also do not support merit pay, and I think lay offs should be done by seniority, although schools designated as "hard-to-staff" should get some kind of relief - possibly allowing only a certain percentage of the teachers at each hard-to-staff school to be laid off in any school year.

    There already are ways to remove underperforming teachers, and I agree with you that it is up to principals to do their jobs and work to remove them.

    About the union taking responsibility for evaluations, well, I suggest you bring this idea to the school board and see what kind of reception you get. I don't know of any job, public or private, where the employer is not responsible for performance evaluations. If you ran a business, would you be willing to let outsiders evaluate your employees and decide who you should let go? Sorry, that just doesn't make any sense.

  70. It may not make sense to you but that IS the policy of the union, even if it is not well implemented. Read Dennis Kelly's comments on another thread (can't remember which though).

    Saying you are for seniority, but also for exceptions at certain schools is a pretty rocky road. If a school is hard to staff and you make it less hard to staff, it is subsequently no longer hard to staff and wouldn't qualify under it's own rules. Having exceptions to seniority is the end of seniority itself as every school will want to be classified as such and will pressure the district for equity.

  71. This evaluation stuff is nonsense. Our principal could sit down in a day and rank our teachers from 1 to N, just like they do in private industry. What about a crappy principal? They'll pick the wrong teachers to keep and the school will go downhill, both in test scores and in requests - It won't take many years before the principal gets sacked. That's how it works in private industry - there's no complex evaluation process - bad managers end up with useless departments and good managers end up with great ones. There would certainly be some input from the staff on the principal as well. Obviously this sort of process would be merged with the seniority system and test score slides from one year would not send someone packing - it would take a few years in a row plus bad reviews, ...etc.. The bad teachers that get people pissed off at unions are the consistently bad ones. In CA it's ~250K to fire a teacher, in NY, it's 500K. I think the unions would be in a lot stronger position if they fought for the good of the 98% of their members that are good teachers, rather than focusing on defending to the death the few who really need to go. The system we have is broken, it's way past time to try something new and it can be done in baby steps.

  72. Doesn't that conundrum for hard-to-staff schools already exist? If the retention bonuses work, teachers will stay, and the schools will eventually lose the designation. Oh, but if they keep laying off new teachers at those schools, then the extra pay will never have a chance to work so we can just keep throwing money at different new teachers each year. Does it make any more sense now than it would if they were given an exception? At least with an exception the schools would have a real chance at improving (if in fact it is all on the teachers to improve a school), and wouldn't that be what is best for the students? Also, allowing an exception would allow those teachers to gain seniority and avoid future lay offs, even if the schools lost the hard-to-staff label.

    Or maybe this state could see its way to step up and fund all of our schools properly, so that laying off teachers year after year would no longer be the norm.

  73. 9:39,

    You are exactly right. Principals can evaluate teachers quite readily and it is well known who should not be teaching at any given school. But like discipline problem students, poor teachers are shuffled from one school to another rather than let go. The other person who wants to make evaluating into some large expense and create a bureaucracy around it is an example of the mentality that demands payment for all solutions. We need to do more with less and evaluating teachers is one area that can fit this new reality with ease.

  74. In years of attending and having had kids at private school, I have never seen a good teacher who wanted to remain teaching in that setting let go, even though they're not unionized. There were occasional bad eggs who were there for not-good reasons, but they were so rare. In comparison, at our assigned public school, which is not overwhelmed with high needs kids and has respectable test scores, most of the the teachers seemed miserable. I would not want my kid in such a depressing environment.

  75. The parents on this thread need to find another scapegoat. Teachers are not the ones to blame for "bad schools" in the SFUSD.

    We get blamed for EVERYTHING that goes wrong. How is that possible when we are being constantly criticized and evaluated for every little detail of our jobs? Yes, I said evaluated. We are already given evaluations. The teachers considered less than stellar are also watched and given further consideration throughout the school year until some improvement is shown. I can't believe people think teachers go totally unchecked in their schools.

    Not to mention the pay. We are not receiving our cost of living increase for the next two years because of the cuts. That is in addition to the unpaid furlough days. I am already dressing my kids in hand me downs and thrift store clothing because I give 2/3 of my take home pay to rent.

    What is going to make our critics happy? When we are paid minimum wage? Given a ridiculous number of kids to teach? Fired for any reason at all? Given no job security?

    A new teacher every year won't rid the SFUSD of "bad teachers." Every company and corporation on Earth has employees that aren't working to their potential. Are they all fired? Are they all under the microscope like teachers have been for decades? No. They still work in those jobs, causing their peers to roll their eyes.

    Seniority means very little during this budget crisis, and although there is some job security, there is no guarantee you will keep your position in the district. The critics would have you believe teachers are all safe from being fired. This is not true.

    Every teacher is overwhelmed right now. We have been taken advantage of over and over again while expectations are driven higher every year. How are we supposed to be the super-teachers you expect when we are worked beyond reason for money that barely allows us to eat in a restaurant every now and again?

    I am not a new teacher, but I am not a veteran either. I make what most of you would never accept at your private sector job. If you stack the amount of work we have on a daily basis, add the crazy issues children bring to school, include incompetent administrators...I don't believe many of you would put up with that for such modest pay in the private sector.

    We care for your children because we love education and believe in the public school system. It's a shame many of you don't support us. Our efforts are monumental during this constant state of crisis.

  76. Most parents are very appreciative of what individual teachers do for their classrooms. Unfortunately the teachers in the highest needs schools probably get the least love and support from their parent communities. The problem parents have is not with the teachers but with their union. The union's rhetoric makes it seem like all they care about is preserving jobs and defined benefit retirement plans that no longer exist in the private sector. The way the union makes it sound, union teachers in public schools are not subject to classroom drop-ins by their principals and the union does not want to allow this. If you work in the private sector, the idea that your boss can't observe you work whenever they see fit is unthinkable. In how many professions do you have a 184-day work year and can you retire after 20 years at guaranteed pay for life near full salary and pursue another field? I'm not saying teaching is not a very hard job--I know that it is. I could not do it. However, if you have kids and you can't afford private school, you have to use the public schools. It's not like the private sector where you look at a company with unionized employees and say, "I think GM builds crummy cars so I'm not going to buy one." If you are a public employee of a government entity (schools) whose services "customers" have no choice but to use, and students in your school are not meeting the standards the government, your employer, has set out, you have to expect to listen to some demands for accountability.

  77. The union may not be perfect in all of its approaches (and there is an organized dissenting group within the union, btw), but it is a necessary line of defense and organized voice for teachers within the system. It is necessary for all of the reasons laid out by teachers here that make their jobs close to impossible. As a parent and non-teacher I am glad they are there to speak for the teachers.

    I do not wish to cede all the power to the district administrators, the depts of public education (state and federal), and to the many interest groups fighting to gut public education by cutting taxes. As Schwarzenegger is proposing to do with the latest May revise of the budget, issued on Friday--shockingly, he is saying we should cut more from education while simultaneously cutting corporate taxes. Someone has to fight this, and the teachers unions are among the actual players with any power in the fight against the corporations.

    I wish we also had a strong parents' union to speak for us as stakeholders. I'm a member of the PTA and PPS, but I'd like us to be stronger and more militant. Maybe we could link forces with the teachers and fight for a reasonable stream of funding instead of scrabbling over the crumbs.

    Meanwhile, bravo and brava to all you teachers out there. Many of us appreciate the difficult job you do for ever-fewer resources and ever-more pressure. 95% of my kids' teachers have been real treasures, and are my heroes.

  78. Near full salary after 20 years?! You've got to be kidding. I wish! Try 30+ and hitting the age of 60. Even then it's not "near full salary." Why do you think there are so many veteran teachers still in the classrooms? I would love to retire right now, but I need to hit a respectable amount of years before I can get a monthly check that will allow me to pay rent and eat at the simultaneously.

    Teachers are accountable. Every day. Accountable to parents, students, administrators, the district, our own union, ourselves. You insult us by saying we're not.

    With respect, I question your sources. Maybe you should ask a few dozen teachers to check your facts.

  79. Sorry about the typo. Typing is not my strongest skill!

  80. 11:45

    You have your head screwed on perfectly.

  81. I tried to research the SF teachers' retirement benefits plan online but couldn't anything specific, so relied on a comment from a friend several years ago. She taught 18 years at a SFUSD high school, then packed it in and went to law school at around age 40. She told me she was "crazy" to quit SFUSD because if she could have stuck it out 2 more years she would have qualified for a very generous pension for life, but it was so awful she just could not take it any more.

  82. It definitely depends on how long you've been teaching plus how many credits you have beyond a credential. If you have an advanced degree, retirement at 20 years may get you a decent amount. But if you have a credential and no advanced degree it wouldn't be much to live on. I don't think teachers get social security, either. My aunt taught for years and her retirement was something like 60% of her last paycheck.

    But none of this matters anyway if the pension fund collapses, which it is close to doing.

  83. Paul Houston, executive director (emeritus) of the American Association of School Administers, wrote an interesting blog post called, "Teacher Trashing Continues" ( I think he makes many excellent points including the one that policy makers have to strengthen and support those who deliver learning to children rather than trying to "beat them into excellence."

  84. We beat students into excellence with constant cut and dry testing (evaluations) that carry questionable relevance and turn educational outcomes into performance based winners and losers. Why not teachers? If they are going to drill and kill the students they shouldn't complain about the same treatment in return. What's good for the goose..
    makes good pate.

  85. Rachel Norton posted this on her blog recently about the lack of sufficient testing to keep tabs on progress during the year:

    "I keep thinking of Deputy Superintendent Carranza’s statement to the Board last month that — due to the district’s lack of data/assessment on student progress throughout the year – he could not give us any idea of how our third graders would do on the CST this year. That lack of data means that our annual CST results, to be reported in August, will be more like an autopsy than a diagnostic exam.  I’m glad the Deputy Superintendent in charge of instruction in this district is focusing on the need for more and better data on student achievement — the lack of reading proficiency is an urgent problem that we’ve been talking about for far too long."

    And then a SFUSD teacher posted this comment on this thread about the excessive testing throughout the year at low SES schools:

    "I'm also an SFUSD teacher, and 10:36 makes an excellent point about the straitjackets into which teachers at low-performing schools are forced. Schools with low test scores are monitored by the district; they have to give many more standardized tests and report the scores online to ensure that they are both using the mandated curriculum, and adhering to pacing guides that do not allow for reteaching or remediation. In many cases, the students cannot read their textbooks or the instructions in their workbooks nor do the work without extensive teacher support. Even when it is painfully obvious that the required materials are several grade levels above the students' abilities, the teachers must use them, and the disconnect only exacerbates behavior problems."

    So what is going on here? Are teachers required to do excessive testing that the central office isn't aware of or is someone horribly misinformed or even worse?

  86. "If they are going to drill and kill the students they shouldn't complain about the same treatment in return. "

    Um, the teachers did not have a choice about implementing No Child Left Behind. It's hell to teach to the test constantly. You lose autonomy, creativity, and the possibility of differential instruction. I can't imagine a teacher saying "Yippee! What a great new way to do my job!"

    Though I like your pate joke. I'm always up for an appetizer.

  87. 8:04,

    I was not being serious. Sorry, bad joke. You can't blame teachers because policy makers require they jump through hoops.

  88. I find the comment about lack of data shocking, because of something a teacher said when I toured our assigned SFUSD school. The teacher said so much time must be spent assessing children that there is not enough time to teach them. This is a school with over 800 on the API that meets its annual growth goals and is not overwhelmingly low income. The comment was a big nudge private-ward for me.

  89. It is shocking for more than one reason. How can the Deputy Superintendent say that there isn't enough data to evaluate within the year while teachers are complaining that all they and their students do is jump through hoops all year long in an efforts to feed the data/testing crowd? There is something seriously wrong with this picture. I wish Rachel Norton could explain more about this since she commented and cited Carranza's comments on the the API info being to little to late in her lastest blog post.

  90. The other reason it is shocking is the apparent disconnect between what teachers perceive as a drill and kill work day regimen and the downtown administrators complaining that they don't have enough data. Central office policy makers and board members need to spend more time in the schools and the classrooms if they want to know what is going on and stop expecting to be given reports upon which to make decisions. It is the difference between a field commander and a office jockey. You can get more info, but how many children will you lose to this madness in the meantime? What has happened to our outlook on educating a child? Are we just stamping out low level functionaries for the service and retail industries. What about the human mind? Creativity?

    There is a value to testing once a year, but the data driven bureaucratic culture in education is driving the genuine educators to private school just as much as the parents and their kids are being driven out like the last commenter. We have to put a stop to the one size fits all mentality and just say NO to NCLB/ESEA. But the only way to do that currently is to vote with your feet and head for the greener pastures of private and as you all know that is only for the select few that can afford it.

  91. Ok, this is drifting even further off topic, but the comment a teacher made about having kids in your class that are a couple of grade levels behind really makes me nuts. What happened to holding kids back and repeating a grade? When I grew up it was so routinely done that it wasn't a huge deal. It took some kids several extra years to get out of school (there were frequently siblings in the same grade) but by the time they got their diploma, it actually meant something. This also narrows the ability gap of the kids in each classroom, which has to be a lot better for everyone.

    Our school almost never holds anyone back, even if a parent really, really thinks it's the right thing to do. I know one parent that was pressured into not holding back her young child and now feels forced to switch school systems to allow him time to repeat a grade. This social promotion makes problems much worse, especially in an impoverished district where intensive remediation certainly isn't happening. Some kids just need more time. They shove some of these kids along every year and then - bam - into special day at 3rd grade.

    Anecdotally, I heard Clarendon routinely holds a few kindergarteners back. That's the ideal year to do it. I don't know if that's really true, but perhaps it's something to consider.

  92. "Are we just stamping out low level functionaries for the service and retail industries. What about the human mind? Creativity?"

    Don, I'm sad to say that I think we ARE stamping out low level functionaries, even at the CA state college level where overpacked classes and Scantrons rule the day (who can read 150 papers?). Liberal arts teaching is rapidly becoming obsolete.

    A middle-school teacher from another district told me that the passing level of writing for the high school Regents exam is 7th grade. I'd been wondering why my college students wrote at exactly what I'd called the 7th grade level. Is this really true?

  93. I've tried retaining kids. It is strongly discouraged by my principal. And not all parents want their child held back, even if it is for their benefit. I've had many battles with mothers and fathers who absolutely refused to agree.

  94. One of the things I love about our private school is that they DO hold kids back if they need it. They also move them ahead if they are ready. Some kids go back and forth more than once over their years there, since many kids learn in spurts rather in a steady progression. Since it's a for-profit school, some contend that the school holds kids back out of greed. From what I know of the kids in question, it's an academic and developmental decision. Yes some parents do complain and I can understand it: "What do you mean I have to fork over another year's tuition, the school must not be doing it's job!" No teacher or principal likes being screamed at by parents so this kind of move is unlikely to be made lightly. But in a private school, a big part of what you pay for is personal attention, a faculty that knows each child well, and a sense that your child is being met where he/she is and not just moved through the system. I am sure there are also many public school teachers and administrators who are equally attentive and concerned with the best interests of individual kids. Unfortunately, parents often have other agendas, such as getting the kid out of school and out of the house faster or an ego trip that little Ben or Barbara is the brightest kid on the block and therefore CAN'T possibly need to be held back. If you don't trust the school's judgment or motives, you probably shouldn't be entrusting them with your kid's education in the first place. My suspicion is that parents drive social promotion more than schools, unless a child has a serious behavior problem that anybody would want to get rid of.

  95. studies on the effect of holding children back can do more harm than good

    a concluding quote:
    "When weighing the pros and cons of a decision to retain or promote a student, it is critical to
    emphasize to educators and parents that a century of research has failed to demonstrate the benefits
    of grade retention over promotion to the next grade for any group of students. Instead, we must
    focus on implementing evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to promote social and
    cognitive competence and facilitate the academic success of all students."

  96. So instead let's advance then through the grades regardless of their ability and end up with a bunch of high school dropouts and kids that can't read or write. And you probably want to increase taxes so we can throw more money at this broken system.

  97. RE: insufficient/late CST data, my understanding was that the SFUSD CHOOSE not to pay the extra cost of getting the scores at the end of the school year (when they would be most helpful for making fall placement decisions) which is why they arrive at the end of August, when they're less useful to all involved.

  98. There may not be enough evidence to show the benefits of grade retention over promotion for the student in question, but wouldn't it be obvious that it benefits the rest of the class?

    And there is no evidence to show it is doing any harm to the student who are held back.

    So, why not?

  99. " understanding was that the SFUSD CHOOSE not to pay the extra cost of getting the scores at the end of the school year (when they would be most helpful for making fall placement decisions) which is why they arrive at the end of August..."

    Yes, they CHOOSE not to spend the money on the test scores and instead spend it on things like paying teachers and buying pencils. It's not like the district has a lot of discretionary cash laying around.

  100. They don't have discretionary cash per se, but the more familiar you come with the administration, the more you understand how many administrators have pointless jobs.

  101. I'm the teacher who posted the comment about the excessive testing that teachers must do in low-performing schools, and I really don't know what Mr. Carranza is talking about. I worked in two different STAR schools several years ago, and we had to give quarterly math assessments and language arts assessments. All of those test scores were reported online in the district's OARS system. It was never clear what the purpose in reporting them was because it never seemed that anyone did anything with the information. That's why I assumed they were mostly put in place simply to "encourage" teachers to remain faithful to the pacing guide schedules and mandated curriculum. Now one of our leaders acts as though he has no knowledge of their existence, and that just affirms my suspicions.

    These frequent assessments are not required at all schools. I've been out of STAR schools for two years, and no one at my new school is even aware that such testing exists - blissful ignorance, really. But it certainly sounds like the district would like to see this change.

  102. With the constant spotlight on evaluation how can Mr. Carranza not know about it? I doubt the teachers are performing the testing for their own edification. Most teachers know exactly where their students are at academically, and don't need to add further hours and days of evaluation to their work calendar.

    So this begs the question, what value has been derived from the hours of testing you mentioned if the central office knows knothing about it? We can hope that pehaps Mr. Carranza is just out of touch or there is some rationale.

    Not to get off topic, but this reminds me of the Community Engagement and Parent Partnership Plan - another centreal office plan that has no value and will be touted as a big success and promptly filed away. For one year 555 has been working on this plan. The end result is pages and pages of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo that would make the most diligent paper shuffler slip into a coma. Instead of, for example, five simple steps to reform the district's manner in which they deal with parents, we get more costly organizational tripe. Between the salaries, consultants and other costs, there goes at least another million dollars down the bureaucratic drain, money that will never have any effect on education.

    Anyway, I just think it is inexcusable that you had to put your students through those tests. What good did it do?

  103. Just wondering, are there layoffs from "top-tier" schools, such as Clarendon, Rooftop, or CL? Any teachers here from those schools?

  104. It depends upon the seniority of the teacher, not whether the schools are top tier of not. Of course, lower tier schools typically have lower seniority teachers so they get hit hardre.

  105. In re dropping API @ El Dorado:

    1. Massive teacher turnover over the last three years. Teacher turnover negatively impacts student achievement. Even if new teachers are/will be very effective, they're not yet veterans - and experience does make a difference (at least between first and second year teachers and teachers with five years' experience).

    2. CSTs test ONLY 2-5. This has big impacts on test scores at small schools. If the K-1 staff is effective but new, their students' progress will not be recorded by standardized test until the end of second grade.

    3. El Dorado has had a fairly significant demographic shift. There are far fewer Asian American children there and more African American and Latino children. This demographic shift correlates with lower test scores.

    4. The school is small, so one absent child makes a big difference (absent children get a score of 0 if they are not tested). Looking at the percentages of children tested, this is probably a factor.

    5. A close read on the numbers - looking at grade levels - suggests younger students are doing better, which suggests growth.