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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Emery Schools Hide Declining Test Results

Measure J Claims Refuted
School Bond Hyperbole

Academic achievement is improving by leaps and bounds according to a 'community update' brochure the school district mailed to Emeryville voters showing dramatic improvement between 2007 and 2009, but the mailer declined to share the most recent State mandated test scores, which show a retrenchment from 2007-2009.
The 2010 test results distressing: Just 37.3 percent of students in grades 2-11 tested as proficient in English. Only 29.1 percent were rated as proficient in history, 35.2 percent in Math, 33.8 percent in science and 11.3 percent on end of course science tests. After years of improved scores, the new district-wide results are broadly down from last year.

School District Obfuscates
The district, which had access to the most recent scores weeks before the brochure was sent out, chose to trumpet gains made between 2007 and 2009 and highlight that the district students improved "more than any other school district in Alameda County."
Meanwhile, the mailer conflates the passage of two recent voter approved parcel tax measures with increased academic achievement, intimating that a $95 million Measure J, a school bond/community center initiative slated for November 2, would likewise increase achievement and that it "allows us to continue this academic growth".

School Board member Josh Simon asserted unequivocally a "clear link between providing resources teachers need and academic outcomes". He warned against the danger of spotting a trend from one year and went on to say his concern is "without quality facilities, it will be difficult to continue this progress". School Board member Cheryl Webb noted the brochures were "worked on well before" the new test results were announced by the State, regardless of the mail date. The other school board members were unavailable or didn't respond.

In response to a recent Oakland Tribune story on the sagging test scores in Emeryville, Superintendent of the schools John Sugiyama noted improvement in key areas saying, "Student achievement scores are only but one measurement. Other measures include graduation rates, dropout rates and percentage of students accepted into four year colleges/universities among other data collected". Nonetheless, Mr Sugiyama added the district is "not satisfied that we are doing everything we can to foster student success. We know we can do better and we are working toward that goal".

The release of the Emeryville brochures coming after the State announcement of the new test results is something Mr Simon said he "couldn't speak to" but he highlighted the positive at the district; "beyond test scores, we've created a college-going culture in which an increasing number of kids have been accepted into two and four year college".


  1. While "the dog ate my homework" is something one would expect from an elementary school student, it is not acceptable coming from the school board.

    I'd like to see Josh Simon's report on the Napoleonic Wars, which concludes with the French victories over the Czar in the Summer of 1812.

  2. I really wish the school district would stop using devious methods with this bond. I feel like we're not going to have any source to really know what we're getting ourselves into. There's not a lot of trust when the sellers of the bond keep trying to sell us the idea of selling the bond. They need to level with us since we're the ones that will be absorbing all the debt.

  3. Spending hundreds of millions "allows us to continue this growth"? That's rich (literally).

    Cute, that they didn't tell us about the falling test scores. What else aren't they telling us?

  4. We can't expect school test scores to go up every year. They will continue to go up and down. As long as they are trending upward the schools are improving. We won't know until future years whether the schools are improving.

  5. The test scores may not go up every year but don't you think there should be full disclosure? The school district is saying that money spent equals higher academic results, and that's not true.

  6. We don't yet know whether money spent equals higher academic results. The school district has only said that Measure J will allow them to continue the growth they have already experienced. This is likely true. Regardless of this year's test scores, the district has clearly experienced recent growth in scores and Measure J could enable them to continue that. Some people here are ready to say that the parcels taxes have not lead to improved test scores. However, there has clearly been improvement in test scores in years prior to this one and its possible test scores will rise again next year. The facts to not contradict the school district's claim.

  7. I am an employee of EUSD.
    Pretty much everything the school board says, is bullshit.

    One thing they won't tell you, is the leadership is horrible. There is NO leadership at the elementary school, the high school principal is largely absent, the vice-principal does not belong in the job. Oh, is it a coincidence that the elementary school principal and the high school VP are old buddies?

    The absolute worst of the bunch is the superintendent. No offense to Mr. Sugiyama, I am sure he was a great leader once. Right now, he is just a care taker, a bench warmer. He's keeping the seat warm till the replacement gets here, not making any hard decisions, not providing any real guidance, just biding his time and collecting a decent paycheck.

    As for the test scores, they have remained more or less flat in the 9 years I have been there. People that have worked there longer than I have been alive say nothing has changed in all that time.

    People of Emeryville, don't get suckered.
    Rescind the moratorium on business tax and stop letting the homeowner pick up the tab.
    You don't need a shiny new building to raise test scores, you need solid leadership, decent wages, and a culture of success. Three things Emeryville does NOT have.

  8. I like how you throw out a lot of low numbers. Those numbers shock people since they are so low, and make them listen to you. Yet you don't give the whole truth. You have to look at the whole picture. Yeah, the English scores are down 3.1% from last year, but the math scores are up 3.9% and the history scores are up 4.1%. The science has two sub groups, the larger went up notably, well the smaller sub group did go down. When I look at the whole picture, I say the scores overall went up. Notice I give both the good numbers and the bad, try giving a legitimate look at the numbers, not a skewed one.