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Monday, July 4, 2011

New Report On Emeryville School Reveals Failure of Management

Points to "Lack of Efforts to Address Problems"
Independent Report: "Alarmingly High Percentages Of Students Are Failing" 

A May 11th independent audit of Emery High School performed by the National Center for Urban School Transformation  concludes that school management is failing on a number of critical fronts and they're failing to address the problems.
The Center identified a general "lack of standards-based instruction" at the school and students tasked with "busy work" with a "significant percentage of students [that] are being allowed to fail".  The audit, called the 'High-Performing Schools Audit Report', also concludes  that "trust levels among adults at the school are low" and reports the existence of "multiple cliques among the adults".

School board president
Miguel Dwin: Report 
merely shows "strengths 
and weaknesses"
School board
Josh Simon: 
Report is 
School Board member Josh Simon, jarred by the audit, called for an implementation program to make sure the conclusions are properly addressed and not swept under the rug.  He told the Tattler that while the study compares Emery High with the best schools in the nation, a very high bar, certain intolerable inadequacies are highlighted that need to be corrected.  He called the study "important".  
School board president Miguel Dwin on the other hand seemed to take the whole audit with a grain of salt, "the report shows strengths and weaknesses at the school" he quipped.  He declined further comment.

50% Failure Rate
The auditors, Dr. Lynne Perez, Director of Research at NCUST and Dr. Joseph Johnson, the NCUST Executive Director visited the school and made observations as well as conducted interviews with teachers, students and parents.  
They found several classrooms where students were observed "sleeping, sitting with their backs to the teacher, or continuously engaging in off-task behavior"  Teachers were observed allowing this aberrant behavior "as long as the students did not interrupt them".
Dr. Joseph Johnson
Executive Director
Teachers and administrators the report noted, expressed concern about "high course-failure rates that exceeded 50% at some grade levels".  This, the report concludes is a result of insufficient objectivity related to grading, leading to a "lack of clear, written, and enforced grading policy [that] is eroding parent trust".
Teachers also reported that often there is not a common understanding of critical course content resulting in a school that has no capacity, "no way" the report says, "to ensure that students are prepared to meet state learning expectations or to succeed in more advanced courses".
The report finds an "alarmingly high" percentage of students are failing classes, and concludes there is "no evidence of systematic efforts to address the problem".

Two Conflicting Studies
By coincidence another report recently made public is the "Self Study" of the High School; a periodic self examination of the school required for state accreditation.  This other report offers a detailed, if contradictory conclusion about the academic culture at the school.  The Self Study titled 'Focus On Learning', conducted by the school district as a self examination of academic achievement concludes the school is in much better shape than the independent audit surmises.  Noted in the Self Study is the finding that the school is an "orderly place that nurtures learning" and the existence of an "atmosphere of trust and respect in the school".
The Self Study finds "all course curriculums [sic] are standards-aligned", a direct contrary finding from the independent study.

School board president Miguel Dwin told the Tattler that the self study "shows strengths and weaknesses", the same as the independent study and was not impressed by the two inconsistent conclusions from the two studies.  He added, "No conclusions can be made, both reports are complimentary to each other, both show strengths and weaknesses at the school" noting no greater understanding flows from comparing the two studies.

The Self Study, 'Focus On Learning', was submitted to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges on April 11-13 for consideration to continue accreditation of the High School.

The independent audit report, called the 'High-Performing Schools Audit Report' was designed to identify how Emery High deviates from "high performing" urban schools in the nation, and was released to the public on June 27th.  The National Center for Urban School Transformation is a San Diego State University based public policy group.
The independent report is here:


  1. I hope the new school turns this culture around. This school has real problems and the personel aint fixing it.

  2. These two ran for re-election to the school board an I still remember their campaign flyer, it was all about how great the educational culture is at the schools and about how it just keeps getting better. Our schools are a mess. I wish there would be some reality check from those in power.

  3. There is a reality check, it's called elections, but you nit wits keep electing the same group of idiots to the city council and school board. Next you'll be electing Kurt Brinkman as mayor so he can funnel more city funds into his business'.

  4. To people complaining about student behavior...what would you do?
    How would you correct the situation?
    You can only send the student out of class, suspend them, and have parent conferences so many times (which, I might add, parents don't show up too a good 60-70% of the time in Emery).
    Those are the only tools that the school has, so when those don't work, what do you do?

    If there's no drive to get an education from the home, and the student has no desire to get one, there isn't a lot the school can do about it.

  5. I don't think any new building will help these kids. What people tend to forget when looking at these statistics, is where the kids come from. From another point of view, maybe Emeryville's school district is actually doing a great job in housing and feeding these kids from Oakland, as many of them do not receive these basic services at home. Too bad, that instead of trying to make the situation look better with a new building, they couldn't have used all this money to directly educate the kids and divide the classes to those who need more motivation and direct intervention.

  6. Good for Josh Simon. Thanks Josh for working for the kids.

  7. Brian, in your characteristic "gotcha" tabloid mode, you've cherry-picked the report to bash the schools once again. The District invited the report to solicit useful suggestions drawn from the nation's highest-performing urban schools. Auditors did offer some sweeping generalizations, yes. But observations were based on one-day visits that concluded, for example, that "Parents are not convinced that teachers care about their children's success." How many parents? How were questions framed? Unprofessional! And who are the "adults" at ESS who commit the sin of forming cliques? Can we find a school without cliques? And yet the report contains much strong praise--even the word "wonderful." On behalf of fairness rather than one more hatchet-job, I urge your curiously anonymous readers to look at the whole report, always a sensible idea.
    Marcelline Krafchick, Ph.D.

  8. To Ms Krafchick & others-
    I'm not interested in "gotcha" but I am interested in making sure criticism and dissenting views get public exposure since we can't rely on the power elite to do so. It's all about transparency and holding the government accountable. To the naysayers among the Tattler readers I ask: Do you think you would have been made aware of this report without the Tattler?

    The report highlights detailed and specific problems with the high school from a respected source; the NCUST. For anyone wanting to help the school, I would think this would be valuable information.

    The goal of the Tattler is not to serve as a cheerleader for the school district or City Hall for that matter. If the schools are bad, everyone should know about it. The days of "America, love it or leave it" are over.

  9. Marcelline, thank you for suggesting that those of us who are interested in accuracy should read the whole report. A lot of us in this community know we can't rely on this blog for accurate information that communicates the whole picture. At least it is nice to have reasonable and balanced comments here. I'll be sure and read more of the report before I form an opinion.

  10. Ha!
    "I want to make sure those running the school are doing a good job and if they're not, I want people to know about it so we have a chance of fixing it", says the man with a child enrolled at the school.

    "No! Everyone needs to be supportive of the schools and that can't be achieved by being critical", says the woman without a child at the school.

    From a loyal Tattler reader

  11. Note to the readers-
    I don't subscribe to the above stated idea about the legitimacy of opinion is predicated on being directly and materially invested. In this case, people without children enrolled at the schools have equally valid opinions as those who do. We should assume all desire to improve the schools unless it is clearly stated to the contrary.

  12. I don't know who Marcelline Krafchick is, but her antipathy to Mr. Donahue and his efforts is quite glaring.
    I am reminded of the Phil Ochs song "Love me, I'm a Liberal." Emeryville already has enough self-important Quislings. Sorry Marcelline, this town needs more than the Chamber of Commerce as a source of information. Now go kiss Nora's butt, she'll appoint you to the Planning Commission

  13. The several hundred million we are about to spend on a fabulous new campus will not fix the high failure rate in the classroom, but it will be an undeniable testament that we are really trying. It is easy to throw money at the problem. It is hard to get bang for the buck. A for effort. D for achievement. Kudos to Josh Simon for being receptive to the report, critical though it may be. I hope the school can use the report to improve. We need a system where failure is recognized and generates change. Easy to say, hard to do.

  14. The person who called Marcelline Krafchick a "Quisling" was gutless, obviously afraid to give his/her name. He also was stupid, unaware of the difference between someone applying logical analysis to a report, and a Norwegian traitor of the 1940's. The final, filthy sentence indicates that anonymous writer is afflicted with a poo-poo-mouth form of infantilism.
    Joe Cohen

  15. These failures exposed in the report will only encourage the district to double down on attempts to statistically hide their by dumping poorly performing seniors into 11th grade homerooms....then when they don't graduate---they don't appear on the statistics, because they technically weren't seniors. BOOM! The graduation rate improves and the administrators get a big bonus!

  16. Wow! The last commenter has an evil countenance. I hope to hell his revealed scheme isn't prescient.

  17. >>"Everyone needs to be supportive of the schools and that can't be achieved by being critical", says the woman without a child at the school.

    From a loyal Tattler reader<<

    Good for Brian for distancing the Tattler from such fatuous thinking. In fact, Emeryville is blessed with many stakeholders in our schools who don't have children enrolled, from School Board members to unpaid librarian Enomoto to Professor Krafchick, who's donated $100,000.00 to the schools. It looks from some comments here as if we need to educate our "grown-ups." Go for it, Brian.

  18. All hail the glorious achievements of our Dear Leader, Comrade Davis. Only the wise, mighty and just wisdom of Comrade Davis can assure final victory for our city.

  19. It seems as though Marcelline disagrees with the study's findings, and is employing the 'straw-man' argument of 'they didn't spend enough money on the study' to discredit and dismiss its findings when the evidence of the study's accuracy is all around.
    Marcelline's argument is reminiscent of the town crier in the tale about the Emperor's new clothes, announcing, "all praise and admire his Royal Majesty's beautiful new suit."

  20. "These failures exposed in the report will only encourage the district to double down on attempts to statistically hide their by dumping poorly performing seniors into 11th grade homerooms....then when they don't graduate---they don't appear on the statistics, because they technically weren't seniors. BOOM! The graduation rate improves and the administrators get a big bonus! '

    I don't know where this person got their information. I work at the school.
    A) We don't have homerooms, at all, if you are a 12th grader, you are a 12th grader even if you are in 11th grade classes. The only reason a 12th grader would get put in an 11th grade class is because they failed it in 11th grade, that doesn't somehow magically allow us to classify a 12th grader as an 11th grader and skip reporting a non-graduating senior.

    B) No one has gotten bonus' around here in 8 years, administrators included, I myself, haven't even had so much as a cost of living increase in 4 years.