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DiPaola: Too Many Dixon Students Are Below Grade-Level Proficiency

Joe DiPaola analyzes Dixon Unified School District

By Joe DiPaola

Special to Dixon Patch

The California Department of Education (CDE) released the California STAR 2011 Test Results for (DUSD), as measured District-wide (see PDF file attached to this story).

The results are appalling -- in every subject, at least 50 percent or more of Dixon students district-wide tested below grade level proficiency.

Moreover, the CDE compared the Academic Performance Index (API) of Dixon’s schools to other California schools with similar demographics (see attached PDR file).

Again, the results are dismal -- API test scores at Dixon’s schools are far below the median API for similar public schools State-wide.

The “Similar CA Schools” rank compares the rank of a Dixon school's API with the APIs of 100 other California public schools with similar demographic characteristics. The similar schools ranks allow schools to look at their academic performance compared to other schools with some of the same opportunities and challenges.

The comparison group was based on the following characteristics:

  1. Pupil mobility
  2. Pupil ethnicity
  3. Pupil socioeconomic status
  4. Percentage of teachers who hold emergency credentials
  5. Percentage of pupils who are English Learners (ELs)
  6. Whether the schools operate multi-track year-round educational programs
  7. Percentage of grade span enrollments (grades two, six, seven to eight, and nine to eleven)
  8. Percentage of students in Gifted and Talented Education program
  9. Percentage of students with disabilities (SWDs)
  10. Percentage of reclassified fluent-English-proficient (RFEP) students
  11. Percentage of migrant education students.

Unfortunately, Dixon’s poor showing as compared to other similarly-situated public schools is not the end of the story.

Dixon schools are chronically mired in Program Improvement (PI). and are in PI Year 5+ (Note: The State’s PI charts only go up to year 5, but these two schools have faltered so badly that they have fallen off of the PI charts).

is in PI Year 2. The District itself is in PI Year 4. In other words, the majority of our schools, and the District itself, are awash in Program Improvement.

This is not the teachers’ fault, or the students’ fault. It is District Management’s fault. Too long has this District “studied” the problem, and not made the commitment to fix the problem.

The myopic focus on budget the past few years has been so intense and so one-dimensional that DUSD has lost sight of its real objective -- to provide the best quality education to the students. 

Why aren’t parents and the community more shocked and upset about this situation? Statistically, one of every two students sent to Dixon schools is performing below grade-level. The education that they fail to receive will adversely affect the quality of their lives, for the rest of their lives.

Suppose instead DUSD notified parents that, statistically, one of every two students sent to Dixon schools would likely contract a chronic disease that would adversely affect the quality of their lives, for the rest of their lives. Under such circumstances, would parents sit by quietly? The “symptoms” of a bad education may not be as readily apparent, but they will show up eventually in the lives of these students.

I’m not advocating that the District “teach the tests”. I do however, think that the District can qualitatively do much better than it has. In fact, the District must do better-- students attending school today are depending on it.

Editor's Note: Joe DiPaola is currently in the lead for one of two seats in the Dixon Unified School District Board of Education with Guy Garcia following closely behind him. Results of the school board election are expected to be certified by Thanksgiving. Stay with Dixon Patch for the latest developments.

brook stiler November 22, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Thank you Joe. I agree that the results are pathetic and have been so for some time. When I taught in Dixon, it seemed like many students and their parents were downright adversarial if a teacher attempted to hold their child's feet to the fire. Administrators are beholden to parents for their job so...it seemed the prevailing sentiment was "don't push too hard, inflate grades, and pass 'em on." Education has become little more than a consumer enterprise where the customer wants high grades for as little as possible, with complaints to follow if they're not completely satisfied.
Lisa Geraty November 22, 2011 at 07:44 PM
I agree with DiPaola and I am eager to see him take the action that he mentions. For my daughter's sake I hope he can get the job done. I'm putting in the time and effort to help her succeed and the district needs to do the same.
Greg Coppes November 22, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Whats your plan Joe and how are you going to pay for it.
Fred Hayes June 12, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Dead On! Check the graduation stats on the C QA DofE web site while your at it. Heres a scary stat....do you know that any UC campus or any CSU campus has the same "minimum course requirements" that have to be met prior to filling out the application for admission. Those minimum course requirements require high school grads to have a C or better in certain core courses (English, Math, Sci, History, etc/2,3,4 years) . Nothing too hard about that. But in Dixon it's another story. Historically, and you can look up the stats, less than 1 out of 4 kids who graduate from DHS will meet those minimum course requirements for entrance into say Cal State Sac. That means more than 75% of the DHS graduates do not meet those minimum standards and have to either go to a community college, the military, start working, or become a leftover. SAD! All because they choose to get D's and F's instead of a C. All because they decided to "not do the work". No drive no ambition. Meanwhile 8 miles away in Davis, where there are twice as many graduates every year compared to DHS, more than 75% of those kids DO meet the minimum course requirements for entrance into CSU/UC. Whats wrong with this picture? Unfortunately my kids are in this school district surrounded by poor performers and under achievers. And why are these kids this way as Juniors and Seniors in HS? Why do they choose to get D's and F's? Because there is no accountability in the home for poor performance. Welcome to Dixon
Fred Hayes June 12, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Here is some more ammo for Joe DiPaola. For June 2010 grads, only 15% (43 out of 287 DHS grads) met the minimum 15unit course requirement of C or better for CSU admission. Thats an embarassment! Meanwhile 8 miles away, 74% of the Davis grads met those reqs. The state avg is 36.6%. We are only half as good as the state average. Davis is your role model because those kids WORK HARD! DHS has way too many kids getting D's and F's because they simply are not motivated to do well. It's not the district, it's not the teachers, it's not the high school. It's the kids and their parents who simply fail to enforce getting C or better grades. Do you really want your child surrounded by unachievers and poor performers? I dont. Sorry to say, but thats what you got. Concerned parents need to be very careful in this town with whom surrounds your child.

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