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