"College & Career Readiness" is the buzz word of Education Today.
When Common Core was first implemented, the goal was to improve STEM education. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. School Districts across the country have rushed to spend millions of dollars on classroom computers, online learning programs, and the technology infrastructure to support Common Core implementation. Despite all the spending, what "College and Career Readiness" really comes down to, is improving student achievement in Math.
To have the option of getting into a 4-year college or university all students must:
- Complete their a-g course requirements, and
- Take the college SAT or ACT test, and score well enough to get into the type of college or university a particular student would like to attend.
There are no requirements for getting into Community College. So when a District talks about College and Career Readiness the conversation should not be directed at preparing students to enter a community college. That option is available to everyone at all times.
To improve "College and Career Readiness" you need to provide students with greater opportunities to complete a-g requirements, and you need to put more emphasis on student achievement in math.
Capistrano Unified School District has a very large disconnect between the number of students completing a-g requirements (which shows an inclination to attend a 4- year college or university), and the number of students that are completing satisfactory work in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II/Trig by the end of 11th grade (and preferably by the end of 10th grade).
UC and CSU a-g course requirements
- History/social science (“a”) - 2 years
- English (“b”) - 4 years
- Mathematics (“c”) - 3 years - Algebra I - Geometry - Algebra II
- Laboratory science (“d”) - 2 years
- Language other than English (“e”) - 2 years
- Visual and performing arts (“f”)
- College-preparatory elective ("g")
In the Capistrano Unified School District at most high schools CUSD has close to 60% of students complete their a-g course requirements. That tells you that 40% of students have no option after graduating high school; but, to attend Community College, or get a job.
CUSD a- g completion rates by school:
•Aliso Niguel High School 58%
•Bridges Community Day -0-
•California Prep Academy -0-
•Capistrano Connections Academy -0-
•Capo Valley High School 59.8%
•Dana Hills High School 57.2%
•Junipero Serra High School -0-
•Opportunities for Learning -0-
•San Clemente High School 59.5%
•San Juan Hills High School 58.8%
•Tesoro High School 62.9%
Is a 60% a-g completion rate good for a school district that has a highly educated and wealthy demographic? That is not a question that needs to be addressed at this time because it is academic achievement in math that is holding students back - not a-g completion rates.
60% of students graduating from CUSD should leave high school prepared to enter a 4-year college or university if that is their choice.
So why are there so few kids taking the necessary math classes needed to do well on the college entrance exams? A common sense approach to improving College and Career Readiness in CUSD would be to improve academic achievement in Math.
The math section of the ACT and SAT test students on:
- Algebra I
- Algebra II/Trig
Academic performance in Algebra II/Trig by the of 11th grade determines a school districts success in preparing students for "College and Career".
EAP Data for 2012-13 Percentage of students ready for college Algebra II/Trig is 6%https://eap2013.ets.org/ViewReport.asp
Test data shows that the percentage of students who are ready for college level work (passage of Algebra II/Trig by the end of 11th grade) under EAP had dropped from 6% in 2013-14 to 3% in 2014-15.
Unfortunately, along with the implementation of Common Core came the implementation of all new testing. The closest test to EAP is now the CAASP test.
Under the new CAASP Test they do not specifically break out Algebra II/Trig but when you ready the definitions - Algebra II/Trig would be equivalent to all students who took the CAASP Test in 11th grade and met the "Standard Exceeded: Level 4" criteria.
In 2014-15 that number was 22%http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2015/ViewReport?ps=true&lstTestYear=2016&lstTestType=B&lstGroup=1&lstCounty=30&lstDistrict=66464-000&lstSchool=0000000
In 2015-16 that number was 24%http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/sb2016/ViewReport?ps=true&lstTestYear=2016&lstTestType=B&lstGroup=1&lstCounty=30&lstDistrict=66464-000&lstSchool=0000000
At best case scenario (CASSP Test Results) 76% of CUSD students graduating from CUSD have no option but to attend Community College after graduating high school. At worst case scenario (EAP Test Results) 97% of CUSD students graduating from CUSD have no option but to attend Community College after graduating high school... unacceptable from a District of this wealth and parental education levels.
There does not seem to be any explanation as to how test scores under EAP went from 3% of students are "college ready" in Algebra II/Trig to 24% under the new CAASP Test. But irrespective of the change in testing, what parents need to understand is, that if it is your child's desire to attend a 4-year college or university they must find a path to complete Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II by the end of 11th grade; and preferably, by the end of 10th grade.
Math Paths to College and Career
Final comments to parents and taxpayers:
Math Placement at CUSD
1) Math placement into 6th grade math is so important for providing students with an opportunity to get on a path to graduate ready to enter a 4-year college or university. CUSD's math placement criteria is very rigid. There is no opportunity for parents to support their student in their ability to advance in math. I personally experienced this twice while my student was at CUSD. First during the transition from 5th grade into 6th grade where District Staff (without Board Approval) developed a new math placement test with essay questions. In preparation for that test, students were told that the new essay questions were the most important part, when in fact the essay questions were to be graded only if the student scored below a certain score and above a second score (kind of a tie breaker). As a result of this "new" test a very limited number of students were placed into accelerated math in the 7th grade. When the testing was questioned CUSD had to retest the students. Upon taking the second test, my daughter was placed into the accelerated math class in 7th grade. If the testing had not been questioned my daughter would be at least one year behind where she is today, and possibly 2 years behind. She is currently in Algebra II/Trig Honors in the 9th Grade.
State Standards and Curriculum Frameworks under Local Control
2) Parents must be made aware of the fact that under "Local Control" the California Department of Education is Stating that California Content Standards and Curriculum Frameworks are a "recommendation" not a "requirement". According to the CDE:
How will the State ensure full and equal implementation of the CCSS in every district?
I have read the AB - 97 LCFF statute and believe that CDE has taken it upon itself to incorrectly interpret the law. The law as written requires all school districts to offer instruction in the state mandated subjects and Education Code Section 44257 requires a specially credentialed teacher to teach all the subjects listed above. As such I believe CUSD is in violation of State Law by failing to provide every student with district funded art, music and science that are taught by district funded credentialed teachers. I actually did a presentation to the board about this on January 27, 2016
||Slide Presentation for the Board published on the internet
Board Audio BOT Meeting Agenda Item #5 - Fundraising for Core Educational Programs
Board Meeting Audio at 2:28:0 to 2:47:45
The reason this is important for parents to understand is because we have such large class sizes with so many students of different abilities in a class with so many teachers that are taken out of the class for professional development that it may not be possible for a teacher to cover the entire curriculum. This happened to my child. My child took Algebra I in the 8th grade. When I tested my child for math placement in private school were told that she would need to repeat Algebra I. When we reviewed the test we all agreed that she did exceptionally well until the last three chapters of the curriculum. It was obvious that she had never seen that material. They allowed her to study for the one month we had before school started and retake the test. She did so well, they placed her into Geometry Honors in the 8th grade - a class CUSD does not even offer even though every other High School does. It should be noted that the lack of honors classes at CUSD prevents our students from getting the bump in GPA they are entitled to when they compete for entrance into college, and it also makes it more difficult for students to compete for merit money. CUSD has done a great dis-service to CUSD students by failing to offer honors courses. A district of this size should have many math pathways so that each student can reach their academic potential. The really troubling thing for me, is that if I had not decided to place my child into private school I would not have found out that CUSD is no longer teaching the entire curriculum. It makes me really angry to think that there are students who will take Algebra I - Geometry - Algebra II and not do well on college entrance exams because they missed a few chapters of each course. No one will know until they fail to perform well on the SAT and ACT, and by that time it is really to late for that student.
Health and CCP as a Requirement for Graduation
3) CUSD makes CCP/Health a full year required class for graduation. This is unique to CUSD and it makes students have a much harder time completing their a-g requirements. A-g completion rates would increase substantially if CUSD would eliminate CCP as a class required to graduate, and incorporate the three required units of health into PE. This is what every other district does. This would free up an entire year long course which would allow students to take one of their a-g courses. There is some ulterior motive for requiring CUSD students to continue to take CCP. It is unnecessary, and its actually making it harder for students to graduate "College and Career Ready". What is extremely concerning, is that unlike any other school district, CUSD is embedding Naviance into CCP (a required class for graduation) and is conducting student personality testing and student data mining which is shared with for-profit-companies (many connected to InnovateEd). So long after Lynn has stepped down as Trustee, her company will benefit from the access she will continue to have to our student data through her private for-profit company and all her Ed-Tech partners. That is why Trustee Hatton- Hodson is under investigation for Conflict of Interest by the FPPC and the District Attorney.