Gilroy’s sub-par API rankings and redoubling efforts

With all the performance data measuring public schools these
days, coupled with the spin school officials like to put on the
results (if the scores are good, the data is a great measuring tool
for real progress; if they stink there’s something wrong with the
methodology), it can be confusing trying to make judgments in
context.
With all the performance data measuring public schools these days, coupled with the spin school officials like to put on the results (if the scores are good, the data is a great measuring tool for real progress; if they stink there’s something wrong with the methodology), it can be confusing trying to make judgments in context.

But with the recent release of the state’s base scores report and Gilroy Unified School District’s Academic Performance Index rankings, what’s clear is that Gilroy Unified is slipping. Now that may be “old news” as Superintendent Edwin Diaz pointed out in relation to the testing cycle and the base report, but the fact remains that it’s not good news.

Accountability is the key to future sustained improvement. Accountability for the principal, the classroom teacher, the administration and, hopefully, the parents. If public education in this state, and in our district, is going to turn around we have to mark accountability at every turn. We have to be unwilling to accept the litany of oft-offered excuses about language barriers, income and time. It’s not that those challenges don’t exist, it’s that they must be viewed as surmountable and that the key to success must be executing strategies that prove to be effective.

In some school districts, for example, the standardized testing results from a teacher’s classroom are posted all year for all to see. That’s an idea Gilroy Unified should explore.

Methods of accountability vary, of course, but if a principal cannot demonstrate the ability to lead a staff out of the desert of mediocrity, then there must be accountability and consequences. Likewise, if a teacher with consistently poor student performance is unwilling to re-learn how to teach or put the extra time and effort into improving, then there should be consequences. On the other side of the coin, outstanding teachers, administrators and schools should be rewarded financially and praised publicly. Too often in the public school system, the culture dictates a concern for “not hurting anyone’s feelings” rather than pointing out and rewarding excellence. To wit: The demise of the annual Gilroy Unified spelling bee.

Three elementary schools – Antonio Del Buono, Rod Kelley and Luigi Aprea – are outperforming the other schools in the district. ADB and Rod Kelley bucked the slippage trend and Luigi still ranks at the top of the heap. Only three Gilroy schools scored better than a 5 (average) – and the rankings fell when comparing schools to “similar” schools.

The task is to figure out what’s going right at ADB, Rod Kelley and Luigi Aprea and spread the good news and practices. It can be done, we have proof. The task is to convince teachers that it’s going to take extra work and extra time to improve. That’s a fact. The task is to work toward a system that rewards staffs and schools that make strides, that meet targets and that become examples of excellence.

It requires a culture shift; it requires commitment and it requires, most of all, accountability. If that doesn’t happen, the public school system in America is destined for failure and the consequences for our nation and our community will be grave.

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