Monday, February 28, 2011

Public schools, Private schools - how do our area schools "rate?"

Diablo Magazine has published a pretty comprehensive look at our local public AND private high schools.  Some great apples to apples comparisons such as SAT average scores, percentage of students in each school who take the SAT, number of teachers with a masters degree or above, number of AP classes, etc.

Clayton Valley High ranks as having the most teachers with a masters degree or higher in all of Contra Costa County's public high schools (Central/South Contra Costa). 

Some very good information, maybe you'll find it as interesting as I did:

For public schools it also shows the number of suspensions and expulsions.  I was surprised to see Mt. Diablo High School had over 600 suspensions (I assume this is a yearly average, or based on last year?).  But out of 1610 students, 616 suspensions (9 expulsions) seems like A LOT!


  1. Take this with a grain or two of salt, because some stats are OBVIOUSLY incorrect. This lists Acalanes district teacher salary average at $62,000 - their teachers should be flocking to MDUSD! But actually the Acalanes district average is over $75,000 and that does NOT include their generous benefits (see the Acalanes SARC link in the comments below this article online edition). If these stats seem incredible then you should check each school's Accountability Report Card online.

  2. Take away the buses coming from out of town and you'll cut that expulsion number way down.

  3. The most surprising thing in this article to me, are Corondalet and De La Salle's test scores. They are barely above College Park's. I would have thought they would be much higher.... Definitely not worth the money IMO, unless you are after the catholic education.

  4. I just learned that the AP classes listed are incorrect too, they listed number of sections, not actual number of offered subjects. For example 16 AP Classes, but they are not multiple subjects, just periods offered.

    So yes do not take the information in this article to be accurate at all.

  5. This article shows why we don't need charters to provide more school choice in MDUSD. If you want more choices, just pony up $10-30k per year per child for private school. Or just move. All you have to do is sell your house (no problems there, right?), and then find a couple hundred thousand dollars extra to buy a similar house in a "better" district. No reason at all for MDUSD to change their anti-choice policies.

  6. Anon 9:54
    Thanks for the segue.

    Mt. Diablo Flex Academy Charter High School
    Community Meeting
    March 1, 2011 7:00 pm TONIGHT
    Walnut Creek Library
    Oak View Room
    Downtown Walnut Creek
    1644 North Broadway

    This new charter school option is being called a “hybrid” due to the fact that it will provide the best attributes of a traditional school, a sense of community, academic supports, clubs and activities and the best attributes of online schools, with their differentiated learning, broad course offerings and continuous feedback through assessments built into the curriculum.

    And in keeping with your conversation... they offer ap/honors in all core subjects and many electives.

  7. Hi all, I put the blog on moderation for now, and maybe forever. I will monitor frequently and get comments out as quickly as I can.

  8. I am not convinced that the Flex Charter Academy is the second coming. All that is being said is just pr. Where are the actual results of this hybrid experiment?

    I tried to find information on them online and saw mostly announcements. They have no real track record to speak of. I heard that the SF academy met in a hotel ballroom.

    Maybe the school will be of value to some kids who can't make it in the traditional model, but to drain resources for this experiment seems like a bad idea to me.

    Not that all charter schools are bad. I just don't understand why this one is so hyped.

  9. Flex is nothing special. They are just Linda's favorite subject.

  10. Anon 4:09

    Come to the meeting tonight and find out more information.

  11. I am not interested in giving up an evening to hear about Flex. It's going to be all p.r. since there isn't much data to be shared.

    My kids have done fine at school and from what I have read, the Flex Academy oversells their hybrid model. Kids might see each other in the room where they meet, but most of the work is going to be online.

    If you think Flex is good for your child, then go for it. For me, it's a drain on the resources of the district.

  12. I visited the Flex school in SF and spoke with a number of their students and met some parents. I think what they are doing is quite innovative, and very good for the teachers, as well as the students. But hey, if you're happy with MDUSD, don't bother. Personally, I am very troubled by the things I see at MDUSD and have been underwhelmed, to put it politely, by the educational environment. In the 15 or so years our kids have been in MDUSD schools, things have gone steadily downhill, particularly at the high school level. My son does very well in HS now, grade and test-wise, but the amount of time they waste is just unbelievable. Enough TV programs and movies during class already! Some of the teachers are terrific, but some (too many) seem to just be showing up and marking time. And no one can do anything about it, apparently.

    Anyway, that's what school choice is all about. If you like what you've got, stick with it!

  13. Anon 5:12
    I have many favorite subjects.
    I am happy to talk about Flex, strategic planning, Measure C, 21st Century Skills for students, education reform, politics, coffee, real estate, books....

    Mt. Diablo Flex had its biggest turnout yet tonight.

    Anon 8:24

    You should keep your kids in MDUSD, it is working for you and you seem to like the status quo. I personally believe the traditional model is broken and unsustainable. However, with any new innovation there are always skeptics who fear change.

    For anyone looking for more information there will be additional informational meetings in the near future and Flex will begin taking applications for the lottery starting next week.

  14. Flex wouldn't "drain" the resources from MDUSD because the funding comes from the state and follows the student. The money isn't MDUSD's unless the family enrolls the student in a district school.

    If MDUSD is worried about losing students to Flex, it might start by asking why families are interested. My oldest is a long way off from high school (she's 8), but I am seriously considering Flex when the time comes because it offers a full 4 years' worth of honors courses. As far as I can tell from the course catalog at her zoned school (College Park), they don't offer any honors courses in 9th, and very few in 10th.

  15. @7:37

    I agree. I like the idea of all the honors/AP courses and I also like the fact that they offer so many electives. I went to their website and found this list of electives:

    Electives & Additional Courses
    ART010: Fine Art
    ART020: Music Appreciation
    BUS010: Business Communication & Career Exploration*
    BUS020: Business & Personal Relationships*
    BUS030: Personal Finance*
    BUS040: Introduction to Entrepreneurship*
    BUS050: Introduction to Entrepreneurship II*
    BUS060: Introduction to Marketing I*
    BUS070: Introduction to Marketing II*
    ENG010: Journalism*
    HST010: Anthropology*
    HST020: Psychology*
    HST030: Macroeconomics*
    PRJ010: Service Learning
    PRJ030: Service Learning
    SCI010: Environmental Science*
    SCI020: Life Science: Oceanography*
    OTH010: Skills for Health*
    OTH020: Physical Education*
    OTH040: Reaching Your AcademicPotential*
    OTH050: Achieving Your Career & College Goals*
    Technology & Computer Science
    TCH010: Computer Literacy I*
    TCH020: Computer Literacy II*
    TCH030: Digital Photography & Graphics*
    TCH040: Web Design*
    TCH050: Digital Video Production*
    TCH060: C++ Programming*
    TCH070: Game Design I*
    TCH080: Game Design II*
    TCH090: Online Game Design*
    TCH016: Flash Animation*
    TCH017: 3D Art I–Modeling*
    TCH018: 3D Art II–Animation*
    TCH019: Computer-Aided Design (CAD)*
    TCH026: Audio Engineering*
    TCH027: Green Design & Technology*
    TCH028: Digital Arts I*
    TCH029: Digital Arts II*

  16. For anyone interested in a mre "unbiased" view of the learning model used in the Flex Academy, below is a link to an article in the Harvard Graduate School of Education Letter on schools that combine online learning with a "bricks and mortar" school that students attend every day. Most of the article talks about a school in Arizona that is more established than Flex, but it also mentions the Flex School in SF:

    The point here is that, even though this type of learning is new to most school districts, it is not all that new for our students. They are used to going online to learn things and then talking to people when they get stuck or want a different perspective. (My two teens do that all of the time.) And for high school students, this "blended" learning model resembles in many ways the work environment that they will enter someday. Most of us who work do not spend our days sitting at desks, listening to someone tell us what to do. We work on our computer (doing our own work or collaborating with others), attend problem-solving meetings with colleagues, and sit down one-on-one with a colleague or manager when we really need to focus on a solution to a particular challenge. This new flex learning model doesn't seem all that different to me. I can see why kids like it.

  17. Is a high school kid who needs to take additional classes, or wants a particular AP class, or offering not at their school will Flex be a viable option like DVC?

  18. This is my understanding of the answer to your question, however you should ask Dr. Lawrence or the appropriate District personnel.

    Flex is a full-time school and does not offer individual classes. If you have a student who wants to take an additional class they can take online classes through While Flex is a free public school, going directly to K12 will cost money.

    If you need the credit to graduate, as prerequisite to another high school class, or you want it on your high school transcript, then you have to get approval from MDUSD. That is the very approval I spent 8 months trying to obtain for one class.

    After months the District approved one class, for one year, with the following conditions:
    1) A credentialed teacher has to be in the room with the student.
    2) The class cannot already be offered at the school, regardless of scheduling conflicts.

    Now that Flex has been approved the District may be more accommodating.
    In fairness - the Board was supportive of online learning.

    There is a difference between a hybrid school model and taking an online class. I encourage you to attend one of the community meetings in order to fully comprehend the hybrid model.