Yawn, Top School Scores In The Hills

As the blog of record, we need to report this real yawner:  top API scores were achieved by Montclair and Thornhill Elementary Schools again, and acceptable scores came from Joaquin Miller as well.  The newest Academic Performance Indicators (APIs) were released yesterday by the State of California.

It’s not surprising that our students perform well on these standardized state tests.  Montclair delivered 957, up some 35 percent over last year.  Thornhill registered 944, increasing 20 percent over last year.  Joaquin Miller scored 886, also rising 18 percent over last year.

We decided to check out the top 100 schools across California this time, and the scores do correlate with well-heeled places.  When you look through this list, you can easily imagine involved parents in each location.

To receive an “A” grade from the State of California, each school must achieve an 800 API – and that number isn’t even in the rear-view mirrors of our three schools.  Across Oakland Unified’s results, the elementary schools fell well below this number by yielding a 758 average and 746 median.  The city numbers still inched up four percent versus last year’s scores.

Anyway, the highest API scores are something Montclarions expect and probably don’t worry about very much.  It’s like handing out gold stars to pupils who are used to receiving them.

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Welcome Back To School, Reality Checks

The new school year should be a joyful time, filled with renewal and hopefulness.  There’s something about seeing teachers, parents and students buzzing around again…which reminds us of other realities.

The Teachers

We are so lucky to have great teachers!  Here’s a quick shot of Jennifer Formoso, a first-grade teacher at Thornhill School, taking a breather during her final classroom preparations last Friday.

Reality Check #1 – Since we live in Oakland, the teachers aren’t exactly overpaid.  Yet they take responsibility for making sure students are supplied properly, and spend their own money to do so.  Pencil boxes anyone?

Thornhill School Teacher

The Schools

Our elementary schools do offer solid educational experiences, as evidenced in the annual academic test scores for hills kids.  Everyone truly cares, and that combination of parents and teachers works well.

Reality Check #2 – The school facilities and grounds are part of sound education, and have seen better days.  Just look at the Montclair School, in this picture snapped Monday.  Does this look like a first-rate environment?

Montclair School Yard

The Access

In the calculus of Montclair living, residents want their progeny to attend good, convenient schools.  They note the nearest elementary school and likely figure it’s within walking or bike-riding distance, so all is well.

Reality Check #3 – Yesterday the traffic was at a standstill around Joaquin Miller School (and Montera School), raising the blood pressure of parents and other drivers.  Why aren’t there safe, walkable paths to school?

Joaquin Miller School Access

Welcome back to the Oakland Hills schools, for the 2009-2010 year.  We’re proud of the education for our kids and the cooperation among principals, teachers and parents.  We accept that fundraising is important so programs like the arts – “free” in our era – are still offered to hills kids.  Though it sure would be nice if Oakland budgeted and paid for the basics.