---------- > From: Diana Esch-Mosher <email@example.com> snip > > Los Alamos school district is a heterogeneous grouping of middle to > upper middle class whites. We have a sprinkling of various minorities > given the international nature of Los ALamos National Laboratory. We are > a very highly educated community with the nations largest concentration > of PhDs. Our school district is physically isolated with the nearest > competition (45 minutes by car) being Santa Fe and Espanola, both > heavily hispanic/native american and no competition at all. The district > contains 5 elementary, 1 middle and 1 high school. > > New Mexico rates its schools strictly on standardized tests. Los Alamos > posts Terra Nova scores from the lower 70's to lower 80's as a general > rule. SAT scores reflect the Terra Nova standings. This past year the > state solicited input for whether the grading system of schools should > be changed. This request was not well disseminated throughout the state > and was in fact (IMHO) suppressed within the community. New Mexico is a > very poor state and Los Alamos is a shining star. If this continues to > be the only standard for accountability Los Alamos wins hands down and > the administrators know it. The real standard should be constant improvement, not stagnation.
> Does this reflect the quality of the school > system - ABSOLUTELY NOT! These scores exist in spite of the school > system, not because of it. Look at the genetic pool! Well, it's really more than the gene pool. It's also the home environment as you have alluded to. But according to a longitudinal study published by the London School of Economics, the strongest correlation is with the peer group. That is what the children feedback to each other.
> > I cannot understand why we are not one of the top districts of the > nation.
You already explained it yourself. The PARENTS are not motivated.
> We have all the capabilities to become one. Many who received > their public education from this district are now returning to the > community and working for the lab. Many of these parents are remarking > how much less is available at the high school as far as AP classes and > how less rigorous the classes are now. That's because the people in the current round of standards are more interested in equality of outcomes. Standards are being written as minimal standards that everyone should meet. Very little is written as to goals that might be attempted.
> There is even a contention among > many who have both high school age and elementary age students that > there is a disparity between what was taught to the older kids and what > is being taught to the younger (less rigor!). There is a huge shift > towards home schooling and the VERY limited private schools have had the > biggest increase in the last 20 years. All have waiting lists. My > personal experience is that my kids are scoring in the high 90's on the > Terra Nova and learning most of what they need to know from mom and dad > - not the school system. > > So, what's the beef? As long as the school district churns out numbers > that most people are pretty happy with nothing will change. Hey isn't a > 70 or 80 something good enough? HELL NO! I'd like some discussion > concerning how to stimulate an average school to excel to its fullest > under these accountability standards. I'd give up on the school system. Act in the best interest of your own kids. Skip a grade or two. Talk to other parents about doing the same with their kids. When they start running out of courses to take at the high school, let them attend seminars and short courses at the labs. You might even find that some staff might be willing to teach full length courses to a mixture a lab and bright high school students. You can plot the private school enrollment trends and show it to the administrators with a projection as to how many years it will be before they don't have any students, but don't hold your breath.
> The community is somewhat > apathetic to engage in confrontation of the administration. Most parents > are just picking up the slack and carrying on, thus helping to keep > those scores above average! There are a few of us that are vocal, but it > is a thankless job.