Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 23, 2015

Exceeds expectations

Filed under: Alameda, School — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

About a week or so ago the first test scores from the new Smarter Balanced test became available and the results were as expected if you expect anything out of test scores.

Cohorts of students that were not economically disadvantaged or had parents that finished a four year college/university or better performed better than peers that were on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Which pretty much makes the point that, it’s not really that the test is measuring how well the kids are being taught or how good the teachers are test taking has a lot to do with the students’ background.

So let me talk about this a bit closer to home.  My kids attend Ruby Bridges Elementary School which is our neighborhood school that we are completely in love with.  The teachers are awesome and the community is amazing, but — for some reason — Ruby Bridges Elementary has a terrible reputation with some families in our neighborhood. I don’t know why it has such a terrible reputation other than “test scores.”  I mean, I know why, but no one ever comes outright and says they don’t want to send their kids to Ruby Bridges because there’s too much diversity.

The population, from my own neighborhood, that deserts Ruby Bridges at the highest numbers are probably the Asian kids.  Now, I’m going to make the assumption that for folks that live in Bayport the majority would be considered “Not Economically Disadvantaged.”   So I took the numbers from all the elementary schools in Alameda for that very specific cohort: Asian, Not Economically Disadvantaged and I compared them all, and guess what?  Ruby Bridges did not fare any worse for that particular group of kids than any other Alameda school.  In fact, compared to other schools, the Asian, Not Economically Disadvantaged kids did better at Ruby Bridges than some other schools.

If you visit this link you can click around for greater functionality, but I’ve posted the graphs here.  Maya Lin is not represented because there were not enough “Asian, Not Economically Disadvantaged” students to post scores for.

Essentially you are looking at how high that marigold color goes because it stacks both the “Standard Exceeded” with the “Standard Met” both technically “passing.”  For English Language Arts (ELA), Ruby Bridges students “passed” at a higher level than any other elementary school.


For math, Ruby Bridges had no students that did not meet the standard at all.  And did better with the “Standard Exceeded” and “Standard Met” stack than every other school with the exception of Earhart.


Which just goes to show that if anyone tries to use the “test scores” excuse to justify opting out of Ruby Bridges, well, the scores for not economically disadvantaged Asian kids show that, essentially, these kids will perform pretty much the same wherever they end up.


  1. I mean, I know why, but no one ever comes outright and says they don’t want to send their kids to Ruby Bridges because there’s too much diversity.


    So without any evidence or statements from those who educate elsewhere, you KNOW it’s because of racism.

    I’ll quote Bill James, who said it better than I ever could:

    “Bullshit has tremendous advantages over knowledge. Bullshit can be created as needed, on demand, without limit. Anything that happens, you can make up an explanation for why it happened.”

    “That’s the difference in a nutshell between
    knowledge and bullshit; knowledge is something that can be objectively demonstrated
    to be true, and bullshit is something that you just ’know.’ “

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 6:39 am

  2. Yeah, I’ve pretty much been told — to my face — that a neighbor was moving their kids to to a school on Bay Farm because there were too many black kids at Ruby Bridges.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 6:50 am

  3. This year between Day 1 and Day 2, Ruby Bridges lost 40 students. Are outcomes any different for similar cohorts from school to school? Not really. Are the teachers better on the East side and on Bay Farm than at Ruby Bridges? Not really. Are facilities any better in other parts of the island than at Ruby Bridges? Not really. Is the parent/guardian population any less concerned for their school than in other schools. Not really.

    The glaring difference between schools like Ruby Bridges, Haight, and Paden than the other schools in Alameda are the huge socio-economic gaps that exist, which hardly anyone uses as a public rationale to pull their kids from these Title I schools.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 6:58 am

  4. so now Dave will want you to prove it by giving the persons name, date of birth and s.s.i. #, otherwise its just “BULLSHIT”. But here’s the good thing Lauren I believe you.

    Comment by John P. — September 23, 2015 @ 7:02 am

  5. In your intro you state “one ever comes outright and says they don’t want to send their kids to Ruby Bridges because there’s too much diversity” then when challenged you state that at least one has.

    Which is it?

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 7:03 am

  6. 4

    What I call BULLSHIT on, John, is a casual accusation of a large number of her neighbors of racism without any evidence.

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 7:07 am

    • Hmm. Interesting that you read “diversity” as race only. The diversity I was referring to was race, socio-economics, and/or parent/guardian education.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 7:21 am

  7. If individuals are interested in other aspects of SBAC student performance and demographics for Alameda schools and charters, you can go here:

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — September 23, 2015 @ 7:16 am

  8. 8

    In your belated citation of evidence, you mention race only.

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 7:28 am

  9. I hate to say it, but I believe Lauren too. I heard this from one of the Bayport owners myself.

    The difference though is – I’m not offended. Some people seek out schools that are diverse because they want their children to grow and learn in a diverse, culturally rich environment, and others choose something different based on their view of what’s good for their family.

    What I find is that the children that do grow up and learn in a diverse, culturally rich environment are most likely to grow up without race biases because of the friendships and experiences they encounter during their childhood. These children are perhaps some of the most tolerant children on earth, and we can all learn a great deal from them. Not only that, many of them are great problem solvers because they don’t carry the baggage many of us carry because of our generational experiences.

    This is not for everyone – and I’m okay with that. I truly believe it’s their loss. I know this because I’m raising my granddaughter who attended a school like that, and if she is the future – we are in good hands!

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 23, 2015 @ 7:46 am

  10. You mentioned racism in comment 1 first, in my original post I wrote “diversity.” I responded with one specific incident of someone mentioning a discomfort with sending his/her kid(s) to Ruby Bridges because of the existence of too many black kids. I have lots of other examples, but they deal with neighbors that I have to live with every day and have too much identifying information.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 7:52 am

  11. If you have lots of other examples, why did you state that “no one ever says it outright?”

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 7:55 am

  12. Because they are private conversations, but if someone were to say, do a survey and ask “hey, why did you pull your kid from Ruby Bridges to send him/her to Otis/Franklin/Bay Farm/Earhart” it will never be the answer that is given in private justifications. By the way, it’s never Edison because Edison never has space.

    Look, I’m not referring to families who truly desire choice and opt to send their kid to a specific charter, private, or magnet school where they believe their student will thrive in. But attempting to make the argument that Title I schools like Ruby Bridges, Haight, or Paden produce substandard outcomes for not socioeconomically disadvantaged kids is false.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 8:00 am

  13. Dave, I believe Lauren also, Bayport has a lot of Asian families and they are fairly open about it. The sad part of it is all their friends from school live across town and they miss out on the neighborhood experience.

    Comment by Jake — September 23, 2015 @ 8:23 am

  14. Perhaps a re-write of the intro is in order.

    Talk about how test scores are over-rated, mention your distress at hearing so many of your neighbors avoid RB because of diversity issues, etc. Those are real topics of discussion. But starting out the way you did, impugning your neighbors with no (stated) evidence did your credibility no favors.

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 8:28 am

  15. I have a feeling that it really doesn’t matter what I say or how I phrase things, because we fundamentally disagree on so much, my “credibility” level with you will never reach great heights so: pass.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 8:37 am

  16. an extreme example, but there are a lot of parallels when you think about it.

    Comment by MI — September 23, 2015 @ 8:38 am

  17. I have never understood why so many people look at test scores to judge schools when they reflect merely the education of the parents of the children rather than how good the teachers or the facility is. The competitive anxiety over one’s children is so high it mars everything. I agree with Karen Bey and believe children from strong families with good community do well in this world no matter what schools they go to.

    Comment by Laura Thomas — September 23, 2015 @ 8:43 am

  18. Lauren,

    I found a small typo here:

    If you visit this link you can click around for greater functionality , but I’ve posted the graphs here. Mara Lin is not represented because there were not enough “Asian, Not Economically Disadvantaged” students to post scores for.




    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 23, 2015 @ 9:24 am

  19. It has been my experience also, working closely with large numbers of 1st and 2nd generation SE Asian and Chinese immigrants that there was often a strong, open level of fear and prejudice toward the African American community. This really is not very surprising for a newer, less integrated population. How many generations has it taken for us white folk whose ancestry in the US goes back at least a couple hundred years to BEGIN to start approaching these issues with anything less than outright fear and prejudice. To this day, we still self-segregate to a large extent. The largest difference might just be how honest we are with ourselves about our motives when challenged on our choices.

    I have always been a strong believer in what the data above shows…. how diverse a class/school is, is far less determinative of outcomes for the individual than the characteristics of the household from which they came. As long as certain threshold requirements are met (same school district, strong enough PTA, etc), as Karen pointed out above, the add on effects of going to school with a diverse student body make for better citizens.

    Comment by BMac — September 23, 2015 @ 9:32 am

  20. Any idea why the Asian kids at Franklin performed so much lowers in the same Standards Met/Exceeded category? Franklin is in the middle of our Gold Coast where I expect most of the families are very well off and very well educated. Mike McMahon, can you shed any light?

    Comment by Not.A.Alamedan — September 23, 2015 @ 9:40 am

  21. My initial gut says that Franklin and Haight have larger number of English Language Learners in that subgroup (Asian, Not Economically Disadvantaged) which is why the numbers are a bit lower for the Exceeds and Met categories. That’s one of Ruby Bridges big challenges as well when reading test data because of the largest numbers of our English Language Learners (Middle eastern students) fall into the “White” category.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 9:45 am

  22. 1, 6: Dave, I am confused as to why you need “proof” that racism exists in Alameda–or anywhere else in the United States–since it is so deeply embedded in our institutions, economy, laws, history, and society. And it has not exactly disappeared, in case you have not read bout Ferguson, Charleston, Watts, Newark, Oakland, or dozens of other places in the past 60 years.

    Alameda is NOT an island politically, socially, and economically–we have the same attitudes and behaviors as anyone else in our culture. Perhaps you should read:

    “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander (, available on audio books and at the Alameda Free Library.

    For a much earlier, more succinct, and more enjoyable version of Michele’s thesis, read “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver

    Sadly, Cleaver and Alexander are both right–as is Lauren–because, deep down, not much has changed since the original Jim Crow era. Even in Mayberry–er, Alameda.

    Comment by Jon Spangler — September 23, 2015 @ 9:47 am

  23. 23

    The only way Lauren could “know” why some of her neighbors avoid Ruby Bridges is if they told her, or some such other very obvious communication, yet she declared in the intro that no one told her, but rather that she JUST KNOWS.

    That is patently bullshit, and indeed she recanted (sort of) when called out for it.

    But the larger problem is her belief that she can make such broad accusations about a group of people based only on some alleged 6th sense, that she “knows” why people behave a certain way.

    An accusation of racism and its related failings is serious; it can ruin reputations and careers, yet she tossed it out while saying at the same time that she had no real basis for that statement. Again, she seemed to recant, but only with a hollow justification.

    I guess I’m one of those oddballs who believes in facts & evidence, and backing up one’s statements in a rational way.

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 10:06 am

  24. I think the presence of the kids from the Alameda Point Collaborative is problematical for many parents because as kids from unstable living environments they are not considered “safe” for their kids to be around. It is socio economic as well as race, and probably more the former than the latter for many. Some have chosen Maya Lin as a better school even though it is fairly broadly racially diverse as well. But, it isn’t where the truly poor kids from troubled homes go, usually. Since my husband is a daily volunteer at RB, I see and hear what goes on there and much of it is amazing teaching, caring, and nurturing. It is in need of more in-classroom volunteers and has been subjected to cuts in its Title 1 funding from the District. It also needs a stronger PTA parents group to do fund raising to give the kids more opportunities for enrichment activities not funded by the district. The current active parents do a great job, they just need more.

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 23, 2015 @ 10:06 am

  25. See what happens when you fail to read things in context, what I wrote was:

    The teachers are awesome and the community is amazing, but — for some reason — Ruby Bridges Elementary has a terrible reputation with some families in our neighborhood. I don’t know why it has such a terrible reputation other than “test scores.” I mean, I know why, but no one ever comes outright and says they don’t want to send their kids to Ruby Bridges because there’s too much diversity.

    In speaking about the “reputation” of Ruby Bridges, I point out that is has a negative one among my neighbors. I know the reason why, because I have been told why both explicitly and implicitly. But there is no rationale, measurable “facts and evidence” that support the negative reputation. And honestly colloquial stories aren’t much in the way of “fact and evidence” either.

    Perhaps you should examine why “diversity” reads as “race” to you when — at least at Ruby Bridges — the larger problem, as suggested by Kate Q., is that of socio-economics.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 10:32 am

  26. A simple “many neighbors have told me” would have obviated this conversation, instead you opened with claiming to know without evidence.

    Comment by dave — September 23, 2015 @ 10:37 am

  27. See post 16.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 23, 2015 @ 10:38 am

  28. 23, 28. I won’t bother to say that I agree with you because you consistently state facts, and facts are not subject to opinion. I will second Jon’s citation of “The New Jim Crow.” It is easily one of the most important books I have read in the last 10 years. For those of us who acknowledge racism exists in the United States, it is an eye-opening dissertation of the institutions and laws we have created by popular will to suppress minorities, particularly African-Americans. I highly recommend that anyone with an opinion on race in the US read it.

    Comment by Larry Witte — September 23, 2015 @ 3:39 pm

  29. 30. If I remember the story right, no one wanted go to school with Ruby Bridges either. The problem we all live with.

    Comment by Gerard L. — September 23, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

  30. sorry played golf today, missed most of this, basically I think Dave is saying there is no racism in America today because you can’t prove it to him. Dave from one old white guy to another “BULLSHIT”

    Comment by John P. — September 23, 2015 @ 5:49 pm

  31. 24, you may be an “oddball”, but beyond that, I find you to be an argumentative jerk.

    Lauren’s premise is anecdotal, based on intimate experience. She is not putting forth a sociological dissertation that is backed up with hard statistical evidence. She is simply stating her anecdotal observations (which I happen to 100% agree with) in order to spark a discussion. I am sorry you cannot see that. If you simply disagree with her premise, that is fine. You are certainly free to offer your opposing assessment. But please do so in a way that is NOT obnoxious, rude and disrespectful.

    Comment by Dya — September 23, 2015 @ 5:52 pm

  32. If you read the book “Beyond the Classroom,” it basically states that children do far better at school when they have a stable home life. Parents work with them on their homework, parents make sure the child gets plenty of sleep and that the child does not go to school hungry. There are other items as well. You can’t use schools as “sitters,” you must be engaged. College educated parents seem to be best at managing their child’s education at home, thus higher test scores and better grades. Research also shows that Asian and Jewish students do best and have a stronger capacity for learning. Not every child is prepared to learn.

    Comment by Bill2 — September 23, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

  33. Why is it that test scores never matter when they are poor?

    Every teacher is not “amazing” – most kids are lucky to have one or two in all their school days…

    Otherwise, I agree with Spangler’s comments (for the first time).

    Comment by Captain Obvious — September 23, 2015 @ 8:44 pm

  34. #34 Test scores do matter. Poverty and coming from a household that does not or cannot provide academic support (having real conversation with the kids, reading to them, taking them on trips, museums, natural history sites, etc.) impact test scores and general achievement. Our foster son is very bright and creative, but he lags behind in some fundamentals, such as reading level and general vocabulary because he had none of those things plus physical and emotional abuse for his first 17 years. He doesn’t test well and yet the special reading program we have him in is thrilled by the progress he is making. We are also trying to enrich his environment with books, music, conversation and a peaceful home life.

    He wants to go to college and become a teacher/coach. He went to RB where caring teachers helped him and are still helping him today. He is a fine young man, musically talented. Testing will show his progress. However, test results do not always measure kids abilities or the effectiveness of their teachers if they are not on an even playing field. This kid did not even have a seat in the bleachers. They show us knowledge learned, but not the deficits that need to be dealt with to help them learn better. Yes, there are many bad and mediocre teachers, but more amazing ones than you think. And they work like dogs for the kids.

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 23, 2015 @ 10:52 pm

  35. #33:
    “College educated parents seem to be best at managing their child’s education at home, thus higher test scores and better grades. Research also shows that Asian and Jewish students do best and have a stronger capacity for learning. Not every child is prepared to learn.”

    Bill, disadvantaged parents have two sometimes three jobs just to survive. And because of this, it’s hard for them to be part of the PTA, etc. The college educated stable home that you talk about is the ideal situation for children, but not all children are fortunate enough to live in those environments. And that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve an education.

    And the comments about babysitting students, and Asian and Jewish students ‘having a stronger capacity for learning’ make me sick. It’s that stereotypical belief system that’s one of the root causes that many of our children fail in the perfect ideal world – because they don’t and will never fit in, and they have no idea what they are dealing with when confronted with a teacher who brings these type of prejudices into the classroom.

    Given a nurturing supportive environment, ALL children can learn.

    Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto is a perfect example of that supportive environment. Here is part of their mission statement:

    At Eastside College Preparatory School we are committed to opening new doors for students historically underrepresented in higher education.

    Our challenging and engaging curriculum enables students to discover their intellectual strengths, sharpen their academic skills, and embrace new opportunities in a culture of learning that supports the potential of every student to enter and succeed in a four-year college and transition to a professional career.

    Eastside students who are the first in their families to go to college create a ripple effect, changing their own lives, the lives of their families, and the life of their community.

    Our approach, requiring extraordinary dedication from both students and faculty, is geared toward the admission and success of every Eastside graduate in a four-year college or university. To date, we have met that goal with 100 percent success. Every Eastside graduate has gone on to a four-year college, including Stanford University, Santa Clara University, Pomona College, Princeton University, U.C. Berkeley, Columbia University, U.C.L.A, Occidental College, Emory University, and Yale University”.

    And many of these students go on to become some of the greatest leaders and thinkers in our society!

    Comment by Karen Bey — September 23, 2015 @ 11:33 pm

  36. I’m so glad this discussion and article about what test scores really mean, and how they should actually be compared, is here. Diane Ravitch has always said “Standardized test scores are a very accurate measure of family income.” When I see schools touting their high test scores, I want us to be thinking about what that means and what it is they’re celebrating. It’s one thing to celebrate a rise in the test scores of your students who have been a part of an achievement gap, and another thing entirely to celebrate what is simply a lack of diversity at your school.
    I hear wonderful stories about what’s going on at Ruby Bridges. Kudos to the families who have invested in their neighborhood school in order to make a strong community for all the children there; ultimately we all benefit from strong neighborhood schools across Alameda.

    Comment by Jane Grimaldi — September 25, 2015 @ 1:28 pm

  37. Our family chose a charter specifically because of the homogeneity of our neighborhood school. I don’t say that to insult families who value the neighborhood school experience or our own neighbors; rather to articulate another perspective on the value of public schools (sometimes necessarily public charters) as places for young people to learn in part how to be, learn and grow in a multicultural democracy.

    Comment by gaylon — September 26, 2015 @ 8:46 am

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