Policy Sacrifices Learning for Test Scores

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Common Core testing will start next week. Is LBUSD Board more interested in test scores than students learning?

Board member Carol Normandin wrote an email to parents prior to a March board meeting explaining her position on the flawed math pathway approved by the board that eliminated geometry in the eighth grade.

She asked why would we want to place LBUSD at a “competitive disadvantage?” Given that most Orange County school districts include geometry as an option in the eighth grade, parents are still waiting for her answer.

Some fifth grade parents wishing to keep their children competitive requested access to the online math textbook for sixth-graders in use at Thurston. Since LBUSD refused to provide accelerated instruction to high performing students, parents wanted to do the district’s job.  Parents got the run around.

On March 26, Darlene Messinger emailed a parent, “We will negotiate with the publisher regarding the use of the online textbook.” In fact, the online math book has been used at Thurston all year. I notified all board members that parents were being denied access. Board member Jan Vickers told me she requested an update about use of the online math book, but never heard back from her or the board. Parents still do not have access to the book.

Normandin also explained the advanced math option, “in the summer between fifth and sixth grade a math test that measures the understanding of sixth grade common core standards will be given.” How well prepared can fifth graders be if their teachers have been directed not to cover any sixth grade standards and parents have been denied access to the online book to teach their children?

I believe it’s all about new common core test scores. If for example fifth grade high performing students are held back from learning sixth grade standards, LBUSD administrators assume these students will perform better on the common core state test being administered next week.

This was confirmed by email from a principal, who said, “our fifth grade teachers are working on completing our Math Expressions textbook in preparation for the standardized assessment, which is coming in May.”  I also recall Ms. Messinger stating that having the content “fresh” would enable students to perform better on a test.

I resent having my son held back from learning when he and other advanced math students have mastered the benchmark content just for the sake of high common core test scores that make the board and district leaders look good. Other parents feel the same way.

No wonder parents and students nationwide are rebelling against common core testing.

It’s time the board do what is right for our children and not chase high test scores at the expense of our children’s learning.


David Flores, Laguna Beach


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