Dos Palos Oro Loma school district administrators are coming to the same conclusion about recently released state testing results as other communities in the Central Valley: Scores are low but improving.
According to CAASPP Smarter Balanced 2016 results released earlier this month, Dos Palos Oro Loma Joint Unified School District improved its percentage of students meeting or exceeding its standards for English language arts and mathematics for almost every grade level group.
Fourth-graders meeting or exceeding English standards increased by 16 percent, and by 6 percent for math, from last year. For fifth grade, it increased by 9 percent in English and 2 percent in math.
Sixth-grade students meeting or exceeding standards in English decreased by 6 percent and those doing so in math increased by 3 percent from last year. For seventh grade, English increased by 8 percent and math increased by 10 percent. Eighth-grade English competency decreased by 2 percent, and math decreased by 4 percent.
The average metric percent increases in the district are comparable to other districts in Merced County, such as Los Banos, Delhi and Hilmar. However, at least 74 percent of students in each grade group aren’t meeting state standards in English or math, according to Dos Palos Oro Loma’s results.
“The scores are improving, but we’re still way behind,” trustee Richard Hogue said.
Director of Curriculum and Instruction Norma Delgado presented the results to the Dos Palos school board Thursday.
Board President Joe Castillo said he wants the school district to formulate a plan to raise test scores.
“I see (low student achievement) ending slowly,” Castillo said. “We need to set an educational plan. I know it’s a big challenge, but it’s time.”
Castillo said he would like to see the district do “something more extreme than what others are doing.”
Delgado said the district has a plan to tackle low student achievement, but the problem has been implementing it at all schools.
“What’s missing is consistency, from site-to-site,” Delgado said. “We have a plan, but … we need the right drivers.”
Delgado said student achievement also depends on responsibility and accountability from students’ interactions at school and at home.
Other trustees also said they’d like to see and replicate what high-achieving school districts are doing.
“We’re not going to stand still and say this is good for us,” Delgado said. “But at the same time, we should (recognize the improvement).”
Classified, teachers contracts
The school board unanimously approved a contract with classified staff members Thursday. Dos Palos Oro Loma CSEA Chapter 761 includes staff positions such as secretaries, custodians, maintenance crew and kitchen workers.
That three-year agreement through June 30, 2019, increases the salary schedule by 2 percent retroactive to July 1, 2015. It includes a 3 percent salary increase effective Jan. 1, 2017, and another 2 percent increase July 1, 2017.
Superintendent Bill Spalding said contract negotiations with the Dos Palos Oro Loma Teachers Association are still at an impasse, with both sides moving toward a fact-finding date.
The teachers union has picketed the school district several times in search of a 9 percent raise after years of salary freezes during the recession.
Teachers claim that the school district lowballed them with an offer of a 1 percent raise. Union President Marty Thompson couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday and Tuesday.
The school district has declined to comment on details of contract offers, citing confidentiality of negotiations. But Spalding has said he hopes to come to an agreement.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562