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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Great rankings for Pleasanton high schools

Uploaded: May 6, 2014
Pleasanton school officials had to be celebrating last week when the U.S. News and World Report digital edition highly ranked both comprehensive high schools based upon seniors' performance on college-oriented tests.
Amador Valley was ranked 46th in California and 256 nationally, while Foothill was No. 64 in the state and 327 nationally among public high schools. Notably, the two Pleasanton schools topped the other public schools in the Tri-Valley area, particularly those in the San Ramon Valley where Dougherty Valley (67), California (199) and Monte Vista (236) also were highly ranked.
The common factor in the rankings, which are ultimately based on how well seniors do on the advanced placement exams, is demographics—most notably income. Both Pleasanton schools have about 5 percent of the student body that qualifies for free or reduced price lunches—the measure used for poverty. Dougherty Valley is at 5 percent, while Cal is at 3 percent and the other two high schools are at 1 percent (Danville and Alamo).
Effectively educating students who live in poverty is a major challenge. Only Livermore High has a significant number of poor students (21 percent) as well as the highest percentage of Hispanic students (23 percent).
The top-ranked San Ramon Valley school—Dougherty—also has the highest percentage of Asians (56 percent) compared to 9 percent in Livermore. The Pleasanton schools are at 25 percent Asian (Amador) and 32 percent (Foothill). The value many Asian families place on education tends to result in excellent academic performance. Dublin High School ranked No. 237 in the state and No. 1091 in the country.
There's another key factor at play—the rankings (like many) are focused only on high-achieving students bound for higher education. For many students, that's a good goal—for those who have different gifts—say working with their hands—good luck. The assumption of way too many families, students and educators is that students fail if they do not get into a prestigious university as a freshman.
Little could be farther from the truth—what matters is where you finish, not the starting point.
Secondly, I know a number of people who are gifted in the trades and make very good money—get paid overtime—and do not take the job home once they park their truck. The general assumption that all students must go to a university is simply wrong—the Europeans have been ahead of us for years with multi-tracked education that allows those gifted in the trades to pursue them

Comments

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

When I went to High School in the 1950s we had multi-track education. College Prep was broken into three levels. Top level fed into the Ivy League schools, mid level for good private colleges or large Universities, and third level for everything else.

The Business track taught secretarial skills for girls and accounting and management for boys. Business was not highly regarded in academic circles back then.

We had a Vocational level for boys to take shop, short-order cooking, auto mechanics. Girls took sewing and hairdressing.

Ah the good old days. but it worked well. My neighbor's son took auto mechanics and owned three gas stations before I finished my BA degree.

This system was disassembled in the '80s because some groups considered it discriminatory. It probably was, but society was discriminatory in those days and this enabled graduates to learn a trade and own a business instead of getting into debt over a college degree they didn't need.

Maybe that's why my brother and sister and I all have advanced degrees, because a BA isn't enough to get anywhere these days, but a good plumber is hard to find.

Roz


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