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SRVUSD rolls out 10 proposals for more student, staff, parent flexibility

Original post made on Sep 9, 2017

The San Ramon Valley school board is considering a variety of changes to implement in coming years that would offer more flexible options for students, families, faculty and staff.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 8, 2017, 4:31 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by Jeff
a resident of Danville
on Sep 9, 2017 at 7:51 am

With this District most decisions are motivated by money. In regard to on-line and cultural schools, are these being allowed to reduce need to hire and compensate more District teachers, provide them benefits and then give them a pension?
May not be as altruistic as it appears...

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

Good question, will you show up for the talks and ask??

Posted by Teacher
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 9, 2017 at 10:54 am

While the idea of proposal 1 might seem like a nice idea, it would be extremely difficult at a smaller middle school like the one I teach at. The only feasible explanation given, in my opinion, is the effect on traffic. The challenge of scheduling should definitely be taken into account when considering this option.

Proposal 4 would also be very challenging for middle schools when it comes to the core class model. Core teachers typically have 2 or 3 core sections during the day (depending on whether the class is a 2 period or 3 period block.) If the number of classes was reduced to an odd number, it would probably result in the need to eliminate the core model from the middle schools.

Posted by DarbyS
a resident of Danville
on Sep 10, 2017 at 9:06 am

As a teacher, I hope they consider proposal three. It is extremely irritating to receive an email from a parent the second you post a grade. The grading website is often watched like a stock market. Helicopter parents in this district are really impacting their kids mental well being, and it is truly sad.

Posted by Todd
a resident of Danville
on Sep 10, 2017 at 4:55 pm

I believe we should be extremely careful and thoughtful about Proposal 3 (reducing/eliminating parent access to School Loop). School Loop is about more than grades (and helicopter parenting). It provides some degree (depending on how committed teachers are in posting) of real-time data on assignments and completion, that can be an invaluable tool for parents to support their child’s learning and growth (not grades).

Parents understand that students in middle and high school are supposed to be developing their work- and time-management skills, and our schools are supposed to challenge them. But students with executive function deficits (often students with ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, etc.) can have more than the usual difficulty writing down assignments, remembering them, remembering to turn in work, etc. For these students, the work-management expectations of the typical classroom and schedule can be nearly impossible to meet without additional support. And let’s be honest, many teachers do not have the time or ability to provide that extra support. How helpful is it to a student to learn that (s)he has forgotten an assignment four weeks after it was due, long after it is too late to make it up, or to be relevant to additional work?

The District (I would expect) understands the value of timely metrics in driving improvement. Would the District want to be limited in its access to its data (graduation rates, CASSPP scores, API, etc.), and find out only after it’s too late to do anything about it?

Posted by Todd
a resident of Danville
on Sep 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm

I wonder about proposal 4, reducing middle school classes to six periods. I'm guessing that what we're really talking about is offering one less elective period for middle school students. Most 6th grade students currently have a three-period core (English, reading, history), math, science, PE and an elective (wheel). That’s seven periods. So what’s getting dropped? My guess is the elective. But most students with learning disabilities are already required to miss out on the elective to obtain a period of resource support. So what would get dropped for them? And band (for students wishing to play an instrument) is also an elective.

In 7th and 8th grades, reading is generally collapsed into English for a two-period core (perhaps the model the District is looking at?), and students pick up an “extra” elective (ie, two). But again, for students needing resource support, they didn’t have a first elective to start with. Imagine a student (and I know many) with a learning disability who also chooses to play an instrument: English, History, Math, Science, PE, Resource, Band. That’s seven periods. So what gets dropped? And that doesn’t include the foreign language that the District would like to encourage middle school students to take (Proposal 5). Or any other electives.

Electives have enormous value for many (if not most) students. Students can explore non-core classes that excite them, identify things they’re good at, provide them a place to apply what they’re learning in core classes, and provide an alternative to the grind of what may be very difficult (especially for kids with disabilities). Speech/debate, robotics, art, programming – these have real value to real students, and are sometimes what keep them motivated, and attending.

Eliminating an elective period would disproportionately impact students with learning disabilities who require resource support, and would narrow their access to electives. This needs to be thought out extremely carefully.

Posted by CB
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 11, 2017 at 7:51 am

So many great ideas here. Happy to see some movement on the Infependent PE.

Caution on #3 and echo Todd. Kids and parents both benefit from seeing assignments posted online so they can learn time management.

Infrequent posting of grades is frustrating to kids. They are often taking exams when quizzes have not yet been graded, missing important feedback necessary to be successful. Giving teachers a pass on timely grading because they don't want to hear from parents is not the solution.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 11, 2017 at 10:24 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

All for #2. My son is on a swim team that has practice M-F. Be nice to get credit for that in some way.

All against #3. In elementary school we as parents see no grades online and very little comes homes graded in any manner. We are essentially in the dark until conferences, report cards (3x a year only!) and/or pester the teacher for updates. Heck, they don't even use grades in elementary school, which I'm still trying to get used to.
I think parents should have full access and teachers should be posting grades online in a timely manner; I realize that is pointed at middle school and HS. As a parent I just want to know and not be surprised. Those parents who are obsessive or tend to be helicopter parents will STILL find a way to do that with or wo online access; they will harass the teacher much much more. Sorry #3 is a no go zone for me.....

Posted by mike
a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2017 at 3:04 pm

I am firmly against limiting access to the portal (proposal 3). At least once a month, we find a major error where our son got an A on a test but the teacher logged it in at less than 75%. Without daily access to the portal, we wouldn't know about these errors until it was likely too late or too difficult to go back and figure out where the problem occurred.

Posted by Teacher
a resident of Alamo
on Sep 16, 2017 at 9:01 am

#3: Assignments can still be accessed, but the grades should only be posted at mid term and at the end of the quarter. If any parent had to operate/work in an environment where their boss checked their productivity like the parents check student grades, they'd explode. A student left a cell phone in my room last year after a test and the student forgot to turn in that daily assignment, I put the zero in to remind the student to turn it in the next day and the PARENT immediately texted the student "Why do you have a 0????" So, once the student returned to get their phone, they already had a message from the parent about their mistake. Parents use school loop like teenagers use snap chat. Parents are mad at the school for "stress levels' and the schools are spending time talking about student's mental health instead of preparing them for the next chapter of their lives (like they are supposed to be)...when the REAL culprit of stress is not coming from the school but from parents who are so caught up in micromanaging their kids existence that it makes great sense for the district to remove the minute by minute, play by play of a child's grades. Now, with that being said, there needs to be better outreach by TEACHERS to parents if a child is in danger of failing (a C is NOT failing) if this grade component is scaled back.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 17, 2017 at 7:32 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

@teacher: I don't buy it. Perhaps a 'few' parents go nutso when they see grades, but nothing near majority. And even if (a big If) the district were to adopt #3 those same parents would find another way.

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with elementary school grade system? If you were, you would understand. We see nothing. Online, brought home, nearly zero. Even grades (which aren't grades) only come home 3 times a year.

Sorry, once they hit middle school I want to know test scores, grade etc so there is no surprise and I always know where my 'child' is status wise.
Those teachers who can't manage parents certainly have a tough job, but they should remember who exactly pays for the education and some some ability to understand.

Posted by Teacher/counselor
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 22, 2017 at 4:40 pm

I've worked in this district for many many years and it is more than "a few" parents who constantly harass their kids about grades. Kids are more stressed than ever AND I saw a sharp increase when we started using school loop. We cannot assume causation of course, but I don't see this as purely coincidental.

Posted by Different teacher
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 22, 2017 at 4:54 pm

I teach HS and totally agree with #3 as well. If your child has a teacher who isn't passing back and going over quizzes and/or relevant assignments before the unit test, that is a legitimate email/conversation with that teacher. I don't know any teacher that waits weeks and weeks either to pass back papers or post scores, everyone I know is quite timely with their papers. If one or two teachers aren't, that should be handled separately.

Micro managing each score is adding too much stress to our students and is unecessary. I have students who ask me not to post certain scores until after the weekend or at least not until Sunday. THEY know their score and we've already gone over that material in class, but they don't want their parents freaking out about it. They want to go to the football game and have fun and they will deal with it next week, as they should.

I also have kids in elementary and I get papers back in the Friday folder each week with lots of input on them so I am not blindsided at conferences or when I get the report card at all. Again if there are one or two teachers that aren't providing feedback, that concern should be brought to that teacher directly.

And PS teachers can see how often parents access the portal. So I can click a button and see that you've checked it 35 times in the past 3 minutes. Do you really need to know their score at 10am? To what end? Like the other teacher said, to text them during school and chastise them? I don't understand.

Posted by Another Teacher plus parent of child in this district
a resident of Danville
on Sep 22, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Students with special needs who require more monitoring of assignments would still be entitled to receiving this assistance even if #3 is passed.

Teachers used to post updates every quarter with progress reports mid-way, then it became customary to post updates every month, then every other week, then weekly. Now some teachers are posting updates every day and we know that parents are checking even more frequently than that. This is not healthy, nor is it preparing students for the real world. Imagine a boss asking for a formal update in writing of your work every hour; it's doable, but not going to make you more productive. Most teachers are constantly giving feedback to students about their learning in multiple ways- through question/answer, collection of assignments, discussions, notes online, etc. Students usually know how well they understand the material long before the larger assessments are given or graded. The current system doesn't match with the college system either. Most colleges aren't issuing mid-term progress reports, let alone daily grade updates.

If you want to know how your child is doing in class and worry that lack of connection to the teacher's grade book will interfere, you might try talking with your student about their day. Have your student teach you the material he or she is learning or reviewing. Ask questions and pretend not to understand. If a student can successfully teach you the material, he or she has a strong grasp of the content. Anything your child is unable to explain or feels less confident about is material the student should review. After a test, discuss the questions with your child. When the test is handed back, go over it together and have your child explain why incorrect answers were incorrect. This might be tougher as a parent; it's certainly not as easy as refreshing the parent portal or checking in again on Schoolloop, but it's what the studies and science say is better for our children.

In the end, we need to look at what is best for the students. Our students are stressed. These constant updates have been identified as a source of this stress through surveys and conversations with the students. We can't eliminate all sources of stress for our children (nor should we, if we want them to be more resilient), but there is no demonstrated benefit to the average student from the frequent updates. Perhaps we don't need to get rid of them altogether, just need to reduce them? Once or twice a month might be more reasonable- it allows notification before things have snowballed too much but also gives kids a chance to take responsibility and fix things on their own.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 23, 2017 at 8:06 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

I must be spoiled because I came from a school that was in the 'now' with technology and not behind.There is no difference between a teacher recording a grade/test/quiz on paper vs doing it online and allowing parents FULL access. And a tiny minority of parents will helicopter, but there are the majority who just want to know 'where' their child is. For me, it is if the trend starts going down (if they had a C ave); that tells me something different has be to be done. Version today, in elementary school, we know nothing. No grades at all and very very few updates. I really don't want to find out 5/1 child is not graduating to next grade when there is zero time to do anything about it.

Sorry, parents need all access. And if the teachers can't manage the parents, well that is a different thread.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Blackhawk
on Sep 23, 2017 at 2:12 pm

I think the difference between writing it down on paper vs. posting it online is that it puts the responsibility back in the hands of the students - as it should be for regular students. Students know the grade/get the feedback first, have the chance to discuss or review it with their teacher and then take it home. Since I don't let my kid use his phone during the school day, I'm getting alerts about grade updates before he does. If your kid was not going to pass, you would have been notified long before 5/1- the schools do send out quarterly report cards in addition to progress reports.

You keep talking about teachers managing the parents. I don't want my kid's teachers to be hired for their ability to "manage parents." I want a teacher that will inspire students to learn, cover the standards with depth, and encourage him to grow. Parents shouldn't be an issue or a problem in need of managing- we should be part of the team.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 24, 2017 at 7:19 am

Scott Hale is a registered user.

Parent: Afraid I can't agree. I'm speaking of elementary school aged kids. They really do NOT know their grade as there isn't one to begin with; not until middle school do grades and percents come back. AND adding to the problem is the elementary school is on a trimester, which means only 3 official 'report cards' come home. And really that is 2, because the last one doesn't really count for much.

Not sure you read the entire thread, but those anonymous teachers who post here sometimes point to the few 'helicopter' parents as a reason to NOT move to modern technology so the parent knows there their child is 'realtime'. I suppose a valid opinion, but one I don't share at all. Doesn't take much reading of the comments around here to see teachers who post here as one of their first complaints IS the parents. No doubt some deserved, but most not. I'm afraid part of a teachers job is dealing with parents and that will never change.

I'll attend the superintendents road show talks and see if #3 comes up because unlike most here, I'll let him know in person how I feel about it......

Posted by Parent of ES/MS
a resident of Alamo
on Sep 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Once your student gets to Middle School, they are waiting for every grade to be updated online. It makes you realize they are in it solely for the grade and not necessarily for the learning. It is unhealthy. I suggest educating the parents, if they are looking at their grades every hour of the day then they need to know it helps in the short term, but not in the long term and those parents are likely doing a lot of other enabling. Suggest those parents read "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success" by Julie Lythcott-Haims, the Stanford Freshman Dean, who writes about the importance of teaching resilience and resourcefulness.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 28, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

Afraid not, parent: I like to know what is going on, sure. the fact that in elementary school we know nothing doesn't help. Nothing online, nearly nothing comes home and NO grades. More like 'surprise' maybe twice a year (last report card has little meaning).
I attended the superintendents speech of the 10 changes; vast majority are OPTIONS, but #3 is more a punishment for the majority of parents who just want to know occasionally (ie not be surprised) how their student is doing grade wise. If a small, tiny percent are not just checking too much but also bothering their child on every grade fix THAT behavior, but don't take away full access due to their helicopter ways. The superintendent quoted there were some that check 200 times a day(WHAT?), those you pull into school and have a chat with. sheesh.

Posted by Longtime Parent
a resident of Danville
on Sep 28, 2017 at 2:57 pm

@ Scott - proposal 3 is about middle and high schools, so perhaps let go of the elementary school grade subject, as it is not one of the proposals?

@ "Another Teacher" - for middle and high school tests that are handed back??? Ha! Not 1 in 100. (And try getting one as an accommodation for a resource kid - not!) I wish we could have a window into actual assignments such that we could engage with our kids on them. We’re kept out.

@ "Different Teacher" – for the “one or two” teachers who aren’t providing timely feedback? Again, Ha! I have been in the system way too long, and way too many teachers do not provide timely feedback. Nor do far too many of them know what my child needs or is capable of. I do – I’m their parent. Sorry, I have learned to trust the schools and teachers - to a point. And to know how far to let go, and when to step in (which is my job as parent!), I need data!

What I find interesting is the mixed message the District and the teachers are constantly sending out. Classic Message: "We want to partner, we want involved parents, it takes a village." New Message: "Stay out, don't be involved, leave it up to us and the kid, don't be aware, don't ask, don't email us, don't email them - you stress us out, you stress them out, just bug off and you'll find out at the quarter." It begins to feel like the “partnering” they want from us is money, then we should politely shut up and get out of our kids’ education.

There are so many healthy reasons for parents to stay involved with their kids trends, including grades and assignments and zeros, in order to support their child's healthy development and education. I have to agree with Scott - this feels like "punishment" of all of us for the unhealthy behavior of some. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Promote healthy discussion, encourage healthy attitudes, publish suggested review guidelines, but don’t shut off the data!

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 28, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

there are too many Parent screen names here....

Anyway, let go? I'm sorry, you do know that these are 'proposals' that could be enacted as soon as next school year and/or at least piloted in more schools? I prefer to be involved BEFORE the decision is made, not after. Year or so my child lands at MS.
What is truly shocking is how far behind this district IS with online grades vs other, even smaller, districts. No way I'd accept what is available now with elementary school (zero) for the higher grades. Sorry, not happening. the district can go after the helicopter parents who check way too often and/or harass their bunnies over every single grade/score. Fix the problem, don't effect the majority.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 28, 2017 at 7:56 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

btw, those who do have school aged children and CARE should attend one of the superintendent's road show to go over the 10 'ideas'. bunch of them are left, most at Middle Schools the last one at DVHS (at night). Last barely an hour and you hear first hand with some of the 'reasons'. The grade thing, were he quoted some parents in his old district checking 200 times a day I find to be 'fake news' or at least an exaggeration. Not even sure POSSIBLE to check that many times per day and consider yourself healthy. sheesh

Posted by Raising an Adult
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Oct 5, 2017 at 10:09 am

I totally agree with Scott Hale, Todd and others who point out that the benefits of students seeing timely updates on SchoolLoop far outweigh the annoyances, especially for kids on 504 plans and IEPs. To be sure, the incessant School Loop checkers need training. I was told that high school teachers prefer to deal directly with their students so guess what? I don't email them! In fact, I've been told since elementary school that this is the preferred chain of communication so I have been respecting it since then. If my student has issues, I encourage them to talk to their teachers. Why don't we mandate THAT as a policy rather than reduce the effectiveness of a critical tool for those of us who do use it appropriately? If some parents are using the tool not the way it is intended, then call them out on it, train them, something! Why must we always punish the lot for the acts of a few?

For kids with ADHD, executive functioning disorders, etc. (and there are thousands of them!) School Loop can make the difference between success and failure, college or no college. Without it, my child would be in the dark and failing. If you don't have a child like this, you may not be able to comprehend the level of difficulty, practical impossibility these kids have just to get C's and D's in school. Their stress is often caused by being confused about due dates and assignments, and what is being asked of them. An updated School Loop is giving these kids confidence, organizational modeling, and reducing their stress, because they always know what they need to do and by when. (No, they are NOT able to write it down in class- I am not kidding! These kids are seriously challenged.)

Longtime Parent is correct- I have been a district parent for 12 years and it is much more common to NOT get any feedback whatsoever from teachers. Scott Hale is correct, waiting until it is too late to fix things is asinine. By the time you get a midterm notice a student is failing, it is nearly impossible to turn things around both in terms of gaining the lost knowledge and bringing the grade back to passing. I know from experience.

Posted by DVHS Parent
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2017 at 12:34 pm

#3 - I am against limiting parent access to grades. If parents don't have access to how well their kid is doing, how can they help improve. Will teachers take ownership of helping every student improve their grades? We don't wanna find out at the end of the semester/year that child has bad grades and it would affect their ability to get admission to a good college. If you want to implement this, you better have a damn good process for teachers to help kids improve their grades - by that i mean help kids who have B to get to A. You can't just focus on kids who are at risk of failing. If you can't commit to that then parents have to help kids improve.

Posted by Parent/Former SRVUSD Employee
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2017 at 10:14 pm

So much to say here..

The district constantly speaks of student stress and the #1 culprit being parents. How about looking at the stress coming from the school and teachers themselves?Words like, "don't expect to do well on this test, it's very difficult", or "I didn't expect to see good results". Yes, out of the mouths of teachers. WHY? WHY are you giving a test YOU know is difficult and are actually admitting that the students are not prepared for? Teachers should be facilitating the learning process, not trying to 'get' our children, 'stump' our children or cause them additional stress. And for all the math teachers who bimonthly announce that the average test score is a 59%?? Shame on you. How does that happen? Either our curriculum is too difficult or the teacher is not reaching the students. Students pass math in this district not because of our math instructors, but because parents pay for tutoring.

*School Loop- it needs to stay. We have found numerous grading errors. To those teachers that are indicating that teachers post regularly, they do not. We have waited 4 weeks for grades to post. We have had teachers not input scores before midterms or finals, leaving the students wondering where they actually stand going into finals.

*School Stress: let's look at the fact that our district is piloting CollegeConnect, whereby students can complete up to 30 hours of college credit by the time they are finished with High School. How ironic that we are trying to reduce student stress but at the same time, are promoting our HIGH SCHOOL students to take COLLEGE level classes? Let's also look at the expectations of our AP classes. If these are TRULY college-level classes, then one would not expect nightly homework due the next day, daily note checks, and projects, as this does not reflect a true college class. If it is not taught and executed like a college class, then it is NOT a college class and our students should not and are not ready for it. How many of us had our notes checked in college?

Posted by San Ramon Native
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:24 am

San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo are some of the richest cities in the Bay Area. Why? In part because the school district is so renowned that people will pay inflated home prices (meaning more taxes) to ensure that their kids will benefit from this district. If the district wants to enact changes that will diminish their award winning reputation, then real estate value will decline, and the city as a whole will suffer. Perhaps City Hall should pay attention to these proposed changes and think critically about what they mean for the future. Money saved in the short term could be money lost in the long term. And I really don't think this is about creating flexibility and reducing stress. I think it's about money and pushing an agenda. An agenda geared towards dumbing down our kids, promoting technology that diminishes our quality of life and creates social divides, and diminishing parental rights. I hope the parents fight hard and speak up on this one. They should, because #1 it concerns their kids, and #2 they have paid a lot of money to benefit from this district. Also, the district should really heed what the parents of children with developmental disabilities are saying, or they could have some lawsuits on their hands, as they should.

Posted by Scott Hale
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Scott Hale is a registered user.

SRN:Except for some coordination here and there City Hall has nothing to do with the school district, which includes 3 cities, btw. And none of the 'suggestions' would reduce the quality of the district. Kinda the opposite effect. guess you failed to attend any of the superintendent's meetings, aye?

Posted by Astute Parent, aka Superintendent’s Worst Nightmare
a resident of Danville
on Nov 7, 2017 at 12:12 am

Guess you’ve been duped Scott. Too many of the rest of us realize that these “suggestions” to “improve” conditions in the district are self-serving on the part of the district and ultimately about cutting costs. We pay a premium to live in an area where people value education as a means to a better life. It’s this focus on educational value by families and not the school district that drives the perception of high quality programming and opportunity here, which is very much connected to property values..

Rather than diminish the quality of our kids’ education and ultimate chances of college admission (which after all is a primary goal here people) there may be a simpler way to save some money: Eliminate the position of Superintendent and other superfluous district administrative positions that don’t directly contribute to our children’s wealth of educational experiences.

Posted by Betty
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Two realities to consider:

1. Any time you see this many proposals it means that none of them are well thought out. They can appear innovative and creative but in reality reflect surface level thinking, without any real impact or staying power.

2. Any proposal to reduce contact and/ or feedback from parents is coming from the union as they have always resisted this leval of communication and accountability. I am surprised and disappointed to see management even floating this kind of thinking.

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