Because the district has set such a low achievement bar for Costa Mesa’s schools, it isn’t news when we hear of other schools outperforming them. But when a Santa Ana school whomps both Newport Harbor High and Corona del Mar High, people take notice.

Eleven days ago, the Orange County Dept. of Education (OCDE) was putting its own spin on the Common Core disaster by trying to pass off the county’s 53% achievement in English and 45% achievement in math as good news because those scores were nine points above the state average. See? About half the kids fail to meet state standards in both subjects but it’s good news.

On October 8, OCDE Superintendent Al Mijares commented on the scores, trying to find some good news somewhere. And he did.

“At Middle College High School in the Santa Ana Unified School District, an astounding 99 percent of 11th-graders met or exceeded the CAASPP standard for English,” wrote Mejia.

Huh? What? 99%? At Newport Harbor High School, only 56% of the students met the state standards in English and at CdM High, 74% met state standards. So, you may be wondering, how did this happen? How did a Santa Ana school trounce the usually high-achieving kids in Newport Beach and Corona del Mar?

What Mejia fails to report is that Newport Harbor tested 464 kids in English and CdM tested 1,235 students in English. At Middle College High School in Santa Ana, just 79 kids were tested in English. With that type of focus, anything is possible.

Mejia failed to report that the next highest percentage of English achievement in the Santa Ana Unified School district was at Segerstrom High with just 63%.

He also failed to report that there was only one other school in the district in which at least half the kids met the state’s English standard (Godinez – 52%).

He also failed to report that across the entire Santa Ana Unified School District, the largest in the county, an unimpressive 22% of the students met the state standard for English. (Note: I removed Middle College’s 99% and the 1% achievement at Cesar Chavez High to calculate this percentage.

So, Mejia took a tiny aberration and ran with it as an exciting achievement.

Mejia’s focus on this tiny win in Santa Ana, plus the larger spin on the test results, tells me that educators everywhere are desperate to find some good news about Common Core.

Well, there is good news, but it’s not for students, parents and taxpayers. The good news is for those in the education establishment who are profiting from the Common Core debacle. The good news is that due to bureaucratic complacency at the district level, Common Core will be around for a long time while the usual tweaks are made to try to improve scores.

For many schools and school districts, that will be easy because they have nowhere to go but up.

So what happens to the kids who just took the tests and are suffering from this clearly ineffective way of teaching? They’re guinea pigs, nothing more. No attempt will be made to re-educate them in a more effective way and they’ll just be promoted to the next level unprepared.

It’s school business as usual.

Steve Smith

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