tv NBC Bay Area News Special NBC April 20, 2015 12:00am-12:31am PDT
[music] male: you're watching an nbc bay area news special. tonight, "class action." female: remember, you can take the sat more than once. male: high school juniors across the bay area prep for the sat. female: well, it's nerve-wracking, actually. male: but the old sat is on its way out. julie gopalan: sayonara. male: the new sat has lots of changes. julie: we're really excited about the one that's coming up. sal khan: and the students that i'm about to announce these are top 20 out of 50,000 students in the bay area. male: kids across the bay area are in the midst of a learnstorm aimed at making them smarter and tougher. zaria stevenson: i've failed a lot of times but i never give up. male: we'll meet the east palo alto students who top the list for perseverance. zaria: it just pays off at the end. male: plus two bay area school districts get statewide
honors for reducing dropouts and boosting attendance. now here's nbc bay area's jessica aguirre. jessica aguirre: hello and welcome to our "class action news special." i'm jessica aguirre and tonight we start with a very hot topic for any college-bound high school student and their parents. we're talking about the sat. now taking the sat is a time-honored tradition and a necessity for getting into many colleges. but the test is about to get a makeover. the new sat is almost here and it could be a game-changer. female: have any of you thought about which colleges you would like to go to? jessica: these high school students at impact academy in hayward have a lot to look forward to these days. female: i wanna go to stanford. jessica: including applying to college. female: if not i'll go to uc berkeley. jessica: they're attending a collegespring program that helps students take the high-stakes sat. female: well, it's nerve-wracking, actually. jessica: students here say the sat is daunting, partly because it doesn't reflect what they've learned.
mark daniel graham: it's just not, like, not telling the colleges who i am as a person 'cause it's not showing my academics behind it. female: sometimes they test you on stuff that you're never gonna know or, like, really need in life. jessica: those are some of the reasons why the sat is getting an overhaul. this is the last year of the old sat. julie: sayonara. we're really excited about the one that's coming up. jessica: julie gopalan says the new sat will more accurately reflect what students learn in high school. the idea behind the remodel? to level the playing field and make it more accessible. julie: i think the college board is really working with equity in mind and working to make the test more fair. jessica: among the changes coming next year no more penalties for wrong answers, vocabulary words that are more relevant and the essay will be optional. mark: why couldn't they do this, this year? i would have loved to done the optional essay.
male: the redesigned sat will be more focused and clear useful and open than ever before. jessica: also, the college board wants to counter pricey private test prep with free online test prep from bay area-based khan academy. sal: this will be the best thing out there that happens to be free. richard greggory johnson iii: i think the efforts to overhaul it are moving in the right direction, but not far enough. jessica: but not everyone's convinced that the new sat will be a better sat. richard: i think that people that are still marginalized, students that are still marginalized come from marginalized communities still won't be impacted positively by any of the changes that the sat officials are trying to make. female: yup, there you go. good job. jessica: whatever the outcome of the new sat, these students in hayward are focusing on conquering this year's sat and pursuing their college goals.
mark: really, it's all about endurance for me. female: remember, you can take the sat more than once. most colleges will see the last time you took the sat. jessica: now, that new sat is coming in the spring of 2016. lots of people will be taking it. the uc system is the nation's largest public research university and gets more sat scores sent to it than any other institution of higher learning in the country. and joining me now to talk about this is michael mccawley. michael is the director of admissions for uc santa cruz. okay, off the bat, do we need this new sat? michael mccawley: i think we're excited to see the changes that the sat is proposing. so i think the answer is yes. jessica: and what are we gonna see in terms of changes? what are students telling you? michael: well, i think what students--you know, what we hope to see is that the college board's vision will be reality. i'm gonna-- [clearing throat] clear my throat. i think that we are hoping that it's gonna be more curricular-based. we're hoping that they're going to really have the wherewithal
to provide us greater information for students' success at the college and university level. so this will help for their readiness for both college and career. jessica: so uc has announced that it'll accept the new sat and it's going back to the 1600 scoring, not the 2400, because it's got this optional essay. but for uc, you need the essay. michael: that's correct. so our faculty which oversee the admission requirements for undergraduate students have already determined that we will use the new sat but we will require the optional essay part, just like we do right now. because writing is such an essential building block for success at the university of california be it at uc santa cruz my campus, or any of the uc campuses. so we have required it for years with the act. we require the writing component for that so we really are going to continue to require it. jessica: okay, there's so much anxiety around this new sat, you know, not only the students but the parents.
i'm anxious and i only have a 14-year-old, because there-- it's unknown. you don't know what's gonna happen. is there advantage to taking this new sat? is there something you can say to parents that will calm them down? michael: i think whether it was old, new, there's always been anxiety about standardized test scores. and so what i would say to people is to really don't get anxious about this. test anxiety really doesn't help students do their best anyway, so if families can dial it down a bit then i think that will help the student. if they truly are aligning this with high school curriculum, then students are going to do better with this exam. now, those that are already in high school, are taking the current sat, we will still accept and most colleges and universities around the nation, will still accept the old sat scores. and we'll always take the score that will most advantage the student. jessica: all right, on that question, there is the act and then there is the sat, the new sat. what's the difference between the two tests, and is it more advantageous to take one than the other? michael: no, it's not more advantageous.
some might say that the act really has been devoted to high school curriculum more than the sat. i think there have been questions over the years who scores better on one than another. so you have lower income students, first generation students, under-represented students that have shown over the course of time to do a little bit better on the act. so you'll have some school districts that will, you know, go ahead and promote more the act. we see a rising number of students taking both. and again, we will accept either but we will always use the one that advantages the student. jessica: i think a lot of the stress comes from that you think that if you don't get a good score on your sat, you're not gonna get into a uc school or a good school. is that the only--it's not the only marker that you use-- michael: correct. and i think it's so important to point this out to students and their families, that the university of california as a whole conducts something called comprehensive review. so we have 14 different criteria that we use when we're assessing students at any of the 9 general campuses.
jessica: what are some of the other criteria? michael: so we use gpa obviously, the kinds of courses that a student has taken. we have the college prep courses, in california known as the a through g courses. but we also look at things like leadership, awards and activities, special projects. we look at things inside the classroom and outside the classroom. and what we're really doing is we're looking at the whole picture of a student, so the comprehensive review says, "use multiple measures to look at what a student has achieved." and the test scores are only 1 of the 14 criteria. jessica: people feel that it's so competitive getting into college now. you've been doing this for 30 years. is it harder to get into a college now than it was when i went to college? michael: it depends which colleges you're talking about. so the answer to that for the university of california would be yes, it is harder to get in. jessica: and that is why? michael: because there's more demand to get in and because we have limited seats available to students. we still are--as a university, we're still committed to our california students and if they meet the minimum requirements,
we will have a seat for them somewhere in the university of california. jessica: but there's a lot of--whether it's a myth or not there is a lot--there is a perception that out-of-state students are getting seats that should be going to california students. michael: i think that's a myth that we really need to keep addressing with our california cohort. it's not true so the fact is that out-of-state students don't compete, don't take the spots of california students. we are enrolling at our campuses the entire cohort of californians that we get state funding for. in fact, some of the monies that are brought in by non-resident students are used-- jessica: goes to pay for those california students. michael: are used to you know help other californians have access to the university. so i--what i would say is that if you take this as a pedagogical issue, it's going to enhance a california student's education to have students from other states and other countries be part of their educational experience because when they enter a global society, either in
the workforce or through graduate school, they aren't gonna be competing with just california students. jessica: right. okay, lay it out for me. what do i need to get into a uc school? michael: you need to be a very well-rounded student. you need to have excelled at your high school. you need to have taken a rigorous course load. so we don't want you, you know stressing out about this but we do want you to try to maximize your opportunities within your educational environment. so if your high school has a rich offering of honors courses, ap courses, advanced placement we want you to strive to take some of those and do well in them. and then we also wanna see your achievements outside the classroom. now, we know that not all students can do that because they may have family responsibilities. so when they apply, we also want them to tell us that, too because we wanna think, again, of you in the context of your high school, in your home environment, in your community environment. jessica: okay, we have 15 seconds left. tell me what you--advice you give to parents and students
who want to apply to a uc school. michael: what i would say is strive to do your best and that the university of california is committed to california students. and when you go to apply, know that any of our uc campuses are a great fit for students. jessica: and take a breath. michael: including your daughter, at 15. jessica: i gotta get her prepped. michael: okay, good. jessica: thank you. michael: you're welcome. jessica: well, there is a storm brewing in the bay area. learnstorm is up next. [music]
jessica: and welcome back to our "class action special." so, can you teach perseverance and grit? more and more educators think the answer may be yes, including the founder of khan academy. the education website has a new math competition for bay area schools where kids compete not just for top honors in math but top honors in hustle too. sal: and the students that i'm about to announce these are top 20 out of 50,000 students
in the bay area. jessica: this rally at a public school in east palo alto gives new meaning to the old phrase, "getting an 'a' for effort." sal: first place miriam ahola. miriam: when they called my name i just--my heart dropped. sal: jalen brian smith. jalen: i feel like screaming. i was, like, so proud of myself. sal: zaria stevenson. zaria: i thought i wasn't gonna be one of them. jessica: middle school students from 49ers academy take the stage to celebrate their success in learnstorm, a bay area math competition from khan academy. sal: we've had 1500 schools participate and the 49ers academy here in east palo alto is at the very top of that in what we call our hustle leaderboard. jessica: the hustle leaderboard ranks perseverance and grit, schools and students who have the tenacity to stick with it, even when the going gets tough mathematically speaking. david hicks: you have to get five right in a row.
and so on that fifth question, in my room you're gonna hear "ahh," and you know that's when a student has failed that last question. but they don't stop. they don't give up. john fensterwald: i think khan's been misunderstood, that it attempts simply to get kids to do better at math. jessica: john fensterwald is with edsource a non-profit education news and research organization. john: but his goal all along is to produce confident learners who want to go at their own pace and succeed at their own pace. female: five times ten to the fourth power times six times ten to the negative third. jessica: back at the middle school, students keep on hustling in khan academy learning not just math but also lessons for life. zaria: i've failed a lot of times but i never give up. and it just pays off at the end. jessica: that it does. now, learnstorm is open to all 3rd through 12th graders in the bay area and it lasts through april. in the east bay, two bay area school districts get top honors from the state for boosting attendance. the state superintendent of schools named hayward unified and berkeley unified as model districts.
all across the country new state standards called the common core are rolling out. now, in some states, they're in dispute. parents say they can't understand the new math and some politicians say common core is a federal attempt to take over education. now, here in the bay area, the critics haven't gained much traction. the question is why? the editor at large of edsource is here to explain the common core for us and many other things happening in the world of education. john fensterwald joins us here. okay, let's talk--let's start with common core. we've--a lot of the places people are complaining a lot about it but it doesn't seem like we've heard that much here. john: no, there's relative peace for now in california, and when you look at the opponents it's sort of the right and left.
on the one hand, it's turned into a very polarized republican versus democrat thing. of course, in california it's largely a democratic state but that's only part of it. the other thing is teachers in new york and like are rebelling and encouraging people parents, to opt out. and one of the reasons is that in other states they're using tests to judge schools and judge teachers right away. and california has decided not to do that. the other thing is that in california there is a consensus. the governor supports it the state board supports it, the legislature by and large is certainly supportive. jessica: so there's not much stirring of the pot? john: no, there's not at all. plus the higher education supports it, and that's key because they think that it will produce eventually students who are better ready for them. jessica: so one of the criticisms that you hear from parents all the time is about the math. a lot of parents don't like the math. i know the kids don't like the math, and the new math is supposed to be where you show your work. it's supposed to be where you demonstrate, and obviously, the kids don't like that. why has the math been such a flashpoint?
john: well, part of it is that a lot of parents never liked math when they were young. jessica: that is true. john: and they tend to judge based on how they learned math. and parents of younger children like to do it and i don't really think they understand the idea that there are many ways to under-- to get an answer and that this is encouraged and that students are verbalized how they got it. and common core math, whether it proves out to be effective or not, it's really not a question of memorizing facts. it really is understanding the logic and the patterns of math. it's a very different way of teaching math and also requires teachers to do it. and that's a hard--that's an uphill climb because there hasn't been a lot of preparation and a lot of teachers who came through the system weren't taught that way either. jessica: okay, let's switch over to testing. testing is a big, big thing. the api is gone. there's a new test that's actually being tested. and a lot of parents used to use the api to figure out is my school doing well, is my school on track.
so that's gone now. john: suspended. jessica: suspended? suspended for now. how are parents dealing with the change? what do you see happening with that? john: well, i think that you have to look at the reason why california has done that. the state board has suspended it, basically, for two reasons. number one is we're into different standards and a different set of tests. so the feeling was if you're going to make a break and common core is a heavy lift, requires a lot of preparation, it really is important not to compare to the old state standards but to look ahead and take the time to do it well and not be focused-- on the one hand, you're testing under the old standards, at the same time as you're bringing in the new. so that's part. the other is we're heading into a new accountability system where tests are not the only measure of student success or student achievement and school success. jessica: okay, another hot-button topic teacher tenure. we hear people talk about this all the time. and there was just a new poll out that talks about tenure. it's from usc and the "la times."
so what does it tell us about how people perceive tenure and whether they think teachers should have it or not? john: right, well, i think the interesting thing about poll and they did--it's very much--the people polled said by over 80%, that teachers should get tenure more than 2 years which is now and you're a probationary teacher, then you get tenure which is all kinds of due process rights, makes it difficult to dismiss you. the people in the poll said, "no, no, it should be," about 38% said, "none at all." and others said, "maybe 4 to 10 years." they also said you shouldn't lay off teachers based on seniority, but, and here's the but, they also said that they felt teachers by and large, a majority, said they were underpaid and they also expressed confidence that teachers should be leaders in the reform of their school. so it's a very nuanced position that politicians who are in this polarized state of reform and anti-reform don't always get. jessica: it was interesting too in that poll because it also seemed to be a difference based on ethnicity, how they viewed teacher tenure and how they viewed
testing, specifically, as well, right? john: yeah. more testing than tenure. when you get 80%, it's by and large, most people agree. testing is interesting because it seemed that white parents and better off parents felt that there are too many tests and that it's punitive. but latino parents felt that no, there either should be more testing or it's just right and it's really helpful for them because their kids really need to achieve more and they wanna know how they're doing and how their school is doing. it's an interesting dichotomy. jessica: yeah, i also think probably, you know, with that whole latino thing, it might be a factor of when you're new to a country and you don't really understand the system, testing is black and white. you can see it in numbers where i think, you know, maybe caucasian parents often think, "well, there are so many other ways to explore and learn." it's interesting to look at that. let's also talk about dues and teacher dues and the way they pay their unions and the issue the way the money is being spent, that a lot of the money often goes into political campaigns to support
candidates, and that's questionable for a lot of parents. john: so there are two lawsuits now. the lawsuit, particularly, you're referring to, teachers, everyone who is served by a union, pays a fee and members pay dues. a portion of that is voluntary. that's the political portion. and you don't have to pay that portion that goes to campaigning and lobbying. that's voluntary. however, one suit that was just brought by organization studentsfirst and four teachers says "no, it's really not voluntary because if you're a member of the cta, you have all kinds of benefits that you don't get if you're not. so you're really sort of coerced to give these voluntary dues and be a member. the other lawsuit is a much interesting-- it's just as interesting. may get to the supreme court next fall, which is to say you shouldn't be compelled to pay any dues at all, whether it--not just political but you shouldn't be compelled to be a member and pay a fee to have them represent you. and if that gets to the supreme court and it's overturned,
the cta's power will be greatly eclipsed. so it's very hot issue. jessica: so you've been watching education in the state for a long time. we're finally getting funding back to some of the levels that were before. how do you see schools recovering now from the recession? john: it's been a huge infusion of money and it comes--but we're still behind even now. it's about $1000 per child in california. it used to be a lot more before proposition 30 came and we got about $8 billion more. and so i think there's tension as to how that money is spent under the new system where it really is local control. districts are deciding, not the state mandating as much anymore. so there's tension between well, teachers want raises. they haven't had a raise in many years. there are also a need for restore counselors. there are also a need to do lots of things with this money, so it's an exciting time to see how it's spent but it doesn't completely resolve california's adequate funding issue.
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