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Principal: Capo High Staff Bothered by 'Disturbing' Test Scores

Principal Kevin Astor of Capistrano Valley High says his school should perform higher on the annual state API test.

It's better than the state average, but not good enough, the principal says.

When Capo Valley High scored an 832 on the statewide Academic Performance Index, Principal Kevin Astor said the school can do better. He said Capo High scored lowest out of six Capistrano Unified high schools.

The state average API score is 752.

Astor said students' performance disturbed school staff.

"We need to be confronted with the reality that all five other Capo high schools outscored us," he said.

Here is the principal's message to parents:

I am so very grateful to be starting my second year as a Capo Valley Cougar. I serve as the steward for this school – for the staff, families and over 2,500 students that walk our halls each year. We don’t always agree but have worked together to make a powerful place to learn. I am even more convinced than one year ago that CVHS is a great place to be in school. We have amazing students. I watch them think and create in ways that make me forget they are just still teenagers. I have seen compassion and talent and perseverance that many adults have never exhibited. Even in disagreement, we have students that demonstrate grace, respect and intelligence. Capo Valley is a great place to be. 

It is this very conviction that Capo is great that made it difficult for me to read our API score when it was released this fall. Capo scored an 832 – essentially stagnant from last year’s 836. What disturbs our staff is that we don’t believe that an 832 accurately captures what we are doing for kids instructionally. With this in mind, we are both bothered and challenged by this number. We need to be confronted with the reality that all five other Capo high schools outscored us. The object is not to be condemned but rather challenged to succeed at the level that our collective work, support and skill merits.

We need to look at several factors. Are we teaching what the CST exams are measuring? Are our kids learning the concepts required of them? Are they able to demonstrate what they know on a test that looks like the CST? Are our kids – especially our most advanced students – taking the test seriously and performing up to their ability? We know we can improve. We know we should improve and we will. I can assure you that our teachers are challenged by this information and it is out of challenge that innovation and improvement arise.

We have enjoyed so many great performances by our kids this year already – in the classroom, on the field and up on stage. I hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy some of these events. I am proud of my staff who cares deeply and works hard. I am proud of our community that supports and advocates for the school. I am especially proud of our kids whose efforts and achievements reflect so well on Capo Valley High School!

Pete November 29, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Why is he surprised? i might be an old fuddy duddy but I have had kids go through Capo and the apathy among staff and teachers certainly filters down to the kids on the issue of dress code and absences and lack of leadership and ...oh don't get me started.
Charles November 29, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Are the teachers and staff more apathetic than the teachers at Tesoro? If not, then why are the test scores different? If they are more apathetic at CVHS, why is this?
cusd mom November 29, 2012 at 08:00 PM
I think Dr. Astor needs to "look outside the box" and make some changes. One thing that may help is adopting a modified block schedule like San Clemente High School.
Outraged Student November 29, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I am a student at Capo Valley, and I must say this administration is beyond incompetent. Maybe you should hire teachers who are qualified to teach and redirect your focus to academics instead of just focusing on athletics. Why is it that almost half of the budget is allocated to sports, yet students are faced with having to deal with tattered textbooks and outdated technological equipment? This administration focuses on petty and trivial issues such as tardies and dress code because they turn a blind eye towards the real problem: the drug problem. Why is it that a principal has the right to tell a woman how to dress, yet those shooting heroin up their arms and selling marijuana to kids are left untouched? As a student trying to attain a good education, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that there are teachers who cannot do simple trigonometry, or remember their facts about United States history.
Outraged Student November 29, 2012 at 09:52 PM
(Continued): Some suggestions to improve this school overall: focus on academics and not just athletics, find a way to give some kind of incentive to AP students (in a legal manner of course, maybe a percent or two of a grade-boost based off of Star test scores. They will do anything to gain an extra couple percentage points), distribute parking permits based off of academic achievement (trust me the open lot situation DOES NOT WORK. It has caused more accidents and has not fixed this so-called “problem”), focus on the drug problem and not whether or not a student arrives five seconds late to class, and finally hire teachers who know their information.
Pete November 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Charles, There is no way to answer your question. I'm not interested in starting a survey and using some metrics as to who has the most apathetic teachers. Stay on point, ok?
Pete November 30, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Couldn't agree with you more "Outraged". My kids used to come home from school with stories about Capo teachers weekends, vacations, menstrual stories (yes I am serious) all told during hours they should have been teaching. Please everyone understand that this is not applicable to ALL Capo teachers as there were some like Bob Zamora that were fantastic but as a whole, there wasn't much teaching going on. But what do we expect when we pay teachers so poorly? My goodness, anyone with half a brain will work in another business so they can support a family. What that leaves us with are the very few dedicated teachers who don't care about the low wages or the majority that can't do anything else and slide thru their careers entertaining the kids more than teaching them anything.
Alberto Barrera November 30, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Part of your problem is the fact that my principal convinced several of Capo's finest to head on over to San Juan, thank you for that by the way.
bbq November 30, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Pete, I agree with you until you say that teachers are paid poorly. Our teachers get paid generally between $70,000 and $100,000 per year. Remember, that is with 13 weeks off, health insurance and a great pension.
Anne Doan November 30, 2012 at 04:22 AM
How are the students doing as far as their interpersonal skills? Are the schools motivating them to go above and beyond? Are the teachers given the technology they need to engage young learners? What is the school doing to find mentors in the business and service industries? How are you motivating your teachers?
Pete November 30, 2012 at 05:24 AM
How many years do they need to teach to get to $70K?
cvalley November 30, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I am pleased with the education my daughter has received at Capo overall. Low test scores could just mean that you have a well rounded group of individuals at your school who aren't all about a test taken at a period in their life at a certain time of day, but more about being humans and giving back to society, learning and loving life. I see so many kids volunteering, so many performing well in their extra curricular activities, and also performing well in the classroom, etc. Let's look at the good things these kids bring, not just a test score.
Karen Rubin November 30, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Well said cvalley. One must consider that there are many facets to becoming a good human being than simply the test scores from one particular day.
Pete November 30, 2012 at 04:52 PM
That is absolutely spot on but those qualities/skills should be taught at home. If we are looking for our teachers to do that, we are worse off than I thought
CVSenior November 30, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I am currently a student (Senior) at CVHS. Our test scores don't compare to the other schools in the district due to two reasons: Lack of effort amongst the student body & unqualified teachers. I have learned from experience that we have some, not all, teachers that will not teach. Or perhaps teach incorrectly. I feel as though we have a lack of experienced teachers in the English and Math departments. Thus, resulting in students who don't care or give up. Students who ask and dont recieve help, tend to have to learn the subject on their own. This is all fine in dandy and quite easy to do to pass a class, but hard to help the school acheive high test scores. And, I agree with the flustered student above. Dr. Astor and Mr.Amon shouldn't focus on changing the school.New and Improved" isn't what we are looking for. Personally, it has taken out the enjoyment of senior year. & I'm not just talking about having the parking taken away from us. In conclusion, Why focus your whole day on girls outfits or guys hats? I have seen Dr. Astor come into some of my classrooms here and there and watch what the teachers are doing. That doesn't do anything. A teacher is going to perform if someone is watching.
Pete November 30, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Well put. You seem like a pretty sharp kid. Good luck in your future. I am sure you will overcome what you WEREN'T taught at Capo.
CapoStudent December 01, 2012 at 01:42 AM
As a student I am even more upset than Dr. Astor. I came to Capo because I was told it was the best academic school I would find in the district. Sadly, within the first semester I found out half of my teachers don't teach; the other half teach to half of the class because the other half is unwilling to learn. Capo puts all its focus on its athletics and you can tell this year. Multiple teams went to CIF and our test scores dropped to an embarrassing level. I will not return to Capo at the end of the year because of its poor academics.
Capo Kid December 01, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Public unions allow incompetence and apathy - not success, not innovation. If this was a private sector employer half of the teachers would have been canned long ago. Mr. Panicci is a classic case. Also the ESL kids who are struggling because only Spanish is spoken outside of school score poorly but get into UC schools free thanks to AB 540. This won't be fixed. It is our reality.
Antoine December 01, 2012 at 04:35 AM
Could you explain what this is and how it can improve performance?
Sandy Cota December 01, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Capo Mom I think we have low scores because it all depends what the students are up to doing the days of the CST they are giving so late in the year which we all know why.The students should be ready for it by this time but, I think it dose not have nothing to do how prepare the students are it all depends on how they feel and if they are up to do this test. I think most of our kids know they will go home as soon as they are done maybe they just hurry to get done so they can go home. I have a Senior at CAPO and she is a straight A student and always gets ADVANCED on this CST TEST so I guess she is getting a GREAT EDUCATION AT CAPO because it reflects on her TEST SCORE. We GIVE A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL HER TEACHERS AT CAPO FOR HER EXCELLENCE EDUCATION WE ARE VERY PROUD OF HER..

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