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Clarifying Program Improvement status for Fallbrook Union High School District

Friday, June 27th, 2014
Issue 26, Volume 18.
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As President of the Fallbrook Union High School District Board of Trustees, I feel compelled to share some thoughts with the public regarding our school district and Program Improvement. Prompting my comments are misunderstandings regarding what Program Improvement is, how it impacts our school district, and what the implications for Program Improvement are.

Program Improvement (PI) was established as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, federal legislation associated with both funding and accountability. Schools and districts that did not meet the accountability targets for two consecutive years became labeled as PI. Schools that did not meet accountability targets had this occur primarily for English language learner students and/or special education students. This was true for our school district. Regardless of the student group not meeting achievement expectations, the whole school or district was labeled PI, even though other students were meeting and exceeding targets.

The public should know that many schools do not meet all accountability targets but are not labeled PI because they do not accept Title I funding. This is especially true for high schools in unified school districts who choose to spend Title I funds at the elementary level and not the secondary level. We are not a unified district, so we do receive Title I funding. Additionally, the number of accountability targets and the difficulty in meeting those targets are much greater at the high school level.

The impact of Program Improvement within our schools has been a source of both good news and bad news. The good news is that more monies have been targeted to provide additional tutoring services for students needing academic assistance and more monies have been dedicated to teacher professional development. The bad news is that too many parents have concluded that all areas of our schools/District do not meet accountability requirements and are choosing to have their students attend school elsewhere. The majority of students attending other schools outside of our District and who use PI as a reason are not part of the student subgroups who are not meeting federal performance expectations.

Improving student achievement continues to be a priority for our schools and District, but our vision is greater than the testing results used for NCLB and Program Improvement reasons. There is more to student learning and student success. Our students annually have been selected to attend prestigious colleges and universities across the country.

Just this year our students received over $2.5 million in scholarships for both academics and athletics. Our students excel in the visual and performing arts and in Career-Technical Education programs (we have 24 courses in 11 pathways), and in honors and advanced placement courses (we have 12 offered this coming year). See the list below for details.

During the 13-14 school year students participated in at least one of 24 different career technical courses which are part of 11 career technical education pathways. Three of the pathways are in agriculture: Agriculture Mechanics, Horticulture, and Animal Science. Two are in the Arts Media and Entertainment area: Television and Video production, Computers and Graphic Arts. Other pathways include: Child Development and Childcare Careers, Fashion Design & Fashion Merchandising, Food Service and Hospitality, Machining & Welding Technology, Construction & Cabinetmaking, Vehicle Maintenance service/repair. All Pathways include at least a 2 year sequence of courses.

Advanced Placement

AP Courses for 2014-2015:

•American History

•American Literature

•Art History


•Calculus AB

•Calculus BC


•English Language

•European History

•Spanish Language

•Spanish Literature

•Studio Art

•US Government

AP Courses for 2013-2014:

•American History

•American Literature

•Art History

•Calculus AB

•Calculus BC

•English Language

•European History



•Spanish Language

•Spanish Literature

•Studio Art

•US Government

We are proud of our students and their accomplishments, and as a Board of Trustees, we are committed to enhancing the success of all students.


Sharon Koehler


Board of Trustees

Editor's Note: Due to its length, this Letter to the Editor has been published in the online version of the Village News only.



Comment Profile ImageThanks!
Comment #1 | Saturday, Jun 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm
Thank you for explaining this in words I think everyone can understand. I've pretty much known, understood, and accepted what you've said since my child started kindergarten in the Fallbrook schools. My teenager currently attends Fallbrook High School. I believe the Fallbrook schools and teachers are just as good as anywhere else, and probably more so in certain areas of instruction. I realized years ago when I read about the NCLB, and wanted to try to understand it a little, that the accountability targets set with it would eventually be unachievable. I'm not certain, but I thought the accountability targets were adjusted somewhere along the line because they were so ridiculous. Not sure how crazily unachievable the target is currently, but it really doesn't matter as long as the students are receiving great instruction. Teachers can only do so much. Students have to apply themselves, too.

Let the ones that want to go elsewhere, go ahead. It shrinks the class size a bit here in Fallbrook (although the funding shrinks, too) and allows for more personalized instruction.

One of the things I'm sad to see with your AP list for this upcoming 2014-2015 school year is that Physics is not on the list. Any idea why that one ended up being dropped?
Comment Profile ImageSharon Koehler
Comment #2 | Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 8:03 am
Physics and Chemistry are offered on alternate years. physics was offered in 2013-14.
Comment Profile ImageThanks!
Comment #3 | Monday, Jun 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm
I had asked my high schooler about it (who already had the scoop on it) after posting and was told the same.
Comment Profile ImageAn Asian American parent
Comment #4 | Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014 at 8:07 am
Dear Sharon,

Thank you for your clarification. I have heard many good things about Fallbrook High School from other Asian American families in our community. Their children went to Fallbrook High School, received excellent public education there, did well on the SAT, and were accepted by top universities such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, etc. When it is time for my daughter to attend high school, I feel confident that she will receive an excellent education from Fallbrook High School.


An Asian American parent
Comment Profile ImageBill Leach
Comment #5 | Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014 at 3:09 pm
Mrs. Koehler,
I appreciate your explanation but to me it sounds like an excuse for failure. You give two main excuses for failing to meet the standards:
A) That the standards are so high that you cannot be expected to meet them. Personally I believe that this is false. Are you implying that you are in favor of lower standards? We do have many bright and talented students here in Fallbrook and it is my belief that in the right situation that they can meet the highest standards.
Do you disagree? As a parent I support high standards as life is hard and students should be pushed to achieve and fully reach their potential. How do you expect your students to fill the millions of STEM field jobs available if the standards are lowered by administrators that just want to pat themselves on the back?

B) You make the excuse that you cannot meet the standards due to "English Learners". Are you receiving new arrivals to the US that do not speak English or is this a systemic failure of both districts? How is it that we receive "English learners" in kindergarten and by the time they reach high school you are still making excuses for them and for the failures of the district? After 8 years of public education these students should not be "English learners" anymore. This is a failure. Stop making these excuses.

I have contacted you multiple times regarding Unification of the districts, you have ignored me.

Shouldn't we have a comprehensive plan to address these failures or should we just continue doing the same things over and over again and making excuses about said failures? We should have one district and one board that can make decisions and set goals for the entire community.

Are you so unwilling to give up your power that you would fail the students of this district to save your position? How many good students have you lost to Bonsall High and Mission Vista?

Sure there are plenty of good kids out there doing well and having success but isn't your responsibility to all the students?

There is a lot of talk nowadays about holding teachers accountable for the lack of results within school districts. I believe that accountability goes right to the top. You should act like a real leader and hold yourself accountable for the lack of results instead of making excuses and blaming others.
Comment Profile ImageSharon Koehler
Comment #6 | Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm
Mr. Leach,
I have responded to all of your emails. You have asked my opinion on unification, and I told you I would wait to answer until I have read the results of a study that the elementary district has asked for. The study is not yet complete.
This letter was intended to provide facts, not make excuses. Obviously, space limitations make it impossible to include all details. I would be more than happy to have you attend our board meetings, or I will meet with you to address your specific concerns.
Sharon Koehler
Comment Profile Imagegrunt
Comment #7 | Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014 at 6:41 pm
Ms Koelher, I also have the same question Mr. Leach asked - several years ago I attended a board meeting when a Mexican girl stood up, and through an interpreter, complained that FHS did not offer enough Spanish Language advanced placement classes - then, through the interpreter, we were told she had been attending Fallbrook schools for 5 years, yet she could not make her point in English. Are we not teaching these kids English (as would seem to the case with this girl) or are continually getting an influx of new non-English speakers? May I suggest that all primary Spanish speaking kids coming to Fallbrook schools be 1) tested in English 2) if they fail to met age level ability 3) pull then out of the normal curriculum and teach them English. At most it will put them one year behind their English speaking peers, but it will allow them then advance with a through understanding of English, will not delay or slow down classes as the same lesson is explained in both languages.
Comment Profile ImageTo Grunt
Comment #8 | Thursday, Jul 3, 2014 at 1:18 am
1. How do you know she was Mexican? Did it say that on her forehead or are you assuming? Not everyone that speaks Spanish is Mexican. Educate yourself please.

2. There is a system for English Language Learners. And they are not in the same classes as fluent English speaking students. Become more involved in the school, attend their OPEN meetings, learn about the system and then speak.
Comment Profile ImageBill Leach
Comment #9 | Thursday, Jul 3, 2014 at 10:05 am
Grunt- This is the point exactly. How long do we educate these students before they are no longer "English learners"? My kids go to school here and I see it every year. I have a hard time believing that the students Mrs. Koehler is speaking about are kids that just arrived in the US and their first contact with our district is in high school.

To comment #8- Are you satisfied with the current system? Is it appropriate for a student who attends elementary and junior high in our district to still lack English language skills @ the high school level. I find this to be unacceptable and something that must be addressed immediately.

Mrs. Koehler- Do you think that it is acceptable for students that attend the elementary and junior high to continue being labeled as English learners? How long should this process take?

This is one of the reasons to unify the districts. We need one comprehensive plan. Not the elementary district doing one thing and the high school another. Why do we need a study conducted by the elementary district?

You know as well as I do that the state board of education would have to conduct multiple studies on this once the process is started regardless of what the elementary district does.

Why is it that Temecula, Vista, and Oceanside can have populations 3x ours and have unified districts? Vista has 3x the schools and 1/2 the administrators. Can you explain your position?

As far as space limitations there are no limitations here so if you would like to include the details you were unable to in your piece please do so here to be read by the voters of your district.
Comment Profile ImageKari
Comment #10 | Thursday, Jul 3, 2014 at 11:05 am
As my son approached grade school age (many years ago), I did some research and learned about this title I funding. Yes, we chose to put him in private schools. As he grew and became more involved in competitive sports (swimming & water polo) we made the very tough decision to put him in Potter Jr. High (who also receives title I funding) so that he would have a solid foundation of friends and a support system prior to entering Fallbrook High where hed be able to compete on a CIF level. I was worried that he would become bored and would lose his academic motivation. Much to my surprise he excelled! He was placed in the classes that were appropriate for him and received specialized attention when he needed it. The teachers were all outstanding. He even came home one day and said, I think Im getting a better education at Potter than I did (at previous school) because of all the opportunities and diverse academics. Wow! We have never regretted our decision to place him a title I funding school. We couldnt be happier. I hope this encourages those who have thought about private vs. FUHS and their decision making.
Comment Profile Imagegrunt
Comment #11 | Thursday, Jul 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm
@To Grunt, she said "Yo es de Mexico" so unless she was lying she was Mexican. As to your "educate yourself please", I speak three languages and read two more; I can tell, often, by word choice and accent, speed of talk the difference between Central Americans, South Americans, Mexicans, Cubans and of course Spaniards. I have attended many board meetings, and even served on a committee. I have close relatives teaching in the California public schools, and have myself tutored at both the elementary and Junior College level.

@Kari - I am glad your son received the education he did; I suspect that he had strong parental support, and I congratulate you!
Comment Continued : The comment above was written from the same location.
Post Continued
Comment Profile Imagegrunt
Comment #12 | Friday, Jul 4, 2014 at 11:07 pm
Correction she said "Soy de mexico" (my computer self corrected incorrectly).
Comment Profile ImageBill Leach
Comment #13 | Monday, Jul 7, 2014 at 2:51 pm
Mrs. Koehler,
Can you answer the questions please?

I am not trying to be overly hard on you. You seem like a very nice lady, this is just a very important subject and when you write an opinion piece in the newspaper you should answer the questions that follow.

As a community we need answers and accountability.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fallbrook Village News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


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