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Paly - Another Honors class not Honorably ranked by UC?

Original post made by just wondering on Feb 28, 2013

Is it correct that it turns out that a Chemistry H. class just followed Physics H. class, which followed an English H. class - UC will not weigh as honors?
English H. - Web Link
Physics H. - Web Link

Comments (18)

Posted by gunn parent, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

Chem H at Gunn also was disqualified for Honors standing. The school said it's because UCs don't want to weight it because it's primarily a sophomore class. However, I looked up similar courses in the Cupertino and Saratoga districts and those courses are still with Honors standing. Looks like the reason given by the school is not the only reason.


Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 9:43 am

I wish some good investigative journalism would take place on this.

I have asked a few questions, but not got any good answers. My kid has been affected by this.

Not sure if this is a school board issue or a Skelly issue. But, this is something where parents and students should not be left in the dark.

It is also nothing about entitlement before someone jumps in and says Tiger Parenting or Helicopter Parenting. It is about being able to choose a class and being able to trust you are getting your expectations. After all, if you bought a fake rolex from a high end jewellery store you would expect your money back. Unfortunately, the kids only have one chance at high school and then it is too late to change once they reach graduation.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

Who is responsible for ensuring that classes designated as Honors actually are Honors classes for the UC system?


Posted by do tell, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 11:37 am

I'd think that the Paly administration would be happy to explain the thinking behind these changes. Please share if they do.

Until then, what I heard was that the UCs only allow one "H" class per field of study so perhaps Physics H was dropped because Paly already had Chem H. Now that Chem H is gone, students could ask Paly to resubmit Physics H for the extra UC weight.

Were there two English Hs so one needed to be dropped too?

Just looked up Cupertino and Saratoga. Yep, both offer Chem H to 10th graders and from their sequence charts both sure look to be a primarily 10th grade class.

Web Link - says Chem Honors is for grades 10-12, just like Paly's course catalog does.

Web Link

With all of the state's money problems, especially the UC's, it is hard to imagine that the UCs have the bandwidth to independently audit all honors class taught at each high school in CA to see which are filled with more sophomores than juniors and seniors.

Maybe a Paly parent who didn't want his child to take the harder class, but did want him to look as academically challenged as other students, turned Paly in to the UCs.


Posted by disgruntled parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Well, Paly is deliberately on its way to be a school primarily focused on special ed kids and other 504s... Maybe the Paly administration no longer wants honors classes. That would also do the bidding of all those parents who have streneously argued that everything should be made easier in high school in Palo Alto because their kids could not succeed in advanced classes.

Maybe it is just the beginning. Don't be surprised if they eliminate all AP classes and all laning eventually. I do believe we are on our way to this. Thanks WCDBPA by the way...


Posted by Can't say it, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

It seems that the UCs prefer out-of-the-country applicants of a specific race, of which there are more of in Cupertino, Saratoga, and Los Gatos than in Palo Alto.

According to Jerry Brown, California residents are to have absolute priority in admission to UCs, BY LAW! However, last year, the UCs announced that they were giving priority to foreign students because they bring in so much more money. Yet, Jerry Brown has done nothing about that law violation, even though the UCs and CSUs were set up expressly to serve qualified Californians!

Where does that leave qualified Californians of US citizenship who cannot afford Stanford or Harvard or another out-of-state school? this is clear cut bias by our own people against our own people. Smacks of treason.


Posted by Blame Skelly, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2013 at 4:27 pm

WCDBPA has nothing against honors classes. Please put the blame on some overpaid paper pusher in the district office who forgot to fill out the form. Maybe if Skelly wasn't so busy violating student civil rights and covering it up he might have remembered to file the paperwork.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 2, 2013 at 5:53 am

I find it astonishing that the PAUSD "paperpusher" in charge has failed Paly students not once, not twice, but three times now!
What is PAUSD going to do to ensure that Paly students get the appropriate UC credit for the Honors-level work they are doing in these three classes?


Posted by Man of Straw, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 2, 2013 at 6:33 am

"Where does that leave qualified Californians of US citizenship who cannot afford Stanford or Harvard"

The financial aid packages at Stanford and the Ivy League schools are so generous that these days it's typically cheaper for nearly everyone to attend these schools as opposed to the UCs (and for those who don't qualify for the financial aid can certainly afford both).


Posted by parent wondering why, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 2, 2013 at 6:47 am

I recall that this time last year WCDBPA was stumping against the rigors of 9th grade biology - two lanes, neither one an AP or honors class - saying it was too hard for kids. Given that Chem H is harder, it is easy to imagine that Chem H might not have met WCDB's smell test either.

Apart from Chem H - which the story goes got called in or caught in a UC audit - the decision to not offer an honors English class to seniors was approved by Principal Winston.

Last fall, UC informed Paly that our honors American Classics English class that students took the year BEFORE would not be given any extra GPA points for UC admissions.

This year Paly offers it with the UC GPA boost to BOTH 11th and 12th graders. But next year, instead of English Masters honors which Paly was slated to teach so seniors could have an honors English course to enroll in that year too, Paly is repeating American Classics again --leaving seniors without an in-between English class to go to.

Paly didn't leave 9th grade English untouched; the principal announced to incoming Paly students that the 9th grade "advanced" English class was eliminated. Apparently he hadn't crossed all the "t's" in time so 9th grade Advanced English will be taught next year. What will happen to it the year after?


Posted by paly parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 2, 2013 at 8:59 am

The 9th grade English class at Paly was deliberately eliminated so that ALL the students are in the more challenging class. No one forgot to cross their "t's" in time. If it works, I assume they will keep it.

The 9th and 10th grade science classes at Paly didn't used to have a "regular" lane only Advanced and Honors (Gunn had regular lanes of both). I believe the regular lanes were added for the current school year because the 9th grade kids who couldn't take the Advanced Bio were forced to take a class that only received UC credit as an elective and this put them a year behind their peers in the science lanes.


Posted by parent wondering why, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

Paly Parent,

Check your facts . . .Paly will be offering two levels of English to 9th graders next year: English 9 & 9A.

Web Link

If and when it goes down to 1, I wonder how kids who need the extra attention will feel being in an advanced class filled with Paly's strongest English students.

Looking at the STAR test scores, the English skills of students going from Jordan to Paly is very wide:

75% are the most advanced, and
13% test only at basic or below (not up to state's minimum standards)


Posted by observer, a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 3, 2013 at 7:45 am

Gee, isn't it interesting that no one from Paly seems to have the straight story on what courses count for what and how the curriculum is constructed? We were all led to believe last year at this time that the Teacher Advisor system is an ideal way to keep accurate information flowing to families in a timely manner. What happened? Why don't they know the students well enough, with their frequent and multiple touchpoints, to construct a curriculum which serves all of the students and communicate honestly about it?


Posted by contact, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2013 at 7:59 am

There is an assistant principal in charge of these things. She is overseen by the principal.

Contact them. They should have the answers


Posted by just wondering, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

Back in November I started a thread about Physics H. - Web Link

'Member' responded then. Link above. While I have no way to know if what 'member' wrote, then, is correct - I think it is worth reading (copying):
"Dear Palo Alto Online journalists. Please investigate these issues further. Principal Winston refused (after several requests) to provide specifics on why these courses were denied the weighted designations by the UC - he said generally that it was due to some "technical" issues and too many honors classes at Paly. So what were the technical issues -- a missed deadline, missing form? Regarding too many honors classess - what is the cap of weighted honors courses that a UC allows a high school? Was Paly made aware of this cap? In Winston's letter to parents and students about the English 11H course, he asked us not contact Monica Lin at the UC President's office who made the decisions. The UC did provide specific information to the school as to why the application for weighted honors designation were denied. Why is it not being shared (transparency in a public institution is required)? More importantly, the school needs to learn from the feedback from the UC so this does not happen to future students."


Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Paly has always offered two lanes of English, even back in 1979 when I was a freshman at Paly. The difference is the title being English "9" or "9A", with the "A" designating it as a higher lane. Prior, they were called "Exploratory" and "Critical Thinking" so perhaps it was more difficult for colleges to realize that "Critical Thinking" was the higher lane.

Who says Paly will offer only one lane of English? This would be completely absurd and must be rumor.

It's tiring to read posters here waiting for failure so they can throw an arrow and claim "Gotchya!" Why don't you negative posters focus on what Paly is doing right? How can your children grow up well in an environment where you are always finding fault in everything? Paly is overall doing everything right.


Posted by wu-t, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 11, 2013 at 10:36 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Observer of observer, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm

observer -- jeez you are a troll, just roaming around waiting for a chance to gotcha, TA sucks! Sweet jesus do you think that the parents posting here are somehow a representative sample of knowlegable parents? Half the posters think WCDB has a secret button that controls the Paly curriculum and the other half think that it's all part of Phil Winston's plot to secretly eliminate all honors and AP classes because I guess Phil is just that dumb that he thinks that will be how he can succeed. I wonder if what happened here is that Mike Millikin failed to file paperwork on this, just like Skelly failed to get policies in place on 504 plans and bullying and pay-to-learn and a host of other things? You have a low-functioning organization over there. Why anyone in their right mind would hand that cast of characters $20 million dollars or give such a gift to Earl Hanson after the coaching issues is totally beyond belief. Does Dick Peery just have money to burn and doesn't care what happens to it? That seems like a good question?


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