Sunday, January 11, 2009

WASL Boycott

I have heard whispers about a possible WASL boycott by APP families in the wake of a decision to split the program at the elementary and middle school levels.

I totally support the split, but I also totally support the boycott. The community SHOULD boycott the WASL until the District fulfills its commitments. Then, if and when those commitments are fulfilled, the boycott should end. This is the sort of accountability that the District leadership dreams about. They should accept this condition and welcome it.

The key, I believe, is that the community make it very clear that the boycott will end when the District fulfills its commitments. The community should totally accept the District's definition of accountability - a pre-determined, clearly defined, and objectively measured set of benchmarks that must be met. The boycott is on starting this year (spring 2009) and will be called off as soon as the community is satisfied that the District has four equitable and effective programs - two in the north and two in the south - that they have a written, taught and tested curriculum, that the professional development is in place for principals and teachers, that there are appropriate electives at the middle schools - including music, and that the community has representation on all of the committees that either give advice or make decisions about our students. If they like, the community can even add the ridiculous goal of increased access, but I'm afraid of how they might effect that. The community should demand a set of benchmarks from the District and then hold them to those benchmarks. Nothing could be more fair or just. The boycott remains in place until all of the benchmarks are fully met.

The long history of negotiations with the District has a pattern. The District gets what they want immediately in exchange for promises of future actions. Then the District fails to complete the future actions. They are trying it again. They want to implement the splits on the promise of equitable effective programs at multiple sites. Fine. The community will hold them to that promise. If the District fulfills, then it won't be any problem and the WASL boycott will be for just two years.

I think the Spectrum community should join the boycott with a demand for equitable effective programs at all of their sites as well. All APP and all Spectrum should boycott the WASL until the District has met their commitment to equitable quality programs in all locations.

Of course, the boycotts are off as soon as the District fulfills their commitments. How could the District object to that? Like I said, I think they should welcome it. The WASL doesn't provide meaningful measures of academic achievement for advanced learners anyway. What difference does it make if you meet that set of academic expectations if they are not YOUR academic expectations?

103 comments:

Sahila said...

Charlie says:
"The WASL doesn't provide meaningful measures of academic achievement for advanced learners anyway. What difference does it make if you meet that set of academic expectations if they are not YOUR academic expectations?"

Oh Charlie - how strange, sad, weird, frustrating that you can turn our (alternative) argument against the WASL and our boycott of it against us at AS#1 on the one hand, and then advocate boycotting the WASL to put pressure on the District to 'do the right thing' for advanced learning on the other, especially as its not relevant to advanced learners....

Such double standards and such expediency....

Sahila said...

To make myself clear -
One of your points being that the (fatally flawed)WASL is not relevant to advanced learners...

and our point being that the (fatally flawed) WASL is not relevant to alternative learning measures

and your point also being to boycott the WASL as a protest...

...and our point being to boycott the WASL as a protest....

Its great if the suggestion comes from mainstream/advanced education, but its rebellious if it comes from the alternative community...

I am so mad and sad at the hypocrisy I could cry!

SPSMom said...

"I think the Spectrum community should join the boycott ..."

Great idea, except....for parents who would like to try for APP in middle school, doesn't the district use 4th grade WASL scores as part of the entrance requirement into APP? If so, couldn't the district restrict these students from getting into APP since they have no WASL scores?

Also, if all APP students opt out, won't that send Lowell and WMS into Step 1 for not making AYP? Remember, 1/2 of APP will still be at Lowell and WMS!

Look at AS1's current status simply for opting out...

Just some things to consider!

SPSMom said...

So looked up the WASL info for APP testing. From the SPS Advanced Learning web site, FAQs

"For 4th-7th grade students, we evaluate the most recent reading and math achievement test scores in the Seattle Public School student records (WASL scores). Students in grades 4-7 with no achievement scores on record may be administered the ITBS."

The phrase here for me is "may...administer the ITBS" or they may not and toss your students application out.

I think Spectrum parents are playing with fire here to join a boycott for APP parents. Also Spectrum parents opting out would lower the scores of their current school.

adhoc said...

Sahila, I'm sure Charlie will be able to defend himself, but I am going to jump in here. There is a difference between what Charlie has proposed, which is using the WASL as leverage to hold the District accountable, and what AS1 has been doing, which is refusing to take the WAS based on philosophical opposition.

Charlie is not actually opposing the WASL. He just realizes how valuable a tool the WASL is to the District, and knows that by depriving the District of their treasured WASL scores (especially those of APP/Spectrum students) his community will have some leverage.

He clearly said that he wants to work WITH the District. And when they fulfill their promises the APP community will cancel the boycott.

AS1 opposes the WASL based on their philosophy. AS1 does not work with the District. In fact from everything I have heard from the AS1 community, they view the District as the enemy. They have refused to have their children take the WASL. They have not worked with the District to come up with a mutually acceptable form of assessment. They claim they do their own assessments, but have not to this very day provided the public with any sort of data regarding the assessment.

Surely you see the difference in the two scenarios???

hschinske said...

Lowell doesn't get Title 1 anyway, and even if they did, you have to fail to make AYP for two successive years to reach Step 1.

It's possible to take the ITBS outside the school system, I believe -- I am pretty sure there are ways that homeschoolers and others can sign up to take it for a fee. If you sent in the ITBS scores with your application, I don't see how the Advanced Learning office could say they didn't count.

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

adhoc - no, to my mind there is no difference... both actions are based on philosophical and political points of view... one regarding the value (or lack thereof) of standardised testing, especially if the model used is flawed, and the other regarding using whatever tools you have to make clear your disagreement with a flawed policy...

AS#1 doesnt see the District as an enemy - we wish they would work with us in the interests of educational best practice for our children, but they appear not to understand alternative education in the first place, to be in conflict/non compliance with their own policy of supporting alternative education in the second, and to desire to standardise/supersize education in the third, so it is hard to find common ground...

It really is so very, very simple... the world is filled with people of all shapes, sizes and colours, not just physically but intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, ethnically, culturally, sexually - whatever aspect you want to look at...

Then there are systems - in this case the education system as it manifests itself in the US.

For the sake of cost saving and efficiency (and not much else), the system has determined that its desirable to offer a model thats mostly made up of a series of predominantly round holes in which to fit people...

Now, if you are a square peg, or a diamond one, or a triangular one, or a hexagonal one or any other shape you can think of, you can only fit into a round hole if you do damage to yourself by shaving off your edges to make them round...

Anyone with two clues would know that damaging process is going to deliver poor outcomes.... but the system ignores that logic and insists on offering more round holes and trying to force the square pegs to comply with the requirement to make themselves round...

Lose-lose all around.... loss in potential fulfilled, loss to the economy, loss to society, losses personally for the pegs who cant fit and are penalised, if not outright discarded as rejects... this is not rocket science....

I have repeatedly said there is academic assessment going on at AS#1, that data is available to the District and to the public.... all you - the public - have to do is go to the school and ask...

JMT said...

This is something I've always wondered about, but never researched. If students at a school do not take the WASL, are they given a ZERO and their scores average in with the rest of the students' scores?

When I toured ORCA a couple of years back, the principal told us that their WASL scores didn't reflect what was going on in the school because a significant number of parents of students were pulling them from taking the test. Later someone told me (hearsay I know) that the opt-outs weren't counted in the totals. What is the real answer?

Also, I thought I had read during this round of closures that the District is tracking WASL scores by different populations within a school (ethnic groups, FRE, etc.). This was mentioned in the context of the new APP/gen ed schools--the argument was that because the District tracks scores demographically, the WASL scores for APP at Marshall or Lowell would be reported separately from the gen ed population (hence not actually masking the school's true progress).

If the District does track the WASL by group, then why wouldn't they flag or "asteriks" the schools with a boycott? I realize this is complicated by federal requirements/No Child Left Behind, but it seems like SPS would be able to communicate this kind of information to parents. Or not?

Thanks for the clarification.

owlhouse said...

Thanks for the post, Charlie, this is a FANTASTIC idea.

SPSMom- The original whisper of "boycott" may have come from the APP cohort, but Charlie's position is that the boycott be used as a tool to ensure district accountability across the board. With enough attention to the issue, I think the district will be under enormous pressure to allow for ITBS testing and subsequent APP placement.

Sahila- This boycott should speak to the district's obligation to alternative schools, including the statement on Alternative Education, C54.00, you referred to on Harium's blog. What a powerful position to have a coordinated boycott result in, amongst other things, the district's acceptance of alternative forms of assessment.

The list of unfulfilled district promises and unmet policies is lengthy and growing. We're hearing more and more voices speak to the public's lack of trust in the district. It seems that a district-wide WASL boycott may speak louder than petitions, rallies, or even board testimony. This could be the most effective step in advocating for the interests of student communities district-wide.

Question. How do we get "buy-in" from "successful" schools, those not currently impacted by the capacity management plan? Think BIG, this could be a turning point.

ArchStanton said...

Now there's an interesting idea.

Being relatively new in my role as an involved parent, I don't know much about AS#1 and it's history with the WASL, so I can't speak to that.

As far as Lowell/APP/ALO goes, I have not heard of any other suggestion that seems to give us as much leverage as this approach. Sure, we can all threaten to leave APP for our neighborhood school or leave SPS for private or another district, but those approaches don't seem to carry much weight with the powers that be.

I imagine a WASL boycott would make them sit up and take notice. I'd like to believe their proposed splits could work, but I have no faith in their ability to follow through on their promises.

Charlie states: "The long history of negotiations with the District has a pattern. The District gets what they want immediately in exchange for promises of future actions. Then the District fails to complete the future actions. They are trying it again."

My own limited experience with Dr. Vaughan backs this up. I won't go into specifics, but I had some issues that I was trying to get addressed with the powers that be and was ignored until the first proposal was coming down the pipe, then suddenly, they cared about my concerns and wanted to get buy in on something that would support what they wanted (i.e.the proposal). I approved of what they were suggesting, but it was notable that they didn't care about my issues until it suited their needs. Now I fear that after they get what they want, my issues will be quietly forgotten, stalled, or excuses will be made. It is reassuring that Charlie trusts Dr. Vaughan, but I don't have any history with him beyond this, so I am not ready to sell out that quickly.

If there is another way besides a WASL boycott to gain some leverage, bargaining strength, or put pressure on SPS to deliver on their promises, I'd like to hear it. At the moment this seem like a good tool to that end.

Seattlehorn said...

Charlie, I understand why you support the middle school APP split, but why do you support it at the elementary level?

north seattle mom said...

Sahila, AS1 has never boycotted the WASL and that is the issue. A boycott would be where the whole school did NOT take it one year and then DID take it the next to make a point.

AS1 just does what it does and allows / encourages everyone to decide for themselves as a personal statement. That is a not a boycott.

Melissa Westbrook said...

JMT, the scores count as a zero. It also means zero to you child as they are not used for grading. Advanced Learning may try to say if they don't have a WASL score from current APP/Spectrum students, then those students may be exited from the program. Well, that would be a lot of kids if there's a boycott and I do not believe the district would follow thru on it.

As to the issue of hurting your school, it would be for a year or two or three, if your school doesn't get Title 1 funds you don't get labeled under NCLB (except for not meeting AYP which is likely to be changed under Obama)and the "hurt" would be a lower WASL score.

For me, standing up and demanding accountability - via a boycott - is more important than what the school's WASL score is for a year or two.

It is, literally, the one way parents have to act in a concerted way and get the district's attention. You cannot wait for the next Board elections, you could send a message via the next BTA levy( but that's kind of an unclear message) or you boycott the WASL.

Or you could trust the district to do the right thing.

bj said...

If APP parents took the aggressive tack of a boycott, and I was in charge of the district, I'd shut down the APP program. I suspect that's something they can do, since there's no legal obligation to provide advanced learning.

Having these high-scorers at Lowell isn't particularly desirable for the school district anyway, is it? They'd rather see them back in their neighborhood schools, distributing their high scores among more schools and with other learners.

I think this idea is exactly the kind of confrontation that I wanted to avoid in going to a private school. Charlie is talking about using a boycott to get accountability from the school, but since I don't know what "accountability" looks like, all I see is parents trying to use perceived power to get what they want. (But, I think they're wrong about their power in a boycott, so it would be a dangerous game to play).

adhoc said...

Owlhouse, that was my point to Sahila, you said it much better than I.

If the Alt School audit supports alt schools using an alternative form of assessment instead of the WASL, and the District is unwilling to work with the alt community to make that happen then it would be perfectly reasonable and a powerful statement to opt our of the WASL UNTIL the District is willing to work with them. If and when the District does work with the community and comes up with an acceptable assessment then AS1 should cancel the WASL protest. That is a coordinated effort and it is within reason.

Owlhouse asked "how do we get buy in from successful schools"?

I know in the NE the community does NOT want to see the schools get any ore crowded. They want the lack of capacity issue to be addressed and resolved. They have given up their science lab, band rooms, portables, art rooms, etc to make room for yet more classrooms. There buildings are bursting at the seams. There classes are up to 32 kids in elementary! Bryant has 3 lunch periods. Perhaps the "successful" NE schools would be willing to boycott the WASL until an acceptable resolution is offered to the NE capacity crisis.

Most families seem satisfied with Roosevelt's AP offerings, but can't get their children into Roosevelt. A lot of them wind up at Hale where the AP classes pale in comparison. I bet all of those families would boycott the WASL until the District made Hale's honors and AP offerings competitive with Roosevelt's.

SE families could boycott the WASL until they get extra security officers at RBHS to help ensure their children's safety. And families at Denny/Sealth would be happy to boycott until the District cleans works with them to address all of their concerns. I bet the middle class families that live near Madrona would boycott the WASL until the District made Madrona welcoming to all neighborhood families. I bet the families at NOVA would boycott the WASL until they were able to get their vegetarian lunch program back.

And how about the thousands of families scattered across the District who want traditional math. I bet many of them would would boycott the WASL until the District offered a traditional math curriculum.

Charlie you are really onto something here. Think about the possibilities....

TechyMom said...

Didn't Spectrum families threaten a boycott a few years ago? What happened with that?

owlhouse said...

adhoc- I appreciate many of your points, but I would really hope that Rainier Beach, and the rest of us on their behalf, would would hold out for more than security officers. Quality, student-centered, educational programs. District-wide.

The outcome may look different at each school, but it's a universal goal. The district meets its mandates, in turn improving education, equity, trust, enrollment(?)...

Josh Hayes said...

adhoc, I think you misunderstand the history of AS1 vis a vis the WASL.

AS1 was founded as a free school. As a consequence, the school respects families' wishes vis a vis the educational testing environment for their children. This is much less true nowadays than it used to be; in years past, the fraction of kids taking the WASL was near zero. Nowadays, it's less than half, but not by much.

I think many parents at the school regard the WASL as, well -- a piece of crap. Completely useless as a measure of educational success. And so, to succumb, and force our kids to take a completely meaningless test, where the results of that completely meaningless test have enormous weight on the future of our school, well, you can see the Lewis Carroll nature of the whole thing.

"We agree it's meaningless, but you have to take it, and if you don't, your results will be terrible (despite the fact that they are meaningless) and we'll close your school."

Leaving aside the fact that it is simply impossible to vault from stage zero of NCLB to stage four (which is what AS1 has, heroically, managed to do), of course.

The WASL is a crock of ordure. That school closure policy is based upon it is ludicrous. That children are blackmailed into taking it, because if they don't their school will be closed, is morally bankrupt.

Worst of all, we could simply hold a lottery among parents not wanting their kids to take the WASL, and assign, say, 10% of them to take it this year. That will automatically "improve" our scores. Has the school changed? Are the kids "learning more"? Of course not: we'd be gaming the system, which should illustrate how idiotic the system is.

Lara said...

I had the same feelings as Sahila initially, but it is true that many families at AS#1 already do comply in taking the WASL. There is not much unity on that front, and as a school we do everything we can to accept people as they are and allow them to make decisions that are right for them. I suppose it's a live and let live philosophy, which is really not a boycott; it's more of a lesson in freedom. Let them be free since it has no bearing on the kids' education anyway.

I do think a WASL boycott is an excellent idea pretty much across the board. I think the timing would make it detrimental to AS#1 (the district would likely use us as the example of what happens to schools that are "bad"), but I think it's a fantastic way to ensure that the district follows through with its commitments once and for all. It could even propel them to come through on some of them sooner than anticipated. They need federal money, and we need accountability.

I've heard that the amount of money that comes from the feds through NCLB is just barely enough to administer the tests, so some states have decided not to participate anymore. Anyone know more details about that?

I like reading this blog, and it's clear a lot of other people do too, but how would a boycott like this be communicated to all families across the district? If only the readers here were to follow through, I imagine the boycott would not carry enough weight. So what is the plan?

seattle citizen said...

hmmm...there is only a hint of a suggestion in these posts that a more widespread boycott might be in order to demand accountability for ALL programs.
I know this is a gut-level response, and won't be popular, but on my first read of Charlie's post I thought, "so, APP is going to use its high WASL scores as power over the district to get accountability FOR APP PROGRAMS.
What about the other programs? Are we in one boat or aren't we?

I'm not so sure a boycott is a good idea. It is a tool, but is it a)effective, b)fair to the students who will be boycotting (Maybe many APP students can take it again later, when it counts, but if non-APP students did this, they would be under more pressure in following years to get it done, without practice...c) what about the other students in other programs that are connected to APP? What happens to the non-APP students at WMS when half the school doesn't take the test and the school tanks? Is this fair to THEM? Will APP boycotters work with these other students and families?

Another strange correlation: Some say that the WASL and the effect it has on schools encourages schools to "move along" low scorers so they aren't on the school's test scores; in effect, the system asks individual students to boycott the system, or go to some other school and tank THEM. Just a thought for the mix.

While I'm not so sure a boycott is a good idea (it's VERY divisive, at a time when many are trying to find middle ground), if a boycott HAD to be done? Why only APP for APP? This seems self-absorbed, when APP scores are higher, and thus have a larger impact if they are removed from the overall scores.

hschinske said...

Scores aren't averaged, so there is no benefit to the school from a student's scoring 4 rather than 3 -- the pass rate is all that matters. Any student who is likely to pass, but boycotts instead, is equivalent to any other.

I think a mass WASL boycott would likely be more reasonable at Lowell than anywhere else, precisely because it wouldn't be affecting any other population, and the school wouldn't see long-term effects either -- only the district's overall AYP would be affected. But I'm still not sure it's the best idea. I will have to think about it some more.

Helen Schinske

adhoc said...

I've given this WASL boycott a bit more thought. This is the first time since I have been part of SPS that I feel that we have a steadfast leader that not only has a vision but is able to make progress and stay on track. I feel that it is the first time (without the threat of a lawsuit or media attention) that the District has been responsive to community input.

In light of the above, I wonder if it would be better to communicate to the the District our expectations, ask for their commitment, set a date, and the wait and see if they comply? If they meet the expectations and keep their commitments, there would be no need for a boycott. If they don't then a boycott would indeed be justified.

There are enough parents in this District to communicate clearly to the District that we want traditional math, and we want it by X date.

Then, we wait and see.




A boycott does seem like strong arming, and strong arming should always be a last resort. Then there is the negative impact that a boycott could have on the students, as as Seattle Citizen rightly pointed out.

Charlie Mas said...

Wow! Leave this thing for a day and see what you come back to! I have a lot to answer.

1) AS#1 is not conducting a WASL boycott - at least no one has ever told me that opting out of the WASL at AS#1 is an organized effort to achieve a stated end. On the contrary, I have been lead to believe that it is the individual decisions of a number of like-minded families choosing independently and without any specific, measurable political goal in mind, other than to express their rejection of the test. That's not a boycott, that's a mass rejection. Look up boycott in the dictionary. It has to be organized, and it has to have a stated purpose. Also, when would AS#1 families end their "boycott" of the WASL? They wouldn't, would they? A boycott is a specific action for a defined period.

2) I have NEVER spoken against families at AS#1 - or any other families - opting out of the WASL. I, myself, opted my daughter out of the 4th grade WASL. I defy you to find a quote by me in which I voiced opposition to the decision of AS#1 families to hold their children out of the test. I have said that in lieu of the test they need an alternative measure of academic achievement, but that's hardly speaking against the decision not to subject your children to the WASL.

3) Given that the first two statements are true, the accusations of keeping a double standard, of expediency, and of hypocrisy are false. I would appreciate an admission of error and an apology.

4) Spectrum students who wish to test for APP should not worry that a WASL boycott will foil their chances. In the absence of WASL scores, the District will administer a substitute assessment of academic achievement. Students who did not attend Washington public schools in the previous year and students in grades 3 and under do not have WASL scores either. It's not a big deal.

5) Yes, it is possible that Lowell, or one of the other APP sites or Spectrum sites might fail to make AYP if the advanced learners opt out of the WASL. However, one of the interesting details of No Child Left Behind is that the sanctions only fall on schools that receive Title 1 funding from the federal government. In Seattle, those are schools in which over 40% of the students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. So while APP and Spectrum schools might fail to make AYP, there are only one or two that might suffer any sanctions - and Aki Kurose is already in Step 5; what more can they do? The sanctions are only incurred if the school were to fail to make AYP in two or more consecutive years. It's really not much of a concern, and if it were then the students at those schools should not participate in the boycott.

6) The District will not toss your students out of APP or Spectrum for refusing to take the WASL. They never have; they never will. The previous program manager threatened it one year and then she was gone. The two facts are associated. The threat proved empty.

7) If a student refuses the test or if the student is excused from the test by a parent/guardian, then the student does not get a score for the test. When calculating the school's pass rate, that student is counted among those who did not pass. The data on schools reported by the OSPI includes not only the pass rate of all students, but also the number of students who did not test and the pass rate for the students who did test.

The District, however, lacks the ability to communicate this sort of nuanced information. I doubt they would be able to "asterisk" schools with low participation in the test.

8) A WASL boycott is available to every school community. Others are free to do the same in the name of achieving their ends. The APP community were already talking about it before I heard of it. They were going to use it as a protest against the split. My suggestion was that they use it as an accountability measure. It is key to have an end in mind.

9) It's not so much that I support the elementary APP split as I do not oppose it. Lowell is very crowded. The special education students are legally entitled to interaction with general education students so they can participate with typically developing peers in an academic setting. I don't want to see the Special Education students moved out of that building, so general education students will have to come in. The elementary cohort is large enough that it can be split in two and create viable learning communities. If the District fulfills their commitments to maintain or improve program quality, then the only problem with the split will be that the north-end program should be in the north-end. The District should correct that with the new student assignment plan.

10) There is absolutely no risk that the District will shut down APP in response to a WASL boycott. Not only would that be a wildly disproportionate response, it would be damaging to the students, and politically untenable. It's such an outrageous idea that it isn't even on the map.

11) Spectrum families threatened a WASL boycott in 2003. It attracted national press attention. The District quickly responded with a promise-filled letter sent to every Spectrum student's home signed by Superintendent Manhas. I still have mine. The boycott was ended but none of the promises were fulfilled. When asked about the letter and the promises six months later, Mr. Manhas said "Well, you know, I didn't actually write that letter myself." Such was his integrity.

12) The APP community has an excellent communications system. In fact, they have a better system for communicating with APP families than the District has. If they want to spread the word about a boycott, they could do it in a heartbeat with a mass email. In addition, since the entire community is in just three schools, it is very easy to pass the word to anyone who isn't on the email list.

13) Let me tell you that I believe a WASL boycott WILL be effective. Not so much for the loss of the scores, but for the negative press attention it will garner. There are only three things that communities have ever done that have proven effective for influencing the District: the threat of litigation, bad press, and money. As soon as the District got a call from the New York Times about the potential WASL boycott, they sent out the promised-filled letter.

14) I think Seattle Citizen's question, that shouldn't the APP community demand accountability for everyone else as well, is a good question. Honestly, I hadn't considered it. Are we in one boat or aren't we? As a member of a minority community that is regarded so poorly and with so much scorn by so many of the majority, it is hard to think in terms of solidarity with them. For me, the boycott is a good idea only if there is a finite list of expectations: north-end program site, written, taught and tested curriculum, professional development, electives at middle school, accelerated science (I had forgotten this one in the original list), and seats at the table. I think it could be extended to Spectrum, and ALOs, but I'm not sure that the community would accept a boycott with ends that extends beyond there. You have no idea how much these kids and their families LOVE to take tests. It's going to be struggle to hold them back from it. We may have to offer the ITBS as an alternative.

If the families at, for example, Bryant, want to stage a boycott to coerce the District to relieve overcrowding, then good for them. Should the APP WASL boycott continue until then, too? Should we all stay out until Rainier Beach's demands are met? Where will it end? Surely there is ALWAYS a school with outstanding commitments from the District. Would the WASL boycott ever end?

15) A WASL boycott by APP students will have no adverse effects on other students in the building. I have no idea why the boycott would somehow be unfair to them. Seattle Citizen, please explain.

16) I don't wonder. I know. It would NOT be better to communicate to the the District our expectations, ask for their commitment, set a date, and the wait and see if they comply. It would be better to stay out of the WASL until they do. If they meet the expectations and keep their commitments, then the boycott would end. If they don't then the boycott would continue. The key is to withhold until they comply - not to provide until they fail to comply. They will not get what they want first this time. This time, they will have to ante up first.

Dorothy said...

If you don't take the WASL, it does get recorded as "Zero" and "Fail" on the Source and supposedly other permanent records. It also lists "No Score." Only 10th grade WASL is at all important to the student.

I know because as a protest when my son was in APP I did not have him take the WASL. My reasons were specific to APP and my dissatisfaction with APP curriculum, teaching and accountability. I wrote letters to the principal and everything. (And got positive responses from his teachers.)

The WASL is supposed to hold the teachers accountable. APP kids start out ahead. The teachers are supposed to maintain momentum and teach 2 grade levels ahead. The APP kids are administered grade-level WASLs. So of course the kids do well. The teachers could be total slackers and bozos and the kids would do well. The administration cannot use the scores to highlight particularly effective or poor teaching. The absolute final insult was when we had that goofy half-@ssed Highly Capable Review (internal, years ago, for "accreditation") and the findings were that Lowell APP was doing a great job and they could tell that because of its high WASL scores.

So, I don't have much to say about a general WASL boycott. I think Charlie might be onto something with a general Bryant or NE boycott based on overcrowding or something. But for an APP boycott --- I think it's a great idea. Especially because WASL does not inform the parents or administration or the teachers anything of substance. (Whether or not it informs those folks for kids working at grade level is also debatable, but that's a different argument.)

A one year boycott with the notion that next March, APP parents would get together and decide whether or not they felt that the splits had been given the resources they needed to be successful, whether or not that unified curriculum and accountability had been put in place... That's something specific and potentially helpful.

(If anyone is curious, I am not opposed to all testing. My son had regular out-of-level achievement tests administered privately. They showed something I was not surprised with given his experience at Lowell, that his rate of math achievement declined over time, whereas his verbal achievement stayed consistently high. I removed him from APP for middle school, sent him part-time to Eckstein and homeschooled him part-time (for math!). He did take the WASL at Eckstein and is now in 10th grade, has just one section left to do to graduate.)

SPSMom said...

Can anybody tell me what is the the complaint of the APP community that is behind the threat of a WASL boycott?

Do they not want to be split at all?

Do they want to choose the schools that the 1/2 the program is placed?

Or are they fine with the split but just want to make sure that SPS gives them the right amount of support through the process and implementation?

Charlie Mas said...

SPS Mom, the answer is yes.

Yes, there are some in the community who oppose the splits.

Yes, there are some have problems with the program sites.

Yes, therer are some who want to make sure that SPS gives them the right amount of support through the process and implementation.

There is a diversity of views, but I think the community can come together on the third one: no WASL until the District adequately supports the program and the students.

Again, the key is to have pre-determined, clearly defined, objectively measured benchmarks. That frames it as an accountability issue - as it should be.

Seattlehorn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

Charlie, regarding an APP boycott perhaps negatively effecting other students:

If ALL APP at WMS boycotted, the overall pass-rate of the school would fall tremendously with all those zeros factored in.

While it might not have federal (or even district) repercussions, the other students (non-App) would have to "suffer" the loss of a considerable piece of their schools overall score.

The score would only have, say, a forty percent pass rate instead of an eighty percent pass rate.

This might also impact parents shopping for schools in coming years. Some parents use these scores to determine part of a school's viability; scores drop, what should parents think?

seattle citizen said...

Charlie again:
But I think you're right; overall, a boycott wouldn't have too great an impact on other students. Just considerations (and consideration is cllaed for on the part of the APP community about these possible impacts)

noggen said...

OSPI Policies and Procedure Manual taken from OSPI: Federal and state laws require public schools to administer
assessments to students enrolled in the specified grades and
subjects, the assumption apparently being that participation on the
part of the student or approval on the part of the parent would not
be an issue. Because it is not specifically addressed in the
legislation, agency policy adopted after the question arose has been
that students may refuse to participate or their parents may refuse to have their children tested. The policy further requires the school
to request that the refusal on the part of either the student or
parent be put into writing by the parent and kept on file at the
school or district office. It is also recommended that the parent be
requested to include the reason for not wanting the child tested. If
any parent is unwilling to put the refusal in writing, the school
should document that the request was made but the parent would
not put the refusal in writing. This refusal will not avoid any
consequence for not testing, such as failure to graduate.
Because the number of students meeting, exceeding, or failing to
meet the standards is based upon enrollment, the percentages for
the schools and districts are impacted by refusals. The significance
of the impact is proportional to the number of students that should
be tested vs. the number of those same students who were not tested
for whatever reason. This aligns with the federal “No Child Left
Behind” legislation.
The Washington State Legislature has mandated that all schools
teach to the Essential Academic Learning Requirements. Schools
and teachers are not required to create a distinct curriculum for
students whose parents have asked that they not be tested on the
WASL. Schools are not obligated to provide an alternate curriculum
or other lessons to students refusing testing during the time the WASL is being administered. However, schools must provide
supervision for students who are not testing for any reason.

Seattlehorn said...

Charlie, I agree with you on most things, but still don't understand your stance on Lowell. Is it loyalty to Vaughan? You've said the split is "inevitable." Perhaps, but that doesn't mean the timing is right.

With the risks involved, why split NOW? A central/central split is just dumb. Enrollment has risen from the Central cluster and declined in the North in the past few years. What valid reason exists NOT to wait until the assignment plan to "increase access" and ease crowding with a second, northern location?

Many of us don't buy the argument (heretofore ignored by SPS and trotted out to justify the split) that only non-APP students constitute "typically developing" for interaction with Special Ed kids. The board is finally questioning this rationale, as well it should. (Charlie, you of all people should smell a rat when the district suddenly gets religion on the finer points of law.)

If that barrier was blown away, would you remain unopposed?

I feel like a broken record here, but among the many reasons to oppose a split THIS YEAR are: the expense, the lack of curriculum, the history of cohousing APP (viz. Madrona), the inevitability for displacing Gen Ed students in both locations with peers of APP kids, the recommendations of the University of Virginia review, the district policies prohibiting such a split, the disruption of 500 families (many of whom will leave with our elitist dollars). Throw in that Marshall and T.T. Minor don't want us . . . and why should they?

If the REAL reason for taking these risks is cynical beancounting -- using our kids to get higher per school WASL averages -- screw 'em.

The Lowell community should leverage our WASL booty to halt the split this year.

(Like many other Lowell parents, I will continue to advocate on behalf of all schools through ESP Vision.)

Sahila said...

for the pedants on this blog:

"boycott - v.t & n. punish, coerce, (person, class, nation) by systematic refusal of social or commercial relations; combine in
abstaining from (goods etc)" - my trusty Concise Oxford Dictionary that I've had since the end of primary (elementary) school, around 1969...

"boycott - v.t - refuse to deal with; n - concerted refusal to deal with"... from my similarly aged Collins English Gem pocket Dictionary.

Nothing here about how many people involved it takes before refusing to deal with as an action of protest actually becomes worthy of the term 'boycott'...

As Josh explained, most AS#1 parents are opposed to the WASL on principle. Purists might say that our stance is an ethical and moral one, rather than merely the expedient strategy being suggested by APP parents to coerce the District into changing course.

At one time almost the entire AS#1 school community refused to take part in the farce that is the WASL, as is their legal right, and today almost half still boycott the WASL...

We as a community are criticised for exercising our personal choice and legal right... now a boycott of the WASL is being proposed by another, different group and there are no comparable howls of outrage at the suggestion.

Might be nice, healthy and helpful if we stopped wasting time splitting hairs just to protect our positions...

It might also be helpful to stop the boring, almost constant reiteration of the MYTH that AS#1 doesnt test its kids, has no academic data to offer in the absence of WASL scores and refuses to co-operate with the District in coming up with an acceptable alternative assessment model...

adhoc said...

Sahila please direct me to a place where I can find the assessment data and information for AS1. I would love to review it. To date, I have yet to find any data, anywhere.

Is this in house AS1 assessment data available online? Is it on the AS1 website? On the SPS website? On the OSPI website? Have you shared it with the public, the community, the District or the state?

The schools annual report only shows the WASL scores, no other assessment data? Has AS1 even submitted this data to SPS? Is the data indeed public record?

Or is the data something that the principal or PTA keep keep tucked away in a desk drawer? Can the community only access it by request?

Charlie Mas said...

I am suspicious about the District suddenly "getting religion" about compliance with IDEA, but it isn't sudden. They have been talking about this for about three years now. It's not as sudden at all. Julie Breidenbach raised the issue as soon as she arrived at Lowell.

APP students can provide some inclusion for the Special Education students, but not academically. Academic inclusion of the special education students in an APP classroom just doesn't work.

That said, I think the REAL reason for doing the split now, rather than waiting, is to shore up the enrollment at Thurgood Marshall so the District can justify keeping it open. Not shoring up the test scores - but the enrollment.

The capacity management plan is all about butts and seats, not about learning and teaching. Thurgood Marshall doesn't need APP's help on the WASL scores; Thurgood Marshall needs APP's help to keep the lights on.

SeattleHorn provides an impressive list of reasons to defer the split

but the expense, the history, the disruption, and the inevitable displacement of neighborhood students won't be any different in a different year, the District has committed to completing the curriculum by the end of the school year and rescinding the Policy later this month, so those will be done in time.

I am not overly concerned that the T T Minor and Thurgood Marshall communities don't particularly want to co-house with APP because it won't be for long. North-end APP should leave Lowell for a north-end location by 2010. And, by 2010, it is possible that south-end APP (and their siblings) will squeeze neighborhood students completely out of Thurgood Marshall.

I know that's a pretty grim report, but it's the way I read the data.

Sahila said...

Adhoc - go to AS#1, see the school in operation and ask for yourself; contact the principal Ernie Seevers at whatever the number is at AS#1.... pardon me for not knowing it off by heart and for not wanting to spend time to find it for you...

And if your only interest is in poking holes in our assessment data rather than in understanding (and accepting) the philosophy, history, culture and make-up of AS#1, including the fact that we are (to a lesser extent now) a 'free school', that we take 20% off the top of the formal teaching week to enable all-day Friday experiential/expeditionary learning and that 40% of the middle school has IDPs, spare yourself the trouble...

As I've already written on other threads, AS#1 kids are doing very well in the junior school and averagely in the middle school, something we have addressed this past year by hiring specialist middle-school teachers, which was a controversial decision within the school community as it goes against our mixed age learning structure policy and belief that specialisation too early is not a good thing for children...

I am so fed up with this lack of tolerance, let alone acceptance, for the different; this desire to standardise/average/make every one a round peg to fit in the round hole, unless and except of course, you are a member of the APP group....

What is this sense of entitlement that comes from this group and the more vocal general ed representatives, which they wont allow other groups, such as Special Ed, AAA, AS#1...

I dont think I have once even mentioned/pointed the finger at another school or group and criticised them, let alone voiced comments to the effect that they deserved to be changed/closed as a school/programme...

I have opinions about other places and other programmes that I choose not to utter because I recognise their value to their community - live and let live.... different strokes for different folks... this is public education and we are all taxpayers and this is still a land of choice... so maybe its time that we stopped doing the testosterone-driven "my toy is bigger, better than your toy" thingy, got out of the sandpit and worked together to ensure that all models of education are supported, nurtured, work well... after all, these are our unique, individual, living, breathing CHILDREN we are all trying our best to grow into adulthood...

Charlie Mas said...

So I guess I shouldn't expect an apology for misstating my position or calling me a hypocrite, should I?

Josh Hayes said...

adhoc, at AS1 there are a number of standardized, or at least quantitative measures, which could be cobbled together.

Every student, for instance, has several "Direct Reading Assessments" each school year, which provide estimates of reading "grade level" for each child. A similar process is done with math skills. These results could be conglomerated to generate grade-by-grade "grade levels" in reading and math, but those data are confidential.

It would take the Principal to do this, and our Principal is, uh, not very cooperative. It's understandable: he's concerned about his career, and he has to answer to his bosses, which he perceives to be SPS, rather than the families at the school (unlike our previous Principal who felt exactly opposite).

The short answer is: sure, there are quantitative measures, but no, they're not available. That's one of the things the parents want to negotiate with SPS in our restructuring plan: we're not averse to using objective measures of progress, we just think the WASL isn't it. I'm sure we can come to some sort of compromise. Sure I'm sure. I'm pretty sure.

Sahila said...

Actually Josh - there are regular tests using recognised testing models - EduSoft used to be used but now there's something else I dont remember the name of and I cant be bothered hunting through the files for right now... or was it something else before and its EduSoft now???

But there's formal testing in the fall and in the spring that comes up with results that show children reading/writing/'mathing'(new word!) below, at or above grade level.... I know because I have seen the raw data from teachers and the resulting statistical reports...

In the junior school, there is a gratifyingly strong growth in achievement across the board between the fall and spring figures in all areas, a slight fall back after the summer break and then another growth spurt in the next year....

The middle school is not showing such steady progress...
some kids are doing very, very well while others are finding it tough going....part of the reason is because 40% have IEPs, part of the reason is because we get transfers in at those grades, mostly of kids who have been doing not so well at other schools and partly because pre-adolescence brings with it challenges that affect school performance for many kids... and in small numbers of kids, its hard to hide those effects....

The information/data is readily available - myself and three other parents asked for and were shown it over the past two months or so...I was given it in stats form for use in lobbying the District, and I am pretty sure it goes to the District....

And yes, this principal, by all accounts, has a different style of leadership to the previous one...

I cant comment on why the data isnt published more widely - not sure its about his fear of losing his job.... might also be because of the school's philosophy of not labelling/grading kids - looking at their growth in a much more holistic way than just being data-focused/driven...

The new AS#1 website that should be going live within about a week addresses this assessment issue specifically...

adhoc said...

Thank you Josh for clarifying and cohesively explaining that AS1 administers the DRA and that AS1 chooses not to share the results of the DRA or any other assessment data with the public.

The public still does not know if or how AS1 assesses its students in the areas of math and science - thus the public has no idea how AS1 students perform in these areas. Sorry Sahila, statements like "our students do very well in junior school" do not fall under the category of assessment or data. It's as nice as a rainbow in the spring time, but tells me absolutely nothing.

I am truly baffled to hear that AS1, a public institution, refuses to hold itself accountable to the public. The public has absolutely no idea how, or even if, AS1 performs. None. Not a clue. What if we had no performance data on any schools in the district? Would we just trust them all and hope for the best?

adhoc said...

Sahila you are so quick to post and argue, yet conveniently seem to "forget", "not be able to find" or "can't be bothered" posting any real data.

Sahila says..."The information/data is readily available - myself and three other parents asked for and were shown"

It's still a mystery to the outside world though Sahila. Why is the data not public information to be shared with the public?

And lastly Sahila says "cant comment on why the data isnt published more widely - not sure its about his fear of losing his job.... might also be because of the school's philosophy of not labelling/grading kids"

Sahila, data is not provided by individual student, so no student labeling can occur. Performance data is broken down by District, school, particular groups (male/female, ethnicity, socio economic status, etc) but not by individual students.

Perhaps the labeling AS1 is afraid of is the labeling the school would receive if they made their assessment data public?

Charlie Mas said...

Oh Boy! Now I'm accused of even more things I haven't done!

Really, Sahila, I defy you to support any of your claims against me. If you cannot, then the only decent, respectful thing to do would be to apologize for mischaracterizing my position and statements. Is that unfair? I won't allow your slanders to go un-challenged. So back them up or back them out.

You do know that I have a child at an alternative school, right? My older daughter is at NOVA, where they don't grade, and I am thrilled with what she is doing there. I am hardly a foe of alternative education or the person hammering square pegs into round holes.

In fact, you seem to be the person making generalizations about people, thinking that they are fanatical standardizers or some kind of macho freaks. There is no evidence to support those contentions. You like to play the persecuted victim, but you're the one lashing out. No one else is.

Thank you for the little joke when you wrote:

"I dont think I have once even mentioned/pointed the finger at another school or group and criticised them"

just one paragraph after having written:

"What is this sense of entitlement that comes from this group"

Of course, maybe you regard saying that people have an inordinate sense of entitlement as a compliment rather than a criticism.

C'mon. There is no testosterone-charged competition here. You slandered me and I expect you to apologize. I expect you to apologize because I still presume you to see yourself as a person of honor and character. You can prove me wrong about that - or prove me wrong about the need for an apology, but I don't think it macho to ask for an apology when I've been wronged.

Just acknowledge the facts: that I have never said or written a word against the decision of AS#1 families to opt their children out of the WASL, that I have never said or written a word in opposition of alternative education, and that I have never said or written a word in favor of universal standardization - or any compulsory standardization of education. I have never espoused those positions because I do not hold those positions. I suppose I'm a convenient choice to play the villian in your version of events here, but I don't fit the role. I haven't done any of the things you accuse me of doing.

I do not believe that the individual decisions of AS#1 families to hold their children out of the WASL, whether it is based on a philosphical opposition to standardized testing or a lack of confidence in that particular test or a refusal to participate in right-wing education reform, constitutes a boycott. There's no one calling everyone and exhorting them to opt out. That is certainly not a boycott of the sort proposed by APP families - one of limited duration to coerce a specific action from a local government body. The key difference appears in the definitions you provided - "systematic" and "concerted". A boycott requires a certain amount of organization or a specific aim otherwise it is simply non-participation.

Vegetarians are not boycotting meat - they are choosing not to eat it. They aren't trying to get the butcher shop to hire union workers or close down. Vegetarians' stance is an ethical and moral one, rather than merely an expedient strategy to coerce the management into changing course. As with the families at AS#1 opting out of the WASL - that's not a boycott; that's just non-participation.

wseadawg said...

As one who is passionate and reaps huge benefits from these blogs, I hate seeing folks side-tracked and making personal attacks. C'mon now. Nobody gets anywhere when they lose focus on what's important. This process is a meat-grinder, but let's try to stick to facts and be tough, but polite.

Passion can be the enemy of precision. I know! I'm such a geek!

seattle citizen said...

ad hoc,
You would be rather hard-pressed to find ANY assessment data frmo many schools (except WASL). I could be wrong, but I believe that the WASL is the only thing listed on each school's "report" (viewed by going to that school on District website.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was all sorts of data up on those reports, not necessarily common data, but data that shows a school (and of course its students!) is doing well, is tracking metrics, is using formative and summative assessments to monitor its own progress and make improvements...

So your challenges to Sahila, your comment that AS#1 "chooses not to share" seem antagonistic. Nuthin' personal, but most schools don't "choose" to publish much data in a public place.

wseadawg said...

Charlie: The special ed w/APP issue remains cloudy, despite the issues with it. When you try to drill down to the number of kids who'd actually have "inclusion" recommended, its not very many, and the LRE could be a neighborhood school that parents might prefer, and they do have a choice in the matter. So ultimately, we have no idea how many kids the issue really affects, and we can't because of confidentiality laws.

I think most APP parents object to the blanket statements SPS makes about what the law is, when they know it depends on individual assessments on a case by case basis. There should not even be a discussion about moving those kids out as a group. That originated when they wanted to close the building. That hasn't been the case for weeks. It's a small part of the pie, and one who's remedy could be quite simple. But SPS has all the facts and isn't sharing them.

Many spec ed parents don't give a whit about the law, and just want to stay put with the APP kids at Lowell. With the extra complications of raising a disabled child, stability means alot to them.

It seems SPS don't want to talk about it, because the scope of the problem may be alot smaller than they let on. So I think the comment re: "suddenly finding religion" can't be so easily dismissed.

I won't pretend to have the answers or know all the facts. I couldn't if I wanted to. But it is curiously coincidental that it became so important at this time.

It's really an open question as to size of the problem and therefore how compelling the matter is.

Sahila said...

Hullo Charlie - no, I didnt know that you have a daughter at NOVA... old timers here might know that, but I dont think I have seen mention of that in the two months or so that I have been watching/participating here - maybe you have stated it and I missed it...

And you take umbrage at some of my comments that werent directed specifically at you... my mis-step in that I dont always indicate when I move from addressing comments by a particular person into a more generalised statement/response...

Some of my last few comments have been in response to material contributed by you, more to comments made by adhoc - which ongoing effort to correct his/her misperceptions about, and inability to accept AS#1's right to exist, I am totally bored with and tired of...but if I dont make the effort, then his/her statements go unchallenged and are then believed by others who are likewise ignorant of the school...

and the rest of my musings are about the flaws in the SPS system generally, as they manifest in the alternative education world that is supposed to be supported by the District....

The comment singling out the APP group/entitlement issue was meant to be an ironic contrasting ... an APP-aligned person on another thread two or three days ago proposed that one half of the APP split could be housed in the AS#1/Pinehurst building next year, if we at AS#1 dont make the grade and get to stay open.

However, now that you focus on it, it surely cant have escaped anyone's notice that the vast majority of comments on this and other threads have come from APP/advanced learning-aligned people lamenting the proposed changes to their programme and busily organising where in the District it could go, never mind the communities already there, and reminding the rest of us that APP children are also 'special' and ought not to be subject to the rules of the game that apparently apply to (average) everyone else...

Thornton Creek parents were quite vocal about not wanting/being able to move and take in other programmes, though they didnt always identify themselves...

Adhoc, I think, has a child at Bryant and another at Kellog in Shoreline - if there's only one adhoc and I am not mistaken - he/she spends a lot of time advocating for the closure of schools/programmes that he/she doesnt think make the grade....

Havent seen many comments from people aligning themselves openly with Summit or AAA, there's only three or four of us from AS#1 - both for and against closure - and all of us I know have identified ourselves, Autism Mom works hard to advocate for special ed though I dont know her school affiliation...

Can't believe this has gotten down to arguing over semantics.... its fun for the writer/editor/debater/journalist in me.... but the activist says its such a distraction, waste of time/energy/focus.... however, seeing that the competitive testosterone is still running and you've lobbed the ball back into my court...

I maintain that choosing not to participate to make a philosophical and political point is boycotting .... boycott = refusal to deal with....

I can boycott (refuse to deal with) a company, a product, a person all by my little, lonely self... that still makes my consciously-chosen action a boycott, especially, but not only, if I announce publicly that I am taking this action...

AS#1 families discuss this WASL opt in-out issue every year... I wasnt around at the time, but I'm pretty sure the initial decision to boycott the WASL was a group one, as almost 100% of the community opted out... we're discussing it again now - whether its worth dropping the boycott and all opting in just to beat the District at its own game. Even if all that the kids do is randomly colour in those little circles, removing all those opt-out zeros will give us much more than the required improvement percentage. I'm not in favour of this strategy - in my book of definitions, that amounts to appeasement which is a slippery slope, we become philosophical hypocrites and we also stand to give up more of our 'alternativeness', which, in my opinion, we have already done too much in other areas.

Charlie Mas said...

wseadawg, I guess the strongest evidence that I have that the elementary APP split is inevitable is the lack of opposition from the Board. Do you think that there are four Board members who might oppose it?

Sahila said...

And, a final comment on this, just to make myself clear....

I dont usually argue for or against any group...

I dont believe it ever helps to assign labels - average, advanced, special ed, alternative, high income, low income, whatever

My vision/goal is for every individual child to get the support he/she needs, at whatever level that needs to be...as a society we owe that to each and every child and its ridiculous to say we cant afford it or the system cant do that...

I begin to focus on stata when its clear that the system is not doing its best to deliver the appropriate services to each and every child and that some children are missing out more than others...

And I begin to focus on particular strata and advocate for them when its obvious other people either dont know, or dont want to acknowledge, that there are challenges that need to be met in various areas and/or they shy away from providing the necessary resources so that every child, truly can grow into his/her fullest potential....

Seattlehorn said...

Sahila, I am a stressed-out mom who has been advocating for YOUR children as well as mine (I sat next to you and your cutie at the ESP Vision press conference).

Yes, one of my children is at Lowell (and we are opting out of the WASL this year, boycott or no).

I think if we got to know each other, we would find a lot of commonality.

Unfortunately, your first comment on this thread led me to believe Charlie had taken positions he has not. Your accusations and refusal to apologize has the effect of undermining not only your good will but your judgment: past, present and future.

Trust is hard-earned and quickly lost.

Seattlehorn said...

Thanks for the clarifications, Charlie. Do I take you to mean the only butts that can save Marshall are APP butts? Why?

seattle citizen said...

Not just trust is hard won and easy lost:
Me, personally, I think that I often have intelligent things to say in this here blog, so I go ahead and say 'em. I hope that others might gain something (perhaps even those downtown who read this rag).
But I know that I am not nearly as a) eloquent, or b)well-prepared research-wise and sometimes I make some stupid comment that just doesn't really make much sense, or contributes little to the thread...I sometimes poke others if I think they deserve it and let them argue me down (if possible!).
My point is that it's not just trust that's hard won/easy lost, but credibility. It's nothing against you all in here. I think you're all pretty tactful, patient, willing to parse my statements...But if I pull a real boner, I know that I've wasted time, I haven't researched, I've made myself an ass, really, which has nothing to do with trust but everything to do with continuing important, detailed, sometimes hard to follow discussions that SHOULD be short, concise, to the points at hand, and present relevant data and supposition, etc...

alas. I'm an language fop, trained in the art, trained also in the mechanics, trained in the philosophy but way, way too prone to shooting my mouth off because the art wins, it's entertaining to me to hear (write) the words flowing out of my oh-so-smart(ass)keyboard.

Kick me when I do this so I stop! Demand research! Demand attention to phrasing (mine and others)! Demand concision!

thenk yew. thenk yew verrah much.

Charlie Mas said...

Why does it fall to APP butts to save Marshall?

Because APP butts are seen as portable. There are no elementary students in the Central area who are as portable as APP students.

The reason that the District's capacity management plan impacted non-tradtional programs so heavily is because the District regards those communities, because they are not geographically based, as significantly more portable than the geographically-based neighborhood schools.

noggen said...

Has one board member given any one the impression they are leaning toward voting against the proposed APP split? One of Michael DeBells priorities when running for a board position in 2007 was expanding APP. My distinct impression is this board will not vote against the split. Ask board members before the 29th if they intend to vote for or against it.

Ben said...

"However, now that you focus on it, it surely cant have escaped anyone's notice that the vast majority of comments on this and other threads have come from APP/advanced learning-aligned people lamenting the proposed changes to their programme and busily organising where in the District it could go, never mind the communities already there, and reminding the rest of us that APP children are also 'special' and ought not to be subject to the rules of the game that apparently apply to (average) everyone else..."

APP parents started out saying, "Don't mess with our program. Just leave us alone."

Then, when the split was still being pursued, we did what every school's advocates in SPS have to do: we started looking at the numbers to determine whether there was a better split than the one the Board was recommending.

What are the rules we have insisted do not apply to our kids?

Seattlehorn said...

"I guess the strongest evidence that I have that the elementary APP split is inevitable is the lack of opposition from the Board. Do you think that there are four Board members who might oppose it?"

"Has one board member given any one the impression they are leaning toward voting against the proposed APP split?"


Am I naive, or is it remotely possible that the board members are still weighing all the options as they continue to get information?

They haven't even seen the Functional Capacity Analysis yet.

Charlie Mas said...

Run through a roll call in your head. There is - at most - only one or two Board members - at most - who would even seriously consider voting against this.

Remember how high the profile is on this and how much they have praised the process.

Remember how much they value the image that they are working with the Superintendent.

Remember that this has been presented to them as a budget issue and they all want to be budget hawks.

Remember that two of them - half of the votes the Superintendent needs - ALWAYS vote in favor of staff recommendations.

This is inevitable. Start your Phase II Plan.

adhoc said...

Seattle Citizen other schools take the WASL and their scores are made public. As much as I personally dislike the WASL I accept that it is the District's chosen method of assessment.

The "other" schools do not share their forms of assessment because they don't have to (though it would be nice). They take the WASL and share that data and that seems to be enough to satisfy parents, the District and the State.

AS1 chooses not to take the WASL so there is no WASL data to share. They say they take other forms of assessment but choose not to share with the public the data that they gain from the assessments. None. We have absolutely nothing by which measure AS1's performance. They could be playing ping pong all day for all the public knows. There is absolutely nothing by which to hold them accountable.

Is that really acceptable?

noggen said...

Seattlehorn, I hear you, I'd like to believe it's 50/50 but I don't. Might be prudent to get some momentum behind positive input in to the planning and structure of the split before the 29th, plan b is here I think.

AutismMom said...

Academic inclusion of the special education students in an APP classroom just doesn't work [at Lowell].


This type of statement really irks me. And I mean REALLY. You reveal much about yourself by making such a generalization. It has been made to work at Lowell... so, if it doesn't work in some certain case, it's due to the intransigence of certain teachers... and/or parents who somehow think their little dears are above that sort of inclusion..."Other people and schools should have to do that. Not us, we're too good."


Do you know about the kids who are in the special ed programs at Lowell? Apparently not. There is NO program or school that is "academically more appropriate" for these kids. And this is because these are THE MOST DISABLED students we've got. The whole idea of "academics" is radically different, and individually based, for this population than it is for ANY non-disabled population. APP is as appropriate as anywhere else.... unless they think they're above it.

And as to the numbers... I know of exactly 1 child who wishes this "inclusion". Perhaps there are 2 (since I don't know everything). And the request is extremely limited. Certainly it could be accomplished at Lowell (as well as anywhere else). The child is non-verbal, severely disabled... a child that nobody else would consider appropriate for the rarified ranks of inclusion. And thereiin lays the rub... the family wishes it.

So, where oh where is that lovely "inclusion" capable school? (you know, the one that people don't say: Academic inclusion of the special education students in an APP classroom just doesn't work. That is, the school which includes students who are non-verbal, non-languaged, non-mobile, non-communicative, unable to communicate even basic needs (or demonstrate any understanding), and medically fragile requiring lots of medical services. What school would that be?


As an aside, IDEA has nothing to do with this and never has. That is an excuse because this decision is something the district wants to do based on the merits of the split. IDEA requires access to non-disabled peers, APP/Lowell has that. (or could if directed to do so)

emeraldkity said...

There is a difference between what Charlie has proposed, which is using the WASL as leverage to hold the District accountable, and what AS1 has been doing, which is refusing to take the WAS based on philosophical opposition.

Agreed.
That said- I support refusing to participate in a procedure/program that is against someones values- much more readily than I support refusing to participate in an identical procedure/program to attempt to " get their way".

Seattlehorn said...

From www.appinseattle.org:

Why Lowell Matters – Glenn Thomas, Lowell Special Ed parent

For parents with special needs children, Lowell’s community of kindness and caring is a gift. Whether a child is in a wheelchair for life or can’t speak, Lowell is delivering what those children need to blossom. Lowell should be the basic standard against which all other places are measured, but instead it is a treasure in which our most vulnerable students are treated with the love and respect that is so often absent from these children’s lives in “official” settings.

Lowell has spent decades building up a model of caring and nurturing behavior between children with significant physical and emotional disabilities and those students considered our brightest. Why does it work and why does it matter that this community of kindness is on the verge of being shunted aside for a new and different special needs model?

Students in the advanced program at Lowell know it is a great honor to be able to work with the most vulnerable amongst them. Take, for example, a third grader allowed to read stories to a student whose physical and developmental problems will keep them trapped in a wheelchair for life. Rather than be scared to look at that child in a wheelchair, that third grader gains a friend as well as an understanding of their common humanity. That is the expectation at Lowell, not the exception.

In places where a community of kindness and high expectations have not been created, that child in the wheelchair may feel only disdain and common childhood bullying. It is not fair or just to dismantle the community at Lowell and place these children in harm’s way, whether emotionally or physically. These children are our most vulnerable students. They are being well served both by the teachers and staff in the special needs program at Lowell, as well as by the caring bonds they have with the advanced students at Lowell.

Please don’t dismantle the community of caring and kindness that has been created between our most vulnerable students and our most able; instead, use it as a template to create more places like it throughout Seattle. Ask yourselves: How can we create more communities in which a regular third-grader considers it a highlight of their day to read to a young boy stricken for life in a wheelchair? Until you know how to answer that question, don’t take this community apart. Don’t take away one of the rare places where these students with so many challenges have a chance to reach their potential.

AutismMom said...

And another irksome Charlie idea. "Let's all boycott the WASL. For us APPers, WASL doesn't mean much. It's really great for all the rest of you... but us??? We're way too good for that anyway."

WASL isn't really meaningful or appropriate for anyone. There's nothing so special about Lowell, APP, spectrum to make it "oh, all so meaningless for us"... and "oh, so great for everyone else." I share Sahila's sentiment... everyone was so happy to dis AS1 for anti-WASL behavior... and to gladly close the school as the result... but then happy as clams to jump on the same bandwagon. Yes, gross double standards. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.


And Jeez. Where are we? France? How about we all stay home from school? You know, strike, like they do in France? Or maybe all the kids should hold their breath while we're at it.

Striking the WASL really won't make any difference. Neither Lowell nor Washington receive Title 1 funds. That's not leverage; it is so weak it wouldn't hold anyone "accountable" for anything. Plus, they could always put in a policy to exit students from the program(s) based on WASL scores... if they cared enough about it (and I doubt they would) Don't you get it? They don't want to be bullied more. As a district official I would not find this move even slightly persuasive. If spectrum students used this tactic at a Title 1 school, I would be inclined to cancel the program in that school or exit the students from the program. Then, where would you be? I think many non-APP parents would be less likely to support the APP program, if they did this alone.

A better approach would be to get the whole district to do stop taking the WASL. The good result here has nothing to do with closure... it might be to get rid of the WASL.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would disagree. For APP kids and their parents, they find out nothing about their level of ability from WASL whereas for general ed that's different. So what information are these parents getting from their children taking the test?

"Plus, they could always put in a policy to exit students from the program(s) based on WASL scores... if they cared enough about it (and I doubt they would) Don't you get it? They don't want to be bullied more. As a district official I would not find this move even slightly persuasive."

Actually they used to have a policy to exit students who didn't even TAKE the WASL (not even a score) but looking at the AL website, I see that seems to be gone. I had wondered how they could legally get away with forcing just one group of students to take the WASL when students in general don't have to. So I don't think they could use it.

Bullied? Who has bullied the district? I would say the reverse is true; the district virtually allows us nothing. The superintendent has said in the media that really, nothing parents say about closure would influence her.

They care about WASL scores A LOT. A boycott would certainly get their attention. You might have forgotten but the district is not in a good place with the public. This all-over-the-place closure process, the bloated Garfield budget, gang problems, underenrolled schools in new buildings and soon to come - the turmoil over a new assignment plan. Then add in a large and well-organized year of WASL protest.

And then, in about a year? They will going to voters with a new BTA levy they desperately need. The public might just look at this and say, "What a mess. Even the parents in the system don't like this district."

Never underestimate the power of publicity.

Josh Hayes said...

adhoc writes:

The "other" schools do not share their forms of assessment because they don't have to (though it would be nice). They take the WASL and share that data and that seems to be enough to satisfy parents, the District and the State.

I see - because other schools are too wimpy to put their objections to the WASL into action, AS1 is singled out. For gosh sake, why won't we just conform?

As I explained above, we DO have quantitative measures which could be used by SPS to make assessments of school progress. Because of confidentiality issues, we CAN NOT make those measures available to the general public, at least according to the couple of attorneys with whom I've spoken.

You seem to feel, adhoc, that we have something to hide at AS1 - strange rituals, fire-walking, canoe-building, wall-climbing - oh, wait, we DO the last two! The fact is, SPS wants to inculcate the belief that the only assessment of learning is the WASL, and despite the fact that there are (probably - I'm not a lawyer) laws against reporting other data, we're now being blamed for not breaking those laws.

Believe me: I'd love to share those data with everyone, especially if the same DRA/DRM results are available for other schools (and of course, they all do them - why don't THEY make those results available? Could it be - gasp! - that they're legally proscribed from doing so?).

We're still reeling from our bus being vandalized this last weekend - our experientially-based curriculum requires our tired old bus, but the district now says it won't fix it or replace it, apparently. Honest, we're not hiding anything. It's just that the only officially-approved, officially-allowed measure of performance, is the WASL.

Caveat: I could certainly be totally wrong about the legal stuff; as I say, I'm not a lawyer. I would have thought that agglomeration of individual data into class descriptors would preserve anonymity and be allowable, but apparently not.

SPSMom said...

"APP parents started out saying, "Don't mess with our program. Just leave us alone.""

I am sure every parent has said that. Yet 4,000 students to be impacted, maybe more.

Your program is not being disbanded, your school is not being closed. You are simply being split so that the program can serve more students in the coming years.

Yes, there will be growing pains and some rocky roads as you all get settled.

But I personally believe that in the end your children will be OK because of the incredible parent support they have each and every day. You all are very blessed to have such bright children, whose futures are filled with opportunity - that no decision made by a school district will be able to take away.

adhoc said...

Josh we just disagree on this one. I don't believe that every student must take the WASL, or the DRA, or the SAT, ITBS, or any other standardized test. But I very strongly believe that all public schools should be held accountable to assure that their students meet the standards or EALR's set by the District, and they should be able to demonstrate that they have done so. AS1 is not able to demonstrate that, at least to the public. The public is expected to just have faith. That is unreasonable and unacceptable.

If you opt your child out of the 10th grade WASL in HS, as is your right, your child will have to meet the Districts alternate set of criteria - or he will not be able to graduate. Why not work with the District to come up with an alternate set of data for the WASL at the younger grades?

Without any data at all available to the public it does look like AS1 has something to hide.

Charlie Mas said...

Pardon me, autism mom, I believe these are YOUR words in MY mouth. They don't belong there.

I'm fully capable of speaking for myself and have been known to do so from time to time.

So cut the sanctimonious crap. You're barking up the wrong tree.

ArchStanton said...

"I have heard whispers about a possible WASL boycott by APP families in the wake of a decision to split the program at the elementary and middle school levels."

So, has anyone identified the origin of these rumors? I'm not asking Charlie to give up his sources - especially if they're not ready for primetime. I'm just curious if they've gone public with a plan/proposal/petition/website yet...

AutismMom said...

...and the pot calls the kettle black.

I just call it how I see it.

AutismMom said...

I had wondered how they could legally get away with forcing just one group of students to take the WASL when students in general don't have to. So I don't think they could use it.

They absolutely have the legal right to require it because it is a special program. Special education students have to be assessed every 3 years at a minimum to maintain eligibility.... (IDEA requires it) and they may be assessed more often if necessary. The district has talked about using WASL scores for special education students as well but I don't think they do use it. For better or for worse, it is a measure of performance. WASL may be used to prove a particular level of performance or lack of performance.

Of course, you could argue whether or not it is a valid test. (that seems to be your point) But, you could argue about the validity of any assessment. But you also seem to be arguing that the district does NOT have the right to ask for ANY periodic assessment. And they clearly DO have that right. So if the WASL were boycotted, some assesment could definitely be required... and I'm sure nobody would be happy about that.

Josh Hayes said...

I hear you, adhoc, and I don't think we disagree as much as you may think.

I really don't think AS1 as a community is unwilling to provide information to the public. Our concern is arriving at a (more) valid and (more) useful metric, rather than the WASL -- while still fulfilling our legal duties to retain confidentiality.

I hear you, really I do, and I agree whole-heartedly that the district can't just listen to AS1 say "trust us! We're doing great!", just as we can't listen to SPS management say, "Trust us! We know what we're doing!"

At some point the rubber hits the road: right now, a zillion parents at AS1 (gosh, you didn't know our enrollment was up to a zillion, did you? :-) agree that the district has the right to insist on objective measures of progress. We just have to agree on what those measures will be. You're quite right that they haven't been delivered in years past: that's going to have to stop.

It's not all about drinking the Kool-Aid, you know: I have serious concerns about AS1 and my kids' futures there. But the WASL should never be the make-or-break measure of survival for a school. I hope we agree on that.

adhoc said...

We do agree on that Josh! Thanks again for explaining your perspective.

adhoc said...

And by the way Josh, if the AS1 community is beginning to look at metrics to use to assess performance, perhaps a good place to begin would be meeting with the staff at NOVA. They seem to have a system that works very well. NOVA does not use grades but they have clear expectations and defined criteria that their students are expected to meet. They offer independent contracts and honors level work. And while they do not give grades, in order for a student to pass a class they require 100% completion of work with 80% mastery, which NOVA equate to earning an A or B in a traditional graded setting. Most NOVA students do take the WASL, and they have the highest SAT scores in the District.

Very impressive.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, you say that:
"'other' schools do not share their forms of assessment because they don't have to (though it would be nice). They take the WASL and share that data and that seems to be enough to satisfy parents, the District and the State."

and...

I very strongly believe that all public schools should be held accountable to assure that their students meet the standards or EALR's set by the District, and they should be able to demonstrate that they have done so. AS1 is not able to demonstrate that, at least to the public. The public is expected to just have faith. That is unreasonable and unacceptable.

[end quotes]

But what about other schools with poor WASL scores? We have nothing else to assess them, with either, and apparently, according to your reckoning neither does the district, the state or the feds.

Yet these other schools, with low WASL scores, escape sanction while AS1, some of whose parents/students don't take the WASL because it's, well, quite useless and damaging, while AS1 is chastised, scoffed at, and, quite frankly attacked?

Do you believe that we should use the WASL as the sole determinent of success? "We" meaning taxpayers, district, state and feds?

I'm unclear; it's late. But there's something in your argument that gnaws at me, I just can't quite pin it down...I think it's that you apparently believe that as long as there's SOME kinda common test, doesn't matter how useful, we should use it to judge schools. Yet AS1, by other measures, could be doing quite well (and not playing ping-pong; a mean comment, if unintentional) and is still threatened while schools that are NOT doing as well (and you know what, some schools could be doing quite well on WASL and still be failing students by not teaching any history, art, philosophy, cultures, or other non-wasl subjects...)

You say that the WASL is the only measure we have. It's not. It's the only measure that is being USED (indiscriminatingly, apparently) to hold schools to some sort of "standard".

Just because people disagree, sometimes vehemently, with such bad policy doesn't mean their idiots playing ping pong.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wseadawg said...

AutismMom:
I hope Glenn Thomas's letter is accurate and reflective of most special ed parents' experiences at Lowell. I think he's spot on that its the culture there that makes it work. And should the split happen, it will deprive my kids of a very critical aspect of their educations by no longer interacting and participating in activities with the special ed kids at Lowell.

What you know about the governing laws puts me to shame, but it sure looks like the district doesn't mind exploiting the special ed kids for its political ends.

I tell myself the "experts" in the field who know "best practices" should know what they're talking about, so maybe the incoming gen ed kids will do fine with special ed and vice versa, but I also know many special ed parents are nervous about that. But if the new kids "get" the "Lowell Way," things should be alright.

wseadawg said...

Charlie:
You're probably right, the board will probably support the split, even after all reasons and rationales have fallen by the wayside. Board members pretty much concede it doesn't meet any of the district's goals of Access, Equity, or Diversity, although Harium has blogged a little on the access subject, but mostly talking about saving some transportation dollars by having the program a little closer to peoples homes. I haven't seen the numbers, and he may be right, but I can't imagine the savings would be that significant.

The split could also have serious repercussions, like pushing out Marshall kids out it does grow like SPS hopes.

Of course, nobody thinks APP parents are sincere when we raise those concerns, but in strictly pragmatic terms, how well do we expect things to transpire at Marshall, when neighborhood families are being told that if push comes to shove, they have to go elsewhere to make room for incoming APP kids?

And how nice will it be for me to know that securing a sibling spot in APP for my kid might mean denying or pushing out the sibling of a family friend not in APP?

We'll see what the functional capacities are later today, but seriously, what a great thing for APP's "pushy" reputation! Thanks SPS!

None of it makes any sense at this point, and now the WASL boycott stuff. When will it end?

Charlie Mas said...

It troubles me that I now have to write a defense against more lies.

I really don't understand how anyone can spew the sorts of slanders that I have been subjected to on this thread.

First, for those who might not be aware, the Special Education program at Lowell is a low-incidence program. So bear in mind the nature and severity of the disabilities these children carry. And, yes, Autism Mom, I know who is at Lowell because I have been there on a number of occassions.

Second, while the Special Education students and the APP students at Lowell do interact and share some activities, there is not a meaningful number of academic activities they can share. I was careful to specify "academic". The lessons given to the APP students at Lowell are, in the main, not appropriate academic exercises for the Special Education students there.

Autism Mom knows this and says so herself, rather stridently: "The whole idea of "academics" is radically different, and individually based, for this population than it is for ANY non-disabled population."

So, yes, there is opportunity for inclusion and for shared activities - and they do that at Lowell. They do not, however, share academics - the point that I was making.

We seem to agree on that point. Unfortunately, Autism Mom decided to give my words the most unsympathetic reading possible and make them seem to mean something completely different from their intended meaning.

Not all of the students at Lowell are as severely disabled as Autism Mom described, "non-verbal, non-languaged, non-mobile, non-communicative, unable to communicate even basic needs (or demonstrate any understanding), and medically fragile requiring lots of medical services."

District officials who are promoting this change tell me that those less severely disabled students, particularly in the primary grades, may have some opportunity for some inclusion - academic inclusion - with a general education kindergarten or first grade. The District staff people tell me that the absence of a kindergarten at Lowell or teaching at the general education first grade level is an impediment to providing that inclusion - academic inclusion.

Whether it is a correct interpretation of the law or not, the District staff interpret the law to mean that they are required to provide that inclusion as part of a least restrictive environment.

While there are some shared activities, and perhaps for some students academic inclusion can be arranged from time to time, it would not be the sort of inclusion that we generally envision when we think of inclusive classrooms.

Perhaps there could be more. I don't know. I can't say if there isn't more as a result of the intransigence of certain teachers. Maybe it is. I can say, for absolute certain, that it is not at the request of student families. That accusation is unsubstantiated and unfair. Not only would families not request it, the school wouldn't be swayed by such requests if they got any.

I have no idea why anyone thinks they have license for this type of slander. It's shocking and cruel to write such horrible things about people you don't know.

And another irksome slander:

"For us APPers, WASL doesn't mean much. It's really great for all the rest of you... but us??? We're way too good for that anyway."

I don't know how anyone has the gall to put hateful words like that into my mouth. I never said or wrote any of those things or anything like them.

I never suggested that the WASL was good for any student. Autism Mom is knowingly mischaracterizes my position. I can't imagine why, but I hope no one will be misled.

Sahila is dead wrong and so is Autism Mom. No one on this blog dissed AS#1 for their anti-WASL behavior - least of all me. Refusal to take the WASL is not why the school is being closed. There isn't anyone who is happy that AS#1 is threatened with closure. It is misleading, divisive, and hateful to suggest these things.

Let's work to keep the discussion on the blog both civil and reality-based, shall we?

hschinske said...

Actually it's perfectly possible to report passing rates on the DRA ("passing" being defined as meeting or exceeding a certain level at each grade). The New School made a big deal about its passing rates on the DRA in its literature a while ago, maybe still does. Another thing that could easily be reported without compromising confidentiality is the average number of levels progressed in the course of a year, which you could do without bothering with grade levels. I would think MAP tests (Measures of Academic Progress) would also be acceptable to anyone who's okay with the DRA. (By the way, has anyone heard of the MAP actually being used? or is it out having coffee with the Singapore Math materials?)

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

In a Strategic Plan update I heard that nine schools are piloting MAP this year. I did not hear which nine schools.

adhoc said...

"Do you believe that we should use the WASL as the sole determinent of success? "We" meaning taxpayers, district, state and feds?"

Nope the WASL should not be the sole determinent of success. We agree on that, OK. Now lets move past that,

We agree that the WASL should not be the sole determinant of a schools success, and schools like AS1 have every right to opt out of the test. Here is where our opinions differ Seattle Citizen.

I believe that if your school "opts out" of the WASL, then you must provide, to the District, some form of mutually agreed upon alternate assessment. A school must be held accountable by some measure.

This alternate could look like the alternate assessments that the district accepts from HS students who don't take or pass the WASL, or it could look like what NOVA uses (I described some of that in an earlier post), or it could be a different standardized test, or????

But every school must use something to show that they are meeting standards. AS1 currently does not do that, at least publicly. Believe me I have no particular beef with AS1. My beef would be with any school that refused to hold themselves accountable to the public that fund them.

adhoc said...

Just to add to my above post, I want to be clear that like many other parents in the District I dislike the WASL. I think it is rather useless. I think anyone, everyone, entire schools even, have the absolute right to opt out of WASL testing.

I accept, however, that the WASL is what the District has chosen to use to assess schools, and that the majority of schools and families do take the WASL and as thus are assessed by the WASL.

For those that don't choose to use the WASL as their assessment of choice, WHICH I SUPPORT, there must be a mutually agreed upon substitute. Those schools and families must still be held accountable to meet standard, and be able to demonstrate their achievement to the public.

hschinske said...

Found the info on which schools are piloting the MAP:

Nine schools are participating in the pilot of Measures of Academic Progress
(MAP) in 2008-09

2 elementary schools K-5 (BF Day & North Beach)

4 middle schools 6-8 (Mercer, Madison, Denny, Hamilton)

3 high schools 9-10 plus some 11-12 grade students in lower-level classes
(Cleveland, Chief Sealth, Rainier Beach)

Students are taking the computer-based MAP test in reading and math three
times this year (fall, winter, spring)

Fall testing was completed on October 24.

62 staff (40 school staff, 22 central office) trained on how to administer MAP –
more trained on how to use MAP data to inform instruction

Helen Schinske

Josh Hayes said...

Thank you, Helen and Charlie, for pointing out some alternative measures (DRA and MAP); I'll look into that!

seattle citizen said...

ad hoc, good points...but at the moment there are no mutually agreed alternative assessments, really...The idea ofthis came up in Alt Committee, and Santorno, I think, went along with it: "show us data, show us how the alternate helps us see success, and you might be able to go your own way." But I don't think this has been a conversation, and schools probably aren't involved in this...so AT THE MOMENT there is no alternative.

Incidentally, the alternative to WASL for seniors not passing is Collection of Evidence for Read/Write, and full years of math for Math. COE for reading/writing is a state thing, not a district; students work in their schools and then submit directly to state.

adhoc said...

Seattle Citizen, that was my point exactly. SPS needs to come up with some mutually acceptable alternate assessment, and AS1 has to be willing to use that alternate assessment, and make public the results.

I suggested earlier in this thread that after the alt school audit comes out, AS1 might consider staging a WASL boycott until the District comes up with that mutually acceptable alternate to the WASL.

"Mutually acceptable" will likely be a wide gap that AS1 and the District will have to bridge. I suspect that waiting for the alt school audit would be a good thing for AS1 to do, as it will likely support their cause to have access to an appropriate alternative assessment.

hschinske said...

The state accepts a variety of alternatives to the WASL, including SAT, ACT, and even AP scores (I would love to know who's out there flunking the WASL and yet getting 3's on AP English and calc or stats -- that's obviously the hardest option). The SAT and ACT cut scores are quite low.

Helen Schinske

adhoc said...

Seattle Citizen posted "The idea of this came up in Alt Committee, and Santorno, I think, went along with it: "show us data, show us how the alternate helps us see success, and you might be able to go your own way."

Did anyone ever follow up with Carla Santorno regarding this? Anyone ever bring her the data she requested?

wseadawg said...

Charlie: I caution relying on what what SPS say about special ed at Lowell.

Again, we don't know the numbers of children who might benefit from gen ed inclusion on an individual basis. Of 44 or so in Lowell spec ed, we don't know if the affected number of kids to benefit would be 4, 14, or 44. That's the problem with relying on it.

Charlie Mas said...

I have no special confidence in the District's stated need to provide general ed classroom inclusion for the disabled students at Lowell.

I was asked if I had an idea about what was behind the District's fervor for splitting elementary APP and I knew this was an item on their list. I pretty much reported the information as it had been reported to me.

The District folks I talk to say that they are specifically looking for academic inclusion - as opposed to the social inclusion they have now - and they said that they needed general ed kindergarten and first grade classes for that. Lowell doesn't have any.

This is what they have been saying for years now. It's not a new story.

AutismMom said...

Charlie, respectfully, you've got it wrong again.

First of all, a few facts... there are other schools which have level 4 self-contained programs (slightly higher level than Lowell). Guess what? They offer 0 inclusion to those students. Zip. Read the sped review. It doesn't happen. Does the district care one whit about that? No, it does not. Does the district mandate these other schools to do inclusion? No, it does not. Are students at Greenlake (same program as Lowell) given inclusion? No, they are not. Would it be easy to do at Greenlake because it has "gen ed"? No, it would not.

Secondly, I personaly know an extremely disabled student at Lowell who has indeed taken academic classes WITH APP. Science. That is "academics". It isn't "playing barbies" or "socializing" which also happen at times. The child is doing the same thing that would be available to the child elsewhere. So yes, it does indeed happen. What "academic skill" is this child working on? I do not know. They are NOT the same academic skills everyone else is working on by a long shot... and they would not be the same at ANY other school. So, why NOT Lowell? I'm sure lots of people think it would be inappropriate. But I could give you a long list of things this kid might be working on. It could be, for a hypothetical example, working on turning the page in a book... maybe it's just focusing on a picture in a book... maybe it's doing anything in the presence of normal language.

Of course, not every student at Lowell manifests the most extreme case of every disability. In the highest functioning group, 2 kids can talk (at a minimal level), not age appropriate level. No kid is beyond preschool (or beginning K)ability in any academic skill. Otherwise, they would not be there. Nor do they have access to classroom materials beyond preschool. (I've used that fact myself, to keep the district from placing kids at Lowell... and it was an effective arguement. It wouldn't be effective if it wasn't true.) EG. You can't place this kid from another self-contained program at Lowell, because Lowell has ONLY limited language speakers and because Lowell has ONLY preschool materials and curriculum.

So again I ask you, where is the elementary school that is appropriate for including students with the preschool skills? You are the one who said it couldn't work there. (And I hate using term "preschool"... because everyone is on their own developmental path, and a disabled 10 yo is never the same as preschooler.)

hschinske said...

It should also be remembered that special ed at Lowell serves a wide, wide variety of disabilities, some involving mental retardation, some not. I have heard of more than one case of a special ed student who *required* APP-level curriculum. (In one such case, ironically, the student was emotionally unable to handle the stimulation of a large classroom, APP or not, and worked on his/her own.)

Helen Schinske

AutismMom said...

Hmm. Many (if not most) students with mental retardation have higher academic skills than those offered at Lowell. The district often uses mental retardation as a reason to place kids at Lowell. In fact, the district uses placement at Lowell as a threat to parents seeking something extra in their assigned placements. A really insidious practice.


As I mentioned, I have worked with a student whose IQ was in the 50's, (definitely retarded) who was not appropriate for Lowell based on the level of academics in the special ed classes which were too low for the child. (No inclusion requested here). As an example, this 9 yo can reliably count to 10... and unreliably count to 20 or maybe 50... Can unrealibly recognize and write all letters. Can read simple books (the sort with 1 line at the bottom). Lowell is an inappropriate special ed placement for students who simply have emotional needs. APP students with emotional issues should be served there.

hschinske said...

"Lowell is an inappropriate special ed placement for students who simply have emotional needs."

The emotional needs I referred to were part of a broader neurological problem -- I think autism, though I won't swear to it as this is all word of mouth. Perhaps practices have changed over the years, I wouldn't know. Certainly when I was at Lowell, much longer ago than the cases I was referring to, many of the students were of normal intellect but had severe physical disabilities (one of my sister's friends there had osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease).

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

I claim no special knowledge of IDEA or the variety of student disabilities at Lowell. As I say so often, I don't know the truth; I only know what the District tells me.

District staff tell me that they are looking for academic inclusion - beyond the social inclusion and other interaction with the APP students - for the disabled students at Lowell, and I have no basis for challenging their statements. They tell me that it isn't possible without general education K and 1 classes in the building.

Autism Mom clearly has in-depth knowledge of the situation and the students at Lowell and does have facts at her command to dispute the contention.

So maybe we should cross IDEA compliance off the list of possible legitimate reasons for the elementary APP split.

seattle citizen said...

Ad hoc, I don't know if anyone did, but the Alt Committee wasn't making policy; it designed a framework and the CAO has the framework and can do with it as she will.
Not all alts were represented on committee, and conversations weren't promulgated to alts by the committee; we handed in the document.
So most alts probably are not in the loop, unless the CAO chooses to let them know policy and their options regarding assessment (or chooses to tell alts, or anybody for that matter, that perhaps the district would be willing to look at alternative assessments if they showed that GLEs and EALRs, etc, were being addressed.)

There was brief spat of organization of alts going on about a month ago (see:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/seattle-alted/
but I'm not privy to any ongoing effort. I'd encourage it...

This tells me that while many alts might have assessments going on, some good, there is no clearinghouse for them, and many don't know that they might be able to use non-WASL. (of course, WASL is still a graduation requirement, but did you know there are alternatives to even that, at the state level? COE for Reading and Writing, full-year passing math classes for Math in senior year...

seattle citizen said...

wow.

"First, do no harm."

Spectrum, Alt, "Regular", SpEd, Culturally Relevant, APP, ELL, ELO...

GROW the variety of programs, etc, that meet the varied needs of students! Pedagogy over the last half-century recognizes more and more needs. We used to GROW services to meet these needs, because it's the right thing to do.

But another way to educate students is to put them all in a little box and stand an automaton in front of them, regurgitating direct instruction without differentiation. This is less expensive, and in these lean times, what with a deficit and all, perhaps this is the way to go?

GROW the variety of quality education that meets students needs.

Meany Spectrum students are losing Spectrum? I hope ALL "communities" looking for the individuation and differentiation that meets the needs of ALL children will watch the doctors and get second opinions.

"First, do no harm."

AutismMom said...

It is possible that the medically fragile program has a student without intellectual disabilities. And that is a very sad thing... the program is K-5, an acknowledged huge problem. That alone grossly limits cognitive growth, no matter who you are. The other 6 programs are for moderate to severe to profound disability... which implies deficits in cognitive functioning. It would be pretty sad if there's a student without intellectual disability enrolled. Extra Curricular focus (as listed by SPS): Language and motor development, adaptive life skills, self-help, social-emotional skills. Not much about academics listed.

I'm not saying Lowell is inclusive academically. Only that they have been at times, and could be, just as well as anyone else. It's a matter of will.

seattle citizen said...

autismmom,
What about LRE? Even if a child is medically fragile, doesn't the law say they are to be given access to the least restrictive environment that meets their educational needs?

How is it permitted?

You might have already commented on this and I missed it, but that's outrageous. LRE puts that child in any damn class she/he needs, or it should.

AutismMom said...

Even if a child is medically fragile, doesn't the law say they are to be given access to the least restrictive environment that meets their educational needs?


SPS does not consistently or equitably provide LRE. And they admit it. And the review spelled it out. At 30% are in overly restricted settings.

adhoc said...

Sahila and Josh Hays, according to Seattle Citizen, Carla Santorno let the board appointed alt school committee know that she was open to looking at an alternate assessment in lieu of the WASL. She asked alt schools to provide her with some data.

I know AS1 had a representative on the alt school committee. Did that rep or anyone else at AS1 follow up with Ms. Santorno?

If so, what was her response? If not, now might be a good time to do it.

seattle citizen said...

Ad Hoc,
you wrote that:
"Carla Santorno let the board appointed alt school committee know that she was open to looking at an alternate assessment in lieu of the WASL. She asked alt schools to provide her with some data."

As far as I know, she did not ask "alt schools to provide her with some data."

As far as I know, only those on the committee heard this. Additionally, it was my impression that she would work with schools to develop these alternatives. I do not know that anyone (or her) got these conversations going.

I would suggest that this should be a board policy, rather than just conversations; as we see, know one seems to know about it.
Something as important as alternative assessments should be promulgated throughout the district.

AS1, I agree that now is the time to approach district with your suggested alternatives, and discuss with the CAO how these might be implemented.

I suggest that we take the focus off AS1; they have been the subject of this discussion for quite some time and it's a broader conversation than just one school's data and assessments.

Dorothy said...

I want to say thanks for those who have been having a conversation with real information and questions about Lowell and Special Ed. None of us have the entire picture and I have found this dialog informative.

I don't know that much about it all, just my experience as a parent whose child attended Lowell APP for five years. There was a child in the Special Ed at the time who was autistic(?) and not integrated with APP kids as far as I knew. But his teacher got and used the regular APP curriculum for him. Was that the right thing for this child? I have no idea.

One year my son had a teacher who did show-and-tell every day. Each child had one day a week to prepare something and it was supposed to be thoughtful, not just a toy. The kids who took it seriously brought lots of interesting items or ideas for discussions. Anyway, a child from special ed who was severely physically handicapped but cognitively was fine participated regularly. I never fully understood how it worked because her communication skills were extremely limited, but parent volunteers and my son said that she really did participate and was able to share and communicate. (Several years later, when we toured WMS, my son noticed her there.)

In my experience, the APP teachers liked having these opportunities. Did it work out well enough every time? Did some teachers quietly discourage it? I really do not know. I never heard anything negative from parents or teachers. But I did get a feeling that we didn't see all sides or know enough, or were helpful enough. I don't know.

I can also see the point that Charlie raised though, that there are no classrooms of typically developing kids learning the alphabet or counting to 20 or listening to simple stories, things that might be very appropriate and helpful for some special ed kids for academic inclusion.

I grew up in a home with a mentally retarded relative. My aunt was severely mentally and physically handicapped. As a result, compared to my peers, I was more tolerant and less grossed out by unseemly behaviors, more patient and more capable of understanding someone with a severe stutter or other speech impediment. My son was able to get similar exposure at Lowell. As a first grader, he did tell me that he was grossed out by the special ed kids at lunch, but we were able to talk about it and move on. (As a child, I certainly was grossed out by my aunt occasionally as well.) The daily acclimation at lunch, at recess, the limited inclusion in the classroom, the volunteering to help with special ed kids in PE, all of that was valuable for my son.

However, I haven't the foggiest if it was valuable or the best place for the special ed kids. I wish I knew. I wish there was someone in power whom we could trust to make the best decisions for them.

noggen said...

www.mothersagainstwasl.org