Thursday, November 11, 2010

Map of School Growth

This map comes to us from the UW's Center on Reinventing Public Education using the School Reports. It doesn't break out by type of school but by ranking but it's interesting to view.

73 comments:

Sahila said...

Centre for Reinventing Eduction is a deformist group, funded by Gates, pro charter schools and TFA...

Eckstein mom said...

My extended Seattle family had a big reunion on the weekend and when I asked how they voted and why, they said they all had voted for the levy. They told me they thought the levy had something to do with upgrading the buildings in Seattle because of the term "operations" levy. Are Seattle voters, my family included, so illiterate that they don't read their voter's pamphlets? How could Seattle voters be so easily fooled by the word "operations" and how can we make Seattle voters more informed?!

none1111 said...

Eckstein mom: OF COURSE they don't understand - no one told them! The only way "normal" people were going to understand this levy and vote it down is if we ALL took the time to spread the word very widely. To anyone who is not deeply engaged in district affairs, this will look like any other levy, and this is a Yes Levy town.

At the risk of offending (sorry in advance) you have to look to yourself for this particular failure. Why didn't you talk to them before the election? I sent out emails to people I knew who I thought were likely to vote but are not parents of kids in the district. People I figured would listen to me because they have no other vesting or interest in the issue. I also talked with neighbors and got the point across to at least some. And even with that, I failed to do an adequate job because I found out later that I should have included fellow parents as well! In follow-up discussions with other parents I found that they weren't even aware of what has been happening, and were happy to vote Yes, as always. No questions asked.

I suspect most people thought everyone else was doing the work in the trenches. Sad.

RB1986 said...

It makes me very sad that there is no blue or green south of I-90

Bird said...
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Bird said...
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Bird said...

It makes me very sad that there is no blue or green south of I-90

The blue/green vs. red/orange and the 1/2 vs. 4/5 does not necessarily mean anything about the quality of the instruction going on in these schools.

Take a look at the school surveys and the questions related to quality of instruction as reported by students and parents, and you won't necessarily see this north-south split.

My kids walked into our "blue/green" school on day one already meeting state standards for the grade -- no instruction needed. I imagine quite a few other kids in the school did too.

As usual this sort of map probably tells us more about the demographics than the schools.

The district has some data now on what the value add at each school is. How 'bout releasing the MAP information? That would give a fuller picture of what's going on in a school.

kid not like the others said...

sad to look at school data. Sealth, for example, has no difference between graduation stats on time, or 6 and fewer years. that means 38 percent are where? what happens to them?

how about students who have to retake the HSPE for reading/writing/math? how many pass on second try? on the third? This kind of data would be meaningful because it would show the strength of RTI and some sort of effective intervention program. Earning credits- whatever. If they don't pass those tests, they don't graduate.

I would think that students who don't pass these tests, who might never have passed these tests, would only feel they would have one choice left, drop out. It would be nice to know, as parent, that a building has something for my kid, to help keep them in school and continue to work toward graduating.

breaks my heart to see data like this with little corresponding information about intervention programs.

gavroche said...

I find this and the School District's school "report cards" borderline bogus. Test scores are only one small measure of an education and a school's success at reaching kids.

What's more, both CRPE and SPS's map/report's show trends for the last year or so. As a result of the school closures and splits, some of the test scores in these schools went up or down this past year simply because of the change in the student population that was injected or ejected from the schools.

As a result of the New Student Assignment Plan and the new student population mix that has brought to each school, data from last year is already outdated.

I find these "maps" and "reports" simplistic and not very useful.

But I'm sure they will be useful in someone's political agenda.

FightingForKids said...

Test scores are only one small measure of an education and a school's success at reaching kids.
I agree, but it is the system we have and the measures we're using for all students. Parents are making school choices (or moving choices) based on these test scores. Already I've had three conversations with parents whose kids are about to enter kindergarten next year and they're looking at the ratings.

But I'm sure they will be useful in someone's political agenda..

Including those who don't want to admit that inequity exists in our school system. So they'll use it to poopoo the data and act like everything is better than what it really is, when really it's just better for their kids.

In my view these ratings highlight what everyone has always known--the south in school are underserved and under resourced with quality across the board. Now that it's a little more visually clear, the folks who've had the best all this time are in a panic because the rest of the city will now see what has been going on for decades.

And Sahila, this is a simple visual mapping of data that has already been released. Why does it matter who made it? You know if you got off the Gates, deformist bandwagon people might take you more seriously.

Take Seriously? said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...
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Take Seriously? said...
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gavroche said...

FightingForKids said... "Now that it's a little more visually clear, the folks who've had the best all this time are in a panic because the rest of the city will now see what has been going on for decades."

FFK -- This strange comment is based on a number of twisted presumptions. 1. That there is such as thing as "the best" in SPS. SPS does a good job of messing with most everything in its system, including what works and is popular. Witness the mess it has made of Garfield High School. With top-down management and one-size-fits-all standardization and crappy math for all, chronic overcrowding and underfunding, every school has its challenges in this system.

2. Why would anyone "be in a panic" over the struggles of some of the district's schools? Concern is more like it. You ascribe a very selfish and perverse attitude to some members of the SPS community that says more about how you think than how anyone else does.

3. If indeed some schools have been struggling for decades then that is an indictment of SPS leadership.

It may also have something to do with the socioeconomic background of these kids. Check the correlation between the FRL percentages of the most struggling schools. Poverty and its related stresses and injustices affect how well a child does in school, and how many resources the parents can contribute to make the school stronger.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

To me, Gavroche has the right idea. Here's a bit I posted on the Rainier Valley Post in response to someone calling for firing the teachers:

Sure there are some bad apple teachers—but they’re everywhere, not just in the southend. I’ve heard some horror stories about Spectrum and AP teachers at both Lowell and WMS.

There are some fantastic teachers too—and they’re all over…and MANY are in Southend Schools working very hard to help the kids in their classes achieve. But many of the kids starting K in SE schools are already behind their middle-class counterparts often because they did not have the benefit of preschool, or parents who could read to them (let alone speak) in English. In SE schools, K teachers are often spending time teaching things that other kids learn in preschool—or even by watching Sesame Street—like colors, shapes, the alphabet, numbers. K students in most NE schools are learning how to read from day one as they already know the basic stuff.

And did you know that the very expensive (and questionable) MAP testing being done on Kindergartners require them to use headphones and a computer early in the school year? How many SE 5-yr-olds have even seen a computer, let alone are proficient at using one?

Firing a few bad apples will do nothing to suddenly turn all those 1s and 2s into 5s. Early childhood education is one place we should be putting our money. Another is parenting classes and support for parents. It’s hard work to keep a child focused on homework, etc. especially as they get older when there are so many fascinating things like video games, Youtube, FaceBook, etc. vying for their attention. It’s a heck of a lot easier to just let the kid do what they want. I am constantly battling with my own child on these issues, and I know others are as well.

I’m a college-educated grown-up (had my child late in life) who came from a strong and loving Italian family, and I have to remind myself every day that it’s worth the hassle to make sure my child stays on track. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it would be if I didn’t speak English, worked 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet, had no good parenting role models, was a single parent, have 3 or more kids, was still a child (teenager) myself, etc…

This problem is a lot bigger than teachers’ unions or test scores. It’s a failure of our society to support and value education. Until we recognize that and make an effort to fully-fund education (and I mean all the way from infancy* up to college), we will continue to see a huge disparity between the haves and have-nots.

*There have been numerous studies that show how much “learning” goes on even with newborns. For more info, check out ParentMap.com and search for early childhood ed.

seattle citizen said...

F4K, could you tell us, since you make the accusation, who "those who don't want to admit that inequity exists in our school system" are? That's a pretty nasty slander. To whom do you refer?

And could you tell us what causes those inequities?

Maureen said...

Excellent post Solvay!

seattle citizen said...

I'm curious about who the 1-5 rating system was devised. Why are levels Four and Five comprised of different data than One, Two, and Three? Why are different absolute scores (low, low-mdeium for one, low-medium for another) added to different ranges of growth scores, or even to percent F/RL, a different scale completely? For instance, Here it is:
Red = Level 1
Low Overall Absolute Performance and Low-to-Medium Overall Growth Performance

Orange = Level 2
Medium-Low Overall Absolute Performance and Low-to-Medium Overall Growth Performance

Yellow = Level 3
Low or Medium-Low Overall Absolute Performance and High Overall Growth Performance or Medium-High Overall Absolute Performance

Green = Level 4
High Overall Absolute Performance (w/ Free and Reduced Price Lunch Achievement Gap)

Blue = Level 5
High Overall Absolute Performance (w/ no Free and Reduced Price Lunch Achievement Gap)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Me, too.

"Including those who don't want to admit that inequity exists in our school system."

I've been in this district for 16 years and I haven't never met anyone who didn't think there were inequities. Ever.

"Now that it's a little more visually clear, the folks who've had the best all this time are in a panic because the rest of the city will now see what has been going on for decades."

Really? You're giving the district credit for making something "visually clear" that has been clear to just about everyone else? I don't think anyone's in a panic except for parents whose attendance area school is not good. What is the district's answer to what they should do or how they should take these reports?

Naturally, those with the suspicious bones in our bones think this is all one more motion to show how many "failing" schools we have and we NEED charters. This is NOT something done to help parents.

seattle citizen said...

I agree, Maureen, Solvay's post was right on. LEV and others are cheering the arrival of Geoffrey Canada, of Harlem Zone fame, and touting his wonderful charters. They neglect to add that millions of dollars and thousands of hours of volunteer and social service hours are given to these schools.

If we had the will to do that with our publics, we would obtain similar results, and be able to keep the rich and deep curricula we value, instead of high-stakes test-based test-prep.

seattle citizen said...

I agree, also, with Melissa. The TFA drive is in high gear (those TFAers sure are smarter, sure work harder, sure know how to deal with the acheivement gap, and sure do more to believe that every child can succeed. Unlike all the public school educators we already have. Look at the map! It's the teacher's fault (they're all culturally incompetent, if not actually racist) and, uh, it's only the teachers in the south end! We MUST get TFA in here, pronto!

Oh, and charter schools. So the TFAers can be innovative while teaching to the test. We know that no existing public school is doing anything innovative. Dang unions.

Maureen said...

Interesting how at the NE NSAP Transition meeting last night, there was a pretty clear proposal (if not a done deal) as to what to do to AS#1 given their falling enrollment, but nothing proposed for Madrona which is in a much nicer building.

Any word on if the new principal Farah Thaxton is turning things around?

FightingForKids said...

Well SC clearly I'm not referring to you. There are many people who do not acknowledge the inequities--they blame the kids.

Marissa just because you never heard anyone say there were no inequities doesn't mean those folks don't exist. Do you know everyone in Seattle? Have you talked to everyone in Seattle? If so, then I stand corrected.

seattle citizen said...

F4K,
Gavroche wrote that the maps and "data" will "will be useful in someone's political agenda."

You replied, "Including those who don't want to admit that inequity exists in our school system."

Gavroche was obiously referring to those trying to "reform" the district/state/country: Who, among those you suggest don't want to admit inequity, has a political agenda? You're making a serious accusation about SOMEbody, that they somehow don't want to admit that there is inequity....who is it? You write that it's not me, and since I (and Melissa) don't know everybody, surely there is someone...WHO, then has the poltical agenda? If they have an agenda they'd be pretty public, eh?

And what are you proposing the inquity is? I'm curious. You throw that out there; what do you think it is? What causes the inequity?

Melissa Westbrook said...

F4K, actually it's Melissa. No, I don't know everyone in Seattle but I'm wondering who you talk to that would say things like that. Where do you hear those remarks was really my question.

wsnorth said...

How could this map surprise anyone? The green and blue diamonds are - by and large - where the most expensive real estate is. And Sahila, I love most of your posts and commentary, but do you even have a "neutral" gear? After 5 years of NSAP, this will be even more clearly drawn along income lines.

emeraldkity said...

We live very close to West Woodland( green)- our neighbor has two children with mild disabilities - was told they were assigned to Northgate elementary ( red)

SPED parents do not have the resources of APP parents because privacy issues forbid any mailing lists for meetings- etc.

The parents tried to appeal the ruling, because instead of being able to walk to school, they have to take a SPED bus- for a fairly lenghty bus ride making the transition at either end of their day much more difficult- a Critical piece for students dealing with learning challenges.

It is appalling how this district treats families with children who receive " special" services. They move programs around depending on needs of the district, not the children.

( incidentally- this family is minority FRL- not that , that should matter)

emeraldkity said...

I didn't mean to single out APP parents-
I wanted to make the point that it is impossible for SPED parents to contact other SPED parents however- unless they already know them- they have no access to any sort of SPED mailing list- which suits admin, who like to convince people that they are the only ones having their particular problem.

seattle citizen said...

emeraldkitty, is there any way, I wonder, to connect special education parent/guardians outside of the district system? I was going to suggest that hey, wouldn't it be great if when someone had a kid who was identified as special ed, or during IEP meetings or something, an official or a sped teacher could say "there is a group of sped parent/guardians that meet online and weekly at ______'s house to discuss important issues. Here's their number."

But from your last comment, it seems this wouldn't happen (hmmm, I wonder if the board could make it happen? I mean, it's a no-brainer: don't we WANT people to have support?)

But if doesn't happen internally, perhaps there is a way to start and nourish a word-of-mouth or other such campaign to let people know there is a support group...

mark said...

I have been teaching in the the south end for years and Solvaygirl says it best.
Thank you!

Maureen said...

kity and SC, what about the Special Ed PTSA as a starting point?

seattle citizen said...

My guesws, Maureen, and I'm not too up on this issue, is that few parent/guardians would know there is such a thing as a special ed PTSA. The sped PTSA couldn't recruit; same confidentiality issues. So unless someone tells a parent or guardian...

The First Arnold said...

Sahila- Thanks for connecting the dots between Centre for Reinventing Education and Gates Foundation.

No doubt. This Map will be used for Charter Schools. Let's wait and see.

Sahila said...

@ wsnorth:

No, I dont have a "neutral" gear when it comes to ed deform and all the many aliases and disguises it comes under/uses to attempt to slink under the wire...

In my opinion, its immoral and obscene... and completely undemocratic... half a dozen uber rich people have decided what public education should look like and they're going around using their money and influence to ensure they get it to be that way (and to make sure they and their friends make mountains of money in the process)... and we and our kids are mere pawns...

And here in Seattle its being pushed through regardless of process or law...

I dont think I have ever encountered anything more arrogant and completely disrespectful in my life...

Its abusive...

So I do what I do to highlight where individuals, groups and institutions come from and what their agenda really is, because it seems to me that many people in this town are not informed...

And if they are, they seem not to get the ramifications of what they support, in the broader picture, or they're sitting in total denial, with their fingers in their ears humming/singing "I cant hear you"... and I cant/wont shut up while that's going on...


There are groups all over this country fighting this deform agenda...

Here's a sample:
Parents Across America
Parents and Kids Against Standardised Testing
Support Our Schools
Uniting for Kids
SOS Million Teacher March
Fair Testing
Stop RTTT
Schools Matter
NYC Public School Parents

All acknowledge what is really going on...

You might like to read this:
privatising war and education

and this:

are we handing education over to corporations

and this:

Klein to advise Newscorp on financing startups providing digital services to education

and this:

NYC Schools: Democratic Public Education, or Corporate Widget-Maker?

and then watch this:

""standardized retardation!"

Its like Germany in the 30s - going on in broad daylight, right under our noses... and we are letting it....

dan dempsey said...

Solvay - excellent post.

About the map .. the District would rather have you all look at the pretty 5 color map than the data showing the SPS's crappy results from Writers Workshop or Everyday Math etc..

Check out change results from WASL '09 to MSP '10 in 4th grade Writing and 7th grade writing.

Seattle Change minus State change
Writing,grade4
White,AmIndian,Asian/P,Black,Hispanic,Limited Eng
-6.20% -9.10% -7.80% -4.20% -0.80% -7.50%

Seattle Change minus State change
Writing,grade7
White,AmIndian,Asian/P,Black,Hispanic,Limited Eng
-5.20% -1.10% -3.40% -1.70% -4.90% -14.00%

There is little effort made to teach students to write persuasively. Looking at these results writing is tanking period.

Seattle Change minus State change
Math,grade4
White,AmIndian,Asian/P,Black,Hispanic,Limited Eng
-1.60% -6.10% 4.10% -3.20% 3.20% -3.20%

Seattle Change minus State change
Math,grade3
White,AmIndian,Asian/P,Black,Hispanic,Limited Eng
0.90% -8.10% -0.80% -0.10% -0.50% -5.30%

Woo Hoo more crap results from EDM... Would Carla Santorno care to explain?


There is no mystery about MGJ's abject failure to serve educationally disadvantaged students read about Project Follow Through.

We are now witnessing the failure to serve everyone with the "Missing most academic content" instructional materials used in the SPS.

This moves the SPS closer to equally crappy outcomes for all. A direct result of MGJ's thinking or lack thereof: "Assessing every student and placing them according to ability sounds like tracking and discrimination…and we’ve moved light years away from that."

The statement MGJ hid from the public about NTN: "Knowing ahead of time that the NTN model does not guarantee strong results only enhances the degree to which the burden falls on the district and the schools to achieve success."
- Eric M. Anderson on 1-29-2009

Read this and see if you find that in the memo that MGJ shared with the Board.

This is known as a gross misdemeanor. RCW 9A.76.175 Making a false or misleading statement to a public servant.
A person who knowingly makes a false or misleading material statement to a public servant is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. "Material statement" means a written or oral statement reasonably likely to be relied upon by a public servant in the discharge of his or her official powers or duties.



It will take more than another amazing waste of money on a program like Core-24 to make more students college ready.

I await the big movement to make colleges more user friendly for poorly prepared students. It seems the next step in MGJ's plan of GPA = 1.0 good enough to graduate.

See my comments at the Wall Street Journal to end this data based rant.

==========
and Gilda Radner says:
'Oh nevermind .... TfA will fix everything."

Chris said...

Well, people have said this before, but how much money was spent to figure out that schools in lower-income parts of town need more resources? To me the new scores are a big DUH. Do they really tease out anything more nuanced than %FRL? (I'm going to do a correlation coefficient when I get the chance.) And yes, I realize they show some schools are doing better by their minority populations than others. But show me a case where we didn't already know that (from prior annual reports.)

And CRPE spends how much more color-coding it? This is all about press. I'm sorry, but why don't we just buy books for RBHS instead.

Finally, yes I live in a green part of town. I don't see how anyone could be unaware of the inequities. There is always LEV, Stand, and the Times relentlessly playing that tune, with their predictable recommendations as to the cure. You can blame us for enabling the legislature's education position, but be sure you blame those voters who defeated 1098 and pass 1053 too.

wsnorth said...

Money $$ - but how much is enough? Gatzert (which I know little about, but it is level one and someone mentioned it earlier) gets 50% more per student than Lafayette in West Seattle (a level 5). So, is 50% not enough? How much is enough?

Melissa Westbrook said...

WS North raises a good question. Many schools do have a large population of low-income students but that doesn't necessarily correlate with how much money comes in the school. The variance of money coming in depending on the population has a very wide swing.

So how much impact is a good principal? Teachers? PTA? Family? Community? I suspect, based on several charter school examples, that even a good school cannot solve all problems that affect a child's learning once they walk out the school doors.

FightingForKids said...

SC, people I have various conversations with or listen in on their conversations. You want me to name names? Really?

Why is it so hard for you to believe that some people just think poor or people of color just can't learn, so they get what they deserve?

Anonymous said...

Of course the district could inform families about SPED ptsa or SEAAC. But why would they want to do that? People might find out about something they could have, or learn about how others have wiggled out of wrong situations. They might find out how you enroll in programs that don't exist. Or, worse yet, band together. Mum's the word. Confidentiality and all. The district could easily provide an anonymous alias where people could post, without knowing the names or identities of others receiving services. District staff is all lying low. Not a peep out of any of them.


Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Chris said: Well, people have said this before, but how much money was spent to figure out that schools in lower-income parts of town need more resources?

Well to Solvay's point, do more resources solve the problem? Is the lack of performance in the south end due to lack of resources?

The problems are societal and parental and cultural, and trying to fix all that through the school system is pushing on a string.

The issues of low-income parents with more than one job and no time or energy left to be active in their kids' education, parents who do not speak English in the home, and parents who are not well-educated themselves are real drivers in the performance of kids in lower income neighborhoods. But there are other problems as well.

I read "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria" by Beverly Daniel Tatum and it was eye opening. Interesting to note that black achievement fell with desegregation. Segregation was a bad thing, I'm not saying otherwise, but in desegregating there was an unintended consequence. The kids from higher economic backgrounds began to fill up the advanced classes. The classes began to be associated with white kids, and the black kids who could thrive in those classes didn't want to. They were accused of trying to "be white." Lots of black kids felt like they were deserting their own identity, or distancing themselves from their identity when they took these classes. Those who did were not really at home in those classes and did experience racism. Years later, it has become very uncool in the black communities in lower income neighborhoods to "be smart" and achieve academically. The parents are the products of the same system. Which reinforces the problem.

This is a huge problem. And no superintendent, school board, teacher or pile of money is going to solve it.

Mom of 2 SPS kids

wseadawg said...

F4K: Why can't you defend MGJ's policies without insinuating that those who disagree with her have had it too good all these years at your expense? And why garnish your comments with a little racism & class warfare?

If you really think I disagree with MGJ because she's some sort of Educational Robin Hood, sticking up for the little guys, stealing from the privileged and giving to the less fortunate, then I have no hope of convincing you that anything she proposes or does isn't pure sunshine and magic.

Show me how I've manipulated the system to better my kids at the expense of yours. Show me how anyone has done that in this district. If you're going to throw those grenades, you should present some proof to back it up. .

I think the more important point is not to buy into the zero-sum-game trickery that says the only way your school can improve is if somebody else's suffers. That is basic divide & conquer strategy employed by the rulers against the ruled for centuries, to keep the masses at each others throats, and distracted from the schemes and chicanery of the overlords to further feather their nests at our expense. You may not see it, but we're all in this together.

This is district-wide policy we're discussing here. What benefits my kids benefits yours. It's a two-way street. I have yet to see commentary that advocates harming or taking from your community to benefit another. It is usually ten-fold in the opposite direction.

wseadawg said...

The problems are societal and parental and cultural, and trying to fix all that through the school system is pushing on a string.

Two words: Everett & Counselors.

People who act as surrogates can make a huge difference. We all know the value of role models and adults in childrens lives, especially the kids with single parents, or economically or socially disadvantaged. Yet, we go and cut elementary school counselors across the board.

This is insane. Everett has proven the value of using trained counselors to cut their HS dropout rate by 2/3 at a cost of roughly 250 to 300k per year. A virtual drop in the bucket.

Meanwhile Seattle spends umpteen million dollars and the graduation rate barely budges.

You're right, Anon, no School Board or SI is going to change it, neither will chronic MAP testing or data-collection obsessions. But teachers and especially counselors can do a lot, if they are supported, resourced, and most importantly, valued and respected as the professionals they are.

But MGJ & Co. just "aren't into" that.

seattle citizen said...

F4K,

Well, of course some people are blatantly racist, think some groups of people are inherently dumber or whatever...but your comment, following gavroche's, seemed to say that those people will make use of data to support white kids over others, or to bolster their claims.

Your counterclaim to gavroche's claim that the "data" (especially the little map...isn't it colorful and simple?) will be used to further the agenda of the "reform" movement is that others will use the data to advance THEIR agenda, to advance their belief that there is no inequity? So I'm asking which group, which power player, will do such a thing.

This depends on what you think is causing the inequity, of course, something you aren't telling us.

Is it generational poverty? Culturally inappropriate teachers and/or curriculum? Should teachers/curriculum be changed to address the inquity? Will this change the inequity?

What, F4k, is causing the inequity?

Charlie Mas said...

Let's lighten up a bit on Fighting for Kids, shall we?

There are openly racist opinions expressed in Seattle all the time. Just read the reader comments on the Seattle Times or the Rainier Valley Post; you'll find them.

Fighting for Kids never stated, or even implied, that those opinions were held by anyone who comments regularly on this blog, but the response has been as if that were the implication.

The folks who read this blog and comment here know the real story.

The real story is that there are a lot of students who come into our schools with the advantages of stable home lives, good nutrition, pre-school, families that support education, families that have the time to do educational things at home, and families that know how to support their children's education. There are also a lot of children who come into our schools without some or all of those advantages.

The real story is that the schools with a lot of struggling students will look like struggling schools regardless of the actual work done with those kids. Kids come into the schools far behind and, no matter how much their educations are accelerated, leave those schools still behind. Let's remember that children from low-income households change schools much more frequently than middle class or affluent children. Not only does this tend to delay the students' academic growth, it also makes it appear that the schools are responsible for the progress of students who have just arrived.

This map, and the whole idea of measuring schools based on student achievement, is a faulty idea because it focuses on school performance instead of student performance. Worse, it prevents the District - and much of the public - from seeing student performance and addressing it.

The District needs to stop looking at schools and start looking at students. It needs to respond to struggling students by sending support to the students - wherever they are (even north of the Ship Canal) - instead of sending support to the schools or the teachers.

It's very possible that the schools and the teachers are doing a great job and are not struggling at all. It's very possible that the schools and the teachers are already doing everything they can to accelerate the students' acheivement to bring it up to grade level. It is much more likely that the impediment to further or faster growth is rooted in a problem that the students has at home and not in a problem with the teacher or the school. In those cases, the District should be sending the support to the student, and not to the teacher or school.

Until we stop basing our assessment of schools on the demographics of the students they recruit and start basing the assessment on what they do with those students we won't know which of our schools are doing good work and which are not.

Until we start responding to struggling students with support for the students (instead of their teachers or schools) we won't really help the students to achieve.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! And the focus put on this false and misleading idea of school performance DOES further the Education Reform agenda. It DOES promote charter schools, Teach for America, union busting, the de-professionalization of teachers, and a long list of assessments for sale.

So this map and any other media focused on this misleading idea is a tool of Education Reform. Resist it.

But resist it because it is an intentional distraction. Resist it because it doesn't tell us anything meaningful for students. Resist it regardless of who produced it.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Bravo Charlie!
So what can we, as parents, do to help change the system? The anti-tax movement coupled with our down economy don't make it easy to advocate for more services—for the STUDENT or the schools. There's going to be some huge holes in the safety nets that low-income families need. Ideas anyone?

Charlie Mas said...

The change needs to come at the Board level and during budget planning stage. In other words, NOW. We need to go to our Board members and explain this to them.

At a recent Board meeting, Director Smith-Blum asked if the District conducts an assessment of each incoming student to provide that student with the services they need. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson stated that providing needed interventions was the "core work" of the District. Dr. Susan Enfield echoed that position, but then she went on to say that the District was seeking outside funding to bring their intervention program, Response to Intervention, to scale.

In short, the District has made no provision in their budget for something that they consider part of their "core work". That has to stop.

Ask your Board members what spending has a higher priority than providing early and effective interventions for students working below grade level. Emphasize that the intervention has to be at the STUDENT level, not the teacher or the school level.

RB1986 said...

I think the solution is boots on the ground. If the majority of parents in the Mt. Baker neighbohood sent their kids to John Muir (like they did when I went there) it would be blue/green instead of orange. Looking at the stats in the Enrollment section of the SPS website it appears the NSAP may help in this regard.

Anonymous said...

Solya Girl,
Why can't the SCPTSA revisit the idea of PTA funds be pooled together and redistributed based on needs? For example, let each school with a PTA that can raise funds keep a certain percentage (i.e. 60%) for their school use and send the remaining 40% to the pool.

I understand this may not go down well, but there is something wrong that some schools can raise 100K+, and are expected to do so year after year to fund FTE positions and enrichment programs. I realize these better off schools get fewer dollars for their kids, but one reason for that is the increasing reliance by SPS on these PTAs to fund their schools.

Now the district want to formalize this budget dependence by having a line for PTA funding in the WSS.

The biggest saving and redistribution of $$ back to schools would be to reduce the size and pet projects of central admin. Here is where the PTA leadership can speak up and get the message out to more parents than this blog. Why they don't is a big mystery to many of us check writing parents.

It is frustrating to look at well run school districts (they have huge budget holes too!) and see how they manage their budget. Meg did a great presentation and refuted many of the common myths why Seattle is so special and need such large bureaucracy. I think we need to bring that up more often and remind seattle voters and parents of this.

looking for some cents

wseadawg said...

Sage advice as usual, Charlie. But F4K is playing on the haves vs have-nots theme, which, like the achievement gap, becomes the excuse for every bad decision the district makes. It's no different than Melissa being told she doesn't care about kids because she exercises her right and responsibility of free speech to oppose a bad idea or a bad levy.

I find such go-to, snide arguments to be unproductive and divisive, which plays right into the district's hands.

F4K, if you're listening, I respect your opinions, but not the digs and suggestions that some people are better off because they "know how to play the system", are somehow "well-connected" or better off.

Look at what's happening to APP for heavens sake. That program gets bashed for being elitist all the time, and the district, capitalizing on that sentiment, tears that community apart at will, causing the loss of some of the best students and families in the district, many with a lot of money and volunteer time, who opt for private schools instead, taking their resources, connections, dollars, and votes with them.

Does anyone think these us vs. them wars help anyone?

If we continue to fall into this class warfare trap of blaming and treating better-off people like thieves and manipulators, we'll ultimately drive them out of public schools, and our victory in the class struggle will be entirely Pyrrhic.

If you like district policy, tell me why. Don't dismiss my questions and concerns as being invalid because of where I live, what color I am, or how much money I earn. That close-minded thinking guarantees a worse outcome for everyone. We've seen it over and over in Seattle.

Lori said...

I too think there is something appealing about the idea of pooling PTA funds to ensure that all schools have similar funding, but what people may not realize is that the schools that are raising $100K thru the PTA are not necessarily better off financially because these schools aren't getting Title 1 money that other schools get.

The other day, I think someone on this blog posted the following story: http://www.mynorthwest.com/category/news_chick_blog/20101110/The-divide-between-Seattle-schools/

This story compared two families, one attending Whittier, the other Dunlap. While Whittier raised $100K via PTA, Dunlap received $200K in Title 1 money that year that Whittier did not. So I don't think the answer to equitable funding is as easy as it might seem at first glance.

And yes, I know that the district has messed with things such that some schools no longer qualify for Title 1 money. I'm not trying to say that some schools are not drastically underfunded; I'm simply trying to say that if we were to pool the money, it would be complicated because you'd have to factor in all of the money, including Title 1 money.

Kathy said...

"At a recent Board meeting, Director Smith-Blum asked if the District conducts an assessment of each incoming student to provide that student with the services they need. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson stated that providing needed interventions was the "core work" of the District. Dr. Susan Enfield echoed that position, but then she went on to say that the District was seeking outside funding to bring their intervention program"

Yes, Charlie. I couldn't agree with you more. I am tired of seeing middle school students reading at elementary school levels. Not seeing district support.

Our district was just awarded $48M Levy funds, $12.5M TIF grant and $9million in Federal funds..and Dr. Enfield thinks we need private funding for core needs???

The District is spending tens of millions of dollars on a complicated system...it doesn't need to be.

I encourage everyone to become involved in the budget process. NOW is the time.

On Nov. 16th the district will release a survey to the community. Encourage families to speak with principal about their school's needs. Encourage families to fill out the survey. There will be a section to write suggestions. I advoate for keeping dollars in the classrooms.

Dorothy Neville said...

Lori, we have gone around and around with this conversation about PTA dollars and federal aid to at-risk populations.

The issue is that one cannot directly compare the Title I and the PTA dollars. The Title I is more correctly compared to the unmeasurable other factors that middle class parents have provided to their children since birth, more time with their infants, more travel, more books, more time available to work on homework, more expertise and time to help memorize multiplication tables. A stable roof overhead with little threat of it going away, utilities never shut off. Earlier intervention with colds that become ear infections, earlier intervention with wheezing that becomes asthma, etc.

A cleaner, but exaggerated analogy would be if there were a school designated for kids with diabetes. So that school might get extra funding for extra refrigerators (and electricity) to store medicines, extra nursing, biohazard disposal costs, consumable medical supplies, multiple quiet spaces to handle the regular medical needs, etc. Surely, that funding would not be considered in comparing what that school gets to what other schools get?

The first draft of a pyramid of funding regarding showed both PTA dollars and Title I in a supplemental category. Really, neither of them belong, and the board is pretty much seeing that and did not like the pyramid.

They have asked for and are sorta-kinda getting better information from the WSS committee, considering JUST the evenly distributed WSS components, the part that should not be cut, that should be considered core and not tweaked due to any sort of supplemental funds.

The issue now is to get the board to support a WSS floor of any sort. The Nov 2 budget workshop included a proposal from the WSS committee to restore $3.5M (partly restore, partly fix systemic problems with the formula). Note that in the last three years, ten million dollars has been cut to the WSS (our core instructional funding) while the overall budget and revenue were up each year.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I don't think PTA money is the biggest problem here. Having been in a southend elementary school that had a high FRL population (60% at the time) but also a strong middle-class component, I saw just what PTA money could do. (Keep in mind that at the time we could only raise about $40,000 per year).

On the plus side, the PTA (primarily the middle-class families no matter how much outreach we did) was able to raise $400,00 in grants and volunteer time to transform a horrible cracked-asphalt playground (so bad it had to be mowed) into a wonderful space with a grass playfield, terrific equipment, native plant beds, etc.

We also supplied field trip busses, money to each classroom for supplies, funded assemblies, and organized after-school enrichment (with scholarships available). And ran a few annual evening events complete with food, entertainment and Scholastic Book Fairs where parents were encouraged to buy books for the classrooms as well as their own child. I personally always bought a book or two for one of the other classes if I saw that no one else had.

Our successful book fairs allowed us to distribute one free book to each child in the school two or three times a year. I remember making sure one little girl did not already have the book she had selected at home (kids tend to gravitate toward their favorite) and being so sad to hear "I don't have any books at home."

As individuals, parents donated to various collections run by the family support worker (money, food, clothing, holiday gifts, furniture).

We did not raise enough money to add staff, but many volunteered in classrooms other than our children's.

What we could not do is make sure kids were coming to school with the materials they needed, make sure they were going home to a safe environment (we had an incident at the school where the police had guns drawn on our playground because they were after a wanted felon, the boyfriend of one of the student's mother who had come to pick the child up—not fun to have your kids in a lock-down over something like that. I can only imagine what life was like for that child.)

We couldn't make sure someone was reading to kids at home, or feeding them a healthy dinner, etc. We couldn't make up for their poverty.

The issues that poverty and all the reasons for it bring to the table are honestly beyond what a PTA can do. As I have said in other posts, many of these kids start school well behind middle-class students. They just did not have the advantages. I think it is absurd to expect a teacher to be able to single-handedly make up for that disparity.

I wish there was some way to break down the numbers in the achievement gap by income tied to race. I know quite a few kids of color who are high-performing (look at the successful Rainier Scholars program). Many of them are in private schools on full scholarships.

Is public education failing ALL kids of color, or just the low-income ones? That's the BIG question.

Central Mom said...

One thing I've learned from the brilliant Meg Diaz is the concept of "supplement not supplant" for Title I funds.

Strings on these funds mean the District can't use them to fund a position or service that all schools in the district would be getting anyhow.

In this way, Title I is a bit like PTSA funds that target dollars for specific needs within a one-school community. Of course, in Title I, the Central Admin has some (all??) say over what those dollars are used for within a particular school.

Dorothy Neville said...

"One thing I've learned from the brilliant Meg Diaz is the concept of "supplement not supplant" for Title I funds.

Strings on these funds mean the District can't use them to fund a position or service that all schools in the district would be getting anyhow."

And this is why I think the Performance Management Framework is ripe for a lawsuit.

FightingForKids said...

wseadawg said: F4K: Why can't you defend MGJ's policies without insinuating that those who disagree with her have had it too good all these years at your expense? And why garnish your comments with a little racism & class warfare?

First of all, who said I'm defending MGJ's policies? I'm not taking sides here--never have. I am square in the middle and when a good idea is a good idea, I don't care who it comes from if it will ultimately benefit kids.

Secondly, I have not referred to anyone here on this blog when I was talking about people who won't admit we have a problem. I do have a life in the world away from my computer. I do talk to people that don't read or post to this blog.

Geesh!

Maureen said...

Solvay, Thank you for that post.

It's pretty clear that poverty and lack of opportunity do explain a large part of the achievement gap, but there is evidence that a significant racial gap exists even for Middle Class kids. Many researchers have tried to explain it by looking at cultural competency and expectations of teachers and by cultural differences amongst families, as well as trying to control for wealth (as opposed to income) and parents' education level.

One thing that has really stood out for me in this literature is the impact of stereotype threat.

I worry that every time black kids hear the phrase "achievement gap" it activates stereotype threat and makes them doubt their own abilities to the extent that they do even worse on the tests.

There was an interesting piece on NPR lately that showed how stereotype threat applies to white students as well. They talked about a recent study in which balcks and whites performed differently playing miniature golf depending on whether the course was described as testing athletic ability or intellectual ability. I can't find the link right now.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Thanks for that input Maureen. It's something I've always wondered about as the kids of color I know are primarily from middle-class families and they are all at about the same level (some above, some below)as my own child, so I don't have anything more than personal experience to go on.

Do the studies make any note of a disconnect for these kids between test scores and achievement in the classroom? My own child tends to have lower scores on standardized tests, but does well in the classroom. Her classwork, participation, homework, labs, etc. often bring up her grade even when she's bombed a test.

It sounds to me that this dilemma is even more complex than any of us can imagine. But that, to me at least, logically says that there are also no easy solutions. I think all stakeholders need to be involved. But how do we fight pop culture?

There was a great Frontline episode a few years back called something like "The Marketing of Cool," that showed how commercial pop culture was definitely at work to dumb down our kids to become stereotypes (ditzy, sexy girls; slacker, wise-a$$ boys; gangsta-wannabees, etc.) I think most parents are fighting that fight, but it's a tough battle—especially with teens.

Central Mom said...

Dorothy, I agree that Performance Management is ripe for a lawsuit. The question is whether the lawsuit appears before or after a sniff test from state auditors, because given their "interest" in our District I've gotta believe that this issue is on their radar for the next audit. At least it should be...

Anyone know if it is?

wseadawg said...

Great point, Solvay.

I think MTV and related channels are pure burlesque trash, and proof positive is that anyone, anywhere knows who or what "Snooki" is. I'm humiliated to admit that I've watched 2 minutes of that car-crash called Jersey Shore, and I'll be doing time in mental lock-down trying to purge it from my head permanently 'til the day I die. Blech!

I cannot fathom where the glee and guilty pleasure comes from in anyone who surrenders a moment of their day to such gutter trash.

We're all guilty of the materialism that's at the root of it all. Where getting attention, in any way, at any cost, is of ultimate importance, and achievement is that corny thing boy scouts & bookworms do.

The cool thing has jumped the shark. It's time to realize we need to disapprove of the bad choices and destructive habits our kids form every time we, or they cave into the peer pressure, and Madison Avenue advertising, at great cost to their individuality and intelligence.

dan dempsey said...

Questions for the State Auditor?

Here is the Seattle Contact information:


Contacts in Seattle: all at 206-615-0555

Carol Ehlinger - Audit Manager

Tony Martinez - Assistant Audit Manager

Rick Thorson - Assistant Audit Manager
thorsonr@sao.wa.gov

State Auditor's Office
Seattle municipal tower
700 5th ave.

suite 4144

Seattle 98104-5045

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Why can't the SCPTSA revisit the idea of PTA funds be pooled together and redistributed based on needs? For example, let each school with a PTA that can raise funds keep a certain percentage (i.e. 60%) for their school use and send the remaining 40% to the pool."

They can't "revisit" it because it was never discussed (as far as I know and I did ask Ramona about it once). Again, the SCPTSA needs a new direction and that might be one to at least talk about.

Charlie Mas said...

Back when this talk about pooling PTA funding was discussed before, the discussion included mention of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensatory education funding that went to schools in the south-end. The Title I money and LAP money was much more commonly six figures than any PTA money ever was.

So what were the schools doing with all of that money - $300,000 - $400,000 in a lot of cases? We never knew.

perspective said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
perspective said...

Pooling fundraising shouldn't be mandatory. If a family is kind and generous enough to donate to their kids school then the funds should go to their kids school unless they specify otherwise. It is ridiculous to mandate pooling, and I can't think of one other fundraising institution that does that.

Make it voluntary. Put a box on the PTSA donation form that asks "would you like to donate 40% of your funds to the pool?" or "I would like to donate and extra X amount of $$$ to the pool". But don't don't make it mandatory. Donations are a gift, and the giftor has every right to specify where he/she wants his money to go.

Mandate pooling and people will push back by donating less or not donating at all.

In an effort to raise more funds my sons high school started charging $10 PP for a play (that's $40 for a family of 4), $75 for a freshman yearbook, etc. I pay it, happily, but since I have a finite amount of fundraising dollars, I have to give less to the annual campaign and other school fundraisers.

Mandate pooling, and families will push back by finding ways around it (donate directly to sports boosters, science boosters, band, car washes, etc).

Maureen said...

ridiculous to mandate pooling, and I can't think of one other fundraising institution that does that

My memory is that Portland Public Schools does it this way (we've had this entire discussion within the past two years.)

Charlie Mas said...

All discussion of the distribution of PTA funds is a distraction.

We can - and should - make a policy that PTA funds cannot be used to pay for any basic education expense (classroom teachers).

PTA funding should only be for enrichment, not for basics.

Unfortunately the District has no policies that regulate any grant acceptance. PTA funding is essentially a non-competitive grant.

Unfortunately the District does not adequately fund schools so PTAs have to raise cash to pay for basics.

wseadawg said...

I agree with Perspective on this one. Pooling depersonalizes the act of giving too much, and attenuates too much the acts of sacrificing and giving from the results. I want to see first-hand, and speak first-hand with the people spending my dollars. This is already a ridiculously expensive place to live, and getting more so all the time. Thus, any dollars I can give require sacrifice. Pooling funds would lead to the district just taking parents fundraising more and more for granted. I take pride in my local school, and have no qualms that that's the way it should be.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

RE: Pooling. Something to consider:
Many of the SE schools (and possibly elsewhere in the cities) have NO PTA, so who would get and determine the use of the pooled funds?

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about Charlie's point "The District needs to stop looking at schools and start looking at students. It needs to respond to struggling students by sending support to the students - wherever they are (even north of the Ship Canal) - instead of sending support to the schools or the teachers."

and he has really pinpointed the problem. SPS prioritizes institutional spending over student spending. They throw money at consultants, coaches, management systems, evaluation systems, testing and data systems instead of spending it on direct services to students. This reminds me of Reagan era trickle down economics, the idea that somehow all these millions of dollars are going to translate into improved student learning. It was called voodoo economics for a reason...it doesn't work.

My students did extremely well last year on the MSP and I was asked by my principal to attribute their success to concrete factors.

1. Small class size. I was able to give students an abundance of individual attention, work with small groups on a regular basis, and individualize assignments to support struggling learners.

2. I had a tutor in my room 3 times a week paid for by PTSA money.

3. I taught an after school class 2 times a week paid for by grant money from the Families and Education levy.

My teaching wasn't significantly different than it had been in the past. I wasn't coached. I didn't use MAP scores to plan my lessons. No money trickled down from the district to help my kids. It all came from outside sources.

This year we had to cut our counselor to half time to pay for a teacher. The WSS only gave us enough money for 4.8 teachers when we need 6. Our principal had to seek out private funding to pay for tutors in the classroom, and our PTSA always has to help us balance our budget.

I read DeBell's email about shifting budget priorities and I sincerely hope it happens. Schools need to be fully funded first and the next step is to fund direct services to students. If coaches are such effective teachers, they should be actually teaching kids. not teachers.

How you spend your money reveals what you value most. I think it is painfully clear what the district values least.

Dismayed Teacher

kid not like the others said...

the scouting organizations pool money.