Monday, November 15, 2010

School Reports Spark Spirited Discussion in Wallyhood

From the Wallyhood blog (the blog of Wallingford where B.F. Day, JSIS and McDonald are located), a post on the school reports. The blog points out the differences in scoring between JSIS (a 4) and B.F. Day (a 2) as well as the number of free/reduced lunch students at B.F. Day versus JSIS.

Here's an interesting stat from the blog entry:

While many folks don’t think about B.F. Day as a Wallingford school since it sits on the other side of Aurora, last year 23% of B.F. Day’s students were from Wallingford, and that number more than doubled to 48% this year due to the New Student Assignment Plan.

They also provide a link to an interesting study that I forgot about from 2000 of parent involvement at JSIS and its outcomes.

What is fascinating is how quickly the comments got vicious (and it points out a big issue of how parents feel about their school versus the data on its performance). One parent spoke of how he/she felt that B.F. Day gets a bad rap versus JSIS when it comes to reputation and she is, in fact, very happy there. She ends with this:

I would encourage any parent who’s worried about their kids having to attend BF Day to talk to the principal and faculty and tour the school. Also consider that parental involvement is easily the number one factor in your child’s education. As long as your child is safe, if your child has your active involvement and support they will do well wherever they go.

Pretty benign and encouraging, no?

Another parent lets readers know that there is a Facebook page dedicated to parents who are starting their B.F. Day experience (Future Parents of B.F. Day). This all sounds positive and that there are parents who are willing to work to better a school.

But then someone else feels JSIS is being attacked and unleashes this:

Chris said, “As long as your child is safe, if your child has your active involvement and support they will do well wherever they go.”

I think the point of the study was that the kids at BF Day are NOT doing well. I wouldn’t be so eager to believe all the “slogan engineering” from the principal of BF Day when the outcome screams FAILURE.

Do the kids at JS have parents wo are more committed to their success? Is that a crime now?

Maybe to level the playing field we should see to it that JS students are denied books and homework assignments; then their performance will come down to the level of BF Day and everyone can be happy.

“My kid can eat dinner from seventeen cultures!”

That’s great preparation for a career path of “would you like fries with that?”

Wow, that's pretty incredible. But it does point out how sensitive and on edge these reports make parents feel. That the above parent felt threatened enough by the "we're supporting B.F. Day" remarks to disparage those parents is quite telling. (And the irony is that he makes fun of the diversity at Day and yet JSIS is an international school.) He makes it sound like BF Day should be closed today.

Over at the West Seattle blog, they had a shorter write-up but more comments. A lot of them credited having Spectrum students at a school to raise scores and hoped that the new Spectrum program at Arbor Heights would help their scores. There was this comment as well:

The article is extremely misleading, in my opinion. The test scores at Lafayette and Schmitz Park are high because of the demographics of the kids attending the schools, not because the teaching is spectacular. The kids at these schools go in with an advantage; they have one or more parents nurturing their academic growth and aren’t struggling to subsist, for the most part.

One of our kids attends Lafayette and I have been underwhelmed by the teaching at the school, yet bc the test scores are high, the administration is unwilling to push the teachers to employ more progressive teaching styles. Our child consistently brings home worksheets with copyright dates from the 1970s.

Another commenter stated stats from the school climate surveys:

In particular, the responses to “safety” questions state that 70% of Lafayette kids report being bullied (14% higher than district average), 71% report feeling unsafe on campus, and 83% report feeling unsafe in the neighborhood. 66% of SP kids report being bullied, 67% feel unsafe on campus and 92% feel unsafe in the neighborhood. Contrast this with low test performing schools, which are all lower than the district average – West Seattle kids who report being bullied: 51%, Roxhill: 40%, Gatewood: 50%

Another reader said this:

While we can celebrate the successes of a small number of schools and put on “probation” others, it seems to me we instead need to come together as a community to support ALL schools — not only with dollars, but also time and energy. It’s time we think beyond just what is best for “my student” or “my school” but what is best for “our community”.

Are you hearing this kind of reaction in your region, in your neighborhood blogs?


spsmarketshare said...

A reader wrote, "We instead need to come together as a community to support ALL schools — not only with dollars, but also time and energy."

Exactly. And, by community, we should mean all of Seattle, including those who have left Seattle Public Schools in frustration and are now in private schools. We need to get more parents in Seattle engaged in the success of our public schools.

The participation rate should be one of the key metrics by which we measure the success of the district. It has been about 68% in the past (compared to the norm of 80-90% for a major US city). A higher participation rate would increase funding, engagement, and achievement for our public schools.

an said...

where are the longer school climate reports? i just saw the parts on the school reports-- are their longer ones with more questions?

Maureen said...

John Stanford, and the other immersion schools should be an Option schools. Start with Geographic Zones equal to the current boundaries and shrink them over the next few years. If they couldn't open an Immmersion school at Sandpoint (for example) because it's too difficult to hire bilingual teachers, how can they possibly keep hiring two more immersion teachers per year at JSIS as 100 kindergarteners per year roll up through the building (and where will those kids sit)? It was crazy to draw the boundaries the way they did (and just as at Garfield, I wonder if it was done purposely to force change.)

Maureen said...

an, I think this is what you're looking for: School Survey Results.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

"A higher participation rate would increase funding, engagement, and achievement for our public schools."

Been there, done that—for 8 years. Though I want SPS to succeed, the success of my own child is paramount. As a southend resident, I don't have the time to wait for the middle and high schools to be "improved"—I can't put my child's education and life on hold while SPS gets its act together.

I do what I can here and by bugging my board rep, etc., and will work to do more once my child is grown and gone, but I'm NOT willing to risk her future on social justice.

Anonymous said...

The attitude of some JSIS parents is appalling.

It is unfortunate that school communities have become adversarial but not surprising with the lack of equitable access to high performing schools. Still more unfortunate that School Report cards will be used as a tool by families to choose or reject schools, furthering divisions. They don't paint a complete picture.

Language immersion & Montessori should be treated as Option schools. Admission should be open to those who chose these alternative philosophies, not on who lives closest. So silly.


ArchStanton said...

One parent wrote: "Our child consistently brings home worksheets with copyright dates from the 1970s."

In the face of Everyday Math, I'm thinking that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Floor Pie said...

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for passing on BF Day when my son got into a K-8 option school, especially when I see discussions like the one on Wallyhood.

I agree that JSIS should probably be an option school too. Believe it or not, not everyone who lives in their attendance area is dying to go there. They have such a unique approach to academics, I just don't think it works for every student. My son, for example, is twice exceptional -- academically gifted, but dealing with special needs challenges. I can't even imagine how he would deal with language immersion on top of everything else.

Also, isn't it ironic that an "international" school should be exclusive to the wealthiest core of one of the city's wealthier neighborhoods? Meanwhile, a school like BF Day that offers actual, organic diversity is disdained for being too "urban" or, as the Wallyhood commenter put it, too "do you want fries with that?"

WallingfordMom said...

BF Day has suffered because it has not been the school of choice for many of the parents in the neighborhood. The more that neighborhood parents opted out, the less popular it became for other parents.

I know lots of folks who decided JSIS wasn't a good fit right fit for their child, but most of them didn't end up at BF Day. They went private, an option school, or another nearby neighborhood school.

Bird said...

BF Day really seems like the sort of school that the NSAP would benefit.

My kid doesn't go to BF Day. It's not our neighborhood school, but I toured the school when my kid was entering Kindergarten, and I thought it was great. They seemed like they had a solid principal, plenty of good extras and after school activities, and real commitment to providing both support to kids behind academically and kids that could use advancement.

It was notable, however, that they didn't have as big a parent volunteer base. The librarian led the tours.

Under a system where you ask everyone to list the choices from top to bottom, BF Day would end up at the bottom of everyone's list for this reason alone. There are a lot of strong schools in the NW cluster that *do* have substantial parent support. I was impressed at how many parents I met who lived in its reference area never even toured the school.

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