Friday, January 28, 2011

Open Thread Friday

No school today, right? How's that going at your house?

Community meetings tomorrow:

Director Patu - Tully's, 4400 Rainier Ave South from 10 am - noon

Director Smith-Blum - Douglas Truth Library, 2300 East Yesler Way from 10 am - 11:30 am

Also Saturday is the City Hall Open House. I went last year and it was fun. It's from 11 am - 2 pm. Last year they had a great children's band and this year it's Caspar Babypants (who I hear is good as well). There's going to be ice cream, a fire truck, and adoptable pets (don't let the kids see those).

It's a great opportunity to see the Mayor's and City Council offices as well as say hi to the Mayor and some City Council members (their staffs are there which is almost as good).

47 comments:

public school mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

"Caspar Babypants" is Chris Ballou, from the Presidents of the United States. Interesting interview with him on KUOW

Anonymous said...

I received this from the Licton Springs neighborhood group yesterday.

ATTENTION ALL PARENTS OF ELEMENTARY SCHOOL KIDS. HALLER LAKE COMMUNITY COUNCIL IS HAVING A SPECIAL MEETING FOCUSING ON NORTHGATE SCHOOL FEBRUARY 3 AT 7PM


Does anyone know what it is about?
My kids attend an option school, but we are in the Northgate attendance area. I hope to get to the meeting but it's a busy day for us.

-SLP

Beth said...

I'll tell you how it's going...,
awesome!

Because my child's teacher is hosting an open classroom today so that student's who struggle to get their work completed on time can come in and finish their incomplete assignments before the semester ends.

When ever I get frustrated with the district I think of how many great teaches we have here who will always go the extra mile to help all their students succeed.

Anonymous said...

Winter Map scores are up on the source.

- bb

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent at the new Sand Point Elementary and wondering if some of you who have more experience with the district have advice for our community:

Right now the school has one classroom for all 2nd-5th graders. The current teacher sounds amazing and current 2-5 parents are reporting that she and the school have done a lot to try to meet each child's learning needs--pulling in other staff (librarian, the principal, etc.) to lead break out learning groups etc, BUT that without a teaching aide or more intentional support for a multi-age classroom, the set up this year is not really sustainable long term.

With uncertainty re: enrollment numbers next year, especially for these higher grade levels at a still new neighborhood school, there is a lot of concern that projected numbers will keep this class as a one room operation. (I heard that any number less than a projected 34 kids w/ expectation of an actual attendance of 27 will be considered acceptable for one classroom). Although this staff is phenomenal and has worked wonders this year, extra staff will have less time to help out in this class as more younger students come in and principal, librarian, etc. are pulled in other places.

How do we get the district to see that the school NEEDS to at the very least be given the okay to hire another teacher for these grades or else truly embrace the model and give us TAs that can help implement this fully. A 2/3 and 4/5 class would be probably be most ideal though... Parents are ready to write the district, but worry that we are such small numbers our voices might not be heard. Any suggestions for making our case heard?

-SPE parent

whittier07 said...

MAP - what is the expected annual growth?

My kiddos gained 20 points from Fall to Winter - they are smarties BUT I think that is too large of a gain to be accurate. WHY are we spending money on this test???

Maureen said...

There are several education related stories on MyBallard.com, including this neat one:

Students conduct an oil spill drill

Ballard High School students are learning how to handle oil spills. On Thursday, students in the school’s Maritime Academy conducted an “oil spill drill” as part of their Sophomore Maritime Survey.

public school mom said...

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MAPsucks said...

Whittier07,
We're spending bucks on this test so that teachers and schools can be judged and stratified into performing and non-performing. Then central administration can take over lower tier schools, fire everyone, close them, and/or privatize them when charters get rammed through the legislature.

It's not to inform instruction, althought that's their story and they're sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

Re: MAP Scores - thanks for the post that they're now available online. Just to post a counter-vailing point of view, I actually find the MAP scores helpful. I like that you can see how they scored in different areas and I like that they get tested to the highest of their ability (as opposed to just finding out if they passed). I will say that I agree with the numerous posts on this blog about the huge conflict of interest on the part of the Superintendent; I have no idea if they're worth the $ (probably not); and I don't think they should replace testing for APP/Spectrum (or be used as gatekeepers for testing). But the test itself is more useful than the State WASL/MSP where all I know is that my kids met or exceeded the standard. Jane

Lori said...

whittier, I hear you. My child gained 20 points in reading over the summer, but her scores are relatively stable during the school year!

I guess if we are to believe that MAP measures teacher effectiveness (which is how the district wants to use it), I am forced to conclude that my daughter fares the best by skipping school and traveling around the country visiting her grandparents!

It's a shame because I really think her teacher this year is wonderful, and my perception is that she is learning and growing enormously under this teacher's tutelage. But hey, the numbers don't lie. The teacher is clearly not as effective as sleeping in late and lounging around grandma's pool. Maybe I should start a summer camp so more kids can benefit from the excellent education I am providing June thru August.

Anonymous said...

p.s the last sentence in the previous post was meant to read "more useful TO ME..." I'm just trying to say that personally, I find them more useful than some of the other tests the kids take. Jane

Lori said...

oh weird, I had put in brackets that my last post was snark, but that didn't show up. I guess those brackets looked like weird HTML code or something. So, yes, before any one jumps on me, my last post is complete snark!!

Bird said...
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Bird said...

My kid's scores have been pretty meaningless this year.

Fall and Winter both dropped from last year's spring scores in Reading. The scores all went up last year.

My kid's Kindergarten teachers last year ranged from not very good to really awful. My kid came very close to doing no reading or writing in class at all.

This year's teacher is fantastic. My kid has really grown as a reader and writer. The test says my kid's lexile score dropped from something like 500 to 400, but in reality, in class my kid regularly reads books that are above 1000 on the lexile scale.

Admittedly, some of the problem may be that my kid is in the 99th percentile and has topped out on the K-1 test.

Still it would be ridiculous to evaluate the teachers based on these scores. They aren't helping me, they aren't helping the teacher, they won't help the district figure out who the best teacher is.

MAPsucks said...

Lori,

Sign my kid up for that camp! Cuz, we don't do MAP anyway.

Anonymous said...

Bird,

What you said is very interesting. My k students lexile score is 55. But he scores in the 98percentile for reading on the CRAP ( excuse me, MAP) test. I didn't think about topping out the scores, but you are right. He reads somewhere in 3rd or 4th grade, but according to this test, which he loves to take. He is barely over the average for K. guess accuracy is not what they were going for.

-altmama

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPE parent, write to me at

sss.westbrook@gmail.com

I'll write you back with suggestions.

I can only say that if they are willing to spend money on foreign language immersion to fill McDonald, they should be willing to help fill Sandpoint. Otherwise, what was the point?

Sarah said...

Altmama,

I hope you share your experiences with the Board of Directors.

Anonymous said...

SPE Parent,
The only option,in my experience, that will work is to recruit, recruit, recruit for more children at those grade levels so you can force the class sizes higher - get another teacher.

At Queen Anne Elementary, the parent community (NOT the district) moved enrollment from 45 in June of 2010 to 115 in Sept 2010 by hosting open houses, picnics, talking to friends about the school, letting prospective parents meet the teachers/ principal/ staff and ask questions, etc.

Do this NOW before open enrollment so District can see how many teachers to allocate while the hiring pool is still good. With next year's looming budget issues, you will not get another teacher until the numbers are in black and white. Letters will do no good.

34 kids in a 3/4/5 is what QAE would have had if not for sharing a building with McDonald and being able to move some of the 3rd graders to their classroom. District thought that was okay this year so it will be okay next year.

Good luck!

PAL

zb said...

SPE Parent:

I'm afraid that I agree with queen anne's parent that the only effective method of splitting up your upper grades is to get the enrollment pushed past the limit where it becomes unacceptable to have a single class. Of course, you should campaign and advocate, too, but the most effective solution would be to increase enrollment. And, as in Queen Anne, I think there's support for a neighborhood school in the Sand Point area. It's a growing neighborhood (I live near by), with useful amenities.

I dropped by the PTSA web site for Sand Point, which is what I'd do if I were in the neighborhood and considering the school (I'm not).

I noted the after school opportunities -- flagging those and making them known to parents will help. QA Parent mentioned sponsoring open houses/picnics/other methods of increasing the profile of the school. This could also be done at the web site.

zb said...

PS: I wanted to clarify that I'm not in the market for any school (not that I'm just not considering SPE).

Maureen said...

SPE Parent,
I wonder if there is a way to reach out to UW departments to make sure they tell incoming grad students with families how to register for school early, so you don't have to wait until September to have those kids counted. Maybe someone from Graduate Student Affairs or Housing could help?

Also, I have heard (this may be a complete rumor) that SPS is busing some kids to SPE to comply with the No Child Left Behind requirements around AYP. IF that is true, maybe you could get them to commit to include an estimate of those kids as well, even though they wouldn't be assigned until September.

Fremont Mama said...

Re: MAP

I just checked my daughter's score. She is in first grade and has always scored above 95% for reading and math. This time she scored 83% in reading and 90% in math. Her winter MAP test was given 3 days after she came back from winter break and at 2pm in the afternoon...not the ideal testing conditions. We are waiting to see if she tested in Lowell (should find out next week), luckily they used the fall MAP scores and not these.

MAPsucks said...

Fremont Mama,

What, if anything, do these MAP scores tell you, or any parent for that matter, about your child? It's a crappy test that does NOT measure "growth" and should NOT be used as a gate-keeper to advanced learning opportunities. If you went to a school not a part of SPS, you wouldn't need a MAP score to apply for Spectrum or APP. It is an artificial barrier constructed by REA and Bob Vaughn. There is no research that says kids with a certain RIT score are at XYZ level in the CogAT. NWEA and REA (with MGJ greasing the skids) sold a bill of goods. I know, I'm preaching to the choir.

Lisa said...

Advice for SPE: get your story into neighborhood websites, even those not quite in the Sand Point area but nearby, such as the Wedgewood blog. You might be able to attract a few families who want a smaller, more personal school, which SPE will be for several more years at least, and who don't much care whether they get transportation. I know if I were at one of the very crowded NE schools I'd jump on the chance to get into Sandpoint with so few kids in the whole school.

Lisa said...

My Friday open thread question: what sort of support exists at elementaries for the instrumental music program? At our school the new enrollement numbers have resulted in every room being turned into a classroom. We do still have a dedicated art room and gym, but they are in use all day long. Band/orchestra has been moved to the cafeteria. But MAP testing and kindergarten tours need the cafeteria, too. Except no one involved in the rescheduling of the rooms remembered that band existed, no one told the band instructor of the change. Luckily a parent figured out that this would take some juggling and got the custodian involved so the kids would have chairs and music stands out in the afterschool program's portable which was the only remaining option (I don't count the bathrooms or playground). We only have the band/orchestra instructor for about 2 hours once a week. That time is precious, yet it always seems to be an afterthought for the school. Is this the usual run of things at other schools?

Josh Hayes said...

MAPSucks writes:

What, if anything, do these MAP scores tell you, or any parent for that matter, about your child? It's a crappy test that does NOT measure "growth"....

I have some actual observations on which to judge this -- I took over teaching a collection of ten pretty-high-performing eighth graders math last fall, after they had already taken the MAP. I've been grading homework, given out a couple of tests (of my own construction), and I have a very good idea of who's progressing how fast.

I also have taken a look at the MAP math scores for my students, and the correlation between MAP-based growth and growth from my own observations is almost exactly zero. YMMV, but yeah, MAP really doesn't seem to reflect individual progress in any useful way.

Charlie Mas said...

Anyone go to the Board Director community meetings?

StopTfA said...

Call me dumb but I hadn't noticed these before. Board retreat minutes. Wow, what a concept! An open meeting with a written record. Now, how hard was that, to comply with the Open Meetings Act? I see they want to bump up Phase 3 hiring to May/June to take advantage of "high quality" candidates. Might that coincide with graduation of the "wunderkinds" from Hahvarhd and Yale? But they haven't gone thru their measly training yet. Are the Executive Directors turning the screws on principals of "high poverty" schools to hire some fresh meat?

GreyWatch said...

I'm looking for help in crafting a public disclosure request. Anyone out there with tips?

I'm trying to find out what the district's policy and/or rationale is for for immersion and montessori programs operating as neighborhood schools instead of option programs. I had some other cost related questions, and a few about IB access as well.

I'm not sure they'll have anything to give me as I honestly think they are making this stuff up as they go. That said, I would appreciate any advice on how I can be specific enough in my request to get whatever information they might have.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stop TFA, thanks for that; I need to write a whole thread on some of what was said.

Lisa, I'll try to put up a separate thread on your question as my kids were in music long ago. Your question is a present day situation. My recollection, though, is that music always got put whereever there is room.

MAPsucks said...

This is interesting. Take a close look at newly-revised Superintendent Staff Procedures for Procurement. Take a close look at G45.06. The district has chosen to rewrite state statutes and broaden the definition of textbooks to include curriculum and "the teaching process". This opens the door to wholesale contracting out of schools and methods. And of course this wouldn't be to the most qualified or anything, just cronies and best buds (like Joey Wise).

Or how about number 8:
Interim Contracts
From time to time, the District elects to engage a consulting or construction firm under an interim contract. This is typically done when project deadlines make it imperative to start work before School Board approval of the primary contract can be obtained. The contract is for a small amount for services over a short period of time. Under no circumstances shall the interim contract commit the District to use the contractor for the primary contract without the requisite Board or senior management approval.
Two issues, transparency and accountability, must be addressed for such actions:
(a) assuring that the ultimate approving authority is aware of the fact that the services were already started (transparency), and
(b) assuring that the interim contract is approved at a senior management level (accountability).

There's so much wrong on so many levels here. How will these "interim" contractors or consultants be selected. How does the district's poor planning make this so-called scheduling "emergency" ok? Was the Board aware of this new procedure? Doesn't it affect them, since they'll (likely) be asked to rubberstamp a contract already underway. I can go on and on.

MAPsucks said...

Grey Watch,

Your suspicions are correct, I'm sure. Email me at mapsucks@gmail.com and I'll send you some boiler plate and other tips. And, if you don't get what you ask for, join me in suing the district under the Public Records Act. They think it doesn't apply to them.

Fremont Mama said...

Advanced Learning letters were mailed and we received our today (Saturday). Luckily our daughter is eligible for APP even with her low winter MAP scores. Now, of course I have a bunch of questions about Lowell. My daughter will be going into 2nd grade next year - if you have someone around the same age, I love to ask a few questions. Please email me at jas2000 at comcast dot net.

Thanks!
Susanne

hschinske said...

I also have taken a look at the MAP math scores for my students, and the correlation between MAP-based growth and growth from my own observations is almost exactly zero.

Josh, for your high-performing eighth-graders that would probably be true anyway, even if the MAP were a better test in general. The MAP doesn't have enough ceiling for these kids in my opinion (though you may remember the thread where the poster "frustrated" politely disagreed with me over that issue -- I respect his/her opinion but remain unconvinced).

Helen Schinske

GreyWatch said...

I got an answer today from Tracy Libros. It's long so I won't post it, but am happy to fwd to anyone who is interested.

Here are some highlights:

- LI was started at JSIS as a way to fill the school. Similarly, montessori programs were started by the schools themselves as a way to increase enrollment at these schools.

- NSAP is actually more equitable because there is no distance tie breaker. Leschi's montessori has space, and when the new LI schools come on board, there will probably be room for people outside the area until the programs take off.

I'll copy the last sentence in full as I don't quite understand it:
As we begin a longer-term look at capacity management to accommodate increasing enrollment in the district, I anticipate that considerations of program placement may certainly include discussion of access to various programs desired by our families.

Open to discussion in the future, perhaps?

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks for that, Helen. I had one kid get a score I would not have thought possible, but he is my best (and laziest, dammit) student.

In the "open thread" spirit, today AS1 had a work party at the school, because let's face it, the building is in awful shape. We took the bull by the horns and started doing some of the fixes ourselves, hoping to show prospective parents that this is a school with a caring community.

It looks a lot nicer; surprising that only one day of hard work can make that much difference. Thanks to all the other volunteers! Let's keep it up!

MAPsucks said...

For the Dilbert lovers out there, here's MAP in a nutshell:

Data is god

Anonymous said...

At the Roosevelt tour this past week, the math teacher mentioned end of course exams happening this year starting with Algebra 1.

I'm assuming it's part of a State requirement, but I'm not positive. And I'm also assuming that middle school students will be taking the test if they are already taking Algebra 1.

Does anyone have more info on this?

-Trying to keep up

ds said...

Trying to keep up:

My understanding is that middle school students taking Algebra will take both the EOC exam AND MSP. Here's a link to the OSPI page on the math end-of-course exams:

http://www.k12.wa.us/Mathematics/End-of-CourseExams.aspx

Just to clarify, did the math teacher at Roosevelt say that the Geometry end-of-course test would not be offered this year? Or was s/he just mentioning that the tests (both Algebra I and Geometry) would begin this year? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

OSPI has a FAQ page about the EOC exams. It states they start Spring 2011 and are for Algebra I, Integrated I, Geometry and Integrated II.

http://www.k12.wa.us/mathematics/MayWebinar/math_FAQs_for_EOC_exams.pdf

-Trying to keep up

Johnny Calcagno said...

Charlie -

Fairly thorough rundowns of Kay Smith-Blum's meetings were done by a blogger at Central District News.

Rufus X said...

Sadly, it's not Friday, but I'm hoping someone is still perusing the thread and may be able to help me out here. I can't seem to find 2009-2010 disciplinary action stats on the most recent school reports. Are these reports, being handed out at school tours, different from the "annual report", which had previously included the discliplinary action statistics?

Johnny Calcagno said...

Rufus -

The annual reports appear to have been reformatted without discipline stats.

It's not remotely easy to find, but after digging around a bit, I think I found the information you seek in this document:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/disprof/2010/DP10indsch.pdf

Rufus X said...

Thanks so much, JC