With today's column, Wise Up, Seattle, to Turnaround in Your Schools, Danny Westneat showed us that he is unaware of the disconnect between the schools of Seattle Public Schools and the central administration of the district.
The schools, he points out, are actually doing pretty well, consistently beating the state average for pass rates on the state tests in nearly every subject and nearly every grade.
He uses this evidence to - erroneously - leap to the conclusion that the district is doing something right. He attributes the high pass rates to actions taken by the district. How odd.
What was that the district did that raised the pass rates? Was it increasing class size? overcrowding schools? cutting summer school? cutting elementary school counselors? pulling support for students with IEPs? or disrupting communities?
Maybe it was the way the district wasted tens of millions of dollars on closing and re-opening schools, spent $1.8 million for no purpose, spent $4 million to build a student data warehouse, spent $1,000,000 on laptops for STEM, spent $800,000 on NTN, spent $700,000 on the web site upgrade, spent untold millions on consultants, or spent 9% of the budget on the central office instead of the 6% that every other district spends.
There are two much more likely causes for the "turnaround" that Mr. Westneat notes.
1) Teachers. We keep hearing that having a good teacher is the largest school-based determinant of student success (as measured by standardized test scores). So how about we give the teachers the credit for the improvement?
2) With even a bigger influence than teachers, families are the primary determinant of student test scores, so wouldn't it be the families - and not anyone in the district - who should get the credit for this improvement?