Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Timely Updates

Apparently, the Superintendent has sent out a letter to teachers that is to read at mandatory faculty meetings today.   It informs teachers of the outcomes of not giving the MAP test.  (I am going to verify what that is but it does involve punishment.)

If you support the teachers and believe MAP does not help your student, let the Superintendent know:

Phone: (206) 252-0180
Fax: (206) 252-0209
Email: superintendent@seattleschools.org

On-line petition.

Also, about the interim plan, Apparently Directors Carr and Martin-Morris attended a meeting at Sacajawea last night to allow parents to air their concerns.  I give the directors credit for showing up for what was likely a difficult meeting.

What is astonishing is that Pegi McEvoy apparently said that Sacajawea's 5th graders might have to get split up for middle school because of their boundary pattern.

Really?

Well, I hope that gets changed when they change boundaries because no 5th grade class should get split up.  (If parents choose something else for their 5th grader, that's one thing.)  I ask you all how you would feel if you had to tell your child this news.

What's also interesting is that the northern part of Wedgwood might end up going to the new JA Middle School when boundaries are redrawn.  I'm sure that will go over well. 

That's a lot of change for a number of families; I find it unfortunate that it seems there will be great and severe impacts for two years for some families. 

50 comments:

mirmac1 said...

I hear they will be docked 10 days pay.

Are we back to the culture of fear, intimidation and retribution?!

Mark Ahlness said...

Just saw this, sounds like 10 days w/o pay.

Anonymous said...

10 days without pay?

Props to those teachers who put their money where their mouths are. Their statement will be even stronger with a financial loss in the game.

Bet the teacher's union finds a way to compensate them. Even if they don't, bet that it won't allow MAP to be used for teacher performance evaluation anymore. Good. The test-writing association itself says it shouldn't be used for teacher performance evaluation.

Bet The Alliance for Education and the Ed Reformies at Gates have a migraine on this stand. Good again.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope that gets changed when they change boundaries because no 5th grade class should get split up. (If parents choose something else for their 5th grader, that's one thing.) I ask you all how you would feel if you had to tell your child this news.

This is exactly what happened to APP students during the splits, at all grade levels. No, it's not easy, yet it happened.

-seen it all

Anonymous said...

What if there are no students to test?

HP

mirmac1 said...

If all parents opt out their kids, then teachers can't be punished. It's that easy....

Anonymous said...

I have opted my daughter out at Orca, and feel extremely angry that teachers will be punished for this. Yes, if all kids opt out, then it will be a non issue, but how do we make this happen if most parents feel that the test is "no big deal" which is what i have heard most.

It is crap like this that makes me want to flee!

-Orca parent

Anonymous said...

Again, way to model for the kids!

A friend

Mark Ahlness said...

A picture of the actual letter.

Anonymous said...

Here's how MAP testing went today: Computers crashed mid-testing and tests had to be stopped for the entire class. Class time was missed and will have to be missed again to make up for not completing the test today.

-opt out

Anonymous said...

Seen it all,

That use to happen every year to Laurelhurst under the old assignment plan. Part of the 5th grade went to Hamilton & part to Eckstein. And the boundary moved every year, so you never knew which you would go to.

Doesn't seem like the new plan is different at all.

-Same old, same old

Mercermom said...

I sent the Superintendent the following message:

Superintendent Banda,


I have seen reports that the District is planning to suspend for 10 days teachers who failed to give the MAP test. If accurate, as the parent of a Garfield H.S. ninth-grader, I am very concerned that the District would choose a disciplinary consequence that undoubtedly would have an extremely negative effect on the students at Garfield. Teachers at GHS decided not to conduct the MAP test because, in part, they believed it was disruptive to student learning and would take away too much class time. Ten days with substitute teachers will have an extremely negative effect on student learning. If the District believes it is important to demonstrate to teachers that they must obey testing requirements imposed by the District, that's fine. However, as Superintendent, I believe it is incumbent upon you to ensure that any disciplinary consequences are imposed only on teachers, not on the students they teach.

suep. said...

This is a very bad idea by Supt. Banda. Parents are also unhappy with the MAP test and this is a national story. This isn't going to go away.

My letter to him and the board:

Superintendent Banda,

I have just heard that you have threatened teachers who are opposed to administering the MAP test with a 10-day suspension without pay. Is this true?

I strongly advise you not to do that.

When our previous superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson, took a hard line against our teachers, it did not end well for anyone, including her. We don't need any more of that style of confrontational 'leadership' in our district. We need collaboration and respect for our teachers and families.

Seattle teachers and parents like myself have told our district leaders for the past two years that there are problems with MAP. But nothing has been done to address these legitimate concerns. (15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP)

You have an opportunity here to seriously and honestly address what is a national issue of excessive, expensive and unnecessary testing of American public school children, and the imposition of high-stakes tests that are also misused to evaluate teachers.

These are not best practices. These are bad practices.

I urge you instead to begin an immediate dialogue with the teachers and families of SPS about the use and value of the MAP test product and seriously consider phasing it out as soon as possible, without taking punitive action against these brave and principled teachers.

I urge you to make Seattle a national leader in sensible and intelligent educational practices, and reassess and discontinue excessive testing of our kids. The nation is watching Seattle right now; let's offer a shining example.

Already our children are being fed a veritable alphabet soup of tests, beginning in kindergarten: MAP, MSP, EOC, HSPE, SAT, ACT and, new this year, tests tied to Common Core State Standards. It is too much.


Anonymous said...

Schoolyard bullying at it's finest. The Superintendents actions are a fine example of how not to behave. Cowardice often stands behind blundering moves like this one.

-slp

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that a few teachers have forced the new superintendent in a no win situation. How unfortunate. Either he cracks down, follow policy and risk further mutiny, or give in but sets the path to something more sinister.

How unfortunate for Seattle, kids, community and all around!

People should think about the ill intended consequences!

A friend

Anonymous said...

With an addition of two middle schools, along with an attempt to balance enrollment among the super crowded/and merely crowded elementary schools...it would seem more likely than not that most all of the elementary schools in the NE and some in the NW will have 5th grade splits.

I haven't seen anything. Just an educated guess.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will put in an update but no, Sacajawea kids would NOT be split up (they might if they kept the same boundaries but Ms McEvoy said they would likely redraw so the entire class stays together). And as StepJ says, with boundary redraws, many other students will be redrawn into new middle school regions. (I have to smile; with 5 elementaries in one mile of Thornton Creek, it will be interesting to see where they all go.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

A friend, what ill-intended consequences?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to those who pasted text from their letters to Sup Banda. I wrote him and the board a nice, supportive letter this morning saying I support our teachers at Orca, and I strongly urge him to not impose disciplinary action on the teachers, and that I look forward to working together to come up with a testing plan that makes better sense. I'll be writing a much nastier letter tonight.

I support Orca (and Garfield) teachers. Unpaid leave is not the way to address this issue.

- southpaw

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I AM THERE

The chanters outside are bleeding sound into the meeting in the board room. Loud and strong.

The letter from Banda does not say he will give the teachers 10 days out no pay. It says that is what happened in the past. It is a warning but not explicit action...yet. He also announced a task force to deal with MAP.

Kay Smith Blum and superintendent want to push back a week the NSAP decision for next year. They want more enrollment data. The enrollment person seems iffy on whether this can happen. They can't discuss it at this point. The microphone system has blown up.

Par for the course meeting in the world of SPS.

suep. said...

Here's the other, more constructive, letter Banda apparently sent to staff today. It appears he's playing some good cop/bad cop with these two letters.

Btw, teachers (and parents) contacted the district two years ago about the problems with MAP. The SEA issued a unified statement opposing MAP back in 2011. Nothing was done. Granted, that was on Goodloe-Johnson and Enfield's watch. But Supt Banda should not treat the actions of the Garfield teachers as a sudden, random uprising. They have administered the test dutifully for 3 years before finally refusing. Their protest is a last resort.

From: Office of Public Affairs [mailto:publicaffairs@seattleschools.org] Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 2:26 PM Subject: Banda forms Task Force on MAP, assessments

Good afternoon,

There has been much public debate about the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment in the last few weeks. Today I am announcing details of a Joint Task Force on Assessments and Measuring Progress. This task force will be a productive way for educators and our community to come together to discuss concerns and find solutions that best meet the needs of all our students.



I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of data in our work as educators. Across Seattle Public Schools, we use multiple forms of data to help guide classroom instruction and measure progress. For many of our teachers and principals, the MAP assessment provides critical data to help screen the most vulnerable students for additional academic support and more personalized attention and to measure their growth and improvement over time.



At Seattle Public Schools, we must champion equity, access and opportunities for all students. I want to listen and better understand assessment concerns, and work with staff on a solution moving forward. But in the meantime, I am asking as your Superintendent that teachers follow our policies and procedures and administer this assessment for our students. This is especially important for our students who are the most at-risk academically. I am hopeful we will continue to work together in support of our students.



The new task force will have the opportunity to explore and review the strengths and limitations of the MAP assessment, and will consider potential alternatives to future district testing programs. The task force will be formed in partnership with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Principals Association of Seattle Schools (PASS), and will include teacher representatives and school leaders. The input of additional stakeholders, including families, students and community members, will also be solicited to provide multiple perspectives. The task force will be formed immediately and meet at least twice a month from February through May. Final recommendations should be provided to me in May.

I am hopeful the task force will develop strong recommendations for making future improvements to district assessment processes. I look forward to a productive conversation.

Thank you for the work you do every day on behalf of our students.


Sincerely,


José Banda

Superintendent

Seattle Public Schools

Anonymous said...

This is what I was just emailed. You know what's unjust about this district? When teachers voice concerns (Can we hire some directors? Can we talk about this poor assessment?) we're told wait, wait wait.

When we say 'enough is enough' and we say we're not waiting any longer, all of a sudden the district acts swiftly. Is our leadership team even fully staffed up? Because he's been here for half a year and THIS is when he reacts with agency.

- A teacher who's sick of it.



Dear Principals,



I am writing today to help provide support and guidance around the recent issue of certain teachers refusing to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment to our students.



We ask that each principal by the end of the school day provide a clear directive to all administrative and teaching staff that the MAP assessment must be administered to students of tested subjects on the timeline established by you, their building administrator. State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives. Administering the MAP to students of tested subjects is a District directive.



If a teacher refuses to administer the MAP assessment after a clear direction by you, such conduct is considered insubordination. When a staff member engages in insubordination, such action will lead to appropriate disciplinary action as outlined in School Board Policy 5281 Staff Disciplinary Action and Discharge. Previously, the discipline imposed by the District when a teacher refused to administer a required assessment was a 10-day, unpaid suspension.



If you have staff who have either not administered the test on the date required by you or have given you clear notice that they do not intend to administer the test, you are required to give that staff person this communication, preferably in a letter or email that you send and hand to them:



Dear ________:



State law requires that teachers implement a course of study in accordance with District directives. As you are aware, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is a District assessment that teachers are required to administer. You are receiving this communication because you are required to administer this assessment. Based on information that I possess, I believe you have either refused to or have declined to administer the MAP assessment.



For staff who disagree with MAP assessment, I acknowledge that you are certainly entitled to your opinion. Your disagreement with the appropriateness of the MAP assessment, however, does not excuse your obligation as a certificated employee to provide this assessment consistent with District directives.

----- con't.....

Anonymous said...

Still sick of it...........


Thus, I am specifically requiring that you administer the MAP assessment by the Feb. 22, 2013 deadline, notwithstanding your apparent disagreement with the District’s decision to require this assessment. Your refusal to administer the assessment consistent with District requirements and this directive will lead to discipline. Discipline that has been imposed for such insubordination in the past has included a 10-day, unpaid suspension. Please contact me immediately if you have concerns over getting this assessment done by Feb. 22, 2013.



Sincerely,



__________________

Principal, School Name



We understand there are concerns around MAP assessments, and Superintendent Banda will soon announce details about a Joint Task Force on Assessments & Measuring Academic Progress. This task force, which will include principals, teachers and central office staff, will report recommendations to the Superintendent before the end of the school year. This is a productive way to work together on this issue. In the meantime, many of our principals and teachers find the MAP assessment to be very helpful. We want to be consistent across the district in administering this to all required students.



As a reminder, all MAP assessments should be administered by Feb. 22. If for logistical reasons your staff are unable to administer the MAP assessment by that deadline, an extension may be granted by your Executive Director.



If you have questions, please work with your Executive Directors of Schools. If you need additional support, please contact me at (206) 510-6697.



Sincerely,




Paul Apostle

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources



Anonymous said...

Right. Because task forces have proved to be so effective in the past.

Smoke screen.

-slp

SacMom said...

Re: Sacajawea students being split up - we couldn't get a clear answer on that. But the thing is, under the old assignment plan, kids came from all over the NE cluster and probably beyond. How could our kids NOT be split up?

I don't see any good solutions, honestly. I wish the board would just pick something and do it so we can move on.

Eric M said...

The Superintendent unfortunately chose to put himself in a bad situation.
This test is sunk. It just is. It's not coming back from this.
Mr. Banda could be a hero by dumping it.
Why not? HE didn't bring it here or defend it.

Dump it, Mr. Banda, and gain a HUGE amount of credibility with parents & teachers & students.

It'll make the next 10 things you ask for sooo easy.

mirmac1 said...

"Again, way to model for the kids!"

friend(?)

Right, I want my child to stand up for what she believes in, not the SOP (standard operating procedure, if you couldn't tell...)

Now, if only the Supe (who I suspect agrees) and the Board would do the same. Why do they cow to pressure from "Those Who May Not Be Named" at A4E and LEV and OSC, then turn around and play hardball with their workhorses. Do we need a cocktail party or celebratory luncheon at Garfield?!?!

mirmac1 said...

Precisely Mercermom!!

I thought about that as I was driving back from the Board meeting. Who truly cares about our kids' interests?! Those who take a principled stand about a flawed test (I've heard as much from very high levels), or those who would subject Garfield students to 10 days of hardworking, yet unsynched, subs? I bet the subs don't want to be a part of this scab work.

mirmac1 said...

a friend,

My gawd, you sound like "Those Who Shall Not Be Named", or others who deliver veiled threats to our Supe, who is in fact an education expert. It is the the gasbags at A4E, LEV, and OSC and their minions who spread this crap. I don't see how you are a friend. My opinion.

mirmac1 said...

"Substitutes will be needed to administer the test, at an additional cost to the District. If the teachers are suspended for 10 days, unpaid, isn't that the cost neutral way to deal with the situation? I am not a supporter of the MAP, but I don't know what choice Banda has in terms of ensuring policies and contracts are followed. Teachers knew it would be an act of insubordination. Why the surprise that he is doing his duty as Superintendent? I applaud the teachers for taking a stand, but also Banda for standing his ground. The point has been made about MAP and hopefully we'll see some productive discusssions and changes for next school year. Two weeks with a substitute will have an effect on students, but so will the cost of hiring substitutes to do their job. It really has put Banda in a no win situation"

Anonymous who will be deleted. What contracts do you speak of? Certainly not the subscription with NWEA: that's a flat annual rate. It couldn't be with SEA, "Johnny-come-lately" Knapp said as much tonight. Do you mean contracts with external "stakeholders" like Alliance? LEV? Who give a flying F?! I am PO'd

Melissa Westbrook said...

First, no one I know is surprised by the Superintendent's response. Certainly not me.

It will be anyone's guess about the subs because, as I reported, the subs union said no to MAP. So they really will have to find scabs to work.

suep. said...

Can anyone offer some clarification on the letter that mentions a possible suspension? It looks like it is signed by Paul Apostle, Asst. Supt. for Human Resources. Is it possible that Supt. Banda was unaware of the letter?

mirmac1 said...

No. The district was heavy on "messaging" today. I saw Lesley "A4E mouthpiece" roaming the halls....

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1--to answer your question, if we don't have MAP scores, then we can't generate the teacher growth scores that are required by the TIF grant, so then we'd have to give back the TIF grant money, LIKE EVERY OTHER URBAN SCHOOL DISTRICT ALREADY HAS because they couldn't stomach Arne Duncan's requirements. This could look like a big price tag, but I bet TIF ends up costing the district most of what it gives.

Emile

mirmac1 said...

I would say, based upon my data and observations, that TIF (along with other grants and "gifts") ends up costing us more than it gives. Why the H* else would we keep the Clover Codds and Nathan Fitzpatricks in our district? WTH do they do to educate our children. Most of us know that Arne Duncan and his predecessors did little to actually improve practices and "close the achievement gap". But they sure as hell managed to direct alot of taxpayers money to sole-source PSCs. Funny how these folks aren't accountable to anyone!

suep. said...

Another predictable and obnoxious op-ed from Lynne Varner at the Times, attempting to boss Banda around.

http://seattletimes.com/html/edcetera/2020199334_jose_banda_must_take_charge_in.html

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

I'm sure someone will chime in with an answer, but I don't understand why it's more important to keep elementary school students batched together in middle school than it is to keep middle school students feeding into the same high school.

Seems like boundaries might be less susceptible to shifts if you aren't forced to keep large groups of kids together.

I'm a military brat, so maybe I just don't know what I was missing by not having the same kids in my classes year after year.

Wrath O'Kahn said...

Thank you so much for your thoughtful letter. As one of the GHS teachers facing possible suspension, I appreciate your articulate response to the Superintendent's threat. With support like yours I believe we can scrap the MAP.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Grey Watch, it may be you being raised a military brat. I was raised in a small town and we LOVED new people because we were sick of each other by middle school. But some areas of town, if your kids don't move from elementary to middle to high school together, it's terrible. My son moved across town. Kept elementary friends, made new friends in both middle and high school. It can be done.

Sue, yes, the Times never fails to try to tell both the Superintendent and the Board what to do. Too bad Lynne Varner didn't read the press releases and/or talk to her own reporter.

Anonymous said...

suep,

Thanks for your great replies last night when I asked about the NWEA response.

To answer your question (but only in part) about whether Mr. Banda could have not known about Paul Apostle's email, he isn't directly referenced, but the email does come from the Office of Public Affairs. It's not an answer, I guess, but just adds to what I mentioned when I cut and copied above.

Kate

Wrath O'Kahn said...

As one of the 15 GHS teachers threatened with suspension, I want to say thanks so much for your thorough analysis of this inane test's shortcomings. With support like yours I think we can do what that lone protester did on Tiananmen square - stop a seemingly unstoppable force in its tracks.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Like any revolution, it tears at the fabric of our community whether well intended or not and may take years to rebuild. Education is not something that can be put on hold as there is a limited window of opportunity. I don't need to tell you this though.

I fear that well intended or not, we have done greater harm to our City by addressing MAP in a disorderly way.

I believe no one wins. The superintendent and Board are in a No-win situation, A citizen's view, whether for or against, of a teacher will be further maginfied by this revolt, the District will have lost the little progress its made,the relationship between the District and the union has lost ground,and ultimately, the students, who frankly I believe is caught in the cross fire!

It's unfortunate that expressing one's opinion and right in a disorderly way though well intended will have deep long term affects.

I for one am not a supporter of MAP, based on what I've read about it. However, surely there is a better way than to tear down and burn our community. People think they are simply talking about MAP or toppling Ed Reform. Unfortunately, we and our kids are the ultimate victims here.

A friend -- Yes, I do consider myself a friend for our student, community and beloved City of Seattle.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I noticed my grammatical errors and "affect vs effect". Don't blame SPS as I am a product of public schools outside of our State. ;-)

A friend

Eric M said...

Letter I sent this am to Mr. Banda and via an all staff, my principal

Mr. Banda,
Thank you for your letter. I hereby announce my intention to join with those many of my colleagues around Seattle Public Schools, and boycott the MAP test.
As per that other letter from Human Resources Director Paul Apostle yesterday, please deliver, at your earliest convenience, a letter outlining the 10-day suspension without pay I'll be receiving for this action.

Thanks so very much,

Eric Muhs
Eagle Scout
National Board Certified teacher
Seattle Public Schools parent
Taxpayer

Melissa Westbrook said...

What's interesting (and I believe difficult for others outside of Seattle to understand) is that this is not about testing.

It's about a bad test.

I can only say that I know teachers have been complaining for a long time. This test is at the end of its shelf life especially with Common Core coming in.

It would seem that with a review coming and support mounting that the Superintendent could call a moratorium on it.

But he can't and frankly, I don't think it's because he doesn't want to (not meaning I know anything because I don't). But we know the howls he would get for "giving in" even as it really isn't giving in but listening.

Anonymous said...

Letter from President and CEO of NWEA in the Seattle Times today.

fyi

Anonymous said...

When Darleen Druyun was playing for both teams, the Air Force tanker contract was cancelled.
So, cancel the MAP contract.

If giving the MAP is state law, where are the state laws on ethics violations?

If Banda is silent on the ethics issue, IMHO, that reflects poorly on his character.

mirmac1 said...

That was one of the arguments we made in court; an illegally-procured contract cannot and should not be renewed. The judge ruled the renewal was signed and the matter moot. What a bunch of BS