Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

So no snow in my area so here's hoping yours is dry as well. 

I received my Seattle Public Library newsletter and wanted to alert readers with high school students about a new scholarship opportunity.  It's the Stim Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship.  (This is a bequest from the late Stimson Bullitt who supported public libraries.)

 High school seniors and undergraduate students who live, work or attend school in Seattle are invited to participate.

The competition asks students to write an essay about an individual or group of individuals from Washington state who have demonstrated civic courage on an issue of importance to the community at great personal, political or professional risk.

Essays must be submitted online between January 2 - February 28, 2014. Winners will be announced in May 2014. Winning essays will be added to the collection in the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Seattle Room at The Seattle Public Library and will be given directly to the participant’s school on their behalf.  
 

1st Place: $5,000 scholarship, 2nd Place: Two $2,500 scholarships, 3rd Place: Three $1,000 scholarships

They have quite the who's who of judges; Sherman Alexie, Timothy Egan, Jon Krakauer and Jonathan Raban.  The library is also offering free research assistance with this competition and will host two workshops.

What's on your mind?

53 comments:

Mary Griffin said...

There is a very long and very moving series in the NY Times covering the life of a smart, strong-willed homeless girl.It starts here http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/invisible-child/?smid=pl-shareand goes on for four more parts.

The article focuses on the girl, her family and the effects of homelessness. The importance of her school as an anchor in her life is highlighted, and in particular, the relationship she has with her principal.

The effects of the political culture in New York is also highlighted. It will be interesting to see how the philosophy of Bill De Blasio affects the families living in homelessness, as well as the threats/promises of school reform under current mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It is a great series.

mirmac1 said...

Why is NYS Railroading Students with Disabilities?

The NYS Board of Regents thinks that it is imperative that society be able to pinpoint just who is “good enough,” who is “career and college ready,” and who is not. The current policies in place regarding graduation and diploma requirements stigmatize students with disabilities, and ensure that many students will no longer earn a diploma of any kind. As of July, 2013, IEP and vocational diplomas have been phased out. Students with an IEP must achieve 55 or higher on five Common Core based Regents Exams or a 65 or higher on the ELA and Math Regents Exams to make up for scores lower than 55 on the other three exams. If a student is not able to do this, NO diploma will be awarded. Instead, a disabled student will receive a Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential signifying that the student meets criteria for entry-level employment. Students who are assessed using the NYS Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) are only eligible for a Skills and Achievement Credential.

There is NO evidence that employers will value this credential or accept it in lieu of a diploma. Awarding such a credential rather than a diploma stigmatizes and identifies students with disabilities due to the fact that it is ONLY awarded to students with disabilities. When a young person with a disability is asked by a potential employer if he or she has a high school diploma, not only do they have to answer no, but they will have to disclose that they have a CDOS Commencement Credential, thereby outing them as a person with a disability and violating their right to privacy and confidentiality afforded them by education law. As a society, are we really so paranoid that we fear young men and women who are not “career and college ready” slipping by undetected? Who does this new policy benefit, other than those who wish to easily separate and identify students with disabilities?

Anonymous said...

Just wondering how life's going for the families in Seattle's option schools. Is it business as usual or has there been noticeable changes made this school year? Thanks!

- misst

Patrick said...

Does anyone care to speculate where the dividing line between Roosevelt High School and future Lincoln will be?

Anonymous said...

A reminder that the first of two Jane Addams Middle School (JAMS) community meetings is scheduled for tonight:

Jane Addams Middle School Community Meeting
Jane Addams Middle School Library(Same agenda both dates)

Wednesday, December 11 6:30-8:00
Wednesday, December 18 6:30-8:00

Agenda
Overview of timeline, teacher hiring, and spring processes
Review of facility work
Q & A
Opportunity for parents and community to give first input into the educational design
Brief school tour


Tara

Anonymous said...

Here's what LEV is promoting with a huge ad on its front page: Charters.

Anonymous said...

says Charter Disliker above.

Anonymous said...

@Mirmac: special education students get the sharp end of a stick far too often in public school, but I disagree that NYS is "railroading" special education students.

Special education students have every right to be educated alongside their general education peers. But if they cannot fulfill the academic requirements for a general diploma, then they should not get a general diploma. No different than any other student.

Like every other student they should have the *opportunity* to earn a general diploma. If they cannot do so, it is humane that there is a designation showing they had the capability and means to complete schooling to the best of their ability. That will still mean something for entry level jobs or cohousing situations.

For another section of students a GED serves as another way to show commitment even if the general diploma was out of reach.

It is not fair to employers or to those completing all coursework in a satisfactory manner to claim academic standards have been met if they have not.

Public Mom.

Anonymous said...

Shelter in place at Orca K-8 right now. There was a shooting in the neighborhood and the gunman is still at large. No other info at this point. Yes, I do very much care about gun violence in this country.
- southpaw

David said...

Interesting article in The Nation about closing schools in Chicago:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/177515/teachers-parents-complain-overcrowding-lack-support-plague-welcoming-schools

Eric B said...

Patrick, I think that has to wait until they figure out what kind of divisions they want the boundaries to have. Will the Ballard/Lincoln/Roosevelt be long north-south regions, or more east-west regions? Put more simply, where does QA/Magnolia go? Once that's decided (Ballard or Lincoln or split), the rest of the boundaries should be pretty easy to draw.

I think it's pretty likely that west of I-5 up to Ravenna-ish will be in Lincoln. How far east of I-5 and how far north are more open questions. It will have to come fairly close to Roosevelt because the fastest growth is in the NE, filling up Roosevelt and Hale. All that said, I don't know any better than anyone else.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Patrick, trying to start a fight? (I'm kidding until the discussion truly starts and THEN you'll see a fight.)

It is a bit confusing because it is likely they will want to ship some Magnolia/Queen Anne students there (at least until there is a downtown high school).

If I had to guess, naturally all of Hamilton's middle school region which would include West Woodland, Day, John Stanford, McDonald, Green Lake plus some parts of Magnolia/Queen Anne. It might be useful to go back and see what Lincoln's original boundaries were.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, ny is not different from what we have in Washington state. Students who can't pass the growing list of state required tests (any of them), and can't meet coursework standards do not earn a certificate of academic achievement. They may earn a certificate of individual achievement. Students may still go to college, but it does show up on their transcripts. Nothing wrong with stating the obvious.

Speddie

Anonymous said...

High school boundaries are not based on middle school cohorts. School populations can and will be split. If Eckstein caused a fight, it will be very interesting to see families who thought they were going to Roosevelt head off to Lincoln.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

I see no shame in alternate certification of school attendance. To have completed something to the best of one's abilities, even if cognatively unable to achieve full academic proficiency, is something.

An alternate certificate of completion says a lot more to future employers than dropping out. That should be the big employer warning sign.

DistrictWatcher

TechyMom said...

Interesting... I've seen the old NYS system held up as a model to follow. There was a general diploma, and then a regents diploma that was optional for students who completed a college prep course of study. That makes perfect sense. Not every job that requires a high school diploma requires college readiness. We do all students, those who want to continue with academic studies AND those who want a job right out of high school, a disservice by pretending that those require the same skills. Why on earth is NY moving away from that system?

mirmac1 said...

Public Mom,

Why would it be important for an employer to know whether an applicant has a disability? Should applicants submit DNA testing, along with the outcome of Common Core standardized testing?

I wouldn't take such issue with your statement except for your statement of the "unfairness" of it all...

Anonymous said...

@Mirmac - I think you are using hyperbole, but I am not sure I get your point.

The emphasis for me is not on disability. There is no shame in having a disability. There is no shame in earning a certificate of individual achievement. That certificate should be celebrated for the effort it took student, family and system to achieve. School systems and society should encourage employers to value these individual efforts.

But an academic diploma signifies mastery of academics. No doubt many special education students can earn these and public school should provide every opportunity for that to happen. I do not believe subject mastery tests should be timed for instance. But public school should not indicate that mastery has happened when it has not. That just kicks the can down the road for failures in post-secondary school and in jobs.

Our diploma system is far from perfect and many argue that kids have achieved academic diplomas that are not backed by enough academic mastery. That may be true. But weakening the diplomas further by saying someone has done the work when instead they have done alternative or other work is not a step in the right direction.

Public Mom

Anonymous said...

Yes Mirmac, if an applicant has a disability that should be disclosed if it is applicable to the job. And, most certainly if the applicant expects any protection under the ADA in the workplace they must disclose their disability. Believe me, being up front is the way to go. If a student doesn't have the skills to get certificate of achievement, there's absolutely no point in hiding that fact. It will be obvious for nearly all students. And if high school level academics aren't required for the particular job, then why would the interviewer care about this at all.

Eddie Speddie

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

No hyperbole. The article says that a CDOS credential is only given to disabled students. So unless one lies on a work application, noting achievement of a CDOS means declaring one is disabled.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but if my child takes the Algebra EOC exam with accomodations, then that means she will not receive full credit for passing? Does the need for some almighty power to place all our children on the "level playing field" mean that someone who is differently-abled will always be labeled? Note, the accomodation was, as you pointed out Public Mom, extended time for test-taking. Do we excuse employers who want only abled employees to hire only those people? Then why the heck do we have civil rights protection? No hyperbole there either.

Simply because Gates' giant data systems and mega lobbying efforts make such private information available, does not make it justifiable.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, you're far out in left field in this case. Yes. Only students with disabilities my receive a certificate of individual achievement here in WA. So what? NY evidently has a similar arrangement. Only students with disabilities have IEPs. Only people with disabilities receive protections under the ADA, or IDEA for that matter. In order to assert those rights you must disclose your disability, further, actually prove the existence of a disability.

As to the EOC, you may take it with accommodations (all students with or without disabilities are eligible for accommodations btw) and use it towards a certificate of academic achievement if you get a 3 or better. Things that move your child to the CIA are passing with a 2 under MO, taking the WAas-daw, taking a site based test, or receiving modified credits. That all is pretty reasonable and has no relation to the gates foundation.

Eddie

mirmac1 said...

Eddie,

I work with many very successful people with dyslexia: jobs involving $Ms and complex management skills. Should they have been denied a diploma (and job) because they could not take standardized tests without accommodations and/or scored "55 or higher on five Common Core based Regents Exams or a 65 or higher on the ELA and Math Regents Exams to make up for scores lower than 55 on the other three exams"? How did we manage all these years without this finely-tuned measure of "career and college-ready"?

As for ADA, this federal law does not just apply to those public institutions and private employers who know their employees and can guard against lawsuits. I'm no constitutional scholar but the Declaration of Independence guarantees "all men(sic) are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; ... The private sector is a meritocracy, so let all who are selected make their way without a new construct, erected by the latest reform du jour.

Lynn said...

mirmac,

I read the column you linked and I didn't see anything about not allowing testing accommodations. It looks like they are denying a diploma in cases where a student could not pass the required exam(s) with or without accomodations.

mirmac1 said...

Lynne,

I would love a definitive answer on that question, because I inquired and was told that somehow my child's EOC would not count 100%. Anyone, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Mirmac is turning something helpful to the SPED community into a thing of shame. The alternate diploma is for SPED students who give it their all but cannot, because of their disability, match grade-level standards. Their effort toward their own track of individual growth can and should be recognized. The alternate diploma is NOT available to those without disabilities. You don't have a disability? You don't get this gift. Either you get your academic diploma or you don't.

Anyhow, students with disabilities still get the academic diploma here, in NY and elsewhere. Many do. Disability is a big tent and is not the same as seriously cognatively impaired. Disabled students use their accommodations in achieving the academic diplomas all the time.

And why all the angst about the privacy rights of disabled students who are using public funds and getting accommodations that are obvious to the public. Why the defensiveness and secret-behind-closed-doors attitude? It's that approach that gives disability a bad connotation. Much better to say I or my child have a disability, we differ from others in that we have some law-given rights which help us to overcome challenges, but mostly we are just like you - doing our darnedest to get by.

The Gates Foundation and Common Core don't seem like the bad guys here. You sound like your own worst enemy, burdened by the assumption that the system and the public are out to do wrong by those with disabilities.

In general I find quite the opposite. But maybe that is my mindset.

SPED PROUD

mirmac1 said...

That's funny. Why not let it all hang out. Why not make people wear everything private about themselves on a sleeve, their sexual orientation or religion, their bank balance or credit score (oh yeah, I forgot that's already fair game because some algorithm said that says a lot about you). Let's make it easier for people to put you in a box, at standard or NOT.

SPED PROUD, I'd love to have you advocate more for sped students in this district along the lines of your mindset. I am also part of the SPED community. Perhaps the current state of SpEd at SPS; the OSPI findings of fault; and, Common Core etc) are all okie-dokie? I believe that, of late, much has been in violation of rather important laws.

Federal law preserving civil and disability rights does not require unique certifications for those who do not fit the standardized Common Core (copyright) mold. It does require that public education be individualized to a student's needs.

I'm not so concerned about the economic hardship of employers trying to quickly discriminate and cull the haves and have-nots. Likewise the PISA panic attacks are of no concern. What is of concern is the erosion of civil rights. Furthermore, privacy is really all the vast majority of us 99% have left.

So by all means, be more of a service to the SPED community and lobby for special certificates - instead of differentiated instruction, higher expectations, and recognition of the standards our children HAVE mastered.

On an entirely different subject: has anyone else noticed that the Ed Reform PR organs (Times, Crosscut etc) have NOT issued editorials and "news articles" decrying the composition of the new school board? I think they have figured out that they have to change their game, given the outcome of the election.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, you are simply uninformed. And your paranoia is getting the better of you. Yes your child can have accommodations AND receive a regular diploma. So can the hypothetical dyslexic you mention. Here and in NY. That is simply well trod legal ground. Accommodations are available for students without disabilities too. Modifications to the standard result in an alternate certificate. Modifications include passing regular tests with a 2, waas daw, waas portfolio, lda (locally determined assessment) eg, those deemed appropriate by the school psych, and through modified curriculum and credit Sure the difference between modified and accommodated is a fuzzy line. Iep teams wrangle that out, like everything else. Accommodations = regular certification, Modifications = modified certification.

Eddie

Anonymous said...

Wow mirmac1. Step back from that cliff of crazy diatribes. Your comments are a tangle of apparently personal dislikes and personal battles.

You aren't doing the special education community any favors here IMHO. Also, hate to break it to you, but privacy is not all we have left. We have no privacy. Disabled and Abled alike. Have you not been reading the news? A little govt. agency called the NSA knows all about us. Data privacy vanished a decade ago and none of us are going to stop that train. Not when the majority of Americans could care less.

So, since we don't have anywhere to hide, best to live life on the bright side of intentions, not the assumption that bogeymen are out specifically to get us and ours.

But again, this is my own mindset.

SPED PROUD

Anonymous said...

@Mirmac, OSPI has quite detailed information on
testing/SPED
.

I have waded through the links in the past. The information is detailed. If your child can achieve, with accommodations, grade-level expectations, then the usual diploma will be awarded. If less mastery at grade level, or mastery of a lower grade level, or social skills mastery is called out in a student's IEP, then a child will be on track for different certification of accomplishment.

EdVoter

Lynn said...

mirmac,

You might also want to review the OSPI accommodations manual.

Anonymous said...

One other thing Mirmac, I'm not sure where you ever got the notion that all kids were entitled as some sort of right, a regular high school diploma with a certificate of achievement. I have actually spoken to a special ed lawyer on this very topic, so that should be worth something. IDEA does not grant a right to a diploma, only a right to try, and a right to a floor of opportunity. States are free to set standards for their high school diplomas as they should. And they are free to be set at a level that weeds out many students with disabilities. What would be the point of simply handing out diplomas? If that were happening, why would we need diplomas at all? Handing them out without them meaning anything wouldn't benefit anyone. IDEA guarantees the right to accommodations, and freedom to attempt to meet the designated standards. Likewise, IDEA does not guarantee that any given student will make any progress at all. Only that they are afforded an opportunity. Multiple certificates are a good thing. (I think you will learn this when you get there.) In fact, it would be better if there were even more levels of achievement that students of all abilities could participate in. Is everybody really going to a four year college? I don't think so.

Sped Proud you are exactly right on the money. I too am sped proud.

Eddie

mirmac1 said...

I agree there should be more levels of achievement, that not everyone need be career and college-ready. Those levels should be available to everyone, not have a certain kind that is only given to students with disabilities.

I'm not alone. SEAAC's position was framed earlier this year: SEAAC believes that (the MAP) testing and the agenda moving schools towards standards-based education is an indignity for students with disabilities and others as well. The whole point of these standardized tests is to create failures; first the students and then the teachers. Being "nonstandard" is not a failure for our students, nor our teachers, nor our schools. Diversity and standardization are incompatible.

If everyone did well on standardized tests or "measured to standard", we would say: "The test is too easy. Everybody passed it." Instead, we create tests that have failures built-in by design. The only question remaining: "Who will those failures be?" The answer is: "Whoever wrote the test will pass the test. Others will fail."

Students with disabilities already face an uphill battle in every class they attend. If schools really wanted to teach students with disabilities, there would be no need for the law, IDEA, mandating it. Students with disabilities already take tests routinely. They are poked, prodded and measured countless times as is. Standards based tests reflect disability, not ability. More testing confirming disability does not benefit our students with disabilities.

Finally, standardization and standards-based tests and grading are misused to deny our secondary students access to extracurricular activities like sports or clubs. Grades are used as gatekeepers, and our students are often left out, again. Of course, parents in the know, and parents who have the time to advocate for their children can circumvent these roadblocks. Once again, standardization minimizes the educational experience of students with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

In the last few days I've heard of three seventh graders who have been offered entrance to a program at UW starting in eighth grade. Paid for by SPS apparently and based on test scores apparently. Surely someone else has received this notification or heard of this. As explained to me the students would be going to university next year, as eighth graders.

Wondering

Anonymous said...

SEAAC is the same handful of loud parents year after year.
There is a reason it is hard to fill the seats on a committee ---notice the deadline for applicants for the committee gets extended endlessly every year--- that ceased to be productive aes ago. It's meeting after meeting of complaints followed by and position papers that the district smiles while receiving then immediately shelves.

A SEAAC position paper on testing has no practical impact on state testing practices nor on local school districts' compliance with those practices. Further, I find the SEAAC paper cited as not helpful to the SPED community. The student body community is tested. SPED students are general education students first. Therefore they too will be tested with accommodations as fits with their IEP plan.

If grade level mastery is not compatible with the IEP, then they will use other state-mandated means to show mastery of their individual goals. To insist on public school services while refusing to acknowledge the need to benchmark growth over time is ludicrous.

SPED students can achieve and can show that they are achieving.

SPED PROUD

Lynn said...

Wondering,

Early Entrance Program at the Robinson Center.

Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

SPED Proud, As a SEAAC member, I find your statement about SEAAC appears reflect personal dislikes or battles.

Our position papers have led to better accountability for special ed funding (note SAO audit), determined efforts to provide families with program information, input to OSPI on corrective actions, and district's continued efforts to rectify disproportionate discipline. We meet regularly with the Superintendent and members of his leadership team. SEAAC will continue to present carefully researched and reasoned positions on issues critical to students and families in special education

It appears that your position is jaded and bordering on crazy diatribes.

SEAAC member

Anonymous said...

Besides the complete invasion of privacy, my biggest problem with the data tracking movement is that it doesn't allow people to overcome--they are forever identified by their past.

I know several people who had extremely difficult home lives, and almost didn't graduate from high school. Once they left the house, with diploma (but not other identifiers in hand), they were able to graduate from college with high honors. They subsequently were very successful in their careers.

They never needed to explain their prior life history unless it was on their own terms.

That is the gist of what I am getting from mirmac1--the inability to overcome because of history being destiny.

Obviously, if students with intellectual disabilities are unable to graduate with the comparable level of understanding as their peers, they should not be given a fraud diploma.

However, it's the marker for life that is the can of worms, just like all the consequences that putting health care records online potentially/likely will lead to.

I could be wrong, but this is the deeper concern that mirmac1 seems to be expressing here.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I think what mirmac1 worries about is the pre-assumption that people with disabilities are less capable. As with systemic, institutional racism, this does happen often, and often with people not realizing they are doing it. I bet ALL of us have heard a joke about someone "riding the short bus" at least once. Those jokes are often not re disabled people; they are used as short-hand to call someone stupid! And people understand and concur a with those jokes as clever and true. People who would be making hiring and college accceptance decisions.

We would all like to live in a world where people are judged completely on their abilities and characters, without pre-assumptions and stereotypes. That is not the world we actually live in. I think those of us without disabilities do not really have a full understanding of what it is like to constantly face such conscious and unconscious bias and discrimination. So may be try walk a mile etc.

CCA

Anonymous said...

I also agree with enough said. Very well stated.

CCA

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wondering, that is probably the early entrance to UW for gifted students. I don't think SPS "pays" - I think UW gets the student's share of state dollars. If this is what you are speaking of, it has been a long-term program. That said, I haven't heard of many 8th graders going but rather sophomores.

Sped Proud said: "Data privacy vanished a decade ago and none of us are going to stop that train."

Way to give up. I'm not giving up and particularly for students. There is NO reason their data HAS to go out into the ether via a school district. (What they and/or their parents decided privately is another thing.)

Anonymous said...

concur with, sigh

CCA

Anonymous said...

Wondering-

We recieved a letter like the one you mentioned, but it did NOT offer admissions paid for by SPS. Our letter said that our child's test scores were high and that she is invited to an informational meeting at the UW in January. The program accepts fewer than 20 kids, so I highly doubt these kids were offered entrance without any application process or interviews. They are VERY selective and want to make sure the kids can handle not only the work, but also handle being on a college campus as a young kid.

My letter said my child was welcome to apply only, and I would bet these parents received the same form letter I got.

-pickle

Anonymous said...

Enclosed you will find a letter which invites your child to apply for a special program offered by the University of Washington's Robinson Center for Young Scholars, the Transition School/Early Entrance Program...the Transition School offers an accelerated learning environment which is built to prepare students your age for early college entrance the following year...If you are receiving this letter it is because your child's academic record suggests that he/she would be a good candidate to apply...These letters are being sent only to eligible students with high grade point averages and high scores on our achievement tests.

fyi

Mary Griffin said...

I'm going to wade into the discussion on testing. And I'm only wading in to it on a personal level, not on any official or representative level.

The SEAAC paper was developed as a response to the MAP. There is good reason to reject the MAP both for students with disabilities and for students without. The statements from SEAAC about standardized tests do reflect a general consensus in this area.

However, having said that, there are many instances where standardized testing are very useful for students with disabilities and for students suspected of having disabilities. And before anyone starts launching their digital tomatoes at me, please read through my response to the end.

As an example of testing that is useful, many students may qualify for special education services or may be targeted for further evaluation based on standardized tests. For at least half of all students with disabilities, the traditional model of identification (before RTI) relied on a significant discrepancy between ability and achievement for specific learning disorders such as dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalcula. Keeping track of performance on standardized tests as part of the "present levels of performance," along with other information can help IEP teams make decisions about the effectiveness of interventions.

There is a lot of debate both within and external to students with disabilities about testing those students with lower cognitive functioning. For the last several years, the federal government has allowed states to exempt 2% of all students or 14% of special education students from these tests. Most disability advocacy groups think this number should revert to the lowest 1% of all students or about 7% of students with disabilities. Seattle Public Schools’ demographics indicate 0.3% of all students qualify for special education based on intellectual disability. This number of course, is low, as it does not include those who are multiply handicapped, nor does it include students who qualify based on a diagnosis of autism. (Seattle Public Schools does not make data available using the 13 federally-identified categories of disabilities. They say they are changing, but I do not have high hopes about this.)

The reason disability rights groups advocate for this goes along the old adage of "what gets measured gets done." The promises in IDEA ring false when the money and talk around such concepts as the "opportunity gap" consistently fail to include students with disabilities. Fully forty percent of the students who exist in "the gap" receive special education services, yet funding, state organizations, initiatives, research, and education reform groups fail to even mention students who receive special education services. As a practical example, the state EOGOAC (Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight Accountability Council) includes representatives from every known racial group, including Asian American (who are not known to make up a group that falls into the gap,) yet by not appointing a special education representative to the table, they are missing the elephant in the room. As other practical examples, a keyword search of all initial applications to the Road Map Project turned up only one district (I believe it was Kent but I could be wrong) which even mentioned the words disability or the phrase “special education” yet the acronym ELL turned up several hundred times in the applications. Responses from education reform groups which center on such topics as charter schools do not make sense to most families of students with disabilities as charter schools ordinarily do not do a good job when addressing the needs of students with disabilities (I have heard that there are some charter schools which do perform well, but research indicates they are in the minority.)

Mary Griffin said...

(part 2)
As long as the money and talk centers on the results of standardized tests, I personally favor students with disabilities taking an annual test. Do I think they should have to take the test that their same age peers take? No. I think they should take the test that applies to the goals established in their IEP. I think tests should be used to measure individual progress, and that’s about it. But the federal government says otherwise for now. Do I think that teachers of students with disabilities should receive evaluations based on their students’ growth? Again, absolutely not. But again, the federal government disagrees with me, and the state of Washington is going to be in trouble around this for NCLB funds if they don’t get in line with federal regulations.

As far as graduation goes, I can't really comment on NY state. I can barely make sense of all the regulations in Washington State. I do know this is another area where there are more hoops to jump for all students. Students with disabilities do have the options to take the the HSPEs or EOCs at grade level—with or without accommodations—but IEP teams adjust passing criteria from “Proficient” (Level 3) to “Basic” (Level 2). For students with disabilities, EOC or HSPE exams tied to graduation generally do not make sense, nor does the promise/threat of Common Core related testing (which will not be required to graduate until 2019), where more students overall will not pass, and it is likely an even greater percentage of students who receive special education services will not pass. Making graduation more difficult for all students will likely disproportionately impact students of color, students with limited English proficiency and lastly, students who receive special education services.
The district has identified several goals for special education. These are from the district website’s page on special education services:
• Increased performance on State assessments for students with disabilities
• Increased graduation rate for students with disabilities
What I haven’t seen is a plan on how they are going to do this. The focus this year has been on the corrective action plan and stabilization of staff. If and when the district develops a plan on graduation, I would love to see it.
As far as privacy goes, I agree with Mirmac1. Many disabilities carry a serious stigma. Really. If you think about the stigmatizing words in society, there’s the N label and the there’s the second worst label, MR. There’s mental illness, there’ss Fetal alcohol syndrome, there’s epilepsy, there's issues of abuse and neglect. There’s all kinds of issues of misidentification, prejudice, and prejudgment. What your child’s disability is may be something he or she cares to share with the world when he or she is ready. Out in the “real world,” as some like to call post school life, a worker can request accommodations but does not need to identify his or her disability. Invasions of privacy around disability issues can have serious repercussions for both students and employees. To SPED proud parent, good for you, your student, and your choice. Your choice may not be the right choice for everyone.

mirmac1 said...

Thanks for answering part of my question Mary. I misspoke when I said accommodation. When I inquired about modification for an EOC exam, I understood that a Passing score of 2 meant you would not get credit for the course (or something like that). Seems like a raw deal after doing the work for a year and doing the best a math-challenged person can. Again, I may have faulty recall and would love clarification on that point.

As Mary notes, this will become a growing problem once CC tests come online. As it stands, my child's school had a rude awakening when the Smarter Balanced Assessment test results come in. Scores were low.

Anonymous said...

The SEAAC statement sounds heartfelt but in many places it is not coherent nor does it appear to encompass the thoughts of the SPED community beyond those who authored the piece.

It is written as though disability equals mentally incapacitated. This is simply not the case. There are many areas of disability protected by ADA.

It equates standards-based expectations with and standardized testing. Not the same thing at all.

It presents a number of opinion statements such as "The whole point of these standardized tests is to create failures" into fact.

It assumes that the SPED parent community does not want its students tested. This is not the case from what I can discern. Some may not. Many do.

-two cents-


Anonymous said...

To clarify, the letter from SEAAC wasn't a global statement on testing. It was support for Garfield's map test sit in, and it was teacher initiated. SEAAC doesn't have a position on state testing.

Mirmac, if your child has the modification of "passing with a 2" on any state high school EOC written in the iep, then they get modified credit for the exam. And, it counts toward the student's diploma and certificate of individual achievement. That isn't "nothing" for a year of work. If the student earns a 3, that counts for any diploma. You seem to have a problem with the idea of certificates of individual achievement. That accurately describes and rewards students for abilities they do have. In these cases, it isn't the diploma that hinders the student. It is the disability itself.

Another seaacer

Anonymous said...

Another Seaacer, I believe you have it right. With the distinction that students meeting "general ed" academic requirements graduate with a certificate of 'academic achievement' instead of 'individual achievement'.

Both are valid proof of graduation. Both are public.

A child with an IEP is also eligible to gain the 'academic achievement' certificate by using IEP-outlined accommodations to meet the same academic standards that general education students must meet.

I agree with SPED Proud. Why the shame of an individual achievement certificate? Many SPED families are grateful for this option. Students can show that they have learned to the best of their ability. This *is* allowing for diversity within standards-based education.

-two cents-

Anonymous said...

Mary, federal law prohibits the taking of alternate assessments, or tests at different levels under the NCLB. In previous years, students with disabilities did indeed take different level WASLs, as determined by IEP teams, for their end of year state test. The federal government struck down that practice. So, it is no longer done for any students other than high school students. The idea is that you don't want states to get around NCLB sanctions by letting (making) all the sped kids take the third grade WASL/MSP. If they were permitted to do it, I'm sure many/most sped students would be pressured by schools into taking very low level MSPs. States need to have high expectations for students, and there's nothing really on the line for the student before high school. No harm in measuring it. The state, not the federal government, is the one who has put all the high stakes consequences on the testing, eg making it a graduation requirement, really for no good purpose.

-sped parent

Mary Griffin said...

sped parent--

Yes, I am aware of the fact that my fantasy about what might be useful in terms of tests doesn't match up with either the state or the FEDS.

I am also quite aware of letting districts decide what tests kids should take. I guess I should have prefaced my comments about testing as "In a perfect world, testing would not be used to manipulate district/schools scores, teacher performance or be tied to graduation." It is interesting that you talk about third grade. I have come to believe that for many teachers, third grade is the limit for possibility, at least as far as math goes. That's just my personal experience.

As far as low expectations go, IDEA,however, the "implementation of this title has been impeded by low expectations, and an insufficient focus on applying replicable research on proven methods of teaching and learning for children with disabilities. Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by-- ``(A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to-- meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible. (IDEA 2004)

As you pointed out, many students with disabilities do quite well on standardized tests. Setting low expectations just because someone has a disability is wrong.

Anonymous said...

Mary, third grade happens to be the lowest grade where a state test exists in WA, and the grade that nclb requires states to provide an assessment. Eg. the third grade msps. So, that's where the bar is. Btw, benefitting from high expectations, curriculum, etc.... and performing well on standardized assessments don't correlate necessarily. Not very many students in sped do well on standardized tests. Have a look at math and science EOCs results, not pretty. And those are now graduation requirements.

Sped parent