Friday, January 03, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Over at the Times, they had an end-of-the year wrap-up for their "Education Lab" adventure with the Gates Foundation.  They ask the question, "What else would you like to see Education Lab tackle in the coming year?"

How about truthfulness about your venture?

You would think a joint venture with OSPI accessing and using SPS student data to write stories would be a major story for them.  And yet, there was not a single story about it.  Again, almost like it isn't happening.

It's very hard to take them seriously (and so I don't).

Did I mention that yet another data security breech happened in our country?  That would be Snapchat which is particularly popular with teens.  Hackers posted over four million of its users phone numbers.  From the Mercury News:

But pilfered phone numbers can cause broader problems. By combining them and usernames with databases of commonly used passwords or other information, experts warn, hackers can sometimes steal consumer identities and access their financial accounts.

"This vulnerability could hypothetically be used to stalk members of society -- such as public figures -- or the data could even be sold to various firms, with the intent of using it and other data to connect online profiles to people in real life," according to the Gibson Security warning about Snapchat's problems.

It's back to school on Monday and I'll have a separate thread on why every single Board meeting needs to feature at least one speaker on the public testimony list talking about SPS student data privacy.  SPS is upset about this one-upmanship from OSPI.  I recall Director McLaren kind of lightheartedly saying they could put off this topic until "the spring."  I would think she may not feel that way now but we'll see.

What's on your mind?


Disgusted said...

I complained to OSPI regarding their data-sharing agreement with SPS.

Discipline records will be shared and students in foster care will be flagged.

Disgusted said...

I would also like to thank Ann Dornfeld for the story regarding OSPI and data-sharing.

Anonymous said...

NPR had a story on common core yesterday. I only caught the last part and haven't had a chance to listen, but the link is here

Critics Say Schools' Common Core Standards Rollout Is Rushed
January 02, 2014 5:17 AM


Anonymous said...

oh, and Jose Banda will be on KUOW's The Record at noon today.

The Record
Monday - Friday, noon - 2:00 p.m. on KUOW
Coming up on The Record, 1/2: Possible good news for Seattle rent, Nancy Pearl, and superintendent Jose Banda


Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks Katydid. I'm changing some of my thinking on Common Core based on more research. Not good.

Anonymous said...

For the math folks out there, Barry Garelick has a new book about math education. From the publisher:

Author, Barry Garelick stated, "This book is a collection of letters that I wrote which chronicle my experiences in a math teaching methods class in ed school (using the name John Dewey) and my experiences student teaching (using the name Huck Finn). I teach mathematics in California. I have a degree in the subject and an intense interest in how it is taught."

Garelick added, "The book is a sometimes useful and always irreverent compendium of letters that examine math education in our public schools, addressed to anyone with the requisite curiosity to read them."

A Look at Math Education from the Inside

-mathy parent

Susan said...

I complained to OSPI about the data. I got an e-mail back saying "I am unaware of the contract you are talking about since FERPA is the prevailing law. I suggest you contact Seattle Public Schools". I suppose I should reply with Seattle Public Schools response saying they are looking at their legal options.

mirmac1 said...


Who responded to you?

Eric B said...

This is more local than OSPI, but the Board needs to hear from parents about later start times for middle and high school students if the change is going to happen. Right now, the responsible staff appear to be sitting on their hands until they get more direction from the Board. If this is an important issue to you, please email the Board to let them know.


Susan said...

As I am not aware of the contract that you mentioned in your e-mail, I recommend contacting Seattle Public Schools directly about your concerns. According to their website, Seattle Public Schools’ School & Community Partnerships Department works to ensure that student data is protected. This department can be reached at (206) 252-0513.

For more information about FERPA, or if you wish to file a complaint, you may contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office at 1-800-872-5327, or by mail at 400 Maryland Ave SW, Washington D.C. 20202-5920.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!

Best regards,

Callie Sechrist

Program Supervisor, Equity and Civil Rights

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

(360) 725-6162

mirmac1 said...

Deb Came, Ph.D.

Director of Student Information

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

360.725.6356 (office)

Anonymous said...

Don't the wished for later start times conflict with the current 3 tier bus schedule? As it is, that third tier gets home pretty late. I was so glad when my child transitioned to middle school and got home much earlier, even if it meant a much earlier start. When my child started in K, the buses were on a 2 tier schedule and the start and end times were more reasonable. Having some elementary schools start around 9:30 is worse in my mind than the early starts for middle school and high school. It really limited what my child could do after school, from homework to extracurriculars to just playing outside.

Given the financial position of the district, I'm not sure how later starts would happen, unless all yellow bus service for middle school and high school were eliminated. Given the constraints of Metro, is this a trade-off families are willing to make? Is this where we're headed anyway?


Eric B said...

@JS, the later starts for MS/HS are not necessarily in conflict with the three-tier bus system. I ran some numbers using last year's data, and found that you could run essentially the same three tiers with the MS/HS in the latest tier instead of the earliest. The first cut showed adding 3-5 buses, but I'm sure that could be reduced or eliminated with some more careful thought.

Another big impact for the 9:30 elementary start is that parents have to get before-school care in order to have a job with any kind of normal schedule. Many PT office jobs will flex to allow people to come in at 9:00 or 9:30, but 10:00 or 10:30 is pretty late.

Mary Griffin said...

For a good analysis of the view point that is at the root of CCSS, read a grumpy old teacher's analysis of the following sentence from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's website:

"Businesses are the primary consumers of the output of our schools, so it’s a natural alliance."

Mr. Greene, the grumpy old teacher and author of this blog post, systematically dissects this sentence so that you can see what the sausage is made of. My favorite part is this paragraph:

"So it's a natural alliance. Let's pretend for a moment that this conclusion isn't predicated on the totally-wrong first clause. If business and education represent a natural alliance, then maybe business could start acting like allies instead of ham-handed paternalistic patronizing bosses. Pick the business of anybody on the Gates Foundation board of directors. Pick any one. Now imagine me, a teacher, showing up at the CEO's office and saying, "Hey, some of us at my high school formed a study group and we've come up with some recommendations about how your business should be run. And if you don't want to listen to us, we'll call up our friends in DC and make you listen to us."

I can imagine lots of responses. None of them would be, "Hey, you must be my ally!"

Anonymous said...

As has been discussed before in regards to later start times, having middle and high school students start later than elementary students makes it dificult for families that rely on older siblings to watch their elementary aged siblings after school, or pick them up from the bus stop. Also, when you discuss later starts, are you seriously proposing a 9:30 start? That's a nonstarter. How will they participate in afterschool activities or work a part time job?


Hmmm said...

Joel Connelly says to watch Charles Wright (former Microsoft employee. Wright is now employed as Deputy Superintendent of SPS:

Anonymous said...

From the Alliance for Education blog:

Charles E. Wright, Jr. is an expert in the linkages between school district data systems and student performance. He has over 18 years experience leading and advising teams that collect and report school data. Most recently he served as Chief Strategy Officer for Denver Public Schools. He is also an entrepreneur, having founded both a consulting organization that works with schools, districts, and education nonprofits on performance management projects and a website to help parents and communities support their children’s learning and development in and out of school.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll opine here - Mr. Wright could be the best thing to ever happen to SPS or close to the worst. I have had good impressions about him from listening to him and listening to what others have said.

I think he truly wants to create real change but so did Maria Goodloe-Johnson. I think he sees the disconnection between departments and how the district is really not running well.

But is this change to course-correct the district and its management OR switch us off in yet ANOTHER direction (costing time and resources)?

Two things I believe most new people don't get.

Our district is not like others. You cannot come in and believe you are large and in charge, no matter your title.

Next, our district has been poised for greatness for a long time (if only we had the trains running on time and stopped with these millions of new "initiatives" and "strategic plans". Run this district well and watch things happen.

And guess who would get great credit for creating this well-run urban district? A feather in anyone's cap and yet it hasn't happened.

Time will tell.

OSPI Response said...

Here is my response from OSPI:

The data requested by, but not yet provided to, the Times are:

CEDARS (2009-10 through 2012-13)

 Student enrollment/demographics/program flags

 Student schedule/courses

 Staff schedule

 Student grade history

 Student absences (school year 2012-13)

 Student discipline (school year 2012-13)

Assessment scores for MSP, HSPE, EOC, WAAS-Portfolio, WELPA (2009-10 through 2012-13)

Graduation/dropout (Classes of 2010 through 2013, when available)

Student Growth Percentile (Spring 2011 through 2013)

You can see what variables are collected in CEDARS by looking at the CEDARS Data Manual. Please keep in mind that student names, dates of birth and Social Security Numbers are removed before the data are shared.

Anonymous said...

Start Schools Later Petition is not asking for a 9:30 start time. They are asking for 8:30. However if MS/HS students started their day at 9:30, they would still have more free time between school ending & the time their body clocks allow them to sleep, than the hours they spend in school each day. Isn't that enough time for after school activities/work?

If a child requires so many more hours a day of after school activity time & work hours, they would need some flexibility (like online school). But it is unfair to demand that the majority of students be sleep deprived in order to provide that 9/10 hours after school to some kids who choose that level of activity.

- Need sleep

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Regarding the OSPI data sharing agreement - why are tax payers dollars being spent in securing an agreement to further the revenue opportunities of a commercial entity?.

Anonymous said...

The district is asking for community feedback on the math materials. Is there any hope if the following questions are guiding the selection:

1. For each grade, are the expectations and learning goals clearly stated and easy for you to find?

2. Does this program include the resources necessary to support the lessons and problems in the material?

3. If you were teaching K-5 students in mathematics, would you find this material useful and easy to implement?

4. Do these instructional materials adequately meet the learning goals of all students (ELL, SpEd, APP/ALO)?

5. Does this program reflect broad cultural perspectives of Seattle Public Schools, without stereotyping or inappropriate representations of minority groups?

Would you find the material "useful?" What about mathematical soundness?? Please tell me there's more to the selection than the factors above.

More links on Cliff Mass blog -
Decision on a New K-5 Math Curriculum

As a parent, I'd like materials that are mathematically sound and clear enough that I'm able to help my child at home, preferably with an absence of inane photos and graphics unrelated to the topic at hand.

Seattle parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa, you're very right to be skeptical on Charles Wright's background. Not only is he steeped in Gates Foundation mamby-pamby, but he comes from Denver Public Schools, which is most famous for its ProComp system of merit pay for teachers. I don't think anyone on the School Board likes that idea, but we'll see how much authority they have. My guess is that Wright is there just to lay the groundwork to circumvent the School Board through grant funding "mandates." I predict merit pay in the next teacher's contract negotiations if we aren't careful. Talk about a distraction!


Anonymous said...

Lots of things in life aren't fair. We get it. Go to bed earlier for that 9-10 hours of sleep. Older sibs are needed to care for younger sibs after school. That's also a fact of life for families too.

with skeptic

Melissa Westbrook said...

Skeptic, do you have teens? Because anyone who does - and research backs this up - knows that most of of them can't go to sleep earlier. Not because they don't want to, they physically can't fall asleep.

OSPI, I'll have a thread on how taking out PII doesn't necessarily mean you couldn't ID students.

Disgusted said...

I tend to agree with Emily. Get the data guy in place (anyone remember Bernateck and De Barros??), set-up systems, get grants and the board will have their hands tied.

I'm always skeptical of data, anyway. There are lies, damn lies and then, there is data.

Anonymous said...

Older siblings are needed to care for pre-k siblings all day long in some families, but we don't ask them to sacrifice their academics for that. Teens are children too. Adults in our community need to be the ones responsible for giving them the message that school is their most important job.

If we really value their babysitting so much, then maybe we should pony up & pay for the transportation that supports simultaneous bell times at an hour that supports their learning.

-need sleep

Anonymous said...

@need sleep, helping out with siblings is just a basic expectation in some families. It was in ours and I didn't consider it babysitting, I just considered it part of what I was expected to do as a member of my family. I worked part-time, helped look after my younger siblings, and was still was able to keep up with school.

with skeptics

Anonymous said...

With Skeptics,

I am glad that your high school experience worked well for you.

What research shows is that most teenagers do not have the ability to 'just go to sleep earlier' as these studies show.

national sleep foundation

And there is an academic cost for teenagers who have earlier start times. As these studies show.

Sleep study article

sleep study

So if ensuring that teenagers are available for family childcare is a community value, then we need to provide that opportunity without demanding the academic sacrifice that research shows is being paid by starting school too early for most teenagers.

-need sleep

Anonymous said...

We paid plenty for child care. Now that older child can help out, that's thousand$ save per month that will go for other bills and needs. That's just the way things are and our children understand how hard we all work as a family to keep it together. We don't lose sleep over it.

with skeptic

Anonymous said...

I'm with "Skeptic" too. Sure. Teens need sleep. So do I. Everybody is sleep deprived. But we manage. We can always find "research" backing any position we support. What teens really need is discipline. And that is a learned behavior. No matter what start time you have, a teen will oversleep it. And then they'll be tired. That's because they push things to the limit. Best to leave the times early. The world doesn't revolve around teens. With a later start time, teens can participate in afterschool sports. Given our current obesity epidemic, that's a problem we should facilitate solving. Afterschool activities are important for a million reasons.

Parent of Teens

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent of Teens, you really think it's okay to be sleep deprived for teens? That's a very accepting (or perhaps pragmatic) attitude except we are talking about children.

It's absolutely true that if teens want to do a large number of things, they are likely to be sleep deprived. Maybe they should give up afterschool sports and activities in favor of academics.

Funny you should mention obesity because the one thing that keeps getting mentioned to aid weight loss? Adequate sleep.

No, you won't find a peer-researched study that says that it doesn't matter what time teens go to sleep in terms of academic outcomes. If you find it (or know of it), please let us know.

Academics are important "for a million reasons." And I'll go on the record as saying academics is the MOST important thing for students - not jobs or sports or afterschool activities.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, what I really think is this: Teens will be sleep deprived if they stay up all night watching videos, texting, using social media, and playing video games. Not to mention partying with friends if they do that. If they don't exercise discipline, they will go to bed late and be tired. Just like the rest of us. That's the life lesson teenagers must learn. The high school start time is pretty similar to a work day start time. It works best for all of us. And, it teaches discipline.

As to research. It took me about 5 minutes to locate research supporting non-biological causes of "teen sleep deprivation"... which makes me believe the district is fine keeping it's early start time. Check out Education Week (Dec 10th 2013) and research at the University of Cincinatti. Notably, use of electronics was indicated for sleep problems. Ya think? (and that also points back to disciplined electronic usage)

You have your values - others have theirs. You don't get to pick the values of other people, sorry. Sports and other pro-social activities are of equal importance to academics, and they support academics. That's also research based.

Parent of Teens

Lynn said...

Sports and other "pro-social" activities should never be considered equal in importance to academics in our schools. If your children are early risers, and you can't fit their sports into the afternoon hours, schedule their practices before school, I'm sure they're disciplined enough for that.

I have a teen who goes to bed (without electronics) when I ask him to. Then he lies awake until about midnight every night. He doesn't like being tired all the time and it's clearly not good for his health.

So no - the current schedule doesn't work best for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Parent of Teens,

I agree that many teens hurt their sleep by using electronics at night. But the sleep studies referred to in these articles are performed in a sleep lab, so the teens are monitored & can not use electronics. In these studies they show a biological basis for teens' later sleep cycles.

national sleep foundation

Can you show me the sleep study that found there is no biological basis for later teen sleep cycles. A controlled study, not a survey. That is what we have not seen.

Parents may decide that sports or work is more important than school for their child. (My parents did & I dropped out of school at 14). But the school district needs to prioritize academics. That is their job. Their job isn't athletic training. I don't think they have the resources to add that as a priority.

-Need Sleep

Anonymous said...

Lynn, nothing works best for all of us. The school district can't prioritize for one group alone. Sports and prosocial activities are part of an education. Period. They go together. Being a straight A student with super test scores, without anything else will not get you very far. Check out Education Week for a summary of more current research. BTW... Sleep Lab studies don't necessarily tell you much about real life.

And no, my children are NOT early risers, and teaching them discipline is not easy for me. That's life folks.

Parent of Teens

dw said...

As to research. It took me about 5 minutes to locate research supporting non-biological causes of "teen sleep deprivation"... which makes me believe the district is fine keeping it's early start time.

I almost hope you're being sarcastic, but it doesn't seem like it. Are you seriously pointing to an article like this and suggesting that it nullifies the decades of research into teen circadian cycles? REALLY? Please tell me you're not a researcher!

There may very well be concerns with blue light in the evening/night, and frankly even with television at night, but teens have different cycles than adults or children. That's just a fact, it has nothing to do with "discipline" -- that's a joke. There are things teens can do to mitigate the difficulties, to some degree, but they don't just go away.

Some people are lucky enough to be able to sleep at will, most are not; but teens are especially prone to not being able to sleep until later at night. I remember trying in vain during those years to go to sleep earlier, and the schedule we were on in high school was painful and unhealthy.

You have your values - others have theirs. You don't get to pick the values of other people, sorry. Sports and other pro-social activities are of equal importance to academics, and they support academics. That's also research based.

How do your own words feel in reverse? YOU don't get to pick the values of OTHER people, sorry. Sports and other pro-social activities are NOT of equal importance with academics (whatever "pro-social activities" means). Period.

Look, schools exist to teach, that is their purpose; academics is number one. Other important secondary "lessons" like citizenship are taught within the classroom setting, and certainly do not require sports or special after-hours classes.

There are also many outlets for kids to do team sports that do not require schools to compromise their academics and health of the majority of students. Various neighborhood or select teams exist in practically every corner of the city.

It's your job to make sure your kids get a well-rounded education, that hopefully includes more than just academics, but it's NOT the school's job to provide that. Schools already require P.E. to ensure we don't have 100% sedentary kids.

Yes I'm speaking harshly, because your argument is not only poor, but selfish. You seem to think the "needs" of your child(ren) outweigh the needs of the majority. That's not cool. Your priorities are not everyone else's.

TechyMom said...

Look, there's a middle ground here, and the very moderate proposal in the petition reflects it. 8:30 is still really early. It's early enough to teach discipline.

I would suggest that along with this minor change, we also have high schools and middle schools make 1st and last period optional, and ensure that all required classes are either not during those periods, or also available at another time. If 40 minutes really breaks the sports schedule (I'm skeptical of this), then sports can be scheduled in the last period of the day and count as PE. Kids for whom sports are important can take a first period class. Students who need to work or care for younger siblings can take a 1st period class, and leave before last period.

My primary concern with the petition is that it suggests that some elementary students should start school earlier. Frankly, I don't think anyone should have to start school before 9:00, but that it's great to have optional before-school activities for families that need or want them. Before and after care is currently subsidized for low-income families, so I don't see this as an equity issue. Besides, low-income jobs don't tend to be 9-5 anyway, so there are probably just as many low-income families where the parents work nights and would prefer a later start as there are families that need to drop off their kids early.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Sports and prosocial activities are part of an education. Period."

Well, again, that would be a value, not a requirement. It certainly isn't the norm world-wide, I can tell you that.

The issue of "discipline" and electronics is a different subject than what the reasoning would be to make this change.

And I don't know about you but most people I know don't start work at 7:30 am.

Anonymous said...

Try bus drivers, teachers, healthcare personnels, emergency/law enforcement folks, train, airline/airport workers, child care providers, employees in manufacturing including Boeing, retail & service industry, news media, hospitality industry, office, etc. We are already working by 7:30am. Some jobs are 12 hr. shift, some are rotating or flex time. Blue or white collar, small or large business owners, serving your latte or performing a craniotomy, we are buzzing away.

different world