Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Open Thread

A class size bill, HB 2589 is making its way thru the Washington State Legislature.  Interestingly there is a column at The Olympian by Dick Cvitanich, the Superintendent for Olympia Public Schools,  who advocates for spending McCleary money on smaller class sizes. 

A story of contrasts between that bill and Bill 5246 for teacher evaluations which would no longer allow districts to use years of teaching experience in their hiring except as a tiebreaker and would rank order all teachers and principals based on student growth in their evaluations (mandating use of state test scores for teachers). 

I'll try to do a complete round-up of education bills including the student data privacy bill. 

What's on your mind?


mirmac1 said...

Hi Melissa. I hope you've had a well-deserved break : )

That's what SPS needs! A Performance-based Compensation System!

Anonymous said...

I have some questions about the School Climate Survey Report. Do all students take this survey in elementary including the lower grades? How is it given to students and by whom?

-Was There

Anonymous said...

At our elementary school it was given to students in grades 3-5. The teachers gave the students the survey (paper-based).

-elementary parent

Anonymous said...

Elementary Parent
Thanks! That makes more sense. I assume that is the case at all schools.

Anonymous said...

WA class sizes have been among the nation's largest for decades. Teacher salaries are not nearly as far out of whack as class sizes. The fact the Legislature failed to uphold legislation involving each of those speaks volumes about the ongoing failure to uphold the WA constitution.

VAM - value added measures are completely unreliable. Check the sats. More legislation based on fairy tales.

Common Core is an illogical expensive approach to improvement. It looks exactly like what Kentucky attempted in the 90s which was an expensive failure.

One size fits all only works for vendors not students. Pearson publishing and hardware vendors love Common Core with all the testing.

The biggest positive change I've seen in the last 20 years in K-12 education took place in Florida when students needed to read proficiently to enter grade 4. The improvement seen in FLORIDA over the last 5 years has been amazing. Schools are doing a much better job of teaching reading in k-3. The resulting improvement shows all through middle school.

The Legislature would be wise to stop wasting money on Common Core which was adopted with zero thought because Gates designed and push it. Remember the WASL math fiasco and the WASL math testing ....... SBAC testing has Dr WASL Joe Wilhoft as executive director.

What a pathetic mess because of pathetic leadership.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data -- W. Edwards Deming
Meanwhile we get snake oil salesmen.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1.... quite a hoot that Clover Codd doc you linked on performance based management of teachers.

I remember testifying when the Board bought that nonsense. It was at the same meeting that Everyday Math was adopted. .... Another piece of statistical nonsense. So teachers are expected to improve student learning by following District mandated fidelity of implementation of Everyday Math.... just hope students have lots of outside tutoring.

Note that your linked letter has US Dept of ED making sure about VAM component..... A clear violation of US Constitution but who cares about laws these days.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if teacher ratings and compensation are based on student GROWTH on standardized tests, how are teachers in APP (where almost all of the kids score very, very high consistently) or in the high-performing wealthier neighborhood schools going to be rated/compensated? If a school has an 85% pass rate or 89% pass rate, and the non pass includes a certain number of SpEd and parents who withdraw from testing, how much room for growth is there?

If a school has 95% of the kids test in the 98-99%ile on the MAP, every year, how can the "growth" be measured? Will those teachers end up being the "worst performing"? One size fits all is such a crock.

Signed: Math Counts

Go Figure said...

Teacher ratings are based upon two scores. One score is a district average and the other score is classroom average.

Anonymous said...

I heard from some teachers that Clover Codd told them that MAP should NEVER be used to evaluate teachers when MAP was first brought into the district.

These were some very reliable sources. Maybe someone can ask her about how and why she has changed her tune. Denying that she said it won't fly in this particular case.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I've learned not to believe anything that comes out of Clover Codd's mouth.


A-mom said...

Last year around this time the board voted to not sunset grandfathered transportation, due to the cost of buying portables for all of the schools students would switch to in order to get busing.
Where will that money come from now?

Someone at the last board meeting mentioned the 3.4 million from sunsetting would be a one time savings. The state will reduce their contribution to busing next year
if the district reduces it's costs this year.
Does anyone know any details about this statement?

Anonymous said...

From the JAMS Fusion Page:

JAMS Information Nights
Feb 11th and Feb 25th, 6:30-7:30 pm
Jane Addams Auditorium
For all prospective JAMS families.

JAMS information meeting for current Jane Addams K-8 families.
Feb 11th, 5:30-6:30 pm, JA Library

JAMS Special Ed Information Meeting
Feb 25th, 5:30-6:30 pm, JA Library

JAMS Music Leader Announced
We are incredibly pleased to announce that Debra Schaaf has accepted the position as the Music Leader for Jane Addams Middle School.

Debra has built the instrumental music programs at both Orca k-8 as well as Aki Middle School. She has developed significant arts partnerships for students throughout the district and also serves as lead teacher through our Career ladder teacher program. With nearly 20 years of music experience, Debra has the right skill set to lead the development of the Jane Addams Middle School music program. She will be a great addition to the great cadre of music educators in North Seattle. Please join us in welcoming her as the first Jane Addams Middle School teacher!

See the JAMS Fusion Page for more announcements.


- North-end Mom

Lynn said...


There was a capacity management item on the agenda for this week's board meeting which would authorize the use of $4.2M in BEX IV funds for the purchase of 22-28 portables. Some of this could be related to the changes in transportation. I am suspicious of claims that we'll be returning students to overcrowded neighborhood schools though. I don't think most families are choosing busing to escape successful, popular schools.

The state calculates a district's expected transportation costs for the year - that figure is then compared to the prior year's costs. The reimbursement amount is the lesser of the two. Here's Tacoma's report for last year as an example.

Johnny Calcagno said...

In case you missed this...

Is the Seattle School District squelching candid talk about race?

mirmac1 said...

Some more interesting information:

We're making this s**t up as we go along

Even Teachers United thinks this is a load of hooey!

Teacher said...

Interesting documents:

"We however recognize that Student Growth Ratings for individual teachers can be influenced by school leadership and curricular and instructional practices instituted at the building level. This is a key reason that Student Growth Ratings are merely a trigger for an inquiry into practice, and are not a weighted component of a teacher’s evaluation rating."

Then, why did Codd testify in Olympia, before the Senate, in FAVOR of incorporating test scores into teacher evaluations?

Anonymous said...

Well, they should know not to believe anything that comes out of Clover Codd's mouth.


Anonymous said...

Curious about whether other High Schools use ASB funds to help pay for sports activities. The ASB at Nathan Hale, has decided to not fund anything sports related. Girls from both Gymnastics and Cheer have fund raised money for their teams that due to rules has to go to ASB. Now they are not receiving the benefit of that fundraising activity. So why would I as a parent, give money for sport fundraising activity done by the students, with me knowing full well that the money doesn't actually benefit that sport or program? We already contribute to ASB for other things. To me this seems to eliminate the ability of the students to raise funds for their activity.


Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, I think it varies from school to school what ASB funds. (That said, there may be parameters around what they do fund.)

I can see not funding cheer but gymnastics is a sport. Are they not receiving funding from the school like other sports?

Also, many sports have their own fundraising boosters; does gymnastics at Hale?

Anonymous said...

Yes, cheer is not considered a sport so it does not receive support from the school as a sport and you don't have to pay the sport fee of $100 ($50 for second sport, not sure after that). Gymnastics is a sport and does receive some support but not nearly enough to cover the equipment etc.

After the school's support, there are two groups that in the past have supported sports and other activities: Booster groups and ASB.

There are several booster groups at Hale: Sports Boosters, Drama Boosters, Music Boosters, Science Boosters, Robotics Boosters. The booster groups distribute money that is parent raised money. Both Cheer and Gymnastics are a part of Sport Boosters. Any money raised by parents for Cheer or Gymnastics, goes into a Cheer Booster Account or a Gymnastics Booster Account. The coaches can use this money for whatever is needed for their sport with the Sports Boosters approval. It is usually used for new equipment or buses or uniforms.

The second group is ASB. Any fundraiser a student does, that money goes to ASB. So if the Cheerleaders have a car wash, all funds from that go to ASB. If the Gymnasts have a cartwheel-a-thon, all that money raised goes to ASB. In order to access that money from ASB, the coach has to fill out a budget and submit it in April. The gymnastics coach did that and now ASB has said that they won't fund any sport even if that sport contributed to their account with student raised funds. If this is true, I will not be supporting the cartwheel-a-thon as I have in the past. By ASB not supporting sports, it essentially eliminates all possibility of the students raising funds for their activity.


Lynn said...


What does the ASB intend to do with the money? I wonder too if the officers realize this is a one-time deal. Students won't continue to fundraise if they have no ability to direct the use of those funds. If I were you, I'd contact the staff member who advises the officers.

Math Advocate said...

Can we rate the district with a VAM and student growth report based upon a failing math curriculum?

Or, should we blame the teachers?