Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Open Thread

More opt-outs of testing, this time at a school in Chicago where 300 parents have opted their children out.  In an article from Catalyst Chicago, one superintendent sent a letter to parents telling them why they shouldn't opt their children out.  One interesting note - they use the MAP test for screening AL but they have a much lower threshold than SPS.

The letter also for the first time makes clear that the NWEA/MAP will be used to determine who can sit for the selective enrollment test, but it sets the bar low. The current policy limits the selective test to those students who ranked in the 50th percentile or above on the nationally normed section of the ISAT.

Now, according to the letter, students scoring above the 24th percentile on the NWEA/MAP will be eligible to test for selective enrollment high schools. Sharkey said the new standard is low because district officials are concerned about a lot of students doing poorly.

“These new Common Core assessments are brutal,” he said.

That might be the case in the future for SPS and its use of MAP as an AL screening tool.

Another good article from The Nation on opting out, Turn On, Tune In, Opt Out.

What's on your mind?


ben said...

I've noticed a disturbing trend in communication from our school where common core rubrics and standards crop up unnecessarily.

For instance in a math night write-up:


A math project consists of all the activities used to solve a problem, explore an idea, and apply a mathematical skill or principle.

· It must include a purpose, procedure, investigation or survey, data, relationship to the Common Core math practice: Model with Mathematics, and a conclusion."

or in a nightly communication from a teacher
". I made and introduced to the kids a list of “editing essentials,” based on the Common Core State Standards."

What a bizarre way and bureaucratic way to filter and characterize learning. I fear that this odd emphasis is leaching into the classrooms too after seeing textbooks with the standards embedded all over them.

I trusted that the older state standards provided a baseline and were being adhered to without constantly having them mentioned. Is it too much to ask for the same with the new ones?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Ben, a lot of what is coming is very structured and scripted. I'm not surprised to hear this.

Mark Ahlness said...

I am not surprised, either. I used to teach in SPS, and common core has been in the works for some time.

The district had a heroic group of teachers stand up against the MAP, yes, but parents and community members need to understand Seattle and WA state are WAY behind the national pushback on the common core and standardized testing.

Where to look for guidance? NY State. Melissa often sends articles on here... Look for anything written by Carol Burris, NY State principal of the year, and outspoken critic the common core and obsessive testing. Many, many states and districts are refusing to buy into standardized testing and the common core anymore.

Here's something everybody in Seattle can do, right now, to make a difference: read Seattle pushes back on Common Core Standards and high-stakes testing, and send on the Resolution to your democratic district caucuses - today!

Maje said...

Spotted this interesting bit on Publicola today:

And in national news that will reverberate in Seattle, FLOTUS Michelle Obama has announced that, as part of her Let's Move! campaign, schools where 40 percent or more children are eligible for reduced-price meals will be able to serve free breakfasts and free lunches to every student in the school.

Marion Nestle at Food Politics reports that the changes will actually save money, because they'll mean an end to USDA paperwork requirements, school monitoring of parents' payments, schools destroying meals of kids whose families haven't paid or turning them away hungry; and students knowing who gets free meals.


Anonymous said...

I heard that SPED-PTSA and SEAAC filed a complaint with OSPI today about the delivery of SPS special education services? True? Not true? If true, I would like to know on what specific grounds. I thought the new-new-new Director and the new-new-new program delivery model were going to help end the craziness in this district's special education services.

Thank you for any information.

Sped Parent

Stop CCSS said...

There is a movement happening in WA to remove CCSS, fuzzy math, and standardized testing.

Spokane, WA has really taken off, while others are growing.

On Facebook:
Washington State Against Common Core (closed group)

Spokane, WA Against Common Core (closed group)

Puyallup-Bethel District CCS Concerns (Closed Group)

WA Bats (Badass Teachers Association)

Or if you need anonymity go to www.stopcommoncoreWA.wordpress.com

We need leaders to organize in all counties, if not by city!

Stop CCSS said...

Sped Parent,

I'm not sure what exactly the formal complaint was regarding, a few things have been discussed in the Seattle Sped PTSA group.

One big issue is RISERS, the student model school breakdown left out the SM4 inclusion program and actually has them at separate schools from the SM4 Self Contained program.

Honestly I don't see the new Student model housing situation as being any resolution, SPED in Seattle, possibly all of WA, SUCKS and continue to be poorly done.
This is especially true for those in General Ed classes (SM1) who require IEP or 504 support and resource room.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to get worried about the automatic linkage of Common Core and the over-testing. Some type of standards are here to stay and although I too have differences of opinion about some of the standards I at least appreciate the effort for most of the states to have the same standards.

Common Core is coming online around the 20-25 year mark of standards, which makes sense as we've learned a fair amount by most states redoing their standards 2-3 times so far. Granted, all the testing options (WASL, HSPE, EOC) associated with those standards are coming to a frustration boiling point. I would be disappointed to see Common Core tossed due to association with testing because it will be nice for mobile students to have the same standards in different states when they move.

As has been well documented here some testing companies can't wait to test more/earn more, but let's try to keep a Common set of standards (and the appropriate debate over making them better) separate from the testing mania.

Sea Teacher

Seriously said...

Common Core needs to be thrown out! It is failing our kids!!

Anonymous said...

OSPI is the one who should be the target of complaints. What the heck have they EVER done to make special ed better? A slap on the wrist here and there - but nothing that matters. Level 4 determination? SPS receives OSPI's lowest bar - from anywhere in the state. All empty saber rattling. But what has the district really changed in special ed as a result? Nothing at all. And even that has not motivated a single thing from OSPI. Complaint to OSPI? Good luck.

-Another Sped Parent

Anonymous said...

Seriously said, "Common Core needs to be thrown out! It is failing our kids!!"

Common Core hasn't even but just barely begun to be implemented yet so how can it already be failing our kids?

Teachers are still going through their initial 2 trainings of the year on it. Common Core testing doesn't even start this year as it's still early in the transition process to these standards. Tossing it now would be comparable to starting to empty the tub before it's even full.

I do appreciate the observations made here that some teachers are overdoing an emphasis on listing CC standards for everything they do, but I also recall seeing the same with some of the prior standards. Be it an overbearing principal or overzealous teacher trying to justify each educational step with a CC reference, there clearly are some overdoing it. Some set of standards are here to stay and, to support some level of consistency, that's good. To overtest and/or overemphasize standards for every last little educational iota... whether it's Common Core, EALRS, etc., out-of-balance is out-of-balance, but how standards are implemented is distinct from the standards themselves.

The CC standards I've reviewed for my areas are fairly decent (not perfect, but fairly decent). I want to see the implemented somewhat consistently nationally - but with an eye towards watching just how much testing goes on in regards to the standards. (This blog does keep a good eye on that frustrating excess of testing regardless of standards)

Sea Teacher

Anonymous said...

CCSS for LA/SS make the point that the district chooses the curriculum, and that the standards are not the curriculum. SPS, on the other hand, seems to be pushing CCSS as curriculum. The content in our children's LA/SS class now seems all over the place, but by golly, it's referenced to a CCSS. I don't think CCSS are the problem. I do think the SPS implementation - in the absence of a solid, coherent, sequential curriculum - is the problem.


Anonymous said...

Run schools like businesses? With accountability & performance pay? Hmmm. Another day, another story about an exhorbitantly overpaid, corrupt School Superintendent. 600k plus a 2% loan for a 900k home in a district of only 6,600 students.

And we thought MGJ was overpaid.


Breann said...

Melissa Westbrook, and other parents and teachers on this thread, please join us in the facebook group Washington State Against Common Core. We are providing parents the tools and support they need to opt out.


Breann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Po3 said...

MS Parent -

I think you have hit the nail on the head! SPS cannot do curriculum; I think it's their greatest weakness. Skilled teachers, on the other hand, do an excellent job of supplementing in the absence of a solid curriculum.
I have seen this in all subjects over the years, particularly in math.

Anonymous said...

It sure feels like SPS will end up spending more money on testing than on getting the curriculum we need.

--Prove Me Wrong

Anonymous said...

More on testing, got this (truncated) message from my (not Seattle) union rep today:

The crisis that we feared would come during the legislative session is upon us. Governor Inslee and SPI Randy Dorn proposed “compromise” legislation yesterday that would likely allow Washington to keep control of about $40 million in federal dollars for struggling students(and that $40 million is spread out over the State’s 296 school districts) by tying student test scores to teacher evaluations beginning in the 2017-18 school year.
The first thing I need you to do is to contact your legislators today! You can call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and leave a simple message for your legislators: “Vote no on any legislation that ties teacher evaluations to student test scores. We would rather lose control of the $40 million dollars than be harmed in this way.” If you have a few more minutes, you can use this link in the OurVoice system to send your legislators an email message: http://action.washingtonea.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9137 Again, the script is simple. Start with “Vote no on any legislation that ties teacher evaluation to student test scores--the $40 million in federal funding is not worth it” and then explain in your own words why this is a bad idea for your students and your profession. Both systems are very easy to use, and they will automatically send your message or email to your legislators based on your address.

You know Seattle will be chomping at the bit for this to go through. Sick.

Glad I left

Charlie Mas said...

Jay Inslee sits up and begs, then rolls over for Arne Duncan.

He wants the legislature to reverse themselves and vote to change the teacher evaluation law (again!) so that it requires the ineffective and absurdly expensive idea that student test scores MUST be part of a teacher's evaluation.

It doesn't work. It's a bad idea. 84% of teachers don't teach tested subjects. But Jay Inslee forgets all of that and does whatever Arne Duncan tells him to do for $40 million.

Mark Ahlness said...

Agreed, Charlie. And let us not forget that the implementation of all the strings required to get that $40 million will cost districts at least twice that amount. Why is that not the headline?

karen said...

Mark Alhness, why is that not the headline with any grants from Gates, either? Hey, do you want $150k? of course! Well, you need to spend $5M of your own money to get my $150k! Sure, I'll still take it and kiss your a-- on top of my $5m!

I am a proud Democrat, but voted for McKenna. If anyone watched the Gubernatorial debate, I don't know how Inslee won. It's straight from the Seinfeld episode. Who's the dufus? I'm the dufus!

Anonymous said...

Count me among the disenchanted and disollusioned along with Karen, above. I didn't vote for McKenna, because I just couldn't, given his record. But my disappointment with Obama on down for being complete sellouts and breaking literally every promise they've made has me looking elsewhere for "hope" these days. If all politics are indeed local, I'm thankful to be in a district that has Jessie Hagopian, Sue Peters, Dora Taylor and MW in its ranks. Watching Dorn and Inslee join ranks with Arne Duncan in any way, shape or form, especially in his right-wing, profit-driven fantasy world of Big Ed, it would normally make me vomit, but I've gotten so used to it, I just eat a TUMS and move on.

Oh how I hope Elizabeth Warren winds up in the White House someday. Courage, integrity and intelligence would be such a lovely change from what we have now, Dem or Repub.


Seriously said...

Common Core has been in the works for over 5 years. It started with the fuzzy math (Everyday Math) and WASL. Seattle has already used and rejected at least 3 math texts since switching to Everyday Math. Common core aligned texts include Everyday math and the other 2 previously mentioned and rejected maths. Since the start of fuzzy math more and more kids, especially boys, have been sent to resource rooms for extra math help and it is becoming common to see IEP's that limit how many different methods of multiplication (and division) are to be taught once the child grasps one method because the rest are overkill and confuse the child.

This year alone students are burned out from the heavy writing requirements in all subjects. Even PE and Lego Robotics have writing, math, history, and other required crossovers.

Like I said, it has been failing kids for years and now it's worse.