Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Washington State Waiting for Washington, D.C. on Waiver

From Education Week:

All eyes have been on Washington state since lawmakers there adjourned last month without making a key change to their teacher-evaluation system that would have enabled the state to hang on to its flexibility from the mandates of the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Act.

And now, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is on the verge of yanking Washington state's waiver, several sources say. An official decision is likely by the end of month—and if the waiver is pulled, as expected, the move would make the Evergreen State the first to lose its flexibility.

Duncan called Randy Dorn, the state schools chief, Tuesday to discuss the waiver situation, but the state didn't get official word during that conversation that the flexibility would be pulled, Nathan Olson, a spokesman for Dorn, told my colleague Andrew Ujifusa.

"We'd hoped this phone call would yield a simple yes-or-no answer to the question about whether we'd continue the waiver," said Olson. "We did not get that answer [Tuesday]." In the meantime, the state is proceeding on the assumption that it will lose its flexibility.

Updated at 4:44pm EST, from the DOE:

"We are in touch with Washington officials on the state's request to extend Elementary and Secondary Education Act flexibility. Washington has made us aware that they are unable to meet the state's commitment to create a teacher- and principal-evaluation and -support system with multiple measures, including student growth based on state assessments and other measures of professional practice. The Department has not issued a final decision yet, but we recognize that the state needs to know soon as officials prepare local budgets for next school year."

Superintendent Randy Dorn spoke before the Charter Commission recently.  Here's two choice things he said (these are my tweets):

WA Super Dorn says 95% of districts would send "failing" scl letters 2 parents but says public won't want to fund McCleary b/c of letters ?  He thinks that the general public will not wonder why 95%(!) of schools are labelled "failing" and say, "See, don't fund McCleary because it's not worth it."  I do not follow this logic at all.

In this tweet, I was perplexed that Dorn thought that the public, upon hearing that 95% of Washington state schools got "failing" letters, might not think, "Hmm, that can't be true.  That's a lot of schools to be named as "failing."  Meaning, I don't think the public would take it all that seriously.  Or, at least not to the point of say, all the schools are failing, therefore McCleary shouldn't be fulfilled.

WA State Super Dorn admits to Charter Cmmn that districts don't "lose" NCLB money, $$$ just set-aside from district budgets. Oh.  And that's what the WEA pointed out but no one wanted to hear it.  He also admitted that any money not used from the set aside (and districts generally don't use even half their NCLB slated dollars), those dollars go right back into the General Fund.

I note that it was pointed out that both SPS and Tacoma didn't use more than one-third of their NCLB dollars in the last few years.  

Dorn does think that Duncan will smack down Washington State (that's my term, not his). 

 I'm betting on a lesser punishment but we'll just have to see.

32 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I don't really understand the thinking that goes "Our schools are failing with the current level of funding which is known to be inadequate, therefore I don't think we should add to that funding at all."

That's like saying "The water level in my bath is too low with the current amount of water in it, therefore I don't think I should add any more."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, my line is always, "we don't even fund to the national AVERAGE." Okay, so don't tell me more money -yes, spent in the right ways - wouldn't make the difference.

Fund Education said...

With the exception of two schools, all the schools within Seattle will be considered failures. This is a wonderful opportunity for the Feds to look foolish.

It is also worth mentioning that the US Dept of Ed. is funded at $62B per year and $40M is chump change to the feds. This is completely about Feds controlling public ed. policy.

Seattle Public Schools had put aside dollars to fund existing supports/ programs that are being funded with RTT dollars.

There will be a lot of public mashing of teeth over this one, political grand standing etc., but it is time to stand-up to the Feds. RTT dollars can and will be used to lift caps on charter schools etc. It is time to say NO and time for Washington State legislators to fund education.

Anonymous said...

Fund Education, the $40 million to which you refer were never in jeopardy, i.e., the feds were never going to retain those dollars. As Melissa points out, the dollars are not lost if the UDDE revokes the state's waiver. Districts would lose the flexibility to spend those dollars, but they would receive them nonetheless.

And, Washington did not receive a RTTT grant, so I don't see how "RTTT dollars can and will be used to lift caps o charter schools etc." The USDE has no leverage to make any such thing happen in Washington. Yes, a group of South King County districts, including Seattle, received a district RTTT grant, but that grant has no affect on the state at large and certainly no affect on charter school caps.

Finally, while Seattle may have used only a third of their Title I set-aside for supplemental services in the past, there are school districts, especially small rural districts, in this state that depend upon those dollars to provide services to their low-income students because there are no supplemental service providers in their area. Let's not be so provincial as to assume that all districts operate as Seattle (and Tacoma) operate.

--- swk

Fund Education said...


The U. S. Department of Ed. is funded at $62B per year. They have the ability to provide funding to states. Instead, they use a meager portion to promote controversial initiatives.

The House was right to stane-up to the Feds. When will they stop attaching unproven initiatives to their dollars. PARCC did not allow teachers to speak about Common Core tests. Can we expect the same in Washington?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/the-problem-with-the-common-core.html?_r=1

There are times to say-NO.

Fund Education said...

SWK, I fully realize that flexibility would be lost and there is a chance these dollars can re-enter the system in January.

Regarding charter expansion and RTT dollars. I was using this is an illustration about the control the Feds want over policy and dollars. Perhaps, I wasn't clear.

What do you think the Feds will attach to the next RTT grant??

There will be services lost. But to be clear, if the feds wanted to support pre-school programs they could; they are choosing not to.

The Feds will use our dollars to hold us hostage to policy. With a U.S. Dept. funded at $62B per year..they could well afford to give our state dollars.

Leonard said...

swk,

Do you think Duncan won't use RTT dollars to aggressively promote charter expansion?

Fund Education said...

To be clear, Wa. State will be using SBA. Flexibility regarding fed. dollars were contingent upon linking test scores to teacher evaluations.

Will there be a gag order placed on teachers that prevent them from speaking about SBA? The same test that would be linked to teacher evaluation? The same test that would determine usage of federal dollars?

Oh Please said...

swk,

Do you doubt that Duncan won't use RTT dollars to control education policy?

Anonymous said...

Fund Education, Leonard, and Oh Please, what RTTT funds are you talking about? Let me repeat: Washington DID NOT receive a RTTT grant (at least the one that demanded a charter school expansion) and, therefore, has no obligation to expand charter schools in this state. No federal obligation whatsoever.

Yes, Seattle and other South King County districts received a district RTTT grant but (and I repeat) it is has no affect on the state at large and certainly no affect on statewide charter school caps. And yes, Washington did receive an early learning RTTT grant, but it has nothing to do with charters.

And if you're asking my opinion regarding the "next RTTT dollars," I will give my opinion: There will not be a next round of RTTT dollars. The RTTT dollars came from Congressional stimulus funds provided to the USDE as well as other federal agencies --- that was one-time money. The chances of Congress (particularly House Republicans) giving the President and Secretary Duncan another dime of discretionary funds is somewhere between slim and none.

So, do I think the USDE wants to control education policy? I absolutely do. But the leverage that the USDE has is slowly dwindling. They can't leverage RTTT dollars that we don't have and, if they revoke our NCLB waiver, that's just one less piece of leverage. And I repeat, there won't be any more RTTT dollars. That's gone. And this is why I'm with Melissa on the waiver --- Duncan's not going to bring the hammer down on Washington over the waiver because it would take away his last piece of leverage to force us to his will.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Fund Education, I'm assuming by SBA you mean the Smarter Balanced assessments.

(1) NCLB Flexibility (or waivers) is contingent upon the use of STATE test scores in teacher evaluation (and the SBA will be the state test next year). Our state has said that we will not require state test scores in teacher evaluation and, therefore, we will not require SBA scores in teacher evaluation. It is for this reason that we may have our NCLB waiver revoked.

(2) What gag order? There is no gag order against speaking out against the test. Teachers spoke out against the WASL all the time as they do about the MSP, HSPE, and EOCs and as they will about the SBA. If by gag order, you mean teachers may not share test questions with their students, peers, and the public, that is correct. But it's not a gag order. It's good policy.

(3) On your statement regarding "the test that would determine usage of federal dollars," I must admit that I don't know what you are talking about. What federal dollars? The state doesn't have to use SBA or PARCC. So, I'm unclear as to your point.

--- swk

Oh Please said...

swk,

Regarding #3- Washington State used millions of children to pilot Smarter Balanced Asseessments this year. Are you saying Washington State won't be using SBA?? The Feds also had their hand in Common Core and Wa. State.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please, there are about a million students total in Washington, so to say that "Washington State used millions of children to pilot Smarter Balanced Assessments this year" is a pretty big exaggeration given only about 20% of students field tested. But I guess that's neither here nor there.

Washington state will be using the SBA starting next year but I'm still unclear as to the federal dollars that will be determined by SBA.

--- swk

Oh Please said...

swk,

Regarding#2 There are many practice exams for standardized tests. Tests that are given, throughout the years, are relinquished as practice tests. So, I'm not sure what you are talking about.

Oh Please said...

swk,

So, you seem to be minimizing the use of ONE MILLION Washington State children. Do you not count the 3.5M children used to test SBA in California and what about other states? Interesting.

Signing-off.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please, yes, practice tests have been released for the Smarter Balanced assessments and other test items will be released on practice tests. However, NONE of these test items will be used the operational tests in the future

Of course teachers can share practice test items all they want --- they're already in the public domain. On the other hand, teachers are not allowed to share operational test items with students or anyone else. As a matter of fact, teachers shouldn't be looking at operational tests at all.

--- swk

Oh Please said...

swk states: " The state doesn't have to use SBA or PARCC"

We'll see about that. I'm placing my bets that Wa. State students WILL take SBA next year.

Anonymous said...

Oh Please, what are you talking about? When did I minimize ONE MILLION Washington students? I said there were one million TOTAL students in Washington and about 20% of them field tested the SBA --- so it was about 200,000. And why are you bringing up 3.5 million students in CA and other states now? You referred only to WASHINGTON STATE students previously. Let's not change the goal posts now.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Oh Please, who's arguing about whether or not WA will use SBA next year? Didn't I say they would? I did. So we are in agreement.

My point above is that Washington state is under no federal obligation to use SBA or PARCC.

--- swk

Melissa Westbrook said...

"practice tests have been released for the Smarter Balanced assessments and other test items will be released on practice tests. However, NONE of these test items will be used the operational tests in the future."

You know this how? I'd be willing to bet money some items will appear but, of course, neither of us can prove that.

Anonymous said...

swk,that's true. You are just too darn matter of fact about it. It's a war don't you know. I'm not sure who's the enemy at the end of the class day, but time to roar and charge and yell and stomp and get weally, weally upset. The munition makers win at the end of the day whatever side they are on.

civilian

Anonymous said...

Melissa, while neither of us can prove it, I would bet a pretty sum that this would not occur. To place a released item (i.e., those that have appeared in the public domain on practice tests, etc.) on an operational test would (1) be a violation of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and (2) invalidate the results of student performance on that item if it were discovered that a released item appeared on an operational test.

Therefore, it is simply not done.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

It's not a war, but it is an equity issue. Bill Gates and President Obama are forcing everyone else to do what their children don't have to do.

It's always a privilege to be on the sidelines, civilian. I envy you, really. Except when you sound like an armchair general.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

swk,

If you were a student in my class, I'd adore you. I mean that.

But that blind submission to authority in an adult scares me.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

enough already, you're apparently assuming that I'm not part of the authority.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Now you sound like Cartman from South Park.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Now you sound like Cartman from South Park.

As long as you gotta serve somebody, i.e. have to get up and work in the morning, you ain't the "authoritie".

--enough already

Anonymous said...

enough already, I would ask that you ease up on the sarcasm and insults directed at me. I don't attack you --- just your arguments --- but you somehow feel justified in insulting me and I ask that you refrain from doing so in the future.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Um no, enough already, my war history tells me civilians are more fodder and refugee material than armchair general (at least in my personal experience). My read is that you and swk are not that far apart in this and on other postings, hence your southpark brawl.

civ


Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, let's get past the snark and have a real discussion. I'm not considering calling someone like Cartman "name-calling" but I'm not sure it helps the discussion.

Miss Waterloo said...

"enough already, you're apparently assuming that I'm not part of the authority."

Do tell, swk.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Enough on who is who.

Don't make me say it again, please