Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Open Thread

Update:  there is one Director Community meeting tomorrow - with Director Carr - from 8:30-10 am at Bethany Community Church with  a hard stop at 10 am as the Board also has its Board retreat tomorrow from 10:30-3:00 pm at JSCEE.  I would put up the agenda but it is not available.  Why it isn't available is always a mystery (although here's the Board agenda for the next school board meeting). I'll lay odds there will be discussion of preschool (which staff does want to do) and bell times (which staff doesn't want to do).  Good luck, Board members.

End of update.
(No, I am not officially back but I feel for Charlie.)  I see a lot has been happening.

It appears that the district IS creating a taskforce on Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment (PRSH), apply by September 26th.

The district also wants public comments on the new 21-page Superintendent's Procedure on Sexual Harassment.

I also note that there is a district narrative of the "Garfield High School Field Trip."  I'm not sure I believe it is correct but that's their story and they are sticking to it.  (That may change if any legal action happens against the district.)

The big smackdown from the Supreme Court over McCleary did not happen as the Supreme Court allowed the Legislature this session to get - this - done.   But I can only say that I recall being much more worried about my mother when she was angry and quiet than angry and loud.

Besides getting McCleary done, it would be unwise for any legislator - or group of legislators - to believe that you can pit public education against social services.  If only it would be that easy but no, the Legislature is actually going to have to do some real work - rescinding tax breaks, cutting pet programs or gasp! maybe even an income tax.

From the "With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies" file comes a video that I suppose is in support of Common Core. It is by turns offensive, vague and just plain useless.  Apparently this marketing firm, Six One Seven Studios, did this all by itself (out of the goodness of their hearts).

From Politico:
Too many of the pro-Common Core videos were PowerPoints and talking heads,” Roberts said. “So we put out this video to help folks see the power of telling a fun but simple story with real people.”  I don't believe this story is simple (although Grandpa comes off like a simpleton) or those were "real" people.

Their website says they do "innovative, engaging and authentic" work.  If this is a good example of their work, they should worry.

What's on your mind?


Kate Martin said...

I wrote a piece about the Garfield HS field trip and put it up at my blog. Please take a look. Thanks.

Carolyn Leith said...

Join us September 25th at 7PM for a free, private showing of STANDARDIZED Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education. Click on link for details or to RSVP.

The Future Will NOT be Standardized

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kate, we had a discussion but I did not think you would be airing these views so publicly. I'm not sure it helps the situation and it seems to be a finger wag at the girl and not the boy. And, you seem to brush off the very policies and procedures that might have prevented this incident.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kate the witch hunt was getting out of control.


mirmac1 said...

BREAKING NEWS: Seven schools were ordered to have kids “shelter in place” for about an hour after the shooting at 2:10 p.m. A number of schools were letting out around that time and students were brought back into the buildings, she said

Anonymous said...

The Seattle District responds only when shamed by public outrage, media, and the efforts of families. Task forces are only as good as compliance and the District has a terrible track record. Procedures were in force when the victim was raped but never followed. Just posted:


Anonymous said...

I haven't read what detractors may have said but the school district knows perfectly well the Garfield victim was raped and that their chaperoning was negligent.
Anyone can read the documents on SPS Leaks response to Kaiser Oct 28, 2013 which should be there.

Informed opinion serves the common good. We are doing this to spare other student/families and for those who came before and were silenced. Otherwise why spend precious time in our senior years in this manner?

Anonymous said...

Superintendent headed to White House

Seattle Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland is one of a select group of superintendents nationwide invited to the White House on September 15 by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

Nyland is one of two superintendents from Washington state and 30 nationwide who will participate in the Let’s Move! Active Schools Leadership Roundtable. The Roundtable will bring together the superintendents to discuss strategies to improve the health and well-being of our nation's youth.

Really, with all the problems Nyland running off to DC....

What aJOKE

Anonymous said...


This was not rape, read the facts.
Just two stupid kids. No one could have stopped what happened, maybe it would have not accrued on the school trip ,but it would have happened some other time and place.

Lets put our focus back on education or the lack of education going on at SPS, now that's worthy of a witch hunt.


Charlie Mas said...

PP, you plainly state that no rape occurred. How do you reckon that?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Kate Martin's blog post is so offensive and victim-blaming! I can't believe she put that in print.


Anonymous said...

Remember, police once had to remove Kate form Roosevelt for causing a disruption.


BS said...

PP - what facts are you reading? Please tell us where the facts are.

Kim said...


Why does your blog post not mention the inconsistencies in the boy's reports after the incident? Why does it not mention that there was a witness who reported seeing a rape? Why does it not mention the medically confirmed genital injury to the girl?

If you want to try to be fair, then actually be fair. If you want to say that none of us know what actually happened, then don't try to make this into a hookup situation. Just say we don't know, but here are the facts, ALL of the facts.

I do agree with much of what you said regarding how SPS handled the case. And that is the real issue here: SPS has a legal (and dare I say moral) obligation to perform certain duties when a student reports a sexual assault. They did not fulfill their duties - that is the problem.

mirmac1 said...

Okay SWWS, I appreciated your input re: OCR on another thread. But I object to your non sequiter re: Kate at Roosevelt. WTH does that have to do with rape and the district's mishandling of it? I have, at times, considered taking action similar to Kate's - not on the behalf of my child, but protecting the interest of one more vulnerable. Do you think the SPS admin's move to call 911 an appropriate response?

Anyway, not sure if we're on the same page but I would like to think we are...

Carol Simmons said...

I strongly encourage everyone to read Kate's post. I found it to be a courageous post as she has presented personal examples of her own experiences. I certainly did not read it to mean that Kate would not support policies that would or could prevent this incident from occurring. Rather, I know that Kate has argued for policies and the implementation of policies that positively serve all students.

Anonymous said...

3 people see a strange light in the night sky.

One claims it's a space ship from another planet. Another claims it's just an airplane. The third calls it a UFO.

In reality they all could be correct or wrong. It's up to the person to convince. Same thing in this situation would a jury see it was did it turn from consensual to forced when she came to his room and consented?

One person sees a rape another doesn't for your so convinced then why don't you fund a lawyer and sue the boy you call a rapist. Why keep dragging this on and on? Let the legal experts sort this out and lets get back to education which is the only reason schools exist per the state constitution.


Lynn said...

Kate Martin,

"What was likely consensual vaginal sex" Could you share what led you to that conclusion? What particular action of this child are you interpreting as consent to intercourse?

Oh here's your explanation: "I don’t know if alcohol was involved, but I can imagine it might have been." And "Given the hook up mentalities of many kids today – often very young ones – I can certainly see how this could happen and traumatize a girl whether she agreed to it or not." I guess you haven't heard about The Myth of the Hookup Culture? Do you still believe in rainbow parties too?

Here's a good one " With the changing stories the girl told – from he entered her cabin uninvited to she entered his cabin for vaginal sex willingly – one might wonder if regret led her to craft the rape accusation. Who knows?" She never reported she'd entered his cabin for vaginal sex. Now you're just making things up.

Honestly, I cannot believe how many mature, educated seemingly reasonable women are coming out with this crap.

I hope that poor child never finds your blog post.

Leo said...

Kate is entitled to her opinions. The personal attacks for individuals sharing their opinions is getting old.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lynn said...

I agree with Charlie that our focus should be on the district and the total lack of compliance and accountability.

I won't hold my tongue when someone shares their uninformed opinion that the student probably consented, should have made better choices, etc.

mirmac1 said...


Right except you're wrong. This victim, like many others (including wives - remember when they showed their consent BY MARRYING! Or perhaps use the moving donut analogy) did not consent. So you'll have to gin up some other instance, maybe someone you know, who did what you suggest.

Anonymous said...

My point is only that Kate seems to cast a heap load of judgment on a child and say that because there was no arrest there was no rape. I find it ironic because she has always claimed that the police action against her was unjust. If the only measure of truth is if law enforcement takes action, the she needs to rethink her own storyline, I am not a fan of hypocrisy.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Regarding hooking up:

The victim was clear of drugs and alcohol. The victim did not enter the assailant's cabin for vaginal sex as conjectured. There were boys and girls present in the boys cabin after curfew. Teachers allowed them to do this without monitoring their comings and goings. If the kids wanted to "hook up" they could have gone into the woods. Read the NPS investigation in the Oct. 18 2013 document. Several went out into the woods. A boy was found under a girl's bed and terrorized her. Two girls slept the whole night in the boys cabin--we don't know their story. The teachers were off in a distant location not chaperoning in the slightest. The victim went to hear the boy's problems. Grooming. He was disciplined for talking about anal sex before he assaulted her anally that night. NPS report. He had a history of having "consensual" sex in the bushes with a girl in middle school. The District provided this document. Yet the teachers didn't see fit to chaperone him or the others who were allowed to come and go as if they were college students.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This should help the people who have a misplaced focus on sexual assault instead of focusing on the negligence that led to this easily preventable tragedy:

“As I've said before, the US Attorney has not determined that no sexual assault occured [sic], but that we do not have a case that can be successfully prosecuted in court. Colin Smith Chief Ranger Olympic National Park 360 565-3110 Date: Fri, 27 Sep 2013 07:30:00 -0700


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

MC/PP/FTW your misogyny and racism rears its ugly head again. How about you

Get Overyourself

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am fairly disgusted by this discussion. I would suggest that if you want to have a full-out, no holds barred discussion of Kate's remarks, go to Kate's blog. We also do NOT allow slurs or race-baiting remarks.

Moving on.

mosfet said...


With all due respect, it would have helped your article immensely if you'd done more research beyond reading a few news articles. Before you accuse someone of crying rape, please do a little research.

To cite one example, you state that there was "what was likely consensual vaginal sex," despite the fact that the unnamed boy -- both when being interviewed by the district investigator and by the FBI investigator -- specifically stated that he hadn't had vaginal sex with the girl (Response to Kaiser Assault Report, pg 27; Kaiser Report, pg 11). You'll also note how the boy's story changes between the FBI investigation and the district investigation.

If you'd like to read the many documents assembled by the parents (such as the one I cited), you can find them on their Facebook page, Stop Sexual Assault In High School.

Prosleep Mom said...

On an entirely different topic:
1) I was thinking of going to the Board retreat tomorrow to hear what will happen with bell time changes. Can I bring a sign, or anything to protest if they de-prioritize the work they've committed to?
2) At a board meeting this summer Rainier Beach HS asked for a start time variance to support their SIG grant. The money was approved, but their start time is the same 7:50 as most everyone else. Does anyone know the story?

Anonymous said...

Kate, if you only ended with this statement:

"I don’t know and you don’t know what actually happened on the Garfield High School field trip to Olympic National Park in 2012, but we know it wasn’t good."

It's fair to call for moderation with regards to the boy. Perhaps that was your motivation behind this.

But everything else is speculation and harms more than help. We shouldn't be trying this case on any blogs.


mirmac1 said...

Okay SWWS, thanks again. Sorry if I read something different into your post. This happens to me all the time.

joanna said...

For the purposes of this blog, it is better to stick to the topic of policies and procedures. This was a school sponsored event and the chaperones and those in charge of the chaperones and organizing the trip were obviously not doing their jobs. This is where the District responsibility lies. My children attended Garfield and I know for a fact that many group trips were designed in a way where this stuff would not happen.

Puffin said...

People are welcome to their theories and speculations about what happened during the Garfield field trip fiasco. Most everyone realizes that the chaperoning was negligent to allow such a situation to occur in the first place. Most everyone understands that the District's handling of the reported assault was disastrous. Contrary to what the District wants you to believe, it's not about proving whether an assault occurred. It's about casual attitudes towards policies and procedures in place to ensure student safety and absence of accountability if those policies are flaunted; it's about ignorance of civil rights laws in place to ensure a child's right to an education without harassment and retaliation. Go ahead, conjecture about the details of that November night to your heart's content. In the end, that's not what this episode teaches us nor what we should learn from it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bravo, Puffin.

Joe Wolf said...

Today, in The Onion.,36919/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview:1:Default

Charlie Mas said...

It's Saturday morning and still no agenda for the Board retreat posted online.

Is that a violation of the Open Meetings Act?

Anonymous said...

The agenda is up now.


The morning agenda is focused policies pertaining to the role of the Board.


- Review 2013-14 Governance Priorities

- Review Governance Priorities already committed for 2014-15

- Selection of Board’s 2014-15 Governance Priorities

- North-end Mom

Charlie Mas said...

Why does the Board even bother with their annual priorities? Can't they see that the district staff doesn't bother with them?

Lynn said...

The morning session sounds like it will be pretty interesting

 How the Board works together, resolves differences
o Board Code of Conduct/Operating Norms
 How the Board and Staff work together, resolve differences
o Policies/Role of the Board
 RCWs governing School Boards
 Policy No. 1005, Responsibilities & Authority of the Board
 Policy No. 1220, Board Officers & Duties of Board Members
 Policy No. 1640, Responsibilities & Authority of the Superintendent
 Policy No. 1225, Legislative Program and Advocacy
o Process/Protocols
 Communications Protocol
 Policy No. 1620 and Board Procedure 1620BP, Board-Superintendent Relationship

mirmac1 said...

At retreat

Marty wants to talk about: How to take criticism, the concept of "micromanagement", and Don Neilsen's (mistaken) belief that it's not the board's job to influence staff in initiatives before staff's formulation of same.

Staff wants to have a robust dialogue, and priorities.

mirmac1 said...

I like this facilitator. She is not leading everyone by the nose, with the Don Nielsen slant. She is approaching this from a purely organizational aspect.

mirmac1 said...

"Lack of trust" raised many times this morning. One solution offered is more transparency.

Why must we keep asking for this?

Anonymous said...

What is lack of trust context? Board to staff? Board on behalf of constituents to staff? Staff to Board? Superintendent to either/both?

There is work to be done in all areas. Yes, staff to board, but board does not get a hallpass either. The majority of them, Marti possibly excepted, have work to do too. Toward each other, toward constituents and toward staff.

veteran watcher

mirmac1 said...

Interesting. Nyland intros the 2nd part of the retreat. Offers an experienced, reasonable voice. But then passes off to Erinn Burnett. Hmmmm. She presents past and present "governance" priorities.

Last years' were:

Implementation of CCSS
Budget Sustainability and Alignment to Strategic Plan (huh? related?)
Capacity Management and Growth Boundaries
Equitable Access Framework
PG&E Implementation and Alignment to TPEP

Staff recommends the following for this year (including one already established):

Bell times analysis
Special Education
Budget Sustainability
Capacity Management

Board is asked to pick three.

Anonymous said...

Pick three? Wow.

No preschool initiative?

Stewardship? Was there an explanation as to what this encompasses?

- North-end Mom

Linh-Co said...

Who makes the agenda? Why do we keep talking about governance? Hasn't this been the same focus for over 2 years? Aren't there more pressing problems in the district than governance?

I'm also saddened to see the board taking so much heat on the Garfield "rape" issue. Why isn't the heat directed at the staff and Ron English? He is the general counsel overseeing and representing the district. What are people expecting from the board? Should the board admit full responsibility for inadequacies in chaperoning and shelling out money to the family? I don't think any of us would do better in their position.

Anonymous said...

In the context of the OSPI and soon federal eyes on SPS Special Education and the half million they're going to be spending to avoid an OSPI takeover this year, how can Special Education be presented as an optional priority??? That doesn't make any sense. The Board should not tolerate such a set of nonsensical options.


Eric B said...

Pick three, huh? Well, I think we just shouldn't do Special Education and Capacity Management anymore. Who needs that stuff anyway?

Good grief, that's ridiculous. Of course they have to do SpEd and CM. That's part of the job of running a district. The notion of putting non-optional things on the "pick from these" list is insulting to the board at best.

WV: Oh no "you doednt!"

Anonymous said...

I'm almost afraid to ask, but what ever happened to middle school and high school math adoption?

- North-end Mom

mosfet said...

@Joe Wolf, thank you for posting the link to the Onion!

Josh Hayes said...

I was asked at a job interview the other day how I felt about standards-based grading. I was not aware anyone in SPS was using this approach; can anyone chime in with how widespread the practice is?

For what it's worth, it does seem to be "the coming thing", but it relies so deeply on 1) well-defined, unambiguous standards, and 2) similarly well-defined exemplars of mastery criteria for those standards. I have not seen either of these put in place (although the standards in some areas are pretty solid, IMO), so I'd be leery of attempting this in any area with even a hint of subjectivity (i.e. math is probably okay.... but other than that?).

So, is this in place at your school? What do you think about it, especially in comparison with the traditional ABCDF (or E) grading scheme?

Anonymous said...

Yes Josh!!! Standards Based Grades is everywhere and it sucks massively, esp if your kid has a disability. How do you apply standards based grades if the kid has a disability? That is, the kid is NOT standard in the first place. Evidently, they should just be happy with their 1/D's forever! They say Standards Based Grades is great because "it's all in the IEP". Guess what? The only thing in an IEP is a checkbox to say whether or not a kid should have "modified grades", and nothing about how those grades should be modified. Anyway. What teacher reads IEPs anyway? None that I know. And, what about all those subjects that aren't "disability" subjects? Like History and Science. How do you do Standard's Based Grades with a non-standard kid in social studies and science? Ask any principal how this should be done. You will get a vacant stare, and then a glance at their watch, a few drums of the finger nails on the desk... obviously hoping that you will go away quickly.

The whole premise of Standards Based Grades is ridiculous. 1) effort doesn't matter 2) class preparation doesn't matter 3) collaboration with others doesn't matter 4) how much growth you made doesn't matter. if you're behind, or ahead doesn't matter. Only where you are vs a standard. 5) Parents need to know that their kid sucks, with many different measured, including MAP, Amplify, Psych tests, and especially grades. All these measures should say "sucks" or "brilliant". We need all reported measures to agree with "suck" or "brilliant". Parents will be confused if a state test reports "below average" but a good grade is issued. (Parents are pretty dumb too and can't work that out.) 6) Students with disabilities, not "at standard" need to be punished by forfeiting their participation in after school activities due to standards based grades. Nobody should get to do sports or anything else fun - if they suck (not at standard) for any reason. 7) only test scores on content matter.

The reality is collaboration is the most important life skill, and effort is a close second. How well you demonstrated "mastery", the one way the teacher knows how to measure it - matters the least in the long run. Sure, it is still important.

The good news is that no high school would ever, EVER, do standard's based grades - because then their graduates wouldn't get into any good colleges, and that would suck for the high school. Guess what? Magic! Standards Based Grades is a non-starter for high school.

Eddie Speddie

Linh-Co said...

Whitman does Standards-Based Grading. It is stupid for everyone not just kids with learning disabilities. Homework is not checked because only tests count. Kids figure out pretty quickly if homework doesn't count they don't have to do it. You can retake tests as many times as possible. You cant' get a level 4 unless you do extra credit. If you do only the requirement, then the most you can get is a level 3 because you aren't exceeding standards. We hated it!

Linh-Co said...

It was a push from OSPI a few years ago. Thank God our high school does not buy into this bs.

Once again, it's another untested educational fad. I don't know who comes up with this crap.

Wondering said...

Any chance Denny Middle School is pushing Standards Based Grading?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Most of the time at the retreat was about how district staff interacts with the Board? Obviously, there's a problem and I have to wonder how much is being amplified.

I also wonder about the lack of notation about the whole preschool issue. Until Mirmac 1 put up the link to the New School Foundation page, I had no idea there was this kind of linkage with the City, New School and SPS. And this new
P-5 idea coming from Early Learning? Who is pushing this and why? And why does it appear some staff seem to work for the City more than the district?

I will have more to say on the pre-K plans and the vote but parents, you should be aware that there are forces moving quickly to consolidate this issue in SPS.

Anonymous said...


There was discussion of standards based grading on this blog in an open thread Jan 18, 2013.

-HS Parent

mirmac1 said...

Oh yeah Melissa. Like $1M BMGF worth of momentum.

How is it staff can go out and grub for grants on stuff that is: not a priority, and entails encumbering district resources?

Transparency Please said...

"I also wonder about the lack of notation about the whole preschool issue. Until Mirmac 1 put up the link to the New School Foundation page, I had no idea there was this kind of linkage with the City, New School and SPS. And this new
P-5 idea coming from Early Learning? Who is pushing this and why? And why does it appear some staff seem to work for the City more than the district?"

I think the effort of Stuart Sloan is to create a prek-5 program similar to S. Shore, and this isn't a bad idea. However, we're seeing the same individuals that seek to place control within Seattle's business class. I absolutely agree the city's effort is to place more and more control into the hands of Seattle's business and political establishments. No thanks.

The union wants to protect children in 4500 child care centers from felons. We can't turn our backs on children in potentially harmful hands.

It is time to vote NO on both initiatives and send the city and the union back to the table. The message must be clear: The city is to keep their hands off of our schools. Burgess and his desire to "measure" impact of Family and Ed. Levy has controlled testing policies. I'm also concerned, if the city's initiative passes, that we will see the city try and control technology purchases etc. The hands of those that can profit are close to the city's plan- particularily if we start providing online learning for preschool children. I'm not convinced that preschool children should be on computers.

Prosleep Mom said...

There were a number of strange things about the Board retreat. One was the discussion about what setting these priorities would mean anyway. Several of them were stuff that has to be done in any case (budget, capacity,) so people wondered why those should be prioritized. It was explained that the priorities would be used to accelerate work in one area over another when things had to get done. Brent (new HR head) said he would interpret this as focusing hard on SPED hiring, since it's a priority, vs something else (replacing Tracy??) But it didn't seem that either Board or Staff was crystal clear on the purpose of this exercise.

I was also really shocked that hardly anyone voted to prioritize capacity- Sue Peters did, and Marty gave a 1/2 vote; they were the only ones. I asked a Board member about this afterward, and she implied the district had a plan and it wasn't really an issue. I'm guessing I'm not the only one who would like to hear this plan! They spoke of capacity as being in implementation mode for BEX IV, and gearing up for the BTA levy-but that was it.

Sue Peters also had good questions MTSS- how much of this program is assessments and how much is supports. Tolley fielded this question and basically did not answer it; he talked about setting baselines and making people aware of the kids who have problems. (Really?? couldn't they just ask the teachers and the principals? They are probably quite aware of who is failing and who is getting suspended...) Anyway, they now seem to have the baseline data so hopefully can start implementing support. (And does anyone know of other districts who have used MTSS and how successful it was? The Board was really behind it, but I've missed learning about the studies or experience that support it.)

Finally, I think this priorities issue could be vastly improved by creating concrete goals for the priority areas, with what improvement is expected, by when, and who is responsible. The only concrete results I've seen from these retreats in the past year is the Bell times framework, which at least outlines a plan. (So far,it's about two months behind schedule, but we did lose a super, and have a couple other major crises to deal with; it is still possible to get on track and at least we have a track.)

The tone was much improved from the last one; people seemed willing to work together, and the facilitation was much better as well. I wasn't present for the morning session and so can't speak to that.

An aside- I also learned that the Strategic Plan now has metrics- you can see them here:

Prosleep Mom said...

Data request: I can't seem to find:

the Spring 2014 Transportation report.

I think kellie posted the link a few weeks ago. Could someone re-post it?


Lynn said...

Here's a link to the Spring Transportation Report.

Here's a link to the source.

Anonymous said...

Right on Linh-Co. Homework doesn't count in Standards Based Grades - because well, effort doesn't count. It is irrelevant. (Gee, effort and persistence are the KEY skills middle schoolers should learn. All of them. Duh!)

A few things that the district training said about Standards Based Grading - all completely bogus.
1) Standards based grading fixes the achievement gap (because minorities won't suffer discrimination) and minorities will do better with Standards Based Grades as they won't be graded on cultural aberrations. That is obviously stupid. The achievement gap is exacerbated on all Standard's based measures, because they are the measures and norms of the majority. Look at any standardized testing results and you will see results that are skewed against minorities. At least with other forms of grading - teachers are free to assess whole children, and base grades all sorts of growth, and different values. Minorities, and people with any sort of difference, are screwed by Standards Based Grades. Only "standard" people benefit from Standards Based Grades.

2) Standards Based Grading fixes the dreaded "GPA" inflation. I remember people whining about grade inflation when I was in high school eons ago. Seriously. Nothing bad has happened because of "grade inflation". Colleges have a whole plethora of assessments and standardized tests available on all applicants. There is no harm in some other measures as well.

3) Standards Based Grades is the same as a workplace review system. Again ridiculous. Collaboration and persistence are the most important workplace skills. And butt-kissing is the most rewarded. If we want grading to be "like the work place", we would grade butt-kissing, collaboration, persistence... and THEN content. Besides, who really cares about workplace review methodology? Kids are still in school right? WOrkplaces FIRE people. Do we want to fire kids from school?

4) Everyone is moving to SBG. As Linh-Co and others point out. No high school would ever damage it's reputation by lowering everyone's GPA. The only reason they're doing Standards Based Grades in middle schools - is because middle school grades really don't matter. If middle school grades mattered at all, nobody would do standard's based grades.

Eddie Spedie

Anonymous said...

If we want to grade kids on effort, how do you know how much effort a kid put in? Maybe one kid spent 3 hours going through flash cards & one kid didn't even make flashcards. Should they get different grades?

I am bothered by high school grades where a student can get a good grade & not know the material or fail the class when they do know the material. I think that is why we have kids in algebra who can't do fractions. I would rather have the grade reflect their mastery & some teacher comments about how well behaved & hard working they are, or not.

As a sped parent I got a little fed up with being told that my kid didn't need specially designed instruction because because he was graded on classroom compliance instead of competency.

-Also Sped

Anonymous said...

Kate, I am disappointed in your blame the victim piece. You should have just focused on the failings of the district.


Josh Hayes said...

I'll agree with darn near everything the above two commentators had to say about SBG, but I will also point out that it IS used with some regularity in high schools in the vicinity of Seattle -- just not in SPS high schools (that I know of). Many of the interns from my cohort last year were using SBG in their classrooms, both high school and middle school. Now, how a college admissions office would deal with that I do not know, but I'm sure they sigh when they see it.

Really, I think the SBG approach begs the question of the purpose of grading: it assumes a particular purpose, but it is far from clear that that assumption is justified.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton is moving toward SBG as well. Here's my question: if you're going to do SBG and you give some sort of pretest at the beginning of a unit, if a kid gets an A can they just tune out and skip all the rest of the work and assessments until they get to the new unit? Or can they just take a summative assessment that covers the whole quarter up front, then have free time if they pass that? There are a lot of kids who meet the standards at the outset, and would continue to meet them if they stayed home and just came for the final assessment. How does SBG work for them? I haven't been able to get a good handle on this.


Linh-Co said...

Retaking a test 2 or 3 times and getting an A doesn't mean you have mastery. It just means you did test prepping. Do we really want to teach to the test?

Standards Based Grading doesn't do better teaching to mastery.

Anonymous said...

Incorrect about SGB. What the hell is with this blog? It's knee-jerk reactionarism astounds yet again. SGB as implemented in my school, it is fantastic. Clear expectations and procedures. Content not important? No Grade kids on behavior? No "extra credit"? No, more like if you go deeper, ask five instead of three questions and answer them, all homework on time(yes, homework counts). Go get a syllabus from a school that uses SBG.
Kids are not getting passed unless they know the material and kids aren't getting A's unless they do high quality work. There is wiggle room at the "exceeds standard" end which allows teachers to be tough on the high achievers and high ability kids. But you must pass your tests. Yes, you get to retake, not endlessly(come on!)but you will only get a 3(B) maximum posted, no above standard allowed on a retake.
it's actually more helpful in LA and SS as it pushes kids to get past that 3 or B(at standard). The requirements to do so are clearly spelled out for each assignment and students have the option to go past standard or not. As I said, the teacher has discretion on demanding more from those who can do it. For middle school it's great. Drives kids forward and allows differentiation.
In HS I suppose it needs to be more rigid, but in middle school, I'm sold.

Parental unit

Anonymous said...

HIMSMom, if a child can meet every single standard in a class at the beginning, they are in the wrong class. Parental Unit, we are in a school outside of Seattle in a district that uses SBG. It is a district with a large number of minority students and having been through middle and now high school, I do not see ANY kids getting a pass, nor kids getting left behind. IN fact, what I've seen is the ability of a student to move ahead one or even two grades in math by showing that they've met the standards in the tradional math assigned to that grade.

Every standard has multiple sub-standards and kids can work on meeting them the same way traditional school students do. They read chapters in textbooks, lectures, quizzes, tests, research papers, and all of them has standards attached to them. Sometimes homework counts towards a standard, sometimes it is just practice. The students use traditional textbooks.

There ARE allowed retakes in SOME situations, but we saw that in the traditional, non SBG schools too.
Linh-Co-aren't you supposed to be some sort of expert in education? Just because Whitman does it that way doesn't mean EVERYONE does it that way. Honestly, if I didn't know my kid's high school did standards-based grading, I would never know it from the syllabi that I saw at the beginning of the year.

I'm sure there are people unhappy with this system, but our child is thriving and we've noticed none of the problems being talked about here (with the exception of one class, a non-core, parents complained and things were changed).

Another parentalunit

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though SBG is being implemented differently in different schools. We had one teacher that only gave 1, 2, 3, or 4 grades that were translated to percentages. There were no in between grades, so a 4 meant absolutely perfect. Meeting standards, while exceeding standards on some points still meant only a 3. It was not motivating and could be maddening for perfectionist types. I understand some of the vitriol for SBG.

Josh Hayes said...

Wow, for those of you for whom SBG works well, I would love to see the rubrics for the standards and how they are evaluated in science classes. But the fact that they are apparently being applied differently across schools means that they are not comparable -- and isn't comparability the main selling point? That someone meeting standards at school X perforce has the same mastery as someone meeting standard at school Y?

How, I wonder, are these standards laid out and applied in language arts classes? I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm really interested in this. I'm a science teacher, and I wonder how, say, my biology students would be graded on SBG. I just can't see it. Of course, with the EOC, I have the luxury of having a state-sanctioned test which claims to test competence on the state biology standards.

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to Spokane Public Schools' info about their use of SBG.

here's syllabus for a 9th grade biology course using SBG in Minnesota, don't ya know.

As you can see there is not just one cast in concrete methodology.It's a little flexible.
Very interesting about grades being only about content, everything else is separate.
Also using the latest trend rather than averaging the whole semester. Several references to the studies showing academic growth better than any other intervention.

Food for thought.


Anonymous said...

You don't have to go as far as Spokane or Minnesota. Federal Way uses SBG. Here is the link to standards for all subjects, including LA:

Josh, as a parent, these LA standards make perfect sense to me for a high school freshman: "Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the
course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details..."

My student read The Kite Runner and Fahrenheit 451, among others, and had show she could meet the above standards. The report card showed all standards and at what level she met them. Why would this be confusing?

Another parentalunit

Anonymous said...

What are the "standards" in SBG? Is SBG supposed to be based on the grade-level standards (e.g., CCSS), course-specific learning objectives, some combination of the two, or something else?

Whatever the case, I assume SBG works a lot better when there's a defined curriculum--clear learning targets, consistency across classes, etc. Am I wrong?


Josh Hayes said...

Thanks for the input, parentalunit. Did your child get a rubric for that (remarkably broad) standard? How did the teacher determine who was approaching standard, who had met standard, and who was exceeding standard, in an objective, repeatable fashion?

I guess what I'm wondering is not about standards -- after all, as a biology teacher I design my classes to address the standards laid out by the state (and to some extent, the federal standards, where they provide opportunities for enrichment). Every teacher does that, and always has. Where the rubber hits the road is in the assignment of grades based on students meeting explicit expressions of pieces of those standards. Students must have rubrics before the work is required, else how will they know what is expected of them?

In the absence of those rubrics, this is exactly the same as regular ol' grading, as far as I can tell. After all, the labs and tests I design are intended to determine how well students are grasping the (aligned to standards) material; how is this different?

Linh-Co said...

We experienced this as well. No consistencies between individual teachers within a school.

Anonymous said...

This description was posted by Jan on another thread about SBG

"What SBGs at least introduce into the discussion is the idea of "purifying" the grade -- taking out all the behavior modification elements (do them if you want -- but report them some other place and reward them some other way), and encouraging teachers to be less controlling in terms of the amount of time, etc. that it takes kids to reach mastery. We stop grading on whether exact hoops were jumped through on exact dates -- and start looking at whether and to what extent, over the length of the course, kids can get from point A to point Z."

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...


Perhaps the grades you give students reflect only their academic abilities as they relate to the standards that you teach in your lessons. If that is true then you are probably already grading differently than many teachers in your school.

When I sent a kid through RHS, many teachers gave more than half the grade for other things. My kid's grades reflected timeliness, organization, whether the chairs were in a straight row, cleaning the teacher's classroom, neatness, using a specific notebook/pen/computer program, having non-related books out of the backpack, artistic quality, parent signed syllabus, sitting in assigned seat, attendance, etc. So that a kid who knew the material could fail the class & a kid who didn't know the material could pass the class. That is the main difference that I have seen between the current grading system & SBG.

The other main difference I noticed is that kids don't all have to be done learning a concept on the same day. They can move on more quickly or work on it longer without penalty. The assessments are not telling you that you are a good or bad student, but whether you are ready to move to new material or whether you need to spend more time on this.

-Former RHS