Thursday, September 25, 2014

Seattle Schools Updates

It looks like the NWEA (the company that gives the MAP testing) had a "denial of service" attack today.  This was at about 11 am and they sent a message out about the attack saying, "MAP is currently unavailable.  We apologize for the inconvenience."   Don't know any SPS schools were giving MAP today.

I was doing some research on FERPA and found this clause:

A school must inform eligible students of how it defines the terms "school official" and "legitimate educational interest" in its annual notification of FERPA rights. 

Did anyone read their FERPA form carefully for this info?  Was it included?
As to who on the Board might have requested the staff memo about charters schools, I got a little clarification but it's still a bit unclear.  Apparently someone senior thought the Board should know about the Oct 1 deadline for districts to file a Letter of Intent to become charter authorizers, told the Board and then Director McLaren asked for more info.  The memo was the outcome of that request.  (I thought this odd on staff's part if only because the Board had voted a resolution against charter schools.) 

Speaking with a couple of directors, I think the memo may have solidified their belief that the district has no money or bandwidth to become a charter authorizer (Spokane created a whole new department just to cover the work).

And speaking of Spokane School District, they just authorized the second charter in their district.  The Spokesman Review pointed this out:

The approval is practically a repeat of the board’s first authorization of a charter school nine months ago.  Like the first charter school, the leader is another participant of the Washington State Charter Schools Association fellowship program. Travis Franklin went through the same program as Brenda McDonald, Pride Prep’s leader. 

Like the first, Spokane International Academy is an untested, brand new charter.  Like the last time, the board denied the California-based iLead – an established charter with not-so-great performance measures.

Board member Deana Brower acknowledged that it seems unfair to judge the school on test scores when the other applicant had no track record to look at. While she approved of the untested charter, Brower said, “in the future I will be hesitant.”

 (The Washington State Charter Schools Assn is yet another Gates Foundation group - they were ones who wanted the Charter Commission to give them a seal of approval and the Commission said no.)

Two interesting things.  One is that getting grooming from the WSCSA seems to be a big help because, as well, a couple of the first round approvals by the Charter Commission were also groomed by the WSCSA. 

Two, that's a good question about having access to test scores that might just be okay for a charter applicant from a chain group versus a charter applicant that is new and has no track record.  But I have to wonder about the Spokane Board members judging charters against each other.  I think they should look at them in a vacuum to be fair (except for the Charter Commission considering geographic distribution).  I think that school district authorizers might want to be able to decide what would be best for their district but that also could called out by charter applicants who might feel their application was weighed unfairly. 


mirmac1 said...

Not carefully. Just checked no, No, NO.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm sorry; what are you talking about.

Josh Hayes said...

Melissa, I assume mirmac refers to the FERPA issues you raised. Yes?

mirmac1 said...

Oops, just answering to your opening question about "Did anyone read their FERPA form carefully for this info?"

I will soon be posting the registration form for the FEL teen health clinic in our school, and the requested waivers. I can see that to a harried parent it seems totally reasonable to sign here, here, and here. Fortunately my neighbors works in the clinic and clarified that it is NOT necessary to waive your FERPA right to access the health services.

Can we put that in lights in many different languages on the C-Link jumbotron?