Friday, March 06, 2015

Friday Open Thread

We've had quite the exhaustive discussion around SBAC testing and it hasn't even started.

Here's one teacher's take on what should be assessed:

* An assessment of children's nutrition before they come to school.
* An assessment of how many times children have been read aloud to before they entered kindergarten.
* An assessment on student attendance and student homework.
* An assessment on children's financial stability at home.
* An assessment of children's abilities to sleep each night in a loving home.
* An assessment to gather data on the damage that is done to schools by politicians, CEOs and companies that lobby and manipulate schools into spending millions of dollars on products that are unnecessary, redundant and embarrassing.

What do some Republican lawmakers in Minnesota want to do?  Break up Minneapolis School District...into six districts.  

“One of the inspirations was a MinnPost interview with [departing Minneapolis school board member] Alberto Monserrate where he described the district as a bureaucratic nightmare that no one can overcome,” said state Sen. David Hann, the senate minority leader and chief author of the bill. 
“Everybody that I’ve talked to agrees that we need to find a way to streamline decision-making and focus on the classroom,” he says. “When you have this situation in large districts like Minneapolis, the answer is to make them smaller, more responsive… so families can have more impact.”

It’s a pilot plan and not a guarantee that it would result in improvements in the achievement gap, but Hann feels it’s an option more school districts would try if given the opportunity.

WHAT?!  "Pilot" dividing up one district into six and see how that goes?  Where's the data that shows that smaller districts are more responsive and families have more impact?  You could suppose that to be the case but apparently we are a data-driven nation now so show me the data (we're still waiting for that from Pettigrew and Santos on their own bill).

Interestingly, the Minneapolis School Board would decide how the breakup happens.  That certainly makes more sense than OSPI and Ed districts around Washington state deciding.  But, hilariously that would be six superintendents and six school boards.  And "the districts would be free of state mandates."  Now THAT would explain splitting a district. 

Speaking of legislative bills, LEV has a "bill tracker" so you can keep up with all the education-related bills in the Washington State Legislature.

One interesting bill I missed is HB 1142.  Like many bills, it seems to have several issues rolled into one bill.

Part of the bill is pertaining to funds for student parking, either at school or at school events.  This bill would force districts to put all (or at least a portion of) those fees into ASB funds.  This would be a tremendous help for our high schools' ASB funding. 

As well, this bill also would force districts to put money from lease/rental income into debt service or capital project funds.  (The current language of the RCW says "shall" and this bill changes that to "must.")  Money could only go into the General Fund for maintenance or other costs associated with those leased/rented properties or could go for maintenance on regular school properties.    

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I take it in the 10 commandments, when they say "shall not", that is just advisory since it doesn't say must not?


Patrick said...

I thought "shall" is as strong a legal requirement as you get in laws.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Apparently "shall" wasn't doing the trick and some thing "must" is stronger.

Anonymous said...

I was trained to use "shall" instead of "must" when drafting legislation. But apparently, there's a movement to replace shall with must.

I found this interesting;

Shall vs. Must

--- swk

dan dempsey said...

I am with Patrick. "Shall is a strong legal requirement"

The Government picks and choses which laws are important to follow.

Here is an interesting piece on SBAC Math testing that I also posted in another thread.
SBAC Math test - too flawed

Anonymous said...

It tells me that they don't know what shall means. We also use shall and not must in engineering instructions.

Who charges for student parking? or any parking at schools? Are they going to start?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, now I know.


Anonymous said...

At my high school, on the peninsula, 25 years ago, we were required to have a parking sticker, which cost $? for the year (I didn't drive to school, so I don't remember). No sticker? Parking ticket (I cannot remember the price of the ticket for same reason as stated above). Since space is limited, it was limited to those who bought stickers. Unfair for poor kids? Maybe, but we also couldn't afford a car or the gas to run it. So, seems pretty fair under the circumstances.

Since it is a state law, it might not be applicable to your local school per se.
-yellow bus kid

mirmac1 said...

Step-by-Step Advocacy:

What to Ask For & How to Get It

Specifically for Those Who Advocate for Students with Reading and Writing Challenges

Saturday, March 21, 2015

8:30am - 4:00pm
Blackriver Conference Center
Renton Washington

$75 IDA/WABIDA Members
$100 Non-Members
Breakfast & Lunch included

Outstanding conference sponsored by the International Dyslexia Association, Washington Branch

Partial scholarships available by the Seattle SpEd PTSA. Stay tuned for details on this thread.

Anonymous said...

Hi guys, long time no post.

What prompted me was learning of "Smarter Balanced Assessment". Seriously? Who comes up with these names? That's the kind of corporate double-speak that begs for a photoshop. I'm busy lately, but I might have to make time.

New and Improved!
50% More Smarter!
60% More Balanced!
100% More Assessment!

Fish in a barrel.


ps - my condolences to Melissa on your recent loss

Anonymous said...

Arch! Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

WSDWG - supra

Eric B said...

SWK's link was interesting. I always assumed that shall was equivalent to must, the strongest legal requirement that there is no option. I read a lot of regulations, and that is always the way it is presented. In a funny way, this is getting away from plain language--if you ask someone on the street what "shall" means, you'll probably hear an equivalent to must. That or a blank stare, of course. :)

Anonymous said...

Dan's link on the SBAC math test is worth the read. I had seen some of the sample test items prior to reading the review and I had similar reactions to some of the questions. The car mileage question? So contrived just to assess unit rates and operations with fractions. The circle question? My first instinct was to hand graph the given info. The normal distribution question? What?? And I hadn't even tried using the interface - that makes the problems even worse. Item after item of those types of questions would wear me out - not because the math is hard, but because the computer input is tedious, or the question is needlessly contrived or convoluted.

Rasmussen's "kids deserve better" summary (pg 31) is spot on.

As a side note, Steven Rasmussen is the author of the "Key to Fractions," "Key to..." series by Key Curriculum Press. Those workbooks helped my children learn the basic math SPS and EDM was not properly teaching.


Anonymous said...

--enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, I know they charge at Roosevelt (or did). I can't speak for other schools. (There is a break for school/event parking for FR/L students/parents/seniors in the bill.)

And that's the thing - I'm reading articles where superintendents are saying things like "oh this first round of testing is more like a pilot." To which I say, for students and teachers, the outcomes are a pilot? Nope.

To do this in a widespread, big-scale manner, knowing there are problems both logistical and with the test, is wrong. For anyone to advance this idea to go across the entire nation in this manner speaks to who is controlling the issue.

Anonymous said...

I haven't been at any event at Hale, Roosevelt, Ingraham, West Seattle, or Chief Sealth where they charged for parking. They don't charge for parking in Hale's student parking lot but the lot is shared with the Meadowbrook playground, tennis courts and ball fields so maybe it doesn't belong to Hale. The only school event I have been charged for parking at is Memorial Stadium. Where do those parking fees go?

Does anyone know about the teen center at Hale? Who owns it? Who runs it? Why it is attached to Hale?


NW parent said...

I've never paid for parking at Ballard HS. I do know the students are not allowed to park in the parking lot during the school day - there's not enough room.

Anonymous said...

school starting to prepare for reading SBAC in class for 3rd graders already and tests
thats the thing they don't even take into account when reporting the time the tests will take. Its not just the 8 hrs of test taking, its all this additional loss of instructional time. A lot of it spent teaching how to navigate the stupid question format and use the technology- oh and learn to type. Now, typing is a useful skill to have but I feel in elementary the focus should be on writing by hand

SBAC off

Anonymous said...

If CCSS and the standardized testing is so great how come Bill's kids aren't doing it. No they won't be subjected to the crap the rest of us plebs kids get.
I don't deny the Gates Foundation does a lot of good in the world but this is not an example of it.
Bill sends his kids to private schools that have rigorous curriculum but are certainly not all about standardized testing. If he believes so strongly that CCSS and standardized testing is best for our kids then perhaps he should put his money where his mouth is - or rather, put his kids in their neighborhood public schools where they'll be subjected to the same state-mandated SBAC as ours. Betcha if they had to sit the SBAC in its current iteration something would be done about its problems

Stick to malaria and toilets and potable water in developing Bill and stay out of US education

SBACk off

Anonymous said...

I believe the teen center is run by Meadowbrook Community Center.
- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, the district owns Memorial Stadium and all the parking revenue goes to the district. I believe it goes into the General Fund. This law might change that.

All the Teen Health Centers, to the best of my knowledge, are funded thru the Families and Education levy and run by different health care entities. It is a great example of how public dollars can help public education.

Anonymous said...


For another point of view.


Anonymous said...

Information about colleges and SBAC:

The agreement w/ colleges to use SBAC is only "in effect for the high school graduating classes of 2016 through 2018. It will be reconsidered formally in winter 2018 based on student performance data."

So it is a small window, where they will test the waters and then re-evaluate.

So statements like this from an earlier thread:

"SBAC scores will be used to determine whether or not admitted students will be able to proceed to college-level, credit-bearing courses, i.e., not need remediation.”

Should actually state (for complete accuracy):

For classes 2016, 2017 and 2018, “high school students have the opportunity to use their scores on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment to establish their readiness for college-level coursework when entering higher education institutions in Washington.”

The key words here being, “have the opportunity” NOT "will be required to."

So I think we can relax a bit on having the SBAC used for college placements. After reading the agreement I don't think it is as big of a deal as it as the top guns would like us to think it is.


Anonymous said...

The teen center at Hale is not a health center. More of a place to hang out like a community center. Still not completely sure why it didn't move to the actual community center. Hale could use the space for classrooms instead of having portables.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Arch, glad to hear from you.

HP, thanks for that. I thought you were talking about the health center.

Anonymous said...

@ Arch Stanton:

I beg you to create another of your priceless art commentaries and share it. The wording you suggested is perfection. The testing starts within days. Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi!


Anonymous said...

SBAC off is right. There is a big push to squeeze in extra time in an already heavily booked computer lab so that kids can get typing practice. This is time that is diverted from actual curriculum.

This test will not show what kids know, it will show where in the several-hours-long test an eight year old runs out of typing stamina.

One school librarian sadly told me she had to cancel a scheduled author's visit to the school because the library was needed non-stop for testing and teast prep.

open ears

mirmac1 said...

As promised, announcing an excellent workshop:

Specifically for Those Who Advocate for Students with Reading and Writing Challenges

Saturday, March 21, 2015

8:30am - 4:00pm
Blackriver Conference Center
Renton Washington

$75 IDA/WABIDA Members
$100 Non-Members
Breakfast & Lunch included

In Washington State:
71% for WA third graders read at grade level or above;
38% of third graders in Special Education read at grade level;
45% of kids in Special Education grades 4 - 12 have “specific learning disabilities,” and most impacted by teaching method.

The Workshop will explain the best way to teach literacy. It’s not a brand or boxed curriculum, it’s a research-honed method of systematic skills instruction based on our neurology (both what and how we teach are key). With it, 95% of all kids learn more, faster. Just 5% are neutral to teaching method, and the 5% isn’t correlated to IQ.

There are many things wrong with our education system. But the complete lack of accountability to use evidence-based instruction dooms a percentage of our students to failure, despite their level of hard work and intellectual capability. WA State public schools do not use this method in General Education or Special Education classrooms, nor do we train teachers this way.

Registration for the Workshop is open: . Parents and teachers are welcome, and Clock Hours are available for teachers.

A limited amount of scholarship funds is available to Seattle families for this event, made possible by the Special Education PTSA. If you are interested in a partial scholarship (up to $75), please send and email to with a short paragraph explaining the need, and the volunteer Special Ed PTSA will be in touch to let you know if you qualify and facilitate registration for the event. All requests should be submitted no later than March 15.

(if you receive an email bounce message, please mail

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that Dan,

It was worth reading. I am very worried for my 10th grader. I don't think SBAC is a fair way to evaluate math abilities.

This test doesn't seem worth the price even if you support a national standardized test.

- HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain to me what the Beacon Amplify tests (mClass beacon) are and what they are used for.
What schools are doing them and are they optional for school (does it replace MAP).
I am hearing a bit about them and that they are being used for test prep for SBAC at our school. Not sure if this is correct, or if this is what they are intended for.

Interested to learn more and don't know where to find the info


Anonymous said...

I don't know how the state can claim the SBAC demonstrates students are college ready if they aren't ready for STEM studies. It seems sly to tell them they are prepared, then let them find out they are not. Either they are prepared to pursue college studies or not. If not, then offer them a 5th year of high school.

-Transparency please

Anonymous said...

Teaching and Learning Memo on the Amplify assessments (9/5/14):

- mom

Anonymous said...

There are 4 Seattle Public High Schools in the top 20 of the state.

I have no idea how this list is generated but if our schools are ranked so high, why do politicians think we need to break up the district?


ArchStanton said...

@ DistrictWatcher: Since you asked so nicely, since I had an itch to do a photoshop, and since the low hanging fruit was right in front of me; here you go!

Smarter Balanced at Arch Stanton's Page

/Makes you wonder if there's a trademark violation somewhere...

Anonymous said...

Thank you Arch Stanton!
-HS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Arch, so I can post the Smarter Balanced parody here? Would you be okay if I sent it nationwide? (With attribution, of course.)

ArchStanton said...

@MW: Be my guest. I'd be honored.

Anonymous said...

@ ArchStanton

Deserves to go viral. You rocked it.


mirmac1 said...

In my stringent contractual world, shall dictates what the Contractor shall do. End of story.