Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday Open Thread

Happy First Day of Spring!

The Teenaged Brain: Spock versus Kirk via NPR.

Mukilteo Education Association at Mariner High School in Everett speaks out about SBAC testing of 11th graders.

Look who was on both the local and national NBC news - students at John Rogers Elementary.   They did a class project on who is on U.S. paper money and found not a single woman.  So there's now a petition to get a woman on the $20 by 2020 (getting rid of Andrew Jackson who apparently didn't even want to allow paper money).  But who?

Via KING-5
Via NBC Nightly News
Womenon20s campaign
NY Times article on this subject by notable women

Update: want to learn more about Rainier Beach High's IB program?  Here's your chance:

Join us for food, fun, and community:
When: Saturday, March 21st from 1:00pm-3:00pm
Where: El Centro de La Raza, 2524 16th Ave S

Dear guardians, families, and community members,

Join your neighbors for a free meal to learn about how to support the rigorous educational opportunities that Rainier Beach High School's successful International Baccalaureate Program provides.

This event is open to everyone with an interest in learning more about our vision for advanced learning in the Rainier Valley. At this event, you will have a chance to see a mini-lesson led by one of the IB teachers, hear from students about their experience with the IB program, and offer input by brainstorming ways for all of us to better support our community youth.

Please spread the word by posting the attached flyer (in English and Spanish) or forwarding this email to your networks!

Questions? Do not hesitate to contact me, Cambrie Nelson, at
What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

A John Roger's 5th grade class was featured on both King 5 news and NBC Nightly News last night for a research project the class is doing on the "Women on 20s" campaign.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Like minds, North-end Mom.

Anonymous said...

Per a note from the principal yesterday, APP@Lincoln is projected to have 781 students next year, up from 680 this year.

Thatsa Lot

Devon Alisa Abdallah said...

Interesting article on the correlation between school suspensions and increased pot use.

Anonymous said...


The UW study you cite is obviously flawed, making the most common mistake of statistical analysis - confusing correlation with causation. You correctly summarized the findings, "Interesting article on the correlation between school suspensions and increased pot use", meaning that that schools with higher drug usage also tended to have policies suspending drug users. However, when you read the story, the authors of the study went the extra step of claiming that the policy of suspending drug users CAUSED increased drug usage without providing any supporting evidence of that.

Good science

dan dempsey said...

NY Times on Congress discussing NCLB etc.

Politics, schools wait to see what becomes of NCLB

Anonymous said...

Thatsa Lot,

How would the principal know how many are attending next year, when many parents haven't received their test results? I'm assuming they are making projections, but that seems like crap without the data. On the flip side, it totally damns the argument that "we don't know how many are coming until Sept!" which has been used to cut/add teachers. (Yes, I know there are always some logical variances, but they have generally WILDLY off at not one, but many schools.) Perhaps it's because they are using numbers from 3/19 that are pure speculation? Rather than end of June?

-Rare commenter

Anonymous said...

Suspended kids have more time to smoke pot and you might as well smoke it if you are at home. Maybe that is what they meant by suspension leading to more pot use.


Josh Hayes said...

If you think there's pressure to cheat on tests here, just wait until they become even higher-stakes - we might see stuff like this.

(Just kidding - I can't imagine bunches of SPS parents scaling the walls of our schools to "sneak" answers in to their kids.)

Anonymous said...

I dunno,
here's the report itself:

Results. Likelihood of student marijuana use was higher in schools in which administrators reported using out-of-school suspension and students reported low policy enforcement. Student marijuana use was less likely where students reported receiving abstinence messages at school and students violating school policy were counseled about the dangers of marijuana use.

Conclusions. Schools may reduce student marijuana use by delivering abstinence messages, enforcing nonuse policies, and adopting a remedial approach to policy violations rather than use of suspensions. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print March 19, 2015: e1–e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302421)

I think it was hard to understand the article from UW

The study is pretty clear, counsel students, don't suspend them, and more will stop smoking.

Do any principals in SPS use counseling in lieu of suspension for weed?


Anonymous said...

Well if they can come to schools with guns and chains (which happened here back in the day at a school that has changed since then) they can with answers.

Helicopter parenting is a real problem and the tragedy is that it is having parents who don't treated as criminals.

The Becca law here is a good example.

Read the HCC blog to realize the problems they feel they have if their little gem of a walnut doesn't get into a good school.

Frank Bruni just wrote a book on kids who found college not in the Ivy's fun and smarts!

- Bitter old woman

Anonymous said...

Trust someone to bring HCC into it….

little wonder my moniker is

haters gonna hate

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm sorry but the last two comments are about....?

Anonymous said...

More on PARCC testing - they are piloting computer grading of essays. Also, though Pearson will continue to monitor for test security breaches, they will apparently stop using student data to cross reference and identify students from flagged social media posts.


Anonymous said...

I hesitate to wade in, but the times of the "algebra readiness exam" that 5th graders who might be eligible for 6th grade algebra are supposed to take have been *established.*

ALL 4 tests take place Thursdays from 4:30 - 6:00 at the JSCEE.

None are in local schools closer to where children live.

None are on Saturdays, when fewer parents are working and kids are not exhausted after a long day of school and there is no rush hour traffic.

Repeat - all tests are Thursdays (April 2, 9, 23 and 30) from 4:30 to 6:00 at JSCEE.

So: a working parent has to go home, get the kid, get to JSCEE by or before 4:30, wait there (b/c where do you go if you live somewhere else? Where is your other kid?) and then the kid gets to take a 90 minute math test after a full day of school?

Am I off base, or is the result of this that any family with less reliable transportation, other kids, or an inflexible (ie, hourly) job can't do this?

It would make so much more sense to give this test in regional middle schools on weeknights, at the JSCEE on Saturdays, or during the school day in some of the larger elem. schools with lots of kids who qualify.

We have time in the school day for zillions of standardized tests that don't benefit anyone, but a test that has actual repercussions for actual kids on their eligibility for math classes can't be given where the kids live and during a more appropriate time, like during the school day, so EVERYONE can access it regardless of parents' transportation?

PLEASE - anyone who has a contact - try to get this fixed ASAP so more kids who don't have parents who can just drive them everywhere whenever can do it.

** is this the type of thing the new communications officer will be addressing and fixing?

** where was T&L when this was being set? Doesn't this kind of schedule make them automatical wonder if financially disadvantaged students will be excluded? It seemed obvious to me when I read it. You can't blame HCC for this type of exclusionary practices - blame downtown - they set the schedule.

Signed: astounded

mirmac1 said...

As for kid advocacy: this report is a hoot!

Kids scolded by pompous Aholes

Anonymous said...

@astounded -

SPS rides to the dumps again on poor planning and implementation.

You are absolutely right. Someone clearly should have thought that thru a bit more. Sadly, they probably don't give a hoot to the level of inconvenience and disparity that arrangement will result in.



Anonymous said...

Re alegebra readiness tests. As usual the district admin in tone deaf when it comes to the actual students and families it serves, and its' own stated goals.
All this costly and time wasting lip service to community engagement, toward reducing inequalities in the district etc, yet when it comes to the crunch, as always the JSCEE does nothing to make even the smallest step in the right direction. What do they hope to gain by offering tests at those times in those places - reduce the number of kids testing and/or qualifying for A1 in 6th grade (because half of them can't get to the test and many of the rest are too exhausted to perform well after a full day at school and being schlepped to downtown from god-knows where. What a great way to close the achievement gap!
Most of the ones who end up taking the test will be the ones with stay at home parents or professionals with flexibility to pick them up from school early, give them a snack in the car while driving them downtown and spend a couple of hrs on their laptop while they wait- that's not gonna be a very diverse population is it?
If you want to increase participation by underrepresented groups in advanced classes this is not the way to go about it. What kind of outreach would there be to tell parents (for whom this may not be even on the radar) about this, and how are they supposed to get their kid there if they are don't have a car, can't take time off work, single parent with other kids to pick up from school etc?
How about they organize for SBAC to be held downtown after school every evening ( Hahahah - there'd be a great turnout for that!) then offer the algebra readiness tests (which will actually have an impact on a kids academic career) at individual schools during the day.
Why can't JSCEE determine how many kids at various schools are going to sit the AR test and arrange for them to be pulled out during the day at those schools to sit it - this would be especially good for traditionally underrepresented students who are likely to be missed by this after school testing at JSCEE. Or they could stay late after school to do it at their own schools? Or offer at weekend at several regional schools.
You just can't fix the stupid in this district.

Stupid SPS

Anonymous said...

@Rare Commenter,

Principal's note indicates 781 is a projection being used for budget purposes. They have to plan the budget for next year even though they don't have final numbers yet.

Thatsa Lot

Anonymous said...

Re Algebra Readiness...I find this test very interesting because I don't think Algebra will even be available for 6th graders at every middle school. What would be the point of identifying students if they won't have access to it at their neighborhood school? At least for Eckstein I was told they would not have guaranteed classes to support that progression all three years. For that option, we are forced to opt to JAMS if we want Algebra in 6th grade and then Geometry and Alegebra 2 while in middle school. At Eckstein they wouldn't even guarantee classes if my student went into 8th grade math as a 6th grader. They said it might mean an independent study by 8th grade depending on numbers. Does anyone know of middle schools besides Hamilton, Washington and JAMS that have the option of students starting Algebra in 6th grade? I would love to know of any personal experiences.
-Math Curious

Anonymous said...

Wait, computer grading of the essay tests? Seriously? They're just going to take every last ounce of humanity (literally) out of the testing process? Gack.

Roosevelt Mom

Anonymous said...

This has been bothering me..."Smarter Balanced " is such a weird and awkward name. Who came up with it?

- whatsinaname

Anonymous said...

And there's a perfect example why APP/HCC students are in a cohort at regional schools. At the APP pathway schools it's more likely they will have a full class of students working at an advanced level and the school can offer the advanced class. They claim math placement is separate from HCC, but it's only partially true. In theory, higher level math can be available to students not in either Spectrum or APP, but in reality they can't always offer advanced math classes to small numbers of students at neighborhood schools.

Math placement has been very inconsistent over the past few years. After the APP split, Hamilton, an APP pathway school, would not allow any students to take Algebra in 6th grade (even though it was offered at Washington pre-split). After years of parents working with the district, they allowed some 6th graders to take Algebra. The first cohort is taking Algebra 2 this year as 8th graders. The matrix for placement was based on MAP scores, but only told to parents after the test period had already happened. If you missed the cutoff by one point you were not given placement in the class.

The algebra readiness test provides another data point. I'm going to give them credit for trying, but wow, it's just different every year. With new state tests and no MAP, next year's math placement matrix will be different once again.

What they should really be doing is offering better middle school math. Why are we still using CMP texts? Would there be as much acceleration if the district texts taught concepts at more advanced levels? Remember books with A, B, and C level problems?

math craziness

Anonymous said...

About algebra readiness test: here is yet another stupid aspect... it is totally unnecessary!

1. ALL of the students who were admitted to Algebra 1in 6th grade based on a math MAP score of 250 or higher PASSED the EoC exam with flying colors -- indicating that the MAP score 'worked' in selecting children who would be successful at Algebra 1!! Therefore, making students whose 5th grade math MAP scores are over 250 take yet another math test to prove they are capable of succeeding is redundant and a waste of time. All it will do is screen out students who we know will be successful therefore denying access to appropriate rigor.

2. And, while we are on the topi of denying access to appropriate rigor, why can't ANY student write the algebra readiness test if they feel they can ace it and they want to take Algebra 1 in 6th grade? I realize not many students want/need to skip ahead 3 years, but there are single domain gifted children to consider.

3. This district seems to love to ration rigor. ANY student can 'opt up' one level in math in middle school EXCEPT THOSE WHO HAVE A MATH MAP SCORE OF 250+ but may have missed the 4th grade MSP. Even though others have taken and excelled at Algebra 1 in 6th grade on that basis, now suddenly the district has shifted the goal posts again. Why discriminate? Why? Why NOT let ALL students in middle school opt up 1 level? If you allow some to opt-up, why not all? On what empirical basis can they justify this policy inconsistency, that appears to be so discriminatory?

4. As others have pointed out, writing a critical complex math test in the evening during dinner time? Really? That's really the best plan for 10 year olds, to really measure how well they achieve? Does the district want to sabotage the test takers?

5. The time/place clearly discriminates against certain families, and creates unnecessary hardships/obstacles that only serve to cause problems and RATION RIGOR.


Anonymous said...

sabotage test takers seeking rigor - check
create unnecessary obstacles to obtaining rigor - check

checks both boxes

Anonymous said...

Incredible that budgets predict Eckstein will have just 30 more kids than APP@Lincoln...

budget watcher

Anonymous said...

"1. ALL of the students who were admitted to Algebra 1in 6th grade based on a math MAP score of 250 or higher PASSED the EoC exam with flying colors -- indicating that the MAP score 'worked' in selecting children who would be successful at Algebra 1!! Therefore, making students whose 5th grade math MAP scores are over 250 take yet another math test to prove they are capable of succeeding is redundant and a waste of time. All it will do is screen out students who we know will be successful therefore denying access to appropriate rigor. "

Not really true, IMHO. You can get a MAP of 250+ and still struggle in Algebra if you have not had some of the foundational elements. My kid had 3 math MAP scores over 250, two over 260, and we still did pre-algebra during the summer to get the foundations in place. Kid had no problem in Algebra in 6th, but classmates with similar MAP scores struggled big time. MAP is not an Algebra readiness test.

been there

Anonymous said...

"4. As others have pointed out, writing a critical complex math test in the evening during dinner time? Really? That's really the best plan for 10 year olds, to really measure how well they achieve? Does the district want to sabotage the test takers?

5. The time/place clearly discriminates against certain families, and creates unnecessary hardships/obstacles that only serve to cause problems and RATION RIGOR. "

Totally, totally agree. And why can't the middle schools administer the test when the kids get there and then adjust schedules? It can't be that many kids affected. Or have kids that want to opt up test the week before school, at their respective middles?

As for rationing rigor, maybe the easier way to close the achievement gap is to push the top down. It seems to be what SPS does at every turn.

Been there

Anonymous said...

My kid did Algebra 2 at Ecsktein as an independent study. With a small group of 6 other kids in a geometry classroom. With some volunteer UW profs facilitating & adding further ideas. Loved it. Finally a math class that didn't plod along. All motivated students tackling the material at their own pace. Best math experience in SPS.

-it worked

Anonymous said...

more about pot

SPS needs to look at its suspension policy


Anonymous said...

@ it worked, too bad other schools won't try that. HIMS won't allow students to even be on campus during their independent study period.

@ been there, I'm not sure administering a test and switching additional schedules around at the beginning of the year is the best bet. It's already a mess those first couple weeks, and this would add to the chaos. What happens if you end up needing to add an algebra class? You probably need to then cancel a lower level class (so you can reassign the teacher), but then all the kids from that now-canceled class need their schedules completely reworked, too--even though they aren't trying to change anything. It's all interconnected. Then add in overcrowding and it becomes even more of a challenge. A teacher recommended my kid be moved out of her class mid-term for his own protection/well-being, and even given those concerns we couldn't find a workable alternative schedule. Any changes that made sense were not possible b/c those classes were at (meaning over) capacity. And we're just talking about one kid here, not a group of however-many who want algebra. If class sizes were smaller with more breathing room it might work to test at school in the fall, but given current realities I think they need to plan ahead. Still, there's no excuse for not making the Alg readiness test more accessible this spring and summer!


Anonymous said...

A report on the road diet on 75th in front of Eckstein:

SDOT shared the results of the speed and traffic monitoring they've been performing before and after the NE 75th Street rechannelization improvements they made in 2013. The findings of their analysis are remarkable. There's a lot to chew on this study, but data shows that NE 75th Street is carrying more volume (+3%) than before (suggesting no spill over into side streets) with travel times unchanged, collisions down 45%, overall speeding down 9-11%, and drivers speeding 10 mph over the 30 mph limit are down 75-80%.

This is great news.


Anonymous said...

Info on the new Thorton Creek School Building:


Anonymous said...

>>>This has been bothering me..."Smarter Balanced " is such a weird and awkward name. Who came up with it?

Hahaha! "Smarter Balanced" sounds a lot better than "Stupider Lopsided Test", which is the reality.


Anonymous said...

HIMS mom,
I see your point about not disrupting the first couple weeks of school to move math placement. But better than to spend an entire year in the wrong math class.

I think kids should have the opportunity to get some skills in place over the summer to be ready for Algebra. No matter how mathy you are, you still need to cover certain material before undertaking Algebra. A self-motivated kid can easily pick it up over a summer with on-line study.

Been there

Anonymous said...

I would suggest parents make thoughtful placements for their children when considering Algebra in 6th grade. Just because they meet the district matrix for placement doesn't mean it's necessarily the best placement. Your child should want to do the work and you need to make sure the pre-algebra concepts not covered in Algebra 1 will get covered at home.

You also need to consider the high school math pathway. If a student has taken Algebra 2 in 8th grade, the sequence may look like this:

AP Calculus AB
AP Calculus BC
AP Statistics

Do all high schools offer those classes? Some private high schools don't. Do you think your child will want to take AP Calculus as a sophomore in high school?


Anonymous said...

Just looking at West Seattle High School's 2014-15 Course guide, they only offer through Calculus AB, so there would only be three years of math available for a student that accelerated to Algebra in 6th grade.


Anonymous said...

I see your point about not disrupting the first couple weeks of school to move math placement. But better than to spend an entire year in the wrong math class.

@ been there, it doesn't have to be an either/or. They could implement a reasonable testing strategy now to determine algebra readiness prior to the end of the current school year, and/or they could offer some late summer testing--like they do for Advanced Learning if you're new to the area--which would give school registrars a chance to try to get everything figured out in advance. That would still give kids time to self-study over the summer, whether they've already tested in and want to build their foundation, or if they didn't test in initially but were motivated to work hard over the summer and want to try again.

There will always be some degree of schedule adjustment that needs to happen at the beginning of a term, but I think baking it into the process would create even more messiness. If we can easily avoid that and still meet kids' needs, that's a better route.


Anonymous said...

Three years acceleration(two if you're at some schools), taking Algebra II in 8th grade, is too fast for almost all students. With lots of tutoring by parents , there are kids who can do it, but only extreme outliers need such work in middle school.

The few students who truly need it would be good to go with Calculus in 9th grade and should be at UW taking math by junior year. These are the kids a self-contained program should serve.

Over accelerating is a danger and will bite some of these students when they are in college and end up taking graduate level math as sophomores.

What is the obsession with acceleration in math?
Are they truly mastering geometry as 7th graders? One would think that if a class or a group within a class was finding Algebra or Geometry so easy, they could study the development of the subject.

Parents tutor their children up and then complain that they are bored in class, but does that mean they need acceleration or should they just learn it in class instead of basically taking the class twice, once at home or with a tutor and then again at school.

rose smeller

mirmac1 said...

Not surprising, SPS remains out of compliance with many Federal laws, particularly anti-discrimination laws:

Anonymous said...

What is the obsession with acceleration in math?

Perhaps it's a matter of families taking advantage of what's offered - the district doesn't offer enriched middle school math classes. They only offer acceleration. The Algebra 1 currently offered in middle school is the same as that offered in high school. It's not necessarily enriched for accelerated students. At least in high school, you may get an honors level class. If the district were to offer honors level math for those high school classes taken in middle school, I doubt as many students would feel the need to accelerate. Yet the only choice the district offers (outside of home supplementation) is course acceleration.

limited choices

Anonymous said...

It's funny. You don't often hear people advise parents to disallow reading at home because their kid might raise their reading level and get ahead of the class. Why should parents limit math opportunities at home? No math competitions or computer games or summer camps for kids who like math?

I think the kids who will struggle in college math are the ones who didn't have math at home. If we depended on EDM, CMP2 & Discovering Algebra to develop mastery that can be a foundation for math & science studies in college, we might be unpleasantly surprised what happens when they hit calculus in college.


Anonymous said...

@ rose smeller, you don't seem to have a good understanding of how the math sequences work.

First, acceleration to Alg II in 8th grade is typically followed by precalc in 9th, then two years of Calc, then AP Stats--so no need to find a college-level class starting with the junior year as you indicated.

Second, these kids also don't end up having to take graduate level classes their sophomore year of college. The entire UW math B.S. degree, for example, doesn't require ANY grad-level courses. Even if you have a big head start on undergrad level math classes, there are more options to take than you could possibly squeeze into a four-year course of study.


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who worked in the study center helping Calc students when she was an undergrad at the UW about 5 years ago. She says the many students who needed help couldn't do Calculus because they had inadequate foundation in Algebra. These are kids with good enough grades and scores to get into the UW, a competitive school.

I'm convinced Discovering Algebra isn't going to provide what they really need, if they want to do more math in college. We did AOPS with my kid and they go way, way deeper than Discovering. At least in the intro Algebra course.

Keeping doors open