Sunday, March 29, 2015

Seattle Public Education Updates

To note about tomorrow, Monday, March 30th, it appears there may be a large number of teachers who may go to Olympia to lobby against SB 5748.  This is the bill that would likely get Washington State back its NCLB waiver and give those districts control of some Title One dollars.  It would also start us down the road of including high-stakes testing in teacher evaluation.

So if your school sees a couple of subs coming in tomorrow, that's probably why. 

I had previously said I could support this idea of using test scores in teacher evaluations and I know some of you wanted to know why.  I failed to explain that I think it would be fair to use test scores in a teacher evaluation if there were other, multiple categories of evaluation, if test scores were a very low percentage overall and, most of all, if the test was a valid testing instrument.  But to come in with this bill that its supporters claim is about wordsmithing (for now) and nothing else is to ask for a suspension of disbelief.

But will districts offer multiple measures of teachers?  Will there be peer review?  Is SBAC a valid instrument (and we haven't even used it yet)?  Yes, the bill says they would not use test scores for the next three years but frankly, then what?  What if SBAC turns out to be a lesser test?  The law would still require using it.  (Because that "validity" likely comes from OSPI and Randy Dorn and I would not have a lot of faith in that assessment.) 

So am I for using test scores in teacher evaluations?  Not really - I think it's a very slippery slope.

The WEA is offering to pay for subs for teachers who want to go.  (There is quite the discussion at ed reformer Rep. Chad Magendanz' Facebook page about whether the teachers would be considered "lobbyists.") I understand that LEV and Stand for Children are trying to get a couple of busloads of people to go (and I'd be willing to bet they are paying for the buses and food for whoever comes.)

This does bring up an interesting point about who can show up at these committee meetings.  Should people appearing before the committees have that much influence?  I mentioned at Rep. Magendanz' Facebook page that I had been the first one to sign in on a committee hearing on having computer science classes in high school and yet somehow got bumped by someone from the Gates Foundation who "had to catch a plane."  (Magendanz says this person was from some coding org but I remember Chair Sharon Tomiko Santos referencing the Gates Foundation.  No matter who it was, why did I get bumped? Magendanz says that chairs try to help "out-of-town" speakers.  Again, I was from out-of-town so I'm guessing he may have meant out-of-state.)

If groups can charter whole busloads of people, is that given more weight than all those who call, write or e-mail?  I would hope legislators would give balance to all input.

 Also tomorrow is the next BTA IV levy community meeting - this one at Hale starting at 6:30 pm.
Tuesday, the 31st sees the next levy community meeting at Fairmount Park Elementary in West Seattle starting at 6:30 pm.  The last BTA IV levy community meeting is Thursday, April 2nd at Seattle World School starting at 6:30 pm.

Wednesday, April 1st is the next School Board meeting which I anticipate may be quite lively as several school communities are gearing up to go to talk to the Board about budget cuts at their buildings.  The Board meeting starts at 4:15 p.m.   Agenda.

This particular meeting points out something that Charlie always said - the Board sure does take a lot meeting time to approve of capital projects.  Oversight is great but you would think the Board meeting might sometimes have real meat and discussion of other issues.

20 comments:

Calling BS said...

Taken from minutes:

"Directors commented on how the current testing issue may put the 'Board under pressure from various groups to take a stand against the testing, which is a position the Board cannot take because they are required to uphold the law. Directors discussed how the Oath of Office is a legal swearing-in and there must be certain things that Directors uphold."

The Board CAN make their thoughts regarding SBAC and the fact that this test will fail enormous amounts of English Language Learners.

The Board CAN inform the public that 11th grade students are expected to take 8 hours of SBAC tests to determine cut scores and assist with product development.

Will the board inform the public?

Anonymous said...

Apologies: the notes about growth didn't show up. These critria require student growth data:

3.Recognizing individual student learning needs and developing strategies to address those needs.
...GROWTH DATA REQ


6. Using multiple student data elements to modify instruction and improve student learning.... GROWTH DATA REQ


8. Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning. ... GROWTH DATA REQ

Anonymous said...

So SBAC isn't statistically valid in differentiating teacher skills and outcomes? It isn't statistically valid in differentiating student skills and outcomes either. Teachers would be wise to point it out.

Reader

Anonymous said...

I'm not familiar with the exact wording of the oath of office for Board directors, but Policy No. 1111 states, "According to statutory provision, each new Director shall take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Washington and to promote the interests of education and to faithfully discharge the duties of his/her office to the best of his/her ability."

It seems to me that a Board director, in certain circumstances, may find a conflict between promoting "the interests of education" and faithfully discharging "the duties of his/her office" if discharging those duties includes following state and federal legal requirements. In such a conflict, a Board director might have to decide between conflicting ethical demands, which might lead her to decide that promoting the interests of education was the higher ethical claim.

David Edelman

Anonymous said...

Always lovely to have the astroturf groups like LEV descend from their holier-than-thou thrones and be treated like royalty by the WA State Legislature, despite the fact that the majority of them haven't spent any time in schools aside from photo ops or PR meetings. Yet their ideology carries more weight with the legislature than the words of those who work day in and day out with kids - teachers, parents, principals, para pros. Prime example of how privilege and wealth rules the state.

CT

ForTheKids said...

It's also lovely that the WEA is actively encouraging teachers to leave their classrooms during a substitute crisis. This is a prime example of how the WEA is focused on the best needs of students.

Melissa Westbrook said...

For the Kids, I see your point. Again, what is the best way to lobby and how important are in-person visits to legislators?

Calling BS said...

Perhaps GROWTH DATA REQUIRED would enjoy this article.

There is no reason to believe that a hodge-podge of district(Amplify and MAP) and SBAC will show an accurate measurement of growth:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/why-faith-in-standardized-testing-industry-is-misplaced/2011/04/10/AFXIkSHD_blog.html

Are we really spending millions of dollars to measure REQUIRED GROWTH when 3rd graders are taking end of year tests in March?

Lots of data for the district's Academic Warehouse, though. Oh, and think of the conclusions that will be drawn from SBAC data on these kids.

Anonymous said...

The WEA employs a number of lobbyists who work full time to represent their position down in Olympia. This is funded by the teachers' voluntary contributions. I am not clear why they do not feel that this is sufficient for lobbying.

As far as in-person meetings - the legislators have been spending time in districts having town halls, as well as hosting tele-town halls. Those are great opportunities (during non-work hours) to speak personally to your legislator.

My children have had a lot of subs this year, for various reasons. While nice people, the subs are not providing strong instruction. It bothers me when people complain about "lost instructional time" to testing, but don't have a problem with the use of subs and all the half days and days off for PD. From a parent perspective, that's a lot more lost instructional time than a few hours of testing.

- anotherSPSparent

Pencup said...

"For the kids"

This phrase has become a cynical meme to control teachers used so frequently that it's become an inside joke amongst teachers.

It's what our bosses (administrators, the legislature, etc.) tell us whenever we're about to get a pay cut, asked to work longer without being paid, turned down for another cost of living adjustment approved by the citizens, unfair evaluation requirements imposed, increased paperwork, etc.

And it's nearly always used by people who aren't here "for the kids."

Teachers are the ones who have devoted their lives on a daily basis to our children. Because of that teachers usually let themselves be bludgeoned into silence whenever somebody throws that phrase at us.

Teachers are also entitled to be paid fairly and evaluated fairly.

I thank every teacher who took today to make the awful trip to Olympia to beg for fair treatment.

ElemParent said...

Thank you, teachers! I'm looking ahead to high school and whether or not my children will face high-stakes testing. If they do, will it be the SBAC with its 40% success rate? Is there a long-term attempt to redefine high school graduation here? I don't want high-stakes testing for my kids. I don't want it for my kids' teachers.

I want it for the legislature.

Anonymous said...

My children have had a lot of subs this year, for various reasons. While nice people, the subs are not providing strong instruction.

My kid has watched a lot of "Mythbusters" episodes in science. And this is in middle school APP/HCC science. If a teacher is going to be out, they might as well just email the students to stay home that day and/or bring a book or other homework to work on during class. Way better than watching tv reruns! Or maybe principals need to pre-approve lesson plans for planned absences.

HF

Edmonds Jealous said...

It is being reported that the Edmonds Superintendent showed-up to testify in opposition to SB 5748. The Edmonds superintendent claimed that linking test scores to teacher evaluations is not statistically proven.

Where is our leadership? We get: The Shrug

Anonymous said...

As a Substitute in SPS I am appalled when a video is left in lieu of actual lesson plans and proper instruction.

The teachers do have the capability to send the lesson plans in advance to the substitute and in turn any questions, problems can be easily resolved.

I find it usually a problem in the HCC cohorts and the kids go "yay a sub, that means a movie" and when you actually try to teach the subject without relying on video the students rebel.

I had an administrator inform me that I should simply show the video and walk around the room to make sure the students were watching it.

Substitutes are happy to teach any subject if left lesson plans, the keys and any notes. I have taught Physics and advanced math with such.. so talk to your Teachers about that...

And the students treat us in the similar way as that is where they learn it.

Subs we are shit beneath your shoes.

- shit stain

Anonymous said...

@ Stain, Wow. That's a lot of negative feeling. What's up?

So are you blaming the kids? And you really think it's HCC kids in particular? (All the other kids would be excited to have a sub teach, but those HCC kids are the slackers?)

Are you blaming the teachers? Do you think they're too lazy or unprepared to give real lesson plans? Or do you think they have such negative impressions about the competency of subs that they assume no real instruction can happen?

Are you blaming the administration, for having you follow the teacher's plan?

As a parent, I'd suggest some of this blame is misplaced. I seriously doubt it's one cohort of kids that responds to subs differently, just because they're subs (those damn HCC kids!). But if they DO respond differently, you'd need to think about why. From what I've heard, science is incredibly boring to most HCC kids--probably because we don't have a curriculum designed to address their needs/abilities, and instead use the gen ed curriculum but perhaps a bit ahead of schedule. If kids are accustomed to being bored by the material day in, day out, maybe a video--no matter how un-educational--is a pleasant change. If you think of it in those terms, it makes more sense. Teachers have set it up so that subs often don't add anything to the experience, so it's only natural that kids will continue to assume that's the case. It's been their reality for years.

I can also see why a principal would tell you to follow the teacher's lesson plan rather than cover your own material. For one, it might be part of a larger lesson plan. Additionally, it would be hard for a teacher to know what material was presented, which could pose a problem later (e.g., a kid gets a wrong answer and says "but the sub said..."). So I can see the reason behind adhering to the plan. At the same time, I would hope admin would follow up with their teachers and tell them they expect more meaningful lesson plans in the future. There are way too many planned absences and subs for there not to be quality education during sub days, and I think teachers and administrators need to do a much better job of ensuring kids' time at school is well spent. I know it's more work for teachers to have to provide detailed lesson plans for subs--especially if there's back and forth beforehand, as you mentioned--but I feel like teachers owe it to the kids to make sure school isn't a waste of their time.

Lassie

mirmac1 said...

What a joke to hear teachers blamed when they fight to preserve real teaching and learning. Or when they're just sick or burned out from the relentless pressure. How about district administration spend more money on maintaining a pool of qualified, available subs instead of on MAP, Amplify, CCSS PD sessions, data-gathering web platforms and SBAC? Maybe Clover Codd can spend her time more productively than cooking up more ways for our kids to be guinea pigs? Or Charles Wright on making sure that Alliance MOU gets signed? Or Toner and other central staff working on tens of multi-disciplinary, inter-agency, etc task forces.

How do you think shutting out the voices of teachers and parents in education matters benefits our kids?

Anonymous said...

Mirmac,

If only Clover Codd could "cook up an idea"...original thinking isn't a strong point--which is the crux of the problem.

She actually told teachers MAP shouldn't be used to evaluate teachers because that is never the purpose such tests...until she got promoted via the connections she'd cultivated in a very short time with the ole boys and girls network at JSCEE.

Now she's testifying on behalf of using the tests to evaluate teachers.

I have been told by her former co-teachers that, during her very short stint in the classroom, she barely treaded water.

Now she's the judge and executioner.

Special...

The only administrators testifying against these tests are those with both integrity and intellect. It has actually become a Rorchach test in it own right--at a very high price to students, parents and teachers.

BTW, I'm still waiting for Melissa to state her opinion about using these standardized tests to evaluate teachers. Lots of threads but no clarification from a post from a few weeks ago.

--enough already

Lynn said...

enough already,

Did you read this blog entry before posting?

I had previously said I could support this idea of using test scores in teacher evaluations and I know some of you wanted to know why. I failed to explain that I think it would be fair to use test scores in a teacher evaluation if there were other, multiple categories of evaluation, if test scores were a very low percentage overall and, most of all, if the test was a valid testing instrument. But to come in with this bill that its supporters claim is about wordsmithing (for now) and nothing else is to ask for a suspension of disbelief.

But will districts offer multiple measures of teachers? Will there be peer review? Is SBAC a valid instrument (and we haven't even used it yet)? Yes, the bill says they would not use test scores for the next three years but frankly, then what? What if SBAC turns out to be a lesser test? The law would still require using it. (Because that "validity" likely comes from OSPI and Randy Dorn and I would not have a lot of faith in that assessment.)

So am I for using test scores in teacher evaluations? Not really - I think it's a very slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up, Lynn.
I don't always read the "Read more" parts.

Melissa, I'm glad you addressed this issue. Thank you.

However, I'm still almost as confused as before. Whenever anyone answers a question with "Not really" it's a non-committal, no matter how tortured the explanation surrounding it may be.

It's a typical approach in politics. You sound like a candidate already!

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Geez, enough already. The issue isn't black and white. It would be hard to say either that standardized test scores should absolutely, 100% of the time be used and account for x% in teacher evaluations, or that no, in no circumstances should student performance on any standardized test ever be used as a factor in looking at teacher performance.

I think Melissa did a decent job of explaining her thinking on this. Your attempt to make it come off as her being evasive sounds much more like politics to me.

HIMSmom