Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Seattle School Board and Smarter Balanced Question

At Board meeting, Director Peters brought forth her motion for discussion of the use of the Smarter Balanced assessment, saying the discussion needed to be done "honestly, openly and immediately."  She said she asked about having it come before the Curriculum &Instruction meeting but was told their agenda was set.

 (I looked and they haven't even posted the agenda for the next C&I committee meeting so if it is set, then it should be available for public viewing.  Since it's not, I would assume the agenda is not set. Hmm.)

President Carr asked for comments on the motion itself - to add it - but not to discuss the content of the motion.

Martin-Morris says he is "not opposed to having a conversation and it's important to have" but his real concern is timing.  Policy that lays out how "we do things" and this would seemingly be an exception. Brought up the code phrase of "good governance."  (I confess I do not know Board policy on this but I have seen things added to the agenda in the same way so I'm wondering why this cannot happen.)

He brings up Code of Conduct being voted on containing a "no surprises" clause and feels notification of this is too late.  He said, "I can't support this kind of behavior."

Director McLaren had a prewritten statement.  Understands anxiety over this test and glad that people are speaking out by e-mailing and testifying especially teachers.  She said "community is demanding that we have meaningful dialog about testing in schools."  But she says they don't need to suspend SBAC testing to do so.

(Again, they both miss that this motion IS to have a dialog and would not suspend anything.)

Carr interrupted to say that they didn't need to discuss the content but wanted to stay on track with real motion.  But McLaren wanted to continue on.  She has two disagreements with adding this to agenda.  Says there is "no emergency" and that suspending SBAC testing is the answer (even as she says there are "many teachers who feel woefully unprepared to administer this test.")

She then said, "I know our students can take the test and be proud that they have done so."  What does that mean really?  I'm not sure.  She goes on and says once the tests are completed, "we will have information that we need,rather than mere speculation."  And that the district can "gauge" the results and define changes.

No, the district won't be able to change ANYTHING on this test, no matter the results.

She also asked "what kind of message would we - the adults - be sending if we fear our students won't do well after we have spent years preparing for them?"

She wants to have the conversation AFTER the testing.  Then she went on with some blather about what she thinks testing should be like.  I just don't get her.

 I do know that I'm tired of hearing Director McLaren saying she supports parents and teachers but then finding reasons not to do so.  I really think she needs a challenger this fall to defend this cycle of inaction on her part.

So, with her statement, we all know that this motion will fail because Carr, Martin-Morris and Blanford will vote that way as well.

Peaslee doesn't like how it got to agenda but will vote for the discussion.

Motion fails, 4-3.


Po3 said...

Who was the 3rd Yes vote?

Melissa Westbrook said...


Anonymous said...

Peaslee represents the Hale region, correct? She should go talk to them.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Sue - this could have got more support if it had percolated around for a week or so.

This Last! Minute!! Crises!!! stuff is how the factions of SEA operate - it is exhausting. Oh yeah - it is kind of tough for people to talk to people when THERE ISN'T ANY TIME.

I'm not surprised Marty helped squash it - Jonathan Knapp squashed something Monday night at the SEA's Board of Director meeting - apparently the something was in support of Hale / kind of what Portland had done ... however, given how The Insider Cliques of SEA like their insider games more than the work of garnering widespread support, who knows what the somethign actually said.

Finally - Thanks Marty!! you've just saved me from considering spending any time or help on your campaign. Your support of Nyland sounded like Knapp & The Powers That Be. You know the FEW bodies Knapp was able to produce for you (out of 5000 members) - well, few of the few are Knapp lovers, so, good luck.

WHEW - I was going to spend time trying to organize a staff poll to gauge support of Sue's thing tomorrow - thanks all for wasting my time trying to organize people!

Anyone else got any last minute secret surprise initiatives! a plague on all


Linh-Co said...

Marty has been a disappointment. I hope someone steps up for West Seattle.

ProSleep Mom said...

"For states without a waiver: Under NCLB, a school that fails to make AYP for two years must set aside up to 15% of its Title I federal funds to use for transporting volunteer students to a non-failing school. Because nearly all schools are now ‘failing,’ the transfer issue has become irrelevant. If a school does not make AYP for three years, it must put aside up to 15% of its Title I funds for ‘supplemental educational services’ (‘tutoring’). The 15% funds are not available for regular school use. Districts, however, are eligible to run their own SES programs."

Could someone explain this more? I would think skipping the test and putting the money into tutoring would be a much better use of the money; kids who are struggling don't usually improve by taking a test. And if anyone knows which tests our kids are subjected to are optional (ie, no strings attached- though the strings mentioned above seem more like a carrot.) I would love to know that- and how much these tests cost.

Watching said...

Kudos to Director Peters. Resolutions can be used as a mechanism to start a conversation.

Peters felt a sense of urgency based upon Nathan Hale opting-out and I support her efforts.

The resolution could have forced a conversation and the board could have voted NO in 2 weeks.

I look forward to this issue coming before C&I.

High School students are expected to take 30 hours of tests this spring and testing schedules are conflicting. #crazy

mirmac1 said...

I am angry and disgusted with the doublespeak coming from the Fab Four. I'm sure some were more concerned about upsetting some of those great staff (who've brought us the multitude of useless, fruitless tests) than what their constituents care about: educating our students and complying with laws more meaningful and redeeming than NCLB.

Anonymous said...

@ Watching, can you please ID what those 30 hrs of spring HS tests are? It would be helpful for those considering opting out of some. That seems very high.


Anonymous said...

Marty jumped the shark 2 years ago. She got sick unfortunately, but even before that, she came in rather overwhelmed and, for my tastes, far too trusting of Staff and Banda. She's gotten less and less authentically engaged as time goes by. For the last 2 years, with the 1 exception of elementary math adoption, she has been a deferential puddle. She's a really lovely lady, but this former Marty supporter and voter threw in the towel on her after watching her be toothless on too many crucial matters. She must step off. She doesn't have the energy to even keep up on the numerous and complex and fraught matters that the Board must deal with. And it is all going to get worse. She's sold out our kids. She thinks testing is great, and split shifts will magically solve problems.

Bye Marty.

Anonymous said...

Anyone remembering Sundquist, now head of the state Charter commission BTW, will not be quick to roll McLaren downhill. She isn't the devil incarnate. What Sundquist would have said and how he would have acted tonight, peering imperiously over those damn glasses at the uneducated in his mind masses would have made me vomit on the tv broadcasting the meeting.

It's disappointing McLaren didn't side with the Peters side though. As a former teacher she has to know the teaching majority in this town aren't sold on SBAC.


Watching said...


I received those numbers from a High School testing coordinator.

It is important to remember that there is a combination of factors that will lead to some students taking 30 hrs. of tests, and some students might take approximately 22 hours of tests this spring.

We can begin by looking at 8 hrs. of SBAC, 4 hrs SAT, math final, history final, language arts final, science final, IB and AP tests. It is important to remember that some students will take SAT more than once.

Anonymous said...

Watching, those numbers (22-30 hours of testing) are extremely misleading and I think you know that.

Let's break this down --- all students (except for those that opt out) will take the SBAC 11th grade tests. All students will take a content class final (if indeed each of their classes have finals). Only a percentage --- and I don't know what that is --- will take the SAT and/or the ACT. And only a very small percentage take AP tests. And only a very, very small percentage of students take IB tests. Do any students take both AP and IB tests?

Is class time taken away for the SAT and/or ACT? Are these now given during the school day?

So, for students not aspiring to a 4-year college or university (i.e., not taking AP, IB, SAT, or ACT), how many hours of testing do they sit for in a year? And what percentage of the 11th grade population do you think this might be?

--- swk

Anonymous said...

SAT was given this year to 11th graders at Hale on February 25th or 26th during the school day. It was the free SAT so just about all of them took it. I believe it was the same at all of the high schools.


Watching said...

"Watching, those numbers (22-30 hours of testing) are extremely misleading and I think you know that."

No they are not. Add up the combination of ACT, SAT, PSAT, SBAC, five final exams, IB and/or AP. Let's not forget that SBAC is an EIGHT hour exam.

Watching said...

"Is class time taken away for the SAT and/or ACT? Are these now given during the school day?"

This year students missed class time to take SAT. So, SBAC and SAT accounts for 12 hours of missed instructional time.

WS OptOut said...

West Seattle (and everyone else) can still have their voices heard on SBAC by opting out. Unsure about your rights as a parent? Not getting any real information from your principal about refusing the test ? Seattle Opt Out is holding an informational meeting in West Seattle next Thursday:

Opt-Out Informational Meeting
Thursday, March 12th
6:00 - 7:45pm
Southwest Library
9010 35th Ave SW, 98126

The district is going to bombard you with all sorts of (often misleading) information on the SBAC over the next several weeks. Come listen to the concerns of parents and educators that the district is NOT talking about.

See you there!

Anonymous said...

Watching, you ignored or just didn't answer my last question --- what percentage of 11th grade students in a high school do you think are taking "the combination of ACT, SAT, PSAT, SBAC, five final exams, IB and/or AP"? Ballpark?

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Ballard 11th graders took SAT during the school day. And 10th and 11th graders took PSAT during the school day (in Oct)

So yes, those tests happen (for some) during the school day

SAT EXAMS FOR JUNIORS! The SAT is the most widely used college admission test in the country. All juniors will be missing a full day of regular school and taking the SAT exam in the main gym on February 25. To learn more about this,click here. All juniors are automatically registered and no action is required of families in advance.

PSAT FOR SOPHOMORES & JUNIORS: Wednesday, October 15 is the date for the PSAT at BHS. Please be prepared by studying your student guide. You will need to bring two #2 pencils and a calculator. Cell phone calculators are prohibited. Room assignments will be posted in the hallways outside the library and Alumni Room. Sophomores will test on the first floor and juniors on the second floor. Please check your room assignment prior to test day.


Anonymous said...

@ Watching, You said "Add up the combination of ACT, SAT, PSAT, SBAC, five final exams, IB and/or AP."

Students don't take that combination in the spring, so adding those all up provides an incorrect total. The PSAT, for example, is done in the fall. Most kids won't do ALL of the remaining tests this spring either. For example, not many take the ACT--in 2013 only about a third as many WA kids took the ACT as the SAT.

AP exams are typically spread out over the course of several years, since kids take AP classes in 10th-12th grades. I suspect only the most serious students take more than a few AP exams in any one year, and those students know they are signing up for exams when they take the classes--that's part of the point.

And yes, while it's possible for students who take IB exams to also take AP exams, it's going to be a very small subset of students. (How many IB students do we have? And if 11th graders are the most tested group, isn't that just the IBX students who even have the opportunity do both AP and IB exams? They could also probably wait and do the AP exams in 12th if it's too much.)

So no, HS students are not expected to take 30hrs of exams this spring. Some of those on a more academic approach may elect to do so, but it's not a requirement.


Lynn said...

You can argue that one particular test shouldn't be included in the total time we're talking about. You can say that another test doesn't really count because hardly any students take it. We know which tests our kids are taking and we know whether this is an appropriate use of their time.

My kid took the PSAT in the fall and the SAT last week. She will take four AP exams and five final exams this spring. She's missed 6 hours of instruction this semester so that other students can take EOC exams and will miss another 27 hours for the HSPE, EOC and ELA exams. It's too much. It's ridiculous. We are not going to participate. I can't imagine why any junior would take the SBAC this year.

mirmac1 said...

HF and swk,

I don't see where Watching said ALL students will have 30 HOURS of tests. Only some.

Is that where we are? Debating what X percentage does it take to make this year's useless SBAC worth burdening X+1% students? No. swk presents a false dichotomy.

Are we to now argue what test when and how many times? How about why the **** all the tests and to what end. Readers on this blog are not the only ones who seek this greater understanding. Read the news across the country.

My child will not be a guinea pig for a useless test this year. Next year, well SBAC may just be a bad memory.

I cut out of the snoozefest Assessments "work session" 15 minutes before its end (at about pg 18 of the 42 pg powerpoint). I was amazed to hear last night that the suit from Scholastic had the audacity to chastise the board and district on its failure to prepare students and families for the anticipated +60% fail rate. If I were a director my head would have exploded. Instead last night I heard directors chastising the directors who want to raise the flag.

That is a load of Donkey Kong!

Anonymous said...

mirmac, what false dichotomy?

And you can continue to yell from the rooftops that it's "useless" for schools to administer the SBAC this year, but there are many others who don't agree with you.

And it's not just ed reformers who find some use in its administration and some of those people sit on your elected, yes elected, not appointed school board, as was aptly demonstrated last night.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I agree. It's a lot of testing for some kids, and I can't see why any juniors would bother with the SBAC this year.

For 10th graders, though, I'd consider taking the SBAC ELA exam. If the big concern is that highly academic students are going to have so many AP/IB/ACT/SAT exams to deal with in their junior year, why not try to get this requirement done early? The kids on this rigorous academic track are the ones more likely to pass it anyway, and it sounds like the cut score for graduation requirements will be lower than that for "college ready." Same goes with EOCs--students on the college prep track can likely get the math and biology EOCs done before 11th grade. Then they can focus on their college-prep exams of choice (AP, IB, SAT, ACT, PSAT) in 11th.

But yes, the lost time and disruption caused by all the exams that other kids have to take is ridiculous. Schools need to find a better way to manage that. It seems like some schools (GHS?) are particularly bad about preserving instructional time.

The thing that confuses me is that most of the people arguing this from a test-overload perspective seem to be thinking about it primarily in terms of the more academic kids--it's just too much time given all those other tests! Is the idea, then, that we should scrap basic graduation requirement exams in favor of those optional exams that are more applicable to college-bound students? Or are people only complaining about the hours associated with the SBAC and other testing this year, not in future years?

(I'm not addressing the quality of the test here. That's a whole different issue, I know.)


Watching said...

KUOW covers Director Peters and Director Patu's Resolution:


Anonymous said...

For the 11th grade, it is two things:
1) They paid their dues. If they passed, then they are done. To them, it serves no purpose and feels insulting. Those who require retakes are doing them. The SBAC is another "try" after they have already been taken out of class for make ups in February and the writing make up in March. So, kids who are not scoring well are losing even more instructional time which could actually increase their potential for passing one or more of these tests.

2) This class lost another day, not just four hours, but an entire day last week for the SAT. The 8 hours of SBAC during the weeks leading up to AP testing or overlapping the AP tests, or EOCs, or finals just to collect data on them for test calibration makes it an undue burden and detracts from their learning. Detracts from all students, either in prep for AP, or for gaining skills to pass a make up HSPE. Since Hale is full inclusion, all students are in the same classes. It impacts all students equally.

The proposal from the directors goes further than the Hale boycott. It articulates the subtext, the motivation for many who are refusing the test, very well. I admire the bold position taken by Peters and Patu.
-emotional wellness

Anonymous said...

emotional wellness, this year's SBAC administration isn't being used for "test calibration." People repeating this false premise won't make it so.

I really don't know where this idea came from but it's not what's happening.

--- swk

Gads said...

Peaslee, Blanford and Martin Moris went on and on about "the process", but missed the point-"The Process"= did not bring this subject to the forefront.

mirmac1 said...

Many swk? How many or what percentage? Hmmmmmm?

mirmac1 said...

As for those on our elected board who find "usefulness" with SBA - as best as I can tell only those who may as well be appointed, and who typically defer to staff because, well just because - it's clear they do not put the interests of the students and their constituents first. A few have been around since the questionable NWEA procurement (and still rubberstamped it again and again) and the others have shown their willingness to shill for the district vaunted T&L Dept (?) for some time now.

Please don't avoid my question on the numbers and percentage of parents who disagree with me and please separate them into college ready or career ready or simply HS graduates.

Anonymous said...

"Recalibration may be required if parameters shift."

What else are Psychometric Service Providers for?

To not monitor and adjust would be foolish, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

@ smh, the document you linked to doesn't actually include that statement, but it does say this:

"The expectation is that items calibrated during the pilot phase will retain their parameters. Items would be recalibrated only if parameters appear to have shifted after field test administration."

From what I understand, field testing was done in 2014.


seattle citizen said...

swk, on another thread you didn't have an answer when I asked if SBAC was adaptive all the way through (or if it reset to base level at each new skill tested) and no comment when I wrote that I thought teachers and parent/guardians couldn't see an individual student's test, so as to analyze what questions the got wring and right and why they might have.
Given that, how can you say this test has a purpise? For who? It's apparently an "adaptive" Machine that takes student responses, chews on them, and spits out numbers that purport to meaningfully indicate a student's "level" on...something...
Putting aside the obvious factors such as student illness, home situation, mood, rebelliouness, special ed spectrum, hunger...putting aside tech failure stresses when a student's test crashes midway and has to reboot, and eight year olds being expected to be tech savvy...putting aside the ads we see on Craigslust, looking to pay anyone with a BA $12-15 an hour to use a template to score highly individualized student written responses...putting all that aside and assuming some miracle of perfect conditions that yields some perfectly accurate result, what use will these scores have to students, educators, and parent/guardians?
And what about all those things that aren't tested? Are they not important enough for their own tests?

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

mirmac, I'm looking at some polling that says 75% of WA parents support SBAC testing. Given the source of the polling and timing of the poll, I'm gonna say there's a standard error of 25 pts. and say 50% of parents think SBAC is useful.

Sorry I don't have these numbers disaggregated by college ready or career ready or HS graduates. For that, I feel miserable and probably won't sleep tonight. So thanks for that.

--- swk

Anonymous said...

seattle citizen, first off, I showed the courtesy of admitting I didn't know the answer to your questions. I didn't say the answers were not known but simply that I didn't know them. If you want to use my ignorance to prove some point, please feel free to discourteously do so. It doesn't matter to me.

With that said, please let me know the moment we achieve "some miracle of perfect conditions that yields some perfectly accurate result" in public education. I'll be sure to gather all of the statisticians, researchers, etc. that I know for a glimpse of that moment so that we can know that all data, e.g., course grades, graduation rates, scores on course finals, grades on Ms. Johnson's surprise American Government quiz, etc., are useless outside of that moment.

--- swk

mirmac1 said...

If the polling question was "do you support increasing rigor for all students so they can succeed in college career and life, as measured by the latest technology and testing" then 50 % might be...Ballpark? You chide Watching for his/her numbers then back your suppositions with polls and asides about elected boards yada yada.

Anonymous said...

The parents on this blog are highly educated. They were unprepared for this test and its ramifications. That has changed.

swk was the go-to guy since he has apparently spent hours working on this test.

In a short time, readers have educated themselves and some will shortly know as much, or more, than swk.

The questions being raised are getting harder and more specific, and the responses by swk are becoming less certain and more defensive.

The system keeps switching tests and course mid-stream, and that appears to be intentional. If just the "experts" know the rules and regs, the masses are at their mercy.

Once informed parents and teachers know the facts, they aren't buying it.

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

So the majority of Board members aren't even open to discussing the question.

The topic is not open to discussion.

That's disappointing.

seattle citizen said...

swk - I didn't mean to be discourteous. I was merely pointing out that you indicated that you didn't know how the test worked (technically) and that you didn't respond when I said that I didn't believe that parents and teachers could see the actual test students took. Given that, I asked how you can believe it's useful?
Yes, it's useful to data crunchers, those hoping to steer schools from their helm stations at the Gates Foundation and the DOE, but I don't see a lot of use for actual people in schools.

My apologies if comment sounded like an attack on you; I didn't intend that.

seattle citizen said...

swk, there is no "miracle of perfect condition", but teachers in the classroom often know when their students have circumstances impacting their performance on tests. Machines don't. Teachers can assist those students. Machines won't.
Teachers have a heart and soul, as do students; Machines are cold, calculating, dehumanizing tools that, potentially, advance a technocratic society that treats people as widgets.

Watching said...

"Watching, you ignored or just didn't answer my last question --- what percentage of 11th grade students in a high school do you think are taking "the combination of ACT, SAT, PSAT, SBAC, five final exams, IB and/or AP"? Ballpark?"

I don't have the time and/or desire to entertain this question. As previously stated, I received the 30 hour testing number from a HS test coordinator.

"When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better."

Watching said...

The above quote is from Bill Gates.

We can't ignore the fact that millions and millions of dollars have been poured into this initiative.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Echoing Watching, Bill Gates is behind Common Core and all that followed from that. It has been clearly established and the huge amount of money he has thrown at it - in all directions - shows he means business (and I use that last word deliberately).

Anonymous said...

yeah, and if CCSS and the resulting 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 are rigorous 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 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...

Ditto for swk.

SBAC off2

Anonymous said...

Swk, where do we get the idea that there are 30 hours of testing? Well, a test that's supposed to take oh, say 4 hours, ALWAYS takes longer. Let's just talk about younger grades. K-8. In that case, we can discount the end of year content test. Students take way more than 30 hours of tests per year. I have not yet given the SBAC. I don't know how long the "SBAC"s will be, once you've got your computer and somebody says "go", but the Amplify testing takes 1 month per sitting. And these are given 3 times, so that's 3 months. Sure, it's possible that the fastest students finish in 4 hours - but then there's the waiting for computer labs, and waiting for the slow students, and waiting for the absent students. All that waiting (and doing practically nothing) just so they can take the Amplify Test. And why do they take the Amplify? To get them ready for the SBAC. Highly correlated we are told. So, after all the Amplifying... in walks SBAC, the grand finale. It will take a month. Students will do NOTHING during that month except SBAC. That's the reality.

Reality Sucks

Anonymous said...

Students will do nothing for a whole month but SBAC? Give me a break. Even if the testing cycle takes that long, it's not like teachers will have kids just sitting there waiting until every class is done. Sheesh .