Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Seattle Schools News

A couple of things that may extend beyond one school - if you know this is happening at your school, could you please let us know.

Update: on the SAT testing story, at the end of the thread is a letter from Roosevelt principal, Brian Vance.

Key passage:

In the following weeks we received no indication that there would be a consequence for our timing error and even after speaking with College Board and Educational Testing Services after the exam, we received no information that would lead us to believe they would invalidate the test scores. The first indication that there was an issue came last week, when students were not able to access their scores. In the end, the College Board invalidated our students' scores. 

It sounds like RHS was trying to figure it out but the College Board took their sweet time in making a decision.  Not good.

end of update 

First, I received this e-mail from a reader about recent SAT testing at Roosevelt on Feb. 25th:

Evidently, at Roosevelt HS, the proctor made a timing error on the first section (10 minutes extra time), allowed the rest of the test to continue, and then reported the irregularity to ETS. There has been no public acknowledgement by the RHS principal of this error.

 I am hearing now that all of those students' scores are being invalidated. Do any of you know whether this error occurred at any other SPS high school? 

 Such a large number of students are affected by this, and the College Board's response is to offer a retake on May 2nd, the weekend before many 11th graders will also be taking AP exams. How fair is that?!

I am waiting for confirmation from Communications on how many students were affected, is this a one-off situation, have students received notification, etc.
Anyone know anything about this issue?

Second, I received a heartfelt e-mail about cuts to school funding from a parent at Orca K-8.  This is not the first school I have heard from and, together with the seeming "caps" on enrollment (see Cleveland), I have to wonder if the district is somehow trying to deprive schools of money to pay for other things.
 I just find it hard to believe the district is awash in enrollment growth and yet, seemingly, so many schools are seeing budget cuts.  

Has your school experienced cuts in its budget over the last couple of years?  What are you hearing about next year?  

Orca K-8's Principal Talbert has received notice that her appeal to not have the school's budget cut by $168,000 was denied.

This Saturday at Cafe Vita on Wilson Avenue South in the Lakewood/Seward Park neighborhood, parents, students, and teachers will be gathering 10:30-11:00am for Betty Patu's coffee chat.


I am writing on behalf of my child and the other students at Orca K‑8. We have been informed that the current district budget cuts to our programs include instrumental music (band), 0.5 counselor, 0.5 assistant principal, as well as a portion of our special education teachers. Though we know that our principal will make adjustments to keep some of these programs, it does mean that overall we are going to lose some services or programs from our school.

Every year, our school is faced with cuts to our programs and administration, and though our principal works to mitigate the losses, we still lose. We cannot suffer another year of further cuts.

Our school’s operation is very lean, and we are already feeling the effects of the cuts from last year, with the reduction of the librarian, removal of office staff, and reduction of available staff for middle school electives. With the K-­8 model, our medically fragile population, and the design of our building, our budget does not allow for student population growth and the ability to reach the next level required by the district, for us to achieve maximum funding.

I would like to suggest that the district look at all other cost cutting measures before cutting direct services to students. Your immediate attention is needed to reflect the District Mission of “Every Student, Every Classroom, Every Day." No further cuts can be accepted at Orca K-­8. Our students are suffering and your immediate action is needed. Your action is needed and greatly appreciated.


Letter from Principal Vance at RHS:

Dear Junior Parents:

I want to address the issue with the in-school SAT that was offered at Roosevelt on February 25th and provide information on how to move forward from here.

This was the first time we offered the SAT in school and there are many details that go into offering a test like this on a large scale. Despite our best efforts and everything else going off without an issue, we made a timing error on one section of the exam. Upon recognizing this we immediately called the College Board who simply told us to report the error and they would review it. This was the only information they provided at that time.

In the following weeks we received no indication that there would be a consequence for our timing error and even after speaking with College Board and Educational Testing Services after the exam, we received no information that would lead us to believe they would invalidate the test scores. The first indication that there was an issue came last week, when students were not able to access their scores. In the end, the College Board invalidated our students' scores.

We want to apologize for the error we made during the exam and the frustration it is causing you and your student. We take full responsibility for the error we made. Our goal is to do what’s best for students and we feel terrible that our error has affected them. This testing error also highlights the challenges of administering the SAT in our schools and we are working on new processes and safeguards to catch these kinds of errors in the future.

We know that parents are receiving different information from customer service at the College Board. The most current information we have, is that the College Board will be emailing or mailing instructions on how to sign your student up for the SAT offered on May 2, for free, in one of their testing centers. The College Board stated that students and parents would get this information by the end of the week. There are rumors that Roosevelt will be a testing site on May 2. We do not have any confirmation from the College Board that this is true. If the May 2nd date does not work for your student, you are welcome to sign up for a different test date at your own expense. Additionally, if students need their registration number from the February 25th SAT in order to sign up for the free May SAT, or to sign up at a different site/different date at family expense or for a fee waiver, counselors can provide your student’s registration number.

Again, we apologize for this error and will support our students in setting up a new testing date and moving forward. Please contact me, Ms. Curtin or your student’s counselor with any questions.

Yours In Education,

Brian Vance



FUR said...

Thanks for posting this. Do you have a run down of what the total budget is, and the changes on a per school basis?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Unfortunately, I don't. I know there is a work session today that will include the budget but I probably cannot attend.

Linh-Co said...

According to our daughter the Ingraham testing was very disorganized with a very long check-in. They couldn't hear the instructions because it was given in the gym and it had to be repeated multiple times. The gym wasn't heated but students could not go to their lockers to get coats. Testing environment was not ideal.

Anonymous said...

The voided SAT affected the entire junior class at Roosevelt, who took the SAT for free during school time in February (on lap desks in the theater). The principal sent an email to all junior parents last night. It is too bad that the College Board won't even give students an approximate score (even if it is unofficial) for them to judge how much more to study for the next time, or get their questions and answers back, which normally happens when you get your scores Principal Vance believes they have negotiated that our students will get to take the SAT again for free on the next testing date in May. Unfortunately, that date is the weekend before AP testing starts, so these students will have SAT on Saturday, then two weeks of AP testing (typically 2-3 tests for college-bound students), followed by one week of SBAC. Not much education will happen in May, as even students who aren't taking AP tests will have a significant fraction of their class absent on a given day, so teachers can't do very much.

RHS parent

Maureen said...

My daughter cooroborates what Linh-Co posted. The exam ended up taking over six hours to administer because of check in snafus. The ones who were seated (they forgot to put out desks for everyone whose name started with T) had to sit there for a full hour before they were able to begin. This was after they all were sent back to their lockers to get rid of their posessions and coats (couldn't they have just piled them in the room?) I'm actually not sure who was procotoring, but it shouldn't be up to teachers and parent volunteers. The regular SAT is run by properly trained employees, isn't it? Seems like The College Board and SPS wanted ot get by on the cheap. Nothing is free, certainly not this free SAT. Unfortunately out students and schools paid with their instructional time.

Po3 said...

I see RHS is giving the SBAC to its 10th graders this week. Wonder how that's going?

My students will take SATs at a local college, I believe SPU offers the test.

If they even take the SAT, I hear that the ACT is a better route. Would be interesting to have a thread on that sometime. (SAT v ACT)

Anonymous said...

My kid got scores for the SAT at Hale so I am assuming they okay to use.


Linh-Co said...


It wasn't free for the school either. The school secretary told me they had pay for 7 subs in the building so the teachers could help/proctor. This cost the school around $1400 and comes directly out of the building's budget. They will not be reimbursed from downtown.

Anonymous said...

I weep for Orca. I really do.

Longtime reader