> Some of you have expressed concern about the administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA). Concerns have included questions about the utility of the assessment, the instructional time lost due to testing and the likelihood of lower test scores. I encourage you to visit our newly developed Frequently Asked Questions<http://smarterbalanced.www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=324018&> on our district website.
I would acknowledge that the SBA presents unique challenges – particularly in regard to this year’s test administration. Although the amount of SBA testing time for each individual student is relatively small (about eight hours depending on grade level), because of our limited technology, the administration of the test is spread out through much of the spring months.
> The SBA however, does take several steps in the right direction. It reflects the higher College and Career Readiness Standards (Common Core) which our students need to compete successfully in a global market for family wage jobs (75% of family wage jobs now require SOME college). Yes, the SBA does measure student progress against a higher standard and the percentage of students that achieve proficiency will likely be lower. We have seen similar trends with the WASL, the MSP, the HSPE, and the EoCs. In each case, we have learned from the test results and risen to the challenge. I am confident that we will do so again, and that the preparation work done in Washington and Seattle will mean that our state and district scores will continue to compare favorably. Seattle currently outperforms the state in Reading, Math, Science and Writing.
> I also take seriously my oath of office promising to uphold state and federal laws. The SBA is a state requirement and a part of both state and federal law. Since we are already a high risk grantee for Special Education, failure to give the SBA could further jeopardize our federal funds. Teacher and principal contracts, as well as state certification, also require adherence to state law.
> All employees responsible for administering the SBA are directed to give the SBA as required by law and/or their supervisor. I would also ask that staff give appropriate professional advice (rather than personal advice) to parents.
> SBA administration has begun for many of our schools and will begin soon for many more. I want to thank all of those who have worked so hard to prepare for these assessments – from student learning, to keyboarding, to technology, to the logistics of scheduling, and more.
> A note to those with personal/professional objections to administering the SBA:
> Staff who object to administering the SBA must give advanced notice to their supervisor and work with their supervisor to insure that arrangements are made for SBA administration and coverage. For those who give advanced notice, refusal to give the SBA will be considered as misconduct.
Consequences will be determined after further consideration and review of the CBA. Failure to give advanced notice of your refusal to administer the SBA, will be considered as insubordination and flagrant misconduct, and it will result in the imposition of serious discipline, up to and including termination of your employment and a referral to OSPI to take action on your certificate.
> Finally, I want to restate my confidence in the teachers and students of Seattle. We live in challenging times. Each of us – superintendent, principal, teachers, and students – faces increased challenges in support of student learning. There is no question, we are each being asked to do what seems daunting. The challenge of our times is whether we face those challenges with a GROWTH mindset or a FIXED mindset. A fixed mindset says we are what we are and have no hope for future growth. A growth mindset says that we can each learn and grow through dedicated effort. Seattle has demonstrated that kind of growth mindset resulting in a steady increase in test scores. The growth over the past six years has been exemplary district-wide and includes more schools of distinction than any other district in Washington. We have that hope and aspiration for each of our students and each of us as colleagues and professionals.
> Thank you – each of you – for your part in making great things happen for each and every one of our students.