Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Unhappy with Pearson?  Apparently you are not alone. 

Speaking of Big Brother, here's the SBAC's "Guidance for Social Media Monitoring during the Field Test." 

The State Senate is to drop its budget this week.  Let's see how that fulfillment of McCleary is going and where they find the funding.  I spoke to Speaker Chopp last week and that's pretty much all he would say.  I note that when I mentioned that while I think preschool is great, that the Constitution says K-12 is the state's paramount duty and that I was worried about the push that both preschool and higher education are receiving this session.  He said something to the effort that there would be more dollars for preschool but not in McCleary.

Whether it's in McCleary or not is not really the point.  Because, frankly, education dollars are education dollars. I note that there's a new group, Why Not Us Washington that is pushing the Legislature to invest more in preschool.  It's a group of child advocacy groups sponsoring this group that looks like it's mainly MomsRising.  Interesting thing - preschool isn't even listed as one of Moms Rising's main issues.  Oh wait, it's also sponsored by LEV. 

Congratulations to Physical Ed teacher of the year (according to SHAPE America), Shelly Ellis.  Ms. Ellis teaches PE and Health at Broadview-Thomson K-8. 

And good luck to the Franklin Mock Trial team that is headed to the state competition this Friday.  They have been past state and national champions.  They took second this year to rival Seattle Prep at the county level and hope to best them at state.

What's on your mind?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to a page on the school district's website, http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=323015, highly capable designated students are "guaranteed a placement in any offered Advanced Placement...in which they choose to enroll and meet all prerequisites." We were hoping this would mean our child could get two AP science courses at Garfield next year, but according to his counselor, this only means you get one AP course per subject area. Anyone have any experience with this?
Curious parent.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the Franklin Mock Trial teams! They were the only public school team that made it into the top 10 at the initial competition, and both their JV and Varsity teams made the cut.

Its a fantastic learning experience for all involved and Franklin is a great representative for Seattle Public Schools.

Good Luck!

-GHS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, I would think - given the district - that's a school call so that you'd need to ask the principal. But yes, high school parents, what do you hear at your school.

Anonymous said...

Old timer here, but I do remember the one AP science restriction from a few years ago. Imagine if GHS had to offer 2 AP science classes to every student who wanted to take 2 AP science classes, especially with the ever growing number of APP and otherwise accelerated students at GHS. There is no way the master schedule could accomodate those numbers, and only allowing a very few access to their academic wishes would not be fair. There are only so many science teachers and only so many hours in a day and rooms in the building.

BTDT

Jet City mom said...

Every student needs to be guaranteed the classes they need for not only graduation, but college admission.
Four yrs of science lab courses are sufficient to apply to any college in the country.
No student should be allowed to double dip, if not all students are offered the same opportunity.

Po3 said...

Curious Parent - Which two AP science classes were you looking to take in one year?

Sarah said...

My child spent hours taking Aplify tests and I'm not finding test results on The Source. Why?

Are MAP results linked to The Source?

Watching said...

There will be a work session regarding the Family and Education Levy.

It is my hope that the city begins paying for IB program; the program sets high expectations and it is exactly what we need.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars in this levy and will provide the results we want/ need.

Please lobby the city and the board.

Anonymous said...

I was watching the district SBAC video about "Sara," and the screenshot showed a sample question that appeared to be dissing cursive writing. Humph. Being in the cursive-is-useful camp, I did a google search of the test item and lo and behold, another parent had written a criticism of the sample test question.

https://megonfire.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/cursing-cursive/

This is a 3rd grade question. Okay, perhaps they are supposed to be analyzing argumentative writing and the test creators thought cursive writing was a relatable topic for 3rd graders...but is it? The hand printing of job applications was a correct answer in supporting the statement against cursive writing. What does a 3rd grader know about job applications? I'm still annoyed by the suggestive nature of the question (cursive is not needed), and wonder what other gems are going to be in the upcoming tests.

opt out?

Maureen said...

Watching, that is an excellent idea! (Though IB really should be included in the regular SPS budget.)

Anonymous said...

Watching people talk up IB is like watching a dog roll around in poo.

Snake Oil

Anonymous said...

I just read the following article. It expresses everything I think all of us have being trying to say in the midst of the craziness over testing the heck out of our kids.

""30 years of test scores have not measured a decline in public schools, but are rather a metric of the country’s child poverty and the broadening divide of income inequality."

http://www.psmag.com/books-and-culture/what-if-education-reform-got-it-all-wrong-in-the-first-place

Roosevelt Mom

Anonymous said...

@ BTDT, if the supply/demand for AP classes is such that more kids want them than a school could accommodate, then why couldn't a school restructure things? Assuming kids can cover all the basic requirements while still doubling up in an area of interest, why is it a problem?

For example, if a lot of kids want to take more than one science class--since there are many different options, they are not all sequential, and you can't squeeze them all in without doubling up--then hire more science teachers! Those kids would be having to give up some other subject instead, which would lighten teaching loads and/or class sizes in those other subjects. It's not like the supply of teachers and classes is 100% fixed, is it? If students would rather take more science and less of some other elective, it seems like the teacher composition could be shifted to better reflect student needs/interests. And if there aren't enough science labs, it should be feasible to share space and alternate days between regular rooms and science rooms.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

In my experience -- which I do not claim to be representative, or applicable to all situations -- the best answer to questions of flexibility around IB or AP is Running Start.

In my experience -- which I do not claim to be representative, or applicable to all situations -- when anyone tells you IB or AP is college level work, they are -- as nicely as I can put it -- stretching the truth considerably.

Running Start classes ARE college work, and not "college level work."

-- Ivan Weiss

Eric B said...

I am strongly of the opinion that having lots of demand for a class means that more sections of that class should be offered, not that access should be limited. Maybe I'm crazy though.

Presumably, if students are limited to 6 periods per day, that will mean less demand for other classes. Yes, I get that there are limitations on how many sections of say chemistry can be offered based on how many labs you have and that teachers aren't fungible commodities. Still, I think demand should be a strong clue to what should be offered.

For the record, my daughter took two IB science classes at Ingraham last school year and was only prevented from doing that this year by schedule issues in unrelated classes.

Anonymous said...

@ Ivan, I have to agree with you re: AP and college-level work. People don't really pay much attention to the details, but AP exam scores can be a bit of a joke. On the Calc BC exam, for example you can miss 50% of the multiple choice questions and get only 50% of the points on the free response questions and still get a 4. If you get just over 60% correct you can get a 5! But think about it: if you miss more than 1/3 of the questions, have you really mastered the material and are you really ready to skip ahead in college? I doubt it. AP classes may be a good indication of a challenging HS schedule, but they really don't represent college-level work (or at least not at a selective university).

My kid recently scored a 5 on the Calc BC exam and was counseled by a college math teacher to NOT rely on that score as an indication that he was ready to take the credits and jump as far ahead as allowed. It was only because he'd found the AP exam easy and was confident he'd only missed a few points that the math professor thought it reasonable to skip. I suspect they've seen way too many kids come in with 4s and 5s but who really only have a very basic understanding of the material. If a kid is "pleasantly surprised" by their 4 or 5 score, I'd recommend repeating the material in college anyway. Better safe than sorry. (And yes, I wish I'd been given this advice myself many, many years ago. I wasn't, and found myself in way over my head!)

Mary G said...

There's at least 12 emergency vehicles at SE corner of Bailey Gatzert (kitty corner to entrance) Does anyone know what's up?

Anonymous said...

When my eldest was looking at colleges overseas, all of them required either a full year of American college, IB schooling (and passing) or a full year of AP classes with passing test scores. Most of the European schools are 3 years not 4 and they consider an IB diploma the same as graduating from a European high school. I believe that many American colleges also will accept IB as the freshman year of college.

HP

Eric B said...

HP, that depends. UW will only give specific course credit for the three higher level (HL) classes in IB, although they do give some general distribution credits as well. The general distribution counts for 15 credits (1 quarter). You can theoretically get 45 credits (3 quarters) off of the HL classes, but you would need to rock the tests and be in specific courses. In Ingraham's program, the most you could get is 25 credits (5 each for LA and History, 15 for an HL foreign language). Most non-language HL tests only get 5-10 credits.

Anonymous said...


opt out?@11:04 AM, Thank you for the post on the SBAC 3rd grade ELA Cursive question. I am also disappointed with the quality of the practice SBAC questions. It's a shame that we can't make the board, superintendent and the teaching and learning department take the test.

I am guessing that teachers are not going to grade the written portion of the ELA tests. I vaguely remember reading something about hiring people from cragslist at minimum wage.

Does anyone know why APP students take the grade level SBAC? shouldn't they be taking 2 grade levels ahead?

I liked the post on the Seattle Opt Out Facebook page that was in response to Nyland's letter to staff. The post also mentioned that some 3rd graders have already been through 6 hours of the SBAC ELA test and have another 6 hours scheduled for SBAC Math test in April. It's amazing that somehow we can find 12 hours or more to administer the SABC, but can't find an extra 10mins for lunch or recess.

Congratulations to the Franklin Mock Trail team!

-NH

Po3 said...

What strikes me about this how many AP science classes should my student be able to take is...where do we draw the line?

What is the scenario where a student needs to show two AP Science classes taken in one year?

How many college credits does a student really need to earn before...going to college?

It just seems to me that the "rigor" bar just keeps getting raised and I don't understand why.

Anonymous said...



Sorry for the typo. Should be Trial not Trail....

Congratulations to Franklin Mock Trial team and Good Luck!

-NH

Melissa Westbrook said...

Snake Oil, that kind of comment is not useful. Either give a real comment or opinion but we don't need that kind of crude comment.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There was a shelter-in-place at BG about 2 hours ago because of "police activity" near 12th and Main but it was lifted at about 2:50 pm when school let out.

Anonymous said...

Po3:

I share your thoughts. I think the current culture is to push our kids into being achieving machines by doing everything early (e.g., college during high school). I think some people's argument is that they save a bit of money by having their kids take AP tests or college courses. But I think it reflects a generalized underlying worry on the part of well-intentioned but somewhat competitive parents of: my kid will only get ahead in life if they do everything early and perfectly. And this attitude is filtering into the school administrations (who should know better)--who freak out the kids by constantly talking about how much competition is out there.

Roosevelt Mom

Anonymous said...

@ NH, APP/HCC isn't really considered 2 grade levels ahead anymore. Apparently the district decided the kids should be working on grade-level Common Core standards, so I guess in that case grade-level SBAC makes sense. To the extent that grade-level standards and/or the SBAC make sense in the first place, that is.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

For future reference, Mary G., the police department has a link to incidents (the 911 Map, right on the front page) that you can search by area. Also, though you may not be a paid subscriber, you can read a certain number of stories for free on the Seattle Times and other news websites. For a really large police or aid response, they're like to have a story, as they did with the incident you saw. The Times says is was a barricaded suspect nearby, and that he has surrendered.

Many Bookmarks

Mary G said...

Dear Many Bookmarks,

I am not sure what you are implying, but the fact that man had barricaded himself adjacent to an elementary school and that the children at the elementary school were sheltering in place is a relevant item to this blog. If I were a parent of a child at that school, I would want to know.

At the time, I did look at the real time 911 page and did not see any relevant items. And eventually what was posted was not helpful. The Seattle Times did not have anything posted until an hour after my question. Melissa often does know what is going on, and frankly, I consider her and many of the posters on this blog to be good sources of information.

Anonymous said...

HIMS mom

APP/HCC is 2 years ahead. I understand that the administration at Hamilton has been working for years against the APP model (not buying the text books Washington has; shuffling good teachers away from their APP classes, etc), but it is 2 years ahead in math, science, language arts, etc. that may not be your experience, but it is ours. And, 2 years ahead is the minimum, as many kids go beyond in their academic work. Yes, I know some students are asynchronous and some are 2 E, so it is very diverse in many aspects, but really, these kids who have been in APP for years really are 2 years ahead. I saw the Thurgood Marshall kids at the UW math lecture this weekend, the lecture was for high and middle schoolers... I saw a child in the third grade answer one of the prof's questions. Before you say math in middle school is not an APP course, well, APP kids from Lincoln and Washington are put into 'math 8' in the minimum.

I could go into a lot more detail, but I doubt it would make any difference. And despite what anybody says, including Shauna Heath (who didn't know) elementary students piloted benchmark assessments last year that were given 2 years ahead (she denied this, but we have the paperwork).


2Y

Po3 said...

I have yet to meet a student who graduated early (three v four years) because of their high school work. I am sure it happens, but it is clearly the exception not the norm.

I think what happening is each year the idea is if Jane and Johnny show 10 AP classes they will "edge out" the students w/ "only" 8 AP classes; then 10 becomes the new benchmark.

At some point the scales will tip to the impossible. Then what? A reset I hope!

Watching said...

Maureen,

I agree, the district should be paying for IB programs, but it isn't going to happen.

I hope you and the folks at Rainier Beach can successfully lobby for the city to pay for IB. The city's attempt at raising test scores have been dismal. Remember: No strings attached to funding.

I'd much rather funding go directly to students. Here is the "tip" of the ice cap related to the city's prek administrative expenses: positions PFA Director $199,006 PFA Assistant Director $170,600 PFA Finance/Admin Director (F/A) $170,600 PFA Finance Manager (F/A) $156,309 PFA Senior Finance Analyst (F/A) $115,930 PFA Contract Supervisor (F/A) $113,994 PFA Contract Specialist (F/A) $98,428 PFA Data & Evaluation Manager (D/E) $169,658 PFA Database Administrator (D/E) $112,160 PFA Data Analyst (D/E) $156,309 PFA Management Systems Analyst (D/E) $106,606 PFA Comm & Outreach Coordinator (C/O) $156,309 PFA Continuous QA Manager (QA) $156,309 PFA Sr Education Specialist (QA) - PFA Coach $108,364 PFA Strategic Advisor (QA) $144,513 PFA Operations Manager (Ops) $156,309

Watching said...

Clarification: PFA means - Preschool For All--not-- Paycheck for All.....:)

Anonymous said...

@ 2Y, I don't mean that kids aren't capable of and/or actually working 2 years above grade level, or that some schools/teachers aren't teaching 2 yrs above grade level. I know many kids are doing so, and it sounds like many teachers/schools--particularly at the elementary level--are continuing that approach.

My comment was referring to the overall HCC program districtwide. To the extent there exists a defined HCC program, it no longer promotes itself as "two years ahead." It's not in the description online anymore, and Stephen Martin has said it's no longer the intent. The new LA/SS scope and sequence for HCC middle school is now aligned with that of GenEd, and according to draft materials I saw, as well as a presentation by Kathleen Vasquez at an HCC Advisory Committee meeting not too long ago, the LA/SS standards they'll be targeting in HCC middle school are the grade-level CCSS. Not 2 yrs ahead. I don't know what standards they're using in HCC elementary, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear it's different across sites.

As for science, yes, that's ahead. Maybe 2 yrs, but maybe more like one. The 7th grade science class uses some of the 8th grade science kits, and I don't think it's equivalent to a real HS Physical Science class. But the Bio in 8th should be pretty equivalent, so that's good.

At the HS level, it never really was 2 yrs ahead, and access to AP classes in 9th grade was recently scaled back. For the most part, HCC kids are on a pretty similar HS track to non-HCC kids. IBX is the exception, and they are only one year ahead of IB.

If I'm wrong about these details, though, please let me know. Clear info isn't always easy to get in this district.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

RE: doubling up on AP science classes

School budgets are very tight and decided in March of the previous school year dependent on projected enrollment. At the high school level, each department is allotted a number of teachers as needed per projected enrollment. If one department would expand their offerings and thus hours worked/paid based on kids wanting to double up and not take an elective but a core course, it would throw the entire budget off because something would have to be taken away from another department to make the doubling up in a core subject feasible. It is not possible to just add classes at the high school level. When you increase one department, another department has to shrink, given the fixed budget the schools are working with. Taking hours away from World Languages, Art, Occ Ed, or whatever, affects every other student who might not want to double up in AP science.

BTDT

Anonymous said...

@2Y, I am guessing you have a child in elementary school or at Washington. APP/HCC at Hamilton and JAMS is not 2 years ahead across all subjects. Math? We are told that's not part of HCC. The default placement is 2 years ahead, but we are told math placement is by ability, not program. Science? Maybe 2 years ahead, but not much material has been covered in 6th and 7th grade. Schools are also allowing enrollment in HCC science classes if they are in APP (or Spectrum?) level math. Hopefully Biology is taught at a high school level (but that doesn't mean an honors level). LA/SS in middle school? Don't even get me started. It has been decimated. It's been aligned with grade level CCSS and grade level WA State social studies guidelines.

reality

Anonymous said...

Mary G., Huh? I thought you genuinely didn't know where else to look. We had a terrible accident near our house a few months back and it WAS on the police site in time for us to avoid that intersection.

Unless the district sent out a notice or Melissa has a police scanner, I'm not sure why she'd know anything more than the general public. I was trying to be helpful. Sorry.

Many Bookmarks

Anonymous said...

Many Bookmarks

I got your message and your tone just fine. You didn't do anything wrong.

- seafarer

Eric B said...

@Po3 and BTDT, For a given year, it's true that it's harder to open new sections unless new teachers come with higher enrollment. However, if there's a long-term trend that there is more demand for AP science classes than there is supply, that's an indication to administration that they should use opportunities to make changes when they can.

There are several different ways AP can benefit students. There's obviously a college admissions angle, but also benefits in college. I had a lot of AP credits, but didn't graduate early. Instead, I took another quarter's worth of classes in my major and was able to take classes that I found a lot more interesting than English 101. The only person I know who graduated in 3 years did it by taking an enormous credit load, not with AP classes.

Mary G said...

@ Many Bookmarks, perhaps I misunderstood your tone. It just seemed extremely odd and rather sarcastic to me to suggest that I was unaware of the Seattle Times website as a source of news.

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz, Mary G. You asked if anyone knew "what was up" and a poster gave you some sources to find out "what was up." I guess we're all supposed to know who you are. I have no idea who you are, except someone who continues to be fairly snotty to the poster who, in my mind, was clearly trying to be helpful and answer your original question. Cute bird though.

Sign me, Lighten up

Anonymous said...

Mary your tone is doing no one any good. Not you not your special education cause that you persistently post on. This is a place where people share information with generally good intentions. Readers think you have good intentions and if you cannot feel the same then perhaps this is not the right forum for you. In an emergency a poster took the time to go out of the way to give many sources of information. In turn you burned the poster for no good reason. Get over yourself please and

Chill Out

Anonymous said...

There has been quite a bit of coverage of the alarming number of suicides among Palo Alto high school students in Palo Alto online. Voices of students, parents and professionals speaking about the stress the kids are experiencing academically. One of the issues the Palo Alto school board is dealing with is placing a limit on the number of AP classes students can take. Here is a link to one article, from January, after yet another suicide. There was another one two weeks ago.

http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/2015/01/30/guest-opinion-school-needs-more-limits-on-courseload

BTDT

Melissa Westbrook said...

BTDT, I posted on this recently, sorry you missed it.

Anonymous said...

No this is not always a place of good intentions. There have been a lot of posts on here attacking several individuals, especially people who use their names. In fact, Melissa has been subject to some particularly vicious attacks. Mary may have been having a bad day, but her posts are usually fairly level-headed and thoughtful. I also appreciate her comments on special education.
Y'all backoff

No Surprise said...

Stand for Children circulated a petition to support linking teacher evaluations to test scores. No surprise, here:

Stand for Children Leadership Center

Date: October 2014
Purpose: to support Common Core implementation and teacher effectiveness programs
Amount: $2,551,388
Term: 13
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Portland, Oregon
Grantee Website: http://stand.org/

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/How-We-Work/Quick-Links/Grants-Database/Grants/2014/10/OPP1117471

Melissa Westbrook said...

Let's all take a deep breath, believe in good intent and move on.

Anonymous said...

SPS has posted a draft calendar for 2015-2016. Any chance to sway the board to not have a full week off for mid-winter break, just a mere 6 weeks after winter break? This is such a hardship for working families.

No_fan_of_mid-winter break

Anonymous said...

Wow, the 2015/16 DRAFT calendar goes far into June. It'll be a short summer for those HS grads going to a college that starts in mid-August!

Sept. 9: Start of school
Dec. 21-Jan 4: Winter break
Feb. 15-19: Mid-winter break
April 11-15: Spring break
June 23: Last day of school

HIMSmom

NW mom said...

They're back to a week off in February? Crikey. Have never been a fan. 2 weeks in dec/jan mad a week in April is perfectly fine.