Sunday, May 17, 2015

Seattle Schools Updates

One piece of pretty bad news, especially for high school students and parents, is that the Class Pages are going off-line on June 1.  Apparently the district's switchover to a new system, SharpSchool, cannot extend until the end of school (the district blames the vendor) and so neither you nor your student will be able to access any homework, grades, etc.

SPS to teachers:

Teachers, students, and families will not have access to class pages the last 2 weeks of schools. We are working on available alternatives to help minimize disruption to schools. Teachers will be receiving additional communication about options for sharing files and announcements during the last two weeks of school. 

We apologize for this added inconvenience. We had truly hoped for an extension to beyond the end of the school year to help ease this transition for all of our students and families, as well as for all our staff, especially those in schools.

All the functions of class pages will be unavailable - can't post/read announcements, materials, documents, or submit homework. Tell your student is he/she has any work, they need to be sure they have their own copy on Fusion. Any files not saved by June 1 will be gone.

The new SharpSchool-supported websites are now due to go live on June 1. SharpSchool has migrated the entire district website and is working on migrating school websites as well as MySPS. All public-facing sites will be migrated by June 1. Because of the vast size of MySPS, there is a possibility that it will not be complete by this date. We are working on alternatives that would allow staff to get MySPS information. 

Note: This deadline will not allow time for as much website quality control or training before going live. There will most likely be several issues with website pages. Central office staff and SharpSchool will work hard to address every concern as soon as possible while also working to train current website administrators on the new platform. Please visit the SharpSchool training website for more information about how to sign up for training. 

On SBAC Testing

 SBAC testing continues on in the high schools this week.  However, what information is given by each high school varies tremendously and you have to wonder why that is.  Wouldn't the district want a uniform statement about the SBAC even if each school has a different schedule?  Apparently not.

One new thing I have heard about is around using another test score other than the SBAC to graduate.  But you have to attempt the SBAC first in order to use another test score. If they fail, then they can use another test score like the SAT.  As well, in order to use the COE (Collection of Evidence) option, the student has to have "attempted" the SBAC.


Center School - their webpage claims that the SBAC is "a mandatory test for all 10th and 11th graders." It is not.  It is mandatory for the district to give it but 11th graders do NOT have to take it. 

Cleveland High gets big points for having notice about the school closure this Tuesday in several languages.   Also points for being honest with 11th graders about SBAC.  They also say that opting out is a parent's right and there will be a study hall for students who do opt out.  However, they do say this:

The SBAC is often compared to the SAT or ACT in terms of the information it provides about your student’s college readiness. 

I haven't read that so I'd like to know their source for this.

Garfield's student newspaper is always a source of news and very funny articles but their article on the SBAC got some details wrong.  Garfield's home page is very minimal on SBAC testing info.

I am confused by Hale and Ingraham because both say that the 10th grade ELA is going to be paper/pencil.  I was pretty sure I was told all SBAC testing would be on computer.  Hmm.

Roosevelt takes the "pretty please" route for 11th graders:

Juniors, you will have the chance to take the SBAC ELA on June 2nd and 4th. The test is no longer being given during U.S. History classes the third week of May but instead, juniors can take it at 7:50 a.m. on 6/2 and 6/4 (will need both days to complete this test).  Students will not miss any class time, will have the chance to help boost Roosevelt’s performance data,  will help the state of Washington avoid the loss of federal funds due to not enough juniors taking the ELA AND will have an opportunity, if a high enough score is achieved, to avoid having to take math and English placement tests for four year and two year colleges in the state of Washington.

Interestingly, World School will have MAP testing on Monday/Tuesday along with SBAC testing of 10th grades.  (I'm guessing the MAP is for 9th graders.)

West Seattle has nothing on their home page and their calendar doesn't reflect any SBAC testing at all.  Hmm. 

12 comments:

Po3 said...

Migrating to a new system on the eve of finals is risky business. As a district manager I would want all grade books closed and report cards printed before I messed w/ students grades.

And didn't we JUST get a system overhaul...in 2014? Why are we paying for something new?


As far as SBAC goes:

Worst roll out of a test EVER.

And just wait for the test results. That is gonna be worth the price of admission.

Only question will we be watching a comedy or horror show?

Anonymous said...

I have an SBAC implementation question for anyone familiar with the "Performance Task." From what I've read, the "Classroom Activity" that precedes the Perf Task is supposed to take about 30 minutes, involving class discussion, breaking out into small groups, etc. The goal of the interactive Classroom Activity is to make sure everyone understands the context for the Perf Task that follows. So do differences in how the CA portion is implemented matter? I suspect there could be tremendous variation. In my child's middle school class, for example, the teacher apparently just spent 5-10 minutes reading the material to the kids, and they didn't do any interactive work--it was more of a quick lecture than a classroom activity. The teacher wanted to get on with the regular work--hallelujah! But it did remind me of the potential for this sort of discrepancy to introduce a big unknown into the results. I'm curious to hear what teachers think, or if others have had vastly different experiences with the classroom activity. Or maybe the classroom activity isn't that important in the first place?

Half Full

Catherine said...

Apparently nobody at the SSD has ever had:

Project management 101
Software project migration 101
Systems analysis 101
Customer focus 101

Or... pardon me... catch a clue 101.

As a nearly 15 year software vet... with about 20 software migrations under my experience hat...

You.have.got.to.be.kidding.me.


Patrick said...

Catherine, and it's not like SSD hasn't had many software migrations themselves to use as examples. I'm trying to remember what was so great about Fusion that a class mailing list couldn't have accomplished much more cheaply and reliably.

Anonymous said...

What do classroom teachers think of the SBAC classroom activities? It is unbelievably DUMB!!!! And irrelevant. And off topic. Could they think of any more ways to waste time????

Stop the Insanity

seattle citizen said...

The Source is not, supposedly, impacted by this migration, so students will still have access to grades.

Additionally, for what it's worth, the District has set up a PUBLIC file-share for every teacher to post announcements, assignments, etc, as a stop-gap measure. That file share location is here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stop, funny you should ask. I have one of those SBAC activities and I'll scan it in to show people what you are talking about.

SC, every teacher is using the Source.

Anonymous said...

My 5th grader's classroom activity revolved around talking about "what is a cabinet" (discussion of a piece of furniture - yes, seriously - I guess I understand how in some areas it might be called an armoire or some kids might only have closets, so having "cabinet" explained might??? make sense? But these are 5th graders. Don't you think they know what a cabinet is?)

Then the performance task was basically you're helping a preschool rearrange their supplies. You have the following things, these dimensions, and this is your cabinet, with these other dimensions. How do you fit them in the cabinet.

The bang-your-head part of problem?

EVERYTHING, the cabinet and the stuff, were ONLY TWO DIMENSIONAL. There was no depth to the cabinet, unlike real life, and the things were all flat.

So my kid was at first really confused b/c he had to take his knowledge of 3D objects from the geometry unit they had just completed and discard that, go back to 2D objects - so the real world "what is a cabinet" (an inherently 3D object, with depth as a vital component) discussion was contradictory to the skills used in the problem.

And the "real world" nature of the question was in fact completely inappropriate to the skill being tested - and caused a lot of confusion. He told me he finally figured out what they wanted, but it never did make sense to him b/c the cabinet had no depth in the problem. So it didn't matter how you arranged things, but he figured they wanted big things on the bottom, medium sized things in the middle and small things up top.

The question could have been designed to use flat things like different sized flagstones and a patio, or posters on a wall, or something like that - but it emphasized the 3D nature, without actually giving a third measurement.

My husband thought it might be that they created a 3D question, realized it was too hard, and dumbed it down to 2D - without ever revisiting the appropriateness of the "cabinet" as the basis for the question.

Who writes this stuff?

Signed: whatever

Anonymous said...

OMG, the cabinet thing sounds just as awesome as the Pineapple and the Hare! Honestly, did they just walk out on the street and ask random people for weird things to put on the test? Also, an important question I need answers to: is there a faun in the cabinet?

Also, why on earth are we getting a new computer whatever system? The district seems to buy and then implement the school-class computer stuff every few years. I remember several years ago after our elementary school developed a pretty good school website we were told we had to erase it and go with the new district form. Which was rolled out halfway through the following school year. Gack.

North End Parent

Anonymous said...

That cabinet example is hilarious.

TC

Anonymous said...

Po3 - The gradebooks are not affected - yes, PowerTeacher/PowerSchool is the new grading software uploading data to the Source, but it was not involved in the lawsuit forcing the district to change immediately. (Even if it was, forcing final grades now and locking out grading opportunities for the final 2 weeks of school would be educationally detrimental... we can't close down just because it will be extra difficult)

Catherine - your self-aggrandizement criticizing the SPS IT staff isn't helpful or accurate. It's not SPS IT's fault. If legal came to you and said "the lawsuit with the customer service software provider has turned nasty and they're retaliating by cutting us off in 3 weeks at the start of the month" you'd be doing the best you can recognizing that the textbook plan from Software project migration 101 isn't happening this time.

Granted, that the temporary site is SharePoint and Bellevue SSD has been using SharePoint for 8-10 years suggests, in retrospect, that SPS has not chosen software wisely...

JP

Anonymous said...

So they were not having a Magritte/Derida/Deconstructionism discussion about the "cabinet"? It was some kind of flawed math problem?

Funny, if you weren't actually having to deal with it.

The June 1st rehaul/shutdown of a critical system is beyond logic. Makes about as much sense as saying our plumbing contractor says no extension beyond June 1, so we're shutting down all water to the schools for the last two weeks of school. Please make sure to send water bottles . . . . Porta Potties will be available in limited supply; parents please make sure your children use the facilities before leaving home.

zb