Monday, May 25, 2015

Want to Take Some Action on Testing that Will Help?

1)  Ask the School Board to write a letter like this one from the Palm Beach County School Board and tell them to send it to Governor Inslee and State Superintendent Dorn.  Write to them at :

Partial (full letter in link):

As the 2014-2015 school year comes to a close, we continue to have major concerns related to logistical and technological issues that continue to arise. Not having cut scores or school grades until mid-to-late fall or January, as stated by Commissioner Pam Stewart at April’s State Board of Education meeting, means this year’s results will be meaningless not only to parents, students, and teachers, but also business and industry looking to locate to Florida.

Our Board continues to be totally supportive of accountability measures that are valid, fair, and reliable. There remain, however, too many incomplete or untimely factors. These range from a very late setting of cut scores (which already was to be this fall before any validation study was required) to issuing school grades at mid-school year next year which is meaningless. One must consider the numerous technology infrastructure glitches that cost time and money as well as valuable instructional time.

No respectable Fortune 500 company would operate in this fashion, nor would their stockholders allow them to do so.

We, therefore, renew our Resolution’s call and urge you to immediately issue an Executive Order that would fully suspend for the 2014-2015 school year:
• the use of these assessments for students’ grades;
• the use of these assessments for course requirements;
• the use of these assessments for graduation requirements;
• the use of these assessments for any performance pay requirements for teachers and
administrators; and
• the issuance of school grades.

2) Write to Senators Murray and Cantwell and ask them to support the Tester Amendment, called the Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act, to eliminate annual testing for students and replace it with pre-NCLB grade span testing.  The amendment was offered to the rewriting of ESEA (NCLB) which will now be called Every Child Achieves Act of 2015. 

Patty Murray

Maria Cantwell


TheGoodFight said...

I cringe every time I read something like this: "No respectable Fortune 500 company would operate in this fashion, nor would their stockholders allow them to do so."

Public schools are NOT corporations, they are NOT for profit entities, they are NOT beholden to shareholders.

I also wonder if the usual suspects critical of linking assessments to pay have ever worked for a corporation.

In Seattle we only need to look the east and examine the employee review process of Microsoft.

From my personnel experience I can assure you that employee compensation or continued employment will be determined by your projects success or failure, regardless of your exemplary performance. This is a common practice in most tech companies. Those of you fortunate enough to work in the industry know this and it is one of the drivers contributing to the difficult interview process perspective candidates endure.

Customer service employees performance reviews are usually 80% weighted by customer feedback.

Does anyone fact check anymore.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good Fight, you are right, of course. Public education is not a business. It needs to be well-managed and well-run but it's not a business.

But I suspect that the members of the Palm Beach board wanted to appeal to a certain audience (the Governor, Legislature) to appeal to that part of their political nature in order to get what they are hoping for.

TheGoodFight said...

People need to start saying what they believe and stop saying what they think others want to hear.

We need to own our issues, admit when we don't know things and expect others to "respectfully" disagree.

We can't expect more money to be the answer every time there's a problem. We need creative solutions now which will include some sacrifices. People will except sacrifices and tough choices when the decision process is transparent.

Good management will help, but I believe in empowering the teachers to do good work and rewarding innovation and excellence. It's called an education system yet I see many silos. The silos need to be knocked down and it's always healthier for everyone when the demolition starts on the inside.

Greeny said...

@TheGoodFight -
"Good Management" is not a throwaway, to be taken lightly. "Good management" does not ALLOW silos, much less cultivate their continued existence. Good management means that the mission is clear, the strategic direction and priorities are clear, and the financial plan is in complete lockstep with said priorities - everyone knows and is marching towards the same goals - presumably something that includes educational excellence (my own bar would be higher, but maybe I'll have to wait until Melissa & Charlie run for school board) "Good management" DOES empower and reward teachers, for achieving on the plan and mission, to my mind, by definition. It does not starve the schools and enrich itself. And most importantly, it hold the entire organization - itself included, and maybe especially - accountable. I've only held a vested interest in SPS for the past two years, but I'm guessing you even less, for with a business background i think you'd have been quick to see (from the worldclass math textbook fiasco, to Garfield HS field trips, to legal dept incompetence and payouts, the sad situation of Special Ed, extortion of parents to keep elementary teachers nearly 1/3 into the year, contemplating renewal of squatter contracts, and the complete acceptability of continuing to "manage" student enrollment forecasting (that's REALLY a generous word) with portables, loss of play areas, and remodeled closets into classrooms): the two absolutely critical factors missing from SPS, are precisely 1) good management, and 2) more money. And to my mind, the mindset of a well-managed corporation (and no, I wouldn't put Microsoft in that category, but perhaps you & I quibble over words - maybe you mean good management and I'm describing excellent management) - complete with a sense of urgency, ruthless accountability, transparency and willingness to bring in a turnaround hatchet team) is EXACTLY what is needed.

yet another former tech exec in Seattle,

Anonymous said...

I, for one, want no part of your proposed "reward" for "achieving the plan and mission."

I'm one of the teachers you are talking about like pawns on a chessboard.

You may be "yet another former tech exec in Seattle" but your arrogant
tone doesn't at all appeal to this "current and veteran teacher in the

Give it a rest...ed reform is full of turning schools into businesses without consulting the people in the trenches at all. BTW, Goodle-Johnson, with her
business-guy Broad Academy background, had the mentality of a "hatchet team".

I left SPS because of its entrenched bureaucracy, incompetency, and lack of
ethical compass.

Your cure seems way worse than the illness, especially the know-it-all

--enough already