Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Tuesday Open Thread

Thread to come: the Washington Middle School meeting on Spectrum.  Pretty interesting stuff but again, what does it all mean?

From the Washington Post, doing some building work on an Oklahoma high school, contractors uncovered chalkboards - intact with lessons - from almost 100 years ago.  What is truly fascinating is one board has a technique to teach multiplication tables that was new to the principal (it's some kind of circle table). 

From King5, Renton High votes transgendered teen as their prom queen.  There was also a good story on KUOW on the issue of transgendered children

Legislative News:

- word is sooner rather than later for this latest Special Session of the Legislature.  Might be helpful if our legislators got this done so our districts can plan their budgets.

- Class Size Counts has new polling that shows that not only do voters support smaller class sizes but they support them across all grades.  (And voters don't have faith Olympia will be delivering enough education dollars to K-12.)

- the state Supreme Court said yesterday they would have no comment on whether the McCleary decision requirements that they set forth are being met by the Legislature until after this latest session is over.  Still no word on the lawsuit challenge on the charter school law. 

Lastly, the ridiculous situation with the cop and the girl in a swimsuit at the brouhaha in Texas.  Where to start?  Why didn't the cops speak first with the woman who called for help? (She says she and family members put on the party and a woman - an adult - got in a fight with her.)  Why didn't the cops just tell everyone to go home?  And, hasn't that cop ever dealt with teenagers? Yelling doesn't generally work (and his over-the-top behavior was really scary). 


Vote Harris said...

Leslie Harris is running for school board and she is running against Marty McLaren. Harris received an endorsement from the W. Seattle community by a vote of 123-12.

Please consider attending Harris's Kick-off campaign, which will be located at Camp Long- a jewel in the middle of the city.

Weds., June 17th - 6 P.M.
5200 35th Avenue S.W. Seattle, WA 98126

McLaren fails to ask the tough questions and has become a rubber stamp for the John Stanford Center.

Rainier said...

Curious about other kids experience this year w/ the new standards based EOC for Geometry and Algebra? The kids at our High School weren't given formulas and were told they had limited time to complete the test, and there were some questions that they had never covered in class. All in all a much more dificult test than in previous years.

Anonymous said...

According to OSPI, Math EOCs are based on the Washington State Learning Standards in math...They are designed using items from the Smarter Balanced math test.

The EOCs are based on the old math standards, but use items from SBAC? That's interesting. What standards are covered in the Discovering texts? My guess is the texts don't completely cover either CCSS or the old WA State learning standards. Last year, my child's class didn't even complete the text before the end of the year.


Anonymous said...

Wow, yes, it looks like the EOC exams were changed this year as well. Who knew?!

Apparently the EOC exams have been better aligned to the CCSS, as well as the SBA. According to someone I spoke with at OSPI, they also think they did a pretty good job of communicating that info to high school teachers, although maybe not such a good job of getting the message out to families... Given what a poor job they did on SBA-related communication, I'd say the latter is a safe bet! And re: the former, I guess we'll see soon. From what Rainier said above, it sounds like not all teachers got the message and adjusted their courses and EOC prep accordingly. If some teachers adjusted to the revised tests and others didn't, the results may be a bit skewed, which is very unfortunate. While there's a good chance EOC score thresholds will be adjusted downward (like SBA graduation cut point scores) so that similar proportions pass EOC exams this year as in prior years, students of teachers who didn't make the adjustment will clearly be at a disadvantage.

A little more info re: the EOC alignment to CCSS and SBA is here:



Anonymous said...

Just got this from SPS about when testing scores will be delivered:

Dear Seattle Public Schools family,

The timing of the state assessment score reports has changed from June to September. These are the score sheets from your student’s spring Smarter Balanced tests in reading, writing and math. Last month, the district told families that the score reports would likely be sent home with final report cards in June. Due to unanticipated delays at the state level, the district will now send score reports home in September. Scores also will be posted online to the Source in the fall. September is the typical timing for state assessment score reports, but the district this year had initially anticipated they would be ready earlier. To learn more about the assessments, please see our Smarter Balanced web page: http://www.seattleschools.org/students/assessments.

Thank you for your patience as we work with this new state assessment system.

West Seattle Dad

Melissa Westbrook said...

West Seattle Dad, see my new thread on this issue.

mirmac1 said...

EOCs are better aligned to CCSS? Whew! Thank goodness my child took care of math EOC grad reqmts last year!

Amplify said...

Larry Nyland asked Jeanne Kohl-Welles to vote in favor of legislation that linked test scores to teacher evaluations- even though SBAC is a brand new test. Similarily, Clover Codd has also testified in Senate hearings and asked test scores be linked to teacher evaluations.

We've learned that only 35%-45% of students passed Amplify. Only 50 schools are using Amplify and the district is asking the board to expand Amplify into all schools. Eric Anderson told the board that Amplify scores are not linked to teacher evaluations. MAP scores go into the Academic Warehouse. Are Amplify test scores going into the Academic Warehouse? I would have a hard time believing that Amplify scores aren't being dumped into the Academic Warehouse.

The district has failed to fully fund the WSS. $11M in WSS funding, and vital supports, are not included in the budget i.e. elementary school counselors and supports for high risk kids.

What are the costs of keeping the Academic Warehouse operating? Goofy times.

Anonymous said...


Now he is after several SB teachers!


Melissa Westbrook said...

Who is after these teachers? Not clear to me.

What IS clear is that principals really believe their schools are their fiefdoms. I can't even count how many times this issue - principals harassing staff over union activities at school - has been found in FAVOR of the union employees. But usually, not before the person has been made to worry about his/her job.

It's wrong.

Anonymous said...

I just about gagged reading that Lawton filing when I saw the grievance over lunch set-up time was resolved by the district paying a staff member to drive out to Lawton and work for ten minutes helping to set up the lunch room (given the dispute is over the ten minute available window for set up).

And the district wonders why its costs are out of control?


n said...

I like our individual custodians and cleaners but I sure do get exasperated with all the poor cleaning and little rules they have. I could tell you so many frustrating stories (and I started to but got tired of hearing myself whine . . . ). Anyway, schools really are under the thumbs of a strong facilities union that doesn't bend and gets away with a really crummy job of maintaining schools.

Not the biggest but the most irritating in a way because it is so stupid: Custodians dump garbage (2 maximum) but won't dump recycle which sits right next to the garbage can. So teachers have to do it. Really?

Anonymous said...

Check into your school's projected class size next year. Many elementary schools are getting a huge increase- some up to 33 kids per class at 4th and 5th grade! District used an increased student: teacher weighting ratio of 29 this year instead of the previous year's with a lower value. Strange that this got no press given the voters clearly voting to reduce class size. What I can do as a teacher with 24-26 kids is very different than with 30 kids.

- SPS teacher

Anonymous said...

@SPS teacher,

Doesn't the Collective Bargaining Agreement set hard caps, for example, 28 students in a 4th or 5th grade classroom? Yes, the District can exceed that number, but, only by paying more or putting in an IA? Doesn't the teacher have the right to file a grievance at 29 or more?

Teachers, please, for the sake of your students, reject taking on 'extra' kids so that the ones you do have get the ability to connect with you everyday and learn.

Teacher Fan

Anonymous said...

It's cheaper to pay the teacher an extra $5 than to hire another teacher (or IA). You can't "reject" extra kids. And, adding an IA just puts another person in the classroom making it even more crowded. Also, IA skills aren't the greatest - or reliably too good. In any case, it's just a cost savings measure, and not one anybody can do much about.


Anonymous said...

If schools had vice principals, counselors, nurses, art teachers, office staff, and reasonable class ratios then there would be room in the system for lunch set up. There is no staff in schools for all the little tasks that need to be done. Yes, the central admin has been growing while school staffs have been slashed. Central administration will have to be the ones to do lunch set-up and recess monitoring until they see fit to staff schools.
West parent

Anonymous said...

Read the language of the CBA. The classroom numbers are not hard caps, they are based on averages. The school will make an effort to keep individual classes under a certain number, but they can also let some classes go over that number and compensate the teacher for the overload.

Section D Class Size and Staffing Ratios

1...However, any application of a rigid numerical limitation on class size within schools restricts the staff and the building principal/program manager in their flexibility in seeking an ideal learning environment.

2. The SPS will maintain an average SPS building ratio of students to full-time equivalent teachers at no more than 26:1 for grades K-3, 28:1 for grades 4-5, and 150-1 for grades 6-12 (when grade 6 is conducted using a secondary model), exclusive of Special Education and Bilingual...

3. Elementary/Secondary Regular Programs:
...Take actions to limit class size to thirty-two (32) students for core classes in grades 6-12 (28 for grade 6 when the site uses an elementary model for grade...The individual teacher will be compensated for any days after October 1 during which he/she has an overload.


just fyi

Melissa Westbrook said...

We're going to have a discussion on this soon - class size.

Anonymous said...

Hale's graduation was last night. All students were dressed in navy blue robes with red and white accents items. So no more red is for girls and blue is for boys.


seattle citizen said...

MS or HS Language Arts teacher with, say, 36 students instead of the contract 32 gets a small stipend, I think it's about $700 for the year for those four extra students. But look at it this way: That's really not much money, in the grand scheme of things - maybe one percent of a salary of 70k. But it means teacher has 11% more students, which for an LA teacher means a significantly larger work load around grading, particularly the all-important skill of writing.
So ALL the students will, likely, suffer a corresponding 11% drop in effective commentary and analysis of their written work. A teacher with 32 students who assigns a three-page paper (to choose a crappy example) will spend five minutes x 32 = 160 minutes reviewing this ONE class. A teacher with 36 students might spend five minutes x 36 = 180 minutes, OR they might just cut the time on each to four and half minutes = 162 minutes....
For a teacher with a family and a, you know, life outside of school, we can expect half a minute less on each essay critique, a ten percent loss of individual student attention.

They should pay STUDENTS for class overloads: They are the ones that really suffer.

Anonymous said...

Sports Fees: There is some discussion going on about eliminating the pay to play fee ($100 for the 1st sport, $25 for F/RL kids; $50 for the 2nd sport, free for F/RL kid). The idea is to make sports open to all, and also make some of the smaller sports more attractive and let kids try them out without having to pay out a bunch of money first. The district is offering to pay for buses. The only problem with this scenario is that for example at Hale, around $50,000 is collected in fees and only about half is used for buses. The other half is used for new uniforms, equipment, etc. No word on how those funds would be replaced. Plus, there is talk about paying coaches more. Coaches are paid way more at private schools and in other school districts. It can be impossible to find a coach, see Garfield gymnastics.


Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, as I reported, the district has received a huge donation to cover pay to play for at least the next three years. (It is unclear what the terms are as the donor wants to remain anonymous.) How it is to be spent is also unclear.

Anonymous said...

A previous thread mentioned a new K-6 private school in the Lake City neighborhood - Laurel Academy. If you look at their curriculum, Study Tech, you will discover it is from Ron Hubbard, Church of Scientology. Good to know.


Anonymous said...

Parent, how closely tied to Laurel Academy is the Church of Scientology? Would one be able to consider it a religious school?


Anonymous said...

MW - I asked about the large donation and the tie to pay for play going away but there was no definitive answer whether the two are related.

What I got from the meeting where I heard the info, is that currently pay for play stays with the school. The school uses it for buses and then what is left over is used for equipment, uniforms, etc. So far, Hale has only been told that they will get money for buses so this leaves the rest of the stuff up in the air. How is it paid for if there is no fee?

Now I am wondering if the district is planning on only paying for buses and keeping the rest of the money at JSCEE.


Josh Hayes said...

Some time ago, someone was asking about whether graduating kids were sex-segregated or anything, and I see HP has said that no, not at Hale. At Ingraham, they came marching in in two lines, met up, and walked down the center aisle and sat down. No sex segregation, same robes for everybody (except my son borrowed some from someone else and, while the color was right, they were shinier than the other ones. I wonder if people thought that indicated some special thing?).

Luminaries included Supt. Nyland and Sharon Peaslee. I was a bit surprised to see Nyland there after IHS posted a roughly 80% opt-out rate on SBAC.

Anonymous said...

so Amplify wrote: "Larry Nyland asked Jeanne Kohl-Welles to vote in favor of legislation that linked test scores to teacher evaluations- even though SBAC is a brand new test. Similarily, Clover Codd has also testified in Senate hearings and asked test scores be linked to teacher evaluations."

Amazing Common Core has become Cancer Core as it infects everything nearby. Apparently infecting the brains of Nyland and Codd. Hopefully not a continued larger contamination of the legislature.

#1 The sample size of students tested is not large enough to guarantee statistical significance.

#2 The teacher has very little say in selection of materials and in many cases pedagogy pushed in SPS.

Value Added Measures have repeatedly been shown to be bogus.

OH I forget its Education Politics so it does not need to make any sense. Carry on Larry.

A better view of the reality of Common Core progress from Ze’ev Wurman former senior policy adviser with the U.S. Department of Education under President George W. Bush. =>

Why Common Core is a goner

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

HP, that is quite weird about the pay for play. The different agenda items I have read say that it will be used for pay for play for the next three years. I will ask about this.

I do NOT think schools should pick what to use it for re: sports NOR should the district keep any of it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yeah, I looked at the Laurel Academy. They reference L. Ron Hubbard and his theories, don't appear to believe in ADHD - yes, I think there's some Scientology connection there. Personally, I'd steer clear.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Hale is the only school that has come to count on the pay to play fees to pay for things other than buses such as uniforms or equipment. How else would you pay for uniforms and equipment?


mirmac1 said...

Laurel Academy. Our next Seattle charter school! How much ya wanna bet?!

Anonymous said...

I know the director of Laurel Academy. She is a die hard Scientologist.

NE Parent

Amplify said...

Senator Steve Litzow is the Chair of the Senate Education Committee. He pushes ALEC Legislation, which is intended to privatize our education system. Recently, Litzow and Nyland enjoyed conversation at an Alliance for Education event. Nyland recently asked the board to become a charter school authorizer. I'm sure Litzow was pleased. I imagine, Carlyle, a charter school supporter and Chair of the House Finance Committee would have been pleased, too.

Common Core and SBAC will be a big issue in the next governor's race. Stay tuned. You will see a familiar face.

Amplify said...

Yes, Nyland asked the board to become a charter school authorizer and asks for unreliable test scores to be linked to teacher evaluations. I"m sure the likes of Litzow, charter school supporters and Carlye are pleased.

Amplify said...

Yes, Nyland asked the board to become a charter school authorizer and asks for unreliable test scores to be linked to teacher evaluations. I"m sure the likes of Litzow, charter school supporters and Carlye are pleased.

Middle College is at risk of closing and Nyland threatens teachers with loss of teaching certification. How is he doing?