Friday, November 06, 2015

Work Session on District Scorecard/Operations Data Dashboard

The Board is having a work session this afternoon from 4:30-6:30 pm.  It's an annual topic - results of the District Scorecard/Operations Data Dashboard - and the Board needs it to assess whether the Superintendent deserves a raise (still a no from me) but the timing.

I see more and more work sessions on Fridays. This is NOT a going thing and never has been.  But it makes me wonder if there is a rush to get a lot done and/or there's just more work.

I, for one, am not trekking down to the JSCEE on a Friday afternoon in rush hour traffic.  I do wish the work sessions were taped for later viewing.

Here's the presentation and it's a whopper at about 80 pages.  Absolute credit to staff who created this huge document.  It must have been a lot of time and effort.

I slogged thru but did I truly read it?  No. 

One issue is that it is very "in the weeds" and I suspect that will be an issue for the Board.  I'm not even sure what some of it means.  One example is slide 6 which I think I understand but I'm not sure. 

Another issue is that they may get thru every slide in two hours but discussion?  I don't think so.

20140-2015 District Scorecard

Academics highlights

Slide 12 - looks like SPS is down by 6% for 10th graders passing state exams for graduation but up by 2% for those graduating in 4 years or less.

Slide 14 - College and Career Readiness - "still not on track to meet 2017-2018 targets

Commitment to Equity Highlights

Slide 17 - I would need this sentence - in specific the reference to Asian-American students - explained to me.

White and Asian-American students historically have had greater access to the opportunities and
supports that lead to college, career and life success.

First, there are different Asian groups - Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, etc. - so putting them all in one category seems a bit unfair.

But more to the point, what are the "opportunities and supports" that Asian-Americans have that other minority groups don't?  Truly because I think that while Native Americans and African-Americans have the worst amounts of racism directed at them, I also think that Asians get racist attitudes directed at them as well. 

I may be missing something - and let me know if I am - but the only real "support" I can think of is that many Asian cultures value education for their children above everything else.  (Not saying this is good or bad, but that's their culture.  Also not saying other cultures don't value education; just perhaps not as highly as Asians.) 

Does that one thing count as "more opportunities and supports?"  I think the only other thing I can think of Asian-Americans have - in some areas of the country - the highest high school graduation rate and 50% of Asians have a bachelor's degree or higher.  (The White House has very good stats broken out by country of origin.)  Again, valuing education.

Effective Teachers & Leaders

Slide 22
Measures cannot be reliably reported for these measures
•Data quality issues and business definitions require further resolution
•Exploratory data is provided for each measure in the next slides

Stakeholder Engagement & Satisfaction
Slide 28 - not good.  Parents are registering a downward trend in almost every area.

Note: past Slide 32, the slides aren't numbered and get much more detailed.

Page 38 (by Powerpoint number at top, not slide) - 2014-2015 District Scorecard Data Appendix

Page 64 (by Powerpoint number at top, not slide) - 2014-2015 District Annual Operations Data Dashboard

Slide 2 is very interesting - Why are we here? 

Slide 6 - Percentage of teachers' evaluations completed on time (Michael Tolley and Brent Jones)

2014-2015 - 97.1% (So I guess QAE's David Elliott was an outlier on this one but not the only one.)

Slide 7 - percent of lost instructional days due to teacher absence went from 7.0% in '13-14 to 3.4% in '14-15/

Also retention rate for central office staff went from 88% in '13-14 to 76% in '14-15

Slide 8/9 on Goal 2 Community Support is interesting reading.

Slide 10/11 on Fiscal Integrity bears looking at.  Could someone tell me what this sentence means?

Strategic sourcing as a percent of total spend.

That on-time and on-budget talk?  Slide 12 - '12-13 - 88.2%, '14-15 81% (with target of 95%)

Slide 14 - Kellie (or someone) - what does this mean?

Percent of schools within Space Utilization tolerance levels -includes the use of portables


Outsider said...

On equity, the key quote is: "To establish a single equity measure
for benchmarking annual progress in closing equity gaps we use the difference in outcomes ..." Words can be played with, but let there be no doubt: equity means equal outcomes. Not equal opportunity. It means equal outcomes.

Also note that the district's goals can be met equally by holding white and Asian students down or pulling "opportunity gap" students up. Either approach can be counted as progress on equity.

Watching said...

The city tapes their work sessions and I hope the new board will do the same.

Did anyone attend the pre-k committee meeting?

curlew said...

This is not about this board activity in this thread but on another: From the KPLU article i read on soup for teachers facebook page. I am horrified that this tone-deaf, lame duck school board is going to give the supt. a raise and extend his contract. i would prefer a vote of no confidence by our teacher union and a large protest organized and attended by parents, staff and students. quote from article:

"Along with boosting his salary, the school board is also considering extending Nyland’s contract by one year. The board will vote on the raise and contract extension on November 18."

kellie said...

The link to the presentation seems to be gone. There is just the agenda with no live links. So I can only tell you what "Percent of schools within Space Utilization tolerance levels -includes the use of portables" is supposed to be, based on having seen prior year's version of the report.

Capacity should have a range. The "optimal level for capacity is about 95%" All systems need some empty space, so a system that is at 95% is running at optimal capacity. By my back of the envelope estimate, the entire district wide system is running at well over 120% capacity.

In general a tolerance report like should be showing that system wide pressure and it should be setting off alarm bells everywhere. However, all the previous version of this report I have seen, simply report that ... all is well.

If this report were be generated using best practices, portables and PCP space would not be included in the baseline. The last time I saw this report the levels were very poorly set. They were set at about 80% and 125%. This range is not a bad range. However, the baseline, is not supposed to include portables.

For example, the capacity at Schmitz Park is about 290 students and they currently have over 600 students. My bet (based on the title) is that the report is using portables in the baseline, so very likely Schmitz Park is being reported as within tolerance.

However, that is simply not correct. The school should be reported as being at over 200% capacity. Then another column should be listing the capacity solution. And the solution would be that X number of portables have been sited.

This is one of those reports that winds up being accidentally misleading. Portables are part of the solution, not the capacity foundation. Facilities does incredible work to ensure that there are enough portables in the right places each year. They should be getting some credit for their solving of the problems. However, when the new portables, just become part of the baseline capacity, the whole process disappears.

This creates the illusion that a school is within capcity tolerances. However, a more accurate version is that a solution was created so that the enrollment could be managed. The capacity of the school has not actually changed. But rather the function of the school has changed.

By setting up a report that gives the appearance of so many school in the tolerance range, there is not an accurate picture of what really happening. What's really happening is that a lot of good people are trying to hold together a system that by my estimate is running at over 120% capacity system wide.

GarfieldMom said...

Kellie, I see the presentation still there -- I downloaded it in case it does disappear.

The performance measure is "Percent of schools within Space Utilization tolerance levels - includes the use of portables"

For 2014-15, they show:
District: 92.3%
ES: 90%
MS 60%
HS: 83%

District 75%

Annual change

And a green check mark to indicate that it is on track to meet the minimum target. (There are also figures given for previous years.)

Were I a board director, based on what you're saying, I would be asking to have that re-reported without including portables. I'm guessing they already have it shown that way on documents they are using internally in that department. The board needs to have the whole picture, warts and all. Given that the staff must be under incredible pressure, surely knowing that the cat is out of the bag would be something of a relief.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they are including schools at interim sites in their space utilization scores? Probably?

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kellie, they don't have links anymore; everything is attached and you have to scroll and scroll thru all the documents.

kellie said...

Thanks! I see it now.

The reason why I get so fixated on using the appropriate metrics is that good metrics create transparency around the amount of effort required for something to work. Bad metrics, only show you a result and make the work behind the number, invisible to anyone that is not actually doing the work.

At the moment, we have a situation where Facilities is working incredibly hard AND we have a capacity mess. The default is to think it is one or the other, but in reality is it BOTH. It is possible for facilities to be doing the right work AND for us to have a mess on our hands.

The number on the report is an internal number of some sort and it is not a number that would be following standard best practices. However, I know enough about this field of work that I can work backwards.

The point of a tolerance test is to be a stress test on a the system. How much stress is the system under. If that is what is being approximated, then the district being at 92.3% stress WITH portables is a very very bad number as 95% utilization is at 100% capacity.

That is the required minimum empty space, I keep talking about. 95% does not mean that there is 5% empty space that can be utilized. That 5% would be representative of the grade-by-grade, school-by-school, variation that is a required part of the system. When you go under 5%, the whole system, "locks up."

In theory, what I would be looking for as a baseline would be something like - The district is at 130% (or 120 or 150, or whatever it is) capacity and that the use of portables brings that down to be within range of the tolerance, at 92.3%.

My best guess is that is what this report is actually saying. What it really says is that Facilities has to be working triple hard to bring that number down to 92%.

That would mean that the district is fully utilizing 92% of all available space. To give you a reasonable comp. An incredibly popular hotel that is almost alway completely booked might reach 92% utilization. That remaining would just barely be enough time to do very minimal maintenance.

So if I make some best-guesses, I would say that facilities staff, need a gold star AND that the overall plan is FUBAR and can not be maintained.

Jon said...

I'd very much like to see more discussion of the capacity issues, as Kellie is suggesting. In general, it'd be great if the district leadership tried to get ahead of the capacity issues instead of always operating in crisis mode (and throwing more portables at the problem).

On the presentation itself, what struck me is how much it tries to bury the bad results. Look at page 34, for example, where almost every goal is not achieved and most results are down or flat. Similar data on page 80-81. And the "Fiscal Integrity" goals, almost entirely successful, on pages 73-74, are hugely important, unacceptable failures, and buried.

The idea that these kind of results don't yield a vote of no confidence, but actually a raise, is downright bizarre. At some point, you have to wonder if the superintendent has compromising pictures of the board members or something crazy like that, as how else could they possibly see these kind of results as worth rewarding. Most of these goals were modest, most were not achieved. This is not success.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I didn't follow the development of the current Strategic Plan (which you covered in this post, among others). I didn't realize until now that the 3 Strategic Plan goals do not include improving student achievement. (Or maybe they do -- they're so squirrelly written that it's hard to tell.)

In this comment on that post, sleeper lists Bellevue's clear, succinct, and comprehensive goals:

Bellevue public schools, "Our Goals":
1) All students will reach or exceed academic proficiency
2) Eliminate the achievement gap
3) All students, including those who already meet or exceed academic proficiency, will show measurable progress

It's too bad our district isn't working toward those same clear goals, which include improvement and cover all students.


Anonymous said...

Dashboards are intended to give us a quick, at-a-glance overview of how things are going. The fact that they place the actual dashboard shots so late in the presentation suggests that they want to try to spin everything first, explain away all the bad results before anyone takes it all in at once and sees the cold hard truth. Things look pretty bad, and they seem to have gotten worse in some key areas (fiscal integrity, anyone?).

Whether these are all Nyland's fault or not, I cannot fathom how a head honcho would merit a raise based on such poor organization-wide results. It also doesn't appear that we're making great strides forward under this new leadership, so why on earth do we want to ensure that he'll be here longer than planned? He's already supposed to be here for this year and next, isn't that enough? Plenty of time to find a new Supe.

One final beef re: the slides. I wish someone would learn the difference between percentages and percentage points. If a measure is 50% one year and 45% the next, the annual change is NOT a 5% decrease; it's a 5 percentage point decrease, which represents a 10% decrease. The slides all present the change as percentages, which makes them appear smaller than they are.


Anonymous said...


If the capacity number of 92.3% includes portables...does that mean that there is only 7.7% space remaining to add portables? Probably not as simple as that as there are a few scattered schools that are not at or beyond capacity, but just wondering as that would be quite the dire situation.


Anonymous said...

How about this scorecard....

The SPS White-Black GAP in measured achievement at grades 4 & 7 on MSP and then SBAC.

If the big goal is to reduce the "Opportunity Gap", is enough progress being made?

Remember that the last Board Work Session on the "reduce the gap topic" was "data free".

I took the average score for all students in WA State each year and calculated the GAPS (differences from state score for SPS Black/African American students and state for White students) and then combined those two gaps to calculate the SPS Black-White Gap. MSP began in SY 2009-2010 and SBAC was used in 2015.

Reading / ELA Grade 4

Black -- White - GAP
-23.90% 17.00% 40.90% 2010
-24.90% 20.00% 44.90% 2011
-18.40% 18.50% 36.90% 2012
-16.60% 17.20% 33.80% 2013
-19.60% 18.00% 37.60% 2014
-20.30% 22.10% 42.40% 2015 Last 2 years could be better

Math Grade 4

Black -- White - GAP
-25.40% 24.10% 49.50% 2010
-27.50% 22.20% 49.70% 2011
-23.10% 24.00% 47.10% 2012
-21.80% 19.70% 41.50% 2013
-22.40% 22.10% 44.50% 2014
-21.40% 24.70% 46.10% 2015 Looks OK

Reading / ELA Grade 7

Black -- White - GAP
-14.80% 18.60% 33.40% 2010
-17.30% 19.00% 36.30% 2011
-18.90% 17.20% 36.10% 2012
-20.40% 17.80% 38.20% 2013
-17.20% 19.40% 36.60% 2014
-24.50% 18.60% 43.10% 2015 OUCH!!

Math Grade 7

Black -- White - GAP
-18.80% 24.40% 43.20% 2010
-22.20% 23.80% 46.00% 2011
-19.70% 20.80% 40.50% 2012
-24.60% 19.90% 44.50% 2013
-21.60% 26.40% 48.00% 2014
-16.10% 24.90% 41.00% 2015 Last two years look good.

Is this enough progress toward the reduce the GAP goal?

Better yet why not look only at the GAP between Black/ African American student scores and the WA State average for all.

-- Dan Dempsey

kellie said...

@ Step J,

You are referring to an entirely different number, which is a break test or an end-of-runway test, or the biggest gating factor. It has multiple names.

That test is when you measure, the gap to the end of "reasonable" surge capacity. I say "reasonable" because in many cases it is an "reasonable" is an artificial limit.

At some schools, there is room for 1 or zero portables. Those cases are very clear. You know exactly how much surge capacity you have.

Other schools, have very large field space and could be physically permitted for an unreasonable number. AKA Schmitz Park. Schmitz Park *could* be permitted for another dozen portables (or more). It is not a good idea but it is legal.

So you would need to definite a theoretical maximum portable placement (something like 10) and then run a calculation of how many theoretical portables could be placed in that "reasonable" range and then you have an end of runway report.

kellie said...

What the 7.7% represents is ALL of the empty space, including

* the school by school empty space - so all of the empty space at new schools and under enrolled schools.

* the grade by grade empty space - the empty space for an under enrolled grade at an otherwise very full school.

* the classroom space that comes from the extra money for high poverty schools.

So if that is an accurate measure, 7.7% is effectively no empty space, and a very scary number.

kellie said...

Now here is where the trouble happens

People often read reports from the point of view of right/wrong. But that doesn't help anything. 7.7% empty space is neither right, not wrong. It doesn't mean anything all by itself.

That 7.7% is a consequence of more than a decade of decision making, mostly done by people who are no longer employed at the district. In nearly all cases, the staff who are accountable for solving the problem had no hand in making the problem.

However, if you don't have clear conversations about what is really happening, there this no way to enroll support.

There is a good reason why there are so many frustrated parents, who read very boring enrollment and capacity reports. If I had it all my way, I wouldn't even know what a p223 is, let alone have some expertise in reading them.

The problem is the failure to have any dialogue amongst all the various stakeholders.

StepJ said...

Thank you @Kellie. I was confident I did not understand the specifics, so I really appreciate your added clarification. Do you know if there is an actual End of Runway report that SPS maintains for either the whole district, or by individual school?

Selfishly, I am trying to figure out if there is a possibility for a playground to still exist at our elementary school.

The lack of available space also heightens my alarm in regard to the proposed SAP. The Dashboard report illustrates how low we are in capacity. For me that would make it even more important that one department or group is in charge of coordinating and presenting the where and how of programs and services. One change in any department to where/how programs and services are delivered will have an immediate domino effect throughout the district. It doesn’t seem like there is any more room to shoe horn something in, or move it from one place to another. There really does need to be a department responsible for oversight and coordination.

For example, I looked through the proposed AL Policy, which starts on page 122 of the C & I committee agenda. On pg. 127 it says that for grades 1-5 delivery for HCC is in self-contained classrooms. Our elementary already has portables on the playground. If HCC enrollment is moved back to individual elementary schools the only way to add more space is to add more portables to the playground, and *poof* the playground is gone.

Just to satisfy curiosity I also checked for program/service pathways in the AL policy and only HS (Garfield and IBX at Ingraham) are mentioned. No pathways are mentioned for elementary or MS HCC. If the proposed SAP passes with no mention of pathways, and the proposed AL policy passes then II guess *poof* HCC pathways are gone too.

Also of interest in the AL policy is this: Note: Student assignment and waitlist management are handled through Enrollment Services, not by the Advanced Learning office. This is listed in purple so I don’t know if it is a new add or not. Don’t know if this indicates some infighting at JSCEE, or if AL is just trying to ward off some of the increased phone calls once Enrollment sheds themselves of the responsibility to respond to where questions for programs/services.

Tresanos said...

Thank you Kellie and StepJ. We are lucky to benefit from your high level of analysis!

Anonymous said...

Gracias Tresanos,

I concede all thanks to Kellie who has been so kind and generous with her knowledge for so many, many, years.


kellie said...

Thank you StepJ and Tresanos.

kellie said...

@ StepJ,

I have never seen a report that details the remaining surge capacity.

Frankly, the margins on surge capacity are simply so thin, that the simple fact, that enough portables show up every year, really shows that staff is keeping track of the surge capacity. I am very confident that staff has a good working knowledge of remaining surge capacity.

That said, your playground example highlights how it would make the conversation, a lot easier on everyone, if that surge capacity information was simple and transparent.

For your example, the primary gating factor is whether or not, the playground could be used for a portable. That is a complex question regarding city permits and lot coverage. I can't even guess whether or not that is an option. However, I know staff has done an analysis of every property to check and see where portables can and cannot be placed.

kellie said...

@ StepJ,

Your AL question really highlights why the Student Assignment Plan and the rules for the actual placement of students is so critical to ALL families, not just AL families. The vast majority of program placement decisions over time, were actually capacity management decisions.

Ever wonder about the patchwork of K8's? Those were all capacity decisions. Before the closures, creating K8's was an attempt to help fill under enrolled buildings.

Ever wonder about the patchwork of Spectrum programs? Once upon a time, Spectrum was the attempt to fill under enrolled buildings.

Why are there multiple sites for the HCC? Because there really wasn't any excess capacity during the '06 and '08 closures, slicing and dicing AL was a nifty way to optimize capacity on paper. However as we all know, those placements only lasted, even on paper for a few years and then the program needed to be sliced and diced again.

The HCC was placed at Hamilton because Meany could only be closed, if the AL cohort was split. The claim at that time was that Hamilton just doesn't fill from the neighborhood, so there would be no issue. Once again this year, Hamilton is beyond capacity and there is going to be a need to split that program again. Sigh.

While there are some under enrolled pockets, as a system, the entire SPS system is over-capacity. That means that AL programs are the primary tool for load-balancing the system. (Sped programs also follow this pattern)

With AL pathways included in the Student Assignment Plan, that conversation is both public and under board vote.

IMHO, it is critical that this continues with board oversight. If I had it all my way, sped programs would also have this level of oversight.