Monday, December 07, 2015

Twelve SPS Schools Make 2015 List for Schools of Distinction

From SPS Communications and congrats to all these schools (and to note, these schools cover the entire district region.)

Seattle Public Schools has been identified as having 12 schools to be recognized as Schools of Distinction award winners. The award recognizes outstanding improvement in reading and math sustained over a five-year period. The recognized schools are honored for landing in the top five percent of improvement of schools in Washington State for increased math and reading achievement for their levels over the past five years. The School of District is a statewide award led by the Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) in partnership with K-12 education organizations representing school board directors, principals, administrators, educational service districts and others. 

The list of Seattle Public Schools recognized as 2015 Schools of Distinction include: 

  • B F Day Elementary,
  • Broadview-Thomson K-8 School,
  • Cleveland High School,
  • Hazel Wolf K-8,
  • Olympic Hills Elementary,
  • K-5 STEM at Boren,
  • Rainier Beach High School,
  • Rainier View Elementary,
  • Thurgood Marshall Elementary,
  • Viewlands Elementary,
  • West Seattle Elementary, and
  • Wing Luke Elementary. 
Cleveland, Olympic Hills, Thurgood Marshall, and Wing Luke are repeat winners.

Principal Debbie Wolfe (sic - Nelsen) of Hazel Wolf K-8 pointed to a key factor in a cohesive approach, “I would say that the great results come from teachers’ dedicated work in professional learning communities (PLCs) as they align the curriculum and provide interventions for targeted students.” 

“West Seattle Elementary is thrilled to be recognized as a School of Distinction!” principal Vicki Sacco exclaimed. “The teachers and staff are a collaborative and collegial team; experts in planning and delivering high quality instruction.   In addition to our academic focus, we offer a rich and varied continuum of extra-curricular activities.  These enrichments fulfill the social-emotional and cultural needs of our students and families.   All of our before and after school classes are led by the staff.  For example, the principal teaches knitting, the assistant principal is the basketball ‘commissioner’  and teachers and staff coach other varied activities.  All of this contributes to a positive school culture, a sense of community and belonging, strong relationships  and high levels of student and staff satisfaction as evidenced on our climate survey.”

Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland congratulated principals today.  “Kudos to our principals, our educators, our staff, our students, our parents, and our community partners.  Well done!  Thank you for your outstanding work.”

The Center for Educational Effectiveness (CEE) in partnership with the Association of Educational Service Districts (AESD), the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP), Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA), and Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (WSASCD) have recognized schools in the top 5% of improvement for their levels.


Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Short1225 said...

Debbie Nelsen is the Hazel Wolf K-8 principal.

Anonymous said...

Families with special needs students at BF Day must feel anew how little what goes on in special education matters when these types of assessments are made. How many lawsuits are occurring over there THIS year? How many times have staff called the police THIS year instead of being accountable for implementing good practices.


Anonymous said...

A majority of these schools have Spectrum programs that have skewed the population. Same effect as charters kicking out students with special needs.

Hats off to these schools, but let's not kid ourselves about what really matters.

Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Spectrum kids are neighborhood kids. they don't "skew" the population. Every child has the right to learn something in school.

open ears

Lynn said...

Four is not "a majority" of twelve.

Steve said...

B.F. Day is also a repeat winner (2013).

- Steve

Anonymous said...

Debbie Nelsen at Hazel Wolf. Thanks, Melissa.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to Olympic Hills for consistently showing growth/improvement while serving a very high-needs population.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Did Thurgood Marshall make the list the same year APP was added? There are a lot of great things happening there ....but mostly ... Administrative kudos for gaming the averages.

On the other hand West Seattle Elementary is working really hard to best serve a challenging group of families, really, hats off for the great work. Thank you for going the extra mile to help provide some of the extra curriculars that other families buy privately. Your teachers and staff can be a blessing to the community.


Anonymous said...

Of course the system is rigged and when there are genuine schools doing actual heavy lifting they deserve credit. We know that when the IB program disbands at RB and the Principal switch occurs they will once again be the little can kicked down the road. It is nice to see Cleveland improve they tried with their "STEM" plan and now that they are also back to being an all service school the challenges return with them, so let's hope that continues.

But this district is all smoke mirrors and checker pieces

- Resident

Anonymous said...

I am not usually a huge fan of these lists- either they added APP or the schools have gotten significantly richer, and that's what happened. So it is just a "yay, we kicked out the poor kids!!" list. But I am pretty impressed with the schools I am aware of that that is not the case. Broadview Thomson; I don't think Wing Luke has, not sure about Olympic Hills? Many kudos to the schools that have changed what they do in a great way, not just who they do it with.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Sleeper, I'm with you - it's a fair broad list.

Anonymous said...

@ sleeper

Concerning Olympic Hills demographics...Olympic Hills' FRL has been consistently over 70% for many years (OPSI has it at 73.2% for 2014-15), and the ELL population has increased pretty dramatically (it was 16.2% in 2012-13, and is listed as 34.8% for 2014-15).

There was rumor of Spectrum going into Olympic Hills, but that didn't happen. There is currently no official Spectrum school serving the JAMS attendance area, and Spectrum-qualified kids from John Rogers, Sacajawea, and Olympic Hills are linked to either Wedgwood or View Ridge.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Pretty incredible! I feel like the ELL thing was some drama- got removed from somewhere, right? All the scandals have started to blend together in my mind.

I don't think Spectrum is enough of a program to mourn the loss of it in any cluster(I wish it was)...but obviously I do still think Wedgwood should be at JAMS, so insofar as it(Spectrum) is a proxy for the wealthy schools in that one cluster (and it is not everywhere- in many places it is just how schools deliver their advanced learning), I guess I think one should be at JAMS. Those schools are so full, though, that it's impossible to get into the Spectrum programs, so I don't believe they are actually changing the demographics of JAMS attendance area elementaries. Which I also bet will be on this list on a couple years, and has also gotten much wealthier just since last year.


Anonymous said...


Olympic Hills is not alone in experiencing a dramatic increase in ELL students in recent years. For example, John Rogers has gone from 0% ELL in 2012-13 to 15% for 2014-15. There are several reasons for the increase in ELL at NNE Seattle attendance-area schools:

- Lake City has one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations in Seattle. This was documented in a 2015 Peter Steinbruck/Seattle DPD report on urban villages.

- In 2009-10, when Jane Addams K-8 (now Hazel Wolf K-8) first opened, it was an assignment school (not an option school). This was before the NSAP/guaranteed neighborhood school assignments started in 2010, so the K-8 received the students who registered late, including ELL students.

- Hazel Wolf/Jane Addams K-8 (which became an option school in 2010) was the ELL assignment school for both the John Rogers and Sacajawea attendance areas from 2009 through the 2013-14 school year. Prior to Hazel Wolf/Jane Addams K-8, ELL kids were assigned to Sacajawea.

- John Rogers did not have ELL services until the 2013-14 school year, when the school initiated the in-house identification of ELL-qualified students, so those students could start receiving ELL services.

- For 2014-15, John Rogers became the ELL assignment school for new students living in the John Rogers and Sacajawea attendance areas (Hazel Wolf was no longer the default ELL assignment).

- Hazel Wolf K-8 moved to its interim site at the John Marshall building in 2014-15, and some local ELL families choose to leave the K-8 for their neighborhood schools (i.e. Olympic Hills or John Rogers).

Students are now supposed to receive ELL services at their neighborhood school, District -wide.

ELL and FRL demographics tend to track together. There will be a massive reshuffling of ELL/FRL students with the upcoming 2017 boundary changes. Almost all of the ELL students from John Rogers, and most ELL students currently assigned to Olympic Hills, will be reassigned to Cedar Park, apparently by geo-split, when it opens in 2017. In 2017, Olympic Hills will also gain new ELL families from the Pinehurst neighborhood, which is currently served by Olympic View and Sacajawea. Even if assignments are grandfathered for students affected by the Olympic View and Sacajawea boundary changes, lower-income families may not be able to provide private transportation, so they may be forced to change their child's school assignment from Olympic View or Sacajawea to Olympic Hills. So, even with the loss of the kids re-assigned to Cedar Park, the ELL/FRL percentages at Olympic Hills probably won't change significantly, but there will be a completely different population of ELL/FRL students at Olympic Hills (at all grade levels) than there was prior to the 2017 boundary changes.

Given the the large number of school assignment changes and student educational disruptions planned for the region, I think it will be very difficult to meaningfully track cohort growth and/or school improvement in NNE Seattle attendance-area schools in future years.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

North-end Mom nailed it on ELL in the North end of the NE cluster.

FWIW, Hazel Wolf K-8 is also a Spectrum school, and as it's an option school for JAMS, I suppose it's the Spectrum school for the JAMS Service Area.


Anonymous said...

Actually, this year (2015-16), Hazel Wolf is no longer listed as a Spectrum school in the program placement/linked schools document. I doubt they have changed their differentiated instruction strategies, but it is no longer listed as Spectrum for assignment purposes.


North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I did some digging. The last time Hazel Wolf/Jane Addams K-8 was listed as a Spectrum school on the programs document was 2013-14.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Our school, K-8 STEM, was one chosen for the illustrious honor of being named a 2015 School Of Distinction in Washington State. And just HOW amazeballs is our school? This is an award for improvements in academic achievement (read: test scores) over the course of five years, and our school is only in its FOURTH year! That's right, we're THAT good.

Or maybe it's the fact that we've had 3+ years to build an academic culture around Project/Problem Based Learning and a holistic STREAM curriculum (that's Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math, for those of you playing buzzword bingo), and it takes a few years to get a (testing-age) cohort of students who have had a consistent experience. Maybe it's because we've assembled a community of teachers & parents willing to stand up for our students and demand quality (and properly funded) education for all children, willing to thumb our noses at the educational-industrial complex. And not just from the safety of a PTA meeting, either: our parents have been out there cracking skulls in the name of equity since day one. Many of the Seattle schools on this list are running innovative, engaging programs that similarly emphasize community, communication, and collaboration. And many on the list are running drill & kill testing mills, as seems to be the intention of the award and its issuing organization.

Here's the link to the 2015 School of Distinction Methodology Brief from The Center for Educational Effectiveness:
My favorite passage:

"In the past, percent meeting standard for reading and math was the measure used in SOD. As we have seen with the results of SBA [Smarter Balanced Assessment], the percent meeting standard in English Language Arts and Mathematics has dropped at all grade levels. Since it’s difficult to have “improvement” when the entire state declined at all grade levels due to the use of a different measurement tool, instead of using percent meeting standard as the measure, CEE has translated percent meeting standard to percentile ranks for each year and each content area. For example, if a school is at the 65th percentile, then it is performing above 65% of the schools in the state at that grade and subject area."

And who is it bestowing these accolades? The Center For Educational Effectiveness? From their site: "Founded in 1999, CEE conducts and disseminates action research, partners with state and local agencies/organizations, and provides data services and support for school and district improvement planning." Nowhere on the site do you read that CEE is one of the largest financial supporters of the annual Washington State Assessment Conference, along with the likes of Educational Testing Services [ETS], Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and Scantron Corporation. That's right, the Scantron Corporation. These are the people patting us on the head.

So to the Center for Educational Effectiveness, Pearson, the Scantron Corporation, and all of their profiteering ilk, on behalf of my students, their families, my colleagues, and the greater K-8 STEM community of which I am so very proud every single day: I reject your condescension. We are better than this.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must make it to Whoville in time to steal Christmas.

-Mr. Gluck

StringCheese said...

It does seem rather odd that we would give a damn about an award given out by a for-profit company who makes said profits by selling data-driven management tools. Perhaps because they put "Center" in front of their name instead of "Company". Go to their website. They are hawking their consulting services. These "awards" are self-promoting hooey.

Home page all about how you can hire them to help you reduce all of your students to numbers... for a fee.