Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Open Thread

Break out those crayons/colored pencils/markers this weekend and work on your Color of Money McCleary coloring sheet.  It's a great way to get the attention of legislators (see previous thread for sheet.)

Want to give input on what happens to the Roosevelt Reservoir (just down the street from Roosevelt High)?  There's a survey out about that.  Some of us in the neighborhood think best use might be a new elementary school while others think playfields would serve more people and there's even one person who wants a ice skating rink.

Yet another petition - via NEA - on high stakes testing - if that's your concern, sign it.

Hey parent! Put that pencil down and let your kid do their own Common Core math.  I'm not sure whether to laugh or be dismayed by this article.

Free showing of the documentary on public education, Beyond Measure, with Q&A with director/producer Vicki Abeles next Thursday the 28th at Garfield High from 6:30-9:00 pm.

What are the hot jobs right now in the U.S.?  Here's what Glassdoor says are the top 25.
A new ranking by the careers web site put data scientists -- people with a background in computer science, statistics and math who can help companies analyze the mountains of data available now -- at the top of its second annual list of the "25 Best Jobs in America.
Good - no, GREAT news - for those striving to earn the GED.  From UPI:
The GED Testing Service, responsible for administering high school equivalency exams, is lowering the passing score for the test after researchers found students who passed the test were performing better in college than high school graduates.

The drop could allow thousands of people who previously failed the GED test to receive a diploma retroactively. Researchers found a large number of GED students had better academic success than those who received a traditional diploma. The passing score will be lowered from 150 to 145. 

The company will recommend some 25,000 test takers who scored between 145 and 149 since 2014 be eligible to receive their GED.
 What's on your mind?

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can anyone let me know if the EEU was discussed at the board meeting on the 20th? Did parents protest outside/inside? Thanks.
concerned mom

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's the link to the Board meeting. I don't think any EEU speakers made the speaker list.

http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/one.aspx?pageId=15690

Too much testing said...

In one of your recent posts, there was an SPS document about assessments. It actually said they had met and exceeded their goal of no more than 2% of instructional time being spent on assessments. I almost threw-up a little when I read that. I was surprised (at the time I read that thread) that no one commented on the absurdity of that. I would say it eats up 20% of instructional time, but I am pulling that out of my ear....I'm actually pulling out of another place just like SPS did in that presentation, but I am trying to keep it clean.

I was wondering if anyone at whatever meeting that was pushed back on that stat. I am also wondering if there's a way to do a mass survey of teachers to find out what percentage of educational time is being eaten up by assessments.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry too much testing. REA is incapable of measuring anything, let alone teachers' opinions. How can they stand there year after year, talking about Brand X test here, and Brand Y there, yet say they do not have systems in place to do program evaluation. They should be fired if, after five years, they have nothing.

Catherine said...

@Anonymous Too much testing

I was thinking the same thing that 2% was too low. I did some digging. I think the test time... is about 2%. but that doesn't included: the total disruption to the school day, the breaks between test sections, the test instruction time, the loss of access to computer lab/library or other resources at the school during testing. I believe I read that the Garfield Library was closed for library use for 3 weeks for each testing cycle. I have NOT verified that, but it's a disruption to learning time whether it's closed for a day or three weeks.

I recall my son's 4 hours of tests, wipes out all teaching for two days. Be careful what you measure....

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

More on the Beyond Measure screening:

Wondering about alternatives to standardized testing? Join Seattle Opt out for a FREE film screening of Beyond Measure! This new documentary features Garfield High School staff and their work with the New York Performance Standards Consortium schools who have received a state waiver from all testing, and have had great outcomes serving the general public ed population. You can learn more about the film and view a trailer here http://beyondmeasurefilm.com/

Share the event on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/490275397848644/

Opt Out

seattle citizen said...

Concerned, please delete your comment. An unsubstantiated claim like that is not fair to the person you reference.

Anonymous said...

@Concerned HP

I'm thinking the same thing and BTW I was there. Maybe he will come around?


Phillis Pinehurst

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will warn readers about being very careful about what they say here. If you believe something, then sign your name. If not, then do not state what you "think" anonymously.

0taqueen said...

Just read the "Back Off, Parents" article about CC math referenced above. Be sure and continue down to the comments -- some good stuff from some frustrated and angry parents, including an assertion from one that the report is nonsense and most likely funded by Gates money...then the moderator comes in and admits, Yes, as a matter of fact, we DO receive a significant amount of money from Gates. Boom.

Anonymous said...

We basically taught our kids math from 3rd grade through calculus at home. Because they were not getting the math foundation I expected from school. Great for my kids. The problem with that is the number of students who don't have help at home. It is wrong to expect that parents will be reinforcing or reteaching or explaining the homework. There needs to be enough practice in the classroom that students demonstrate that they know how to do their homework before they leave class. If they can't get it in class, then it should not assumed they will learn it at home.

-HS Parent

Jet City mom said...

Some have not gotten their childs testing appts for APP, and I believe today is the makeup day?
Anyone know what time they should be at Cascadia?

Anonymous said...

HS Parent clearly states the problems with SPS and its math curriculum. Not enough fundamental practice and mastery. Instead, educators are enamored with story problems to teach critical thinking. Unfortunately, that approach does not teach math and parents who cannot supplement at home or afford math tutoring are at a severe disadvantage.

Watch for Rick Burke and the other progressive directors to push for better math. He was in the Where’s The Math? group that promoted fundamentally sound math curricula.

I sure hope they can make some headway now.

S parent

Jet City mom said...

What is the obsession with using story problems?
My daughter took the wasl, and because she didnt give a detailed description of how she worked the problem, she was marked way down even when her answer was correct.
Despite having an IEP and dyslexia/ Aspergers.
Even if you have the math background, to reteach everything they are learning in class, why are parents put in that position?
Really widens the learning gap in classrooms when parents with at least a high school diploma can't begin to help their elementary child in mathematics.

Anonymous said...

Jet City mom, the story problems to teach math started with former State Superintendent Terry Bergeson, who created the expensive WASL. As you noted, this test rewarded the thinking behind finding answers, even if they were wrong answers.

Carla Santorno placed Everyday Math books into every elementary school and Maria Goodloe-Johnson followed with Discovering textbooks in upper grades, even though the WA State Board of Education called them mathematically unsound.

We recently had better textbooks, Math in Focus, selected for elementary schools. Unfortunately, a couple of administrators at SPS are weakening that curriculum with something called Scope and Sequence in order to align better to Common Core testing. Leave it to a couple of people to make it up as they go along.

Parents have argued for years for better math (I am one of them). It is very hard to fight the administrators and some teachers who love the story problems. The Board really has to show leadership here.

S parent

Lynn said...

Sigh. We are spending our time this weekend on deciphering story problems. I'd rather be working on math fact fluency.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, convey this message to your SPS director. If they hear from enough parents, they will improve the math instruction.

Our kids deserve better than remedial math classes in college.

S parent

n said...

Sometimes these math discussions drive me nuts! Math fluency is absolutely important. But do you think we can spend an hour doing basic facts? Math In Focus has story problems. Do you know that my third graders still do not understand the concept of "many more." There's a little thinking still that is required in math. I'm a proponent of MIF and its emphasis on numeracy. But that doesn't mean they aren't supposed to learn to think mathematically as well.

Having said that, at my school my grade level has moved to the district's scope and sequence which does emphasize "explaining your thinking." Even I get confused occasionally in figuring the "steps" to some rather simple math. It gets weird.

Finally, a scope and sequence is just a frame for what you teach and when. Every purchased curriculum has one. It isn't a program. Along with the scope and sequence, the district has actually realigned much of the teaching and added back in all the time-consuming "explain your thinking" teaching. We could move much faster if in fact our kids were just doing the math without all the conceptual stuff. In some ways, we are asking young kids to think in abstractions they aren't really ready for. But some teachers think it is absolutely necessary. I'm not expert enough to know which is better. But it does kind of put MIF and the district's plan in conflict. At least for me. I finally put the MIF book away because I just couldn't merge the two.

One more thing: I absolutely depend on my parents to help teach. If you want your kids to do well, help them. Dislike me all you like because you think I should be the one who makes them all successful, but teach them because you love them and want them to be successful in spite of me. I cannot remember a time when my parents didn't help me at home. And math really was just numbers in those days. It was called arithmetic and it was very basic all the way through elementary. A lot has changed.

n said...

One more thing: I just skimmed the article and I want to say that number bonds are very much Math In Focus. I hadn't heard of them before and I love number bonds. They are hardly sophisticated or complex but they do take numbers out of the limited rules-oriented world of early math and put them in a universe of numbers where you can do an awful of teaching about relationships and in which children learn intuitively the concepts of joining, separating and comparing. I love number bonds. And from what I hear from teachers who really understand bar models, they do the same thing. But, bar models are not intuitive and I wouldn't expect parents to understand them any more than many of us do. Extra training on bar models would be helpful. Regarding number bonds, I have some old Singapore math books and they use number bonds as well in the early years. So there's nothing new about number bonds.

n said...

Oh-oh! One more thing: the article points out a problem with the way some teachers teach number bonds and that is sticking to three circles - the whole and two parts. There can be as many parts (circles) as there are parts to the problem. I know, common sense. But you'd be surprised how many kids now come to me and don't know that. Everything was taught is if there were two addends and a sum. That reflects a misunderstanding of the use of number bonds(as place holders for two addends) and how they should be used.

Anonymous said...

n describes the problem with “explain your thinking” math. It takes up valuable time and is too abstract for many young children.

In the real world, getting the right answer quickly is important. Employers complain that workers do not have math skills. College professors talk about freshman that arrive at college unprepared to do simple math.

Many parents are not helping their children at night with math. It should not fall on parents or expensive outside tutors to teach children.

It is up to SPS to teach math as effectively as possible so students gain fundamental skills. Conceptual math is a waste of time.

S parent

Anonymous said...

@n said, "I cannot remember a time when my parents didn't help me at home."

In contrast, I can't remember my parents helping beyond making sure we did our homework. Math was rather straightforward (and yes, there were story problems, too) and nothing like the EDM and CMP we had to supplement, then supplant, with our own children. The poor SPS choices in math curriculum, and the seeming love for discovery style math, forced us to get involved in our children's school work. In hindsight, it would have been best if we never helped with the assigned homework, but simply ignored it and spent that time learning solid math. We eventually took that path, and our children now have a strong math foundation, with little credit to SPS.

mathy parent

Jet City mom said...

Trees improve student performance.
https://news.illinois.edu/blog/view/6367/314736


Dongying Li, a University of Illinois doctoral student in landscape architecture, and William Sullivan, head of Illinois’ landscape architecture department, found that classrooms providing a view of green space significantly improve high school students’ performance. Their findings are being published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

NO 1240 said...

Washington state's governor- Jay Inslee- will probably not make any gains in funding education this year, but he found time to visit Green Dot charter school.

n said...

Mathy parent: I agree, math was more straight forward and I, too, rarely needed help. But we live in a different time and help is needed if possible. I don't like it but the tests given require certain kinds of thinking and parents need to understand that if they want kids to do well. You know, I don't remember a single standardized test until middle school. Not one. And homework didn't start until third grade. But that was quite a long time ago. Ah, in a perfect world . . . But we have a very far from perfect world. BTW, both my parents worked but they found time to help when I needed it. I know parents are trying to help. I'm sorry we've made it so difficult.

Anonymous said...

If we depend on parents to help kids with math homework or teach or explain, then we will leave children behind. There are students whose parents are working evenings, or absent altogether, or don't speak English to read the assignment, or dealing with chronic illness, or homeless, or dyslexic, or suffer mental illness, or a myriad of other things. Many immigrant parents assume that all teaching will be done at school, like it is in their home country. It never occurs to them to evaluate & reteach the school curriculum. Even parents who are on top of things, may not have the math background for explaining higher level high school math like trigonometry, statistics or calculus. It is completely unfair to many students to surrender to the idea that only kids with parents who teach them at home will learn math. Students must understand how to do the homework before they leave the class, so that they can complete it independently. If our math program is designed to depend on parents teaching, then it is unconscionably flawed.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

"It is completely unfair to many students to surrender to the idea that only kids with parents who teach them at home will learn math."

Yes. And I'd add that it's completely unfair to parents to assume that those who don't work on math with their kids at home don't love them or want them to succeed, as "n" implied (1/24, 5:44am comment).

Loving Parent



Melissa Westbrook said...

Well said, HS. I've been saying that for years and, if the district brings in a new math that parents don't know and yet want parents to help, the district needs to HELP parents.

But really, parents should only need to help make sure it gets done.

n said...

Have it your way. If some parents can help students, it alleviates the need for teacher to help all of them. They don't learn the same way or at the same speed. Their retention rates are different. But you all want teachers to do everything, so I guess we'll continue on the same flawed road that we are currently traveling.

Anonymous said...

I am visiting Massachusetts where there is an interesting article in the Boston Globe about "universal" preschool which isn't. In case you too wete under the impression, as I wad, that Massachusetts is an early education utopia.

Many features seem familiar. Full day kindergarten not offered in all communities. Charter schools more a priority in the State House.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/01/23/milton-preschool-illustrates-haphazard-state-funding/oJtqDHfUscbRJGGvTL2ExJ/story.html

Jonathan

Anonymous said...

But you all want teachers to do everything, so I guess we'll continue on the same flawed road that we are currently traveling.

wow - no. I think people want teachers to do enough. To explain enough that a kid has a fighting chance of understanding homework whether or not their parents are capable/available. Enough so that they have a fighting chance of staying up with kids whose parents CAN afford tutoring, or who understand math enough to assist with homework, or are even home to help with homework in the first place.

I come from a family of teachers. None of them would expect parents to be doing their job of adequately teaching students ENOUGH to be able to accomplish homework. That's just a very very unrealistic view of the world. HS parent makes some excellent points as to why.

reader47

AMS said...

The assumption that the GED is 'too hard' because people who use it for college enterance do better in college is some flimsy logic. Many people who take the GED are homeschooled students, and many are gifted kids poorly served by the public schools who use it to gain early enterance to university. It might more accurately go to lend support to the argument that people accessing alternate education are out performing their peers who were educated in tradition school settings.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to HS parent and reader47 for explaining why not every parent is equipped to step in for bad curricula. I know we trusted the schools to have good math until we found out how inadequate it was. The more research I did, the more I felt that discovery style math was letting kids down.

It was maddening to me to see former state superintendent Terry Bergeson pour millions into teacher training for WASL prep. No help for students or parents in this waste of money. Then we spent more millions for inadequate math textbooks. When we finally got something good (Math in Focus) the administrators started meddling with it. Now many schools do their own math materials because there is so much confusion.

I remember asking Rick Burke years ago why SPS didn’t ask the colleges what students were lacking in math. He agreed that was a good question.

Now that he is a board director perhaps we will get some answers and, hopefully, better math in Seattle schools.

S parent

Anonymous said...

My friend's daughter is at a SPS middle school and has no math book. It is a real struggle to help your kid with a math assignment if there is no book to look back at or look for example problems. The kid spends most of her time upset saying she is stupid while trying to do her homework. Her parents have gotten her outside math help. It doesn't seem like the middle school curriculum is effective in teaching math.

HP

Anonymous said...

HP, have your friend tell this story to all the board directors. They need to hear how damaging the lack of fundamentally sound textbooks is.

We used outside math tutors for our boys in middle and high school but it still wasn’t a substitute for a solid math curricula.

S parent

Anonymous said...

The value of textbooks is especially obvious for parents of students with disabilities, who may not always faithfully be taking the correct notes on what's instructed in class so come home without a template or example to tackle the night's math HW. Maybe this is the value of proactive communication with the SPED and GENED teachers, but that communication and cooperation is challenging on a good day.

Mathy Parent

Jan said...

AMS said: The assumption that the GED is 'too hard' because people who use it for college enterance do better in college is some flimsy logic. Many people who take the GED are homeschooled students, and many are gifted kids poorly served by the public schools who use it to gain early enterance to university. It might more accurately go to lend support to the argument that people accessing alternate education are out performing their peers who were educated in tradition school settings.

I would be interested in seeing the numbers on this -- my "sense" (and it is nothing more) is that the GED is taken far more often by kids who dropped out due to academic or behavioral issues, or home related problems (poverty, illness, other instability) than not. A few years back -- when I was home schooling and looking at its issues, the general consensus for home schoolers was to AVOID the GED (it was not given equal weight with high school diplomas by the military, was not as accepted by many colleges, the colleges their kids were interested did not require it, etc.) in favor of home based programs that actually granted a diploma -- or (in Washington) going directly in to Running Start and avoiding the entire issue. In fact, during the time I was involved, I did not know a single home schooled child who attempted to go the GED route. Also, while there are no doubt a number of very bright kids who leave high school because they cannot stand the pace or inanity (or the rules) or whatever, -- and some of them DO take the GED, logic would suggest that there are many more who have other issues that make it unlikely that they would "outperform their peers" who were educated in regular high schools.