Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Open Thread

What's on your mind?


digging around said...

It's interesting what you find when you dig around.

In this Friday memo from last year, there are two plans listed for implementing a new "Academic Dash Board". One plan proposes uses a third party service called Homeroom, the other, a product called Tableau Server.

If we look in this Work Session (page 3) we can see more information on estimated costs. Tableau Server has some initial setup costs on the order of $300k, a chunk of which appears to be in-house IT costs (to set it up on-premise?), with an estimated $40k/year after that. Homeroom doesn't list initial costs, but about $200k/year on an ongoing basis (or up to $250k estimated in the previous document)!

More recently, in this Friday Memo from Jan 13, 2017 (see page 39) we find this tidbit:

"The field test (or pilot) is expected to commence in January, pending approval of the purchase. 15 schools selected for pilot of 28 that applied."

So apparently there is already some kind of pilot running now in 15 schools?!

Looking at the Homeroom service, they would be in possession of a lot of student data, including names, parent information, grades, behaviors, attendance, discipline incidents, and who knows what else. Some of this might be useful information to work with, but not at the level where a third party is managing this kind of data down to individually identifiable students. That sounds like a mini-version of the $100million Gates/Murdoch inBloom, and that got shut down! Just like with inBloom, it looks like this is happening without parental notification or consent.

- Has anyone heard of this prior to now?
- What schools are currently testing/piloting this system?
- Is this intended to replace or replicate the existing system(s)? PowerSchool, ESIS, etc.

If it's yet another system that teachers have to enter data into in addition to PowerSchool, good luck with that. If it's intended to replace the other systems, well, that's a HUGE undertaking. In any case, if you don't want a third party managing individually identifiable data about your kids (and you) it looks like it's time to start pushing back on this.

Anonymous said...

Grammar - what is it good for? When will teachers once again be allowed to teach grammar and not be censured by admins who think grammar and spelling curriculum are worthless? How illiterate do you want your student to be? How embarrassed do you want Seattle to be on the world stage?

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and in a 29-page court decision handed down Monday, was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Maine, an estimated $10 million. (more)


Melissa Westbrook said...

Digging Around, I'll look into this. Interestingly, I have a study that is kind of an autopsy on InBloom that I was going to post.

McClure, I once won over an insurance company with their use of and/or. They didn't realize that the / mean either. I thought they might strong-arm me off and take me to court but they didn't.

Anonymous said...

New Superintendent in shocking they didn't hire any of our SPS assistant superintendents! (Sarc)

Help SPS!!

z said...

Alison McDowell will be in Seattle giving a talk on the push for digital education, "learning ecosystems", online learning. This is EdReform 2.0. Free and open to the public.

Future Ready Schools: How Silicon Valley and the Defense Department Plan to Remake Public Education

March 25th, from 10:30 AM-Noon

Lake City Branch of the Seattle Public Library

12501 28th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98125

More info here on the SeattleEducation blog

Anonymous said...

Teach for America Fights Back Against Trump's Proposed AmeriCorps Cut

From Ed Week:

President Donald Trump has let the ax fall on AmeriCorps in his first budget proposal—a cut that could cripple Teach for America, along with smaller teacher training programs.

Trump's budget, which still has to be approved by Congress, would scrap the Corporation for National and Community Service, which funds programs run by AmeriCorps. This cut had previously been reported by the New York Times last month, and I wrote then about what that would mean for Teach for America, which relies heavily on AmeriCorps funding for its members.

The vast majority of TFA members are AmeriCorps members, and because of that, they can defer their federal student loans during their two years of service, and they don't have to pay interest on the loans during that time period. AmeriCorps members also receive an annual $5,800 award that they can use to pay off student loans, earn a master's degree, or offset the cost of certification.

-- Dan Dempsey

dan dempsey said...

My opinion is that TfA and similar programs allow some states and districts to inadequately fund education as these employers can continue to pay lower salaries to teachers than economic reality would dictate. --- Shortages in the labor market in the past would drive higher wages. Now such shortages produce TfA expansion and H1B visas, etc.

Should the Federal Gov be an agent in the continuation of lower salaries for teachers in several states?

Oklahoma is now finally in the process of raising teaching salaries.

Districts in Silicon Valley are building teacher housing in an effort to attract teachers with below market rates. -- Maybe Seattle needs to think about similar programs.

As concerns have risen about "Illegal" immigration's effect on wage rates, there has been little concern about TfA. Why? I think the answer is propaganda.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Here is a bill that looks like it will delink testing to graduation requirements, in some situations.

HB 1046

-- Dan Dempsey

Robert Cruickshank said...

"If we look in this Work Session (page 3) we can see more information on estimated costs. Tableau Server has some initial setup costs on the order of $300k, a chunk of which appears to be in-house IT costs (to set it up on-premise?), with an estimated $40k/year after that. Homeroom doesn't list initial costs, but about $200k/year on an ongoing basis (or up to $250k estimated in the previous document)!"

Hard to justify this expense when SPS is proposing to layoff teachers. Keeping teachers in the classroom is a top priority. A fancy new IT system is pretty far down the list of priorities.

dan dempsey said...

English Language Learners -- So how is it going?

Ed Week reportsSchools Are Falling Short for Many English-Learners

Schools often provide substandard instruction and social-emotional support to the nation's English-learners—and fail to properly train the educators who teach them.

Those blunt findings—from the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine—are in a new study that explores why limited English skills remain a substantial barrier to academic success for roughly 5 million children. The report details how under-resourced schools and under-prepared educators can hinder efforts to help students learn and master English.

"These children are here. If we don't educate them and prepare them for being future citizens and part of our communities, we're doing a disservice to our country," said Harriet Romo, the director of the Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute at the University of Texas at San Antonio and a member of the Committee on Fostering School Success for English Learners, the group that produced the report.

SBA pass rates in WA State and Seattle for limited language learners.
first WA - then Seattle in ELA -- {{Then State All students}}
grade 3 -- 20.6% :: 23.5% --{{ 54.3% }}
grade 5 -- 18.8% :: 20.1% --{{ 60.1% }}
grade 8 -- 10.8% :: 18.9% --{{ 59.7% }}
grade 11 -- 22.5% :: 24.7% --{{ 75.5% }}

first WA - then Seattle in Math
grade 3 -- 31.4% :: 39.3% --{{ 58.9% }}
grade 5 -- 15.1% :: 19.9% --{{ 49.2% }}
grade 8 -- 11.6% :: 29.6% --{{ 47.8% }}
grade 11 -- 07.0% :: 13.1% --{{ 21.8% }}

Seattle's Limited Language students are scoring above the state's Limited Language student average in ELA and Math at all four grade levels above.

Seattle Math 11th Grade Limited Language Students
Number Percent
Meeting Standard including PP‡ 695 21.4%
Meeting Standard 684 21.1%
Level 4 313 9.6%
Level 3 371 11.4%
Basic 0 0.0%
Not Meeting Standard 2,549 78.8%
Level 2 354 10.9%
Level 1 475 14.6%
No Score* 1,720 53.2%
Total 3,233 100.0%
Meeting Standard excluding No Score 45.2%

Lots of students not scoring (refusal?)
53.2% in Seattle , 39% for State

These high percents of NO SCORE were not present
in grade 8 in either State or Seattle. What is happening?

The State tested about the same number of students at each grade level.
In Seattle the number tested declines at higher grade levels.
Perhaps Seattle exits students from Limited Language classification as student skill levels increase.

Another Name said...

RE: Data Dashboard

IMO, Data is woven into the fabric of our education system. I imagine that the Family and Education dollars are tied to this issue.

Another Name said...

Of course, there is a FREE pilot to hook the district into the high costs of scaling -up:

"Homeroom offers a FREE 6-month pilot. We could choose to only fund schools that participate in the pilot, and wait to scale up in 2017-18. (Note: future recurring annual costs = $40K for Tableau + up to $200K for Homeroom"

Anonymous said...

So recurring costs for Tableau as designed are less than $1 per year per student.

Can the SPS contract with Tableau to produce software to have SPS operate on an effective building based decision making model? How much would this software cost.

If so, with the elimination of the Top-Down Model all the Ed Directors can be laid off and the Superintendent's salary can be reduced. Consider the savings in recurring personnel costs.

Do not be looking for current administration to request such software development.

-- Dan Dempsey

dan dempsey said...

WEA union appeals charter school ruling, seeking judges indebted to the union from Liv Finne at Washington Policy Center.

Last week WEA union executives, led by president Kim Mead, filed papers appealing their recent loss in the charter school lawsuit. Previously, on February 17th, King County Superior Court Judge Chun ruled the union’s lawsuit against charter schools is baseless. WEA union executives have now decided they might have better luck with a higher court. Unfortunately, they might be right, given the WEA union’s influence over the judges of the state supreme court.

So legal system decisions depend on politics and luck. ??

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

TESTIFY TUESDAY AT 3:30 pm! URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Senate Republicans' budget will public at 10 am on Tuesday. Washington's Paramount Duty has heard that it's a draconian budget that will NOT fully fund education and will include massive cuts to social services, including mental health and vital services for low-income communities. We need to reject this draconian proposal and debunk this "fund education first" approach!

We need parents, advocates, and allies to testify in Olympia tomorrow (Tuesday) at 3:00 PM. We need to testify to fully funding public education with no cuts to social services with new, sustainable revenue for fully funding education. Email Tali Rausch​ ( if you can testify.

Oh, and as an extra goodie that we'll need to testify on tomorrow: the Senate Republicans have a title-only education bill second up on the agenda.

Senate Ways & Means Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:
SB 5048 - Making 2017-2019 fiscal biennium operating appropriations. (Hearing is on the Proposed Substitute.)
K-12 Public Schools.
Higher Education.
Natural Resources.
Mental Health.
Other Human Services.
All Other.

SB 5875 - Relating to education (TITLE ONLY):


Summer Stinson
Vice President, Washington's Paramount Duty

prek said...

Former State Senator Ross Hunter talks about pre-k and dosage. Question: How is
"Kindergarten Ready" defined?

The push is to put toddlers in full day prek. Question: At what point are we institutionalizing children?

Anonymous said...

@prek-I wondered the same thing when I read that article this morning. My children were happy with half-day programs and parent or guardian playtime in the afternoons. Kindergarten is not academic anyway, they walked in the door one to two years ahead, depending on the subject. I guess I'm showing my privilege...shame on me. I just think we could work a little harder to preserve childhood and at the same time prepare for school.

Could it be our expectations are off?

Measuring Stick

prek said...

That is what I am thinking, Measuring Stick. I disagree that K is not academic. K is now what first grade used to be.

What does it mean to be kindergarten ready? Does it mean expanding a child's vocabulary? Does it mean a child that has the capacity to sit for endless hours? Where does down time, imagination, unstructured play and parental bonding come into play?

I've often thought we're pushing our standards lower and lower. Would it be better for children- especially boys- to start K at the age of 6?

At one point in our history, Native American children were taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools- which was a failure on many levels.

Anonymous said...

@prek-yes, I agree. My children were able to sound things out and figure out beginning reading and basic math, but they were bored with the borage of worksheets and expectation to be still and obedient. Kids can learn math by figuring out that 5-3=2 when they knock down foam bowling pins, or they can be forced to write with a pencil before its developmentally appropriate. And don't get me started with the act of forcing kindergarteners to use a mouse for their MAP tests. Good grief!!

Measuring Stick

Anonymous said...

Measuring Stick you raise some excellent points.

Is developmentally appropriate changing or even a concern?

It seems that anti-depressant sales to this particular cohort should be strong throughout these students life-times because of this pre-grade 1 foundation.

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm working in a kindergarten class and frankly, I think it is a harder push than it should be. The teacher is just great but the expectations of her and the students is troubling. I'm not sure it's even developmentally appropriate given some kids are 6 or late 5s and others just turned 5.

Anonymous said...

Mel, you are working in a K class? Very cool!!! Thank you!

Primary Teacher