Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

Correlation is not causation but this new data is something to consider, From Gadfly on the Wall blog:

Middle School Suicides Double As Common Core Testing Intensifies
The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds doubled between 2007 and 2014 – the same period in which states have increasingly adopted Common Core standards and new, more rigorous high stakes tests.

In fact, it is a hallmark of other nations where children perform better on these tests than our own.
For the first time, suicide surpassed car crashes as a leading cause of death for middle school children.
In 2014, the last year for which data was available, 425 middle schoolers nationwide took their own lives.

To be fair, researchers, educators and psychologists say several factors are responsible for the spike, however, pressure from standardized testing is high on the list.
Remember I told you about the new Washington Slaw about driving while using a cell phone?  The ultimate in bad outcomes for one teen driving while drunk and using Instagram.
A California woman is in custody after allegedly livestreaming a fatal car crash on Instagram that killed her 14-year-old sister and injured another teen. 

Obdulia Sanchez, 18, was booked into the Merced County Jail on suspicion of DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after Friday's crash, according to the California Highway Patrol.
In a super-human effort, parent Barbara Billingshurst created this:
I created a website www.waschoolfamily.com that contains all the results from my detailed analysis of comparing the State’s Current FY 2017 Budget and the State’s FY 2019 Budget (SSB 5883 and HB 2242) for public schools to the QEC Fully-Funded FY 2019 Plan.
What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

On a related note, from a new book by social psychologist Jean Twinge:

"...iGen spends less time with their friends in person—perhaps why they are experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness."


See also, "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Lukianoff and Haidt.

-a reader

Anonymous said...

What a irresponsible post to put up. Have you considered some readers might have been impacted from a child's suicide or attempted suicide.

Heart less

Hale Mom said...

Talking about suicide helps prevent suicide.

And if you have been impacted by a child's suicide or attempted suicide, as Megan Devine says, "Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried."

Everything doesn't happen for a reason.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Heart Less, most adults have been impacted by death in some way. Suicide is a terrible thing but, as parents, we can't turn away.

I do put up information about suicide - especially teens - because of the issues and pressures they face. And, if you read the thread, the rate of teen suicide is rising.

Ignorance is not bliss.

Anonymous said...

Young people committing suicide is a tragedy at both a personal and a national level. However, the article blaming it on common core testing seems to be without basis.

The first link from that article: http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/2017/07/14/america-sees-alarming-spike-middle-school-suicide-rate/418700001/ says that the rise is most likely due to increased use of social media and bullying. Common core testing is not mentioned. How could it be? New Jersey had its first common core aligned test in 2015, a year after the 2014 endpoint for the suicide statistics.


David said...

Interesting survey on what practices tried by charter schools actually help. To summarize, the only thing that seems to matter consistently is intensive tutoring, which is expensive, but definitely helps. That's similar to past studies.

"What Can We Learn from Charter School Lotteries in the United States?"

Broadly, the conclusion seems to be that additional funding matters primarily if it is spent on the right things, mostly tutoring and increased instruction time, but not class size, advanced degrees, or teaching certifications. That's curious, I personally would have thought funding generally would help almost no matter what it is spent on.

Anonymous said...


It appears careless to attempt to blame the rise in suicide on testing. Posting the story on your blog might give it a level of credibility it doesn't deserve.

I think your pro teacher, anti-testing lean is way off on this one. I view your post as more harmful than helpful.

Having dealt with these types of issues at a local high school I can tell you one of the main sources of the students stress was being labeled as being stupid or not as worthy as various other cohorts. Do you want to guess the group who consistently projected a level of superiority?

School staff where also involved in the problem, it almost became second nature for staff to speak of these students as inferior as to gain favor with other cohorts.


Anonymous said...

The thing about tutoring is the tutor is usually highly skilled in both the subject matter and the psychology of tutoring.

Most general ed teachers do not have the luxury to provide these service in or out of the class room. They must march 40 + students through usually inferior curriculum.

There is also the expectations of results when your are paying for tutoring that everyone is aware of student, tutor and the parent (financier).


Anonymous said...

Oh and I wanted to ask, why is this blog called save Seattle schools? Save them from what?


Go High said...

Parent, you write that in high school "the main source of the student stress was being labeled as being stupid or not as worthy as various other cohorts."

So, what you're saying is that students who are in "various other cohorts" don't experience stress? Completely false. All teenagers can experience stress. It can come from trauma outside school, strains due to poverty, having the police assassinate people of your race, family pressure, sibling pressure, job pressure, pressure to excel in sports, a schedule that is too demanding, insufficiently treated mental health issues, feelings of not fitting in, low self esteem, bullying, supportiveness of a student's environment when coming out as LGBTQ, supporting parents emotionally/financially, illness in the family, pressure to succeed academically, dealing with a disability, etc.

Getting perfect grades on every test in every class does not cure student stress, but do you know what?
Valuing all students in all cohorts and helping them all to strive to do their best academically, now that could actually help reduce stress.

Trash talking children online does not improve the outcomes or the experience for any student. Stop bullying children and do something constructive.

Anonymous said...

The kids I met and talked to about what was going on didn't mention stress from testing. They hated being at school because they were being treated as inferior compared to the students in IB. The IB students made off handed comments inferring the gen ed students as if they were inferior to them. The teachers seem to want to be buddies with IB students and don't take aggressive measures to curb the IB students inappropriate behavior.

"Trash talking children online does not improve the outcomes or the experience for any student. Stop bullying children and do something constructive."

I know you are not referring to me, because I was pointing out bulling not engaging in it. There LGBT students on both side of this problem.

I think there are many students and parents that have experienced this bias at every school that has an IB program.


Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

If you read the article, it was merely pointing out that linkage AND I said "correlation is not causation."

Parent, the name of the blog is Seattle Schools Community Forum. It still has its original URL which was from when SPS was closing schools and the originator of this blog - Beth Bakeman - named it.

And those are some mighty big words about how staff sees different kids but I would think that comes from somewhere. "Thinking" something is not the same as knowing it. You are quite close to the line of name-calling of kids and I would tell you not to go there.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm not intending to do anything here but reveal a little of what students and teachers have mentioned to me. I'm not going to name names, but this is not a secret by any stretch nor am I making it up. I do think you will be hearing more of this subject for other sources in the future.

If you feel it is harmful then please delete my comments.


Go High said...


There are so many ways that kids can feel like they are inferior or superior to other kids. Teenagers want to be taller or thinner or faster or richer or have nicer skin or more musical ability or artistic ability or a better after school job or not have an eating disorder or be smarter or have cooler friends or go to one school or a different school or get a specific English teacher or have a certain thing in their lunch or be able to throw parties at their house with no grownup supervision or go on fancy vacations to exotic destinations or own the latest, coolest thing. I don't really see how it is the roll of schools to stop that. Students are not identical. They can't all be exactly the same at everything. Seniors act as if freshmen are inferior to them. There's only so much a school can do about that. If being in IB is one of those desirable things, the good news is that it's way easier to get into IB than to become tall or rich. No eligibility testing is required for IB. Students just need to go to one of the schools that offer it (Ingraham, Chief Sealth, and Rainier Beach), and the program has to be funded (!!!), and then they just do it. There are 22 schools in Washington State that offer the IB diploma program. And plenty more around the world. But millions of students live perfectly happy lives of success and achievement without being in IB programs. It's not even offered at most of our high schools.

Anonymous said...

On TV: The Garfield rape that led to a federal investigation of the district is featured on On Point TV as an example to the nation. bit.ly/2h0MGgr

--civil rights advocate

Anonymous said...

Hasn't stopped the district from continuing to violate students civil rights.

SPED Parrent

Anonymous said...

Parent brings up something that I have heard too. I know of parents who sent their kids to Ballard because they didn't want IB (too much work in their opinion) and they felt like the general ed kids at Ingraham were second class citizens. I have heard this from other parents too, if you want IB Ingraham is great, if you don't want IB, you're better off going elsewhere. I am not sure how much of this is just perception. I think it is hard to have two different programs in one school. People always think the grass is greener on the other side.


Anonymous said...

Not sure how this became a "let's blame HCC" discussion...again. I could not speak to Parent's claims, but can tell you some teachers help fan the flames and speak disparagingly of HCC students.

getting old

Anonymous said...

I can add that this is true,

Our daughter is leaving Ingraham due to this exact issue. Many of her friends left for running start to avoid the IB cliche. I think it's best to create one and IB school centrally located and bus students there. I think a large percentage of the Ingraham IB students are bused in which breaks down the local feel.


Melissa Westbrook said...

IHS, if only someone would listen. Honestly, it would just be better to have separate HCC schools for all the grief it seems to cause all around. Charlie used to advocate for this as well. What's interesting is that many schools seem glad to get IB and then become unhappy (well, except for Rainier Beach where you don't hear any of this,hmmm).

Anonymous said...

From someone who has no skin in the game, I'd like to gently remind some parents that most of those IB kids were likely bullied at some point for being nerds. So some then turn into bullies themselves - this is shocking to anyone? I'm just getting a weird vibe from some posts, like IB kids invented bullying.


Anonymous said...

If students weren't bused to Ingraham, IHS would be underenrolled and neighboring schools would be even more overcrowded. Let's remember IBX was created as a capacity solution. Are there enough neighborhood students in the Ingraham boundaries to fill the school? A majority of the non-neighborhood students are from Ballard, Hale and Roosevelt assignment areas. IHS will soon have a 500 student addition, and they won't suddenly have 500 more students in the draw area.

big picture

Melissa Westbrook said...

Big Picture, right. If HCC left Garfield, that would be a big change for that school. Clearly, there are some who would say good riddance but the changes would be profound.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa-- " Honestly, it would just be better to have separate HCC schools for all the grief it seems to cause all around. Charlie used to advocate for this as well. What's interesting is that many schools seem glad to get IB and then become unhappy (well, except for Rainier Beach where you don't hear any of this,hmmm)."

I agree with your comments.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln should be an international school with Language Immersion continued on from Stanford and McDonald, IB, IBX, and HCC.

Problem solved

Anonymous said...

Any student at Ingraham can take IB classes. Including my sped kid, who has been encouraged by IB teachers to take the classes. (One actually came to an iep meeting to encourage that.) Other students I know have been encouraged to take IB classes with curricular modifications. You won't see that in many of our high schools. That could not happen if IB is moved off site. I think all kids deserve to have access to advanced courses.

I have had other kids in different Seattle high schools. I think there will always be cliques in any high school, Varsity vs JV football, Jazz 1 that travels to NY vs Jazz 2 that goes to Idaho. The Roosevelt newspaper had a story a couple of years ago about a girl who moved to Hale because of similar social exclusion by the student council. Often the ‘chosen group’ will be seen as preferred by the coach/teacher. Sometimes that is true. And there will probably always be teachers who have favorites.

But my experience with Ingraham is that staff and parents work hard to make it one school. If you look at the population of student council or the homecoming court you will see academic diversity. When the pep band plays during basketball season, instead of playing at every varsity game, they go to couple of each Varsity, JV, Men’s, Women’s & Special Olympics games. There are several all-school activities annually, like the back to school BBQ where staff works extra hard to get underrepresented families to come and teachers come to man the grills, including IB teachers. The Multicultural dinner is organized & staffed by the teachers, including IB teachers, for Ingraham families and most participating families are not IB families. Teachers, including IB teachers,& staff also attend sports games, concerts, plays, etc even when they are not the mentor for the group. (I sat next to the school nurse at an event last year.) They do this because they are invested in their students & see the school as a community.

The groups of teenagers who hung out at my house from Ingraham included IB diploma, gen ed, full time running start, sped & kids taking a mix of courses. They chose to be together socially & they treated their different academic choices the same way as the choice of band vs baseball vs photography club.

Compared to other Seattle high schools my kids have attended, my experience is that there is a lot less gatekeeping and an intentional goal of Ingraham staff to make the school a community for all students

-IHS too

Anonymous said...

It seems that no matter how you slice it, it's always those "smart" kids who are the problem. They just act so damn superior, and/or make others feel inferior! If you have an IB program--even it it's open to anyone!--it's still a problem, because it creates more of an elitist attitude or something. AP-heavy schools like Garfield have the same problem, that divide between the high-performing and lower-performing students and the classes they qualify for and/or select. But does anyone really think you're going to find a comprehensive public high school where all students are performing at the same level, and some don't feel academically inferior/superior? Artistically inferior/superior? Socially inferior/superior? Financially inferior/superior? Athletically inferior/superior? Etc.? That seems silly to me, and

wishful thinking

Anonymous said...

I believe you are wrong about inclusion of SPED in IB at Ingraham. We have heard that IB will not change the required writing workload to accommodate SLD students. The school's excuse is that Ingraham doesn't control the IB requirements the IB governing body does and the writing workload is a key component of IB.

There are NO accommodations made for students who can not produce the required volume of writing. In fact there is a document available via FOIA request that shows an Ingraham High school teacher describing why an IEP student should not be in her class. She makes it clear that it would not be fair to non IEP IB students if accommodations were made for IEP students nor does she believe she is required to modify the IB curriculum and student assignments.

The document is from 2016, so maybe things have changed, but I seriously doubt it.

The entire IB program is discriminatory against special educational students. For SLD students it would be next to impossibly earn an IB diploma under the current IB program.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

Seriously SPS can't serve SLD students in Gen ed. How would they ever be able to serve them in an IB program.


Anonymous said...

IB does allow accommodations for students with disabilities. The possible accommodations are outlined on the IBO website. I have proctored IB exams at Ingraham & have supervised different accommodations for a number of students, from transcription for a child with dysgraphia to snack time for a diabetic child to extra time for a child with dyslexia.

Modifications are a different story. IB does not allow modifications to the work required for the diploma. However students can still participate in a class and learn the same material with modifications, just not get recognition from the IB organization. In Seattle high schools modifications for any class usually result in earning a modified diploma, not just IB.

There are students with SLD's, ADHD & autism that are getting IB diplomas at Ingraham and have for several years. I can believe there is a teacher who is not excited about having Sped students in their classes, but you can't paint the whole school or the whole program with that brush.

When my kid took IB class in the area of the SLD, accommodations were allowed and even adjusted as needed for my kid to succeed. My child did not ask for modifications, but a friend did. That student was able to be intellectually engaged at an advanced level and was willing to forgo the IB credit to have an opportunity to take the class.

My SLD kid had only one year out of 9 in SPS where effective specially designed instruction was provided. That was in an honors class. Perhaps I am so jaded that just being allowed to participate in class, encouraged to use accommodations to achieve the most possible, challenged & encouraged by teachers instead of punished, made Ingraham IB a win for me.

-IHS too

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPED Parent, I think you mistook what was said:

"Any student at Ingraham can take IB classes.'

Classes, not the entire IB courseload. RBHS has the same thing. Take an IB class for challenge and rigor but you don't have to do the entire program.

Anonymous said...

She makes it clear that it would not be fair to non IEP IB students if accommodations were made for IEP students...

Argh! That's the sort of completely clueless comment that makes my blood boil. Flipping things around, is it fair to IEP students that the IB curriculum is designed for non-IEP students?

Or how about, is it fair to IEP students that they have disabilities that make it much harder to do the same work as students who don't need IEPs?

The district needs to do a much better job of making teachers understand that students who get accommodations and modifications aren't somehow "cheating" and getting an unfair advantage. Best case scenario is that the accommodations and/or modifications simply level the playing field. And as we all know, best case scenario is not the typical user experience in SPS.

Parenting 2e

Anonymous said...

I don't want it to seem we are trying to pile on IB teachers at Ingraham but we had a similar experience where an IB teacher attended an IEP meeting to argue against our child attending her class. She made a valid argument that the shear volume of writing would make it impossible for our child to pass the class.

The district special ed supervisor put the kibosh on the objection. Our child failed the class and summarily dropped out of high school.

We were able to get her into a more appropriate setting outside of SPS.

I don't recommend IB for students who can't produce the voluminous amount of work as it most likely will lead to further damage of their already damaged self esteem.

For me it's hard to stomach all the social justice talk and closing the opportunity gap talk when in reality the district is only concerned with African American males improving or that's how I and my children interpret the SPS propaganda.

The special ed students are just worthy of a diploma as any other group...maybe even more.

Another 2e

Melissa Westbrook said...

Another 2E, I have a 2E as well. I didn't find it difficult to get his 504 in high school enacted but then, we didn't ask for much. And, in the end, they still managed to do damage by allowing the yearbook staff to say something hurtful about him (this with 2 of the 3 yearbook advisors being his teachers and knowing his issue).

I will always agree that Sped students seem to always get a lot of lip service but not much action on their behalf. I do think it's about the money but again, the district is supposed to serve all students and the state is supposed to supply that money.

What's ironic is that many SPed students are students of color so there's another equity issue.

Anonymous said...

It is not only Sped students but also quite a few HCC students who wash out of IB because of the work load. I believe that staff does try to council students to avoid the diploma if they think the students aren't able to handle the workload. Though taking only a class or two in IB should reduce the workload.

Having said that doesn't diminish the fact the Sped students in this district do not get the services required by law. They are often pushed out not only academically but also by limited access to school activities. I like to believe this is mostly due to lack of funding, but honestly there is a lot of prejudice against students with disabilities. I have also dealt with teachers & school administrators who don't want my kid & who even punish because of disability. It is heartbreaking.

The need for modifications though is actually a policy issue. A number of years ago, a Roosevelt administrator tried to explain to me that they could not modify curriculum without switching to a modified diploma. She said, "A credit has to mean something". But I can't figure out what it means. It doesn't mean a certain level of academic competence when so much credit is given for timeliness or organization or extra credit. It doesn't demonstrate how much a student learned when some students start the class already knowing the material. It's not about the amount of work, since students work different amounts to achieve the same thing. I don't see why students can't get credit for classes with modifications. At least the district could define it more specifically so that some kinds of modification could be provided for Sped students to access more classes.

-IHS too

Anonymous said...

Please don't confuse volume with quality. My student who dropped out of IHS scored 1450 on the SAT with a perfect score of 800 on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section. She failed several IB classes which led to her dropping out of IHS.

Not a single IB student scored higher than her on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section.

IHS parent

Anonymous said...

Sorry, IHS Parent,

I didn't mean to sound dismissive. I do support allowing modifications for credit in Seattle schools.

-IHS too

Anonymous said...

ANY course can be modified to be accessible to students with IEPs. ANY. Yes, your child might then receive a CIA, certificate of individual achievement, instead of a CAA (certificate of academic achievement), but... so what? Your child can still take the course, learn based on individual needs, and receive credit. If a student with a disability can't do voluminous writing, that requirement can be reduced. If a student can only read half the reading, or needs to read different texts, those are all completely reasonable modifications. And yes, teachers can and do make these modifications all the time. It's true that a great many teachers don't believe it is part of their jobs. They are wrong. It is also true that a great many IEP teams think that barriers to participation and academic minimum requirements are acceptable barriers for students with disabilities. They are wrong too. If an iep team believes a class, ANY class, would be a benefit to students with disabilities then the school is mandated to make those modifications even if it means that the standards are drastically different for the disabled student than for the non disabled student. You can imagine (and I know of) students who are in advanced or regular education classes for the language or social goals, instead of for the academic goals. That too can be an appropriate and reasonable placement for a given student. It really is unconscionable to fail students, to the point of drop out, rather than make individualized accommodations and modifications.


Anonymous said...

Not a single IB student scored higher than her on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section

Aren't student scores private? How would a parent be privy to the scores of other students??

As far as IB, it's kind of sink or swim, with little to no hand holding for anyone. The lack of support from the district, along with extra demands on teachers (some of whom cannot keep up with the IB workload themselves), makes for a very mixed experience.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:09, you don't have to be privy to other students' scores to know that. If it's the top score possible (a perfect 800), others might have matched it, but none would have exceeded it.

Parenting 2e

Peter R. said...

Interesting article on Peer Tutoring: When is it Student Exploitation?

Kids who are ahead are often put to work as peer tutors in the gen ed classroom. Some of the kids being put to work this way in our district are as young as five and have received absolutely no pedagogical training and are not remunerated in any way for their work. Sometimes this goes really badly. Some of these kids skipped over phonics entirely and are autodidacts and may not understand what other students find so hard about learning to read. They can be prone to saying things along the lines of, "Come on, this is just a level A book. Just read the words. What are you, stupid?" Not gracious by any means. And certainly not the way any child deserves to learn. On the other hand, what do you expect when you hire a 5-year-old teacher to work pro-bono with absolutely no training?