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Thursday, July 08, 2010

School Board Meeting

I didn't attend the Board meeting and only got a partial recording. So what happened?

35 comments:

Unknown said...

The Superintendent contract was extended on a 5-2 vote (Patu and Smith-Blum voting no). Directors Carr and DeBell appeared to lay down some markers on expecting to see improvements in community engagement, academics, and/or * responses to the state audit in the next year. I will hold them to those statements next year at this time.

DeBell mentioned something that was a surprise to me: apparently, it's common practice for superintendents of large urban schools to always be working on a three-year contract. Once the remainder of the contract gets to two years, it will generally be extended. I'm not sure why this is, but it gives a reason for the contract extension now, with two years remaining.

* I know DeBell talked about all three of these things. Carr talked about the audit and I believe community engagement. I'm not sure about student performance (late night and I'm away from my notes).

Eric

Sahila said...

Stand for Children and the PTSA (Ramona) did a cheerleading piece for reform and testing and MGJ...

Two African American elders (men) spoke in support of MGJ, saying she was doing good things for the south end, one saying in effect that all of our complaining was white, privileged, and racist...

Two Native American women spoke very well articulating what they wanted/needed from the District - LIKE THE DISTRICT NOT TAKING BACK THE $80K THEY GAVE TO COVER THE FUNDING SHAMBLES THEY CREATED now that the programme has received $76K from the federal government, and noting that their 1,000+ identified NA children (not the 300+ the District got forms for) need that $150K to have a sustainable programme with two teachers... (hope I got those numbers right - its from memory, so please correct me if I'm wrong..)

Two speakers eloquently asked for the Ballard Montessori lab programme to continue...

Two people spoke about the 2010-2011 budget mess in the making...

Chris Jackins covered six issues...

African woman spoke about needing African-relevant curriculum... she was making a distinction between immigrant African people and African American people but I didnt fully understand the specifics of what she was saying...

A man got up at the end speaking vehemently about the District's failure to meet the needs of the Filipino/Asian community...

And the rest of us asked for no extension of MGJs contract.... Well, actually I asked for her to be fired, but then there's no law against wishing for the best possible outcome, is there?!

Couldnt stay past the testimony...

Unknown said...

In the budget section, Sherry Carr asked Don Kennedy about the Native American funding. He committed that the program would be funded $82K. If the District gets the $76K federal grant, then they'll use that to displace some of the money that they are putting in, but will still make up the difference. So it will end up District @ $82K or District @ $6K and feds at $76K.

I think those dollar figures are right, but I'm also working without notes.

Anonymous said...

Michael DeBell gave the last speech before the vote to extend the contract. I did not take notes. I remember him saying that he had thought about compelling reasons (my words) to vote "No," but ultimately decided it was in the best interest of the District and continuity (again, my words) in the Strategic Plan to vote, "Yes."

Maier, Sundquist, Martin-Morris, and Carr spoke strongly in favor of Goodloe-Johnson's contract being extended.

Both Smith-Blum and Patu spoke quite strongly against Goodloe-Johnson's performance. In particular I recall Patu bringing up Rainier Beach HS's neglect, the laying-off of Elementary counselors, and other issues that I can't remember.

Smith-Blum and Patu's split from the majority I find intriguing. I know one or the other will abstain (as did Patu last night on the MAP test contract); but, to openly defy the majority? I speculate the 2 planned this ahead of time. And, DeBell wavering a bit (or, at least publicly indicating so) is peculiar.

The other 4, Martin-Morris, Maier, Sundquist, Carr confirmed in my mind they are not going to deviate the set course in spite of potential danger signs, such as potential SEA contract obstacles.

My residential district is in Sundquist's territory. I intend to do whatever I can to remove him next year.

ken berry

dan dempsey said...

Eric said:

"DeBell mentioned something that was a surprise to me: apparently, it's common practice for superintendents of large urban schools to always be working on a three-year contract."

Fact:
In many states a Super can have a five year contract. In WA the maximum is three.

I doubt it is common practice to extend contracts of very deficient Superintendent's with multiple audit defects including credit card abuse for additional third year instead of waiting for improvement.

This is Total CYA BS from Michael.
All five directors that voted for extending the contract were named in the audit. {Condemn the Super and condemn yourself better to CYA together}

My recommendations for this Director crew of 5 can be found below:

President DeBell serving since 12-2005

Sherry Carr serving since 12-2007

Steve Sunquist serving since 12-2007

Peter Maier serving since 12-2007

Harium Martin-Morris serving since 12-2007

RCW 29A.56.110 give us an option to do something other than nothing and it is cheap to do, unlike lawsuits. It is also way way faster than lawsuits.

So anyone up for giving this a go?
==============

On a separate action ... for $250 I would be happy to help someone with a pro se (do it yourself appeal) of the decision to extend MGJ's contract. Looks darn arbitrary and capricious from my vantage point.

This would need to be filed by Friday August 6, 2010.
==========

HERE is my testimony from last night.

Anonymous said...

You know, I usually let comments about me or SCPTSA go, but I am really tired of people ascribing stances or actions to me that I have not taken, or that the members of SCPTSA have not taken.

MAP testing aligns with one of the top 5 positions of the Wash State PTA, and I testified to that. Members want diagnostic testing with a quick turnaround that shows student growth, so they can assess how their child is doing and take appropriate steps. I also asked the district to make sure they communicate results to parents and help them understand and make use of the MAP data.

I did not testify in support of MGJ. In fact Kay Smith-Blum read part of my evaluation of the sup and board aloud in her public comments (critical of communication, engagement and ability to resolve issues at the school sites).

I submitted a copy of the Wash State PTA "top 5" priority platform and asked for board input ahead of the next PTA leg session so that we could better align efforts for Seattle children.

It's called outreach. Engagement is two way - parents need to reach out the same way we expect SPS to reach out to us.

- Ramona H

Jan said...

Dan: I have such admiration for your (and others) work in the Discover Math lawsuit that it is hard for me to disagree with you, but while I agree that one or more recall petitions/elections/whatever may be merited here, I do NOT believe that an "arbitrary and capricious" lawsuit is merited here. Because while I believe that this was a BAD decision, I don't think it WAS arbitrary and capricious. I think that for the four (really five if you count DeBell though the analysis is a little different) who voted yest -- she is doing a great job. She is doing exactly what they want. They want to inflict as much damage on the teachers unions as they can by demanding "teacher accountability" for students' test scores, regardless of underlying student issues, inadequate funding, demoralizing and dehumanizing management, and horrible curriculum. Given that they can't have the charter schools they want to funnel public tax dollars to private, for profit charter school entities, they approve of her doing as much as she can in that regard through things like the STEM school project based learning support contract, consultants, and destruction of the current alt schools (OTHER than the re-entry ones, which are fine, as they don't interfere with her top down, everyone on the same page management style, and don't allow "choice" that might bleed off the support she wishes she had for charters).
In fact, given that they have voted to support her EVERY WHIM, no matter how misguided, expensive, or unfounded, I think it could be argued that it would have been arbitrary and capricious had they fired her. (I think it would have been FINE had they just elected not to extend for the additional third year, as it is every contracting party's right to just let a contract wind down at its scheduled end).
cont'd

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Violation of the oath of office" means the neglect or knowing failure by an elective public officer to perform faithfully a duty imposed by law.

Interesting, Dan, because (1) they didn't even name one of their primary duties in their own evaluation of themselves which is oversight of the Superintendent and (2) the Auditor says they need to oversee Superintendent.

I guess I'd have to look up their oath of office.

I thought Ramona's remarks were in line with what the SCPTSA is working towards. Interestingly, this is very much the tone set by Randi Weingarten, the president of the AFT, in her keynote speech today.

Jan said...

The beauty of the math case is that the approving directors made your case for you. They sat there and flat out connected the "arbitrary and capricious" dots by stating that they were exercising no discretion. They were just going to vote yes. Nothing in their comments indicated any thought process whatsoever, and at least one indicated that they thought having or using any discretion to oversee the decision or confirm that it was a reasonable one -- was outside their authority. But, we can't expect them to be such fools again. No, they will continue to make bad decisions -- intentionally--because MGJ is making bad decisions, and they are determined to support whatever she does -- she is "their guy" -- but they will get better at saying "stuff" in advance of the decisions that gives the impression (and provides legal cover for the argument) that they actually thought about it, considered the merits, and are doing the job they were elected to do. From their point of view -- they wanted schools closed. She closed them (they didn't care about cost, program degradation, breach of standing board policies, or student disruption). They wanted SAP implemented. She implemented it. They want standardized, top-down curriculum, because it facilitates tying teacher pay to test scores -- she is delivering. No wonder she got glowing reports from 4 of them! The stuff that makes it seem arbitrary and capricious to me (and maybe you, but I don't want to put words in your mouth) -- actual student learning, kids arriving at college who can take college math, arts programs, diversity among schools, teachers being allowed to teach to their strength and tailor lesson plans to student needs, wise and thoughtful use of district funds, district wide access to language immersion and Montessori -- they don't care; she doesn't care. So -- nothing artitrary and capricious there! But -- at this point, I think that either recall, or vocal, determined, and focused campaigning AGAINST them the next time around -- IS the way to go. Look at the disasters they have approved:
1. The inferior Discovery Math curriculum (and yes, they have the right to appeal -- but voters also have the right to read the case on the merits and toss them out of office for being ridiculously incompetent on a decision of huge import (and cost) to students.)
2. The audit. Enough said. No. Darn. I have to say it -- even if the audit hadn't specifically fingered the Board, over and over and over, WE can. The fact that NOTHING gets fixed between audits happens because a majority of the board doesn't care. They have not put this on her list of "to dos" and they don't care if she ever fixes ANY of this stuff. That alone is enough for a recall.
3. Their refusal to deal in a responsible, managerial fashion with MGJ's conflicts of interest (BROAD, MAP, etc.). I am not sure what the right answers are here, but they won't even look at the issue. Their constituents deserve better.
4. Their refusal to act on behalf of the minority, special ed, and other students who continue to get the short end of the educational and funding sticks.
5. Their refusal to set policies and insist that the central administration conform to them.(this, along with supervising MGJ and representing those who elected them in dealing with the administration is their JOB).

MY only question now, Dan, is -- what makes the most sense now. Try a recall? Or given that a bunch of them come up for election soon, just gear up for the next election and try to get board members elected who will at least TRY to manage MGJ and the district?

dan dempsey said...

Dear Jan,

My thoughts are that it is hard to force school directors to do the right thing. We've seen this with the NTN contract, the Math actions, and lots of other items.

A pro se appeal of the contract extension would be reasonably cheap but take a long time. It would also require someone willing to put effort into it. It might give us a few options down the road if successful. I think the successful appeal might serve as a strong message to the board that we have had more than enough of their shenanigans. {but this would be about one year out}

Since the Superintendent violated state laws and misused her district credit card, it would be reasonable to fire her with cause right now.

The fact that 5 directors voted to extend her contract is bizarre given the evidence. As I said this extension serves to cover their own misfeasances and malfeasances.

Should the recall be successful on all 5 directors the board would shrink to 2 directors. We could then ask those two to fire MGJ with cause. This could happen before the end of the next school year.

How is this current board holding MGJ responsible for anything? Read the audit. These 5 directors are a complete embarrassment.

I think if we are looking for Return on Investment of resources the RECALL is the way to proceed.

Even if the five Recall Actions did not succeed the effort would serve as a great opportunity to inform the voting public of what is happening.

Jan said...

Ramona: thanks for your post. I am curious. Do you (or does the SCPTSA) have any opinion on how well MAP is fulfilling the goals you had for it? My child has not had to take a MAP test, and reports on this blog are not uniformly positive. Is the SCPTSA happy with its use for placement in middle school advanced math? Have parents and teachers found it useful? Is it too early to tell (and if so, when do we think we will know)? Is there any accountability built into its roll out to assess whether teachers and parents find it useful and worth the cost (in money and time)?
As I write this -- I realize it is off topic. Assuming there is an "open thread" coming up any time soon, I will reask this there.

dan dempsey said...

Jan said about HS Math Adoption decision:

"Nothing in their comments indicated any thought process whatsoever, and at least one indicated that they thought having or using any discretion to oversee the decision or confirm that it was a reasonable one -- was outside their authority. But, we can't expect them to be such fools again."

Oh yes we can. They {the class of 2007} were even worse in their rationales for the approval of the $800,000 NTN contract on 4-7-2010. [Anderson et al. pro se appeal filed on 5-7-2010.]

I now believe that if we are looking to turn the rascals out the best course of action is RECALL and finding strong candidates to run for the four hopefully vacant seats in 2011 elections.

So who wants to help with RECALL?

contact dempsey_dan@yahoo.com

dan dempsey said...

Dear Jan,

Here is what constitutes an arbitrary and capricious decision. Given the complete "Certified Correct Transcript of evidence" can a decision be reasonably supported by that evidence? If it can then the decision is OK.

If not the decision is arbitrary and capricious.

Note: decisions also need to satisfy the state constitution.
=========
The math decision approved by the Board failed on many counts.

#0 Did not satisfy the state constitution. (ample education for all)

#1 The district needed to agree to a record supplemented by the appellants as the district failed to provide the record required by RCW 28A 645.020

#2 The original decision was not based on the agreed upon (by both parties) Supplemented Complete "Official Transcript" on which Judge Spector made her decision.

#3 MGJ refuses to have the Board remake their decision using the complete transcript that includes all the evidence. Thus the reason for her appeal and why it will fail.

As I mentioned in my testimony there is no reason any rational being would be adding a third year to this contract rather than first waiting for improvements to occur.

These five directors need to be removed. The recall will not be based on their decision to extend MGJ's contract but on the Audit reports of 2009 and principally 2010. These folks commit misfeasance and malfeasance at an alarming rate and should be removed from office. They are incredibly lousy at fulfilling their job requirements.

gavroche said...

Ramona H. said... but I am really tired of people ascribing stances or actions to me that I have not taken, or that the members of SCPTSA have not taken.

MAP testing aligns with one of the top 5 positions of the Wash State PTA, and I testified to that. Members want diagnostic testing with a quick turnaround that shows student growth, so they can assess how their child is doing and take appropriate steps.


Ramona -- What a coincidence: I am tired of SCPTSA leadership ascribing stances to me and other PTA members like me, that we have not only not taken, but are strongly opposed to.

Such as support of the controversial, time-consuming MAP test.

I watched you say in your testimony yesterday that the SCPTSA has not taken a vote on the MAP test, yet you felt you could still speak for us all and say that it met what you claimed were SCPTSA membership desires for testing.

That is a dishonest way to publicly stamp SCPTSA community approval on something that YOU may support but the rest of us either oppose, or have had no chance to vote on.

Why you felt the need to cheerlead for MAP yesterday when it is costing the District so much to purchase ($4.3 million +) at a time when the District is making cuts in crucial staff and services, and has not yet been proven to be useful or appropriate, is beyond me.

I felt it was inappropriate use of your position as SCPTSA president for you to imply broad SCPTSA membership support of the MAP test product.

Jet City mom said...

What a coincidence: I am tired of SCPTSA leadership ascribing stances to me and other PTA members like me, that we have not only not taken, but are strongly opposed to

Ditto.
Teachers are professionals- who have degrees and experience not to mention continuing education in their field.

Do we really need to tell them how to evaluate their students?
Do they not assign relevant homework & their own testing not to mention the work they do in the classroom every day?
Would this direct experience not give them an " idea" of how students are doing and allow them to adjust curriculum & support accordingly?

If anything, we need to reduce class size, in all grades, so that students can have more meaningful interaction - instead of spending more money/time on more testing

Sahila said...

Ramona - I heard you referring in your testimony that all your PTSA membership supported the testing path we are on etc...

I know from PTSA members that not all the PTSA membership has been canvassed on that issue and I think some of them might be peeved that you are taking it on yourself to speak (inaccurately) for them...

Next time, it would be better - if you are going to make such blanket statements - to provide some sort of data verifying those statements... such as:
"We surveyed all our individual members and X% agreed that....."

Respectfully

Sahila

Sahila said...

Is there any way of getting some sort of Federal supervisory thingy (over the Super and Board members) involved in this issue?

Last I heard, the Feds are still investigating the District (on the school closures shambles??? Dan Dempsey will know the details of this)...

In Australia, the first time I was fired (non union job!) for refusing to commit employer-ordered fraud against my clients, I reported the business to a government watchdog - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The company was placed under federal supervision... it went bust 6 month later, owing $2m with $800K never recovered (embezzled by the owner from shareholders/investors)...

I know NZ has regulatory bodies that will oversee poorly functioning schools/boards of trustees...

http://www.ero.govt.nz/About-ERO/ERO-s-Role-in-New-Zealand

Do you have any sort of regulatory/enforcing mechanism here that could be brought into SPS?

dan dempsey said...

The meeting is now online HERE

Anonymous said...

Jan asked, regarding the MAP test:
"Is the SCPTSA happy with its use for placement in middle school advanced math? "

I hope not. As of now, MAP results are not even being ALLOWED to help determine middle school advanced math for kids who are in APP.

Every student entering middle school in the entire district is allowed to advance in math by one year above their peers, if test scores so indicate, and if the parents opt to sign the Math Placement Contract. UNLESS the student is in APP.

This is a broken promise, and hugely unfair to single out one group of kids to not be able to participate in this program.

Does anyone have specific info on how their middle school takes care of kids who have moved ahead of their peers in math? Especially when there are just a handful of them, not enough to make a full class when they reach 8th grade.

-frustrated

Bird said...

Every student entering middle school in the entire district is allowed to advance in math by one year above their peers, if test scores so indicate, and if the parents opt to sign the Math Placement Contract. UNLESS the student is in APP.

So what level of math course do APP students enter at middle school? Is it already one or two levels above grade level? And then they can't advance above that?

I've heard people complain about this situation before, but I don't have a very clear idea of what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Moderators, if this is getting too far off-topic, another thread might help. I'm willing to copy/paste my posts if you can't move them.

"So what level of math course do APP students enter at middle school? Is it already one or two levels above grade level? And then they can't advance above that?"

Most APP students take a pre-algebra course in 6th grade, followed by algebra in 7th and geometry in 8th. This is 2 years advanced by SPS's (not very high) standards.

Typically, middle schools offer pre-algebra as 7th and algebra as 8th as an honors or Spectrum pathway, one year advanced by SPS standards. In those buildings, kids who opt up one year from their honors program via the Math Placement Contract will end up taking algebra/geometry as 7th/8th graders, just as typical APP kids do. However, there will likely be only a handful of these kids in each building, not enough for a "full class".

So how do these other buildings handle this? The district is attempting to close this pathway for incoming 6th graders in APP because of this perceived problem in 8th grade. But the same problem will occur in other buildings, just one subject level down.

This is grossly unfair to single out one group of advanced kids to not be able to participate in this program when the logistical issues are no different than other buildings. -frustrated

hschinske said...

APP math placement in middle school has historically been established by testing and teacher recommendation. In practice, most APP students continue on the two-years-ahead path (starting algebra in seventh grade), while a few drop back a year (can't offhand think of anyone who's dropped back two, but it may happen sometimes) and some go forward a year (algebra in sixth grade). It's varied year by year whether there's provision for anyone to take algebra in sixth grade (and geometry in seventh, etc.), though. People are afraid that the math contract business may make three-years-ahead math impossible.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Helen said: "It's varied year by year whether there's provision for anyone to take algebra in sixth grade (and geometry in seventh, etc.), though. People are afraid that the math contract business may make three-years-ahead math impossible."

Actually, it hasn't varied (in APP) until this past year, when the folks downtown apparently decided that they wanted to cut off that option. Previously there have always been about 6-12 kids each year taking algebra in 6th grade. And what the administration seems to be missing is that there will always be a number of kids in that position, every year. It's just a statistical thing.

The fear isn't the "math contract business", in fact that should be codifying and strengthening the option. However, the administration seems hell-bent on cutting off the only option for these advanced kids to get a proper math education in middle school. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Ramona H here in reply to some questions:

Per district engagement about MAP testing: This is what I have been told by SPS:

It was not rolled out in every school (not all schools had computer labs). It will be used at all schools next year.

This year was very much a transition year, with the focus on getting it up and running, then looping back with teachers to see how they are using it and what issues are arising.

SCPTSA has met and has been in correspondence with SPS about family engagement around MAP and we have asked for parent training and outreach.

Per SCPTSA testimony on MAP, this is what I said:

"MAP testing that SPS started this year aligns with one of our top 5 statewide issues: Assessment system improvements.

"Specifically, our members want assessments that:

- Provide nationally comparable individual student progress data,

- Provide diagnostic assessments to determine student needs

- Measure individual student growth in a manner that is reliable and valid

- And provide results quickly so that they can be used to guide instruction during the current school year.

"PTA wants parents and teachers to have tools that will help them get and keep their learners on track.
So while we haven’t taken a vote specifically on extending the NWEA contract in Seattle, the MAP testing is well within the guidelines of what PTA is looking for in assessment reform.

"The only caveat is that it is not enough to just do the testing. You need to consistently share the results with families in a meaningful way, and there needs to be training – for both parents and teachers. We need to understand the test results so that we can best guide our children and students. "

As to the comments about this being my personal opinion: I was referencing the Wash State PTA Top 5 platform, voted on by delegates to the annual statewide legislative conference. I submitted a copy of that platform, which details the PTA position on assessments, with my testimony.

PTA hasn't taken any anti-assessment stances, but did lobby to revise the old WASL and has taken positions on the type of assessments it would rather have. There has also been member concern over how Seattle Public Schools (and other districts) have used the WASL to exclude students from certain math and AP classes.

It's too early to say whether MAP is the be all end all, but it does align with changes PTA members have called for, and I testified to that effect. I testify (formally and informally) about PTA positions all the time in my role as spokesperson for SCPTSA.

BTW:
The next legislative conference is this October. All units are issued voting credentials (how many depends on your membership numbers.) I encourage those of you PTA members who post here to become involved with the legislative side of PTA. I mean that sincerely. We're an advocacy organization. We debate and vote on issues at the fall legislative conference and spring convention. PTA leaders then convey those positions -- as well as ones taken nationally and locally -- to various civic and govt leaders so that we can carry out membership directives.

Important Legislative Events in Sept & Oct. 2010.

- Thursday, 9/16 at 7pm, “Seattle Council Legislative Chair Training” : Includes the basic Leg Chair training and also a discussion on the upcoming issues that will be voted on at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly.

- Friday, 10/8 to Saturday, 10/9: WSPTA Legislative Assembly, Marriot Hotel, SeaTac: A state wide gathering of voting delegates to debate and determine the WSPTA Legislative Issues for the next two years.

Finally, the deadline has passed for this upcoming session, but if you're a PTA member, you can draft a position and submit it for debate and endorsement.
More on PTA advocacy: www.wastatepta.org.

- Ramona H/SCPTSA

Anonymous said...

tictsHi, Ramona H here in reply to some questions:

Per district engagement about MAP testing: This is what I have been told by SPS:

It was not rolled out in every school (not all schools had computer labs). It will be used at all schools next year.

This year was very much a transition year, with the focus on getting it up and running, then looping back with teachers to see how they are using it and what issues are arising.

SCPTSA has met and has been in correspondence with SPS about family engagement around MAP and we have asked for parent training and outreach.

Per SCPTSA testimony on MAP, this is what I said:

"MAP testing that SPS started this year aligns with one of our top 5 statewide issues: Assessment system improvements.

"Specifically, our members want assessments that:

- Provide nationally comparable individual student progress data,

- Provide diagnostic assessments to determine student needs

- Measure individual student growth in a manner that is reliable and valid

- And provide results quickly so that they can be used to guide instruction during the current school year.

"PTA wants parents and teachers to have tools that will help them get and keep their learners on track.
So while we haven’t taken a vote specifically on extending the NWEA contract in Seattle, the MAP testing is well within the guidelines of what PTA is looking for in assessment reform.

"The only caveat is that it is not enough to just do the testing. You need to consistently share the results with families in a meaningful way, and there needs to be training – for both parents and teachers. We need to understand the test results so that we can best guide our children and students. "

I was referencing the Wash State PTA Top 5 platform, voted on by delegates to the annual statewide legislative conference. I submitted a copy of that platform, which details the PTA position on assessments, with my testimony.

PTA hasn't taken any anti-assessment stances, but did lobby to revise the old WASL and has taken positions on the type of assessments it would rather have. There has also been member concern over how Seattle Public Schools (and other districts) have used the WASL to exclude students from certain math and AP classes.

It's too early to say whether MAP is the be all end all, but it does align with changes PTA members have called for, and I testified to that effect.

BTW:
The next legislative conference is this October.
More on PTA advocacy: www.wastatepta.org.

- Ramona H/SCPTSA

Anonymous said...

Per district engagement about MAP testing: This is what I have been told by SPS:

It was not rolled out in every school (not all schools had computer labs). It will be used at all schools next year.

This year was very much a transition year, with the focus on getting it up and running, then looping back with teachers to see how they are using it and what issues are arising.

SCPTSA has met and has been in correspondence with SPS about family engagement around MAP and we have asked for parent training and outreach.

Per SCPTSA testimony on MAP, this is what I said:

"MAP testing that SPS started this year aligns with one of our top 5 statewide issues: Assessment system improvements.

"Specifically, our members want assessments that:

- Provide nationally comparable individual student progress data,

- Provide diagnostic assessments to determine student needs

- Measure individual student growth in a manner that is reliable and valid

- And provide results quickly so that they can be used to guide instruction during the current school year.

"PTA wants parents and teachers to have tools that will help them get and keep their learners on track.
So while we haven’t taken a vote specifically on extending the NWEA contract in Seattle, the MAP testing is well within the guidelines of what PTA is looking for in assessment reform.

"The only caveat is that it is not enough to just do the testing. You need to consistently share the results with families in a meaningful way, and there needs to be training – for both parents and teachers. We need to understand the test results so that we can best guide our children and students. "

I was referencing the Wash State PTA Top 5 platform, voted on by delegates to the annual statewide legislative conference. I submitted a copy of that platform with my testimony.

PTA hasn't taken any anti-assessment stances, but did lobby to revise the old WASL and has taken positions on the type of assessments it would rather have. There has also been member concern over how districts have used the WASL to exclude students from certain math and AP classes.

It's too early to say whether MAP is the be all end all, but it does align with changes PTA members have called for, and I testified to that effect.

BTW:
The next legislative conference is this October.
More on PTA advocacy: www.wastatepta.org.

- Ramona H/SCPTSA

Anonymous said...

Per district engagement about MAP testing: This is what I have been told by SPS:

This year was very much a transition year, with the focus on getting it up and running, then looping back with teachers to see how they are using it and what issues are arising.

SCPTSA has met and has been in correspondence with SPS about family engagement around MAP and we have asked for parent training and outreach.

Per SCPTSA testimony on MAP, this is what I said:

"MAP testing that SPS started this year aligns with one of our top 5 statewide issues: Assessment system improvements.

"Specifically, our members want assessments that:

- Provide nationally comparable individual student progress data,
- Provide diagnostic assessments to determine student needs
- Measure individual student growth in a manner that is reliable and valid
- And provide results quickly so that they can be used to guide instruction during the current school year.

"PTA wants parents and teachers to have tools that will help them get and keep their learners on track.
So while we haven’t taken a vote specifically on extending the NWEA contract in Seattle, the MAP testing is well within the guidelines of what PTA is looking for in assessment reform.

"The only caveat is that it is not enough to just do the testing. You need to consistently share the results with families in a meaningful way, and there needs to be training – for both parents and teachers. We need to understand the test results so that we can best guide our children and students. "

I was referencing the Wash State PTA Top 5 platform, voted on by delegates to the annual statewide legislative conference. I submitted a copy of that platform with my testimony.

PTA lobbied to revise the old WASL and has taken positions on the type of assessments it would rather have. It's too early to say whether MAP is the be all end all, but it does align with changes PTA members have called for, and I testified to that effect.

BTW:
The next legislative conference is this October.
More on PTA advocacy: www.wastatepta.org.

- Ramona H/SCPTSA

Anonymous said...

sorry for duplicate entries. bad blogging. - rh

(and yes: SCPTSA is concerned about access to higher math - for all kids - as well as how assessments are used to place the students. )

Anonymous said...

Ramona,

I can't speak for anyone else here, but thank you for taking the time to clarify your stance here. Everyone seems to have an axe to grind with at least one organization (and some folks seem to have an axe to grind with all organizations). But at least we have a public forum here to discuss things like this, and for that I am grateful.

For people that are constantly bemoaning the MAP, what do we replace it with? Nothing? Do we really trust the various random assessments teachers use across the district (if any)? Do we really trust that teachers across the district all have the same high expectations of their students, and that they are all effective assessors of the full range of their students, including those who are greatly struggling and those who are far ahead of the others? And this doesn't even take into consideration the teachers who are across-the-board ineffective at assessing their students. We all know at least of few of those as well.

Yes the test is expensive. Maybe too expensive, I don't know. And yes, MGJ should absolutely resign from her post with NWEA, and she should never, ever be allowed to receive any kind of remuneration from them. Now or in the future. Even in that case, I'm not sure if it's possible for her to truly do an arm's length transaction involving NWEA.

But unless you are of the mindset that formal assessments are just bad, evil and unnecessary, the MAP is not a bad tool. Vastly better than the WASL/MSP and their ilk (push to eliminate them instead!) It would be great if the MAP could be run more efficiently, to use less class time, but hopefully that will improve over time, with experience.

In my view, I think the SCPTSA has very reasonable goals. How can you argue with their points:

- Provide nationally comparable individual student progress data,
- Provide diagnostic assessments to determine student needs
- Measure individual student growth in a manner that is reliable and valid
- And provide results quickly so that they can be used to guide instruction during the current school year.

These are not "anti-teacher" statements. These are pro-student statements. I wish people would come out from behind their bunkers occasionally.


Back to my initial point/question:

Ramona said: "(and yes: SCPTSA is concerned about access to higher math - for all kids - as well as how assessments are used to place the students. )"

Were you aware of the (very quiet) recent discriminatory change in policy that apparently restricts only APP kids from using their MAP scores, along with parental signing of the Math Placement Contract to advance one year in math? Is this something that the SCPTSA can look into?

Sahila said...

I dont want standardised testing at all, so please dont attribute SCPTSA values to all parents...

You've read here that even PTSA parents/members dont want standardised testing for their children...

My child is learning to self assess, and he's really good at it, honest and spot on... his school works on a portfolio approach and he gets to say whether he's a novice, apprentice, practitioner or scholar...

and that's good enough for me...

Sahila said...

and none111... I'm just wondering - cant you write a post without having a dig at other people?

TechyMom said...

"I dont want standardised testing at all, so please dont attribute SCPTSA values to all parents..."

Sahila, I think you are very much in the minority in that position. The SCPTSA position sounds like a solid moderate position, that most parents in the district would support. Because some parents don't want any standardized testing, you are allowed to opt your child out of it. But, please understand that most parents see some value in it. I want to know where my child is on an objective, nationally normed scale, and that has nothing to do with merit pay.

The MAP test looks like it might meet the SCPTSA goals, which are goals that I and many parents share. It's obvious that teachers, principals and parents still need training on how to use the informaiton from the test. That's not really surprising in the first year.

Anonymous said...

Sahila said: "I dont want standardised testing at all"

As TechyMom said, I also believe you are in a very small minority on this.

You may not see it as important if your kid's teachers are outstanding, his peers are strong, and/or you are able to keep close tabs on what's happening yourself. This has (mostly) been the same experience our kids have had as well. But it's important to listen to others and look outside your own circle of experience. It took a few years and lots of discussions with parents from all parts of the city for me to really start taking this mindset to heart.

Many teachers are not good assessors. It's just a fact. Not only that, but even if a teacher is skilled at assessing and making meaningful comparisons among their own students, even with years of experience, without standardized assessments across the city, state and country, there is no way to know that there are not systemic building, geographic, racial, etc. biases. Many buildings and many teachers sadly have very low expectations, and it's not fair to those kids to ignore them and let them languish. They aren't being prepared for a challenging high school, let alone college. Standardized testing does NOT mean standardized lessons, materials, methodology, etc.

This all said, I've been a vocal opponent of the WASL for several years. It's better than nothing, but it's so narrow in grade-level focus that it doesn't do a very good job with the kids that really need the most attention - those who fall far above or below the standards. And it doesn't provide meaningful data to the teachers to help them understand their kids and how to better meet their needs. The MAP may not be the be-all-end-all, but it's better in these regards than the WASL/MSP.

One last thing: I totally respect, and actually am a very, very strong advocate of your right to opt your child out of any district or state standardized tests. I will go to the mat to support your rights in this matter. But there are very good reasons to have standards and metrics in our schools in general.

I suspect this is kind of a religious-like issue where no amount of discussion is going to change your mind, or vice-versa, the rest of us, so it's probably not worth getting into, but what the heck.

Anonymous said...

"My child is learning to self assess, and he's really good at it, honest and spot on... his school works on a portfolio approach and he gets to say whether he's a novice, apprentice, practitioner or scholar...

and that's good enough for me..."

Our kids have done those same exercises. They're valuable from a personal growth standpoint, but for most kids not very accurate. Some kids assess themselves high across the board (unrealistically), some low, and some are erratic and more concerned about a particular comment a teacher or other student might have made that day then about their realistic abilities or achievements.

It's also an age-related thing. A high-schooler can do a much better job than a 3rd grader. But it's certainly a skill that can be learned, and kids can get better over time with practice, as you're probably experiencing.

In any case, while those exercises may be valuable, they in no way replace "real" assessments, especially for younger kids. I'm not sure if that's what you're really saying, or why you would think so.

Sahila said...

"Real" assessments are/take whatever form you choose to define them...

I choose to define the system in place at my son's school as "real assessments" and I dont need/want any kind of standardised testing to compare him with others - ever....