Friday, October 01, 2010

Open Thread Friday

There are no Director community meetings this weekend.

What are your kids doing for Halloween? Saw this funny article in the NY Times. Apparently they have created a costume so you can be...the BP oil spill. Or, dress up in Lady Gaga's "meat" dress. As I've said in the past, I love Halloween. No presents to buy, no relatives, you get to dress up however you want and...candy.

Also, FYI, today Whole Foods is starting a Green Halloween Costume Swap. They'll collect gently used costumes and accessories at all their locations on Saturday, Oct. 1. You'll get a ticket to come back on Saturday, Oct. 9th from noon to 3 p.m. and you can pick out a costume from the drop-off day. (For every costume or 5 small accessories you turn in, you get a ticket.) Good idea if you're wondering what to do with that too-small costume from last year. Also, Value Village is a great option for Halloween stuff but get there early in the month.


Central Mom said...

Article praising, yup, Singapore Math in NYT today.

Good overview of the variety of math curriculums out there. Also, quote about why EDM didn't cut it in a particular district. (Dan will be excited.)

West Seattle said...

Did anyone attend the West Seattle welcome back last night? I was booked and unable to make it. The WSB has some coverage and from what I read there it sounds like it was similar format in that they had speeches and then mingling, no public Q&A.

Dorothy Neville said...

I am hoping StepJ or someone else as fluent in NSAP details can answer this puzzler someone said to me last night.

This is a parent who will have split sibs, younger sib is not in K yet. So suppose in a couple years that younger child is in K and on waiting list for older sib's school. October 1 comes around, budget figures are set and waiting lists (centrally controlled) are dissolved. At this point, how much control does principal have? The person in this situation thinks that in this case, if a K student at older sib's school leaves, then the principal can fill that already-paid-for-spot with anyone they want, such as with this younger sib that never got off the waiting list.

I have absolutely no idea if this scenario is plausible according to the rules or not.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think if the school is not overenrolled, maybe. But the principal will likely hold at least 1-2 spaces for anyone who moves into the neighborhood during the school year.

Dorothy Neville said...

My question is, I guess, is this the actual chain of control for enrollment decisions? I think the principal used to have more control over the waiting list? Did the waiting list always dissolve Oct 1st? Does the principal have control over out of attendance area enrollment after Oct 1? I think all these issues have been addressed but I am completely fuzzy on them.

seattle said...
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seattle said...
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Maureen said...

Re the NSAP. What about "home schooling" the younger one starting on September 30th? Then can the parent try to enroll them at the sib's school as soon as the wait list dissolves? I'm not sure if 'homeschooling' is treated differently than private schooling, but it's my understanding that kids coming from private can enroll anytime during the year and get a spot if one is available (guaranteed at neighborhood school regardless of space available).

There was a parent (Luz?) at the NE 'welcome' meeting who is homeschooling her kindergartener because can't get in to older sib's school and I wanted to ask her if she had looked into this.

StepJ said...

Hi Dorothy,

This year principals have zero control before or after September 30. General Ed, AL, all other programs - no control. At my school the Principal was not even allowed to see the wait list.

Admission after September 30 and prior to Open Enrollment is only to your Attendance Area school, or an Option School that has space available.

A Transition Plan will be introduced Dec./Jan. of each year to define enrollment rules for the upcoming year. This will happen until the NSAP is deemed fully implemented (2015.) Your friend could start lobbying for a return of some control to the local school level, allow siblings to stay on the wait list for a longer period of time, ...

dan dempsey said...

Central Mom,

Thanks for the heads up. The adoption of EDM in Seattle was an example of the usual insanity. Let us call it what it was "Abuse of Discretion".

Directors do not care about overwhelming evidence. They choose to trust their hired professionals.

I am totally done with that mode of operation and am bursting into total attack mode.

In regard to NTN, Action Report of July 1, 2009 declared Cleveland a STEM option school which would require Calculus.

District, because 4 directors chose to ignore overwhelming evidence, bought Project Based Learning {NOT STEM} for $800,000, which is available for far less elsewhere.

This was done without the requisite documentation for a "Sole Source Justification". Those four directors with this action violated the state law for competitive bidding. Violated their own Board policies. Violated their oath of office.

Since it is now known that an appeal filed May 6, 2009 over the High School Math adoption, although won, now sits in Washington Appeals court waiting to be heard likely in the Spring of 2011, I can hardly endorse the appeal of school board decisions as much of a remedy.

However removing Directors with a recall will be significantly speedier than that, if it can be accomplished. Not being a lawyer, I am learning how to win by losing thus far .. (with the exception of Keith Scully's fine work).

Well a group of us think we've got this how to write a recall filing now under control.

Look to see each of four school directors in Superior Court for a recall sufficiency hearing before Thanksgiving.

(IMHO) This time petitions for the recall and discharge of each of four school directors will be drafted for circulation of signatures.

Get ready to help get 32,000 valid signatures of registered Seattle voters on each petition. Yes you can sign all four.

dan dempsey said...

About Singapore Math in the NY Times:

My view is ...

"SingaporeMath.com, a company that has distributed the “Primary Mathematics” books in the United States since 1998, reports that it now has sales to more than 1,500 schools, about twice as many as in 2008."

Primary Mathematics is the superior series, the one to advocate for in waivers and in district adoptions and state recommendation approvals.

Jet City mom said...

I love Halloween too- I grew up across the street from Gertrude and virtually every house had at least one child for blocks.

At older daughters school- there was a rule, no store bought costumes- they would make their own costumes from the scrap bag & parents would come to do face painting- it was really fun.

Younger daughters school made a haunted house for the younger kids ( it was a big thrill when she was old enough to be one of the " older kids") & I miss taking them out trick or treating ( although my younger one hated it- so we usually went to the Science center overnight instead)
Halloween is one of the most creative holidays I think- & it gives me a chance to get rid of my beanie babies.
( I let kids pick one to go with their candy)

We also used to go hear story telling- at the Phinney Ridge neighborhood center & at someplace in the U district with Naomi Baltuck-

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, I don't think that could work. The district already knows the older child is in the district at that address. I think you have to be newly moved.

Dorothy, on the waitlist point. I believe Sherry Carr is going to introduce a motion to extend the waitlist a week to help the finally 30 families whose kids aren't together.

Luz Villasana said...

@ Dorothy and Maureen, StepJ is right to point out that 1) Principals have no control over enrollment under the NSAP, and 2) Transition plans will most likely change every year, as the district faces different challenges, and hopefully learns from previous experience. After the wait list dissolves you can only apply to your AA school if you are new to the district, homeschooling is not treated like private school. BTW, on the sibling issue, it is my understanding that all siblings were offered a spot in the end.

Anonymous said...

The Forum with Diane Ravitch: Clock Hours for Teachers, A Clarification

Seattle University wanted to provide clock hours to teachers for the forum with Diane Ravitch next Tuesday at Seattle University. SU will be offering three clock hours to teachers for this forum.

To be able to provide those hours, Seattle University has graciously offered the following program.

Teachers wanting to attend the Forum and earn 3 clock hours need to do the following:

5:45 – 6:45 Attend a discussion at Pigott Auditorium led by Seattle University.

7:00 – 9:00 Attend the forum with Dr. Ravitch.

Following the forum, teachers can get their sheets signed by SusanEllen Bacon, PhD, from the College of Education and pay the $15 fee (check payable to Seattle University). She will be available in Pigott Atrium at one of the tables.

Anonymous said...

And another reminder about the forum:

Race to Where!? A Forum on Public Education in America

Diane Ravitch

Live from New York University

Former Assistant Secretary of Education, Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Ravitch shares a blog called Bridging Differences with Deborah Meier, hosted by Education Week.

Dr. Ravitch is also the author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

Wayne Au: Assistant Professor, Secondary Social Studies Education, UW Bothell and Editor of Rethinking Schools.

Jesse Hagopian: Teacher and a founding member of the progressive caucus Social Equality Educators (SEE).

Dora Taylor: SPS parent, Educator, Co-Editor of Seattle Education 2010, founding member of Parents Across America and Parents Across America, Seattle.

The Moderator will be Sue Peters, SPS parent, education activist, co-editor of Seattle Education 2010 and a founding member of Parents Across America.

Tuesday, Oct 5

7:00 PM

Pigott Auditorium

At Seattle University

brought to you by:

Seattle Education 2010

Parents Across America

Social Equality Educators (SEE)

In conjunction with:

Seattle University’s

Matteo Ricci College

and the

College of Education

Hope to see you there!

AnnoyedInSeattle said...

When will Seattle Public Schools go after Dan for harassment? Let's hope soon.

The Dolphin said...

Spectrum debate continues at Lawton. Hard feelings abound. Vocal group of parents are very opposed to self-contained, most teachers also. How many Spectrum designated K-5s are self-contained? And do they fill extra slots with teacher identified advanced learners? Most Spectrum school websites don't even mention that they have the program, much less how it is implemented. We are also special ed inclusion and some of these kids are terribly under-served. A one hour pull out and then back to class to get almost no help because the teacher has 25 others and can't do one on one. All is not well in Magnolia, lots of money but lots of problems.

Dorothy Neville said...

Thanks, StepJ, I figured you would know for sure.

karyn king said...

The legal definition of harassment is any physical or verbal abuse of a person because of race, religion, age, gender, disability or any other legally protected status.

The school board has no such status.

And beyond the legal definition, one person's "harassment" is another 's "accountability."

dan dempsey said...

King County Superior Court
Judge Laura Inveen

Appeal of:

New Student Assignment Plan boundaries Ovalles & Glasscock argued Pro Se

Still no decision.

District failed to provide "Certified Correct Record" and Violated Open Public Meetings act as they lack minutes at several Board Work Sessions and Board Retreats where the Student assignment Plan boundaries were discussed.

WOW!! how about those boundary lines?

Check Meg's Crappy Charts if you have not been there.

Charlie Mas said...

The Dolphin wrote "Spectrum debate continues at Lawton. Hard feelings abound. Vocal group of parents are very opposed to self-contained, most teachers also."

Spectrum is self-contained (or, at least, it is supposed to be). That's how it is different from an ALO. Don't like self-contained? Then don't choose Spectrum. Every other school in the McClure Service Area offers an ALO, so an inclusive model is available for the folks who want it.

The Dolphin asked "How many Spectrum designated K-5s are self-contained? And do they fill extra slots with teacher identified advanced learners?"

That's how it is supposed to work. It's hard to say for sure, but some data is available. There are enough students to put together self-contained - or nearly self-contained - classes at Wedgwood, View Ridge, Whitworth, Lafayette,

North Beach and Lawton are about half there, which is pretty good.

Arbor Heights, Hawthorne, and BF Day have brand new programs and we can't expect them to be fully enrolled yet.

Muir is not as close. I'm afraid it's going to get smaller still at Muir because it is switching from the South Cluster to the Washington Service Area. Muir might have been able to build a program if it were the designated school for the Mercer Service Area, where it has a history and a constituency, but it's too far away from the center of the Washington Service Area to draw students.

Wing Luke, also, isn't close. There are issues around developing a program in Southeast Seattle.

The Dolphin wrote: "Most Spectrum school websites don't even mention that they have the program, much less how it is implemented."

Most Spectrum schools don't reference the program in their CSIP - even though they are required to do so.

Spectrum all across the District is messed up because it doesn't have an advocacy group - The Spectrum Advisory Committee was disbanded - the District doesn't enforce the prescribed delivery model, and the District doesn't provide any quality assurance at all.

The District is killing the program through neglect.

There is, officially, a Spectrum program at Aki Kurose. In 2009, the last year with data available, the program had only two students, both in the 8th grade. There may not have been any Spectrum students at Aki Kurose last year and there may not be any there this year. Without students, how can the District claim to have a program there? Even if there were a handful of students, how can anyone claim that they are providing an academic opportunity that is comparable to the one at Eckstein or Whitman? Where's the curricular alignment for these kids?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah, that's the key - they claim it is so and they write it at the website so accordingly, it must be so.

AnnoyedInSeattle said...

Untrue Karlyn. Frivolous lawsuit is also a form of harassment. If I were the district, I'd be looking into it.

And, here's a case where those frivolous cases backfire for the filer.

Central Mom said...

umm, get it together folks. someone take charge, find a person at each school w/ a spectrum program, start a list-serve, and revive the advocacy program. when you have a group of people in a couple of months, go to the district and ask (insist) that a spectrum advisory group be put back together. if you wait for the district to do it, you will be waiting all day. if you do it, it will be hard to say no.

the difference between "now" and "then" for the spectrum advocacy group are internet tools like this handy blog where people can meet without having to come to an all-city, in-person meeting. it means a heck of a lot more power for the families of this district. if they choose to take it. and yes, sadly, the district does not quite get it yet that many of us ARE choosing to take it.

happy empowerment friday.

h2o_girl said...

Tragic news from the LA Times:

Patrick said...

Annoyed, yes as I understand it filing frivolous lawsuits can be a crime. However, the courts set a very high bar. There has to be no merit in the accusations at all in order to win a case that a lawsuit was frivolous. Dan's suits may win, or may not, but they do all have some merit to them.

Sahila said...

Filing the lawsuit (any of them) have never been frivolous actions....

The fact that there is another RCW prohibiting the public appealing the super's contract extension was not known to the filers at the time...

And as they were pro se, (self represented), I dont think that lack of knowledge would make their concerns and attempted access at recourse/redress "frivolous"...

I think its incredible that the public doesnt have any avenue of protest/influence open to it in this case...

Sahila said...

And, seeing I know Dan personally, I think its fair for me to say that I know none of the legal actions he has taken part in have been motivated by "frivolity"...

Dan (and all the other people involved in the various lawsuits - probably around 30 people) are all deeply concerned and profoundly distressed by the District's refusal to abide by law and process and are doing whatever they can to express that concern and to attempt to hold the district responsible and accountable - since it seems there is no other method for achieving that and no other body tasked with keeping the District honest....

Jan said...

Also, Annoyed -- it is particularly difficult to claim "harrassment by lawsuit" when the other side wins (as was the case with the Discovery Math suit).

seattle citizen said...

So the Seattle Times ran yet another pro-charter piece in its op ed today.

I'm confused: The author, Tom Stritikus, is the Dean of the UW College of Education, yet he makes a statement that just makes no sense to me. Maybe someone can help me out:

"Yet this debate must extend beyond charter schools and alternative certification — it must focus on how to train and hire quality teachers for every classroom in the United States — charter, Teach for America, College of Education or any other alternative."

The way I read this, he wants to focus on "quality teachers" (of course) in these kinds of classrooms: "charter, Teach for America, College of Education or any other alternative."

Wha...? Do we now need "quality teachers" up there at the UW's College of Education? Is there such thing as a Teach for America classroom? omg, I hope not.

The gist of his argument is that students need a variety of options (charters and alternatives...SPS alternatives? He doesn't say) and about teachers, that "if we want today's students to succeed, we must take care that their teachers bring that understanding of diversity to their classroom practice."

Hmm. This is unclear to me, and I think it begs a thread on differentiation. The more the reform movement becomes apparent, the more I hear this idea that teachers must teach to a diverse range of students.

What does this mean? Does it mean that teachers must address the cultural ways of understanding of each "category"? Does it mean teachers have to differentiate to diverse levels of skill or knowledge? Do they have to accelerate the low-skill students while teaching also the at-level and advanced?

So not only am I confused by his statement that there are TFA classrooms and, evidently, College of Education classrooms needing "quality teachers," I'm also unclear what, exactly, is expected of a teacher in a "diverse" classroom. I've got my theories as to what I'd imagine a GOOD diverse classroom to be like, but wonder what the reformistas have to say about it.

rugles said...

Since the subject of math has come up yet again, maybe someone could talk about SPS Revenue situation? What I have gleaned from, their website is that Levy provides 23%, State provides 42% for general ed and 11% for special purposes.

I am not sure how the levies work,does the levy come from just taxes on assessed value or do they get a cut from sales as well? Either way, this source has to be taking a hit at the same time the state will have to cut back, thats 76% of the pie getting smaller.

My fear is that things are actually worse than they are letting on/realize, can someone reassure me o/w?

dan dempsey said...

What I learned today.

I called OSPI about the $208 million on the way from WA DC via the RIFed teacher funding. Little Wiskah SD in Grays Harbor County will be getting $55,000.

Seattle I dunno.

seattle said...
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seattle said...

How exciting! Nathan Hale has a new greenhouse.

From the NH news bulletin: We have a new greenhouse with a HUGE space for a school garden and are envisioning a place where students can learn valuable gardening skills, grow nutritious food, and eventually harvest enough to supplement our school lunch program. We are seeking your input and support with this project and invite you to the first design team meeting. We will meet at the new greenhouse (located just north of Jane Addams School) for a 20-minute tour, followed by an hour-long brainstorming session in P18 (just south of Raider Field). A light dinner will be served and all students, family members and others in our community are invited to attend.

dan dempsey said...

Dear Annoyed in Seattle,

Wow guess you need to look at the filings and tell me where they are frivolous, because the court system has yet to find one that way.

Here is a deal for you.

Send me your email and I'll send you the next recall filing.

Then you can tell me how it is frivolous before I file it.

If it is really frivolous, then I won't file it.

request for next recall filing to:

Oh, sure wish you were annoyed at some of the school board directors for their "Abuse of Discretion" as when they do not look at large portions of evidence and make decisions that no reasonable person would make.

I'll be looking for your request so you can help me out.


seattle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

Anonymom, that is good news. Especially on the Thornton Creek watershed. Hope that NH and Addams (do they share it?) can do some good watershed studies and green thumbing usingt their new greenhouse!

Maureen said...

anonymom, that is great news! Do you know if Hale students might teach Addams K-8 kids about horticulture as part of their course requirements? Wouldn't that be super cool? (and might resurrect some spirits from Alternative School Summit K-12?)

Addams is an Option school. I wonder if there might be some interest there in becoming an Alternative school? I have heard some rumblings that Susan Enfield may be interested in the concept of new 'Innovation' schools. But it's unclear to me what the process would be.

Mary Tate said...

I have posted this question on an older post but think I might get more response on this newer post....I am collecting a list of all the really absurd, inane questions this expensive MAP test is using to "assess" our children and want those who have actually seen the test to blog in with ones they have seen. I will be bringing a reporter from the Seattle Times with me and presenting these questions to the School Board in an attempt for them to make NWEA align their test to the state standards. Here are the questions I have noted from a fourth grade test:
1. what part of speech is "lance"
2. what is the rhyming scheme of a sonnet
3. does a caveman whose fire has just gone out feel nervous or tough
4. what book would you find next to a book on hoover--a book on wonka, eisenhower, the titans
5. what is the symbolism of the rose in the Scarlet Letter
6. what is parallelism
7. what is the homonym for pear

The real problem I have with the reading test is the fact that there is so little actual reading on the test. They don't read more than a page total on an hour's test! How crazy is that.

Please blog any questions you have noted from the Fall MAP test so I can present them to the School Board on Wednesday. Thank you.

Chris S. said...

Mary Tate: What is Onomatopoeia (4th grader)? We had a lively discussion of what it meant over dinner. I was right, although I couldn't spell it.

Also something about Kafka, but I can't remember the question.

Our principal joked he'd be giving the parents a pop quiz. I think you should present this as a test for the board.

seattle citizen said...

@Mary Tate,

When you present to the board on NWEA, please ask them for their explanation of how it is not a conflict of interest that the superintendent is on the board of NWEA, was on the board of NWEA when she proposed MAP as a sole-source contract without disclosing her NWEA board seat to the SPS board, and why she has not been asked to at least step down from that board seat.

She also told the board it needed to be a sole-source contract, no-bid, as NWEA was the only company that made such a test, which is patently untrue.

She should have resigned the NWEA board before even bringing the idea of a MAP contract to the SPS board. She didn't. Please ask the board to censure her for these gross breach of ethics.

Too much testing said...

Aren't MAP questions somewhat proprietary and doesn't posting actual test questions further compromise the validity of the test?

If you are proctoring the exam, certainly it would be a violation of testing protocol to release questions in a public forum.

That said, if a fourth grader is getting those types of questions, they are most likely scoring in the top 95-99%. That is the way the test is designed. It asks out of level questions. It's testing more how well-read the child is, rather than simply testing reading comprehension. The math portion seems similar - it is testing exposure to concepts.

The issue for me is how the teacher will interpret (or misinterpret) the results.

seattle citizen said...

Too much testing,

Yes, some of the questions are above-level on purpose, but what do we make of a question like Mary Tate posted:

What part of speech is "lance"?

Quick: noun or verb?

Mary Tate said...

I am a parent. I was not proctoring the exam. I asked to see the test and it is a legal requirement that any time a test is given to your child, you must be shown the test. The district office was notified by my lawyer and I was allowed to view the test while my child took it since they are somehow unable to show you the test after your child takes it. ? I think it is laughable that you think this test has any validity to compromise. This test neither shows their reading comprehension nor how "well read" they are. A child would have to know that Hoover is not an invented name but a president and that Eisenhower was also a president. Not knowing that, Wonka would go better with Hoover since they are both people with silly names. Why can't NWEA design better tests--especially with the sup.t sitting on the board of the company. And the price tag for this test--3 million--where is this money coming from? My child got these questions and then got a score of 60 percent placing her below grade level. No, she got these questions and she was not at a higher level. I should have taught her that lance is also a verb! I like the idea of giving these questions to the school board to answer first. Any bets that they will get a 40 percent, too?

dan dempsey said...

lance (easy) = common noun

Lance = proper noun The Bicycle Guy

next question

The First Arnold said...

Mary Tate, I hate to inform you, but MAP actually cost about 4 million to set up computers and about $500K per year for this exam. There is atleast 1 employee at the Central office being paid to set-up this test within schools, provide teacher ed. etc. MAP testing is a huge componenet of the Supplemental Levy. Millions of dollars will be spent to set-up infra structure- correlating teacher achievement to MAP etc...so dollars will be flying out of our children's classrooms for this controversial exam. MAP is a huge part of "Excellence For All", and a huge part of MGJ's "Strategic Plan". Personally, I feel it is an inappropriate test for elementary school children. The Supplemental will be funding a huge portion of controversial ed. reform. Funding for this plan can't be implemented unless the Supplemental Levy is passed. So, when you vote, you will have an opportunity to state your opinion & decide if you want your tax dollars spent on this.

Anonymous said...

My second grader took the reading MAP today; she told me that one of the questions that she had to guess on was "the Latin root of the word ??? is" (she can't remember anymore what the word was, just that she hadn't a clue what a latin root was either).

Lance - noun (the knight held his lance). Also verb (the Doctor needs to lance the boil).

Non-Latin Speaking Mom

StepJ said...

There is really no way to compare one 40% to another 40%.

Perhaps my kid reads a lot but loves stories about knights, wizards, and dragons.

They may know lots about knights of the round table, Harry Potter definitions, and all types of dragons - Chinese dragons of fortune, or the treasure hoarders from, "The Hobbit." If all of the questions on their test are about Greek Mythology, or the works of Mark Twain - and these are not topics of their interest or covered in the classroom -- then they are going to bomb the test.

If they get a test sequence pertaining to their interest and books they have read they can ace it.

If they get a different question stream, they may be no less literate or intellectually capable, but just on a topic in which they do not have an interest -- as an example Presidents of the United States.

As no two tests are alike and no two kids are alike, and as the test is not based on a core set of knowledge a kid is supposed to know by any set standard...then how do you compare one 40% to another?

Too much testing said...

Thank you for the detailed response. I can't say I thought the test had much merit, and I resent the time and resources being directed for so much testing, but wow.

Post away.

And why opt-out when you can sit with your child while they take the test? (I considered opting-out my child, but was gently discouraged by the principal...)

I'm still suprised they didn't have you sign a non-disclosure statement...usually the SSD lawyers are more agressive.

StepJ said...

I also had the, "Opt. out of MAP' conversation with my principal. Received the impression that the Eye of Sauron (Halloween version) might be upon our school if too many opted out.

Too much testing said...

As for the cost, I thought the first two years (this year and last) were covered by a Gates Foundation grant.

StepJ said...

Even if a grant - still monies in the pocket of NWEA.

MGJ directed the monies to this firm, she sits on the Board of Directors, she has not signed an agreement saying that she will not profit in the future, she did not disclose her board position when the contract was presented and voted upon.

In the Levy close to a million will go towards, 'testing.' Not defined but suspect the MAP.

Dorothy Neville said...

According to the MOU in the CBA, $2.4M is for expansion of MAP. Based on the details of SERVE, this would include three new positions downtown to handle the measuring of student progress (via tests). Reading the PG&E aspects, teachers can choose their own benchmarks for progress and they can elect to have that be MAP or MSP if applicable.

curious said...

I would like to know what, specifically, they said (or thought) would happen if too many opted out of MAP at your schools?

Josh Hayes said...

That's a great question, "curious", and I suspect the answer will be much like the answer for kids opting out of the good ol' WASL -- that is, school test results will suffer because those opt-out kids will have zeros reported for their score(s).

I suppose one could game the system by having, oh, a third of the kids take the first MAP test, then that same third plus an additional third take the mid-year one, and finally, have 'em all take it. Presto, test scores improve at a phenomenal rate! Those must be AWESOME teachers.

Josh Hayes said...

Maureen writes:

"Addams is an Option school. I wonder if there might be some interest there in becoming an Alternative school?"

Maureen, it's my understanding that as far as SPS central is concerned, there ain't no such animal as an "alternative" school. Do you understand there to be some difference between option and alternative schools, beyond the rhetorical baggage that travels with each term?

Maureen said...

Josh, I think that it is in the interest of Alternative Schools as a group to co-opt the designation 'Option' or 'Innovation' or whatever we are being called these days and have more of them and then go from there. A school with an "Option" label must somehow be different than one without. What do we want that difference to be?

Mary Tate, did they allow you to record your child's questions and answers? I emailed my school's test coordinator and asked how the FERPA rule was being enforced (i.e., how could I see my kid's test) and she didn't answer me. My kid took the tests last week. I wonder what sort of recourse I have at this point?

Teachermom said...

Last night on "This American Life," they were talking about the people who go on reality shows saying, "I am not here to make friends. I am here to win."

The conclusion was that those are the people who never win.

This made me think of the new breed of "education leaders," like Rhee and MG-J, somehow.

Mary Tate said...

I think the district slipped on this one with me. I did record the questions when my child took the test. There was only a teacher proctor in the room and she ingnored me like I was contagious and had the plague. It was the data coach who dealt with me in the district office and she seemed relatively new and did tell me I was not allowed to disclose the questions. I didn't sign anything. Perhaps what I am doing is at this point not entirely legal. I still plan to present before the board but I will not tell them how I came by these questions.... If it is wrong what I am doing, think how much more wrong this test is. Asking second graders about latin roots and the Scarlet Letter. It doesn't surprise me that Bill Gates is funding this test. I can't help but feel they want our children to deliberately fail to prove that Public Education is wrong and Charter Schools are the answer.

Syd said...

"My child got these questions and then got a score of 60 percent placing her below grade level."

Are you sure this is below grade level? My reading of the map scores (available online grade by grade) indicates that 60% is high average. I think this means your child scores more highly than 60% of children who take the test.

This is actually where I think the district could do a better job - educating the parents on what the scores mean.
Br> I think it is important for everyone to know that these are not intelligence tests - just knowledge tests. Children learn at different rates - depending on exposure and interest (as noted on other posts).

If used correctly - tests can be good tools. I think this test should be aligned with our standards, but I am not afraid of testing per se.

Meg said...

@Mary Tate - The data coach told you that you couldn't disclose the questions? About your own child's test? Even if MAP was the greatest academic tool ever, that's not okay.

FYI, this is what the Superintendent had to say about her involvement with NWEA (November 18, 2009 board meeting, about 105:40 into the meeting):

"I want to make a couple comments relative to NWEA and MAP. Relative [sic], I just wanted to publicly state and bring to the board’s attention that I have been a member of the board since August of 2008 and that’s reflected and has been reflected on my bio, which is on the web, but I also wanted just to clearly state that the position is unpaid, it’s a nonprofit board and that I am not involved in the recommendation or the briefing or the submitting bids or reading bids. So, I don’t know if you remember now but Jessica talked about a very comprehensive assessment process that we went through when the board initially adopted MAP [June 2009 for introduction] and tonight later on actually it’s a part of the levy and the BTA as it relates to the academic piece. So I wanted to just bring that up publicly at this point and actually mention it again so if there’s any questions or concerns that clearly, there’s not a conflict of interest and I wanted to say that."

So, to sum: the Superintendent declared that clearly there was no conflict, so the board nodded and said there was no conflict (on an item that had introduction, but then was put on the consent agenda). It's a good example of inadequate board oversight.

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

I sent a version of Charlie's letter requesting HS credit for HS-level middle school courses to the school board. I got a reply that they were forwarding my request to Dr. Enfield.

Anyone else try this? Did you get a response?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone received payment information for kindergarten this year? When the schools were handling this in the past they had payments set up before school started. This year I have received no information from the district.


curious said...

Not sure about the district not thinking there are alternative schools. (Not that they do or don't- I am actually not sure, as usual, with them). At the NW regional meeting I asked Dr. Enfield if policy C54 is still in effect and if the district still fully supports alt schools and fully is behind C54 and she said yes, totally. Take that how you will, but if we don't have alt schools, the alt school policy can't be something they are supporting or enforcing, even with lip service.

Anonymous said...

My child just started 3rd grade, her score on the MAP test she just took is that of Beginning of Year 7th grade according to the chart at SPS website. Now, she is a bright kid and did qualify for APP last year (the district sent home a letter asking us to have her tested based on her high MAP scores in 1st grade), and she does like to read; but 4 years ahead? We do not do any supplement teaching at all, we do have a lot of books, but she just spent the whole summer playing outside. How does MAP determine what levels you are at by a test anyway, that seems very subjective and makes the assumption that kids at each grade are exposed to the same set of knowledge.

A Baker

curious said...

do we get to see the MAP scores? i thought only teachers/schools saw them?

Anonymous said...

My daughter told me what her scores were, I guess she was proud because the teacher told her they were good scores. I think the school also tell you what they are at the conferences Thanksgiving week.

A Baker

Anonymous said...

We are going through MAP testing @ our school. Two big questions that I have 1) how will teacher be able to use all this data 2) cost/benefit of implementing this test.

So if 6 kids score > 80% on the MAP math section in one class, will the teacher be able to deviate from EDM pacing to provide more challenging or better yet, "in depth" math? Same w/ reading?

In anycase, are teachers today incapable of figuring where kids are in their class without MAP testing 3x/year? Or are we aiming the MAP to help a very small group of clueless teachers? If so, can't we figure a cheaper way during the "budget crunch"? Not to mention the loss instruction time because of the testing (since I am dong so much supplementing @ home, I value every minute of instruction time@ school).

In any case, now what? We have all this great data we generate 3x/ year. How do we take all that great stuff and translate that into the classroom? I am in my kids' classrooms all the time and also tutor struggling readers. All I see is lack of support for teachers trying to "differentiate teach" so that all children "receive the support they need to succeed." How do you do that WELL as your class size gets bigger?

Can we get better reading books, better science curriculum, better professional developement and mentoring aim at science and math for elementary teachers who may not be math and science specialists (not just how to teach EDM)?

So I am waiting to hear from SPS what great things MAP will do for the kids besides providing more info (using it as a gatekeeper for APP/spectrum does not count). As for teacher eval, isn't that the job of central admin/principal, not the NWEA?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Hale's greenhouse is quite nice (I know the horticulture teacher at Ballard wishes for that kind of space). I think the retractable roof is a bit much, though. Jane Addams, I believe, is supposed to be able to do stuff there as well (it's right in their backyard).

Too much testing, if you sit with your child, won't he/she be tempted to ask you things? I'd be interested in hearing what "gentle" words your principal used to convince you to have your child take the test.

I think the district is telling principals to tell parents that their child might lose eligibility for certain programs/activities if they don't take the test. I'm still waiting for Dr. Enfield's reply to this questions of opting out of MAP and/or WASL.

LG, thanks for that question. I wanted to write a thread on that as I learned some new info on that issue.

hschinske said...

What is Onomatopoeia (4th grader)?

I distinctly remember my daughter learning about onomatopoeia in second grade (regular classroom, not Spectrum), long before we had the MAP. I have an old post to another forum about it, so I am sure of the date.

I think they even had the word as a bonus on the spelling list -- she certainly did learn to spell it, at any rate, finding it a fun challenge (she has a touch of dyslexia, and though she can memorize words for a test quite easily, at the same time as she learned "onomatopoeia" without breaking a sweat, she was consistently misspelling quite common words).

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if the district has to administer the MAP 3 times per year? I do not have (too much) objection to testing, but 4 times a year! (3 for MAP and once for the WASL replacement test) is totally excessive. I do not see when our children can have time to learn anything! I came from one of those educational systems whose students always score very high on international tests; and we only got tested twice each year, once at the end of each semester. The first test gives us a heads up on what we need to work on, then we studied very hard for the second test, because we'd have to pass it to advance to the next grade. And no one ever blamed the teachers when their kid got held back; the teachers' job was to impart the knowledge, it was the students' job to study and learn. when we had problems with the materials, then our parents had to pay for extra tutoring in the evenings. Can the district just administer these tests twice per year instead of 4 times? That would also save them quite a bit of money, which they can direct towards longer school year and smaller classes for the struggling students.

A Baker

hschinske said...

A Baker, grade-equivalent scores really aren't that meaningful -- they can bounce around a lot from year to year. In any case, knowing that your child is at the 50th percentile for entering 7th-graders really isn't that useful, as the average 7th-grader doesn't read to speak of.

In so far as a grade equivalent could be useful at all, it might be better to know where she'd stack up against a population of older students who actually like to read. The point at which she would be 75th percentile rather than 50th is probably about right (that is, she probably reads more like a fairly well-read 5th-grader than like an indifferent 7th-grader).

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Ah, that makes more sense. Thank you hschinske.

A Baker

hschinske said...

Haven't there always been various assessments going on? Edusoft, DRA, Gates-McGinitie, STAR? The DRA used to eat up *tons* of time. It was particularly silly for kids who'd met the top level the year before and still had to take it again.

If the MAP is really to work as advertised, the winter assessment is pretty much crucial, to see if whatever intervention was instituted after the fall scores were known has worked or not. If it totally doesn't work as advertised anyway, there's no point in administering it at all, and you might as well save *all* the money.

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

I, too, requested credit for a middle school class for my daughter and I, too, got a letter saying that Susan Enfield would decide the matter.

Anonymous said...

MAP testing can be a very useful tool (especially if you are homeschooling). MAP provides the RIT score (1st as a baseline assessment) and to help guide instruction (descartes) for parent to follow the child's learning needs and growth (or lack of) over time.

The reading portion provides what they call a lexile which helps determine a child's reading level, tracks each child's reading level (of different reading materials i.e. non-fiction, poetry, etc.)and comprehension over time. You can use this to develop a reading list for your child. (We are supplementing w/ Mary Wise Bauer History of the world series for example.)

Don't know how teacher will use this test for each child, but for parents who have the time to analyze the tests, it can be a helpful tool for them if they wish to supplement. Ask your child's teacher for the MAP score and have them go over it w/ you at the P-T conference (don't accept the "your child is doing great and not to worry about the score". Make the effort your child put in the MAP testing and the money spent on it mean something for your child.)

making it work

Anonymous said...

Is 2 1/2 months long enough to determine whether the intervention methods are working? Also, I thought I read on this blog that the winter scores usually go down.

A Baker

hschinske said...

Also, I thought I read on this blog that the winter scores usually go down.

Yes, you did. And on the very thread where we were talking about winter scores going down, I said this:

"That sounds to me like a reason to either investigate what's going on (with either the test or the instruction or both) or drop the test entirely. Keeping the test but dropping the winter administration makes absolutely no sense to me. If it's invalid in winter, why is it more valid in fall and spring? Just because it's giving you results that are more like what you expected anyway? That doesn't seem like a good reason to mistrust the results offhand: after all, what you want from a new test is DIFFERENT data than you had before, no? Getting something unexpected should be a reason to check it out, not to throw it out."

See the whole discussion here.

Helen Schinske

Mary Tate said...

Okay, all of you still reading this thread, tell me truthfully if you think I am the one off-base for thinking the Reading Comprehension questions on the MAP have nothing to do with Reading Comprehension. You have seen my earlier posts and the questions I have gathered that I personally find absurd. Am I wrong to think these questions are absurd? Should I put away the Harry Potter my kids love and start teaching them about Hoover and Eisenhower, Latin roots, onomotopeia, homonyms, and about how cavemen should be nervous instead of tough when their fire goes out in a cave? Now I know why my friend's son was being prepped on Latin roots and his score was 99 percent on the MAP. Is this the direction reading is going? I can't help but feel--I have my Masters in English Literature--that the NWEA board probably are not a group of book readers. You tell me, if I presented these questions before the School Board, would they not find them as inane as I do? It's not the testing I have trouble with it's the test. The state test, MSP, on the other hand I find more than appropriate. Why? Because they actually are testing their reading! Is this just me?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the better approach would be to take the examples you listed and find where in the WA State learning goals the tested material would actually be taught. It may make for a more compelling argument.

For example, when are roots words supposed to be taught? I don't think it's second grade...

And for the Hoover/Wonka example, you would first need to be familiar with names of American presidents (US history starts in 5th grade?). You would then need to have some library science instruction (which the District seems to be doing away with) in order to know that biographies are catalogued alphabetically by person and fiction is alphabetical by author. Then you would need to know that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was written by Roald Dahl. When does SSD actually cover this material?

The more someone can show the disconnect between the test and the content of material actually being taught in classrooms, the more likely people will take notice.

Just my two cents.

-Another concerned Mom

Mary Tate said...

Okay, I've lost steam and don't want to present to the School Board, after-all. I'm worried I might get my child's principal and teacher in trouble by disclosing test questions. I am still going to give this information to the Seattle Times reporter (who happens to be a friend of a friend). When on earth is the next election for school board members, anyway? Who knows which board members support Goodloe-Johnson? I want to make sure to vote them out. I also am curious about the option of having my children opt out of taking these MAP tests. Does anyone know about that? Thanks.

Mary Tate said...

Thank you, Anonymous, good point. I will try to show this disconnect to the reporter. The test is totally out of whack in regards to matching the state standards. Anyway, I've been to one other School Board meeting and it seems like the Board members don't take these public presentations that seriously. Maybe the Times article is where I should focus my energy and then e-mail copies of it to the Board instead.

Anonymous said...

From the OSPI website:

Grade 4
1.2.2 Explain how to derive word meaning from knowledge of affixes and roots

Grade 5
1.2.2 Use abstract, derived root words, prefixes,and suffixes from Greek and Latin to analyze the meaning of complex words

So root words are supposed to be introduced in 4th grade and covered more explicitly beginning in 5th grade.

How many parents of 4th and 5th graders can tell us whether root words are being covered beginning in 4th/5th grade?

-Another concerned Mom

Anonymous said...

From the OSPI website:

The recommended Social Studies sequence covers US History (pre-colonial period to Independence) in 5th grade and US History & Government (primarily 19th Century) in 8th grade, and then US History & Government (primarily 20th & 21st Centuries) in 11th grade.

That would mean Eisenhower and Hoover wouldn't be discussed until 11th grade. Yes, 11th grade.

So I think you can make the argument that the material is way above grade level for a 2nd grader.

-Another concerned Mom

hschinske said...

Mary, I do think most of those sound as though they could be ordinary questions. Homonyms and onomatopoeia are concepts taught by fourth grade. Many fourth-graders have seen lists of presidents and would be able to recognize that Hoover and Eisenhower were both presidents, even if they'd never studied either of them nor learned the list of presidents by heart. Parallelism and sonnet structure are both perfectly reasonable exam topics, though of course out of level for a fourth grader. Latin and Greek roots are often taught in elementary and middle school; I think all of my kids have had curriculum covering the most common roots at some point.

I would object to the Scarlet Letter one unless it was based on reading a particular passage about the rose from that book. I don't think the test should reference any particular text. Can't make head or tail of the caveman.

Incidentally, when I was given the opportunity to review my daughters' WASL tests, I had to sign something saying I would not reveal test content. There are released sample questions that can be discussed without any ethical problem: see for example http://www.nwea.org/support/article/1140 (click on RITcharts.zip to download samples).

Helen Schinske

Mary Tate said...

Thank you for these posts. I simply had no idea this was the direction education was going but I can adjust my expectations. Where are you looking on the OSPI web-site--how am I missing that? I just was so unaware that these were the kind of questions children would be expected to know in order to get them tested for Spectrum. My child was able to pass all of the WASL released items we worked on over the summer all the way up to sixth grade so you can imagine how frustrating to not be allowed to have her test for Spectrum because she didn't know about Hoover and Eisenhower. But I can work on it and we have time. Also, is it true there are no longer Honors classes at the high-school level?

hschinske said...

Spectrum testing doesn't depend on MAP results; you can nominate a student regardless of how they tested on the fall MAP.

Bird posted this on another thread:

I did find out from Enfield that the bit about scoring 85% on the MAP was intended to broaden the number of kids taking the CogAT, not narrow it.

They're sending out letters to anyone scoring over 85%, encouraging them to do CogAT. Enfield said, if your kid doesn't meet that MAP threshold you can still request testing.

She admitted that the website was confusing and said they'd fix it.

Helen Schinske

A reader said...

Yes, you can nominate a student that doesn't get an 85% on the MAP test, but the AL website indicates that the MAP test will be used for admission and cut-off scores for the achievement portion of the tests (K and 1st grades get an additional achievement test to qualify for APP).

So if the MAP scores don't qualify a student, does a student need to be privately tested (at the cost of the parents)?

Shouldn't this be very clear before the deadlines pass for testing?

A reader said...

To be more clear, the testing may not depend on MAP scores, but the AL site (under forms for parents) indicates that admission does depend on MAP scores.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, Helen.

If I read the charts correctly, the NWEA sample questions have "parallelism" and "extended metaphor" shown in a level 230+ question. Cross referencing with the Norm/percentile charts, a 230 RIT corresponds to the 85% for a 7th grader. So still, it seems way above level for a second grader.

-Another concerned Mom

Chris S. said...

If anyone is interested in helping save or restore alternative schools to their former glory, please go to this google group and request membership. I'll get in touch with you. There is a lot of work to be done, but there is hope too.

hschinske said...

It's not necessarily a problem that such questions exist on the test and will be seen by students who get to that level. It is a problem if test questions are getting miscoded or something and showing up at the wrong level.

I thought it was Mary Tate's fourth-grader who'd seen the parallelism question, not a second-grader, but whatever.

Helen Schinske

Syd said...

Honors classes are available at the HS level.

hschinske said...

My child was able to pass all of the WASL released items we worked on over the summer all the way up to sixth grade so you can imagine how frustrating to not be allowed to have her test for Spectrum because she didn't know about Hoover and Eisenhower. But I can work on it and we have time.

Well, obviously she's your daughter and it's your decision, but I don't see the point. In your shoes, I'd get her privately tested on a more respected instrument, and go from there. If she wanted to do work that was more at her level at home, I would give her the opportunity to work on something a bit more inspiring than old WASL questions, figuring she'd get enough of the specific test prep at school. Or I'd talk to her teachers about differentiation (not that I've had much luck with that in the past, but you never know, maybe you've got one of the teachers who actually does differentiate well -- I have certainly heard of a few).

Helen Schinske

Dorothy Neville said...

Teachers Contract page 89:

"From a baseline average staffing ratio of 1 teacher for 70 elementary students and 1 teacher
for 45 secondary students and 1 instructional assistant for 28 students, SPS will incrementally
increase the number of bilingual certificated teachers and reduce the number of instructional assistants until the system-wide average staffing ratio is 1 bilingual certificated teacher to 50 elementary or 35 secondary students and 1 instructional assistant to 40 students. The transition to these new ratios will occur over at least three (3) years."

From the SEA newsletter:

"The controversy at the meeting was the decreased level of ELL Instructional Assistant staffing. Staffing ratios for Certificated Teachers and Paraprofessionals are part of the cert contract and were ratified on Sept. 2. The SEA leadership agreed that fewer Paraprofessionals working with students and families diminish the chance for students to get a quality education. All present vowed to take on this issue going forward."

I wish I understood this. What does it mean to have biligually certified teachers with a staffing ratio of 1:50 or 1:70? What would such a teacher do? Seems like the bigger push -- what with the incusion model -- would be more IAs. Especially since we have so many languages to cover. Wouldn't it be more cost effective, and could cover more languages, by having MORE ELL IAs?

Steve said...

Other than the direct financial costs of the MAP test, to me one of the biggest costs (at least at our elementary school) is that the Library is tied up three times a year for testing, for 3-4 weeks a pop. We don't have a dedicated computer lab, so the students take the test where the PCs are, and that's the Library.

That's a lot of time that students aren't able to use the library (and the librarian, who I believe is tasked with administering at least some of the tests). Ridiculous...

Anonymous said...

This is a pretty wild topic, but I have 5 kids in SPS and their MAP/WASL scores relate pretty closely to what I have seen of their abilities (with one or two exceptions), and I think their teachers would agree. All such tests need to have some really hard questions, and I think the Hoover thing is kind of stupid, but missing one or two questions won't disqualify a student from Spectrum. A smart kid could figure out that Hoover and Eisenhower sound like real (albeit white people) names, while Willy Wonbka does not.

Signed: too close to home for my regular logon

Maureen said...

Dorothy, I'll take a stab at the bilingual thing (anyone who knows better can correct me if I'm wrong.)

The certified bilingual teacher supervises instruction for a large number of kids who speak a wide variety of languages. The IAs specialize in a language and help the kids get their work done and also help communicate with families (phone calls, translate at meetings, written translations). In my kid's K-8, we have one certificated staff member (0.8 FTE I think) who oversees about three IAs (each works maybe two days a week?). Together they cover about 50 ELL students.

Don't the relative numbers for elementary vs. secondary look weird? I would think that younger kids would get a better ratio than older ones?

Sahila said...

Craziness in school districts all around the country...

see here:
and here:

"A lot of people here are starting to get mad too....thankfully.
Our biggest issue is the majority of our school board fighting to hold onto school buildings that are from 1909 and 1950 and then another one that's graduating class will be approximately 30 students.

They are about to renovate those 3 buildings to the tune of $75million plus in a district that has 50% of the children receiving free or reduced lunch, about 20% of our population in the district at age 65+, one of the higher unemployment rates in the state of PA at about 12%(not including those whose benefits ran out) and no show of new tax base, only declining enrollment.

Our district can least afford a tax hike where we are already paying one of the higher rates locally and if that doesn't piss people off that the board does not care about that, combined with nothing to assist our students in becoming 21st century learners, then I don't know what will!

It is absolutely crazy! And for our district, it is for the sake of keeping a building in the town because people want their grandchildren or children to go to the same school they went to.
There is nothing wrong with that, per se, but when it is just not economically sound, why remodel when you can possibly build something that actually has up to date science labs, etc? UGH"

Sound like anything happening within SPS? Remodels with massive blowouts? Kids being moved out of buildings and into less safe, less resourced ones? Minority kids being kicked out of their new buildings so that others can get to use the lovely space?

Craziness in this Alice in Wonderland world of public education....

-at the meeting said...

Originally from Bird, re-quoted by hschinske

I did find out from Enfield that the bit about scoring 85% on the MAP was intended to broaden the number of kids taking the CogAT, not narrow it.

They're sending out letters to anyone scoring over 85%, encouraging them to do CogAT. Enfield said, if your kid doesn't meet that MAP threshold you can still request testing.

She admitted that the website was confusing and said they'd fix it.

This was absolutely contradicted by Bob Vaughan at this month's APP meeting. He said that if a student didn't hit 85th percentile on the MAP that they would not be eligible for district provided cogAT testing. They can still put together an appeal using outside testing, but the MAP is a front-line filter.