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Friday, July 01, 2011

Open Thread Friday

First day of July so bring on the summer weather.  (I'm an Arizona girl so about this time of year I get mighty jumpy.) 

From the district:


The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation has donated musical instruments to four Seattle elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. 


The Foundation, which donates new and refurbished musical instruments to under-served schools, community music programs and individual students nationwide, awarded $130,574 worth of instruments to the following schools: Bailey Gatzert, Concord International, Highland Park and Northgate elementary schools, Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School. 

Also, more good news:

Seattle Public Schools has been awarded $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand a program that provides a fresh fruit or vegetable snack to every student nearly every day. The money will go to 14 elementary schools where 70 percent or more of students receive a free or reduced-price lunch.


Five schools participated in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program during this school year -- Bailey Gatzert, Concord, Emerson, Northgate and Van Asselt – and they will be joined by nine additional schools in 2011-12. Those schools are Dearborn Park, Dunlap, Hawthorne, Highland Park, Madrona, Martin Luther King Jr., Roxhill, West Seattle and Wing Luke. 

What's on your mind?

75 comments:

Bird said...

Looking at the capacity doc from this week. It looks to me like it's pretty likely there will be some shifting of school boundaries in the coming years.

Siblings will be left behind.

I'd like to see the district commit to admitting sibs for any school where the sib was put out by a boundary shift.

Zebra (or Zulu) said...

This article (in the Times) about West Seattle Elementary frosts my bacon in oh so many ways:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2015476682_westseattle01m.html

Basically, Linda Shaw promotes the school's alleged MAP score successes as evidence that the school is making progress. However, the article makes clear that the teachers are teaching to the test and focusing on the two subjects that are tested, math and reading, to the near exclusion of other subjects (i.e. science). One teacher even admits this.

At any other school if a teacher said, "Hey, I am teaching to the test and only focusing on what will make the school look good," they would likely receive an unsatisfactory evaluation. BTW, test score improvement is how a teacher earns higher pay in Seattle. So, ipso facto, teach to the test and get a bigger paycheck.

There are many other examples of odious pedagogy cited, but I will leave it to the readers to judge for themselves.

Hey, MAPsucks (I think that's your moniker), you have to break this article out fully. Examine the statements about pushing the students to achieve higher scores on the reading MAP...you might get nauseous, but we need your feedback.

And, the stuff about making the "National Average" in reading is just plain weird.

MAPsucks said...

Okay, I'm on it!

Anonymous said...

Some key points from the article (Seattle Times, West Seattle Elementary: Progress made, more needed, Linda Shaw, 6/30/2011):

* They are celebrating success on improved MAP scores, without knowing if they translate to improved scores on the State test (meaning state standards vs arbitrary MAP conent)

* "Reaching national average" is misleading at best. It means they reached 50% on the MAP test, which is normed against those taking the test nationally. And only some of them reached 50%. "Joseph quickly did a tally. Fifty-five percent scored 200 or more." In the class referenced, just over 50% scored 50% or more.

* "It wasn't until after the tests were behind them, with just a few weeks of school left, that Joseph started cursive writing and brought out one of the science experiments he'd felt were too time-consuming to do earlier." What the #$!?? Why are MAP tests driving the content?

* "Joseph didn't hide his disappointment. He felt she'd rushed and told her so. She frowned." Kids are made to feel bad if they don't show enough
improvement? What the #$! again.

* "The art teacher also won't return because Sacco decided to replace school-day art lessons with science."

* charter school phenom Chrissie Coxon is leaving

* As for the state report, [Principal] Sacco still hasn't shared it with staff." So rather than tell staff what areas most need improvement, and potentially help them revise instruction for the upcoming year, they will bury their heads in the sand over the summer.

This is one of the most painful articles I've read in a while. It's full of spin and highlights the problems with tying teacher evaluations to test scores.

-not a MAP fan

Anonymous said...

From the Times comments, N.B. states-

The reason that middle class kids can do better at reading at an earlier point is that they have had the opportunity for more experiences, therefore have more vocabulary and more context. So more reading material is closer within their grasp and bingo, they can read and improve....So, if I were in charge, there would be some time devoted to reading, decoding and comprehension, but expanded time for art, science, music, field trips, as much as possible to build a repertoire of experiences, vocabulary and ideas.

He is right on, and studies have shown that being familiar with a wide range of content (from history, geography, science, art, etc.) translates to higher performance on reading comprehension tests.

-a reader

Bird said...

He is right on, and studies have shown that being familiar with a wide range of content (from history, geography, science, art, etc.) translates to higher performance on reading comprehension tests.

I don't know what they are using for language arts at West Seattle, but I know in a lot of schools there is a lot of independently kid selected reading.

I know my kid read a lot of books this year, but there was, for my kid at least, close to zero interaction with the teacher about the books and their content.

When I was a kid, we did a lot of reading as a whole class. There was round robin reading for social studies and science, which I'm pretty sure is out of favor now, if not completely verboten.

At our house, we daily read books with our kids. We stop and answer questions, explain vocabulary they don't know, provide context, discuss historical periods, we ask them if they remember where we left off last time and have them summarize the story so far, we even grouse about the quality of the writing in some cases.

Lots of kids don't get this at home.

I wonder, given the current educational fads, how many get that level of engagement with an adult guide and complex text in school.

Putting that kind of work, won't pay off immediately for a MAP test, but it's essential for a student's long term success.

Anonymous said...

Here's a related article by cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham:

How Knowledge Helps

http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/spring2006/willingham.cfm

-a reader

seattle citizen said...

Hey, Zebra and not a MAP fan, get with the times! In our brave new world, education is only that Reading and Math which can be measured by multiple choice tests on computers! Entire pedagogies, entire federal, state and local budgets are built around these two simplistic number generating systems! Go with the flow. It's really okay once you get used to it. People are happier when they are educated only in these two basic things. Join us. Be happy. There's TV and talk radio here. Join. We're "for the kids," and you can be, too. It's inevitable. Relax. Give in.

Steve said...

Does anyone know what criteria a school has to have to get Title I funds? When the APP program came into Thurgood Marshall after the APP split, they lost their Title I funds because of the changed demographics. Now, with the District *apparently* proposing that the APP program leave Lowell, I'm wondering if the demographics will shift enough to qualify Lowell for Title I funds?

I don't know anything about the demographics of Lowell overall or for any specific program population there, but just wondering...

Anonymous said...

Just to play devil's advocate here - if kids are significantly behind on reading and math, then I think they should spend extra time on those two subjects (and then less time on science, art, cursive, etc.). If the kids don't master how to read by the time they are in 3rd or 4th grade, it will become increasingly difficult for them to catch up.

I'm not advocating for MAP testing or teaching to the test here - and I definitely believe that kids need full recess time. But I think the best way to become a good reader is to spend a fair amount of time practicing. My kids spent a lot of time at home practicing how to read. I'm guessing that many of the kids in this school don't have that same opportunity - and thus need more time at school focusing on learning how to read.

Jane

Zebra (or Zulu) said...

Seattle Citizen...here is the future...MAP is just the first step in total corporate global domination of our species...

In the year 2022...most of the world's population will survive on processed rations produced by the massive Soylent Corporation, including Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow. They will be advertised as "high-energy vegetable concentrates." Then a new product will come to market called Soylent Green, a small green wafer which is advertised as being produced from "high-energy plankton." It will be much more nutritious and palatable than the red and yellow varieties, but, like most other food, it will be in short supply, leading to food riots (see: Wiki - Soylent Green).

Here is where MAP will take us...are you ready?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sp-VFBbjpE

On the lighter side - when this whole house of cards comes tumbling down it will look like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1S_MptIR44

seattle citizen said...

Jane, I don't think you're playing devil's advocate at all, you're speaking truth: Some students need a leg up in reading and math skills (a huge variety of reading and math skills, each kid with their own needs). It's true: Some of these students might need individualized attention, maybe some extra time...
But the system we are seeing put together has little interest in individual students: The whole CLASS got test prep; the whole SCHOOL lost an art teacher. This is symbolic of the disconnect. MAP might be used (if it proves accurate) to direct resources to individual students, and maybe that is already done to some degree, but the overarching purpose of MAP, like the overarching purpose of many "reforms" as preached by the "reformers," is to drastically change ("restructure," as they call it) the entire system of public education. Decisions are made, budgets are allocated, based on MAP test scores, or HSPE, or what have you. The scores might (and sometimes are) used to help students, but their purpose is increasingly to direct "reform" predicated on supposed "failing schools" (ha! as if such a thing were possible!) Note also that the "resturturing" takes place exclusively in poor parts of towns across the US - middle class families wouldn't put up with this crap for a second.

Bird said...

...then I think they should spend extra time on those two subjects

Yeah, I think so too. That's why I wish we were funding summer school for students below grade level instead of new websites, raises for adminstrators and 3 times a year MAP testing across the district.

There's only so much a teacher or a school can do in a standard school day or year, at some point the district has to straighten out their priorities if we want to help kids who are behind.

Nick Bourbaki said...

Jane, what does it mean to "practice how to read"? Is that the same thing as reading? What were your kids reading? Did you also read to them, take them places to learn new things? Did they learn new vocabulary in context because you spoke with them, read to them, exposed them to new places or did you provide vocabulary building worksheets for them? I am not trying to be snarky. Some kids need more help, more time and more practice in the decoding aspects of reading. But ALL kids need time actually reading, to build knowledge and fluency.

We just spent several million dollars equipping every K2 classroom with books. A huge portion of these books are non-fiction as research shows that kids will learn to read faster and more fluently when they are reading things that interest them AND that many kids are interested in non-fiction topics. History, biography, science, the natural world, etc. All these things both broaden a child's experiences AND create better readers. So what does it mean to concentrate on reading while eliminating other topics? I don't get it? In order to learn to read, you need something to read. Doesn't it make sense to offer the opportunity to read in a variety of contexts?

What are they doing with the longer school day? Sure, maybe they cannot afford all the time for every inquiry-based science kit, but to do no science kits at all is a travesty and hard to justify. How are they expanding kids' vocabularies? How are they building up their store of ideas and knowledge that can be used to make more reading more accessible?

Anonymous said...

Bird,

Could you explain what you mean by "Siblings will be left behind". Does this mean tie breakers will shift and siblings of grandfathered students will not be admitted to the same schools?

CC mom

Bird said...

Under the current rules, schools fill with attendance area students first. Out of area siblings are next if there is room. There are no guarantees for siblings.

If boundaries are re-drawn, particularly if they are re-drawn in way that doesn't leave some excess capacity for sibs, then the schools will fill with just the attendance area students and siblings will be left out.

I have friends at several schools who have sibs on waitlists today. Some of those sibs were put out of the attendance area by boundary re-draws. There is no guarantee that the sibs will be admitted.

Last year the district made special effort to try to admit sibs, using "surge capacity", whatever that means.

The district is not taking any special measures to get sibs in this year. Some may get in, some may not. The district is not tracking it as a problem to be solved, like they did last year.

It affects a relatively small number of students now, but looking at the capacity docs, I see the potential for more sibs to be cut out of schools by boundary re-draws, so this will bite more people in the future.

MAPsucks said...

Busy with camp concerts and whatnot. Of course, what this lesson tells us is that poor children should be siloed into reading and math. That's it. That will demonstrate that SPS is "serious about closing the achievement gap". No, they are serious about tieing teacher performance and pay to test results. And Linda Shaw is their puppet.

As if this didn't stink enough, now they propose to use meaningless, invalid MAP subscores to "cluster group" your child. A child may appear as delayed in Fall, then score in genius range in Winter. All I can say is WTF!

Jan said...

CC Mom:

You are correct. If you live in the attendance area for school A, and your older child is in third grade, but they then change the boundary (because School A is overcrowded, say), you now live in the attendance area for School B. When your four-year-old applies for schools, the boundaries will ordinarily say this second child is guaranteed attendance only at School B.

Maybe you like School B better anyway and don't mind having 2 kids at 2 schools. If you DO mind, your options for keeping your kids together are:

1. Getting the District to give every sib in the "shift area" (the area that USED to be tied to School A, but now is in the attendance area for School B) a guaranteed spot at School A so that sibs can stay together at the older child's school.

2. Moving both kids to School B (assuming there is room in the upper grades for the older one -- if not, this would also require the District to make it a guaranteed option), or

3. Trying to move both kids somewhere else where there is room for both. Again, the District can "decree" some certainty for this, but it is generally highly unpopular, as it moves the older child AND takes both kids out of a neighborhood school option.

And, of course, if they guarantee space, but don't provide transporation, that will exclude some families as well.

When the NSAP went into effect, there was a limited amount of grandfathering the first year -- but the District has largely discouraged it on the grounds that they don't have the space to keep grandfathering kids into the attendance areas of schools that are already too crowded -- which is likely to also be true in cases where they move the lines.

One concern I have is that since they don't WANT to move lines (they were committed to NOT moving them until 2015, but it is happening already), they will wait until overcrowding is extreme -- at which point, they will also deny grandfathering to sibs, on the grounds that overcrowding is so extreme. They are between a rock and a hard place. Either they "break faith" with families who relied on the lines earlier -- while there is still room to be accomodating -- or they wait longer, and then they will think they have to impose a harsher solution because overcrowding is so much worse.

Another SPS parent said...

If anyone wishes to speak at next week's Board mtg, the sign-up will still begin on Monday, July 4, at 8:00am.

For the attendance policy, the definition of planned absences has been broadened and also gives the principal discretion in approving them.

It's an improvement...though it still is becoming a Superintendent Policy, like program placement...

dj said...

MAPsucks, that effect also makes if so that parents with options flee "poor" schools. When I first moved here one of the main reasons I did not put my kid in my neighborhood school was that the then-principal at the school was candid with me that the school's focus was on getting kids to have passable WASL scores and that this meant no time for the "extras" because so many kids at the school had never held a book before enrolling. Well, if that isn't your kid, why would you enroll them in the school if you have any other option? You wouldn't.

seattle citizen said...

Kristin Merlo, of Mercer Island (two kids: one public schooled, one private; Vice Chair of Seattle Girls’ School; “active in education reform efforts) has an op-ed in the Times. To sum up, “reforms [good]…[bad]restrictive work rules…reform…dysfunctional system…[adopt] proven reforms…[other states have the] greatest education-reform success…reform…education reform victories…aggressive education reform agenda…limited collective bargaining…improve accountability…schools need the proven reforms…reforms could be achieved with the money…”
I’m trying to figure out if her activity “in education reform efforts” is with LEV. A4E, OSC or Washington Policy Center. I think it’s the last, as she parrots Liv Finne’s Policy paper of May, 2010…you know, the one that demonized teachers to change public opinion prior to contract negotiations?

seattle citizen said...

Now that I think about it, OSC, Washington Policy Center, and now Ms. Merlo all just parrot the same dang points over and over. Who feeds them the talking points?

"They're like their horses: SOMEBODY sure trained 'em!" (Butch Cassidy to the Sundance Kid as the posse relentlessly pursues...

Jan said...

Not a Map fan:

Very insightful post -- and I am not a MAP fan (or a WASL or MSP or HSPE fan) either. I agree that the article raises all sorts of questions -- many of which you nailed. But because of what was NOT stated, I came away a little less negative. Here's why:

You note: * They are celebrating success on improved MAP scores, without knowing if they translate to improved scores on the State test (meaning state standards vs arbitrary MAP conent).

I think this is a good point (there IS another test--and one that is supposed to be much more indicative than MAP of where students stand in relation to each other and the state standards. Frankly, because I think ALL high stakes testing is so flawed, I can't get too exercised over this -- I hope they do well on the MSPs, and I suppose that in the aggregate, the scores are not meaningless, but they are sure not the holy grail, and they may well be pretty meaningless for a specific child on a specific day.

To me, what this points out is how the MAP results are not (and I think never were -- by MGJ, at least) intended to be used to "inform teacher instruction." They are a teacher evaluation tool, plain and simple. Nothing more. We are squandering weeks of class time for kids, months of library time, and millions and millions of dollars, all so we can go through the motions of this fakey way of tying teacher performance to student test scores. Makes me wild!!

cont'd

emeraldkity said...

Re: Title 1

The district distributes federal Title I funding, earmarked for poor kids, to schools in which more than 55 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches. The money is given each year based on the school's demographics the preceding year.

I believe the 55% cut-off is a district requirement- not federal or state.

emeraldkity said...

To qualify as a Title I school, a school typically has around 40% or more of its students come from families who qualify under the United States Census's definitions as low-income, according to the U.S. Department of Education.[4] Title I states that it gives priority to schools that are in obvious needs of funds, low-achieving schools, and schools that demonstrate a commitment to improving their education standards and test scores.

Not sure why MGJ decided that only schools with 55% FRL deserved Title 1 money instead of the federal govt definition of 40%.

Jan said...

Not a MAP Fan points out: * "Reaching national average" is misleading at best. It means they reached 50% on the MAP test, which is normed against those taking the test nationally. And only some of them reached 50%. "Joseph quickly did a tally. Fifty-five percent scored 200 or more." In the class referenced, just over 50% scored 50% or more.

All true -- but two points. First, the test protocol is meaningless in terms of measuring individual kids. In terms of "informing staff" of what they need to do, I would say -- looking at the graphs in the article -- they did pretty well! Again -- arguing from invalid MAP score land -- where maybe there is some meaning in aggregate scores -- their aggregate scores WERE far below all other level one schools. Really, really bad! Now they are AT the same level as other Level One schools (as a group). Personally, that strikes me as not a bad thing. Only Ed Reform spinmeisters promise that entire gaps can be erased in 36 weeks. If (and this is a huge if) they continue to make the same kind of progress for, say, two more years, I would think they would be significantly ahead of where one might otherwise have predicted. I think that the same levels of effort will continue to be required, but frankly, if I were going to take as a starting point the idea that MAP scores are meaningful, I would think that this is good news indeed. (Whether other "bad" stuff happened, narrowing of curriculum, etc., that offsets that progress also occurred is another, different, issue).

Not a Map Fan points out:
* "It wasn't until after the tests were behind them, with just a few weeks of school left, that Joseph started cursive writing and brought out one of the science experiments he'd felt were too time-consuming to do earlier." What the #$!?? Why are MAP tests driving the content?

This to me is a huge question -- and I am not sure I have a total answer. First, I agree with posters who note that while SOME kids maybe needed to focus overwhelmingly on reading/math, certainly not ALL did -- and it sounds like EVERYONE got the narrowed curriculum, not just those who might have needed it (but I am assuming here -- and I have no idea how many kids needed it, how many didn't, etc. -- all unanswered questions that need to be asked and thoughtfully answered). The real answer may well be -- certain kids just need a LOT more time, through tutoring, whatever, so that they can close the gap AND have time for science, history projects, art, music, etc. At the end, though, it wasn't clear to me how anecdotal that comment was. I would love to know what the class schedule really looks like for that school. Did they do NO science -- or did the teacher just postpone one particularly time consuming "science kit" (my opinions on those abound as well) and cursive -- while other elements of enrichment were still there? I can't tell.

joanna said...

I posted some more comments on the Capacity Management thread. Bird, and others I think they have to do more than the sibling. If they are to move to neighborhood schools they have to make a commitment to the families, neighborhoods, and schools and develop some contingencies for the swings in numbers. As it is now it is no better than distance. Unless you live next door to a school as a community there is constant threat of destabilizing the families, schools.

Jan said...

Not a MAP fan noted:

* "Joseph didn't hide his disappointment. He felt she'd rushed and told her so. She frowned." Kids are made to feel bad if they don't show enough
improvement? What the #$! again.

This to me might have been the shocker of the story -- though not necessarily for the reasons stated.
In defense of the teacher, it is impossible to tell from the story the context of the remarks. Was the teacher talking to a child known to rush and be sloppy and inaccurate, with whom he had been working all year on thoroughness and trying harder? Did he have a solid basis for thinking that this particular child, had she tried anywhere close to her best, should have, and could have done much better? Is this child going to grow up to tell, in a speech some day, how her X grade teacher was the one who never settled for a rushed, half-baked effort and who was the person who really taught her the value of giving things her "all," and doing her best always? We don't really know. Maybe this was a legitimate comment -- maybe not. The story just doesn't give enough context to tell.

But -- I find it beyond bizarre that each child's score on a high stakes test seems to be a matter of common knowledge within the classroom. For many kids, it may be no big deal, or even a motivator -- but isn't this stuff supposed to be private? What about the dyslexic child who worked harder than everyone else in the room all year -- and pulled a 180 -- and everyone knows he or she is the one who pulled down the class's average? I am sort of astonished. Or maybe I am reading it wrong. Maybe each conversation was a private one-on-one between child and teacher. Hope so

I understand that each child gets his/her score at the conclusion -- and they can tell or not, I guess. But the story gave the clear impression that all of this was class knowledge, and I can't believe that this is not private educational information that is not really "out there" for general public knowledge. I still recall when one of the APP teachers at WMS had to stop posting kids' grades on the wall -- and kids had to stop grading each others papers -- on privacy grounds. I just found this entire part of the article so bizarre.

joanna said...

On the subject of MAP. There was once a child with whom I was very close and who has done well and successfully graduated from UW who did not have that early childhood stable life. You would be surprised how much can be learning can be inspired through poetry, music, art and learning to express who you are. Under privileged children need to see themselves and feel who they are as much as middle and upper class students. If they have been deprived of some of the other learning than it is likely that they have been deprived of the opportunities to experience and discover themselves in the world. Please do not deprive them of the arts and athletics. Think too about which groups are most profoundly affected by poor diet and exercise.

Jan said...

Final points:
* "The art teacher also won't return because Sacco decided to replace school-day art lessons with science."

Yep. This one drove me nuts as well. Maybe they hated the art teacher and this is just an excuse -- but they need both. I wish we could count on the Times next year to follow up with an article on what they replaced art with -- and whether there is any substance to it.

* charter school phenom Chrissie Coxon is leaving

Yep. On the one hand, everyone gets to choose their career paths, but all this "passion for kids" stuff seems so incongruous with the low retention rates for TfA-ers (and post-TfAers). I wish her well, but I would rather see time and money spent on, and opportunities made available for, the teachers who have enough passion, energy, and drive to come back year after year after year, getting better and better at what they do. They are national treasures -- and we treat them horribly.

* As for the state report, [Principal] Sacco still hasn't shared it with staff." So rather than tell staff what areas most need improvement, and potentially help them revise instruction for the upcoming year, they will bury their heads in the sand over the summer.

I wasn't sure what to make of this. On the one hand, I got the feeling from the article that these teachers were really really tired. I would say it was the principal's prerogative to hold the report (the article makes it clear that they are already working on what they need to do better next year -- so it's not like the lack of the report means they are all off at Cancun and Mazatlan until the end of August, working on their tans and their golf handicaps. Second -- without knowing more, I am not sure that I take much stock in the report (in which case, why end the year of hardworking teachers on a down note for no reason.) And what -- these teachers won't read the article, and can't call the principal and get a copy if they think it will inform their curriculum planning and professional development over the summer?

I guess my first impression was -- this was a leadership decision, pure and simple, and I can't see my way to knowing whether it was a good one or a bad one. At the very least, it indicated a principal who cared a great deal about the morale and mental health of her staff -- would that ALL schools got that!!

So -- do we worry? Probably we should -- but maybe it is not as bad as it sounded.

In any case, I would rather have this than stuff like the UW math "help" -- which took tons of time (that could have been spent by kids REALLY learning math), and cost tons of money -- and resulted in WORSE scores (right, Dan Dempsey?).

Chris S. said...

emeraldkity said "Not sure why MGJ decided that only schools with 55% FRL deserved Title 1 money instead of the federal govt definition of 40%."

Maybe so she could keep more of it at central?

Leads me to another topic I've been thinking about. With the Lowell fiasco, etc, it seems like a huge pile of terrible, costly decisions we have to clean up after MGJ. It's easy to blame her for all of it. Good therapy, perhaps. But she was hardly acting alone. And some of those who were pulling her strings still live here AND live large. It would be wonderful if we could daylight who decided the 2007 school closures had to happen, and why, if only so we can avoid the same mistakes in the future. Was it the groups who wanted the real estate? Was it reformers who wanted privatization? Was it the legislature as commonly thought?

In my fantasies, we could sue the Broad Foundation for delivering such a defective product. Hey, maybe there should be a "product recall" for all Broad Sups and fellows! You want to run like a business? Let's run like a business!

MAPsucks said...

So Mark Teoh has been Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment for six months now. His office has 1-2 years of MAP data under its belt. How does this data "inform" his decision-making or advice. Well, not a numbers man, he has come to the conclusion that messaging on MAP must be finessed so that teachers and parents feel they gotta have it, like snake oil.

Now, you would think this well-staffed office would have produced analysis that could prove or disprove the success of some of the ill-conceived initiatives and programs put in place by MGJ. On this aggregate level, MAP might even make sense. But staff would rather stick their fingers in their ears and sing "la la la la, I can't hear you!" Joan NE has done some outstanding work with raw data obtained through public disclosure. It is quite telling. Believe it or not, but nearly all children are at grade level up until third grade, then FRL, SpEd, and ELL start taking a nose dive. Why is this? Are kids just dumber, teachers get crappy, more homework and no help at home, curricular materials, no free laptops? Who's doing the hard work to figure this out? Not REA.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, the change from 40% FRL to 55% FRL threshold was made right about the time that money was needed for STEM.

40% was the cut off for as long as I can remember and it was shocking when it was changed because 40% is the district average and that is a meaningful number.

- ne parent

Anonymous said...

The teachers are not at fault here.
Under the current contract, their evaluation is tied to MAP scores.
Now, granted, they could resign out of conscience, but then they wouldn't be able to pay the bills.

Pressure on students is an inevitable by-product of such a dysfunctional (and I would argue, immoral) system.

Folks, remember that Susan Enfield wholly supports this derelict use of MAP. I hope people on this blog help put pressure on the school board to have her promptly rescind tying evaluations with MAP (and better yet, get rid of the money-draining program) if she is to be hired permanantly.

--there's a reason there was a no-confidenct vote by teachers regarding MAP

Bird said...

IIRC, the change from 40% FRL to 55% FRL threshold was made right about the time that money was needed for STEM.

FWIW, at the time MGJ said this change was made because there was less Title I money available because the amount SPS was spending on NCLB mandated tutoring had grown substantially.

speducator said...

To "anonymous--not a MAP fan," thanks for referencing the Linda Shaw article. Not only was Chrissie Coxon a "charter-school phenom," she was a Teach for America alum. Left West Seattle Elementary after one year. What have people been saying about the longevity of TFA candidates?

Anonymous said...

An interesting thing about the graphic accompanying the article - the Fall MAP scores are not shown on the chart. It shows Spring/Winter/Spring, which shows a nice growth pattern, but how would it look with Fall scores added?

Is the Spring to Fall flat for some groups and increasing for others? Summer slide vs summer leap? I'm guessing that the growth was calculated from Spring '10 to Spring '11. How would it have compared if it was Fall '10 to Spring '11?

curious

Anonymous said...

Oh those who TfA'ers (teach for awhile)...
From the Shaw story:
The others left for personal reasons, including Chrissie Coxon, now Chrissie Wright, who got married a few months ago and accepted a job as director of the children's ministry for her church, Mars Hill.

Back in September, fresh from a New Jersey charter school, she had dubbed her fourth-grade class the Stanford Class of 2023 to inspire students to think about college. Her year wasn't quite as good as she'd hoped. She got the results she wanted on one reading assessment — a class average showing more than one year of growth — but not on the MAP."


Why did the "phenom" Chrissie Coxon Wright even seek another job if she was as committed to teaching as Ms. Shaw made her sound in the glowing November 6, 2010 story that helped pave the way for TfA to infiltrate SSD?

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013366091_westseattlepilot07m.html

"Only four are leaving — and none, Sacco said, due to burnout or discontent"

How can she say this???Is losing 15% of your staff after one year considered normal?

Teaching is not as easy as it looks, eh Ms. Coxon Wright? It's a long, hard career with many heartbreaks as well as joys. Until teachers are recognized and respected and paid fairly, "phenoms" like Chrissie Coxon Wright will pull their toes out of the water as soon as they see a better opportunity on dry land.

Signed,
20+ years in the trenches

Maureen said...

Here's a link to the June 30th WSE article: Progress Made, More Needed. I may be slow, but it took awhile for me to find it on the website (the ST seems to bury Linda Shaw's education stories really quickly.)

In the comments, ecosafemom (apparently a WSE BLT member) says:

I have two children attending WSE. I actually moved them from our reference school to WSE by choice. The staff is some of the best staff I've dealt with in the Seattle Public School system. There are of course some exceptions.

Both of my children got science as part of their regular course work from their homeroom teacher. What principal Sacco traded was a dedicated "Art only" teacher for a dedicated "Science only" teacher so the kids could get more in depth science lessons. I actually was one of the parents that approved that decision before it was submitted to the district for budget review.

What the article is sharing is limited in scope to this school's experience without the history of how the district operates as a whole playing into it. The district required all teachers to take science workshops to be able to teach three science units to their classes then provided the kits for those lessons ONLY if they completed the workshop. Problem there is a lot of teachers were passing the kits around to other teachers who hadn't taken the workshop. I'd rather my kids get a valid science lesson than a half-a$$ed lesson.

Everywhere you go there are going to be SOME teachers who teach to the test. Unfortunately my son had one of those teachers and I called it out and it was dealt with. My daughter had a fabulous teacher! I can't say enough good things about how dedicated she is to her students and frequently I'd see her leaving late in the evening when going up to the school for an evening meeting or event.

I'm very disappointed Ms. Coxon left. I really had hoped my daughter would have her for 4th grade. I loved the way she inspired her students and every one of them improved their reading level by two grade levels in ONE years time. That is a dedicated teacher for you.

I'm looking forward to what the rest of our time at WSE has in store for us. We have a committed administrative staff who is responsive to the needs of the students, the cultures of the families, and the integrity of the purpose at hand.

MAPsucks said...

A certain Board Director who was questioning the expense and degree of MAP testing, told me that she's convinced it's a worthwhile tool because it can test Spec, ELL, ALO, FRL, non-FRL space aliens, everything. The perfect tool. I see Mark Teoh's been selectively feeding her the (few) brights spots, disregarding the hundreds and hundreds of negative comments in teacher surveys. Too bad these Board members don't consider the very real negative effects of MAP and other high stakes tests have on children, their learning experience, and true motivation. Do they remember their childhood?

Anonymous said...

The NWEA RIT norms have a RIT/percentile conversion chart for beginning/middle/end-of-year RIT scores by grade.

A quick scan of the data shows a scale that assumes no growth over the summer. I'm not sure how this changes the interpretation of the data, and I wonder how it is related to the absence of the fall data point.

For both reading and math:

From end of year 3rd to beginning of year 4th, and from end of year 4th to beginning of year 5th, there isn't more than a point difference between the 25, 50, 75, or 95 percentile RIT scores. (this is from the normed data, I'd be interested in seeing Seattle's actual data)

curious

Anonymous said...

curious -

please please please have some manners.

once dan dempsey gets his request for PSAT data filled.

DataDriven_HaHa

Po3 said...

"Believe it or not, but nearly all children are at grade level up until third grade, then FRL, SpEd, and ELL start taking a nose dive. Why is this?"

Such a timely question,a new study, titled, Making Summer Count was just published that provides answers:
http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG1120.html


"Research has shown that students' skills and knowledge often deteriorate during the summer months, with low-income students facing the largest losses.

While all students lose some ground
in mathematics over the summer, low-income students lose more ground in reading, while their higher-income peers may even gain.

Most disturbing is that summer learning loss is cumulative; over time, the difference between the summer learning rates of
low-income and higher-income students contributes substantially to the achievement gap."

Anonymous said...

Would Seattle's MAP data make a strong case for summer school, which it has now abandoned?

curious

Would like to know said...

Does anyone know where we can see MAP results by school and by grade for Fall to Spring? Principals were sent the results three weeks ago.

A reader said...

More on MAP...

The NWEA sponsored a conference this week in Portland - Fusion 2011

A lot of interesting talks including this:

The Dangers and Benefits of Tying Student Data to Educator Performance
Raymond Yeagley, CAO, NWEA

NWEA has published an opinion paper opposing the use of student data analysis models, such as value added analysis, for high stakes employment decisions. This Interactive session will review the reasons for this opposition and explore the ways to use the same techniques with MAP data to assist teachers, principals and curriculum leaders in strengthening instruction for students and better matching resources and strategies to student needs.

And others:

A speaker from Santa Fe discussed an individualized remedial math program developed by teachers (and volunteers!) that boosted below level 7th graders an average of 3 grade equivalents over a 6 month period.

NWEA's Research and Assessment discussed the different growth rates/gaps in the summer and during the school year.

Did any SPS staff attend?

http://fusion.nwea.org/agenda/Fusion_2011_Agenda_SessionsDetail_Final.pdf

A reader said...

NWEA position paper:

http://www.lex5.k12.sc.us/files/filesystem/Best%20Value%20and%20Uses%20fo%20MAP%20data%20NWEA%20Position%20Paper.pdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen posted a long comment from a ST' story about WSE and the parent said about teachers who teach to the test:

"Unfortunately my son had one of those teachers and I called it out and it was dealt with."

I would love, love, love to have heard that conversation and know how it was "dealt" with. My experience is that you would get a shrug if you complained.

A reader said...

Some take away points from the NWEA position paper:

1) It stresses that every assessment is an estimate of student performance and “achievement estimates can be inaccurate for individual students.” Each individual test or estimate is associated with a Standard Error of Measurement (SEM). With 95% certainty, they can claim the true score falls within two SEMs reported with the score.

The example given is a MAP score of 200 with SEM of 3. So they can say with 95% certainty that the true score falls between 194 and 206.

This is exactly the score trying to be reached in the referenced WSE article. Looking at the RIT score, without taking into account the SEM, can lead to a misuse and misinterpretation of the data. The child that scored a 199 (one point short of the 200 goal) and was chided, was most likely meeting the goal.

This also has implications for AL cut-off scores. If the SEM of a test event puts the score within the 95% range, even though the reported score was slightly less than 95%, the score should still be considered qualifying. The SEM varies with each individual test event, so it’s important to see this data reported which each score.

2) To keep the test at a reasonable length, it’s kept at 50-60 questions. The content is therefore limited to a sampling of standards or objectives. The State’s organization of standards is used to group questions into goal strands. “MAP then measures each goal by choosing items that sample the standards within that goal. A minimum of about seven items is needed to adequately measure a single goal.” For a given test, only 7 or 8 goals can be assessed (7x7=49 or 7x8=56). By NWEA’s example, if there are 40 reading standards grouped into 12 goals, only a portion of them will be measured in a given test event.

MAPsucks said...

Would like to know,

a public records request could get a document similar to this outdated one:

2009-2010 Scorecard

dan dempsey said...

Be sure and read THIS introductory item.

Request for PESB to grant conditional teaching certificates to ## members of the Teach for America corps to teach in Seattle Public Schools

Introduction: July 6, 2011

Action: August 17, 2011*

* Note: There is no guarantee that Teach for America corps members will be hired by Seattle Public Schools. Teach for America corps members will be hired only if selected by a school- based hiring team. Any corps members who are identified for hire prior to August 17 will be specifically named in an update to this Board Action Report. Corps members identified for hire after August 17 will be addressed in a subsequent Board action.

=========================
This request is based on a supposed shortage of qualified teachers in the Seattle Public Schools ..... Even Dean Stritikus could not bring himself to say that. Stritikus wrote that there was a national shortage of teachers.

The only shortage to be found is that only 1 of 200 classes in the SPS is taught by a teacher that does not meet the No Child Left Behind "Highly Qualified" status and that ratio is the same in both low income and non low income schools. On what basis is the Board making this request? Why are only certain low income schools targeted to "receive" marginally qualified teachers?

Anonymous said...

The Source only lists the MAP score range with the strand data and not the final score. Last year, our hard copy RIT scores included the score range, but it seems to have been lost now that it's posted on the Source.

parent

dan dempsey said...

TfA -- Background information
(pg 2 sec VII):

In the case of Teach for America corps members, the conditional certificate is being requested because circumstances within Seattle Public Schools “warrant consideration of issuance of a conditional certificate.” The option to hire Teach for America teachers is one strategy that the district is pursuing in our efforts to close the achievement gap which, according to the Public Educator Standards Board, is an appropriate circumstance for seeking conditional certificates.

dan dempsey said...

TfA Background information
(top of last page section IX):

Furthermore, failure to authorize will require a new hiring process, which could result in classrooms not having teachers on the first day.

dan dempsey said...

TfA section X:

This action is specifically required by the agreement between Teach for America and Seattle Public Schools, in Section I (C).

dan dempsey said...

TfA Section I (C)

Requesting Conditional Certificate

i. Seattle Public Schools agrees to request conditional certificates for all Teach For
America corps members on the grounds that circumstances warrant the issuance of such certificates, as permitted by WAC 181.79A.231.
Specifically, the circumstance which warrants the issuance of the conditional certificate is the district’s commitment to partnering with Teach For America as one of the strategies the district is employing to address the achievement gap.

ii. Seattle Public Schools shall provide all the assurances required by the state to enable the issuance of conditional certificates, including the signature from school board or educational service district board, the assurance that the individual will serve as the teacher of record and will have assistance from the district, the assurance that the district will provide orientation and support specific to the assignment, the assurance that the individual will be apprised of any legal liability, and provided clear information about responsibilities, line of authority and duration of assignment, and the assurance that, within first sixty days, the individual has completed sixty clock hours of coursework in pedagogy as a result of successful completion of the Teach For America summer institute, which far exceeds 60 hours of preparation.

dan dempsey said...

WAC 181-79A-231

Contains the following:

(1) Conditional certificate.

(a) The purpose of the conditional certificate is to assist local school districts, approved private schools, and educational service districts in meeting the state's educational goals by giving them flexibility in hiring decisions based on shortages or the opportunity to secure the services of unusually talented individuals. The professional educator standards board encourages in all cases the hiring of fully certificated individuals and understands that districts will employ individuals with conditional certificates only after careful review of all other options. The professional educator standards board asks districts when reviewing such individuals for employment to consider, in particular, previous experience the individual has had working with children.

====================
SO ... .... "Fully Credentialed" teachers are preferred rather than "Conditionally Certified".

Clearly NOT by this Superintendent or School Board as where was the careful review of all other options. What leads anyone to believe that bringing in TfA to a district with no shortage of highly qualified teachers will close any achievement gaps.

WOW!! The Seattle Education Association collects $70+ a month from members ..... and does what?

RIFs yup and accompanied by TfA entry.

The Achievement Gap??? So when has the SPS actually examined the relevant data in regard to the causes of the achievement gaps.

TfA as a closer of any Achievement GAP is completely Bogus.

Here we see NO Effort to close any achievement gap..... NOPE it was the usual fishing expedition to figure out how to bring in TfA.... The Achievement Gap is the only way that could be found to bring in TfA.

The Achievement Gap in Math has over the last decade expanded while the SPS continually spoke about narrowing it.

Recently things are not going so well in reading either.

The SPS never.... repeat never... actually examines the real research that shows how to narrow achievement gaps. Instead whenever some previously decided upon plan needs a push (for Board approval) the achievement gap is the reason.

UW CoE Dean Tom Stritikus originated a plan to Stuff TfA into Seattle. So now we get to see "Business as Usual" in the SPS, to make TfA happen.
=========

Whenever the Achievement Gap is mentioned .... that usually means something is being pushed by someone that has little if anything to do with closing any achievement gaps.

Review Everyday Math Adoption and Carla Santorno's words (for an example)

knows the score said...

A Reader,

Wonderful links on MAP, especially the sc.us one.

Some comments though:

Yes, MAP scores are estimates, and that's a very, very important thing for everyone to remember. Estimates have errors, and those errors can be estimated as well. If people don't understand what the estimated errors mean, it's easy to misuse or at least misunderstand the data.

Let's take your example of the child who was chided for a score of 199.

(As an aside, I don't think it's appropriate to chide a child for their scores. The story had little in the way of details though, it's possible the teacher chided her for rushing, but gave her lots of other encouragement. At least I can hope so!)

But back to the point.

The child that scored a 199 (one point short of the 200 goal) and was chided, was most likely meeting the goal.

No! This is absolutely not true. An accurate score would just as likely be a 198 as a 200, and just as likely a 194 as a 204. The final score is the best guess, given all the uncertainty. It's just as wrong to bias upward as it is to bias downward!

This also has implications for AL cut-off scores. If the SEM of a test event puts the score within the 95% range, even though the reported score was slightly less than 95%, the score should still be considered qualifying.

No way. For two reasons. First, to reiterate, it's just as wrong to bias scores upward as it is to bias them downward. And there's a lot of relative error in these tests, when looked at individually.

Second, with regard to AL programs, not only is there is a lot of error in these tests, but the amount of error goes up as the scores go up! This seems to be a dirty little secret in the district.

Among scores for typically achieving elementary kids, you might find standard errors of 3-5. But as the scores go up, especially among high achievers the standard errors go up a lot, 5-10 or even higher.

Look at this page on the NWEA site: Why do particular scores appear grayed out?

A quote:
6 – Standard error outside acceptable limits: A MAP test will be invalidated if it does not meet the minimum or maximum requirements for the standard error. This invalidation rule does not apply to MAP for Primary Grades Screening, Skills Checklist, or Survey w/Goals tests.

The minimum standard error is 1.5 regardless of the RIT score. The maximum standard error is 5.5 unless the RIT score is equal to or greater than a score of 240, in which case a maximum standard error is not enforced.


So scores of over 240 completely disregard any concept of error measurement!! Stop and let that sink in for a minute. Reading scores are generally lower than math scores, but among advanced learners, many are over 240 in math. Among APP kids, according to the Winter 2010 MAP Scorecard, the average APP MAP math score is over 240 by winter of 5th grade!

Also, don't forget that it takes 2 std errors in either direction to get to the theoretical 95% confidence. 1 std error in either direction is only 68% confidence.

Example: a MAP math score of 235 with std error of 5: we have only 68% confidence that an accurate score is between 230-240. We have a 95% confidence that an accurate score is between 225-245. That's a HUGE range, and it's unacceptable to make program placement decisions (let alone teacher retention) based on data with that kind of error level.

Yes, there is valuable data to be had from MAP scores in aggregate, but we need to be very, very careful about how this data is used (and misused).

knows the score said...

The blog ate a long, detailed post about MAP scores, including reliability levels, especially among high achievers. Could Melissa, Charlie, whoever, please undelete it? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The child that scored a 199 (one point short of the 200 goal) and was chided, was most likely meeting the goal.

You're right, they are most likely scoring 199 (very sloppy wording above). However, for a SEM of 1.5 (the minimum) the score range overlaps the 200 goal.

This also has implications for AL cut-off scores. If the SEM of a test event puts the score within the 95% range, even though the reported score was slightly less than 95%, the score should still be considered qualifying.

Once again, you're right about not wanting to bias the data downward. Yet depending on the SEM, couldn't an argument be made to consider the score for qualification when triangulated with other evidence to support high abilities?

That's a HUGE range, and it's unacceptable to make program placement decisions (let alone teacher retention) based on data with that kind of error level.

Agree. The point is that major decisions for individual students shouldn't be based on a point up or down on the RIT scale.

stand corrected

Anonymous said...

The minimum standard error is 1.5 regardless of the RIT score. The maximum standard error is 5.5 unless the RIT score is equal to or greater than a score of 240, in which case a maximum standard error is not enforced.

I read this as saying high SEM for scores over 240 wouldn't invalidate the tests, not that the measurement error would be disregarded.

Anonymous said...

NEGATIVE Dan at 7/3/11 2:56 PM

- do you expect the SEA / WEA to be PROACTIVE!

Leaders are BUSY with meetings about being leaders Dan!

How can they go to their leaderly meetings if they're being proactive??

- do you expect organization from a union which is ALWAYS behind, which is ALWAYS playing catch up, which is ALWAYS making excuses?

Sheesh - I mean someone would have to have the job of watching the Seattle School Board agendas being posted on the internets, and someone would have to have the job of notifying the relevant stake holders of the latest JSCEE machinations buried within those agendas, and someone would have to have the job of ORGANIZING responses to those machinations!

HOW can you be a pathetic, whiny loser when you're proactive, Dan?

(You should hear the WEA 'political' types brag about the last minute protest they 'organized' last August for a school board meeting about the contract, where they had about 150/4000 teachers show up! They do a GREAT job of making themselves NOT sound like last minute, a day late and a buck short incompetents!)

You need to be positive Dan!

remember, criticize in private and do rah rah cheerleading in public, regardless of how incompetent and how pathetic an organization is!

Duh_Dan_Duh

My Union is Useless said...

My $70/mo. in SEA dues would be better spent grinding up dollar bills to mulch my tomatoes.

I wish Dan would do a FOIA on all communications between SEA and SPS administrators.

Collusion? You bet! Investigate these two gems: the SEA Executive Director sits on Alliance committees. And, the SEA VP is traveling on Alliance funds to conferences.

knows the score said...

Once again, you're right about not wanting to bias the data downward. Yet depending on the SEM, couldn't an argument be made to consider the score for qualification when triangulated with other evidence to support high abilities?

I wouldn't necessarily argue against that, but as far as I've seen over the years, AL placement has been strictly by the numbers. Very strictly. (although the details of the methods aren't always as clear as you might think from year to year). I can understand why they have to be careful about using other evidence though, because there's already so much complaining about the process by families who want to get their kids into an AL program. If the AL office were to let one kid in with score X and another kid doesn't get in with the same score, it could get nasty in a hurry. Because we all talk to each other. And write blog comments, etc.

While I agree with your general premise that other evidence might be helpful, I'm not sure how it could be done in a practical way, given that the AL office tests thousands of kids/year on a pretty low budget.

That's a HUGE range, and it's unacceptable to make program placement decisions (let alone teacher retention) based on data with that kind of error level.

Agree. The point is that major decisions for individual students shouldn't be based on a point up or down on the RIT scale.


But remember, no matter where you draw the line, someone is going to miss it by one point! Since that will always be the case, they might as well leave the line right where it is.

Honestly, the problem with using the MAP scores as any part of an AL entry criteria is that the scores are not very reliable on an individual basis. Let's say someone's "true level" is 230. Assuming the test and its error measures are all working correctly, they could turn in a score of 222 with SEM 4, or a 238 with SEM of 4, either of which would be within 95% confidence interval of their "true level".

So if you're looking at a 238 SEM 4 score, and the cutoff for APP at that grade is 239, you might be tempted to say they're within only 1 point of the cutoff, and with an SEM of 4, they should get benefit of the doubt. But the truth is, they're actually 9 points away, which, depending on the grade, is more than a full year's difference. It could certainly work the other way as well, but if the 95% confidence intervals are larger than 1 or 2 year's expected growth, that's a big problem.

I probably wrote way more than I needed, but I hope it's helpful. The MAP might provide good aggregate data for the district, but it's not a good tool for individual measures, especially for advanced learning placement, because the SEMs go way up as the scores increase.

knows the score said...

I read this as saying high SEM for scores over 240 wouldn't invalidate the tests, not that the measurement error would be disregarded.

Kind of. They do report the SEM in all cases to the schools. But unless you're a data wonk, no one is going to look twice because it's not flagged. If a score is invalidated by a too-wide SEM, it is supposed to be grayed out, and get some level of attention. (Do they kids get to re-take in that case?). Scores over 240 are just waved on through, like nothing is wrong.

Another question: the overall SEM (RIT Range) is not reported to parents. Go ahead, check on the source. It used to be reported onscreen at the end of the test, but I think even that has gone away now. Why?

In cases of high scores with high SEM, consider how poorly the test is functioning. Consider a kid who scores a 265 in math with an SEM of 8. Their 95% confidence interval is literally 249-281! Expected growth in early elementary might be 10-12 points/year, but in middle school it's more like 3-5 RIT points per year.

This means that scores are being used where the margin of error is equal to several YEARS of typical growth! Are any parents paying attention to this?!

Dorothy Neville said...

"The MAP might provide good aggregate data for the district, but it's not a good tool for individual measures, especially for advanced learning placement, because the SEMs go way up as the scores increase."

When I had my 15 minutes with the Super, I pointed out to her that one of the reasons I am against using test scores to measure teacher effectiveness is that in the case of most of the teachers my son had, since they taught AL kids, the measures of student growth are even less reliable. She assured me that was not the case, because MAP adapted and had such a high ceiling. So I said no, that at the high levels, the Standard Error was more than the expected growth. She seemed quite shocked and made a note of that.

My take is that I really do not think that upper management and the board really and truly understand the statistical limitations of MAP. I wish we could schedule OUR board workshop and present this information to them.

Anonymous said...

My take is that I really do not think that upper management and the board really and truly understand the statistical limitations of MAP. I wish we could schedule OUR board workshop and present this information to them.

Some of them don't have a grasp on statistics in general, which makes them blind to the limitations of MAP. I've heard the same thing - it's adaptive, it has a high ceiling, it's great for our advanced learners, etc.

Some high scoring kids are hitting the ceiling of the test in elementary. Hitting the ceiling means you can't say with confidence that one high score is more significant than another high score. Sure your RIT score may increase and change each year, but what does it mean?

This means that scores are being used where the margin of error is equal to several YEARS of typical growth! Are any parents paying attention to this?!

The District testing procedure was conveniently updated right before MAP was started - there used to be language about reliability, validity, etc.

parent

Josh Hayes said...

Thanks for the comment, Dorothy. The fact is, practically nobody understands statistics, not because they're immensely complicated, but because our brains aren't wired to understand probabilities in an objective way - just try to explain the "monty hall" problem to a few people, and you'll see what I mean.

The problem is that tests, standardized or not, provide a "locator", that is, a mean, or a median, or something like that, that gives an estimate of the true value of something that has an inherent variability. Right there, a whole lot of people are lost: they don't get what those measures mean, they don't understand confidence intervals, and they SURE don't get the underlying assumption that the True Distribution of test scores is Gaussian, 'cuz if THAT'S not true, all those confidence intervals go out the window.

Can you tell I'm a statistician? :-)

Linh-Co said...

There is a meet and greet with about half of the challengers for the school board race this Thursday, July 7th, 5:30 - 8:00pm in Ballard/Phinney. Please come and join us at our house. We're hoping for a decent turnout to help support some of these candidates.

If you are interested e-mail us for the address at rickbmail@yahoo.com or call (206)783-7644.

Thanks and hope to see you there.

trying to make sense of it all said...

By fifth grade, the NWEA norm charts show Winter to Spring growth of only 1 RIT point in reading, across the spectrum of 25%-99% scores (and the minimum SEM is 1.5). The measurable reading growth seems to taper off and the one year growth - Spring of 4th to Spring of 5th - shows at most a 5 point difference in reading RIT scores across the spectrum. The 99% reading score for Winter and Spring is 237 – would that make the growth target zero for that group?

For the upper percentiles, a graph of normed reading scores over time show a pronounced growth from Spring of 1st grade to Fall of 2nd grade. Whereas little growth is typically shown over the summer, there is a significant jump in normed scores over the summer between 1st and 2nd grades, which is most pronounced for the upper percentiles. Is this a function of the change in tests, from the early primary grade MAP to the standard MAP used in 2nd grade, or is it a reflection of actual reading growth?

On a related topic, a recent dissertation addressed the issue of variations in summer growth (using MAP data):

http://community.nwea.org/node/427

In terms of trying to get some of the points across about the variability in individual scores - a compelling visual may be a graph of scores over a year's time, for one class, overlaid on the normed scores for the median of that class (with a shaded region showing the minimum SEM around the normed scores).

Charlie Mas said...

People don't need a solid understanding of statistics (I work with them everyday also), if they have a strong understanding of the limitations of the tests and their proper use.

I have said it countless times before, but it bears repetition:

MAP results should be used to prompt questions, not to provide answers.

A teacher should look at individual MAP results and wonder "Is this student's academic progress in a different place than I thought it was?"

A teacher and a principal should look at the MAP results for a class and - if it shows that a lot of the class has a deficiency in a particular area - question the effectiveness of instruction in that area.

A principal should look at the MAP results for a class and ask the teacher "It appears that there are four students in your class working below grade level; what are you doing for them?" and "It appears that there are four students in your class working beyond grade level; what are you doing for them?"

An executive director should look at the MAP results for a school and ask the principal essentially the same questions: "It appears that there are nine students in the fourth grade working below grade level; what are you doing for them?" and "It appears that there are nine students in the fourth grade working beyond grade level; what are you doing for them?"

I'm not sure how the CAO could use MAP data in the oversight of the Executive Directors other than to ask the same questions: what is being done for students working below or beyond grade level. There may be enough data points to derive some conclusions of the general trends in the aggregate results, but such conclusions would be of questionable value.

Only at the district level do we have enough results to get some sort of sense of how students are doing in general. Even still, any statements based on the results should disclose the error range.

Again, the best use of the data is to prompt questions, not to provide answers.

dan dempsey said...

Tongue in cheek......

But but but Charlie ... you clearly lack the wisdom of Steve Sundquist .... from the Voter's Guide:
----
Increased Access, Accountability, and Academic Rigor

We are making systemic changes to increase access, accountability, and academic rigor, and to foster greater family involvement - all in pursuit of significant gains in student achievement. We reformed the Student-School Assignment Plan so it is neighborhood-based and more equitably delivers education closer to home. We implemented a district-wide School Improvement Framework with plans for every school, including annual on-line scorecards that track progress and increase accountability and transparency. .... We achieved ground-breaking new contracts with teachers and principals that incorporate student results in the evaluation systems. Despite the severe recession, we balanced the budget through tough decisions that keep resources focused on the classroom where they make the biggest difference.
----

.... Clearly Steve knows how to use all this data and is really happy with NWEA/MAP usage.... This tool is necessary for much of Steve's grand plan for the District.

---- We just cannot foster academic rigor without all this Steve approved CRAP. Let us buy more (using transportation savings) so we can make every school a quality school.

suep. said...
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suep. said...

[continued from previous post]

John Cronin, from NWEA’s Kingsbury Center, wrote a letter to the Charleston School District last year advising them not to use MAP to evaluate teachers (http://media.charleston.net/2010/pdf/kingsburymemoccsd_102210.pdf). When I asked him to explain this point to the Seattle School District as well, he said he can only do so if someone from the district (other than parents) requests this information from him.

I honestly believe it would behoove NWEA to inform SPS not to misuse or overuse its product because, otherwise, it will ultimately turn many people against it. Already, the MAP test is developing a negative reputation and connotation in Seattle.

(I also wrote about that here:15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP)

Maybe if others among us contacted him, or urged the school board to, we could help our own district (SPS) to be more informed about how to use MAP and to stop misusing it. Here’s his info:

John Cronin,
Kingsbury Center
Northwest Evaluation Association
5885 SW Meadows Road Suite 200
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
(503) 624-1951
john.cronin@nwea.org

suep. said...

re: SPS's misuse of the MAP test

In response to this comment: Anonymous at 7/2/11 6:03 AM

Folks, remember that Susan Enfield wholly supports this derelict use of MAP. I hope people on this blog help put pressure on the school board to have her promptly rescind tying evaluations with MAP (and better yet, get rid of the money-draining program) if she is to be hired permanantly.

--there's a reason there was a no-confidenct vote by teachers regarding MAP


Yes, the MAP test is currently being misused by SPS. Even the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) which manufactures the test says it should not be used to evaluate teachers.

I wrote about that here: MAP test manufacturer warns: MAP test should NOT be used to evaluate teachers. — So why is Seattle Public Schools doing just that?

I wrote to the school board about it too.

John Cronin, from NWEA’s Kingsbury Center, wrote a letter to the Charleston School District last year advising them not to use MAP to evaluate teachers (http://media.charleston.net/2010/pdf/kingsburymemoccsd_102210.pdf). When I asked him to explain this point to the Seattle School District as well, he said he can only do so if someone from the district (other than parents) requests this information from him.

I honestly believe it would behoove NWEA to inform SPS not to misuse or overuse its product because, otherwise, it will ultimately turn many people against it. Already, the MAP test is developing a negative reputation and connotation in Seattle.

(I also wrote about that here:15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP)

Maybe if others among us contacted him, or urged the school board to, we could help our own district (SPS) to be more informed about how to use MAP and to stop misusing it. Here’s his info:

John Cronin,
Kingsbury Center
Northwest Evaluation Association
5885 SW Meadows Road Suite 200
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
(503) 624-1951
john.cronin@nwea.org