Wednesday Open Thread

Summer time and the living is easy - why did someone write that?  I'm busier than ever and this got away from me again.

What's on your mind?


Although I've been dispatched to the election team, I'm briefly resurfacing to write an important story about the new student assignment plan in Seattle Public Schools.

For the story, I'm hoping to talk with parents and teachers at the following schools: Jane Addams, Sacajawea, Greenwood, McClure, TOPS, Alki, Pathfinder, Gatewood, Arbor Heights, Ingraham, McGilvra, Leschi and

The story is kind of complicated, so I will spare you the details here, but please contact me directly if you are a parent/teacher at one of these schools, or know somebody who is.

Thanks a lot,
Brian M. Rosenthal
Staff reporter, The Seattle Times
(206) 464-3195
Brian, did you leave a school off at the end or just typing fast?
Anonymous said…
My husband and I saw a camper van with Argentina plates today. There was a sign declaring that this family was traveling from Argentina to Alaska. What a tremendous learning experience that family must be having!

Oops...sorry about that. North Beach Elementary is the last one.
Patrick said…
Any idea when we should be getting results of the spring MSP tests?
Anonymous said…
Late August, according to OPSI (last year was Aug 30):

Patrick said…
Thank you, parent, I appreciate it.
Anonymous said…
Patrick -
we need to wait until schedules have been put together, and make sure that teachers have the least amount of time possible to figure out what the test results mean and what they can do about the results.
and teachers need union leaders who fall all over themselves compromising to the lie that VAM is valid.

Mike said…
Dallas-area high school's $60 million dollar footballs stadium...
And Mike, that just sums up American education and priorities. It's sad but we will never move the needle on academic outcomes with this kind of thinking.
Anonymous said…
Dear Patrick and parent,

It takes this long to score the MSP, verify the scores, and get the score reports out to schools. The tests could be scored immediately if the test were simply all multiple choice items, but the state wants a richer, more valid test. Therefore, the MSP includes a majority of short answer and extended response items, which take longer to score.

Also, the state administers the MSP late in the year to ensure that as much instruction as possible can occur before testing on that year's content. Again, this pushes the scoring out.

Aside from the elimination of statewide standardized testing (which is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future) or making the test all MC items, this is the fastest scores can be returned. Besides, large-scale summative assessments are not designed to provide data on instructional interventions for individual students. They can be useful for evaluating the effectiveness of instuctional programs, but only after multipile years of administration. So, getting the scores back sooner would not substantially affect their usefulness.

--- someone who knows
mirmac1 said…
Invest in Youth: Students at Roxhill (and elsewhere) need you

Volunteer to tutor a child. Make a difference in her life.
Anonymous said…
How early do elementary teachers typically come back to school in Aug? Or does it vary according to school/yrs of experience.
Linh-Co said…
From: Office of Public Affairs
Sent: Thursday, August 09, 2012 1:12 PM
Subject: Teaching & Learning Leadership Appointment

The following is a message from Bob Boesche, Interim Deputy Superintendent

Dear Seattle Public Schools staff and community,

I am writing today to tell you that Wendy London, who was serving as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, made the difficult decision to resign from her position. I want to thank her for her leadership and for balancing both the interim role and her duties as Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction – two very demanding positions. We all wish her well.

For the next two weeks, Kimberly Kinzer, our Manager of Early Learning, will serve as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. I want to thank Kimberly for stepping into this position until Aug. 24 while we prepare for a national search to fill this leadership role in Teaching and Learning.

Also during the next two weeks we will create a more sustainable interim leadership plan. It’s our goal to have a smooth start to the 2012-13 school year, while also spending time recruiting top talent for this position. We will give you an update in two weeks on our longer term plan. We hope to permanently fill this position in the fall.


Bob Boesché
Interim Deputy Superintendent
Seattle Public Schools
Anonymous said…
Dear Mr. Boesche

Please tell the building level administrators (principals and assistant principals) that they are allowed now to stop using harassment, bullying and predatory tactics to force out all of the District's senior teachers.
This practice began when MGJ told principals that their continued employment with the District was contingent on "fast-tracking out the dead wood".
Over the last three years this practice has been largely carried out by principals with little or no teaching experience. A raft of public information documents has been released that demonstrate that several of the principals have never trained as teachers and have no teaching or classroom experience. They possess neither the skills nor knowledge to be "instructional leaders".
A large percentage of teachers who have been forced out or are currently on probation are those who have successfully worked with the District's most challenged students. We believe we have been easy targets for the District's "exit" strategies as the parents of our students typically have severe economic, language and social obstacles to overcome in order to advocate for their students and those students' teachers.
We have been easy prey for the Rhee and Reform inspired hive mind that nationally has subjected over 30% of experienced teachers to administrative bullying.
The policies and procedures set in motion by Goodloe-Johnson and never amended by Enfield have made principals into "leaders" that we are sure they never wanted to be. School communities have been ripped apart by the actions taken by principals that demean and traumatize teachers to the extent that they are no longer able to be effective teachers and must leave their classroom. We all teach in fear that we will be the next teacher to be targeted.
As I mentioned at the outset of this post-principals currently do not have a method or means to back track on the course of career ending damage they instituted.
We the "Teachers' Defense Committee" are organized to fight the District on several legal fronts.That process is already underway.
Please don't allow this battle to continue. All we want is the harassment to stop and be allowed to be the effective and caring teachers that we have been-most of us during a successful career spanning over two decades- without the distraction of constant scrutiny and interference.
Please give the the principals a way out.
Please suspend or end all current probation processes.
Please allow the capable and well intended Paul Apostle some breathing room from all of the numerous and overwhelming "settlement" proceeding that have gone on at a rate never seen in District history.
I believe that just a few kindly spoken words or a brief written communication from you or Superintendent Banda would be all that is necessary to stop the madness that has nearly destroyed building staff over the last ugly three years.
Patrick said…
Someone Who Knows, that sounds like a defensive response to a simple question. Of course I'm much happier with the MSP involving working a problem, filling in an answer, or writing something that I would be if it were all multiple choice, even though that means it's delayed. That's one big advantage over the MAP.

I don't know how many people work grading the tests or what hours they work. I assume some poor teacher is not spending the entire summer grading 500,000 answers to the same question. Of course, it could be done in time, if it were a priority to have enough people working on it.

It seems to me that the MSP could provide one useful piece of information on a student's placement in the new year's classes, along with the prior teacher's recommendation, beginning of the year tests, and maybe the MAP tests, if only the MSP were graded in time.
Anonymous said…

I did not intend to defend, merely explain. If I came off as defensive, I did not mean to. My apologies.

And, yes, you are correct. More scorers could be hired and the size of the scoring facilities increased in order to decrease the time between administration and score release, but this would add substantial costs to the assessment. Hand-scoring is one of the most costly aspects to the assessment program.

Also, nearly every state in the nation administers their statewide assessment in the spring. Therefore, all of these tests need to be scored in the late spring and summer. I'm frankly not sure all of the testing companies could find enough scorers to get the turnaround I think you'd like to have.

Let me say, it's not a lack of priority that causes delays to getting the scores. It's the issues I've previously noted --- short answer/extended response items that need a person to score, the timing of the adminstration (late spring), and cost. I think everyone involved would like to turn the scores around sooner.

--- someone who knows
dw said…
Patrick said: It seems to me that the MSP could provide one useful piece of information on a student's placement in the new year's classes, along with the prior teacher's recommendation, beginning of the year tests, and maybe the MAP tests, if only the MSP were graded in time.

Remember, unlike MAP, MSP is very carefully designed to assess only the current grade level benchmarks. So by its design, MSP isn't a great tool as far as advanced placement (skipping ahead), which is predominantly a math thing. It might be a good tool to help with placement for kids that are struggling and should either repeat a class or get extra support.
Anonymous said…
Newel - unofficially, many elementary teachers are already back trying to get their classrooms in order, get a jump on planning, etc. Those who had a grade level change, classroom change, or building change are usually back earlier than others. I believe the official building/district meeting days start the last full week of August.

Anonymous said…
Does anybody know what Biha Caldwell is doing as special education manager? She isn't listening to families, that is for sure. She is kicking families back to the people who could not or would not help in the first place. It is so patronizing and apathetic. I don't think Mr. Banda is really on the ball here. Even though she is the interim for 2 months or so, as was stated in the press release, these could not be 2 more crucial months for special education families.

GreyWatch said…
Timely questions on the MSP release dates as my son was just asking me about this today. I asked him why he was interested and he said he was pretty sure he didn't do well on the math portion. He said he was one of the only ones in the class still working on problems and felt badly that he was making everyone else wait for him to finish as they were going to get to watch a movie after the test. As he also wanted to watch the movie, he turned the test in w/o finishing it.

I had assumed these were timed tests - no movies until test time was over, but he said you get as much time as you needed on MSP.

Anyone out there know the real story?
Anonymous said…
Grey Watch,

The tests are untimed. Students, within reason, get as much time as they need to complete the test.

--- someone who knows
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dw said…

swk is right about the time allowed, and I'll chime in with one more tidbit. Usually, the kids that take the longest are the ones that do better, and it's a good idea to let kids know this in advance so they're not tempted to do things like quit early. It's unfortunate that the teacher had a movie running. Not exactly encouraging for the kids to continue working on their test.

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