Friday Open Thread

The School Board has a student rep who joined the Board at the last Board meeting.  He is Dexter Tang from Roosevelt High School.  I had the pleasure of meeting Dexter earlier this year and he is a bright, capable young man. 

Tang’s term will run for the entire 2012-13 school year, although in future years more than one student might be appointed and rotate on a monthly basis.

The Living Voters Guide is looking for opinions on all the ballot issues but I urge you to cast your "vote" there as well as leave a 138-character reason for your vote. 

What's on your mind?


MomgoMom said…
Thinking about the District K-12 Art Plan and what that means for each school community.

Worried about MAP testing and how just that assessment is skewing what my son is being taught.

Wondering why MAP is optional for schools in the fall yet they do it anyway.

suep. said…
Good question re: fall MAP. Over at APP/Lincoln, school admin. has also decided to administer the non-required fall MAP test. Parents were not asked for their opinion on this.

Remember, MomgoMom, you can always opt your kids out of MAP. Just send an e-mail to your child's teacher, principal and librarian (who is often the proctor) and ask to have your child read quietly instead.

Speaking of excessive testing, APP/Lincoln admin. recently announced that it (ie. the principal and some teachers -- zero parent input) has "volunteered" to pilot a new assessment/testing system tied to the Common Core standards.

From Principal Geoghagan's recent e-mail note to families:

"This year, grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 have volunteered to participate in a pilot assessment program. Seattle Schools will be partnering with OSPI in creating benchmark assessments related to the new Common Core State Standards in reading and math. Teachers will receive release time to analyze assessment data and use the data to inform their instruction. We have decided to do MAP testing in the fall and spring as a whole school. Additionally, third and fifth grade will also be MAP testing in the winter."

Melissa, Charlie, Dan -- Do you know anything about this?

Are there any other SPS schools also taking part in this pilot?

Why would SPS pilot something in an atypical school like APP/Lincoln?

Shouldn't parents have a say as to whether they want their kids to be guinea pigs in something like this?

Apparently kids in the same school will be given different tests and some will be administered the MAP more than others. Sounds pretty inequitable to me.

Overall, it's pretty disappointing* that, while APP south, Thurgood Marshall, has opted to pilot better math this year (instead of EDM/CMP), APP north is choosing to pilot more testing.

(*Good news for Thurgood, though! Add them to the growing list of enlightened schools pursuing math waivers.)
mirmac1 said…
For those of you that are interested, here are the preliminary Letters of Intent from schools that wish to be considered a Creative Approach School...

Creative Approach Schools' Letters of Intent
Anonymous said…
Speaking of testing, I found this interesting:

I really feel this is overkill.

Anonymous said…
From Principal Geoghagan's letter excerpted above...

"Teachers will receive release time to analyze assessment data and use the data to inform their instruction."

That's right, folks. Not only does your child get to spend more of his or her classroom time on assessments, ("...grades 1, 2, 4 and 5 'volunteered' to participate) but your child's teacher will spend LESS time in the classroom teaching because they'll be receive "release time" in order to be "analyzing" the "assessment data" and figuring out how to "use the data to inform their instruction."

Wow, sounds like so much fun...

Unknown said…
"Wondering why MAP is optional for schools in the fall yet they do it anyway."

Those of you that are at schools where this is happening - ask your principal why and let us know what he/she says.

No Sue, I hadn't heard about this pilot testing. Someone should track the number of days/hours spent on testing in every school. It seems to get larger every year.
suep. said…
Hi Melissa,

I did ask our principal why she had opted to make Lincoln kids take the non-required fall MAP, and here's what she said/wrote:

"Thank you for your continued interest in student assessment.

Standardized assessment tools serve multiple purposes. While MAP is utilized by Seattle Public Schools to demonstrate District-wide performance results and trends, it is also used by teachers to track student progress. Decisions about which assessments to use and which pilot programs to participate in are driven by District mandates with site-based educational staff input. Lincoln's assessment schedule is summarized below:

· Fall MAP (utilized as baseline by teachers and used in conjunction with Spring MAP results; District optional)

· Winter MAP/Alternative Assessment Pilot (District mandated except when OSPI-sponsored alternative pilot assessment program is adopted; 5th Grade results used for 6th Grade math placement)

· Spring MAP (District mandated)

With this assessment plan, Lincoln complies with District requirements, while also utilizing the available assessment tools to track student progress.

While families may make individual choices about their own student's participation in this process, educational staff--in conjunction with District mandates--determine school/grade wide adoption of assessments."
MomgoMom said…
I'll ask at the school. MAP testing starts next week -- 4 days of testing for kindergartners (reading part 1, reading part 2, math part 1, math part 2).

His teacher seemed to feel it was beneficial though the note sent home to have us practice using the mouse (as homework?) and her mention that the first test results are not accurate (the kids are learning to use the test) just makes this seem bizarre.

Does the district have a licensing arrangement that flexibly allows them to administer the MAP however frequently they choose at the school/class level without any financial implications?
ws said…
do schools tell you if they are doin fall testing? I have a K at Schmitz and I haven't heard anything about Map testing.
Anonymous said…
My son is in 2nd grade at JSIS and we were also informed on curriculum night that his class had 'volunteered' to take part in the Common Core Standards pilot program. We were not given an option or a voice in the decision making process.

suep. said…
When a group of us parents met with the MAP administrators back in 2010 ("Broad Residents" Brad "17 percent" Bernatek and Jessica DeBarros), they told us that MAP isn't really appropriate for ages K-2, the mouse/computer and reading skills issues being part of the problem. Consequently, some other districts do not administer MAP to those early grades. Which of course begs the questions, then why does SPS?


15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP

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

SEA Calls for Elimination of the MAP Test in Seattle Schools
suep. said…
JSIS Mom said: "We were not given an option or a voice in the decision making process."

Nor were we at Lincoln. Not good.
mirmac1 said…
Exercise your right to opt-out. Demand that your child be given educational opportunities while the rest take meaningless tests. Don't let them do what they tried to do to my child: have her sit in the office.
Oh Carr, they are not your staff and they were doing their job!
Anonymous said…
Anti-1240 campaign slogan of the day:

"Every charter school would be a Silas Potter scandal waiting to happen."

-- Ivan Weiss
Anonymous said…
I realize I'm in a minority here, but I find the MAP testing much more useful than the State MSP tests. It doesn't seem like it takes that much time to do the MAP test either.

APP Parent
Anonymous said…
They're just driving families to private schools with all this testing.

Unknown said…
Carr mixes up Boeing and the district? Hmm. Here's a clue; one is private and one is public. The public has an absolute right to any and all non-personnel/legal e-mails. It's the law and she raised her hand when she was sworn in and promised to uphold it.
mirmac1 said…
No one should be in her position that doesn't understand the:

Public Records Act

Open Meetings Act

SPSLeaks said…
I look forward to reading more from the "leaker" who posted Carr's email....; )

Jan said…
I don't defend Sherry very often -- but I will here. I thought she made it quite clear in her email that she was not trying to interfere with public records requests -- but did not understand whether, and how, that might apply to employees who simply chose to make "requestable" emails, etc. available -- without waiting for the request. And Noel (boy, do I miss him!) was both concise and eloquent in his reply -- if the public is entitled to read it, it is pretty dang hard to have a policy that prevents someone from sharing it!

I also think that if you polled the unpaid, publicly elected board members of state and local governmental agencies that are subject to disclosure -- far fewer than 50% would understand the law. The staff people who pull the files get it. But I bet a lot of the board members don't (at least initially). Certainly, over time, as they are exposed to the way it works, many of them come to understand it.

Coming from a Boeing (not only a private entity, but one with intellectual property assets, highly confidential sales and marketing data in an extremely competitive environment, etc.), her follow up question about whether employees can just proactively disseminate does not seem all that odd to me.

Nor does her reference to the District's employees (for whom the board is the ultimate governing authority) as "our employees." To me, it showed a sense of "connection" (this is "us." These are "our employees" that I only with that HMM and DeBell had.

None of that changes any of my other disappointments with Sherry's tenure, or the fact that I wish her challenger had won the last election!
mirmac1 said…
When first elected, board members are briefed on a) the requirements for open meetings. This must carry with it the message that ALL transactions (outside those involving litigation/due process/labor negotiations) are transparent and aboveboard. Some of our school directors have never grasped that. On the contrary, some have acted to suppress information. Ergo, the whining about all those pesky public records requests or outcries for heads of employees.
Unknown said…
Along the lines of the discussion about public records request, I recently had one requesting emails on a key word search having to do with restraint from 3 employees denied based on FERPA. SPS says 6 emails resulted from the search. SPS claims it can withold entire emails if it mentions another student's name. I responded with a request to redact the emails and furnish partial records.

Has anyone else had problems in this regard and been successful without hiring legal help?
Charlie Mas said…
Latest polling numbers show 49% support for charter school iniative, I-1240.
JS said…
Just to clarify, the poll numbers on 1240 were:

For: 49%
Against: 30%
Undecided: 21%

Doesn't look good.
mirmac1 said…
Case law is clear that redactions must be made as narrowly as practicable, and even a claim to the latter can be challenged. Lawyers aren't too terribly necessary. The requestor need only ask for a "show cause" hearing. That places the burden on the agency seeking to withhold documents to show cause that redaction was not possible. However, I'll grant you, it takes time, $$, and energy for SpEd families to file the action, something the district knows all too well and exploits whenever possible.
Unknown said…
Thanks! I will get on it.
Anonymous said…
Mary, call the attorney who supervises Colleen and tell him you will give him a chance to produce before you request show cause, then sanctions for wrongful withholding. The ability to withhold student records doesn't.t meant anything with student names, ie accident reports aren't records of those students nor are emails if they are about the staff conduct. The fines for PRA cases can be huge and the lawyer know it.

Hi Jan,
Thank you for the comment; it's always valuable to see an opposing view. We, possibly like you, voted for Carr first time around. We thought she was the type of individual that would serve district 2 well, someone who would evaluate facts and value community input to arrive at well balanced decisions. Wow, we blew that one!. We will never vote for her again.
Regarding the email, to me this is classic Carr. Poking around scribd she finds an email on the TFA she does not like and decides on no factual evidence SPS staff are leaking emails. The whole email is predicated on no facts but she has made a decision. When she says ‘Does the same law provide for our own employees simply offering them freely”, on what facts is she trying to start a witch-hunt on?. A witch-hunt I add that she believes should result in an individual losing their employment possibly incorrectly as these actions historically have shown not to be 100% accurate.
So is this Carr asking for assistance in clarifying the district’s policy or is it Carr asking for actions against uknown individuals ‘leaking’ (i.e. NO FACTS) emails on an issue she has a conflict of interest in?.
It seems we will have to disagree on that one!.
Anonymous said…
Nothing here about the community meeting with Pegi McVoy at Eckstein. The district really sounded ridiculous about the levy details.

- very concerned NE parent
Anonymous said…
APP Parent.
For some children it takes a long time to finish a test. The district is asking second graders to read everything on the test sans headphones (in first the test is read to them). Have you seen some of the things these kids have to read or attempt to read? A Shakespeare poem about a mistress? Now, imgaine yourself a second grader who has a difficult time with reading and you are slogging through 42 passages and then questions to answer. It could potentially take a child over an hour to take the reading portion alone. I'm sure that many teachers already know which students are below standard, at standard and above standard without the administration of a MAP test.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan said…
SPSParent: I can't recall if I voted for Sherry the very first time (I may well have) -- but she lost me at the math book adoption, and made it permanent by her support of MGJ in the face of so much evidence of poor management -- style AND substance. I certainly voted against her THIS time around -- and encouraged anyone whose ear I could bend to do likewise.

I was just trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, given how many people I know who are "behind the curve" on understanding public access laws. Given how long she has had on the board to come to terms with public disclosure issues, I concede that you may be right. Perhaps "the benefit of the doubt" is unwarranted.
mirmac1 said…
Anyone notice this in the paper?

Amazon gobbles up campus for $1 billion

The district obviously needs to help this poor, cash-strapped corporation by building amenities, like a school, to enhance the value of their property

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