Friday Open Thread

Interim plan for next year kicked down the road another week.   Will the new enrollment data change anyone's mind?

Community meeting with Director DeBell tomorrow from 9-11 am at Cafe Appassionato, near Fisherman's Terminal.

Community meeting with Director Patu tomorrow from 10 am to noon at Cafe Vita, 5028 Wilson Ave. S.

In the "what?!" category, from the Washington Post, the Texas State House has introduced a bill to stop funding for standardized assessments.

"By way of explanation, Speaker Joe Straus said, “To parents and educators concerned about excessive testing, the Texas House has heard you.”

Last year about this time school districts in Texas started passing resolutions saying that high-stakes standardized tests were “strangling” public schools, and hundreds of districts representing nearly 90 percent of the state’s K-12 students have followed suit. Then Robert Scott, the man who was then state education commissioner, said publicly that the mentality that standardized testing is the “end-all, be-all” is a “perversion” of what a quality education should be."

Texas students are tested 45 days out of the 180-day school year.  The article does mention Garfield's stand.   

The Atlantic has a great article about why "Gloomy Pundits and Politicians are Wrong about America's Education System." 

It's failing our poorest students and codding the richest. Americans are falling desperately behind the rest of the developed world.

But here's what a new study from the Economic Policy Institute tells us about America's education system: Every one of those common assumptions is simplistic, misguided, or downright wrong.
When you break down student performance by social class, a more complicated, yet more hopeful, picture emerges, highlighted by two pieces of good news. First, our most disadvantaged students have improved their math scores faster than most comparable countries. Second, our most advantaged students are world-class readers.

Why break down international test scores by social class? In just about every country, poor students do worse than rich students. America's yawning income inequality means our international test sample has a higher share of low-income students, and their scores depress our national average. An apples-to-apples comparison of Americans students to their international peers requires us to control for social class and compare the performances of kids from similarly advantaged and disadvantaged homes. Friday funny for the kids (and parents) with what wild animals are really doing and thinking. What's on your mind?

Friday funny, show the kids.  

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Here's one to chew on for everybody:

Enough political implications and conspiracy theories to choke a horse. I'd call this one of the "must reads" of the week.

-- Ivan Weiss

mirmac1 said…
I wish Mr Banda would observe the direction many districts around the country are going in rejecting high-stakes testing. He should listen to his education colleagues who value best-practice and proven methods, NOT the Chamber of Commerce types/DeBell, and those on the Gates payroll, who want to make this into a test of his manhood.

He should meet with Garfield teachers sooner, rather then later, in a professional setting (no chanting pls) and come to an agreement that benefits STUDENTS, not the performance management framework put in place by MGJ and cronies.
mirmac1 said…
Thanks Ivan!

"Conservative Kathleen Porter-Magee is a former teacher who has long shown a willingness to balance her allies' ideological presuppositions with facts on the ground. She attributes the failure of "reformers" to their "group think," and worries that their feelings of misguided certainty may drive them to an educational "Bay of Pigs." She says the true believers in test-driven accountability have suffered from:

•a feeling of moral superiority among group members;

•collective rationalization, where members discount warnings or fail to rethink assumptions;

•overly negative and stereotypical views of the groups "enemies"

•and censorship of dissenting opinion--either via self-censorship or direct pressure put on those who disagree. If the unions or the most vocal anti-reformers were against it, it must be a good idea.

Kathleen Porter-Magee even questions the fundamental assumption that the only cure for our dysfunctional school systems is rapid transformational change. She agrees that "Time is of the essence, but moving quickly at the expense of smart decisions and effective policies is worse than doing nothing at all."

Oh man, she's singing my song. The downtown crowd revels in its moral superiority, as they hobnob over wine and cheese, look for ways to hide the identity of donors, and bribe/threaten our elected officials and executive leadership. "Ooh, here's a coupla hundred thou for whatever you want, just send me a proposal!"
Anonymous said…
"•collective rationalization, where members discount warnings or fail to rethink assumptions"

This is what bothers me the most, the refusal to learn from data, research, and past mistakes among the current, evolving crop of reformers.

I feel like I might be a natural advocate of the testing movement. I love the idea of being able to assess what people know and whether teaching them is increasing that knowledge. But, I've been convinced by the data that testing knowledge is really really hard, really really expensive, and really really time-consuming and with those constraints, may not provide a valuable addition to teaching.

45 days out of 180? Seriously insane.

The intractability to research and data (which to me seems to undermine the very philosophy of the reform movement) is what makes me even consider the conspiracy theories (the ones where the reform movement is really just an excuse for publishers/testers/software providers/online software providers to centralize the money spent on education so that they can expand their profits).


Po3 said…
Is there a list of all the high school tours? I can't find anything on the SPS web site.
Incoming Parent said…
There is a lot of flu circulating around right now. My kindergartener had Influenza A last week, and my 18-month old has Influenza B this week, both confirmed by tests at their doctor's office. My husband had to go to three different store to find Tamiflu because everyone is out. PLEASE keep your kids home if they are sick. I know how hard that is for working parents (we are now on Week 2 of testing the patience of our employers) but it's not cool to inflict illness on other kids. Our kindergartener's teacher, who is pregnant, said she thinks a lot of the kids in her class who had it last week were infected when a parent sent a kid back too a classroom full of 5 year olds (including mine, who is immune-compromised) and a pregnant woman. I'm just saying, what's going around now is not just a spring cold, it's the flu. Think twice about others before sending your kid back to school with a fever.
Anonymous said…

Crosscut article on MAP and Banda.

For high school tours you have to go to the individual high school websites. I know Nathan Hale has one coming up.

Anonymous said…
To: Po3 said
I found the high school tour dates on the HIMS website:
HIMS mom
Anonymous said…
Incoming parent:
Thanks for the reminder. Also, it is not only the regular flu going around but a "stomach flu" also.
Please use common sense and don't send your student to school next day when she/he was up all night vomiting / with diarrhea. Please wait a day after there is no more sign of any sickness.
- Please
Anonymous said…
Poking around some HS websites for tour info, I found a couple of COLLEGE fairs coming up listed on the Garfield site. One is for historically black colleges and one is for Gap Year options. The black college fair is Monday afternoon at Seattle Central CC. The gap fair is Feb. 1 at the Northwest School. Here is the link:

speaking to the choir said…
The general rule is to wait 24 hours after a fever breaks before sending your child back to school. So if the fever breaks at 3pm, do not send your child to school the next day.

24h Fever-free guidelines
Anonymous said…
Hey Ivan,
Thanks for the link=>

Definitely a "MUST READ".

John Thompson: Are Conservative "Reformers" Bailing Out?

It certainly demonstrates that there is a whole lotta nonsense that needs to end.

Very encouraging.... Now if only those in Olympia would get the message.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Recognize these people here in Seattle?

•a feeling of moral superiority among group members;
•collective rationalization, where members discount warnings or fail to rethink assumptions;
•overly negative and stereotypical views of the groups "enemies"
•and censorship of dissenting opinion--either via self-censorship or direct pressure put on those who disagree. If the unions or the most vocal anti-reformers were against it, it must be a good idea.

Sounds exactly like The Alliance for Education and Stand for Children WA leaders. Apparently other states have recognized the type and have begun to slink away quickly from the hubris. Yes, Dan's link above is certainly a must read.

Done with the Seattle Reform Clique
Hmmm said…

The Alliance for Ed. is pushing the above program with the University of Washington. They liken it to a medical residency program. Something about needing the WestB makes me wonder if it is TfA. Does anyone know if this is a front for TfA or otherwise? According to the Alliance, SEA is one of it's partners.
mirmac1 said…
It's another "pet project" of the Alliance, furthered by Susan Enfield, and foisted on Banda.

Actually, it is a threat to TFA (which gladdens me greatly). It appears the program offers better preparation, w/o the glitz and ego of TFA. Unfortunately, once again, the A4E and the PPPE (group of fatcat foundations) will only offer start-up funding, then it will lard up off the General Fund.

Like there is a teacher shortage....
Jamie said…
I am having trouble accessing the school reports on the district website - I have tried on my Mac and on my iPad - just wondering if any readers who have a PC have also had any trouble? I go to the school directory and click on a school and under school reports it has drop down menus with years to choose from. When I try to choose a year it just goes back to "select a year." Wondering if it's "operator error" (me) or if anyone else is having trouble. Thanks!
Hmm, I'm looking into the teacher residency program but I seem to be having a problem getting any timely answers. I was told someone could speak to me in two months.
Anonymous said…
Jamie - When I look at School Reports and select a year, the report pops up in a separate window. Maybe you have a pop-up blocker causing the issue?

RosieReader said…
It may well be the best thing to say goodbye to MAP, but I don't think it makes sense to abruptly change course mid-year. It's difficult to keep up with those changes that happen on a school-0year schedule. Since there was already a group looking at the question, I also don't think it would be wise for Banda to simply drop the test abruptly. Things need to take their course.
mirmac1 said…
Melissa, they had a big roll out and to do about it in August. Many emails from Sara Morris on it. i expect some upcoming emails from UW will touch upon it as well.
Anonymous said…
Now why would the Alliance be using its fundraising dollars on a teacher residency program at the UW instead of, you know, directly into SPS classrooms. The district is strapped, the teachers and admisistrators have needs and THAT is there top priority?

Once again, that foundation is a solution looking for a problem. But since the CEO pulls down more than $100K a year, it's probably incumbant to come up with Big Ideas. I long for the day that group changes direction or leadership or both.


Eric B said…
@Rosie, If nothing else, SPS has already paid for MAP this year, so they might as well get the "value" that they can out of it. It sounds like they left themselves some wiggle room at the press conference today about whether or not to suspend teachers without pay. It didn't seem like a hard line in the sand, or at least one they couldn't erase if enough teachers called the bluff.
Jamie said…
Pop up - thanks for the advice. I appreciate it!
Anonymous said…
Rob McKenna says in the Post Intelligencer today that one of his top post election loss priorities is to work with Stand for Children on education reform.

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Maureen said…
Rosie and Eric B, It's true that the money has already been spent on MAP, but there is still a significant non monetary cost to administer it(in terms of instructional time and staff and computer resources.) I don't see the point of incurring those costs if teachers don't use the data.
Opted out of MAP said…
Rosie and Eric,

To me the loss of instructional time is a larger issue. Have you been noticing the amount of early release days, late starts etc? Last year my student's math department was unable to finish the math curriculum.

I think Banda should just say..that there isn't enough for MAP to be useful in HS to support this test. Keep MAP going in elementary schools until next year; there seems to be some support in the elementary schools
Anonymous said…
Yes, please--keep your kid home if they are sick. Sending a kid to school sick just makes it hard for everyone. I'm so glad others feel this way--I always feels like I'm the only one keeping our kid home when they are sick.

-Mom of middle schooler
Anonymous said…
I scolded my carpool buddy for giving her toddler Motrin before daycare to hide his fever. She said he's just teething but lo and behold he's come down with a serious cold that couldn't be covered up but not before he spent the day infecting the other his and care givers (some of whom have asthma or other conditions that make them more vulnerable. Both parents gave access to sick leave so it really is unconscionable.

__stay home
Anonymous said…
Opted out of MAP or anyone in the know -

Curious, who is supporting MAP in Elementary Schools? I have 2 students, 1st and 3rd, and their scores are comical - 50th percentile, to 20th percentile, up to 90th percentile, back down to 65th. How is this useful? Also one of my 3rd grader's low scores was due to having a computer issue. A teacher performance review should be based on this? Are my kid’s scores an elementary anomaly?

I want to opt out, but I fear my kids will just end up locked in some conference room with little supervision or activity. What do the schools do with the ‘opt out’ kids? I do know lots of the NE parents love to brag about their kids being 97th percentile, so I fear my kids will be left in isolation, and I am only setting them up to get into some sort of sibling mischief resulting in a behavior report.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, my daughter or son is X percentile, well, I'd have at least $100 :)

A Sensible NE Mom of 2

(please excuse any typos, it has been a LONG week)
NE Mom, I don't know what to say. Obviously something is going wrong with the testing.

I actually forgot to put this in my wrap-up of the MAP press conference (but will) but when I asked the Superintendent - point-blank - what happens to the kids who opt out, he was very vague. I pressed him, saying I knew that at least 50 ORCA kids had opted out. He said oh yes, kids opt out, we know that.

Clearly, they don't want it to happen but NO they cannot "lock" your child in a conference room. Here's my advice - ask your principal. Say you will send activities (like activity books, workbooks, reading) with your child. Explain that it is your right to opt out and that the school has to provide a safe place for your child to be (and if that's the office, so be it).

If enough kids at every school opted out, the message would be clear and yes, principals would have to figure out something organized to do. But parents need to do this to send this message.

When my sons opted out of the WASL, they were allowed to stay in the library. That is probably not an option given that the MAP is given in most libraries. If it IS, ask for that and your children can read or work quietly.
Opted Out said…
I opted my child out of MAP testing by writing a letter to his teacher. It is no big deal. He sits quietly reading while his classmates are taking the MAP. I explained that I didn't feel MAP would help or hurt him in any way. No problems. The other kids ask why he isn't taking the MAP and he responds "My mom doesn't want me to.". There aren't any issues. In fact, he is delighted not to participate; computer testing bothered his eyes. I explained that we feel differently about MSP and classroom assesments.
Huh ?? said…
I have an opt out question as well... My kid normally scores very well on the MAP and regularly shows "progress" per those charts and graphs and scores. If I opt my child out, does that jeopardize the teacher's evaluation in any way? Wouldn't it be helpful for the teacher/s to have good scoring kids in there to balance for any kids that don't test well for any reason.

-sps mom
Huh, given that many teachers would like to see change, opting your child out may help force that change.

I understand and appreciate you wanting to help your teacher's score but that argument is not one I have heard advanced by teachers during this discussion.
Anonymous said…
My student's MAP percentiles over 3 years:

Math = 68-92-84-86-85-96-72

This tells me what about her learning?

All it tells me is that the test is bogus!

NW family
Anonymous said…
NW family, I agree.

My kid's math percentiles over three years: 86 80 90 90 (opted out one) 80 91 88. (Pre recalibration scores were different, but not any more coherent)

Somewhat less variation in LA (varied randomly between 89 and 99%), but one of the largest increases in % supposedly happened over a summer spent watching YouTube videos. Crazy!

Anon for this
Anonymous said…

Blog post about how charters are not more likely to fire bad teachers

Anonymous said…
I opted my child out of the winter MAP, and was informed by the principal this may exclude him from eligility for Advanced Learning. Is this accurate? From what I can tell, spring scores (of prior year) are used to identify who is eligible for cognitive testing, and decisions are based on that (he's in 4th grade). Seems to me that eligibility for AL in 5th will based in tests done already, with winter MAP not a factor. Am I missing something?

It also seems like we're really limited in our ability to opt out anymore for a while... He'll need spring scores to qualify for next year's APP testing, then 5th grade scores--hard to say which--to qualify for Alg 1 in 6th. I felt ok opting out this winter because I don't see negative consequences, but moving forward it seems like we're stuck playing the district's game.

By the way, in my opt-out letter to his principal and his teachers I said I was open to reconsidering my position if they wanted to make the case for how MAP is useful to them in determining the instruction he receives. I didn't hear anything back on that from any of them. :)

mirmac1 said…
HIMS mom,

You didn't hear back because they HAVE no response. You are offering the 2nd or 3rd data point that they have, internally, acknowledged is absent.

Anonymous said…
On the flip side, I didn't want my child's MAP scores supporting a poor math curriculum - "Hey, these kids are doing great on MAP, the materials must be a-okay!" - when in reality we are teaching math primarily at home.

It used to be that Fall MAP scores were used for AL testing, then schools decided on a 2x a year schedule, with regular testing in the Winter and Spring. AL then had to move to using the prior Spring scores for AL placement, as schools weren't testing all students in the Fall. Spring scores were supposedly used in 6th grade math placement, then it was recently changed to Winter MAP scores (or Fall if you made the cut by then). It used to be they had a written, skill specific math placement test for those wanting placement in Algebra 1 for 6th grade.

It's no wonder a principal might erroneously suggest to a parent that certain scores are needed. With the year by year changes in requirements, one never knows what score may be needed. Is it possible that Winter MAP scores could be used as part of an appeal for AL?

My child's teacher also told students they should do their best on MAP because it could determine placement for next year. They are already in an AL I had to tell my child that the teacher is probably mistaken. Perhaps it is her placement that is the concern, not the students'.

opting out
Anonymous said…
After last year's fiasco, when SPS decided in April to use solely the 5th grade winter MAP math score (the previous one!) to decide on the 6th grade math placement, I don't think I want to opt out my student of the MAP testing any more. Who knows what is coming next?
HIMS mom
Anonymous said…
Kay Smith-Blum, Seattle School Board, District 5



The School Board is expected to vote on the Short Term Capacity Management Plan during a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, January 31st at the auditorium of the John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence.

On January 23rd, the Board decided to delay the vote by a week to review 2013-14 enrollment projections, which are expected the week of January 28th. District staff will review the options to address our growing enrollment for next year with this additional data.

Enrollment is projected to grow by 7,000 students over the next 10 years. The Capacity Management Plan addresses immediate capacity needs. If approved by voters on Feb. 12, renewal of the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) Capital Levy would provide capital funding for long-term growth.
Even though public testimony was heard on the Short Term Capacity Management Plan on January 9th and 23rd, ten public testimony slots, two minutes each, will be available at the January 31st meeting.

People who wish to provide testimony at the Board meeting should follow the standard sign-up procedure by calling 206-252-0040 or emailing the School Board office at starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, January 28th. People should give their legal name, telephone number and email address when requesting to speak. Since there is only one item on the agenda, speakers must address capacity management.

Any updated information on the Short Term Capacity Management Plan will be posted online Wednesday late afternoon at

More information on capacity management is available here. Families can continue to voice their opinions at and

Greg Linden said…
Bill Gates talks about measurement, including in education, in the WSJ:

"Bill Gates: My Plan to Fix The World's Biggest Problems"

From the article:

"I think the most critical change we can make in U.S. K–12 education, with America lagging countries in Asia and Northern Europe when it comes to turning out top students, is to create teacher-feedback systems that are properly funded, high quality and trusted by teachers."

I'm a huge supporter of metrics and data. I'm even a supporter of some teacher-feedback systems. But I don't know of any metrics or data that proves that teacher-feedback systems are the most critical change we could make in US schools.

My understanding is that the data is much more convincing for other changes, such as year-round school (addressing summer learning loss). But I am unaware of large scale studies that show any kind of teacher-feedback systems to yield huge gains, much less the biggest gains, or anything else that would put them at the highest priority for US schools. Is anyone else aware of studies that do show that? I would like to see them if it is just that I am unaware of them.
Anonymous said…
Hey Greg Linden,

Thanks for the link to Gates' thoughts.

Speaking of Teacher Quality try this from Sandra Stotsky beginning at minute 7:00

She sees that ed schools need to be more selective. As a nation she sees the USA as producing way more teachers than needed. This is good for "cash cow ed departments" at Universities but bad for nation overall.

Stotsky wants better teacher education programs. Note she is definitely for much better education training for teachers. Her thoughts certainly do NOT include TfA style programs.

-- Dan Dempsey
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
Here it comes, and so predictably: the Seattle Times floats the discredited notion of mayoral control of the school district.

The district’s governance structure needs attention, which might take a change in state law. Many school districts, including New York City, operate more effectively and efficiently under the auspices of City Hall.

"Editorial: ‘Yes’ on Seattle Public Schools levies — with reservations"

Once again, the Times is wrong. Mayoral control has NOT proven "effective" or "efficient" elsewhere in the country. What it has proven to be is undemocratic and unaccountable -- something the top-down corporate ed reformers like the Times' editorial board seem to prefer.

New York as an example would be laughable if it weren't lamentable. To suggest that its Mayor For Life and at All Costs, Billionaire Bloomberg is an example worth replicating is disturbing.

See: Ravitch: Mayoral control means zero accountability

An excerpt:

"The New York City version of mayoral control means that parents and the public have no voice. The shell of the central board is dominated by a majority of mayoral appointees, who approve whatever the mayor wants. On the one occasion when two of his appointees threatened to vote independently, they were fired on the spot." -- Diane Ravitch

And in a further show of hypocrisy, did the Times ever suggest "reservations" about levies in recent years when its pet superintendents Goodloe-Johnson and Enfield were running up bills and scandals and state audits? I don't think so.

But here it is, taking aim again at the superintendent and school board majority it didn’t want, voters and democracy be damned.

So, who among the mayoral candidates is most likely to collaborate on this undemocratic manoeuvre? Burgess comes to mind.
Peanut said…
My kindergartener (now 1st grader) rushes thru to see the barking dog at the end of the MAP test.

My 3rd grader says the MAP math test makes him feel bad. He has a good math sense, so the questions get really hard really fast. So, he does well until he hits the wall of what he has been taught.

I asked him for examples of problems that were hard for him. They were geometry problems - for a third grader! I explained that he didn't know the formulas, but that he was perfectly capable of doing the multiplication & addition required. He said if it needed formulas, they should provide them. How else can someone who has never seen the info supposed to do it otherwise?
hschinske said…
The MAP is supposed to use out-of-level questions in order to get at students who are above or below grade level. That's very much supposed to be a feature, not a bug. Unfortunately that feature isn't getting explained well to most teachers, let alone students. Students should be told that if they get questions that look like something they haven't studied, that's a very good sign, it means they've been answering almost all the grade-level material right, and they should just take a swing at the above-level stuff and have fun with it.

Helen Schinske
Greg Linden said…
Just to follow up on my question about Bill Gates' statement that the "most critical change" is teacher evaluation and feedback, he repeated that claim in the 2013 Gates Foundation annual letter along with the information that it was based on data that says that "the system is likely one reason why student test scores have improved in Eagle County over the past five years."

You can see the Eagle County test score data here (look up the name [eagle], then click the district level selection) for the last three years. They say reading was slightly up (from 70% to 73%) and math was flat. Not at all clear why this data shows teacher evaluation as implemented in Eagle County is the "most critical" thing for K-12 education.

My understanding is that the data clearly shows that poverty is the most critical problem (see table 6 on page 15 of, which shows that, excluding poverty stricken schools, US schools perform the same or better as other OCED countries) and that 2/3rds of the achievement gap for students in poverty is summer learning loss (see

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