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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Open Thread

Quite the astonishing report on KUOW about MAP.  Banda sounds a bit tougher:

“They chose this way to express themselves and the message is heard loud and clear,” Banda said. “But I’m going to hold firm to the fact that they have obligations and responsibilities. And the expectation is these two assessments will be given."

What was astonishing was the response from John Cronin who directs research at the NEA which makes MAP.

He says it's a mystery to him why an entire school of teachers would vote to boycott the test. Laughing, Cronin said, "You know, it’s not even something I can speculate on. It’s interesting to us, but not being Seattleites ourselves, I really can’t say that I know what’s motivating them.”

It's a very odd thing that he thinks this is funny but it's also a good way to marginalize the teachers' concerns.  

What's on your mind?

94 comments:

Po3 said...

Doesn't really matter what anybody says in the media. The fact remains that GHS started a movement that cannot be ignored. At this point, it is not about the teacher’s refusal to administer the test, they have admins/subs to do that.

The students and parents have spoken - GHS will not have valuable MAPS data for Winter 2013.

Speculate all you want as to why...

Jet City mom said...

You may want to clarify for your viewers who've just tuned in that the NEA that employs John Cronin is the Northwest Evaluation Association and NOT the National Education Association ( OR the National Endowment for the Arts).

Anonymous said...

I follow the Diane Ravitch blog and have read about ed reform movements in Tennessee.
(http://www.nashvillescene.com/pitw/archives/2013/02/18/an-army-of-city-officials-opposes-gop-power-play-on-schools-but-wheres-karl-dean)

I'm on DFERs mailing list (in a know thy enemy kind of way) and this just came through.

Good luck Tennessee !!

Contact:
Devin Boyle | 202.445.0416 | Devin@dfer.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Democrats for Education Reform Launches Tennessee Branch; Appoints Natasha Kamrani as State Director
Washington, D.C., February 19th, 2013 – Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) announced today the establishment of a new state branch in Tennessee. Natasha Kamrani, a former director of Teach for America and former member of the Houston Independent School Board, will serve as state director.
“Natasha has been engaged in the pursuit of excellence in public education her entire professional career, and is the right person at the right time to lead DFER’s efforts in Tennessee to ensure that all the state’s kids have access to a high-quality education,” said Joe Williams, DFER’s executive director.
DFER Tennessee’s initial efforts will be focused in the cities of Nashville and Memphis. As the DFER-TN state director, in 2013 Kamrani will focus on educating Tennesseans about the stance of their local and national Democratic leadership on education reform issues. Kamrani will also seek to provide reform-minded Democrats with a forum to discuss these critically important issues that affect the future of the State.
“As a mother of two children in Nashville public schools, I know firsthand the concerns of Tennessee’s parents and how important education is not only to our kids but also to Tennessee’s future,” said Kamrani. “I look forward to working with education leaders throughout the state to provide the best opportunities possible for our kids.”
###
About Democrats for Education Reform
Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a political action committee with 12 state offices whose mission is to encourage a more productive dialogue within the Democratic Party on the need to fundamentally reform American public education. DFER operates at all levels of government to educate elected officials and support reform-minded candidates for public office.

-sps mom

Anonymous said...
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mirmac1 said...

Let's hope dude laughs his way into a different line of work....

Anonymous said...

Look - my daughter is receiving, as far as I can tell, the worst math education this year in 6th grade in HIMS APP program that she has ever experienced. Its a joke and the principal is well aware of the problem but completely uninterested in solving it.

My kid enjoyed taking this Winter's math MAPS test because it was the only exposure the got this year to real math. I kid you not. Those were her words.

Taking this test is not as worthless as you all may think.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS

The problem is now you have given this teacher a great score for her evaulation.

This is the 3rd or 4th year this teacher has been in this classroom. The complaints must be a mile high by now.

A class wide opt-out would be hard to ignore.

Been there @ HIMS

Anonymous said...

Been there @ HIMS,

Actually not so, all the students in the class had their MAP scores fall according to the students in the class. I do not know what ours are yet but as my kid's MAP scores fell once before when she had an inexperienced math teacher I am starting to question whether they AREN'T a good indication of teacher efficacy.

As soon as we get the scores we will be all in the principal's office discussing this situation (probably to no avail).

My official policy, however, is that I want the MAP data for my own use and I do not think it should be part of teacher evaluation.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

Anonymous said...

I was told that the teacher raised MAP scores in previous years, despite complaints...so? The fact that parents may be supplementing at home, or that the students already know the material, will get little traction. When students are already scoring in the 95-99% on MAP, I'm not sure the shortcomings of a teacher will be measurable by MAP. We are dealing with similar frustrations in 7th grade, different subject.

unhappy at HIMS APP

Anonymous said...


unhappy at HIMS APP,

That's exactly right - we supplemented when the MAP scores dropped one quarter in elementary school and they shot up again. This is one reason why it is unreasonable to use MAP scores to evaluate the teachers. That upturn was my doing, not the teacher's.

However, I want those data so I can make informed decisions. When there are no test scores posted by the teacher, and no grades. What else do I have??

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

Maureen said...

Melissa, That KUOW report is dated over a month ago (Jan.14th). Is there a newer one?

Anonymous said...

My students MAPS went from 96 - 99 Fall-Spring under this teacher. No additional supplementing. So in our case the MAPS scores helped teacher looked great on paper. Which is why I have opt out - the test doesn't give credit where credit is due and doesn't help to weed out ineffective teachers.

Been there @ HIMS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Disappointed, I am too am disappointed to hear your story (which you should relay to both the Superintendent and Board) but it's not really a good reason to support MAP so your daughter has a twice yearly math experience.

I don't know Maureen - I hadn't checked the date and thought it was recent.

suep. said...

I concur with Been there @ HIMS. Good scores on MAP can also be used by weak teachers (and principals) to falsely give credit to the teachers, and protect them from critique. If this is the teacher I think we're referring to, she specifically tried to pressure my child into taking MAP even though she knew that my child had been opted out. (When I objected, she apologized.) On more than one occasion at HIMS, notoriously weak teachers have been defended by admin and themselves with the line: "But their students do well on the (MAP/MSP) tests."

Which again is another reason why standardized tests are not an accurate assessment of teaching.

Anonymous said...

I just think the MAP-opt out is a band wagon to nowhere -

I am not supporting it so my daughter can see a math problem once and a while. I as a parent, have made extensive use of the MAP data in keeping track of my kid's education and just because the MAP was adopted under dubious circumstances by a poor superintendent doesn't mean it isn't better than anything else I have seen offered up by the district. Under assessment scores I see NO OTHER useful criteria that has the range and frequency (quarterly frequency is useful to take action halfway through the year).

The district has availed us parents of NO OTHER useful metric for evaluating our students' progress and I am very sad to see the supercilious and snarky comments here on this site whose ideas I am usually in line with.

I too have been injured by misuse of the MAP data. We missed getting a solid math teacher by one MAP point. ONE point.

I have seen the arguments against the MAP - but without it....there is nothing. Zero accountability.

Perhaps the high school age kids can do without the MAP because they have chosen a curriculum path and have more extensively evaluated school work. But for middle school and below - it is all us parents have.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

suep. said...

Yes that KUOW report is from a month ago. Hopefully tensions have cooled since then. We referred to it over at the Seattle Ed Blog because we discovered that Cronin's memo warning against using MAP to evaluate teachers had mysteriously disappeared from the internet.

(I kept a copy, though.)

And I was baffled by Cronin's apparent dismissal of the teachers' concerns when he himself wrote a letter stating what in essence supported what the Garfield (and many other) teachers are now saying: MAP was not designed to be used as a teacher evaluation tool.

Plus, I told him two years ago that MAP was problematic in Seattle, so he should not be surprised by the fact that our city has rebelled against it.

And yes, in answer to an earlier comment, the MAP test manufacturer is the Northwest Evaluation Association, Inc. which is abbreviated to NWEA (the NEA is one of the national teachers' unions).

Anonymous said...

I am a HIMS parent and we are homeschooling math this year due to both the teacher and the curriculum. My question is who gets the credit for my kid's improved math score this winter? It shouldn't benefit HIMS in any way.

I wanted to opt out, but we are looking at private schools and some schools give the scores consideration.

-another disappointed parent at HIMS

suep. said...

@ Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS --

You of course are entitled to your own opinion of MAP and if it has been helpful to your family, that's great. But it has proven to be unreliable, inaccurate, costly, damaging (a barrier to learning opportunities, as even you have experienced), time-consuming and not very useful to many other parents and teachers. Also three times a year PLUS all the other tests they are piling on our kids is excessive.

If, as you imply, there are zero means to know how your child is faring in school without MAP, then it would seem that your child's school and teachers are failing your family in seriously significant ways that a standardized test won't fix.

By the way, dismissing the (nationwide) opt-out movement as a "band wagon to nowhere" is a pretty snarky and uninformed comment itself.

parent that supplements said...

I can't look at MAP scores and know what particular skill is missing. The results are given in such broad categories. I get more useful feedback from giving readiness tests like those for Singapore or Saxon materials. I can see what specific skill might be missing, be it operations with fractions or exponents (both poorly covered by EDM and CMP), or whatever.

Links for readiness tests:

http://www.sonlight.com/placement-tests.html

Anonymous said...

MAP or no MAP I think there is quite a bit of rightful rage among parents regarding HIMS lackadaisical handling of 6th grade APP math.

I agree, no school or teacher should get credit for all the work, money, homeschooling and tutoring the many 6th grade parents have put behind supplementing the deficient math education at HIMS.

Because the class we are in offers no posted exams and no evaluations the MAP is all I have. My kid aces all the work in the class - that means nothing.

Only an outside test, hopefully impartial, will uncover deficiencies. The test, by definition, should not be used for teacher or school evaluation but as a parent tool where no others exist.

I am sympathetic with the parents who opt out in frustration but for me - I have no other way of assessing the damage that this class has wreaked. I would be up for lobbying against using the MAP for teacher evaluation and student placement. But if you just opt out or get rid of it - parents can't get a perspective on how their kids are doing over time.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.



Anonymous said...
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Maureen said...

Disappointed, You say: I as a parent, have made extensive use of the MAP data in keeping track of my kid's education

Can I ask (honestly, no snark intended!), what exactly do you do with the MAP scores? I just don't see any useful patterns at all. My kid actually had higher algebra strand scores the Fall a year BEFORE she started algebra than she did after taking half a year of it (and (1) we did no supplementing at all and (2)both math % were the same, high, but not topped out, score). All I can figure is that that strand score was based on a few random questions that she lucked out on. If I could see the questions she got and missed, I might be able to make use of the exam.

Eons ago, when kids took the ITBS, parents actually got a report that was so specific that you knew how your kid's ability to capitalize proper nouns compared to other kids nationwide. Now that is something I could work with!

suep. said...

@ Disappointed,

I absolutely hear you about 6th grade APP/HH? math at HIMS. Have you talked to the principal about it? Have many others?

Anonymous said...

Maureen,

I watch the pattern of the scores over time, and if there is a sudden drop (we had a 40 point drop in elementary school) I investigated and discovered my kid's math teacher was inexperienced in teaching the curriculum the school was using. Also, my kid was starting to dislike math for the first time. We supplemented with outside tutoring for that semester and the scores shot back up to a steady level over the next 2 years.

Now we have another highly questionable teacher - not inexperienced, just not engaged at all. So I am waiting with bated breath to see what unfolds with the MAP score. I have no other evaluation.

We have also checked out the strand scores to see where specific weaknesses lie and then supplementing those weaknesses at home.

That said, I am not arguing that the MAP is "the greatest". I just caution getting rid of it with nothing in its place.

Good point about ITBS - that would be a great substitute.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

Anonymous said...

Suep,

I am waiting to see the MAP and then, regardless, I will talk to the principal. I just wanted some data on this class first. I have daily sardonic reports from my child and know a few parents who have sat in on the class. I have written to the teacher a few times in order to shake loose a few test scores. I get long rambling excuse-filled replies from the teacher.

It is a problem that the principal is well aware of.
I don't want to dwell too much on the particulars here as it is already a massive issue at HIMS. Well-known and well-chewed over.

I just get a little hot under the collar when everyone opts out without another, hopefully better, metric to take its place. The MSP scores haven't been too useful for me because they don't tell me much. They all just say "4" Math, "4" Science and so forth.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Have any group of Hamilton parents gone to the Executive Director? Because this principal sounds like a problem (at least for math).

Anonymous said...

She's new this year and still feeling her way with a long-standing situation that was not dealt with by the previous principal.

Many, including myself, are optimistic for the long-term. But I am not happy that this problem has not been dealt with in an effective manner.

- Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS.

Anonymous said...

Suep,

I didn't think Disappointed's comment was snarky or uninformed, it merely wasn't one you shared. One the contrary, your response was disdainful and condescending. Please try to be more respectful of differing opinions on this blog. Let's stay civil...this blog is a source of info and if we stifle all contrary opinions, it is not much use. And FWIW, many, many people have contacted the principal at HIMS about 6th grade math.

-Let's all get along

suep. said...

@ Let's

You don't think "a band wagon to nowhere" is a snarky and dismissive way to describe a carefully considered, individual decision by a growing number of parents to opt their kids out of excessive standardized testing?

Then we'll have to disagree on that.

I have told Disappointed that it's great that MAP has been helpful for her/his family. But I also feel we need to acknowledge the various reasons why so many people (parents, teachers, librarians) are increasingly opposed to MAP and why it is considered unreliable and costly.

--Which in turn underscores why those who opt-out have legitimate reasons to do, and are not merely jumping on some kind of mindless "bandwagon."

Anonymous said...

I would be disappointed if there wasn't at least one standardized test each year to use to evaluate my kids' education in a "standardized" way (knowing all the caveats of standardized tests very very well). I would not want these scores to be used to evaluate teachers at all.

But the amount of time that's spent on MAP is an issue, as is its potential misuse, including teaching to the tests. I do worry that these issues are sufficiently problematic that I could just find another standardized test to administer to my child to use for my own evaluation purposes. I don't actually like the Singapore tests (which are too algorithmic for my math interests), but there that could be administered and scored at home. That's an alternative to keep in mind for those of you who like the tests but are worried about their use.

zb

Anonymous said...

Suep,

Agree to disagree. I wish your tone was as measured and polite as "Disappointed." I actually agree with you on the test thing, but your tone makes me want to sign up my kids for extra MAP tests just for solidarity with "Disappointed."

-Let's

Anonymous said...

Melissa-

I just want to back up what "Disappointed in APP at HIMS. Not opting out of MAPS (sic)" said about the principal knowing about this math teacher. I have personally told her, too. I also have told Bob Vaughan about the issue.

The 6th grade parents last year were also very vocal about the issue. Nothing has been done. It's as bad this year as it was last year.

To say a positive thing about HIMS - Mr Rowe is just as awesome as we had heard.

-another disappointed parent at HIMS

Anonymous said...

Re: teacher issues

Parents have gone through the process of expressing concerns, documenting, meeting with the principal and cc'ing the Executive Director. They were expressing similar complaints as parents from previous years. Now another group of parents is doing the same. At a certain point, you give up and realize you just have to provide the support to your child at home. This of course makes it seem like all is well and the cycle continues...

been there as well

Anonymous said...

To the various 'Disappointeds' out there.

Have you ever thought that perhaps the reason nothing is happening is that you're wrong? That you don't understand the situation? That while you are an advocate for your specific child or even for 5 or 8 or 10 children that the approach is working for the other 140 children under the care and attention of that teacher?

I find the anonymous libel, gathering of allies, and exclusion of a teacher to be little more than cyber-bullying. That is what is being done here. Simply because people can comment anonymously does not give carte blanche for being cruel.

That being said you must also realize that NO teacher is 'perfect' for all students and no student is perfect for all situations and programs. If your child is receiving district mandated material in a professional and consistent manner that is beneficial to the vast majority of students then that teacher is doing their job admirably.

If YOUR particular student needs/wants tutoring then by all means get them a tutor.

If YOUR student is not meeting your desire for their learning in a subject then perhaps placing them in a higher math class or simply supplementing at home? That is your job and you're doing it.

Teachers are not the private tutor to 150 students a day. They teach, mentor, and do a myriad other duties throughout the day. Your job as a parent is to supplement when needed. That's not optional. It is simply your job. This comes in many forms...encouraging your kids to read better books, talking about subjects that interest you, modeling good behavior such as not cyber-bullying, or engaging them in outdoor activities or art.

That's parenting.

I see a lot of concern here but refrain from thinking you know all about a teacher before looking at what teachers are supposed to do and are actually doing. Imagine perhaps someone will see what you are doing as a parent and complain to the relevant authorities about that? Simply because they disagree about what you are doing. It is the same situation. Assume competence and don't buy into the ridiculous myth that people who spend their lives educating young people are idiots. School staff assume parents are competent. Try and return the favor.

Also, perhaps the program isn't right for your vision of what your child needs. Don't treat that school like a purgatory for parents who can't send their kids private. It's abusive and demeaning to everyone involved including those complaining that with your one or two or five complaints that everything should be upended because you said so.

You should praise that principal for listening to you at all after the first time. They are not Customer Service Reps. Principals and teachers have a job to do and if your complaints have fallen on receptive ears who ultimately disagree with you...then you have been heard and you are in that situation wrong.

Continuing to repeat the same complaints over and over once you're decided against is harassment.

So please..reconsider your position in all aspects before committing these bullying and harrassing behaviors. It is unseemly and deeply counter-productive.

Try offering to help where you see deficiency and be part of the solution to the equation rather than a screaming outlier.

-Disappointed in this thread but not giving up on hope for change.

Anonymous said...

Isn't amazing that so many parents will do ANYTHING to improve a MAP score? INcluding homeschooling their kids. Then, they are oh so disappointed in this teacher or that math book? No wonder nobody listens to parents.

amazed

Jan said...

Disappointed:

I think the experience you are describing (and your support for the MAP that has resulted from it) is a valuable perspective. Like others, I think there are still enough horrible things about the way the MAP is administered, its use (as a gateway to APP, for teacher evaluations, etc), its cost, etc. that we should get rid of it. But I think what you have written exposes a very interesting line of debate (and probably one where there is much valid disagreement) on the availability and use of testing in general -- even where the MAP issues (misuse as a teacher evaluation tool, expense, space and time consumption, inability to ever know what questions your child answered correctly, etc.) are not involved.

Here is what I wish:
I wish that the only required tests were the MSPs and the EOCs (at the upper grades).
I wish that even these would not be used rigidly in teacher evaluation, although they could certainly be used in discussing other factors that show teacher effectiveness, etc.
I wish that the District then had a test -- or maybe two -- like the ITBS, that were administered perhaps once or twice in a child's career (3rd and 8th?) so that we have some clue of where the District stands in comparison with other districts nationwide.
I wish that the District had a way to make available (to parents and kids who want them) other forms of assessment -- which could include MAP. These tests would be administered at the parent's request, either downtown, or regionally, at preagreed times. Kids for whom testing is valid and parents who like these measurements could avail themselves of these resources. Families opposed to testing, or who have kids who are far enough from the norm on either end that the tests have little value could proceed through school without having their days disrupted, their libraries and computer labs taken over, and without having to battle the opt out procedures.

There is room (without abolishing ALL testing, and without imposing MAP on ALL kids K through 9 three times a year so we can more easily fire good teachers (or retain bad ones)) for a wide variety of testing resources in the District.

And, as for bandwagons -- I think on THIS issue, I am not a bandwagon jumper. I have a long-standing, reasonably based antipathy for MAP. BUT -- I concede your point. I have cried "huzzah" and jumped on any number of bandwagons in my day. Some took me to good places. Others (I remember the days when I thought the nascent tea party was a broad-based democratic movement to wrest influence from big corporations and their money and return it to citizens and voters -- HA!) I had to scramble back off of -- and hope nobody saw me there.

On MAP, it is really a cost/benefit analysis -- and clearly many (including me) think that the cost of its current implementation far outweighs any benefit (and results in actual harm). But for those who have found it not only a useful measure for their children -- but the ONLY useful measure in a situation where they legitimately think their child could be losing ground,I can understand why a parent of that mindset would be frustrated at the overwhelmingly negative light that MAP is cast in by others.

Melissa Westbrook said...


"I find the anonymous libel, gathering of allies, and exclusion of a teacher to be little more than cyber-bullying."

Whoa! That's a big statement. Parents are entitled to say they are unhappy and if there are several of them, then yes, you have to wonder. Every parent is entitled to go to the principal or Executive Director with their concerns.

"...be part of the solution to the equation rather than a screaming outlier."

What would you have them do differently?(and fyi, I hear no screaming here, just concern)

Also, this is an Open Thread so you can change the subject anytime.

Just Saying said...

If you can't make the rally against Michelle Rhee, please consider calling Elliot Bay Bookstore to express your disappointment that they are hosting this event. 206-624-6600

Jan said...

amazed: would anyone actually homeschool a child just to improve a MAP score? Since they don't know what will be on the test, and every test is different for every child, what parent would DO that?

On the other hand, I know lots of parents who, when their kids went from loving to hating math, reading, whatever -- or when they discovered their fourth graders did not know multipliation tables (because that is what calculators along with "best guessing" are for), decided that they had to do something and supplemented at home what clearly wasn't being covered in school.

Po3 said...

I don't think parents are supplementing to improve their students MAP score, but instead supplementing because their MAP score, represents that the student is getting poor instruction and/or curriculum.

The supplementation results in improved scores.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The district has availed us parents of NO OTHER useful metric for evaluating our students' progress

I agree with the above.

I have 2 kids in elementary, and I appreciate some objective measure of their progress. 3 a year allows us to see a trend.

As for the time spent taking the test, it's as good a use of time as many of the things they do in class. It's only an hour per test, and now that my older daughter has taken so many tests, she's become quite confident at test taking, and did really well on the ISEE and the MSP as well. I think at least some of her good score is attributable to being used to seeing and answering problems in a testing situation.

YMMV

Scott said...

At the risk of sounding too rosy - I have to say I just had a great experience this morning touring Washington Middle School with my 5th grade daughter. Sure, they are getting no BEX $ (despite the fact the school could use a facelift and they already have many portables) and they have to admin too many stupid tests for the state and district, BUT walking around the school and into the classrooms reminded me that there is a real kind of magic going on anyway. Most of the teachers were downright impressive. Principal Halfaker is clearly dedicated, his own kids attend there (his wife even led one of the tours). The students were sweet and funny and dorky (all things middle schoolers should be). The diversity was striking to me - not just that there are significant numbers of black and white students wandering the same halls, but just a very broad array of people - kids in various cultural headdress, a dizzying number of different cultures and languages and sub-sub-groups, etc. It was intoxicating. And chaotic. But sincere and serious in the right ways as well. There are a lot of problems with this district, but the magic is still happening where it counts. I'm excited that my kids have this opportunity to be a part of it.

JB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@Scott,
I think seeing a school in action is a terrific way to get a feel for what is going on at that school. I am envious that Washington offers this; Hamilton does not--just one open house late in the decision-making season (2/28).

I get the feeling HIMS is trying to discourage kids, or at least not make much effort to encourage them. For kids making the move from neighborhood school to APP, this makes the decision difficult.

doubt we'll make the change

Melissa Westbrook said...

Scott, you went to a public middle school tour and had a great experience? Huzzah! It's okay to feel good about what you saw and thank you for saying that.

Anonymous said...

What does being "part of the solution" look like? Teaching the class for them? Preparing their class materials? I really don't know what a parent is supposed to do when the class does not meet basic expectations.

inquiring parent

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

True the district does not provide good, ready-made, user-friendly assessment results for parents to use, but I'm not sure exactly why parents feel such a strong need for these. If you're curious as to whether or not your child is learning, it seems a lot more meaningful and informative to sit down with them while they're doing their homework, ask them to explain things to you, try giving them new but related problems to try, etc. I feel like I learn a lot more about what my child does and does not know from MY CHILD, rather than from unreliable MAP tests or not-very-useful report cards.

Yes, MAP allows us to see trends over time, but in our experience those trends don't really reflect instruction that's happening at school so much as our own supplementation. I look at the MAP scores along the same lines as those growth curves you get from the the pediatrician--they tend to rise over the long haul, whether you have teachers who are good, mediocre, or bad. It's just that in the latter case(s) it's usually due to parent supplementation.

If I were really worried that my child wasn't learning anything or that the teacher was boring and turning my child off the subject, would I rely on MAP scores to perhaps misleadingly put my mind at ease? Absolutely not. I'd do something about the instruction! I feel like parents like the false reassurance they get from rising MAP scores.

We monitor and supplement, we are confident this results in learning, and thus we do not feel the need to MAP.

HIMSmom

An "Average" growth score Teacher said...

The 6th grade, APP math teacher at HIMS is placed (based on MAP scores) in the "strong teacher" realm. Only 12 teachers in the entire district received this placement. It seems a little odd that parents blogging here are disappointed with her given her MAP growth scores are so high. ? Even if MAP is a poor test, a teacher would have to be strong to score such high growth on MAP. In fact, she is receiving more money than her colleagues based on her high MAP growth scores.

Anonymous said...

Which is why parents who supplement should opt their children out of MAP tests in whichever subjects they provide supplementation! It's unfair to the other teachers.

And if you really need a MAP score for reassurance, what about doing one test a year? I assume they can't calculate teacher effectiveness from that, since any comparison measure would represent the "contribution" of multiple teachers.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Also a HIMS mom here--

My current 7th grader liked Ms T, who I think is being referred to above. I agree with Disappointed above-- don't assume she wasn't workable for all kids. She took special care and even sent my child a special note saying my child's hard work was appreciated.

Fan of APP 6th grade math teacher

hschinske said...

"My kid actually had higher algebra strand scores the Fall a year BEFORE she started algebra than she did after taking half a year of it"

My son dropped 12 points on his first MAP test under Gary Pounder (hint: not a weak teacher by anyone's standards that I ever heard of). He subsequently went up 7 points, so ended the year lower than the spring before, despite having done well under an excellent teacher.

There was nothing at all wrong with the previous teacher (Mr. Buchanan), but there was no magic he applied that Mr. Pounder didn't, and as far as I could see my son wasn't working any harder that year. It was just the regular snakes-and-ladders game you get with scores at the high end of the scale.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

HIMS mom,

I am fully aware of what my kids are capable of. I am not always clear on what they should know at their age. Yes, I have looked at the OSPI site for standards, but it is not always clear to me exactly what level of skill is expected. I like having a standardized test score that shows me where my kids are vs. a national cohort. If there is a better standardized test, I'll like that one better.

It's not "reassurance", it's information.

YMMV

Anonymous said...

For those coming to APP from non-APP elementary schools, the 6th grade HIMS math class may cover more new material than for those coming from elementary APP. Wouldn't this greater coverage of topics result in higher MAP scores for those students? If half the students are new to APP and leapfrogging to 8th grade level math, it stands to reason that a high level of growth will be seen. More topics = higher MAP score. Does Washington see a similar increase in scores?

curious

Anonymous said...

Curious-

Excellent point. Almost 50% of kids are new to APP at 6th grade.

I also know a lot of parents who are supplementing at home to make up for what's missing. I know we are.

-Kahn Academy fan

Anonymous said...

Scott said "The diversity was striking to me - not just that there are significant numbers of black and white students wandering the same halls, but just a very broad array of people - kids in various cultural headdress, a dizzying number of different cultures and languages and sub-sub-groups, etc. It was intoxicating. And chaotic. But sincere and serious in the right ways as well. There are a lot of problems with this district, but the magic is still happening where it counts. I'm excited that my kids have this opportunity to be a part of it."

Well Scott, guess who ISN'T allowed to attend Washington Middle School? Guess what kind of diversity is not valued by Principal H and the team? Guess what future citizens your kids and all the other kids in that great diverse mix won't ever be learning to rub elbows with and probably will not ever be taught that it is possible?

reader

suep. said...

@ Average Growth teacher,
If what you say is true, that helps explain that teacher's eagerness to have kids take the MAP. And it underscores how inaccurate and distorting MAP is as a teacher evaluation tool.

I can't agree with this presumption though: "Even if MAP is a poor test, a teacher would have to be strong to score such high growth on MAP." Not true. My kid, and various others, progressed through 6th grade math in spite of this teacher, not because of her. (And the "high growth" on a test belongs to the student, not the teacher.)

@ Disappointed in this thread -- I'm not sure I fully understand what you are trying to convey, but fyi, there are parents on this thread and over at the APP Blog who have had extensive firsthand experience with this teacher. Their concerns are real.

Scott said...

@reader, ??? Enlighten me.

Adam said...

Don't be fooled Scott. There may be kids of many colors and cultures at Washington, but there's still a clear line between APP and "gen ed" kids. APP is still predominantly white, and because of scheduling, the kids don't mingle much other than that passing in the halls you saw.

Don't get me wrong-it's still a good school. The principal is dedicated, most of the teachers are great, and the guidance counselors loop with the kids so the have the same class for all three years. But it's still more like two schools in one.

And I think "reader" is talking about special ed. But I don't want to put words in his mouth.

Anonymous said...

If a parent supplements because they find the teacher weak, why would they have their child take the MAP? If your child is in APP in 6th grade, of what value is MAP? It's not too late to opt out for Spring. All it takes is a quick email to the principal and the school test coordinator letting them know that you are opting your child out of MAP. You don't need to give a reason.

-we opt out

other side of coin said...

My child also liked that math teacher, and had a major improvement of her MAP scores and we did zero tutoring or supplementing at home.

Anonymous said...

For those that are commenting on the positive aspects of the discussed math class, are your children new to APP? The conflicting accounts are confusing to me. Is the teacher generally good for students that are learning the material as it is taught, but generally not good for students that find the material a repeat of previous years?

5th grade parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...be part of the solution to the equation rather than a screaming outlier."

"What would you have them do differently?(and fyi, I hear no screaming here, just concern)"

I, along with at least one other person, asked this question to one reader who said many of you were cyber-bullying over the math (and math teachers at Hamilton). And, yet silence.

I find this happens a lot. Someone makes a bombastic statement, seeming to want to silence or shame others and their statements and wags a finger and says "be part of the solution."

So you ask, "Okay, what would you suggest?" and there's dead silence.

I suggest that some who point the finger at others saying their words are mean or bullying and then will not back up their OWN words are also part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

5th grade parent:

I have been wondering the same thing. My kid started in APP in 2nd grade and is having a miserable time this year in 6th grade HIMS HH math. The other continuing APP kids I know are also unhappy in the class.

I only know one new APP family, and they are not happy either. A bit of the problem is CMP because so much of CMP 8 is a repeat of CMP 7. Students new to the program will not have as much repetition.

Math is being redesigned next year at HIMS. I don't know if it will be better or worse.

-hoping for better

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

Who reader? Non APP & non ref area kids? Are you saying there is no special ed at Washington? If so, you're wrong. When Meany reopens, even more kids won't go to Washington. Is there something evil about not having overcrowded schools? WSDWG

Anonymous said...

6th grade math was not easy for us. But I second HIMSmom who inquired as to whether you sit down with your kid when they do their homework. It's the best answer to "what else is there besides the MAP" - by a long-shot. We resorted to online courses and Algebra for Dummies to get through what was primarily a crappy curriculum, taught by an unmotivated 6th grade math teacher who hated the curriculum as much as the kids did. Who can blame them, entirely, when the district ties their hands like that?

The problem is multi-faceted, but from what I've seen at HIMS, it seems the biggest problem is an ineffective principal not up to the task. Would he be there if not for TFA affiliations? Hmmm. WSDWG

Maureen said...

Yay Scott!!

...not giving up hope says: NO teacher is 'perfect' for all students and no student is perfect for all situations and programs.

I just had this conversation with a friend after the Michelle Rhee talk last night. Rhee acted as though anyone can tell a "good" teacher from a "bad" teacher just by observing them quickly. As my friend and I were leaving the talk, we ran into another parent who started complaining about two teachers my friend and I thought were absolutely fabulous (life changing, really) for our kids. That parent went on to complain about the teachers her kid had had over the intervening four years. I really do like and respect that woman, but at some point you have to wonder how much of this is the teacher and how much is the kid (or more likely the parent.)

I do hope that when parents have issues with a teacher, they aren't discussing those issues with their child. IMHO that gives a kid 'permission' to disrespect the teacher and that doesn't help anyone.

That said, we all know that there are teachers who need help, there are channels to deal with that and it does sound like these APP parents are pursuing those. It's up to the principal to evaluate the teacher. If ineffective teachers don't improve, that is the principal's responsibility.

But I think hoping's point is really important: just because a teacher isn't a great fit for your kid, don't assume they aren't working for anyone else.

And please do opt out of MAP if you are supplementing in any significant way. Use the online tests someone linked to above to evaluate your kids progress yourself.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank Maureen; always the voice of reason and calm.

Anonymous said...

Hamilton has a new principal this year (also new to the district). Time will tell whether she is able to bring some cohesiveness and professionalism back to some of the teaching staff.

@HIMS

Charlie Mas said...

I think we should be clear that the MAP boycott by the Garfield teachers was driven, in significant part, by the pointlessness of the test for 9th graders. That wouldn't apply to students in other grades, so a boycott of the MAP for 9th grade students should not be extrapolated to 6th grade students.

I would also like to say that parents should express concerns about the quality of their children's education, such as a teacher they regard as ineffective. They should express concerns first to the teacher, then, as necessary, up the chain to the principal and the education director. I think it appropriate to mention those concerns - discretely - on a forum such as this. It could be that the problem is specific to their child or a few children who just don't mesh well with the teacher or the problem could be widespread, but we can never know either way if the family doesn't speak up.

I'm glad that there was someone who raised this possibility (of a personal style mismatch) and there was someone who could make a positive report about the teacher. It was helpful to hear both of these views.

Silence, however, is not helpful. Neither is gossip or slander, but I didn't read any gossip or slander here. I read genuine and specific concerns.

It is, of course, easy to blame the instructional materials. CMP II is atrocious. That doesn't excuse the teacher, who is free to supplement. In fact, the teacher is free to rely primarily or even entirely on supplemental materials.

No kidding. CMP II is a disaster and teachers who adhere to it - unless they have an extraordinary talent - will miseducate their students and teach no math at all. The proper response is to simply replace the materials.

Anonymous said...

Charlie said, I think we should be clear that the MAP boycott by the Garfield teachers was driven, in significant part, by the pointlessness of the test for 9th graders. That wouldn't apply to students in other grades, so a boycott of the MAP for 9th grade students should not be extrapolated to 6th grade students.

I have to disagree with you on this. For students working well above grade level, they are confronting the same issues as those taking it as 9th graders. The results are somewhat meeaningless if you are hitting the upper limits of the test, no matter what the grade. What's the point of taking it year after year once you've hit its useful limit?

-we opt out

other side of coin said...

Actually my student entered APP in 1st grade, we are not new to this. She has gone on to be successful in 7th grade math as well. There is a feeling at HIMS that everyone thinks this teacher is terrible, and that all students hate her. This is not true, but if you voice that opinion around HIMS, you will be regarded as if something is clearly wrong with you (you aren't paying attention, haven't actually met the teacher, is what was said to me, neither of which is true) OR WORSE, something is wrong with your child. I was told the reason my child liked the teacher is because she is a girl and the teacher shows preference to girls. I have no idea if that is true, that is what I was told. Counter opinions are not appreciated at HIMS, I have learned, so I keep my mouth shut. It might be why you don't hear the other side of the story much. Bottom line, I agree with Charlie, CMP is awful any way you slice it. This teacher is not a demon, and my student continues to thrive in and enjoy math. If her standardized test scores are anything to go on, that is.

Linh-Co said...

I've never heard of teachers being rewarded financially for a higher MAP score. Could you point me to the source?

I was a former teacher of Seattle Public schools and my students made as much as 25 percentile growth in a year. I had many students meeting two digit growth on the MAP. I can say I never received any "bonus".

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in getting an internet safety speaker to come to our PTSA meeting. Something mostly geared to parents but also to middle school kids. I find there is so much tech interfacing among middle schoolers and sense that many parents are unaware. Not just facebook but Instagram, Tumblr etc.

Does anyone have any speaker leads on this topic?

I know the police will come but I was hoping to find some resources for speakers on this topic outside of law enforcement. Or perhaps even set up a panel with both.

Thanks
ptsa pres-mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

PTSA pres mom, I know there's a speaker out there because we had someone at Roosevelt but it was long ago. I'll see if I can find out who it was.

Jan said...

we opt out: I think whether a parent would have a child take MAP even if they are heavily supplementing at home depends on what the parent is trying to determine (for purposes of this post, all of this assumes that the test delivers valid answers -- which is not something I concede, as many parents indicate their kids scores bounce all over from test to test.

If what you want to know is how your child scores in comparison with all the other kids who take MAP -- regardless of whether he learned the material at school, at home, or from a passing spaceship -- then taking the MAP makes sense.

If what you want to know is whether your child is learning the information in school -- or whether the teacher is teaching it to him/her, then obviously home supplementation is a huge thumb on the scale, and you should opt out as you have "contaminated your specimen" -- so to speak.

The unspoken issue here is that since the district is hellbent on using the test to evaluate teachers, kids who have been "contaminated" by out-of-school supplementation screw it up for everybody. They make weak teachers look good. They make good teachers teaching in classes where families do not have the time, money, or knowledge to supplement look like they are weaker teachers than their brethren teaching in classrooms where families DO supplement. And they make teachers who teach special ed kids look bad -- which in the end will cause teachers who want to keep their jobs to decline to take, or to discriminate against, those kids.

I don't feel like I have any right to tell "not opting out" -- or any other worried parent looking for feedback on how their child is doing -- not to take the MAP. But I hope that all parents are mindful of our need to be good "stewards" of our resources -- and teachers are an incredible resource. If we set up a system that unfairly evaluates good teachers as being not good teachers, we lose good resources, and we encourage OTHER good teachers to find other districts, where they will be treated more fairly, in which to teach. Neither of these outcomes is good for our kids.

Anonymous said...

I have lost track of the NSAP tie-breaker transition changes.

I know we lost the waldman/barnhardt process for 1st choices.

If I choose Ingraham reg. program for 1st choice (not our reference school)& then choose APP/IBX for my 2nd choice (did test in) do I have a guarantee for the IBX program or do I give that up by not making it our first choice?

I am not sure how much of a risk I am taking with the order of our choices.

- high school enroller

netter said...

@ptsa pres-mom; re: internet safety

What school is this, and do you have a tentative date? I have a lot to offer on the topic, but not a credentialed speaker. However, I would like to attend as a parent and contribute to the conversation.

Please keep us up to date here on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Kahn Academy ... Sal Kahn presents in Seattle.

The Video Presentation is HERE

-- Dan Dempsey

Maureen said...

high school enroller, Have you by any chance asked the Ingraham head counselor about this? It may be that you can take the guaranteed IBX seat and just 'drop down' to regular Pre-IB once you are signed up for the school. (I don't know if anyone has done this, but I can imagine it could be possible.)

Anonymous said...

Is there an actual breakdown of the demographics of APP?

I see everyone slinging around the APP=white comment, but no evidence to back that up other than anecdotal.

--curious

Anonymous said...

@ptsa-pres mom, if you are looking for someone to talk about internet safety with more of a focus on sexuality, try Jo Langford: http://www.beheroes.net/#/for-parents/4572356491

He's doing an event soon at the Phinney Neighborhood Center.

He's great. And he's an SPS parent, too.

SPS mom of 2

Future BFDay Dad said...

@curious

In sum, out of 3,803 students in K-12 enrolled in advanced placement programs in Seattle, 2,578 of them were listed as white, not of Hispanic origin.

I get that number from the last page of this document: click here.

If I read this chart right, it tells me that 12.3% of all white students are in some APP program or other throughout SPS, and that is far and away the highest percentage.

Anonymous said...

If you read the linked report, the "Advanced Placement" programs = Spectrum + APP.

fyi



"Average Growth" Teacher said...

LIn-Ho,
Go to the SEA web-site or district web-page--it explains about career ladder opportunities for high growth scores on both the MAP and MSP. Each building has a teacher designated for the "career ladder" track and the money they get is considerably higher than what I am making as an "average" growth teacher. We are invited to observe these "stars" teach so that we can imitate them. This is why they get more dough.

mirmac1 said...

Ptsa pres mom, Det Stefanie Thomas is extraordinary. She's addressed parents at Madison, and she's returning to talk to students.

There a great speaker with the Seattle Girl's School. I'll post her name later.

Anonymous said...

So if I'm reading the demographic breakdown right, for both APP AND Spectrum, the black population is about 3% in middle school DISTRICT WIDE, and the Hispanic population is about 4%? And at Washington, the black population is 30%, and the Hispanic kids are 10%?

As I was saying-you're not going to see too many of the non-white kids in APP, unless they are Asian, at roughly 20% representation both in APP/Spectrum and overall. It's not a new problem-the numbers haven't changed as far back as the report goes. But again, don't be fooled by that wonderful rainbow you saw in the halls. The kids don't even mix at lunch.

Adam again

Anonymous said...

BTW-got the Washington demographics from the school report on the district website.

Adam again

BF Day lunch supervisor said...

Maybe the children don't mix at lunch at Washington, but in the SPectrum program at BF Day, the children of different ethnic backgrounds not only mix but racial differences are barely noticed. For them, all children are different and "race" is just one difference. Friendships are made w/o regard to the differences. I speak as if I know these children intimately and I do, I monitor the lunches there. Spectrum children of all races are friends with Spectrum children of all races. But Day is in the northend. This couldn't happen in the Southend--still a lot of division there.

Anonymous said...

The measurement of student growth for teacher evaluations has some interesting facets -

1) For MAP, growth is based on a Spring to Spring MAP calculation, not Winter to Spring. That means any summer learning is rolled into the growth score. This is obviously true for MSP as well (Spring to Spring).

2) Because of the way growth is evaluated - based on scores of a comparable group of students - a student that scores a perfect score one year and a lower score the next can still show positive growth. (see video 5 on ceiling effect)

4 scores are calculated and averaged - 2 for the MSP and 2 for the MAP. There is a student growth score (SGP) and a teacher "value-added" score (VAM) for each test.

The videos:

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?sessionid=15d504b9f51c0cd69bdf93984ae21b69&pageid=235615&sessionid=15d504b9f51c0cd69bdf93984ae21b69

parent

Anonymous said...

BF Day Supervisor-I'd EXPECT the kids in the SAME program to hang out together, as you say you see daily, but I was talking about kids in APP vs. non-APP kids lunching together, sitting together, etc. THAT is not happening much at Washington, in part because of scheduling, in part because they self-segregate. We specifically asked Mr. H and some of the teachers about it and they all agreed they'd like to see more socialization between the groups, but it just didn't happen.

I think it most certainly COULD happen in the south end, it just isn't encouraged. APP in particular is much more heavily Caucasian than Washington's total population. By just existing at a school overwhelmingly minority populated, there's a division. That can be tough to breech.

Adam again (whose kid has friends from all the groups being mentioned both in and out of school)

mirmac1 said...

PTSA mom,

you might consider Rosetta Lee rlee@seattlegirlsschool.org

https://sites.google.com/site/sgsprofessionaloutreach/scnmitz-park-elementary-parents-gender-bias-aggression