Friday, March 28, 2014

Seattle Schools and Technology

Someone asked a question in the Friday Open Thread about a Special Ed program and that led to SpedPTA president, Mary Griffin, to say this (and she calls it a rant alert and warning but really, it's a huge district-wide issue):

I am not a fan of data sharing, but I am a fan of useful data collection and accessibility within the district.

The district right now is suffering greatly from the lack of usable, easily accessible data. 

 Not having good data means that the Director of Special Education needs to spend two weeks going through all the student records identifying which students receive Special Education services. 

 Not having good data means they can't get their ducks in a row to even fill out the forms to request $12 million dollars to fund Special Education. 

Not having good data interferes with enrollment predictions for next year and hampers communication about the location of classrooms. 

Not having good data means even though they have a federal investigation staring down their throats, SPS can not produce good data statistics around discipline. 

Particularly galling to me is that even though I spent several weeks of my life writing a position paper on the the disproportionate discipline that has been dished out on students with disabilities and tried to hammer out the point that the collection and dis-aggregation of these statistics to include students with disabilities was one of the most important things that the district needs to do, they aren't going to do it at all for the 2012-2013 school year. Why? BECAUSE IT ISN'T A PRIORITY! 

There is good evidence that providing principals about the use of exclusionary discipline in their buildings will help drive down the use of exclusionary discipline. By not being able to provide them and the public with data, the district is dis-serving students.

Additionally, the Special Education department's new external consultant's plan to improve the delivery of special education services to the district relies heavily on providing data to principals. If the districts infrastructure can not provide the data, I have little hope that the consultant's plan will be effective.

The district needs to make the collection and disaggregration of civil rights and special education data a top priority. It is hampering them and more importantly, it is hampering students. 

My comment:

I will also say that yes, data, its collection, its safeguards, its destruction after use (by outside contractors) AND its analysis are hugely important.

This is now the second time this week I have heard this story. The first was Transportation saying that the transfer from one technology system to another caused them to have to do a lot of work by hand.

That's just crazy talk in this day and age AND given how much the district has spent. (or not spent).

That parents/teachers struggle with The Source/Fusion, the public with the website and staff with using the technology is so wrong.

But, as I like to say to the Board, priorities, kids.


Anonymous said...

We have always known that groups who have been oppressed are not treated fairly. They are over-represented in disciplinary actions at schools and are later over-represented in prisons. They are very, very underrepresented in "advanced learning" and "gifted programs". The real reasons for these injustices are easy to see if you pay attention--trauma, poverty, prejudice, and other people putting their own first come to mind, for starters.

Data collection as envisioned by Gates and Company has the goal of changing the union-represented teacher model into something else.
If this massive data collection existed to make a positive impact on the students in question, it would have by now. Instead, it exists to measure teachers and schools by test scores, and to do longitudinal studies on the students who are pawns for this plan.

The damage that data will do to students who overcome life circumstances, despite a difficult past, will prove to be the most tragic outcome of this experiment.

The data money in this district and other districts is simply not for the purpose of helping at-risk students because the intention is for other purposes.

No surprise here.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

I among others have asked Supt Banda to clarify the District's stance on monitoring discipline incidents in Seattle Schools by disability status. According to the PRRs we have filed to obtain this data, the raw data is still floating around in the
system. Discipline statistics have not been disaagregated by
disability status for 2012-2013 or for the current year. This activity in our buildings is
not being monitored. SEAAC showed last year that the incidence of discipline of our students with disabilities is even higher than that for African American students. We explained that this is a strong indicator of discrimination: that instead of
implementing 504 and IEP plans and adjusting them as needed, building administrators are choosing to fall back on suspensions and expulsions of students with disabilities. In the context of the federal investigation of Seattle Schools on disproportionate discipline of students of color and the District's SPED Level 4 status with OSPI, it is difficult to understand the lack of attention and prioritization going on here. Personally, I do not know how we can collaboratively decrease the vulnerability to discrimination of our students with disabilities in Seattle Schools without a commitment at the highest levels to track this, one of the clearest indicators of their well being and FAPE. I hope the District clarifies its position on this matter and lets us know when these important statistics will be
analyzed and reported.

Anne S.