Issues with Test Scores for a Seattle School?

A letter sent out from Superintendent Nyland:

Dear Seattle Public Schools community,

 I’m writing today to let you know that on Wednesday we will receive our final state Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) test scores. 

Earlier this month, while reviewing preliminary data, we discovered an anomaly with Beacon Hill’s test results. We requested that the scores at Beacon Hill International School be reviewed by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). We hope to receive the results of that review in the next several weeks. 

Seattle Public Schools is conducting its own review of the situation, and is in the final stages of a review of our policies, procedures and practices related to testing. 

We will keep you informed as more information becomes available. Thank you for your patience as we review this matter. 

Sincerely, Dr. Larry Nyland Superintendent Seattle Public Schools

I do not see this letter at the SPS website but a parent received it and sent it along.  I'll have to ask about the "anomaly." 


Transparency Please said…
We'll see what happens, here. I expect to see more of this.

If SPS continues to work with the city, we will be attached to MAP and other regular tests..until a generation of children graduate.
Anonymous said…
This is about MSP, not MAP, yes? And this school year it will be Smarter Balanced Assessment - no more MSP.
mirmac1 said…
On the district website:

"Principals and some teacher leaders spent a week in mid-August attending the District’s School Leadership Institute at Garfield. They are gearing up for the start of school on Sept. 3.

For most of the week, the primary focus was assessments. Washington begins new state tests in reading, writing and math this spring, with Smarter Balanced tests replacing the Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) tests in grades 3-8. Eleventh-graders also will take the Smarter Balanced tests. The new tests reflect the new Common Core standards adopted by the state."

Great. The only training before school is on...testing. Not conformance with laws and policies. Not inclusive and supportive strategies for struggling students. Not how to most effectively engage families.

Anonymous said…
I received this voicemail/robocall from SPS on 8/21 that is similar to the other message about testing.

I have no idea if this means there is an issue with our school, my child (did my student fail the test?). No letter has arrived.

(Roughly transcribed by our voicemail system:)

""Hello this is Dr. Larry Nilan Interim Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. This is a brief message about Federal No Child Left Behind and testing. first(?).Thanks or dedicated teachers principals and staff our district continues to make progress in student success and graduation. Federal law however requires 100% of our students to pass our state test and to notify parents if we don't less than 3% by the way of all schools in Washington hit that Mark. So when you receive my letter in a few days. Please know that it does not mean your school has had a sudden change in performance more information in September. Will provide specific information on how well your school and your students are doing. We continue to work hard to make every school in and excellent school and prepare every student for success in school. Ready for college career and life. Enjoy the last few days of summer. Hello this is Seattle Public Schools are eager to welcome back each and everyone of our 52,000 students for the first day of school on September 3.Thank you and have a great day.""

- QAE Parent
Charlie Mas said…
I don't see the point of this sort of communication. It prompts questions but doesn't answer any.

No one would have asked about the test scores at Beacon Hill if they hadn't sent this out and no one knows anything more about the scores at Beacon Hill now that they have.

This sort of communication is only a negative. It serves no positive purpose and it makes trouble.
Anonymous said…
Craziness. First of all, standardized tests should indicate that a minimal (baseline) level of competency has been met, but with only 3% of schools passing at 100%, either our schools are doing a poor job or the standard of 100% is unreasonable. SPS is clearly implying the latter, but I agree that 100% passing of every child does sound unobtainable. I am wondering how WA schools compare to other states? Did other states have >3% of schools passing at 100%, or in prior years has this been the norm? I'm assuming SPS sent the voicemail b/c they are required to inform parents per NCLB, but it leaves parents in a perpetual state of worry.

Anonymous said…
Well. What percent is OK to fail? Superintendent Nyland seems to indicate that 100% is just too hard for schools to do. So, what amount is just fine? 90%? 75%?

Since we've established that it's OK to fail some kids, who should that be? ???

Will we be getting that call too? " Gee. 100% passing is really tough for us. Your child failed because we can't do students. It doesn't mean your school had gotten worse, it just means we don't care about your kind of kid. Thanks and have a great day."


Lynn said…
It's not a matter of whether it's acceptable that not all students will be proficient at grade level standards. It's just reality.
Students who enter the US who did not have access to school in their home countries will not often be working at grade level the following year. Some students will be sick the day they take the test. Some students don't care whether they pass the test. Passing or failing has no affect on them. 4% of the population has an IQ below 75. Are the grade level standards set so that these students can be proficient?

The 100% proficiency goal is not achievable - unless we drop the bar for proficiency.

Maybe it's beneficial that the bar cannot be met. We can set aside 20% of our Title I funding for tutoring services and stop wasting time on test prep.
Anonymous said…
Could you look into the cut scores for these tests? What percentage of problems do students need to answer correctly to receive a score of '3' or basic? I think I have found them on the OSPI website under state testing and testing statistics, but am appalled at how low the scores are. I hope I'm reading the chart wrong.

- Homeschool Parent
Lynn said…
Here's a link to the information on 2014 test results released by the state. You can check results for your child's school here.
Chris said…
I got the same message that QAE Parent got and also have the same questions. My son was at Eckstein last year and was moved to JAMS for 8th grade. Not even sure which school they are referring to.
Anonymous said…
Washington State Report Card Seattle Public Schools

Beacon Hill's scores aren't posted as they are under review. EOC data also seems incomplete. Testing statistics (cut scores, etc.) are not yet posted for 2014.

Po3 said…
If you created a timeline of your student to see their progression you couldn't because the measure in 1st grade isn't the same measure in 5th grade. And at the HS level, the changes in testing cause whiplash.

Here is the list of tests that have been used since 2000:

WASL-reading, math, science, writing (briefly)
DRA - reading
MSP - reading math science
HSPE - reading and ?
EOC - math and Science
and now add Smarter Balanced

In SPS add MAPs to that list.
Charlie Mas said…
On one hand, people seem to think that the schools are responsible for getting every student to pass the tests.

On the other hand, people want the tests to be rigorous enough to be meaningful.

So the proponents of rigor keep setting the bar higher while still demanding that the schools get every student to clear it.

These are contradictory goals. Find a balance and accept the compromise.
mirmac1 said…
Of course the Times gets the scoop from their friends at OSPI....

Seattle school under review for big jump in state test results
Anonymous said…
If I had time, I would make a graphic of test scores vs. changes in the FRL rate and demographics at Beacon Hill before and after it was designated an immersion school. Am guessing that middle class families have started flocking to the school and that is why test scores have risen. Of course, it may also be due to the fact that they are not stuck with Everyday math (and readers and writers workshop?) like they were before they went international. THere are lots of reasons other than cheating to explain the changes. The Seattle Times was too lazy or clueless to bother reporting them.

Charlie Mas said…
Gee, I thought the pass rate improvement was due entirely to Stephan Blanford being a parent there.
Anonymous said…
That's right, Charlie -- it's the Lake Woebegon problem (all the kids are above average), combined with whoever it was who said he wouldn't want to join any country club that would invite him (if everyone can pass the test, it must not be hard enough to mean anything)!


Po3 said…
Beacon Hill F/RL % has declined, slowly from May 08 reporting to May 14 reporting.

May 08 - 71.5
May 09 - 68.6
May 10 - 68
May 11 - 65
May 12 - 61
May 13 - 64
May 14 - 60

2012/13 test scores (reading/math)
3rd Grade - 67.5%; 77.9%
4th Grade - 76.9%; 71.7%
5th Grade - 65.4%; 74.5%

2008/09 Test scores
3rd Grade - 63.6%; 68.1%
4th Grade - 71.4%; 50.0%
5th Grade - 70.1%; 63.7

All things look fairly steady other than different tests were used in 2008/09 and math has improved, maybe due to a waiver or TERC V EDM?

So if the school reported 80-90% results this year, eyebrows would be would raised.
What makes me wonder is that I did a cursory check of several schools. It appears that many are making progress in reading/writing and not so much in math.

And yet Beacon Hill did great in reading and math. (Apparently the scores in writing were steady.)

That seems odd.
Anonymous said…
I bet Fairmont Park is one of the 3 schools that are not failing, only because it was not open last year. There is no way any public school could have 100% of students pass. I bet all of the schools that are not failing were not tested for one reason or another.

New schools?
Lynn said…
From the OSPI link above:
Schools can meet AYP in three ways:
100% proficiency: All students in all subgroups perform at grade level on all state tests.
Margin of error: Schools are close to 100% proficiency. “Standard error” is added to the actual percent meeting standard. The size of the margin of error varies by the size of the school: Smaller schools have larger margins of error.
Safe harbor: Schools reduce the percent of students not meeting standard by 27% (for schools that administered MSP this year) or 19% (for schools that administered the Smarter Balanced field test this year) from the percent that didn’t meet standard in 2011. The threshold for Smarter Balanced schools is lower because those schools are using their 2013 MSP results.

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