Early Warning Updates

I titled this thread "Early Warning" because I believe we are starting to see the signs of some major upheaval.

First, I'd like to just take a pulse about opting out.  If you feel comfortable, could you comment if you are opting your child(ren) out of the SBAC and at what school (or, if not the school, the region - NE, NW, Central, WS, SW or SE)?  You don't have to give grade level, gender or names, of course.  

As well, let us know if this is a source of open discussion or quiet discussion and if you are getting pushback from staff.

Next, I believe the Charter Commission will be releasing a statement soon - probably in the next couple of days - that they will either be suspending First Place Scholars' charter or closing it down entirely.  This will be sad but my impression is that the new Board/Director at First Place have not been able to meet the requirements set out by the Charter Commission when FP was placed on probation. 

Lastly, below is a letter from Chief Sealth teachers to the Nathan Hale Community.  It is a beautifully written letter and it has some key points that I want to pull out.

Dear Parents, Students, Teachers and Staff of Nathan Hale High School,

We, the undersigned teachers and staff at Chief Sealth International High School, are writing to you in a show of support for your efforts to forego administration of the SBA tests to your 11th graders. We object to this sort of testing and agree with your reasoning on the tests.

As a school with a high percentage of students with IEPs, English Language Learners, Black and Latino students, students that live in or near poverty, and other traditionally marginalized populations we expect to be particularly devastated by this invalid and unreliable measurement of our students. We are concerned that these students in particular, aside from being labeled failures continuously, will also be subjected to further testing, more so than other students. This model is not in the interest of our students. This test will serve to widen the achievement gap and decrease graduation rates.

We, like you, have struggled with the implementation of different and higher standards without the resources to support that implementation. Our Special Education department continues to be understaffed. Our building budget continues to lack the resources we need to prepare students to achieve the high standards required by this test. Of course, we support having high expectations for each and every student and supporting each and every student in developing their potential to the fullest, but have been frustrated with the lack of resources to make that happen. Implementation of this test will only serve to show us what we already know: our schools are not well-resourced enough to implement these much higher standards. We agree that this is unnecessary self-flagellation and not a wise use of spare educational resources. In particular, this testing comes at a time when our building is experiencing budget cuts where we are being forced to choose between student services and class offerings, an annual Sophie’s choice that the implementation of this test only exacerbates.

We further recognize the arbitrary nature of the “cut scores”--those scores that will determine proficiency on the test. We were shocked to learn that the scores were set by a select group who simply decided what they thought should be grade level proficiency. This does not reflect the evidence and research based practices to which we try to hold ourselves accountable.

We agree that it seems like more than a waste of time to implement this test to 11th graders in particular. These students will not see any benefit from having taken this test. These students have not been instructed to the Common Core standards so why would we assess whether they can perform to them? We wonder who does benefit from this implementation.

Of course we are operating in the same context as you are. A context in which our state legislature is being held in contempt for its unwillingness to adequately fund basic education in our state. As a result, in an environment of inadequate and declining Federal, State, and District funding and a new law tying teacher salaries to the results of this inadequate test, as Superintendent Larry Nyland says, “we are each being asked to do what seems daunting.” Of course, our hesitation earns us the label of having a “fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset.” We reject this formulation. In fact, we encourage growth and strive for growth every day, in ourselves and in our students. We would encourage District, State and Federal officials to adopt the same mindset and provide some growth in funding and resources.

We continue to believe that a world class education system that prepares students for college and career requires the investment of significant resources and cannot be done on the cheap by implementing new standards and tests. We recognize that this strategy has been attempted most recently with the latest iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, colloquially known as No Child Left Behind, and has been a miserable failure.

Thank you for taking this stand and know that you have the support of many of your fellow educators and community members. 

End of letter

This test will serve to widen the achievement gap and decrease graduation rates. 

I believe this thought is one that is echoing throughout the country.  I think ed reform has overstepped in its zeal in believing that they know what is best especially for underprivileged kids of color.   (I'll have a separate thread which speaks to this issue via, what I believe, is a particularly damning column in an ed reform blog.)

Of course, we support having high expectations for each and every student and supporting each and every student in developing their potential to the fullest, but have been frustrated with the lack of resources to make that happen.

Again, other meme for ed reform is that if you believe poverty is an issue in public education, then you believe poor children cannot learn and that teachers have lower expectations for those students.

Poverty is an issue in public education, should be addressed at the same time as public education issues but it does not mean that poor kids can't learn.  It's insulting to both the general public and teachers to hold that this is the main belief system for most people in those two categories. 

In particular, this testing comes at a time when our building is experiencing budget cuts where we are being forced to choose between student services and class offerings, an annual Sophie’s choice that the implementation of this test only exacerbates. 

And there is your early warning about school budgets. Schools are suffering from proposed budget cuts.

I have to write about the last Work Session that included school budgets but this feeling from Sealth teachers is exactly what I am hearing districtwide. 

However,  Budget's Linda Sebring told the Directors that principals were to be given a one-year hold on losing any more staff as principals said they just could not take this in-and-out of staff especially assistant principals, counselors and office staff.  (I will confirm this but it is what I believe Ms. Sebring to have said.) 

We were shocked to learn that the scores were set by a select group who simply decided what they thought should be grade level proficiency. This does not reflect the evidence and research based practices to which we try to hold ourselves accountable. 

Again, this accountability piece that gets pushed but without real research-based data.  

We agree that it seems like more than a waste of time to implement this test to 11th graders in particular. These students will not see any benefit from having taken this test. These students have not been instructed to the Common Core standards so why would we assess whether they can perform to them? We wonder who does benefit from this implementation. 

Take a test on information you haven't been taught that will not be reflected in your grades or ability to graduate..rather than being in class learning?  Yes, who benefits from this?

I truly hope that we all continue to rise up against this testing excess AND hold the Legislature's feet to the fire over McCleary.


Anonymous said…
Opting out, from Roosevelt.

Roosevelt Dad
Anonymous said…
What schools have started administering the test, and are students completing the test in the time allotted? Our middle school is planning on giving the tests during regular class time, but I thought the tests were untimed, so I wonder how this will play out. It looks as though they are allowing 4 class periods for each subject test (2 periods for the performance task and 2 periods for the computer adaptive portion, for both math and ELA), for a total of 8 class periods of testing. Students will have to start and suspend the test and hope their work is saved when they come back on day 2.

Anonymous said…
I opted my 6th grader out at Whitman. A look of surprise, but no comments one way or the other, just an "ok". I don't sense that this is on the radar with Whitman families.

Eric B said…
To the issue of funding, Principal Floe at Ingraham showed the decrease in discretionary money in the budget he was given. He got slightly more staff but a marked decrease in discretionary money (~200K if I recall correctly). That was forcing many tough choices.

It was also noted that the budget was based on an unrealistically low student population estimate.
Anonymous said…
An update from Olympia: I just watched via Internet the public hearing of the bill that proposes tying teachers to test scores. A lot of division of opinion within groups: superintendents, teachers, parents, etc. There were multiple panels of people testifying for and against, in equal number. Both Clover Codd from SPS and a representative of Tacoma's district (headed by ex-SPS CAO Carla Santorno) testified in favor of the bill. Wayne Au made a compelling case against, as did a young student.

Tomiko-Santos ran an excellent meeting - well paced and in control. Tomiko-Santos noted a huge overflow of people there to observe and testify. They filled at least three other rooms, maybe more.

At the end of the hearing Tomiko-Santos gave a nod to the people who had signed in but had not testified. At least 5 were in favor of tying teachers to test scores. More than 300 were not. Guessing teachers arrived in Olympia in force and made quite a public statement.

Tomiko-Santos certainly had enough cover to scuttle the bill if she wishes. There was nothing new I heard at the meeting that seemingly would sway those whose minds were previously made up. I think the bill is in trouble, but that is only a prediction, knowing nothing of the deal-cutting behind the scenes which is probably substantial.

Anonymous said…
Opting out at Hale.

Anonymous said…
Forced to seat my 10th grader at Ballard. I believe testing starts in LA classes next week and will continue until complete.

Here's hoping for a "passing score!"

Ballard parent
Anonymous said…
Opting 11th grader out at GHS.

-garfield Mom
Anonymous said…
I have a 9th grader at Roosevelt, so we won't have to make this choice (although we will opt her out next year). That said, I don't see a whole lot of awareness of this issue among the parents at Roosevelt. There was one PTA meeting about it that wasn't really named very well so folks didn't know what it was about--and it was attended by a tiny number of parents. I've been trying to raise awareness by talking to loads of folks about it, but everyone I talk to kind of thinks the following (based on very little information):

1) the Common Core curriculum and its testing is just another word for what we've already been doing (don't forget, this is a group of parents who have been dealing with uber-testing of their kids since day one)

2) Since they are used to testing, they don't understand the difference that the SBAC brings. We've been subjected to so may acronyms of tests over the years with our kids--some of which are just re-named versions of former tests for all intents and purposes--that it seems like the school district is just re-naming stuff for unknown reasons

Ballard Parent: When you say you were "forced to seat" your student, what does that mean?

Roosevelt Mom
Anonymous said…
Opting out 3rd and 5th grade at Bryant.

Bryant Parent
Anonymous said…
The SBAC is the test that 10th graders are being given to meet the state Reading and Writing requirements to graduate. No HSPE option available, which is what has been given in the past.

My understanding is you can't initiate an alternative assessment to meet the Reading and Writing requirements unless you have taken (and failed) the SBAC.

So, hence my use of the word "forced" otherwise I would opt out and had my student take the HSPE instead.

Ballard Parent
Anonymous said…
Out of 96 students in 3rd grade only 3 opted out. (Per the administration at our last PTA mtg). Schmitz Park

WS Mom
Anonymous said…
From what I saw and heard TOPS opted out at more than five percent. Maybe higher than 10 percent? Appropriate for a school focused on social justice.

TOPS dad
Ingraham mom said…
My Ingraham 11th grader is opting out. So are all her friends that she's talked to (maybe half a dozen more?).

They are thinking about standing the the halls at lunch handing out refusal forms and other information this week- I hope they actually do and that other kids join in the campaign as well.

For those who have passed the HSBE, this test is an utter waste.

Anonymous said…
Opting out 6th grader at McClure

Anonymous said…
Opted out at Lincoln and Eckstein and was the only one at Eckstein when I submitted paperwork a few weeks ago.

Eckstein did some testing a week ago--4 class periods allotted per test. I guess kids did a quarter of the test each day. My kid went to the library--no issue whatsoever!

E&L mom
Anonymous said…
Opted out at Lincoln.

Lincoln mom
Anonymous said…
Garfield 11th Grade ASB is posting the op-out form online to Class of 2016 and encouraging kids to opt out.

The GHS teachers are staying out of it...not openly encouraging, not discouraging. Trying to lay low I think.

-Garfield Mom
Linh-Co said…
Opting our 11th grader at Ingraham.
Anonymous said…
50/50 for my middle schooler. Opting out of the subject in which we homeschool, and my kid wants to take it in the other subjects. This kid is not too worried about the ultimate scores at this point, and is curious about the test and figures there might be some interesting reading passages or writing prompts. He thinks it might be just as interesting as regular lessons, so seems to be looking at it primarily as a chance of pace.

FYI, our school hasn't done much in the way of test prep yet. If that changes, there's a chance that his increased familiarity with the test/format might cause him to change his tune, in which case we'd likely opt out completely. Regardless of what happens this year, I suspect next year will be a full opt-out year after the novelty has worn off.

Anonymous said…
Not opting out at a NW elementary. Haven't heard much chatter either way among parents. School is being informative, but not attempting persuasion either way.

Anonymous said…
Opting out in West Seattle. I have a 2nd grader, anybody know how I opt out of Spring MAP?
Anonymous said…
Opted out 11th grader at Ingraham. Undecided about 5th grader. I'm planning on looking at the sample test with her and getting her input, although (I confess I got this idea from another parent) but given my opinions on testing and bad software I may not be able to be unbiased. To me the best reason to take it is "Well, if it's not too frustuating, you could use the typing practice."

Chris S.
Anonymous said…
Opting our 5th grader out at K-5 STEM in West Seattle

West Seattle Parent
Anonymous said…
Opted out at John Rogers.

- North-end Mom
Maureen said…
My Ingraham 11th grader is opting out as well. The school has actually set up additional late dates for the exams (5/21-22) aimed at the IBx 11th graders so they don't have to miss 8 hours of HL (Higher Level) History right before they sit for their IB exams. I guess it's good to know someone is being responsive. I'm feeling kind of cynical about it though (someone wants the participation rate to be high)and wonder about the additional cost in terms of sub time and loss of instructional time because a whole set of kids aren't in class.
Lynn said…
I opted out my junior at Garfield and received no pushback.

I've discussed the issue with friends who are parents of elementary students and they had no clue what I was talking about.
juicygoofy said…
Planning to opt out 5th grader at Lincoln from SBAC, but not until after the practice tests (just in case kiddo changes her mind.) Already took math MAP, various Amplify, and will take MSP (science.)
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Reposting for Anonymous (no anonymous comments - give yourself a name).

"Not opting out at View Ridge for a number of reasons, although I dislike everything I have heard about the test and am against it! I have heard almost no discussion about opting out among parents. Guessing no opt-outs at this school, or very few."

Your comment leaves me puzzled as you seem very against the test.
Anonymous said…
Come on let's get teachers held accountable and see how it shakes out. If teachers don't like it then strike, come on I dare you.

I think teachers are too lazy to fight and are afraid of being found out. It's amazing how little work they actually do at many grade levels ,it appears they just get paid for baby siting. Really, I just don't see how they can compete with youtube when it comes to delivering subject matter.

I feel bad for the few good teachers out there getting pulled down into the muck by all those accidental teachers.

seeya WEA
Ballard Beaver said…
Opting 11th grader-out at Ballard. Hear students may pick random test answer. What letter do you like- A,B,C,C or E?
Anonymous said…
parent at VR, would you share some of your reasons for NOT opting out?

Unknown said…
Opted out at Arbor Heights.

Anonymous said…
Not opting out 10th grader at Ingraham. Gave student the choice, but it will have to be taken this year or next. This year it is scheduled after the one IB exam, next year with 5 IB exams it could be more difficult logistically.

-IHS Mom
Anonymous said…
Opted out at John Stanford International School without pushback.

parent said…
Opted out 2 kids at Sacajawea Elementary, and so far it looks like there are about 4 more. I think testing started today for the 3rd graders.
Anonymous said…
Opting 10th Grader out at Ballard.

Ballard Mom
Anonymous said…
Opted out Salmon Bay. No pushback.

Seeya, sorry you feel that way. I do not agree at all. Teachers are fighting back (are you missing that?)
Anonymous said…
I wonder if Clover Codd took a personal day to testify. I would think her "opinion" would fall under Supt Nylands words of give your professional not personal opinion (or else risk being written up, fired, or have your certificate taken away). As a teacher, I still need to see the reliability and validity of a test before professionally recommending it for my students.

Please understand, that most teachers are not in favor of this test. We have asked for a forum to discuss but have not been allowed to do so- in fact just the opposite, lots of threats.

Parents are who will be listened to. I will keep voicing my concern, both directly to my superiors as well as to my union, but we need parents to be an active political voice. Please realize that most teachers are not financially secure enough to risk losing their job even though they abhor censorship!

C.A.T.: Concerned and active teacher
Anonymous said…
I opted out at View Ridge last year and I felt very conscious of the fact that it could have a significant impact on the pass rate. Typically most kids pass, even a few kids opting out would cause a noticeable dip and it looks bad for the teachers and school... I opted out anyway, but I felt conflicted about the impact we were making on our community.

I don't feel conflicted this year because the test is so much more problematic... and we've left VR...

E&L mom
Anonymous said…
11th grader at Ingraham-- opting out so my student can actually get some constructive studying done for IB exams and SAT subject tests and hopefully avoid a few late nights.

Opt Out

Anonymous said…
opted out 3rd at Lincoln; not sure what to do about 5th but doesn't test until early May so have time to decide.

5th wants to take science msp, so we will do that.

no pushback about opt out.

signed - out
Anonymous said…
Opted out our 11th grade Running Start student at Ingraham. I've been encouraging all parents of 11th graders, especially parents of Running Start students, to opt out of the SBAC. It's a ridiculous waste of time, energy, and money.

- RS Mom
Anonymous said…

I'm a teacher and I actually laughed out loud at your post. Clearly you don't know many teachers. I work in a school that's nearly 80% free and reduced lunch. Every weekend 1/2 to 2/3 of the classroom teachers are in the building prepping for HOURS. The rest are working at home. This last weekend I spent 5 hours in the building on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. Then I spent an additional 3 hours at home. I don't know what planet you live on, Seeya, and I'm assuming you got burned by a teacher somehow somewhere, but at least at my elementary, ALL the teachers are good for kids, and ALL of us are WOFAO (figure it out) for kids.


Anonymous said…
Demanding $15 bucks an hour for my kids guinea pigging this POS for the publisher. Otherwise, opting out. Aren't there laws against slave labor? Why should my kids work for free to "norm" this test for those who profit from it? F*** That. Both kids opting out. Now and forever. Can't believe Nyland is cowing people into letting their kids be the free labor for these useless testing companies. Makes me sick.

n said…

People don't see enough of the hours we put in. Thanks for putting numbers to it. I, too, am in the building much of the weekend- either one whole day or sometimes shorter hours over two days. And there are times I go in but am so burned out that I get little done so get back on Monday morning early, early, early.

Regarding testing: My biggest gripe is why testing starts so early. I teach primary and yes, we get tested as well. MAP - okay. Still, with holidays and conferences Sept - Dec, as teaching months they are pretty ragged. Also, children are very immature at that time - thinking K-1 here. Really, my best teaching time is Feb-June. So why test in May which is when we start even at primary. Let us have a full term and then test. So, a bunch of people in admin will have to stay to work on the testing but my kids will have had a good school term to learn.

I've never understood testing in May when school isn't out until the middle of June. Sorry but I need that time to teach esp. since those are the months my kids are really mature enough to learn.

Do you think that the veddy, veddy rich simply want a whole population of under-educated people to serve their wants and needs? Sometimes I wonder . . .
Anonymous said…
EdVoter, what I'd like to know is how Clover Codd gets to speak for SPS when it's the School Board that gets to set the district's legislative positions. Right? I can't believe this School Board is going to fall for Arne Duncan's bullying tactics or push to raise the stakes on testing by forcing them into the realm of teacher evaluation (a practice, by the way, that has never proven to improve instruction one iota).

Anonymous said…
My dad was a teacher, so I've heard the "three months off" crap my whole life. What a despicable lie. He'd spend a week at work after school got out, and return the first or second week of August. 3 months? Try 5 weeks, during which he'd paint houses for extra money. Not only did I hardly see my dad until he retired from teaching, but it was often at his second job at Fred Meyer, the Bon Marche or elsewhere, so he could paint the house, get new carpet, or buy Christmas presents for his kids. In HS I worked alongside a history teacher who cut produce in the evenings at the grocery store, which was fairly typical for teachers back then.

People's ignorance of a teacher's reality is just stunning at times. Absolutely jaw-droppingly stunning.

Anonymous said…
I have family and friends who teach -they are some of the hardest working people I know. Not to mention how much $$$ they spend out of own pocket for supplies etc that "official budgets" don't cover. Are there bad teachers? Sure. But its dangerous to lump any profession as all bad/lazy etc. I hate the denigration they receive from politicians and media pile on them - very undeserved!!

Anonymous said…
My neighbors are both teacher and they take off every summer for 6 weeks to Europe. Can't thing of a summer in the past 13 years when they had to work. They make over $170 + in combined income and have never had to work a second job.

I think they are efficient at their jobs and very rarely if ever need to work on the weekends. They both teach 2nd grade so that probably makes it easier only having 28 students vs MS and HS having 300.

Greener grass
steer clear of assumptions said…
And do they teach in regular classrooms with a diversity of children? Lots to know before you assume things. Are they good teachers?

I also knew two teachers who traveled every summer. One of them taught in a classroom next to mine. Sorry. He was a joke. Arrived at 8:40 and left at 3:10. I'm not sure he'd survive today. So he's overseas teaching military now. Yes, good teaching may be required but he gets very disciplined students as well. Funny, if kids like you parents tended not to complain. Of course, that was pretty much pretesting days.

BTW, $170K between two of them? Something doesn't compute unless they are in administration. Me thinks you may be pulling a Bryan Williams on us . . .
Anonymous said…
A word of caution to any parent thinking about opting out a 10th grade student.

The test at 10th grade is the one that meets graduation requirements. Without it, your child cannot graduate from high school.

If they take it and fail, they can access other options. However, they can't access other options until they take it.

If you opt out at 10th grade, you would be forced to take SBA at 11th grade to get your attempt in before you could access other options.

The 10th grade test this year is a paper and pencil test--not the computerized monstrosity that is SBA. The questions may be drawn from SBA's item bank, but that's the only similarity. It is, in fact, much closer to the old HSPE and Math EOC than it is to the new SBA.

I will be opting my child out next year when he reaches 3rd grade, so don't confuse me with a sympathizer for the Testing-Industrial Complex.

Meanwhile, I advise parents of 10th graders not to cut your nose off to spite your face. 10th grade is the one and only time NOT to opt out your kid!!!!

Admin Anti-Testing
Ragweed said…
Sadly, I will not be opting out my child at Licton Springs. Pinehurst once had the lowest scores in the state because we had such a high percentage of opt-outs. It was used as a justification for trying to shut the school down and was used to justify removing the principal. We are just too vulnerable right now. I do know parents that are opting out, and they are not getting push-back.
Anonymous said…
I watched the video on king5 of testimony down in Olympia. There was a 3rd grader who mentioned she had a classmate who did not know what 1x9 was, she said that was not the teachers fault, really?

If you have a 3rd grader who can't perform 1st grade multiplication at the end of third grade I would say there's a serious problem with the school system in which teacher's are the primary piece of that system.

I see problems on both sides of the issue, mainly giving teachers credit for students who actually learned their knowledge outside of the teachers classroom. Many struggling students receive tutoring outside of the school. Why should the teacher receive a benefit for another teacher's work? I've seen quite a few classrooms where the teacher is just terrible at teaching math and what do the parents do, they all hire a math tutors and what does the school do, takes credit for the students improved math scores. Why doesn't the school do something about the situation?

They don't because teachers don't rat on other teachers. They let inferior instruction in their buildings go on for years, they turn a blind eye to verbal and physical abuse. Many even think they are the victims in our broken system.

There is a flawed argument being made by the union that testing is not beneficial to students, they say they don't like purposed SBAT, but I don't think they would support any test if linked to teacher performance because the system is poor and they the teachers are going to be thrown under the buss by the school administrators for decades of inadequacies.

Common sense.
Anonymous said…
If you have a 3rd grader who does not know what 1x9 is, the first question I would ask is how many schools has that child been in over the last 2-3 years? Second question would be how long they had been in the country? More often than not, kids who have just arrived in the country are also experiencing school for the first time. It is not uncommon to have kids who have never attended school before because in their country, the kids needed to work or school was a luxury only for the rich. Lastly, multiplication used to be a 4th grade skill. Now it is down in third grade. Perhaps this kid just isn't ready yet.

Anonymous said…
Opted out 11th grader at Garfield. Kid says the forms are posted on the class facebook page, the student gov reps are carrying stacks of them around, and some teachers have blank forms available in their classrooms. Kids are hoping that if enough opt out, they'll get instruction time.

GHS parent
Craziness said…
For years, the district used Discovery Math and I had to take my child to Kumon.

If a child does not know basic math, and Discovery Math is used, is it the teacher's fault?
PollyAnna said…
I don't recall seeing Linking Test Scores to Teacher Evaluations on the district's Legislative Agenda. Why is Codd and Nyland in Olympia?

There are school board members that don't support the excessive testing that we are seeing with MAP, Amplify and we're having more testing with SBAC. Of course, district documents don't include IB, AP and SAT exams.

It doesn't make sense that some state a mere 1% of test scores could be used for teacher evaluations. One should consider: The legislature is trying to insert themselves into union bargaining contracts.
Anonymous said…
Dear Common Sense, I think your statement is showing assumptions you are making that may not be true. If my child is advanced at math, it may be that he/she has had a lot of talking time with his family with day to day use of calculations in normal daily living. It could be that we went to the library several times a week from age 1 to 10. There could be other reasons why my kid is good at math other than "tutoring". There could be many reasons another kid didn't naturally learn math yet--maybe his parents are not familiar with our schooling system. Maybe they are working long hours at low paying jobs and know nothing about going to the library or incorporating learning into daily life. This should not be a blame game. Comparing my kid and another kid who has more challenging circumstances does not add up to "blame the teacher". It does not mean that that kid can't surmount the challenges, but it takes the whole village working together not against each other.
Greenwoody said…
I would strongly, strongly urge parents active at Nathan Hale and at Chief Sealth to consider running for school board this year. You are exactly the kind of people we need, who can rally this district against the tests and instead to focus our budgets on the classrooms. If you're active in the anti-testing movements there, please run. We need you.
StringCheese said…
Ragweed, the district knows when lower test scores are due to opt-outs and not "poor performance students." There is a separate code that is put into the testing system when a child does not take the test vs. takes it but doesn't do well.

Don't let them use that ruse against you. That "0" on a refused test is there as a scare tactic. They know perfectly well how the school is doing when those opt-out numbers are taken out of the equation. It is just an easy excuse to use when SPS wants to do something the public doesn't like and it is easily refuted.

Opt out. The only thing that it will reflect upon your school is that there are actively engaged and thoughtful parents in the community.
WS OptOut said…
I am opting out my 4th grader at K-5 STEM.

No drama from admin on the parent side. Definitely towing the party line when it comes to warning teachers, though.
Eric B said…
I believe there will be 11th graders handing out refusal forms today at Ingraham.
Lynn said…
I'd like to talk about school budgets. We're hearing reports that both Ingraham and Sealth received less discretionary money in their budgets for next year and will have to reduce the support services offered to their students.

Where is this money going? Has anyone seen the new Weighted Staffing Standards? What is the district spending the money on - and will it replace the benefits of school-based services that have to be cut?

I'll see what I can find out - but please chime in if you have any information.
Admin Anti-testing, thanks for that reminder. I would think that parents of 10th graders would know that fact but always good to repeat it.

"Do you think that the veddy, veddy rich simply want a whole population of under-educated people to serve their wants and needs? Sometimes I wonder . . ."

N, as do I. But it depends on if we are educating or training students.

Ragweed, I can certainly understand that dilemma at Licton Springs b/c of the years of threats to close it. That your community is still wary is probably a good thing.

Pollyanna, Nyland and Codd were there b/c of the loss of control over the Title One funds attached to NCLB. Or, at least, that's one reason.

To note, the SEA's contract DOES already include using test scores as part of the evaluation. So it's pretty interesting that Seattle could get this done w/o giving in to Duncan and yet we need a law to force other districts? Hmm.

I agree about that "it could be as low as 1%" nonsense.

Lynn, I do still need to get to that thread on school budgets. I truly believe the schools are being starved for administration.

Anonymous said…
Opted out at John Stanford Elementary, using the form on the SPS website. Filled it in by hand, scanned and sent to Principal Dedy with a request to acknowledge receipt, which she did.

I'm glad to know at least one other JSIS parent is opting out. Keep in mind this is a school that raised over $400K in this year's Annual Fund, which is dedicated to supporting immersion education. Wouldn't it be nice if every school got an extra $400K a year? "Private school at public price" is how at least one of the rental ads on Craigslist ran for this neighborhood.
Anonymous said…
Discretionary dollars are based on weighted factors of the student body:

GenEd 1.0
FRL 10.0
SPED self-contained 2.0
ELL 0.6
SPED 0.5

Example: A SPED student that is also FRL

1.0 + 10.0 + 0.5 = 11.5

(versus 1.0 for a student that is GenEd only)

You can do the math and understand how this may lead to significant cuts in some schools. At what point are they overcorrecting and cutting services to the very students they are trying to help, or simply shortchanging all students at a given school?

For Ingraham (numbers taken from OSPI):

2014-15 ?% FRL
2013-14 34% FRL
2012-13 39% FRL
2011-12 48% FRL (1st class of IBX students?)

mirmac1 said…
Emile, my guess is you have Sherry Carr and Marty McLaren to thank. I expect the executive committee gave the okie dokie.
Anonymous said…
Opted out my 8th grader at Blaine. She will not be taking the SBAC or the MAP. She will take the science MSP. Principal directed me to the form on the SPS website. We filled it out and sent it in. I suspect there are not many others at our school opting out.

Anonymous said…
Here is the info that Ballard families have for 10th grade SBAC.

You have to drill down to find it:

April (various dates) Smarter Balanced English Language Arts Testing (via LA classes)

Smarter Balanced Assessment: This exam is replacing the High School Proficiency Exam that has been administered for many years. The Class of 2017 is required to earn a passing score on the ELA exam as a High School Graduation Requirement.

This test is a College and Career Readiness Exam and there will be a higher cut score that will show whether student's are deemed to have acquired the skills and knowledge to be ready to be successful after high school. Meeting this score will automatically make students eligible for 100 level classes at all public 2 and 4 year Universities in Washington.

The exam is a computer adaptive test (it adjusts the difficulty based upon your success) and will be taken online during four Language Arts classes. To learn more about the exam and the requirements, click on the state Smarter Balanced Assessment page.

Ballard Parent
Anonymous said…
For kids that are taking advanced Math (Algebra and Geometry) but are not in 10th grade but lower grades, is SBAC a graduation requirement?

I was planning on opting out my middle schooler, but my reconsider for the Math portion.

- Camel (thirsty for knowledge, not tests!)
Anonymous said…
I opted both of my students out this year. I have never done that before. I included on the "reason" that the name of the form is outrageous.

Seriously, the refusal to participate was insane enough to push me over. Families have a legal right to opt out.


TechyMom said…
Not opting out at McGivlra. Kid is going to private school next year, which is the biggest opt-out I can think of. Because of that, I want her to be able to participate fully in what is happening in class for these last few months, and enjoy being part of the group. A lot of what is happening in class is test prep.
I am hearing from one parent that one school is saying if APP/Spectrum kids opt out, they will be exited from the program.

Anyone else?

I cannot imagine opting out exits any student from any program.
Maureen said…
numbers, just because the FRL PERCENTS at IHS have declined since 2011 (and I don't deny that) doesn't necessarily mean that the FRL NUMBERS have declined (the school has grown substantially), and the amount of discretionary funds is based on numbers not percents. Does anyone have the FRL % in the District as a whole over the past five or ten years handy? I'm wondering about the impact of the Neighborhood Assignment Plan and the improving economy overall.
Anonymous said…
Teacher salary is public info


80k plus benes is not unusual for a 20 year or longer elementary teacher. There are some who make more with less time in.

If they take six weeks off, they deserve it. Can't even imagine the work a good teacher does and the stuff they put up with.

They're a bargain.

Anonymous said…
Optiong out at View ridge 4th grader.

-VR parent of 2
Anonymous said…
I have a kid in 4th at Lincoln. When I inquired about opt out, was told SBAC would be used for math placement for 6th grade, suggesting that the more advanced option (how I interpreted it) such as Alg I would not be avail without these results. Is that what others understand?

No Algebra?
Anonymous said…
I have a kid in 4th at Lincoln. When I inquired about opt out, was told SBAC would be used for math placement for 6th grade, suggesting that the more advanced option (how I interpreted it) such as Alg I would not be avail without these results. Is that what others understand?

No Algebra?
Anonymous said…

You said "I am hearing from one parent that one school is saying if APP/Spectrum kids opt out, they will be exited from the program."

What? How can that be possible? Isn't opting out your right per OPSI? How could that not be blatant retaliation against a parent exercising their rights?

Please post what school is saying this. If it's true, then it needs to be publicly stated by all schools with an APP/HCC population. If it's not true, then shame on the school that is putting forth misinformation.

I opted out my HCC kid at JAMS, and did not receive any pushback.

Anonymous said…
@ No algebra

I asked Anna Box, head of math department at SPS, about that very issue, i.e. what would replace the 4th grade MSP score that is currently used for 6th math placement. Her response was this " I am planning to work with both our internal assessment partners, teachers, principals, and parents over the next 6 - 8 months to be prepared for this transition."
So, it seems it remains to be decided.
However, the reason 4th grade MSP was used is because the 5th grade MSP scores would not be back in time to use. Given that the turn around time for scores is much quicker for SBAC (that is touted routinely as one of the advantages) I can't think why they would need to use 4th grade SBAC rather than 5th grade anyway.
If they did use the SBAC, how will they determine an appropriate threshold score to allow kids to take algebra in 6th anyway?
I'm not a 'mathy' person and don't feel I can contribute anything in this area but I would urge folks who are interested or do have expertise to contact Ms Box at SPS if they want to be involved in the decision process.

Anonymous said…
I suspect it is in SPS's interests to keep the math placement issue up in the air for now - after all, the possibility that it could be used for future placement will be enough to make many parents think twice about opting out.
Frankly, I think it is wrong to use any test for future course placement if students don't know that it will be considered for that purpose at the time they take the test (I understand that has happened with MAP in the past). Students should know what is at stake (if anything) when they do a test.


Anonymous said…
Did not opt my 3rd grader out in WS. There are more than a few who did choose to opt out at our school. My kid has taken the writing and reading parts of the test in addition to practice. My child did not finish the writing portion and neither did most of the kids. They simply do not have the typing skills to be proficient on a test. Ironic that they use writers workshop where they get lots of time to work on their writing and then are expected to speed through a writing test ON A COMPUTER in a couple of hours. My kid did not seem stressed about the reading part but other kids definitely struggled. I expect the math portion to be a big struggle for my kid. I did the math practice test for 3rd grade and thought it was confusing and more challenging than what my child has been learning. I considered opting out but am also concerned about the consequences for our school of a 0 score. I think almost half of some of our older grades did choose to opt out so it will be interesting to see the consequences of that if any. What upsets me is that our school budget is downright bleak next year. How much is the district spending on this test? Where is that information?

WS Mama
I think Testy is right - parents and students should be told, by the district, any ramifications for opting out. That the "refusal" form didn't say AL status would be in danger tells me it's not true.

I don't know the school but I did ask the district about this.

WS Mama, it would be nice if the district was truly transparent on all the costs for SBAC. I doubt if anyone could get a real answer.
Anonymous said…
They definitely won't kick you out of Lincoln for opting out.

That kind of rumor is awful!

Anonymous said…
Melissa, thank you for checking with the District and for letting us know what response they give. I agree it feels like a false rumor, but given some of the heavy-handed tactics around SBAC participation I'd like to hear official confirmation.

Anonymous said…
From a 2011 Board "work session" discussing the implementation of CSSS/SBAC with staff from OSPI - bolding mine

Mr. Burke went into detail describing SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the four year timeline for assessments to be operational across Consortium states. Mr. Burke explained cost savings with CCSS ($20 vs. $43) per student test, due to economies of scale, and noted that they are not ready yet to use online exams. Directors noted there is a long lead time to upgrade school networks to facilitate online testing if CCSS decides to do that. Ms. Vavrus noted that in 2014, capacity issues might improve with technology and State Superintendent Randy Dorn wants to use online testing, but at the moment it is cheaper not to do that.

Work Session: Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

Anonymous said…
Directors expressed familiarity with CCSS policy development and noted common core standards should not be confused with graduation requirements.

Notably - nobody expected CCSS to be a graduation, until, whoops by golly - there it is. Students in 2015 are taking SBAC for graduation in 10th grade.

SBAC Sucks.
Anonymous said…

Your kid will be taking the grade level SBAC, regardless of what class he or she is taking.

StringCheese said…
Reader47 and WS Mama,
From the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research:
We project the annual costs for states participating in the consortia will increase by a total of $177.2 million each year. These are not one time costs but ongoing operational costs that will be faced each year. Over the 7 year horizon of this cost analysis, the total increase would be over $1.2 billion.


The per test amount quoted by Reader47 only accounts for access to the test. The legislature has magically managed to find the funds to fully purchase the test itself but can't adequately fund the education that is supposed to be tested.

What is not included?
Hardware - all of those extra laptops, iPads, and desktop computers that are miraculously appearing; wifi capability
Internet What are the increased costs of having all schools wifi enabled?
Professional Development How much time did teachers have to spend learning how to teach our kids how to even take the test

I'm sure that there is a lot more that needs to be added to this list. Guess what? SPS isn't offering numbers for the true cost. Very cute how they have people thinking we are saving money!
Parent said…
Opting out McDonald Elementary
Anonymous said…
"They are thinking about standing the the halls at lunch handing out refusal forms and other information this week- I hope they actually do and that other kids join in the campaign as well."

I can confirm that students are handing out refusal forms to other students at Ingraham. This is completely student-driven; it does not involve faculty in any way.

David Edelman
Anonymous said…
Oh StringCheese - I'm confident there is much much more we don't know about the "real costs" of this testing -just playing around with what's been said.

here's some info on the tech requirements involved that includes some dollar amounts

SPS Recommendation for Online Assessment Technology and Instruction

It says among other things:
Approximately $900,000 in BEX IV Student Device funding would be used to purchase additional devices. In addition, current computing devices (desktops, laptops and iPads) at each school, that meet the minimum SBA requirements, would be available for SBA (as required and allocated by the schools).

Anonymous said…
Opted out my Roosevelt 11th grader. Emailed the form to the principal and received a confirming email from the testing coordinator. No pushback.

RR Mom
Anonymous said…
I got reports from 2 teacher friends (one in Seattle, one in a district further north) that they (building staff) received emails from their principals explicitly ordering them not to discuss opting out with parents. Both are at the elementary level. One was planning to opt out her own kids too.

CT, I'm don't think that teachers or principals do have to explicitly talk about opting out.

But,if asked, they DO have to answer questions in a clear manner and NOT add in any information that is not true (like your kid will get exited from the AL program).
Anonymous said…
SPS official SBAC training explicitly says all discussion of SBAC and opting out should be "parent driven". That is, staff should initiate no discussion. If parents ask explicitly, then we can give them the opt out forms.

Anonymous said…
From Hale today:

To: Nathan Hale Parents of 11th Graders
RE: SBAC Testing Choice note for your student due this Friday, 4/3

Just a reminder that if you have decided NOT to have your 11th Grader take the SBAC test later this month, you will need to do one of the following by this Friday, April 3:

1) Send an email to JSHudson@seattleschools.org OR
2) Send a signed note with your child, to be turned in to the main office.

In either case, please state that you do not want your child to take the SBAC test, and provide your child’s name, and your name. As a reference, attached is a copy of the original email explaining why the Nathan Hale Senate voted not to give the SBAC test to our 11th graders this year. If you are interested in seeing some of the practice SBAC tests, go to: http://sbac.portal.airast.org/practice-test .

Lynn Jensen, Parent Representative on the Nathan Hale Senate

So we have until this Friday to opt out. My kid already turned in a form.

Anonymous said…
Empl (SPS employee?) writes that "SPS official SBAC training explicitly says..."

THIS employee is wondering where that "SPS official SBAC training" is. There has been little to none in the building where this employee works. Teachers have been given no packet of proctoring rules, such as one would get with SAT or HSPE. Instructions on administering Classroom Instruction component, a preliminary to the Performance Task, are woefully inadequate and unclear.
Training? When? How?
It's been said that there has been very little training in the buildings, and some teachers are having to search for themselves to find training and instruction on how to administer these tests. The thought is that since classroom teachers are responsible for proctoring (if you can call it that in these haphazard and unreliable circumstances) then higher-ups merely washed their hands of it: "Let the teachers figure it out." Or the whole thing is merely a trial run and let's just see what happens this year, eh?
If people are expecting reliable results from the administration of the test this year, they'll have a long wait - there is little conformity in training, and will likely be all sorts of different things going on during administration: How many hours? What sort of breaks? How to deal with student who misses one day? Cell phone policy? Bathroom breaks? Classroom instruction notes used in performance task? Yes? No? What exactly is meant by a goal, a concept students must know going into Performance Task, of Classroom Instruction (one of two) that says the "impact of a person on the environment (good or bad) is greater than oneself"?
What IS an impact greater than oneself?

SBA's bad
Chris S. said…
Okay, I have taken the Math and ELA 5th grade sample tests, and watched my child take the math, so I am now somewhat qualified to comment.

The interface was not terrible. It wasn't great, either. I wish they had kept it simple. The drawing and dragging of boxes smacks of "developer gold plating."

The larger problem I have, and I recall someone mentioning this before, is I don't believe one should resort to "trickery" when assessing standards. On a math test, the question is "can you do the math?" NOT "Can you read the question very, very carefully?" or "Can you figure out what this confusing question is asking?"

Trickery is often used when you -ahem- are trying to "separate the wheat from the chaff" --i.e. make sure some fail. So is that the purpose of the test?

I realize I've circled around back to the political purposes of standardized testing; the test itself reveals that the purpose is not benign or "for the kids." So, I'd opt her out. However, now she wants to take it.

Chris S.
Anonymous said…
Opted out my 4th grader at K-5 STEM.

WS Seattle Mom
Anonymous said…
SBA's bad. Yes I am an SPS employee. SBASBAD - everyone has to "take the training" for SBAC - it's a 20 minute powerpoint, then you sign the paperwork and you're good to go as a tester. Yes - the bit about only speaking when spoken to... to families... is on the training slideshow.

To everyone else - the latest thing on the new SBAC that really got me was something called a "performance task".

Here's how it works. A teacher (which can be anybody who has seen the slideshow) teaches the students - and then, the SBAC tests them on how well they learned and can apply the lesson, on what you've taught them. Huh? No information on what or how we were supposed to "teach" in the performance task, or how to prepare for that.

How can that possibly be fair? In this case - the teacher really does make a huge difference on how the student will score. How not? Fail to do a good job on the "Performance Task" teaching - and the students are sure to fail.

I can't believe that the public isn't up in arms about that one. Seems like the height of inequity to me.

Anonymous said…
Empl -- that sounds crazy. Our teacher mentioned the performance task but seemed unclear about what it entailed.

Chris S -- I completely agree with what you wrote and particularly with your argument about the trickery. That is my impression as well.

You say the interface isn't terrible -- did your 5th grader use a mouse? If so, do you think all the scrolling would be a problem without a mouse?

Lincoln mom
dw said…
Chris S. said: I realize I've circled around back to the political purposes of standardized testing; the test itself reveals that the purpose is not benign or "for the kids." So, I'd opt her out. However, now she wants to take it.

Good thing you're the parent, right? Otherwise you might let her naive wishes make the decision. ;-)
Anonymous said…
Really? SBAC a "trial run" test? Students are taking this as a graduation requirement THIS YEAR. So, while it might be fun and games for some people - legislators and administrators - it's really incredibly high stakes for our high school 10th graders. First time out of the box - and let's smash them in the face with it. And students with disabilities will be taking it at all levels as a graduation requirement - so, "easing up" on cut scores for 10th graders won't really work either.

StringCheese said…
Lincoln mom,
You bring up a good point. The user experience with the interface is dramatically different depending on what hardware you are using. The test on a big, beautiful, wide iMac monitor is vastly different than the view on a laptop. You even have some kids taking it on iPads. Then there is mouse v. trackpad...
Anonymous said…
Employees - my understanding (ha!) is that the "Classroom Instruction" part is what is supposed to provide context and concepts for Performance Task, and yes, you are right, there is lots of room for unreliable delivery of that Classroom Instruction, rendering the scores on the Performance Task unreliable. As I wrote above, because there is interactive instruction (with students being asked to respond, etc); because the instructions about note-taking are unclear; because different classrooms have different student demographics and engagement, etc....all these things contribute to ensuring that the Classroom Instruction necessary before the Performance Task will be delivered in a variety of ways and, hence be unreliable.
And what IS this "impact bigger than oneself" on the envoronment concept students have to know? Bigger than 5'11"? Bigger than the impact ON oneself? Are educators and students meant to infer an answer?
I'll be speaking to one SBAC lesson I've seen soon. I found it odd and disturbing with its "script."

Yes, you have to wonder how outcomes will be depending upon what device a child is using (and their ability to use it). I think dropdowns are harder for younger kids to use.

Also, my sympathies to 10th graders because I do think it wrong to use this test for a high stakes purpose out of the box.
Chris S. said…
@Lincoln mom, we used a laptop, no mouse. But my kid is very tech-savvy. That said, I did have to prompt her to scroll at least once.

@dw Yes, I can see that she's going to be a misleading data point and that I should definitely make her a better offer :)

Anonymous said…
Melissa - Maybe a thread for parents, teachers and students to report their SBAC experiences?

Ballard Parent
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