Friday Open Thread

Ding dong, the bill to split Seattle School district died in the Rules Committee.  I heard this on KUOW this morning and was surprised to hear that one of its creators, Sharon Tomiko Santos, said it would have benefited all students in SPS.  This was the first time I heard that reasoning advanced and yet if that's what they thought, they could have explained how that was. 

Reports of shots from a BB gun fired at a school bus near Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary are being reported in the Seattle Times.  It happened yesterday around 4:30 pm.  The school had been under lockkdown for some period of time but then the students were allowed to go home.  No one was hurt. 

I'm off in a few minutes to the press conference right by Roosevelt High about the blight around there by the infamous Sisley brothers.  Hoping there is some relief in sight.

Don't forget these legislative Town Halls tomorrow (this organized info via the CPPS website):

Seattle town halls, Saturday, March 14:

11th District (Georgetown), map
1-3 pm, Regional Communications & Emergency Coordination Center 3511 NE 2nd St., Renton, WA 98056 — Sen. Hasagawa, Rep. Hudgins, Rep. Berquist

32nd District (Broadview), map
2-3:30 pm, Shoreline Fire Dept., 17525 Aurora Ave. N., Shoreline, WA 98133 — Sen. Chase, Rep. Ryu

36th District (Belltown, Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard, Greenwood), map
10 am-noon, Phinney Neighborhood Association, community room, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103. —  Sen. Kohl-Welles, Rep. Carlyle, Rep. Tarleton

34th District (West Seattle, White Center), map
No town hall

37th District (Madrona, Mt. Baker, Seward Park, Rainier Valley, Dunlap, Rainier Beach), map
9-11 am, Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98118 — Sen. Jayapal, Rep. Santos, Rep. Pettigew

43rd District (Capital Hill, Madison Park, Eastlake, Fremont, Wallingford, University District), map
1-2:30 pm, Seattle Central College, Erickson Theater, 1524 Harvard Ave., Seattle, WA 98122 — Sen. Pedersen, Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, Speaker Frank Chopp

46th District (Bryant, Northeast and North Seattle), map
No Town Hall

What's on your mind?


Benjamin Leis said…
If the city is really seizing the Sisley properties next to Roosevelt H.S. wouldn't it be awesome for them to be given to the district? Here's a chance to build school in an area where seats are really tight.
Anonymous said…
If the city's willing to do this, they could absolutely build an annex! It could be a full-on tech annex and that would free up classes on main campus. I don't know, but anything that would give them space - even if it's just a parking lot for RHS for a couple years and then they put portables on the onsite parking lot until Lincoln opens, that would help bridge the next couple years.

PLEASE ask - they're not going to have parks money for this anytime soon, so in the interim the crap bldgs. could come down (safety requires that), RHS could use the lots as parking pending budget for park creation, and portables could go temporarily on the RHS parking lot.

These are the concrete small steps that show technical competence and cooperation between city and SPS - if the city can't do these types of things, then the big shiny ideas are doomed. Maybe the Big Shiny is doomed anyway, but it is 110% doomed if small easy things like this can't come to fruition.

City can demonstrate actual cooperation here. It would go a LONG way to convincing parents that the city has an understanding of at least a few of the issues facing SPS.

Signed Win4All
Anonymous said…
Yay! Please keep us posted, Melissa. I drive by that blight every day. It's such a shame that a beautiful school is hidden behind that mess, and what a waste of valuable real estate.

--can't wait!
Anonymous said…
Living the 32nd district in Seattle
is possibly the worst position you can be in. 32nd district reps are 99.0% interested in Shoreline and Shoreline schools. I would rather see the 32nd district go completely to Shoreline and leave Seattle.

We don't even have side walks in 37th Seattle.

Anonymous said…
Article titled:

When a Teacher’s Job Depends on a Child’s Test

in the New Yorker. The author reports an opt-out rate of 70% at her child's school.

Anonymous said…
Michael, there are no sidewalks north of 85th in most of Seattle, as well as a lot of south Seattle. Thirty percent of the roadways in Seattle have no sidewalks, including near many schools. The city is responsible for building and maintaining sidewalks, not the state. Not that it matters, since the state is not responsible, but Shoreline has less sidewalks than Seattle.

Anonymous said…
The NYTimes has an article about the danger of the all the apps marketed straight to teachers and the dangers of privacy and public records they pose.

I think this is very relavant, as most of the app makers are ignorant of FERPA, and even if they aren't parents concerns are ignored or downplayed.

As an example in Seattle, the day of code requires a student to supply a log in through facebook or google as well as the student to conditions which they don't read and parents don't know about.

Anonymous said…
Ok, but still the 32nd district reps don't really care about us unless they come to your cocktail party in the Highlands. Or your the founder of Zumiez. Very strange gerrymandering going on with the district boundaries.

I grew-up north of 85th and we had cement sidewalks and cement streets, but they ended at 100th to the north. To the south they ran all they way to downtown.

Lynn said…
Our legislators have requested $33 million from the Senate Capital Budget Committee to renovate Magnolia School, retrofit E.C. Hughes and make repairs at middle schools.

If we get that money, how should the new schools be used? (I was disappointed to see that Magnolia would only hold 400 students.)
Linh-Co said…
Companies cashing in on Common Core. No big surprise!
Anonymous said…
I can tell you there are thousands of IT workers in Seattle that have access to any information they want about you. It's impossible to perform most administrative jobs without GOD privileges.

There are billions of EDI transmissions occurring daily from Banking, Insurance,health care even Fredmeyer.

Take a look at edifecs and other similar companies and you will see most of your personal information is being accessed by workers outside the US immune from FERPA, HIPA or any other US law. Entire databases of your personnel information are re-created by tech companies in India, Mexico, Russia.

Check it out, but I'm telling you that you have no real protection, only feel good legislation.

Anonymous said…
Third try:

The district has an interesting rebuttal to the idea of splitting the district. This can be found in a memo from the memo to the board of March 6, which was posted today. The district has all kinds of reasons why splitting the district would be bad, including financially and organiazationally. But the one I find most compelling is the is that splitting the district would be an act which would compound the current situation of segregation. On that aspect alone, I can see that a court would prohibit splitting the district.

Anonymous said…
Sorry to see the split proposal die in committee. Hope it reappears next session. Not kidding.

Split Now
Anonymous said…
Seattle DOES NOT HAVE A SEGREGATION ISSUE. Please move away and stop with the race baiting.

Maybe you are referring to the homeless RV camps around Ballard, oh wait maybe you mean the RV park off of 125th and Aurora? Tell us what you mean because I see whites, black, off white with yellow tint, and brown people all over the north-end. So why the F*** are you constantly referring to SEGREGATION ? I think you might be confusing Bellevue and Seattle.

PC intolerant

Anonymous said…
There are no sidewalks in north Wedgwood (85th to 95th) and no sidewalks in Meadowbrook except on main streets like 35th. 96, 97, 98, 100th - all no sidewalks.

Anonymous said…
Reposting this from an earlier thread because I think it reflects the views of a great many parents in this district …….

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Here's my comment after having quietly read this blog for 4 years. Every month seems to bring a new crisis which overshadows the previous crisis.....and nothing changes. SPS seems to embody crisis with the crisis management plan of "ignore." I had high hopes that some of the new blood on the Board would help but I don't see that as a reality anymore. One or two directors can't change anything. I saw on some other thread somewhere that parents need to rally around a couple top issues and keep on it with the Board and SPS. But I really don't know how we can identify the top 3-5 issues because SPS literally does nothing to address any of them sufficiently. Capacity? Curriculum? Ed Reform? Funding? Student Data and Privacy? Testing? AL? SPED? Bell Times? Charters? I mean, the list goes on and on. I see little leadership and frankly, a majority Board that knuckles under and doesn't do their basic job-oversight of policy. Did all of you forget that your number one priority is education of children? It is disheartening to watch this district FAIL at the administrative level which does not equate to the teachers and admin on the ground, in the buildings that work within the confines of this stupidity every day to negate the effects of all of the above. Our family is roughly half way through our SPS experience. As a parent, I DREAD what is coming up for my youngest in terms of stability, location, curriculum, and the overall educational experience. I am not a hand waver but I am hearing this more and more from parents like me who have supported the building we are in, volunteered at our building and other schools, joined the PTA, met with teachers, really been involved. Hey Larry Nyland and Board-is this your intended outcome? Is this how you think you are satisfying your customers? If you were working on the private sector, you would all be fired.
-SPS Tired

We all see SPS lurching from one crisis and one pet project to another while neglecting their core business.
We all think to ourselves if this was a private corporation - it would be either bankrupted long ago, or all the senior staff replaced. SPS seems to operate in a bubble where no one is ever never held accountable.
We all worry and complain among ourselves, on the blog, or to the board/SPS staff, we attend meetings and try to offer our expertise in on various committees but to what end? We can all see that something must be done - but what/how? Our elected board members don't seem to be able to turn the titanic that is SPS and we have no other means to influence this.

Also tired
Lynn said…
Info for intolerant

Here are the percentages of white students and free and reduced lunch students living in each high school attendance area:

North End:
73% 15$ Ballard
70% 13% Roosevelt
50% 37% Ingraham
50% 33% Nathan Hale

South End:
63% 25% West Seattle
31% 45% Garfield
25% 62% Chief Sealth
11% 65% Franklin
6% 69% Rainier Beach
Anonymous said…
- tired people of SPS
I have to agree with you all. We have been in SPS for 8 years and I am very happy that we are finally leaving it this year. I learnt one thing over the years though: THIS is SPS operatus modi, the crisis management all the time. And this seems to be not only the "collateral damage" of its business but the actually the main goal because in this way people who are bothered by the unpredictable future of their students will leave the district. In this way they can at least control (not solve!) the capacity crisis somewhat (but still with a growing number of students).
- just saying
Anonymous said…
Sorry, "operatus modi" before wanted to mean "modus operandi".
- just saying
Anonymous said…
My kid learns more off of YOUTUBE than they do in school. Of coarse it's hard for SPS teachers to match the quality of the YOUTUBE experts, so you can see YOUTUBE has a huge advantage. I see the end off the traditional public school teacher soon. Maybe that will draw in people with better personalities that would love to interact with young minds.

Mar Frys
Anonymous said…
Just heard from my son's teacher that the Social Studies dept at Jane Addams MS (that opened this year) didn't get their textbooks until January! They ordered the textbooks in June.

That's right - the district opened a brand new school without any textbooks for an entire department, even though the textbooks had been ordered months before the school opened.

She also said that the foreign language classes didn't get their textbooks until October - also unacceptable.

This is also a school where 100 new students enrolled after the first day of school. It's been difficult, to say the least. I think the admin and teachers have done their best, but there are many ways in which the district has not been prepared at all.

Anonymous said…
From Urban
1. Baiting a racial group;

2. Baiting people, using racially-inflammatory issues or stereotypes.

Note: Some people consider making accusations of racism where there are likely none to be race-baiting. This is tricky because it hinges on the viewpoint of the person who is judging whether or not racism is involved. It is possible to underestimate the possibility of racism. Thus some people say people are using the race card when they are legitimately concerned that racism is a factor. Using the race-card in and of itself is not race-baiting. Using the race-card in order to bait people is race-baiting.

Is action against racism race-baiting if it's done in order to increase political action? I don't think so.

My 2 cents below.

Our district is informally segregated along income lines.
This problem was exacerbated
when the board voted to sunset transportation to schools outside of respective catchment areas.

Stop Trollin'
Anonymous said…
Whew on splitting the district. It was a troublesome and poorly thought out idea.

Regarding Seattle and segregation. Yes, Seattle is segregated along income lines, but it is also the case that the patterns of systemic segregation in the past have not been erased.

seattle citizen said…
Wow, Mars Frys. Really? You'd prefer Youtube? You think teachers aren't interested in interacting with students because of the teachers' personalities? I agree that teaching will radically change in the next decade or two, but that's a pretty cold and mean-spirited attack on teachers, isn't it?
seattle citizen said…
Wow, Mars Frys. Really? You'd prefer Youtube? You think teachers aren't interested in interacting with students because of the teachers' personalities? I agree that teaching will radically change in the next decade or two, but that's a pretty cold and mean-spirited attack on teachers, isn't it?
Anonymous said…

Not to minimize how ridiculous it is in your situation to have a teacher order a textbook in June and to receive it in January....but in my daughter's middle school, we have never had a social studies textbook in our three years of middle school. No science book either. And of course, no LA books. Lots of materials printed from websites, and photocopied from some resource or another. Lots of copying things from powerpoints into journals.

Anonymous said…
The district is segregated (informally) by income level - the unfortunate fact is that non whites ethnicities are disproportionately represented in lower income groups. There are of course, low income white people too - perhaps it is a case of lower income people of various races tending to cluster in particular areas that are 'traditionally (for want of a better word) white, black, Chinese, Indian or whatever - that tend to have affordable housing, and amenities, culture that favors whatever ethnic group they are
I'm not trying to say this is right or wrong - I think this is just the way it in our society and we can't blame the schools or district for reflecting this. Obviously the district should ensure school boundaries fairly represent their geographical location i.e. not to carve out higher income enclaves but reflect the actual diversity of a geographical area (assuming it is sensible according to transportation/walk zones etc) - of course, for some areas there will be very little diversity of income or race. I don't know how anyone can change that in the short term ( and I don't think we should go back to busing and have young kids spending hours riding across town to try and fix a adult/societal problem).

rich schools, poor schools
Anonymous said…
I just learned from my kid that his school principal at Hazel Wolf K-8 won the Foster Award from Alliance for Education. He couldn't remember the name of the award, but did observe that a big $50,000 check for the school was delivered at a school-wide assembly with the Superintendent on hand. Congrats to Ms. Nelsen!

What is baffling, however, is why there is no mention of this on the Superindent's messages or the SPS news page. In the process of looking for a news blurb, I stumbled across the SPS Twitter page, which I'd never seen before.

After myself having experienced 9 years in SPS and reading this blog in the wings, the message from "Also tired" hit a chord. So true. My oldest is going to private high school. My younger will most likely end up there. Trying to navigate this process is truly exhausting.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lynn said…
Bell Times news from the district:

School Family Partnerships is launching its newly created Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) program on school bell times. The N2N program gives members of the SPS community (families, staff, community members and community organizations) the opportunity to weigh in and be heard on important district initiatives. Feedback from these discussions fuel change, positively affect decision making and influence district policy decisions.

The N2N discussions for March and April will focus on the district’s decision making process on school bell times. Currently, the district has identified three potential options regarding bell times:

Change it to a modified flip of elementary and high school bell times
Extend the high school day by adding an optional seventh period then offer students the option of late arrival
Keep things as they are
Anonymous said…
Re: HWK8 principal award. My guess is that the superintendent didn't want to ruin the surprise. There was much effort put in to keep the award a surprise for Ms. Nelson - as of a couple of days ago, she still didn't know she was receiving it. I'm hoping she was truly surprised today. I'm sure it will get some media play now that it has been awarded.

HW Parent
Lynn said…
And here's a survey that includes more details on the options.

I don't see how extending the high school day would work. If late arrival is an option, does making that choice mean you've given up your transportation? If not, how would we pay for the additional round of buses?
seattle citizen said…
Pearson, Inc is monitoring kids on social media. Yay!
Anonymous said…
Here is the Pearson story

Diane Ravich and NPE have it in their enewsletter and FB pages, respectively..

Anonymous said…
Great excerpt from “The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood” on Salon. Terribly headline, but great piece about how adult attitudes influence creativity and interest in exploration in children. I'm going to try to self-monitor in my classroom as much as I can after this, see if there's anything I can change.

Glad I left
Patrick said…
I too would be interested in a report from the press conference regarding the Sisley properties.

HW Parent -- Yes, Ms. Nelson was truly surprised by the award yesterday.
LiaR said…
It is being reported that Senator Jeanne kohl-Welles of Ballard is telling her constituents that WEA supported Senate Bill 5748.

I've never known- until now- I've never known her to be a liar.

Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles is a liar!
Anonymous said…
Yes, I was at the Phinney Neighborhood meeting where Kohl-Welles was speaking. I missed the first half hour of the session where she may have spoke about the evaluation bill linking teacher performance to test scores.

I wrote her a strong note saying I did not agree with teachers being held responsible for student scores, given how many other variables affected their lives.

I did think she quickly mentioned at the end of the meeting that the teacher unions supported the bill. It confused me since I cannot imagine them supporting this.

S parent
Eric M said…
I just got back from the 36th Town Hall. Senator Kohl-Welles insisted, twice, once at the beginning, 10 am, and once more at end, 12 pm, that the state teacher's union, the WEA (Washington Education Association) supported the test-scores-tied-to-teacher-evaluation bill she voted for last Wednesday. She was NOT confusing OSPI with WEA.

WEA vehemently insists they opposed the bill, even the "much better" amended bill that was passed. Kim Mead, WEA president, released a statement saying she was "ashamed of these legislators". “They sold out our students,” Mead said.

Who's lying? Take your pick.
Anonymous said…
Sen. Kohl-Welles has said in constituent email, "I am absolutely opposed to the federal No Child Left Behind mandates on annual standardized testing as well as using the results in measuring student growth for purposes of teacher and principal evaluations."

Yet, she voted for the bill. It's sad to see this legislator become incoherent.

David Edelman
ProSleep Mom said…
Just back from the 43rd Town Hall. Jamie Pederson explained his vote on the teacher evaluation tie. There is a clause in the law that states the weighting of tests in the evaluation would be determined by collective bargaining agreements. He feels the effect of testing on evaluations can be virtually nothing; meanwhile we get the benefit of the waiver. He was concerned about Title 1 money being used for tutoring in no organized way, without priority for those in need.
Anonymous said…
I've been randomly asking parents I run into how they feel about teacher evaluations being linked to student outcomes and 9 out of 10 parents with children in SPS approve of using students outcomes when evaluating teachers.

There was one valid argument against linking that should be considered and measures put in place to stop it from happening.

Teachers might only teach to test or in the worst case provide the answers to struggling students.
I think we saw an example this last year where someone changed test answers.

WEA can try and threaten politicos, but I believe linking is going to happen. WEA should focus on weeding out poor teachers and making sure linking is implemented in the fairest way for students. If teachers don't like this then move on. Remember you are public servants!

Eric M said…
Michael, read this from the American Statistical Association. The math IS JUST NOT THERE TO DO VAM. You can wish it was so, but that doesn't make it true. Any more than rolling a one 3 times in a row changes the odds of the next roll being a one. It's just math.

I don't object to teachers being evaluated. God knows my own kids had some lousy ones. I just object to teachers being evaluated by fraudulent pseudoscience.

VAMs are generally based on standardized test scores, and do not directly measure
potential teacher contributions toward other student outcomes.

o VAMs typically measure correlation, not causation: Effects – positive or negative –
attributed to a teacher may actually be caused by other factors that are not captured in
the model.

o Under some conditions, VAM scores and rankings can change substantially when a
different model or test is used, and a thorough analysis should be undertaken to
evaluate the sensitivity of estimates to different models.

• VAMs should be viewed within the context of quality improvement, which distinguishes
aspects of quality that can be attributed to the system from those that can be attributed to
individual teachers, teacher preparation programs, or schools. Most VAM studies find
that teachers account for about 1% to 14% of the variability in test scores, and that the
majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level

Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.
Anonymous said…
@Michael, I wouldn't be surprised if 9 out of 10 parents with children in SPS approve of using students outcomes when evaluating teachers.

The question, though, is what sort of student outcomes, and measured how? That's the tricky part. I imagine that 9 out of 10 teachers would also support using some type of student outcome measure in their own evaluation--I'm sure they like to feel like they're making an impact, and if kids really aren't learning things, they would probably want to know that. But state assessments don't seem to be a very effective way to know anything about a teacher's performance--it may be easy to get the data, but it's hard to interpret them meaningfully.

I think a lot of people like the idea, on the surface, because they've witnessed what seem to be lousy teachers. Most of us have the experience of seeing our kids come home with work that's too hard, too easy, too boring, too time-consuming, pointless, inappropriate, flat out incorrect, etc. We naturally assume the teacher is doing a bad job or isn't fit to teach that subject or grade or population or whatever. And in some cases we're probably right. But the likelihood that statewide test data would identify those specific teachers as the ones that are problematic seems pretty low. What we really need are principals who are interested in ensuring high quality teaching methods, a district that is committed to high quality curricula and supports, and probably a whole list of other things--things at the district level, not individual teacher. Teachers are only a small part of the pie, and it's becoming more and more apparent to me that all this focus on teacher evaluation is just a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.

Anonymous said…
Let me understand.

We're OK with students being tested and "held accountable", just so long as it isn't too much testing. Buttttt, we're not OK with teachers being "held accountable", because poor kids, minority kids, and disabled kids will screw up the "results" for those poor teachers, who otherwise are doing a great job, except for the groups who are doing the worst. For them, we are led to believe from the status-quo-bloggers, teachers don't really matter all that much, education isn't really all that important - for THEM.

If we think about it, that's because the bloggers here are not parents of poor kids, minority kids, or disabled kids. Their kids "pass" the test - therefore everyone is AOK with using this test (the evil SBAC) or the (CogAt) to hand out educational goodies.... like decent programs, or diplomas. Bloggers here think it's OK to use tests, because it proves that their kids are highly deserving and it bestows goodies on their kids, (and likewise keeps goodies from other kids). Status quo remains intact.

Teachers ONLY ever stand up against testing - when THEY might have to do something differently as a result. If it fails a kid, or an entire group of kids, or ruins their life - well, WEA cares not one tiny bit. But make testing count for teachers as it does for students, well, that gets up in arms. Status quo needs to remain intact!

Look. The WEA would have a LOT more credibility if it EVER stood up for students. How about take a stand AGAINST testing for diplomas, or standardization in general? If they did that, there would be a whole lot more people on their side.

How can there EVER be a standardized testing requirement for student graduation - but nothing for teachers? It's pretty obvious from the get go, that one follows the other. Anything else is ludicrous. Michael is spot on in that regard. Everyone can see that act as simple passing the buck.

Anonymous said…
Reader - perhaps you need to do some research.
From the WEA's website, which I found via a quick google search:

"Washington Education Association 2015 Legislative Priorities

As public school educators in Washington, WEA members are committed to the success of every K-12 and college student. Here are the Washington Education Association’s student-centered priorities for the 2015 legislative session.

Reliable, Predictable and Sustainable School Funding

If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. This means resourcing all schools so students have more one-one-one attention, inviting classrooms and a well-rounded curriculum. WEA members support legislation to:

Provide full funding for a comprehensive basic education program that meets the needs of all students – including funding the staffing levels in voter-approved Initiative 1351 so children receive the one-on-one attention they need
Support sustainable revenue sources that provide for the needs of all Washington citizens – with particular attention to our vulnerable populations – that are both less regressive and fairer to individuals and small businesses
Focus on Students

Every Washington student has the right to a high-quality public education that provides an opportunity for success. Good education inspires students’ natural curiosity, imagination and desire to learn. Too much testing takes time from learning. WEA members support legislation to:

Eliminate the high-stakes nature of state standardized tests, including using them as a graduation requirement, and reduce the number of standardized tests where possible
Ensure students have more access to individual support and educational resources by providing manageable workloads and reduced class sizes
Reduce child hunger and improve student achievement through convenient, high-quality, and stigma-free school meal programs"

Eric M said…
Reader, if I follow your argument, teachers should just shut up. As should the readers of this blog. Tests are good if they test teachers, but bad for students. Does that sum it up? Did I leave anything out?
Lynn said…
You didn't catch that Reader asserts that nobody who posts here parents a poor or minority or disabled kid.
Watching said…
Seattle Times is reporting:

Common Core woes

Among the problems reported during the first week of new Common Core tests in Washington state:

• High-school sophomores who showed up to take the computerized exam Tuesday — the first day of testing — could not access the test because of a programming glitch. That problem was corrected by Thursday morning.

• Some districts reported a glitch that randomly kicked students out of the testing program.

• Others said students who paused the test could not later access the program.

Source: Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

Anonymous said…
Hi Reader: Here are my responses:

I am against ALL standardized tests as barriers to graduation. And years ago, when this all started with WASL, the "claim" was that it would NOT be used to deny graduation -- it was only being used to "inform" teachers, blah, blah, blah" -- until people realized that kids would totally blow it off if it had no "teeth." So -- they made it a graduation requirement (which many of us knew they ultimately would). It's like the traffic laws that are "ok, because we won't tell your insurance company . . ." -- until the next legislative session, when they amend them so they DO count for insurance. We are all a bunch of boiled frogs!

Reader says: "For them, we are led to believe from the status-quo-bloggers, teachers don't really matter all that much, education isn't really all that important - for THEM."
Can't speak for some groups, but for some disabled kids (including mine), the real issue is that the test is highly unlikely to test what he knows, because it is normed for kids without language disabilities. So, no he may not pass it; and no, it wouldn't fairly reflect on whether his teacher taught well or not. But the MOST important thing is that while it may be a minor waste of time for bright kids who will do well no matter what, it is a devastating loss of time (and waste of resources -- and a huge source of frustration) for a kid who is never going to "show what he knows" on any standardized test that is highly language based. All the more because he is actually very bright -- just not in English (or any other language -- except stuff that is tonal, visual, or totally logic based). Any minute spent in trying to "prep" him for these tests is utterly wasted time -- worse actually, because it is so frustrating and demoralizing. So even if you could make a "weak" argument that it might in some alternate universe be "fair" to grade teachers based on how well their kids test -- (which I don't concede), it would NEVER be appropriate to grade a teacher on how MY kid does -- just as it is wholly inappropriate to evaluate my child's learning or knowledge based on such a test.

"If we think about it, that's because the bloggers here are not parents of poor kids, minority kids, or disabled kids."

HA! Wrong!

"Teachers ONLY ever stand up against testing - when THEY might have to do something differently as a result. If it fails a kid, or an entire group of kids, or ruins their life - well, WEA cares not one tiny bit. But make testing count for teachers as it does for students, well, that gets up in arms. Status quo needs to remain intact!"

I concede that there are times I wish that teachers would go to bat more when it is "just" the kids getting dinged -- but really? They put their jobs on the line with administrators, they are already incredibly overworked -- and yet, many of them DO advocate when it is "just" kids -- and not teachers -- who are at risk.

Reader: "Look. The WEA would have a LOT more credibility if it EVER stood up for students. How about take a stand AGAINST testing for diplomas, or standardization in general? If they did that, there would be a whole lot more people on their side." I will not rise to defend the WEA (despite those who say the "union" and the "teachers" are "one," I have not found that to ring true. But again -- there are LOTS of teachers who go to bat for the best interests of kids every day -- in ADDITION to the incredible work load, the low pay, and the unfriendly working conditions that result from being the "whipping boys" of ed reform.


Anonymous said…
No Eric M, let me sum it up. The tests are bad, period. They are bad because nobody uses them for anything, they don't even look at the results. They can not "inform" instruction. They do nothing EXCEPT maintain the status quo. The standards are bad too. Who wants to be standard? Valuing standardization is devaluing diversity. The two are opposites. It's no surprise that success on standardized testing does not reflect diversity. That is by design.

WEA, SEA care about that ONLY when it might possibly be used against them.... in the most minimal way.

Jan, if you seriously think teachers go to bat for your kid with a disability, then you are a rare bird indeed. Most do very little. Furthermore, a teacher's job is not "on the line.". I can't think of any profession where jobs are more protected. That's a good thing. But, it leaves no excuses for not standing up.

Anonymous said…

Some of my clients are among the most severely disabled. They are the ones whose only controllable motion is an eyeblink or a tongue thrust, or whose access points change each year as their degenerative disease progresses. I have seen teachers work hard to find access points for switches, find activities for the kids to do to reward their switch use and use them for learning. I've watched teachers and OTs and PTs make appeal after appeal for equipment like wheelchairs or AAC devices when the insurance company or state has turned the parents down. I've seen teachers bring in clothes and diapers and cleansing cloths from their own supplies or purchased with the own money when they are trying to toilet train an incontinent child and parent or the group home has not provided them. Are there sped teachers who don't bother? Yes, but I say they are more a product of the system that has beaten them down - in one case I have definitely witnessed an verbally abusive principal who threatened a staff member with firing for requesting additional help. Most of the ones I encounter are overworked, overwhelmed with too many high-needs students in their classes and not enough aides, but still trying their best to do what is right for their students. I cannot paint them with the same broad, hatefilled brush that you do.
Obviously, I too must be that
rare bird.
Anonymous said…
Jan, the WASL was always going to be a graduation requirement. The Governor's Council on Education Reform and Funding (GCERF) met in 1991-92 and discussed then that students would have a pass a state test to graduate.

The work of GCERF resulted in HB 1209, passed in 1993, that resulted in the adoption of the state learning goals and the development of the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL). Additionally, this law required that students earn a Certificate of Mastery to graduate and that certificate could only be earned by passing the WASL. Not until 2004 did the legislature adopt the alternative assessments for graduation.

The bottom line is that the test was always going to be required for graduation. This myth, and it is a myth, that the WASL was not originally intended to be required for graduation has been repeated so often that it's become the truth in certain circles.

--- swk

Anonymous said…
@Rare Bird

Thank you.

Teachers are the heros of the system. They show up, and they care for kids. Every single day.

They have to put up with so much bullsh*t.

I am humbled. Thank you, and your colleagues.

Thank you.

How I wish we could ditch half of the Super's cabinet and pay you more.

Thank you,
just retired said…
Why would anybody want to be a teacher today?
Anonymous said…
I wish my sons 2nd grade teacher would have been fired by SPS, SEA or WEA after the numerous complaints from parents, it would have prevented her from assaulting him.

I know SPS well, I have over 85lbs of disturbing documents that show that SPS, SEA and WEA DO NOT put students first.

I don't believe that all teachers are sub-standard there are a few gems out there?

These teachers are not gems based on test scores, I think they are gems, because they love what they do and are successful in differential instruction. You can tell by your student's attitude when they get lucky and have a GEM for a teacher.

We need to start mining for GEMS and I think we are willing to pay for GEMS. There are probably many GEMS in the rough at SPS, so why can't SPS polish them?

The money spent at JSCEE needs to be cut by 75% and fed to our school buildings, otherwise we are doomed to mendacity at best for a long time.

There is general lack of accountability in buildings from grade to grade compounded going from K-5 to Middle school then Middle to high school. I can find no evidence of feedback being used to correct or improve teachers performance or student outcomes from grade to grade or school to school.

This is only one a few industries out there who don't use quality control or feedback to improve, unbelievable!


Anonymous said…
I think the question is, Why would anyone want to be a SPS student these days?

Anonymous said…
@ Reader,

You said: How can there EVER be a standardized testing requirement for student graduation - but nothing for teachers? It's pretty obvious from the get go, that one follows the other.

First of all, aren't there testing requirements included in the teacher certification process? That's the appropriate comparison--for students, you have to demonstrate you've learned the basics required to obtain a HS diploma; for teachers, you have to demonstrate you have the basic knowledge for teaching.

Second, what do you mean by "one follows the other"? It seems the research on linking test scores to teaching abilities doesn't agree with you on this, so perhaps you're talking more about content knowledge? I agree there's a logical link there--if teachers don't have a strong grasp in their content area, how can they teach it well. We've had a few teachers who did not have the appropriate knowledge to teach classes at the level they were teaching. In those cases, I wished that teachers were required to take the same assessments as kids, and that they had to score near the top to keep teaching that subject and level. But these instances of seemingly underqualified teachers are rare, and it would probably be a waste of time and resources to implement an ongoing assessment system to detect a few bad teachers--especially since they can be detected more quickly and efficiently by other means, such as parent and student complaints, observation, etc. The key would be having principals who pay good attention and aren't afraid to act.

Finally, what do those who dislike the idea of standardized test graduation requirements prefer? We already have alternate ways for kids to meet the requirements, so I'm curious as to how the current system is unfair. Is it about what type of knowledge is deemed appropriate for graduation (e.g., do the current requirements focus too much on basics like the 3R's)? Or should HS diplomas represent that you've put in your time, rather than that you've attained a baseline level of knowledge? I've always assumed that it's important to learn the basics and that that's what a HS diploma should represent, but I'd be interested in hearing more about why some consider standardized graduation test requirements a bad idea.
Anonymous said…
Why would anyone want to be a student? That is a silly response, Michael. Sometimes you let emotion overrule good thinking.

More power to charters.

Anonymous said…
Does anyone have the list of who was selected to be on the 6-8 Social Studies adoption committee? I assume that's public info, but can't find anything on the website...

Anonymous said…
Personally. I think yes. There is no "basic" set of knowledge that needs to be certified for a high school diploma. I know for a fact - most teachers could not pass the SBAC at this point. So who cares that they passed their certification process some 20, 30, or 40 years ago? Furthermore - MOST successful adults couldn't. How many of you could whip off the volume of circle? Cone? (8th grade standard, without a formula) So, why is it really all that important for our students? (maintaining status quo, feeding the test industry, those are the real drivers) The reality is - you can only certify what you think used to be relevant, when you were in school, which will never be relevant again. Look at the huge emphasis in high school math books on programmable calculators and programmable calculator skills "as a 21st century skill". Bizarre! That WAS a cool skill back in the 1980's before there were computers - but somehow it's in all the textbooks NOW - because those arcane skills were thought to be futuristic - wasting time and effort IN THE PRESENT. So, that sort of thinking is why the notion of standards themselves are to be questioned and minimized. Yes, there should be basic area's of study, and wide latitude within that for students to learn whatever they want (and can). That promotes self-determination, diversity, creativity - and all the things we really value. Standardization promotes stagnation, uniformity, and conformity - qualities not valued by too many. Who would put on their college app "I am standard. Passed SBAC with flying colors." Laughable. A diploma after "time spent" doing creative and individualized work is something we could strive for. This is what our private schools do. At this point, they are leading the way.

Wrong Swk. The WASL was NEVER intended as a graduation requirement - it was the thing created for NCLB compliance, nothing more. Then the legislature enacted it as a high school requirement - only to backpedal when minorities failed in huge numbers. After a few years - it feebly brought in the EOC's to retest the water. No doubt, that will happen again with SBAC.

Anonymous said…

I thought the same thing. When you spend as much time on mean spirited, poorly vetted standardized tests as learning, then why be a student indeed!

Students should at least get a list of which common core standards are mastered and which could use improvement immediately upon completion of these all digital tests. Students, teachers, parents get nothing but a useless number! Bull hooey! Test companies should be reimbursing schools and teachers, and especially students for wasting their time. If it is a common core test, then we should get a detailed common core report or demand our student's instructional hours back!
Anonymous said…
Reader, you're obviously an internet troll who has very little knowledge of what's going on.

I'll correct one thing and one thing only since I'm not planning to continue to feed this particular troll.

The WASL was first administered in 1997 and NCLB didn't become law until 2002.

Anyone can read HB 1209 from 1993:

--- swk
lowell parent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
lowell parent said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
lowell parent said…
I agree with reader in that we need some measure of evaluation to see if students are learning. There needs to be a way to remove ineffective or incompetent teachers. Why shouldn't teachers have to prove success just like the rest of us.
realistic said…
Not everyone is a troll just because they don't agree with you
Anonymous said…
swk: stop a sec. (Don't leave yet). I went back and reread House Bill 1209 (I admit, I didn't read all the back up to it -- so if the WASL was discussed in committee reports, etc., I would have missed it). I see that the (now well known) concepts of certificates of mastery, essential learning requirements, etc. are there -- but the WASL (by name, at least, is not). I can't figure out how my recollections vary so much from your assertion that the WASL was always intended, from its inception, as a high stakes test. If you already just know the answer, can you connect the last few dots? How did we get from HB 1209 to making the WASL a graduation requirement (when its authors specifically said it should not be used in that manner)? If not, I will have to do my own research at some later date.

Anonymous said…
Lowell parent asks: "Why shouldn't teachers have to prove success just like the rest of us?"

My response -- they SHOULD! But two things:
(1) they should be measured by something that actually demonstrates whether they are succeeding. (We don't "measure" doctors by whether all their patients survive -- or the geriatric ones, and those treating Stage 4 cancer would all be fired right away! And we don't measure dentists by how many patients get cavities, because some of those patients have bad genes and terrible oral hygiene, and others don't). Master teacher observations, parent feedback, student feedback (sometimes), student success in higher grades, etc. -- there are LOTS of ways to evaluate teachers that actually reflect whether they are good teachers. But I have seen no research suggesting that basing teacher retention on test scores is one of those ways.

2. Even if tying teacher retention to student test scores had some basis in rational fact (which I don't concede), it is also necessary to look at the costs. The tests are expensive and very time consuming (we pay a kings ransom detracting from time that kids could actually spend learning stuff, rather than practicing for, or taking, tests to enrich private testing companies). Because they are also bad tests (at least the WASL and the MAP were -- I have no opinion on the EOCs (now dead) or the MSPs (whatever took the WASL's place, which my kids thought was a more reasonable test), they foster indifference and contempt in children (and anxiety/fear in others) -- all of which are the absolute opposite of what we WANT the experience of school to be.

So -- why would we support poorly constructed, expensive tests that fail to accurately measure student learning, at a huge cost, both in time and money, -- and then foist the scores of this train wreck on teachers as part of their evaluations?

I have heard no explanation yet from legislators or administrators that is not either craven, lazy (which includes people who jump on the testing bandwagon without knowing what they are talking about -- or without finding good quality research or experts who know what they are talking about to help them), or both.

Anonymous said…
Yes SWK. There were EALRs and GLE's conceived... but only test lovers (or beneficiaries) would state that this means: WASL = grad requirement. It doesn't. Were you even born then? I think not. Certainly not well educated at that point. Many of us actually lived that. You got it wrong. This ill informed process did not reach this point overnight - but is the result of a vast testing/standardization, conspiracy - aimed at proving that public education sucks - and that it can only be saved by salesmen pedaling wares. And of course, and only for other people's kids.

Right. You can't make your case, fall back to best practice: name calling. Put it on the test. (by the way, you never answered whether or not you knew the formula for a sphere???? And why is that an important 21st century skill?) Does your kid's 2nd grade teacher know it? I know mine didn't. (and it doesn't mean she was bad either. Hint. It means the TEST is bad.)


Anonymous said…
Lowell parent. For the record. I think that whatever "TEST" is ubiquitously required for EVERYONE to receive the "diploma", should be testing things that are so universally important, that a person would be completely incompetent to survive - without those prescribed skills. IF, a person can get by without those skills, then they should NOT be on a test.

Personally, I think there probably is NO such test. Private schools don't have them. Lakeside school doesn't have it. My high school did NOT have a standardized test - most adults alive today were not subjected to that. So, why are they so necessary those unfortunate enough to be going to public schools now? Michael is absolutely right. Why would anybody want to sit in schools - and spend months and months sitting in front of computer generated tests - practicing for, or taking standardized tests? Learning the exact same thing as EVERY other kid in the universe. (Why? So he can be the exact same as the next person?)

BUT... if our students ARE GOING TO BE FORCED INTO THESE TESTS (and I don't agree with that) THEN, Hell Yes! Teachers are going down that same road too. They need to BOTH be able to pass the test (which isn't a reality) AND be able to get students to this all important goal.

We can't just make the kids eat it, if we don't make the adults do likewise. We're really saying, when we mandate these tests, that these are the most important skills... so incredibly important, we would DENY a diploma without them.... Then by all means, teachers need to step up. You can't have it both ways.

Anonymous said…
I am quite happy to denigrate the interface of the test (and am opting my particular test takers, especially the younger ones, out), but I know as does everyone in my household the formula for the volume of a sphere and a cone. Those are basic geometrical concepts. Off the top of my head it is helpful to know when packaging is conical, about how much less material that is than cylindrical packaging. I don't want my family to be easily tricked into poverty by large corporations being the only entities able to do basic math. Similarly everybody here knows basic statistics, so we can't be tricked into thinking something is important when it is not or vice versa. Knowledge is power, that's why we know.

I do wish people had looked at more questions on the MSP. Or recalled the SAT. I don't love the SBAC, but standardized tests are boring. Previous tests were not so amazing.

I really, really hope my children's second grade teachers can find the volume of a sphere, for all kinds of reasons, but unfortunately I know math is not a strength of many elementary teachers. So it's possible they do not.

Anonymous said…
Jan, HB 1209 (and SB 5953 from the 1992 session) refer only to the "assessment system." The Commission on Student Learning, also created by SB 5953 and further enhanced by HB 1029, named the WASL.

However, regardless of its nomenclature, the legislature, as is demonstrated in both of these pieces of legislation, intended from the start for the "high school assessment" to be a graduation requirement.

I don't know from where you get that "its authors specifically said it should not be used in that manner." I'm not saying you're wrong --- I'm not just finding any such intent statement and this would be contrary to my own recollection of these discussions.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Sleeper. My kid's 2nd grade teacher didn't know what a prime number is either. That was a little surprising. But, turns out, understanding the definition of prime numbers is not such an important skill for many careers - including teaching 2nd grade. And no. I don't think she should have been fired.

Anonymous said…
I don't know if she should have been fired, but I absolutely would want to know that that teacher didn't have that skill, and I'd want them taught it, as well as a check to see what other basic math they are missing. I do think it is important. Many of the students should be able to be taught about greatest common factors in that grade(assuming we "differentiate" students), and prime numbers are essential to teaching them.

Maybe s/he just forgot. I also think there is a difference in what skills are required to not be fired from one particular job you are already doing, and so perhaps becoming rusty on, and what skills I want my children taught (much larger realm, during the period of their lives when study is so prominent) to be able to be full, knowledgeable participants in society.

Patrick said…
Reader, a circle is a two-dimensional figure and has no volume.
Moved to CA said…
Wow, going back to the WASL, nicknamed by the kids of the time as a WAste of Student Learning.

SWK: My recollection about the WASL - which long time posters on this blog would remember better than I- is that the WASL was to generically compare school outcomes and was then twisted to meet the individual student goals of NCLB.

Jan: Yep; no one will teach my children under a system that rates the teachers of my children. My kids are (the children of parents who can afford lots of medical care / therapy / tutors / "gifted" in a district that treats everyone the same) doing the best they can but showing "growth" on a one day test is meaningless. Growth takes time; sometimes years and sometimes "failure" along the path (two steps forward, one step back).
Anonymous said…
I know for a fact - most teachers could not pass the SBAC at this point.

Reader, the SBE hasn't yet set the cut scores for the high school proficiency threshold, so I'm curious as to how can you know any such thing. The SBAC-generated Level 3 "college ready" cut score is not the same thing as meeting the HS requirement. "Passing the test" will require a much lower score--something the vast majority of students will attain, and I suspect most teachers would be able to do likewise.

I'm not defending the SBAC, but I just don't see how your statement is true.


PS - Just because a 2nd grade teacher can hold a job without knowing basic math skills does not make it ok. Some of those kids may aspire to something other than that some day, you know. And some of those 2nd graders are likely doing 4th grade math. They need a teacher who can not only keep up, but actually teach them something. How can you inspire a kid in math or any other subject if you lack a basic understanding of it?
Anonymous said…
@J said, "Students should at least get a list of which common core standards are mastered and which could use improvement immediately upon completion of these all digital tests."

This is exactly what Amplify does. The score report provides a printout of exactly what standards have been "mastered," meaning you correctly answered a given percent of the questions correctly, and which weren't, on a question by question basis.

What I found interesting is that my child's overall percentage didn't change much over the course of 3 tests. What am I supposed to make of that?

Anonymous said…
Patrick. Right! Yes, my mistake. Volume of a sphere. Yes, it has volume. And surface area. A calculation, I've never had to use for anything, ever. And, I was an engineer for many years. The fact that my kid's second grade teacher didn't know that, or what prime numbers were, yes, was disconcerting. Surprising. And yes. It was still OK.

The real 21st century skill is to know where to get information from all the resources and information available, and know how to apply the information. And to stick with a problem, And to work with people. None of that, will be on the test. Those are the skills that actually matter.

Anonymous said…
I took the 7th grade SBAC practice test for math. I zoomed through it until I go to a question which required the test taker to know how to calculate the volume of a cone.

The volume of a cone?

I have scored a perfect 800 on both the math SAT, the GRE math section. I was a National Merit Finalist and the captain of my high school's state championship math team.

I never memorized the volume of a cone, and I have never needed to. If I wanted to calculate the volume of a cone, guess what? I would look it up.

It's a stupid memorization requirement on a stupid test.

n said…
I've learned so much teaching primary math! Honestly, who remembers all that stuff unless they use it? Why should we? Life today is so chock full of information, we keep what we need and put the rest in storage. Sure, we take a test like the SBAC and it tweaks our memories and sometimes it rises to the surface and other times it doesn't.

According to the Oregonian - a link I posted a couple of months ago now - 60% of students are expected to fail the SBAC. Sort of a given.

My question: Why a test that is already acknowledged to have such a high failure rate? I agree, GL. Math is largely memory. If you need it and use it, you remember it. Otherwise, is it a reason to fail kids?
n said…
Oh, and Michael, there are a lot of students who don't want to come to school anymore. Even at primary.
SB5748 said…

Snohomish Superintendent testifies in opposition linking teacher evaluations to teacher testing. Common Core has not been funded and teachers will be evaluated on an unfunded mandate. This individual had the common sense to indicate that policy should be based on research based policies- not money.

David Spring indicates that Stand for Children received funding from the Gates Foundation to conduct a survey that included 17,000 individuals. LEV testified in favor of this bill.

Clover Codd testified in favor of this bill. It is all about the money. We will have a new test? Why doesn't Seattle have an individual like the Snohomish Superintendent?

No surprise: Teachers United testified in favor of SB 5748, but fell short on the fact that teachers were not asked whether or not teachers supported SBAC/ test scores.

WEA testifies and calls attention to SPS. Last year, SPS testified that linking test scores to teacher evaluation needed to be included in legislation because they need to be assured SEA won't oppose. SPS claims test scores count as trigger mechanism. WEA counters that feds might require a percentage of evaluation must be required for waiver.

Could feds threaten to withhold dollars unless test scores accounted for certain percentage of evaluation?
Anonymous said…
The thing is GL, there are so many of there gotchas. Another all important standard. Understanding the definition of "directly proportional". Now, most well educated adults know that "proportional" means... well, a linear relationship. Fine and good. Many will even remember"point slope" as the standard way to represent a line with an equation. But, truly.... do you absolutely need to know the definition of "directly" proportional???? And the distinction between, proportional and "directly proportional"? That's a linear relationship.... that also happens to go through the origin. Who knew? Another missed question for middle schoolers, and absolutely irrelevant to thinking, learning, problem solving, creativity... and all about plain old terminology, curriculum choice. And how does knowing that minutia... prepare a student, for anything, other than this particular test?

Putting students first, means delinking sanctions for SBAC failures FROM STUDENTS first. WEA would do well to heed. To put teachers ahead of students is a cop out.

Anonymous said…
ESEA gives feds the ability to direct use of federal funds in schools that do not meet AYP. The waiver only staves off the AYP requirement for as long as the waiver is in place. We have lived with worse when it comes to budget cuts.
-not scared
Anonymous said…
@ n, 60% of students are not expected to "fail" the SBAC. Not scoring Level 3 or higher is not the same as failing. According to the State Board of Ed, the threshold set for high school proficiency will likely be much lower.

Anonymous said…
A formula sheet used to be provided with MSP/EOC math tests. Newer is not always better...

Patrick said…
There's lots of items of knowledge that many individuals learn in school but never use. I am not comfortable saying they should all be dropped. Some of the individual items are about a way of thinking -- geometry isn't terribly useful by itself, but it allows students to explore formal reasoning. Most Americans never use a foreign language, but it still gives insight into other peoples.

The ability to learn efficiently makes people more adaptable and will be useful throughout life, both at work and at home.

Anonymous said…
I would be happy if my kids' teachers knew how to use apostrophes. Or when to use I, me, and myself. "If your child has a question, have them come to myself or Mr. Jones." Communications with parents show the teachers' weaknesses. Not just typos, but repeated errors. At some point people decided grammar is boring to learn, and stopped teaching it. Now we have a slew of young elementary teachers who try to teach conventions without knowing them.

Volume of a cone I can live without.

Anonymous said…
We don't know what knowledge will be useful for each individual student, but don't we teach a general core of knowledge so as not to close doors for whatever path a student may choose? And also to widen the horizons of everyone?

I don't want someone claiming something is unimportant because they personally find it unimportant. That is happening in my child's classrooms already. A teacher's personal biases, rather than the standards, ends up limiting the knowledge and skills of an entire class of students.

Geometry is pretty darn useful for carpenters, land surveyors, and machinists (all blue collar jobs).

Anonymous said…
A circle can only occur in two dimensions, thus be nature it is defined by area. Circumference is a byproduct, the derivative of area. Comparing a unit circle to a unit square of radius of 1, or diameter of 2, is the same proportion. I would argue that the correct proportion is .7854, see you on July 8th, or then again more correctly, the 7th day of August in 54' will be the big circle celebration day in my book.

Anonymous said…
Seattle Times has an editorial reminding us that SBAC = good. Parents and teachers who disagree = uninformed and wrong.

When the corporate interests in this town get blowback, there's always a Blethen editorial. Must be getting hot in the Common Core kitchen.

Anonymous said…

Seattle Teachers Union (SEA) calls to suspend SBAC.

See post on the Seattle Opt Out Facebook page

Anonymous said…
whoa whoa whoa. I looked at the Opt Out link which led to a post on Seattle Education 2010 blog. There it claims that a resolution was unanimously passed on March 9 to support suspension of SBAC and to lead community information efforts about the test BUT that the SEA leadership did not post the resolution or the vote on its website.

Hugely inflammatory IF true. Is it true? Any educators who went to the meeting reading this thread? Any word from Knapp - SEA head himself?

IF true, the fire is hotter than I thought (hoped).

Anonymous said…
All SPS teachers should be able to pass the 12 grade SBAC test as a requirement of employment.

They should only be certified to teach grade levels that they score a perfect scores on.

They are educators not baristas!

It's a pity its harder to become a Sommelier than a school teacher.

Anonymous said…
As for the SEA resolution and its proposed parent informational sessions, the best one could hope for is for accurate and factual information to be shared with parents. But based on the numerous factual errors and assumptions within the resolution, I'm not going to hold my breath.

If teachers/educators knowingly share inaccurate information with their parents, then the action is simply ideological and political. It is not intended to share unbiased information so that parents can make informed decisions on their own. It is intended to persuade parents to a particular action --- to opt their children out of the tests.

I have no problem with and would actually expect teachers to share as much information about SBAC as they can with their students and parents. But, it's wrong to share false information to make an ideological and political point.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
The Fox is IN the hen house!

Know better
Patrick said…
Michael, in what field is absolute perfection required? Even professions where there's a tough exam -- law, medicine -- a perfect score is not needed. People aren't perfect but they compensate well with their imperfections.
Anonymous said…
You first. And no excuses about why you missed a question on either the math or the ELA tests, including that the tests are in someway bad, imprecise, or poorly written. You have to suck it up (your score) like the rest of us.
Anonymous said…
@ Patrick are you saying a 3rd grade teacher can't ACE the 3rd grade test? We are talking about a collage grad!

Do you want someone providing bad information to your child?

Yes, without exception I expect teachers to know their grade level subject matter 100% before teaching others.

Anonymous said…
I do plan on taking all the SBAC online test and I would be surprised if I don't ACE the test for elementary and middle school. I expect to receive above 90% on the other test.

Has anyone actually looked at the test? They are simple and I would absolutely expect students to be able to pass these test.

Anonymous said…
I don't have a dog in this fight (no SPS kids) but thought this report from a parent who took the 3rd-5th grade reading test was very interesting

What I learned taking the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test

Anonymous said…
I took the sample test and no scores were given but some of the questions wereso poorly written I doubt I got 100%
Anonymous said…
Michael, given your writing - and knowledge/misuse of language, I wouldn't expect you to pass as "college ready", in reading or writing. Seriously. You make some good points, but truly not somebody I would expect to pass.

Anonymous said…

@LikitIs You might be right. I had better whine and cry to my union before I get exposed as a fraud.

Elsa said…

SEA is a "professional association" not a union.
Anonymous said…
I guess I'm confused. If the SEA came out against the SBAC then why aren't we talking about it here and more importantly why did they choose not to tell the greater Seattle community? Isn't it a powerful statement if the union says it does not believe in these tests?

What am I missing?

"For them, we are led to believe from the status-quo-bloggers, teachers don't really matter all that much, education isn't really all that important - for THEM.

Reader, not sure if you mean me or Charlie but I have NEVER said "teachers don't really matter all that much.." Ever.

Some may have good reason to say they have not had a good experience with SPS. But many of us have - on balance - been happy with the education our children have had. So I refuse to damn SPS as being a failure for all.

"I know for a fact - most teachers could not pass the SBAC at this point."

Whoever said this, c'mon. You know that's just hyperbole that you're using.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, you can find post after post... from Charlie, crying and whining.... that teachers don't really matter all that much. And, nobody should really hold them accountable because none of it is really their fault. Darn those people thinking the teachers do matter! It's really all just "the poverty". And oh crap! What are we EVER to do about all that poverty and all those sucky homes and all those mediocre parents? ???

On the one hand, you say that education is some sort of equalizer. On the other hand, well, we really can't do anything about the poverty. It isn't the poor teacher's fault. It's just their sad inheritance.

Once again. You really can't have it both ways. If it's an equalizer, and therefore a necessity in a democracy - then you've got to believe that it is something that teachers CAN OVERCOME: poverty and situation. Because... if it can't do that - then why have it at all. If education isn't something that can equalize, and overcome poverty and ignorance... well then, it's just a benefit for the already benefitted. Not so interesting.

Anonymous said…
the poverty blame game is popular and nowhere more so than in middle class Seattle. you know how privilege works, don't you?
inherited wealth, knowledge of the system, connections, skin color(usually), language, speech patterns, access to good food and housing, role models,immigration status,etc.
education is supposed to bring up everybody to an equal level to compete or cooperate but the ones who got aren't really that interested in sharing. the downtrodden can move up as long as we keep staying ahead of them.

keep the faith

n said…
Thanks, HIMS mom, for clarifying. The article indicates that 60% will not pass and I took that to mean they would fail.

I'm reposting fyi.

From the article, And, beginning in 2016, students' year-to-year gains on the test will be used as a small factor in evaluating teachers who teach a math or English in grades where the test is given.

I think that's unfair. Students bring an accumulation of skills that have been contributed by many teachers. It seems illogical to blame the teacher who gives the test without holding the whole support system accountable. Perhaps that is its fatal flaw?
n said…
Here is one more SBAC commentary that does use the word "fail" regarding sped students. This from Connecticut. They list projected failure rates by grade level.

One doesn't know what to think.
Anonymous said…

Teachers do make a difference with students living in poverty.
If they don't, they should be transferred or fired.

Research also indicates that smaller class sizes, a systems approach to services, and students who are integrated into schools with lower FRL are significant factors.

Teachers didn't "sign on" to give these tests. Many don't support them. Not enough teachers are active in their unions and are complacent until it hits them like this potential evaluation based on state tests.

SEA got its teachers to actually sign up to use assessment for evaluations right after the MAP was approved. Teachers were "stunned" when the district decided MAP would be used in evaluations--even after telling teachers that wasn't the intention of MAP. Shocking!
SEA is a complete joke and WEA isn't far behind.

I taught back before NCLB and was horrified at the lack of accountability at, especially, schools with high FRL. I actually welcomed NCLB for that reason. Instead, it has morphed into (or perhaps that was the goal all along) a corporate attempt to takeover schools by, in part, demonizing teachers--and not just the bad ones.

I want no part of this testing frenzy--for students, schools or society. I do want public schools that work for all children.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
You know, enough already, the SEA is you and your co-workers. Calling your union a joke is fine but it's not that hard to win an election and change it. Unfortunately, the membership is apathetic and unmotivated, maybe even anti-union to some degree.The NW tradition of labor activism does not carry over into the teachers union, sadly. I'd be surprised if most teachers even know much about the battles waged here for workers' rights. Centralia Massacre?

Anonymous said…
I am no longer in SEA or WEA since I moved on to greener pastures.

When you are in something you don't agree with, you try to change it. When you realize you are surrounded by apathethic people who care more about being a "professional organization" organization than a being union (which you need when you get a "lunch break"), and have the means to move on, you move on.

So, yes, SEA is a joke and I stand by that. By and large, the teachers in SPS are complacent. Like I stated on another thread, Chicago teachers would put up with the crap SEA has been complicit with when it rains in hell.

--enough already
"If it's an equalizer, and therefore a necessity in a democracy - then you've got to believe that it is something that teachers CAN OVERCOME: poverty and situation. Because... if it can't do that - then why have it at all. If education isn't something that can equalize, and overcome poverty and ignorance... well then, it's just a benefit for the already benefitted. Not so interesting."

I hardly know where to start.

Of course, good teaching (in good schools) can overcome poverty. There are many examples of this in all parts of our country.

But when you stack the deck - 23% of US kids living in poverty, schools that have over 40,50.60% of the entire school F/RL, and differences in PTA funds, then you are asking a lot of teachers. Especially if their classrooms are not fully funded to do the job in the first place.

As for your "why have education at all" if teachers can't overcome poverty statement, I am just gobsmacked. We have public education for the public good.
Anonymous said…
I actually do not believe that education by itself can overcome poverty (and believe that the greater we allow wealth inequality to become through our other policies, the less education can do to equalize and overcome it), but education is critical for an educated populace to make decisions about governance and form a more progressive society. I also believe an uneducated populace becomes subservient to corporations and the extremely wealthy very quickly. There are lots of reasons to have education even if you don't think it can overcome poverty on its own.

Not that you were asking for everyone's opinion, but I think that is an interesting question.

Sleeper, discussion is good and thank you for expanding it.
Anonymous said…
@ n, Yes, a lot of the commentaries out there are using sloppy language like "fail" and "not pass." The authors apparently never bothered to look at what it actually means to score at the various levels the SBAC arbitrarily created. If a kid doesn't score at what the SBAC has identified as level 3 or above, does that really represent "failure" or "not passing"? Are states or districts really planning to use those SBAC levels to determine pass/fail?

In WA, the State Bd of Ed said they'll set the high school proficiency threshold score much lower, perhaps even somewhere in the level 1 range. That score, when identified, WOULD be a valid one to use in the context of "failing" or "not passing." But it won't match the SBAC score that everyone is freaking out about. And I don't think the SBAC folks themselves have ever referred to not reaching level 3 as "not passing" or "failing" either--as far as I can tell, that language comes from lazy reporters and anti-SBAC advocates.

Please also note that the cut score at the heart of all this alarm is the SBAC-generated "college ready" threshold. They have not, however, released a "career ready" cut score. Presumably such a score would be much lower, and more consistent with the high school proficiency threshold set to be set by the WA SBE, since a score sufficient for graduation should also be somewhat reflective of an education that can get you some sort of job once you're out. (But if that's not the case, then we by all means need much higher graduation standards!)

Anonymous said…
HIMmom. Students with disabilities use the elementary and middle school SBACs as their graduation requirement test. So, yes - passing does really matter. Is the state board going to set a "high school" graduation pass rate different for each grade, which is somehow different than "college ready".? For those students who are using it for graduation? I don't think so. And, that's not what OSPI says. OSPI says students with disabilities must pass an out of grade level test at standard. Obviously, there's no multi-tiered concept of "passing". If you're saying - oh well, it's really no big deal if a bunch of people "fail" (or whatever you want to call it) at lower levels... so long as there's a way to pass the high school test. I really don't see that flying. Furthermore - the standards have changed over the years - and now to require high school students with disabilities to pass tests, at any level, for materials that have changed, seems completely unfair.

Anonymous said…
HIMSmom, the current SBAC cut score is a "college AND career ready" cut score. They will not be setting a separate career ready cut score.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Speddie, the IEP team gets to decide what grade-level assessment students in special education will take for high school graduation purposes. If the SBAC assessments are considerably more difficult than the MSP at each grade level, the IEP can determine the most appropriate grade level on the SBAC assessments.

In other words, if a high school student in special education was previously to take a 5th grade MSP because it aligned with the student's IEP goals and objectives but now the SBAC 3rd grade is more closely aligned to the 5th grade MSP, the IEP team has the right to determine that the 3rd grade SBAC assessment is the appropriate graduation assessment for the student.

--- swk
Anonymous said…

Are you sure? If so, that's interesting given these statements in SBAC's "Interpretation and Use of Scores and Achievement Levels" document, adopted November 14, 2014.

The Achievement Level Descriptors presented here are linked to an operational definition of college content-readiness to inform score interpretation for high schools and colleges.

Smarter Balanced does not yet have a parallel operational definition and framework for career readiness.

What gives?

Anonymous said…
And swk, I did figure they wouldn't actually produce such a score. But the language does suggest a recognition that were they to do so, it might be lower, no?

Anonymous said…
This from the Connecticut article:

According the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Disaggregated Field Test Data for 2014, the cut scores that have been set for this year’s test are designed to produce the following results:

Projected Failure Rate for Special Education Students with IEPs on the Common Core SBAC Math Section
4th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 87.1% WILL FAIL
6th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 91.3% WILL FAIL
8th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 90.3% WILL FAIL
11TH Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 92.5% WILL FAIL

Projected Failure Rate for Special Education Students with IEPs on Common Core SBAC English (ELA) Section
4th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 83.6% WILL FAIL
6th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 90.1% WILL FAIL
8th Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 91.5% WILL FAIL
11TH Grade Math – Special Education Students with IEPs 91% WILL FAIL

These are the official projected results based on the SBAC Field Test of 2014 and the Pass/Fail “cut scores” adopted by the SBAC Committee in November 2014.

This doesn't sound like opinion but I'm willing to be corrected.

n said…
Enough Already, I do agree with you about our union. But it is driven by high school teachers. Elementary has changed by its own union has not caught up to that change. There are many more K-5s than high schools and each elementary is an empire for a principal who is generally given full support by re

K-5teachers are overworked and they have little time for activist stuff. Also, we are composed primarily by women who still don't understand the need for taking tough stands. In addition, a principal in an elementary is much closer to a little dictator. Our principal came from sped (as do many principals) and is very controlling. Teachers can be easily punished for speaking up or going against the desires of our principal.

I do not ever wish for parents to become second-guessers when it comes to principals and the management of buildings. But we are very much at the whim of our principals these days. And the union does not back us.

It is not as simple as it sounds. I, too, wish for stronger and more responsive leadership and a work force that is truly is solidarity. We have, unfortunately, neither at this point.
n said…
Finally, we have education to keep the playing field equal - or the most equal we can. But it can't just be the school.

Children from poverty who were successfully educated and who went on to successful post-high school or college careers most likely had a strong parent - one or two. Without that third leg - student, teacher, parent - moving a child out of poverty or providing a successful education for that child is pretty darn hard to do. If it is even possible.

These wide generalities drive me crazy. Dig a little deeper: as Obama said much to his later regret, nobody does it on his or her own. It takes a teacher, a society, a support system of some sort to become successful.

Also, I wonder how many children who do not succeed in school are the victims of undiagnosed dyslexia. Schools do not do a good job with learning disorders and I would posit that most of our under-educated and least successful citizens are victims of undiagnosed learning disabilities.

Finally, if anyone watched the Martin Spurlock show on beekeeping, you saw him identify the toxin that is causing the loss of bee populations in this country. When that toxin was finally identified, European countries immediately ordered it out of use. Americans are still thinking about it.

I wonder why?

That's what we are doing to our kids. Filling them with environmental junk that messes with brains, hormones, and every other toxin and drug that chemical companies profit by.

Why are we even arguing about teachers? We such a small part of the whole problem in this country.

I'm getting annoyed as I write! Better end I guess. :)
Anonymous said…
So SWK... what about the high school student that was going take the 3rd Grade MSP? But now, it's really more like the 5th grade MSP, or some other thing not previously used with standards completely not taught? What test will you tell them they should take?

In point of fact, high school students are being asked this month to amend IEPs because the SBAC wasn't even an allowable option on previous, existing IEPs. ALL the IEPs existing today (created by IEPonline) say how a student will take the HSPE/MSP/EOC. There's no mention of SBAC at all - there's only a WASL/MSP section - which isn't even available. The whole thing is a gigantic bungle. It sounds like a huge loophole for the legally minded. eg. Our IEPs promised us an HSPE - but no, we get this.

Anonymous said…
@ Anon at 2:13 (maybe you are "n"?)

Depends on what you mean by opinion. Those may reflect the rates at which kids will score in the level 1 or level 2 range, but what I'm saying is that does not necessarily mean "failure." The author's choice to call a score in the level 2 range a "fail" is an application of the author's opinion. I have not seen anywhere in the SBAC docs that a level 2, or even a level 1, score is a "fail." Nor have they defined a "pass." Instead, they have set a level that they feel constitutes "college readiness," and that apparently they have some buy-in from colleges (at least for the time being). The SBE will define what "pass" means in WA.

It seems like the problem is in the realistic vs. idealistic score requirements, and the timing of their release. The level 3 college ready scores came out first, and the numbers look really bad. People are naturally worried! However, had the graduation requirement score thresholds come out first--with a statement saying here's what you need to graduate--and then had the "college ready" designation level been added as an additional piece later-- I think they could have avoided a lot of confusion and unease.

n said…
Sorry, that was me. Didn't realize I entered as anonymous. Fast fingers I guess.

I think "opinion" has a pretty specific definition. I didn't follow the source but it appears that it came out of the SBAC consortium.

You're sharp and informed so I'll move myself to the watcher column. And, yes, I agree it pretty much depends on how it is all applied. For our kids sake, I hope reasonable people preside.
Anonymous said…
Speddie, I would suggest that if there is not a state test/SBAC assessment that is appropriate for use for students in special education that districts and parents should demand that the LDA (Locally Determined Assessments) option be expanded for use prior to 12th grade.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
How about SBAC authors write reasonable tests.... You know the ones where pass means pass, and with reasonable goals, not an aspirational goals. Tests where students actually have been taught the materials in classes all along, not just whatever some company thinks will drive a textbook market. If all the other kids are taking this at a particular level and failing, but without penalty, special ed students should also not be penalized when they take it for graduation. How about the state consider the 14% special ed participation of districts like Seattle.

Great, your answer is right in line with "so sue me", "we don't give a s$$$t about your kid". And that simply doesn't work for my kid.

n said…
I have empathy with you, Speddie. It is hard to change the culture. This blog is evidence of that every day. Look at all the very intelligent bloggers here who still haven't made the difference. Sometimes I do think it is hopeless. Well,at least out of control.
Anonymous said…
Speddie, I can understand your anger. And I don’t fault you for your misplaced lashing out at me. I imagine it does seem as if the deck is stacked against your kid and you, and maybe it is.

But let me tell you a little about what I do give a s$$t about --- when I first started my career in education, I began as a special education assistant in an 18-21 year old transition program. Those were the days of the “deferred diploma” --- any readers remember those? A deferred diploma was given to students in special education who had met all of the high school graduation requirements but had not yet met their IEP transition goals, so they could stay in the public school program until the met their goals or aged out.

The week I started I sat down with a 21-year-old student with learning disabilities who was trying to get into a program at Lake Washington Technical Program and he had just taken the COMPASS placement test. We joined the college counselor to talk about his scores and next steps. Turns out that he was reading significantly below high school level and he didn’t qualify, not even close, for any of the programs at the technical college. He listened to what she said and immediately burst into tears and kept repeating, “But I have a diploma. I have a diploma.” He was inconsolable. I will never forget that moment. Never. I was 25 years old and I was trying to understand what was happening and trying to console a young man not much younger than me. The school system had just kept passing him along and gave him a diploma that was not worth the paper it was written on.

I vowed then to work to make sure that never happened again. I got my special education teaching certification. When I worked with high school students and their families on transition planning and life after high school, I attempted to be as honest as possible with them and to help those students build what skills I could in the limited time I had them.

So, Speddie, if you have a high school kid who is reading and/or doing math below 5th grade (or 3rd grade according to the Common Core and the SBAC assessments), passing those off-grade assessments and earning that diploma is going to mean next to nothing in the adult world if they don’t focus on their transition plans. Don’t get me wrong --- that diploma and walking across that stage might mean a great deal to your kid and your family. But that diploma won’t mean s$$t to the adult world. The days of modified grades, modified curriculum, modified passing scores, etc. will be over. Yes, ADA requires reasonable accommodations for people/adults with disabilities but they still have to meet college entrance/placement requirements if they want to go to college (or an apprenticeship training program) and they have to meet minimum job requirements.

If you think the K-12 special education programs are s$$t, wait until you get to adult disability programs.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
SWK, keep up with the times. There are programs in colleges for students with severe disabilities popping up all over the places, eg, those who work at different levels and on different parts of different levels, including those with intellectual disabilities. Bellevue College has Navigators program, for one and there are others. No, not everyone is going to be "college ready". Sounds like "modified" adaptations might not really be over, as you for some reason hope. But really. Having a high school diploma doesn't really mean s$$$t in the adult world - for anyone. Why would we deny whatever it does bestow - to our students with disabilities?

The bottom line is that the nature of college itself is changing. SBAC retains and prepares students for and old way of thinking, to the detriment of students with disabilities, and many others.

Anonymous said…
Speddie, you seem to have me completely figured out. There's little reason then for me to share my thoughts with you. You already know what I intend and hope for and what I give a s$$t about.

I'm glad you've got it all figured out. Some of us can only hope for the wisdom and prescience that you have.

Best of luck to you.

--- swk

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