Superintendent Nyland's Message on Smarter Balanced Assessments

 Update:  I heard from one staff person who challenges some of the statements by Nyland:

Nyland:  This year, the state is replacing the MSP/HSPE assessments with a new assessment called Smarter Balanced, which is aligned to our new College and Career Readiness Standards (Common Core).

Staffer: The Smarter Balanced Assessments are NOT replacements for the MSP/HSPE. The HSPE was only required once in High School, at the 10th grade, and only in literacy. The Smarter Balanced Assessments are for more subjects and in more grades. The claim that the Smarter Balanced Assessments are a replacement is ill-informed at best and an intentional deception at worst. 

Nyland: As a tool for educators, Smarter Balanced Assessments are an improvement.  They are designed to better measure student growth from year to year.  They are adaptive to students' skill level and will adjust questions (easier/harder) based upon previous answers, an approach that does a better job of assessing learning of students both above and below grade-level standards.  This assessment will provide diagnostics to help educators close opportunity gaps for students.

Are they summative assessments, a formative assessment, or a diagnostic assessment? He seems to be suggesting that they are all three. Is this credible? And what does the Smarter Balanced Assessment tell us about the quality of instruction? Will it be used for teacher evaluation as well? What is it? A Swiss Army knife?
Nyland: Smarter Balanced Assessments reflect a higher level of rigor. The new assessments measure the more rigorous work happening in our classrooms at each grade level, and at the high school level expectations increase from 10th grade to 12th grade standards, reflecting our college-ready goals. 

 Why should the assessment be more rigorous? Shouldn’t the instruction be more rigorous and the assessment be standardized? Why must everyone be college ready?

End of update

Below is Superintendent Nyland's directive to school staff on Smarter Balanced assessments.  What troubles me:

- no real direction on refusals, just directing parents to a web page.  Seems like that would be a bit awkward if teachers and principals had nothing else to say to parents but "check the district's webpage."

- He talks a lot about being prepared but doesn't say one thing about technological challenges.  As well, he assumes that all the preparation has been enough for teachers/principals.  Not sure that is what I am hearing.  (I'm thinking that a separate message has gone out, just for principals.  I can't believe that anyone thinks it will all be smooth sailing.)
"Dear staff,

Each year, the state requires school districts to assess students in the spring. These assessments provide a common tool with which we can measure our progress in the classroom, in our schools and across districts. This year, the state is replacing the MSP/HSPE assessments with a new assessment called Smarter Balanced, which is aligned to our new College and Career Readiness Standards (Common Core).

Thanks to all of you who have been working so hard to prepare for these assessments. I know the work is challenging.

Since the Smarter Balanced Assessment is new, we are hearing questions from families. In the coming week, the district will send emails and robo-calls to all families to provide background about the assessments. Today I want to share with all staff some information:

 *   Administering Smarter Balanced Assessments is a state mandate – not a district mandate. The Smarter Balanced is the new state-required assessment.  It was piloted over the past several years and is now required statewide.  It replaces state-required MSP and HSPE assessments in reading, writing and math.  Smarter Balanced is also being used across much of the United States.
 *   As a tool for educators, Smarter Balanced Assessments are an improvement.  They are designed to better measure student growth from year to year.  They are adaptive to students' skill level and will adjust questions (easier/harder) based upon previous answers, an approach that does a better job of assessing learning of students both above and below grade-level standards.  This assessment will provide diagnostics to help educators close opportunity gaps for students.
 *   Smarter Balanced Assessments reflect a higher level of rigor. The new assessments measure the more rigorous work happening in our classrooms at each grade level, and at the high school level expectations increase from 10th grade to 12th grade standards, reflecting our college-ready goals. Lifetime earnings for a college graduate are nearly double that of a high school graduate.  A measurement of college readiness is important information for students and families that previous state assessments did not provide.
 *   We are prepared for this work. We know that every new test is challenging – and we know that we have risen to each of those challenges.  Seattle has made steady upward progress over the past several years, and teachers have completed two years of required professional development in implementing Common Core College and Career Readiness Standards. As with the WASL and MSP, there will be changes in our scores as we establish a new baseline. Families and teachers should be assured that school, district and state leaders are working together to ensure that students’ new scores are viewed fairly, in light of the more challenging academic standards.
 *   Families who refuse to participate. Please direct families with questions about refusals to our public web page,

The newly updated public web page contains many resources, such as a link to practice tests, information about assessment structure and scoring, and much more. The page is linked under Students-Assessments:

New academic standards and their assessments naturally bring with them a degree of uncertainty. I encourage each of us to approach this change with a growth mindset, just as we would encourage our students.  We have spent the last two years preparing for these new higher standards, which will help us better prepare students for college, career and life.  We have prepared diligently over the past few months through training, deployment of technology and working with our communication team to support educators' and families' understanding. The process of moving to new standards can be challenging, but I am confident our work together will move us toward success.


Dr. Larry Nyland


Anonymous said…
Nyland's calm the troops message is brought to you by the PR department downtown no doubt.

Here's a parent question I hope someone can answer instead of the district happy talk: Are the SBAC scores part of a student's public transcript? Specifically, will selective colleges and high schools see these scores?

My student is old enough that applications are on the horizon. I will not have my student participate in a new test that is predicted by the testing consortium itself to return failing scores to the majority of the school population in every single grade this year. If selective high schools and colleges can see these first year scores, I will opt out my student.

Thank you to anyone with insight. The reality of these tests are suddenly in my crosshairs.

North parent
Anonymous said…
That is a very good question. This is an issue that could follow (haunt) our kids in years to come and affect their higher educational prospects. How will colleges handle these SBAC results if they do appear on transcripts, knowing the issues? How can we get a real answer to that (as opposed to speculation)?

Also, another question that I've seen other raise - if the test is adaptive (i.e. questions get harder/up to 2 grade levels above actual grade apparently if kids are getting initial questions correct then how are they scored. How can you determine proficiency at X grade level if a student gets presented with harder questions (based on initial success on grade level ones) and therefore gets more of them wrong? Or do the questions start off below grade level and work up to and then beyond? Also, how does the computer program 'adapt' for ELA with written responses rather than MCQs - how does the program judge the quality of written response and adapt level of questions accordingly ??

no guinea pigs
mirmac1 said…
North parent, Sorry, just speculating but I expect so. If the now bankrupt ConnectEdu sold itself as a one stop shop for all your student's data, particularly assessment results, and serve as a platform for students to apply to colleges and financial aid - then others may see this data and you would never know. Just like we were never told about ConnectEdu.
Watching said…
"Are the SBAC scores part of a student's public transcript?"

This is a very good question. I'm hoping swk can shed light on this issue.

I understood that 10th graders will be taking SBAC, but I could be wrong.
Watching said…
Also, I've been in contact with College Admissions offices and there is A LOT of conversation and confusion regarding the use of SBAC and college admissions.
Maureen said…
Can anyone (swk) explain to me why 11th graders who have met graduation requirements and aren't concerned about remedial class placement in college should even consider sitting for the SBAC? My kid al ready took the PSAT and the SAT this school year and will take two IB exams and probably the ACT later this year. She would be better off in class learning.
Anonymous said…
Nyland writes, "We are prepared for this work." That's a lie. He says that "teachers have completed two years of required professional development in implementing Common Core," and maybe he doesn't have the information on this, but that's not true.

I'm a high school English teacher. In the last two years, my department has experienced exactly one training on Common Core, and it was so atrocious and mind-numbing (a power point outlining differences between old and new standards) and so patronizing in execution that our most mild-mannered colleague wrote a blistering complaint.

I would have spoken up to say we need more PD time and training on the standards, except I was afraid it would lead to more training on the standards.

HS Teacher
Anonymous said…
North paren, et al --- no, the state assessment scores (whether HSPE, EOC, or SBAC) are not on the high school transcript.

The only thing related to assessments that goes on the high school transcript is whether or not a student earned a Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) or a Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA).

To find out exactly what goes on the high school transcript see,

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Watching, SBAC scores will not be used in admissions decisions.

SBAC scores will be used to determine whether or not admitted students will be able to proceed to college-level, credit-bearing courses, i.e., not need remediation.

The SBAC were not intended to be part of the admissions process.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
@ swk. Thank you for the factual information. I really appreciate it and no doubt other Seattle parents do too. Why is this blog and not the district the only place actually discussing pros, cons and ramifications of this test? So typical of our district and the media.

Last night I thought that if the scores are not part of the transcript that I wouldn't mind if my student takes the test. Oddly, swk's answer is now making me think: why should my student take the test in any case? I have a good handle on his strengths and weaknesses. I doubt the first year rollout of a test is going to yield better or more accurate information. But if there are merits to taking the test, swk and others please let me know. I am open to persuasion.

Thank you.

North parent
Anonymous said…
North parent, Maureen, et al --- I'm not going to be the one who is going to try to persuade you or otherwise from having your child take any test. You know your child and your own family needs better than anyone. It has never been my intent to convince any single individual why they should or should not take the state tests or any tests.

In my opinion, there is an abundance of information on this blog (and other sources) that can help you make that decision.

I'll go ahead and leave the persuasion to others.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
"Students who do not participate will receive supervision but not instruction during assessment time."
- just saying
Watching said…
I have an 11th grader and I share Maureen's sentiments, but eight hours of instructional time will be taken from our children because the state wants to use our children to develop SBAC cut scores.

I'd rather not subject my child to 8 hrs of SBAC and just allow him/her to take a couple hours of COMPASS...if that is the option. Who even knows...anymore.
Linh-Co said…
From the high school testing coordinator:
This just came in from the Superintendent this morning.
Families who refuse to allow their children to participate in assessments, including Smarter Balanced, must submit the refusal in writing, signed and dated, to go in the student's permanent record file. Parents or guardians must submit this refusal annually. Families may use THIS FORM. Refusals should be submitted to the child's principal. Here are consequences around refusals:
· Students who do not participate will receive a "zero" score on the assessment and no score report for teachers or families to view.
· A zero will negatively impact the school's overall results.
· Teachers will not receive results that could be used as a tool to measure the student's academic growth.
· Families will not receive results that will enable them to chart the student's growth over time.
· High school juniors without assessment results will not be eligible for the remedial testing waiver offered by state colleges (see above).
· Students who do not participate will receive supervision but not instruction during assessment time.
Anonymous said…
For those interested in what score reports may include (for parents and schools):

-just curious
Maureen, see the previous thread about why or why not students should take the SBAC. I think you are right; if a student is doing well, there is no need to do it.

Anonymous said…
Watching -

Not only are 10th graders taking the 11th grade SBAC ELA - they have to pass it in order to meet their Reading requirement to graduate.

Based on 2014 11th grade SBAC ELA testing last only 41% met Level 3 and 4 standards (30%=Level 3 and 11%=Level 4)

I believe the results will be even lower this year for 10th graders because it is a test written for 11th graders!

This means that well over 60% of current 10th graders will not be on track to earn their diploma. So I guess they will need to take the test again in 11th grade?

A lot of the focus has been on 3rd and 11th grades, which is an easy fix: Opt out!

The fact that the SBAC-ELA is an incredibly high stakes for 10th graders this year has gone unnoticed.

I am only now starting to understand the full impact of what this means for my student and I am a very...

Concerned 10th parent
Anonymous said…
Watching, the SBAC cut scores (i.e., achievement levels) for the grades 3-8 and 11 tests have already been set. They will not be using this year's scores to set them. See the link Concerned 10th parent posted above:

--- swk

Anonymous said…
Concerned 10th parent, the State Board of Education will be setting a separate cut score on the 11th grade SBAC assessments for the purposes of high school graduation.

In other words, while 10th graders may take the 11th grade SBAC for graduation purposes, they will need to achieve a different (and I'm assuming lower) cut score to meet the high school assessment graduation requirements.

Taken yet another way, the pass rates projected by SBAC on the 11th grade assessments applies only to 11th graders who meet the 11th grade cut score. SBAC has not provided a projection of pass rates for 10th graders in WA because they would not be involved in setting the 10th grade graduation cut score (other than to provide the data the SBE would need).

--- swk
Lynn said…

If a student fails the SBAC ELA exam there are other ways to meet this graduation requirement. (SAT, IB, AP scores.) If I had a sophomore this year, I'd have them take the exam and put in the smallest amount of effort possible. I anticipate having my freshman do this next year.
Anonymous said…
I've decided to opt my 11th grade son out of the SBAC. I've told him that it will probably mean sitting in a classroom with a teacher for 8 hours, but he is fine with it. He plans to use the time to study for the SAT, or his AP exams, or do homework -- a much better use of his time. I feel confident that any college he ends up at will be able to place him in the correct math class. I wouldn't take this step if the test was a graduation requirement, but it isn't.

2016 Parent
Lynn said…
So the SBAC is only being given to juniors this year to meet the requirements of NCLB? And our schools are already failing NCLB?

What a waste of time, energy and money.
Anonymous said…
swk said: To find out exactly what goes on the high school transcript see,

I'd like to add, however, that while the WAC says what is on the standardized HS transcript, section 1b also says this:

Any other information the district or school may desire to include may be stapled to the transcript or otherwise provided with the transcript. Then it gives a list of the things that can be included, which includes under 2(a)(vii) the following: "cumulative summary of the student's high school level academic history."

I don't know if there's a technical definition for that last bit or not, but I do seem to recall that when I've requested transcripts from our middle school in the past, and the registrar asked if we wanted the complete academic history, the copy I received included test scores.

Perhaps schools are especially careful when it comes to releasing HS data (lol), and standard practice may in fact be to only release the minimum. But based on past experience, I'd suggest anyone with concerns contact their own high school register to confirm that they don't include standardized test scores.

Anonymous said…
Lynn, the vast majority (very large percentages and numbers) of students passing the high school assessment graduation requirements in the past did so on the state tests, i.e., WASL, HSPE, EOCs. Very few used AP, IB, SAT scores. More used COE but only like 3% of students statewide who passed needed the COE to do so.

The bottom line is this --- students enrolled in AP and IB have never really had a problem passing the state tests.

Therefore, I would suggest that parents give some strong consideration before taking Lynn's advice. It might indeed be sound advice but I just wanted to share some estimates to help with this important decision.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
HIMS Mom, my older son is in college, so I have a good idea of what shows up on transcript and have also talked to my younger son's counselor about exactly what shows up on the transcript. Standardized test scores do not go onto the transcript. It merely states that the student has passed the math, science, reading and writing graduation requirements.

I have to add that the list of consequences from the district gave my husband and I a good laugh. The notion that the SBAC scores would be used by high school teachers as a "tool to measure a student's academic growth" is ridiculous.

I do feel for 10th graders. Not only will they be the first class for which the SBAC is a graduation requirement, as I understand it those choosing to take the SAT will face some difficult decisions about whether to take the old or new version of the test.

2016 Parent
Anonymous said…

Can you point me to this information on lowering the cut scores for 10th graders?

In my analysis they are going to have to go pretty darn low. Statewide pass rates for 10th grade reading is 83%, (HSPE). Even if they lower the cut rate to include Level 2 as a "meet" only 60% will make this cut, based on 2014 results--which is all we have to go on.

Were are you getting your information on AP or SAT scores as alternative to meeting Reading requirement?

---HS Teacher
Thank you for pointing out what seems to be another "error" in Nylands communication. I suspected as much when I read his letter.

Concerned 10th parent
Anonymous said…
Wow, Melissa, your staffer comments update was enlightening. This staffer is not only unprofessional but wrong.

The SBAC assessments are indeed replacing the MSP/HSPE. The MSP is completely gone and replaced by the SBAC assessments at grades 3-8. The 11th grade SBAC assessments are replacing the reading and writing HSPE as the high school accountability assessments. The HSPE will only be available to 11th and 12th graders in the graduating classes of 2015 and 2106 who have not previously passed.

The Swiss Army comment was just snark.

And why should all students graduate college ready? So they can make the choice when they graduate to go to college or do something else. If they weren't college ready, that door is much more difficult to open.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
swk is correct and incorrect about the cut scores. yes, they have been set for this year. no, they have not been set for the following years. after the results of this year are in the cut scores may and probably will be revisited for 2016. that means your kid's participation and achievement or failure is important to the test consortium. not a convincing reason for any one family to participate in this year's test. "hey! your failure this year means less kids may fail next year!"

damn bureaucrats.

not buyingin
Anonymous said…
There's been a lot of talk about how hard the SBAC exams are, particularly given the ambiguous questions, multiple responses, etc.

If this is true, doesn't it make sense that the TEACHERS should take the test first? After all, if teachers have not mastered the grade level SBAC material on which their kids will be tested, how can they be expected to teach the kids to master it? Nyland may say the staff are all prepared, but I'm more inclined to believe HS Teacher and other teachers who have posted.

From a data standpoint, it would also be pretty interesting to see the extent to which student scores are correlated with teacher scores. As a bonus, SPS could use the SBAC as a measure of "teaching readiness" rather than college readiness. They could design cut scores--very high, given the level of mastery necessary to teach the material--and teacher would need to pass for at least the grade level they want to teach. They could designate teachers as "fifth grade ready" or "eleventh grade ready" and so on.

Makes more sense to me,

Half Full
Patrick said…
Half Full, how about we start with the ed reformers who think these tests are a good idea? Take them under the same conditions as the students, failing logins, swamped helpdesks, and all.

Would it take too much time away from their real work? The same applies to the students.
Anonymous said…
Concerned 10th parent, see the footnotes for the chart titled "Tests Required for Gradution" here:

--- swk
Anonymous said…
I have to agree with swk--those staffer comments were out of line. Sheesh.

Staffer seems to make a big deal out of the fact that the HSPE was only once and only 1 subject, while the SBAC is multi-year and multi-subject. Well staffer is leaving out the fact that the students were in fact tested on--and had to meet grad requirements in--other subjects as well. Think math and biology EOCs.

And seriously, staffer? "Why must everyone be college ready?" Way to set the bar high! And if I'm not mistaken, aren't they actually called "College and Career Readiness Standards"? Care to follow up with a question on why must everyone be career ready?

@ Patrick--Yes! Test the ed reform crew too!

Half Full
Anonymous said…
not buyingin, can you provide some documentation for your claim that the cut scores/achievement levels "may and probably will be revisited for 2016"?

I'm suspecting that you won't find any. Commonly, cut scores/achievement levels are stable until and unless the assessment significantly changes or a completely different test is administered.

School and district accountability rests upon these scores. In some states, teacher evaluation is based on these scores. To arbitrarily adjust the cut scores/achievement levels after a single administration would be not only be contrary to professional practices/standards, it would also be unethical.

I'm further suspecting that you have no sound basis for this claim but rather are simply railing against testing, accountability, and "damn bureaucrats". That's cool if you are.

--- swk

Lynn said…
Here's the OSPI chart of SAT/ACT/AP/IB test scores that can be used to meet graduation requirements.

For additional information, here are the 2014 SAT score percentile ranks. 86% of the students who took the SAT received math scores that would meet the state testing requirement, 91% had qualifying reading scores and 84% had qualifying writing scores.

I am guessing that the vast majority of the readers of this blog have children who will take the SAT and IB or AP exams.
Anonymous said…
@ swk, I don't think there will be separate, lower cut scores for 10th graders. That wouldn't make sense. If there's a cut point for college ready, that's college ready. If a 10th grader hits it in 10th grade, they're done with that requirement early.

Maybe there will be a lower cut score to designate that they're on track to meet the cut score next year? Something like what happens with earlier grades--just like passing the 5th grade SBAC doesn't indicate you're college ready.

Anonymous said…

Saw the footnotes.

Future tense: Will be setting the cut scores.

No quantitative info.

Disheartening as they are about to seat these students for this test.

Still a very...

Concerned 10th parent
Anonymous said…
No, HIMSmom, the SBE will be setting a separate, lower cut score for 10th graders for graduation purposes. There will also be the "college and career ready" cut score. The same test can have different cut scores for different purposes, especially since this will be an adaptive test.

Let me put this a different way --- a 10th grader could take the 11th grade SBAC assessments and then receive a individual score report that delineates whether or not that student met the graduation cut score as well as delineating whether or not that student met the college and career ready cut score. There would be two cut scores for two different purposes and the student's score report would indicate both.

If that student met the college and career ready cut score, which we'll assume will be higher, that student would meet the reading, writing, and math graduation requirements and also not have to retake the test in 11th grade.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
@ lynn, please note that to use ACT/SAT/AP/OB scores to meet the graduation requirements students first need to attempt one of the exit exams. It reads:

Students may use their math, reading and/or writing scores on the SAT reasoning test, ACT or ACT Plus Writing tests, specified Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) examinations, to show they have key skills expected of high school graduates. They may also use scores from specified AP or IB exams to meet the science graduation assessment requirement, which starts with the Class of 2015. Students must attempt an exit exam at least once before attempting this CAA option.

It also sounds like there's a fair amount of process involved in getting those scores counted, so students would need to allow sufficient time and be good about following up until it's all resolved. "The student will work with school staff, who will submit the application and score report to OSPI. A student’s score must be approved by OSPI."

Anonymous said…
Concerned 10th parent, that's a good catch. I don't know if the SBE has set these cut scores yet.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
The threshold score for 8th grade ELA does not look that different than for 11th grade. The graph of SBAC threshold scores is relatively flat from 8th grade to 11th grade. 8th grade scores should be pretty predictive of high school scores.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…

Not "a good catch"-it's a stark reality that over 80,000 10th graders are facing in Washington state.

You obviously do not have a student who will be subjected to this nightmare, let alone a 10 grade student.

And your tone is grating.

Concerned 10th grade parent
Anonymous said…
@ swk, thanks. I didn't realize there will be different sets of cut scores for multiple purposes. It doesn't make intuitive sense to me, but much of this doesn't. So are you essentially saying that we'll be identifying what level constitutes "college readiness" and then a separate, lower level that means you're eligible to graduate? In which case the "college readiness" aspect of the SBAC scores is really just informational, unrelated to any requirements? And that all the angst over what percentage of kids will score level 3 or 4 given the cut scores--and are thus considered content college ready--is misplaced, since it may be a higher percentage that "pass" the SBAC in terms of graduation requirements? It's all very confusing.

Can you point us to any info re: the creation of of separate cut scores for different purposes? I did see on the Smarter Balanced site that they have not yet developed an operational definition of "career readiness," so perhaps this is where the lower scores come in? I also saw on the SBE site a reference to 10th grade ELA and Math exit exams based on SBAC components--so maybe that's it?

Anonymous said…
And to note, swk, the footnotes in that OSPI "Tests Required for Graduation" table for which you provided the URL only refer to "a college-and career-ready cut score" or "the college-and career-ready cut score." These are in the context of graduation requirements, so they sure make it sound like it's the college-ready cut score you need to reach. Is the OSPI doc incorrect/misleading?

Anonymous said…
HIMS, I know it's not very clear. But the first part of the footnote --- "+ The Washington State Board of Education will set the exit exam cut score." --- is what indicates that a separate graduation cut score will be set.

Let me dig around a bit more and see if there's a better explanation OSPI or SBE put out.

Someone (other than me) might want to email Ben Rarick, executive director of the SBE, at to ask about this.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
HIMSmom, I agree wholeheartedly with your confusion regarding the communication of "college and career readiness" vs "high school graduation" this whole mess of separate cut scores elicits.

There are those who might argue that high school graduation should, in and of itself, confer college and career readiness. And to adopt a cut scores that are different between graduation and CCR creates confusion among the general public, policymakers, educators, parents, and students.

On the other hand, to retain a CCR cut score for graduation would most certainly, at this time, deny many, if not most, students access to a high school diploma. Most people would not tolerate only 30-35% of students earning diplomas. Thus, we have policy like the new 24-credit College and Career Ready Graduation Requirements that adopted by the SBE on one hand that links credit requirements very closely to college admissions requirements and an assessment graduation requirement policy on the other hand that clearly delinks graduation standards from CCR standards.

It's a mess.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Wow Lynn, those SAT scores needed for graduation seem very low to me.

Watching said…

Students can take IB classes and not be enrolled in the IB program. So, I'd imagine that it is possible to take both IB and AP final exams, but I'm guessing.

I'll have a conversation with my student and the counselor. For our family, perhaps this lesson will be learned: It is ok to say NO to authority.

I'll be bowing out of the conversation, now.

Have a great day.
I believe the people on the front lines have every right to speak out. And yes, even be sarcastic.

Yes, it would be good to be "college ready" but, as I stated, Common Core will prepare you for community college, not most 4-year ones. That is a point that should be made clear and yet isn't.

Ed reformers love slogans but don't like to parse out the reality.

And all this back and forth about the information from the district and OPSI mean a couple of things:

- either both entities are not being clear - either in their writing or because they don't want to - about testing

- parents can't even figure it out on their own. No wonder they are worried.

Reprinting for Anonymous (no anonymous comments please):
I agree with Maureen. I have an 11th grader who is not at risk and will not benefit from SBAC testing at all. Moreover, with this morning's intimidation tactic letter regarding the "consequences" of parent SBAC refusal, I am now energized to fight this needless testing. I deeply resent the tone of the Superintendent's letter as well as his declaration that my student will be supervised but not taught on the testing dates. - Wow, refusing instruction to a student. SPS sures knows how to demonstrate leadership and its concern for students...

3/5/15, 10:33 AM
Anonymous said…
Thanks for those additional clarifications, swk. One additional question: Is there a difference between what the 10th and 11th graders will take re: ELA exams? The graduation requirements for the class of 2017 and beyond say "10th grade ELA Exit Exam, or ELA SBAC," where it says the Exit Exam "will be developed using SBAC components." This makes it sound like the ELA Exit Exam is a variant of the ELA SBAC--otherwise why the need to "develop" it? But elsewhere, in some OSPI Q&A notes, it says the Grade 10 and Grade 11 ELA SBACs are the same thing--same question bank, same test engine, just potential differences in student performance and thus how the test adapts. Clear as mud.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, this is the third time you've stated something to the effect that "Common Core will prepare you for community college, not most 4-year ones.." That is simply not an accurate statement.

If you meet proficiency on the 11th grade SBAC assessments, the colleges and universities in our have declared that those students will not need to take remedial English and/or math courses. That's about as college ready as one's going to get. This does NOT apply only to community colleges.

If you're taking as your source (and I'm not assuming that you are) the discussion between Dr. Stotsky and Jason Zimba posted to Youtube, you missed the point of the conversation. And I addressed this in a separate thread.

Regardless of your source, the only students for whom the CCSS might not indicate college readiness are those students pursuing STEM majors who really need to begin math at Calculus (or maybe pre-Calculus) to get accepted into their desired major. Of course, achieving only Algebra II in high school (the highest level math in the CCSS) wouldn't get them college ready for their desired college pathway. But these students do not in any way constitute a majority of students but rather a very small percentage of students.

Most college students in our state and in our nation enroll in non-selective, regional colleges and universities as well as community colleges. To be specific, there are way more students in our state community and technical colleges, CWU, EWU, WWU, and WSU pursuing non-STEM degrees than there are at UW pursuing STEM degrees.

So, for this vast, vast majority of students, achieving the CCSS would indeed indicate college readiness.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
HIMS, at one point there was a plan for OSPI (and their testing vendor) to develop a separate 10th grade ELA and math assessment that would be used for graduation. The assessment would be developed using test items from the SBAC item bank (which I described in a different thread) and use the same test blueprint, etc. as the 11th grade SBAC assessment.

Now it seems like OSPI will simply provide the 11th grade assessment to 10th graders. I don't really know what's happening for sure, though.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Nyland has to send out ominous warnings. He is the head of the largest district in the state. He has to keep Command and Control to keep his reputation intact.

We don't have to accept the command and control.

It is ridiculously easy to start an opt out movement at a school if you are passionate about taking action. Get on your kid's grade's email thread. Explain that your family is opting out. Explain why. Ask others to join you. Ask that parents with kids in other grades pass the message along on their email threads.

Wildfire. The decision to opt out spreads like wildfire.

Go start a fire.

Opting out
SWK, not going to argue. You will not get into a lot of state schools, including UW, with "I passed the SBAC." Not buying that at all.

My worry is that parents will read that statement and take it at face value and I think that's a mistake.

We will have to agree to disagree because I do not take all your statements to be true.

Benjamin Leis said…
The flip side of the remedial math/english question is to realize that every student who shows up at a community college doesn't immediately get forced into a remedial class. Instead they're given a test like COMPASS and if they don't pass at a high enough level then they are shunted to remediation.

That's not an incredibly high bar to pass. In fact, the current levels of classes given is lower than the projected pass rates for
the 11th grade SBAC.

For example: 51% of community and technical college students in WA take remedial math while only 33% will achieve a 3 or 4 on the SBAC according to the consortium. I suspect that for the most part the students who achieved these SBAC scores would either pass the CC placement test or be going to selective colleges anyway and that
the number of students who will
actually benefit from this change is fairly small.
The fact that there are so many unanswered questions, unclear situations, technical problems, and deep concerns means it is simply not appropriate to proceed with SBAC, PARCC, or any other similar test right now. The right and sensible thing to do is to hit the pause button.

Yet the ed reformers are insistent that we go ahead anyway, despite those problems. So that forces parents to either put their child in a bad situation, or to resist by opting out and/or by protesting. No parent should ever have to be asked to make a choice like that.

It does not have to be this way, but if the state and federal governments insist we go ahead despite the numerous problems, then it's time to opt the kids out.
Anonymous said…
I would opt out in a heartbeat.

But my 10th grader has to take it to satisfy the reading requirement. My student will likely not pass the test and have to take it again in 11th grade on top of the SAT and possibly an AP exam.

I asked my student today if there has been any mention of the SBAC in school. NONE, has no idea what I am talking about.

Very stressful.

Concerned 10th grade parent
Maureen said…
So 10th graders are taking it too? I got the impression that only 11th graders were taking it in High School this year. I have been TRYING to keep up! And my earlier Q to swk was sincere. I can't see any reason for an 11th grader who is on track to graduate to sit there for 8 hours and take the SBAC--I was wondering if I was missing something.

The idea that it might hurt the school is sort of silly given that they are all failing anyway. In fact...if they are going to be evaluated based on growth, maybe the best thing all of us who have kids who have a shot at passing could do is to opt them out this year, then the school might start out at such a low level that they might be able to make AYP just by having more kids show up for the test every year in the future....Hmmm that's a thought.
Big Daddy said…
Here is some information from OSPI. 11th graders are being asked to take SBAC for federal accountability. Isn't education a local issue?

Here is the information:

High School

In high school, students take Smarter Balanced tests and the biology EOC for federal accountability. Student scores on these tests determine a school’s AYP status. All 11th graders will take the Smarter Balanced tests in ELA and math. Students take the biology EOC as they complete that course, typically by the end of 10th grade.

Tests Required for Federal Accountability
Grades Subject Test
11 ELA Smarter Balanced
10 Biology EOC

Anonymous said…
Maybe some techies could set up in-services for students who opt out of these 8 hours of testing. They could offer "Day of Code" type classes as an alternative to testing. It would be a win-win situation in that it wouldn't take away from class time, and students would have the opportunity to learn something schools don't /can't offer.

Sped Staffer
STAT 101 said…
I'm having a hard time believing that 11th grade SBAC scores won't be used to develop cut scores.

Last year SPS- the largest district in the state- didn't even participate in SBAC pilots, and SPS does better than other districts I the state.

Simply put, smaller samples are not as reliable as larger samples.

Don't think that the State's Education Department is a group we should rely on. I"d take a teachers recommendation= any day= over the recommendations of some that sit on the State's Ed. Board.
Linh-Co said…
We have never opted out of standardized test but will be doing it this year.Our 11th grader will not be taking the SBAC. It's a waste of her time. She's already passed all the required tests for graduation and is currently enrolled in Running Start. Luckily for us, it's given during History class and she doesn't have one.

Anonymous said…
STAT 101, the statistical sample used to set the cut scores for the SBAC assessments came from students across all SBAC member states. The fact that students in SPS did not participate --- one district in one state --- had zero effect on the overall statistical sample. It was a HUGE statistical sample.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Swk, I'm betting. You have no kids... or your kids are in private school. Am I right?

mirmac1 said…
Those students that Nyland will "house" for 8 hours should host a sick-out. Heck, stay home and do something creative. Don't be used as an I-told-you-so and made to sit in the corner.
Anonymous said…
swk - you've been doing a commendable job distracting everyone with your random "facts" to hide all the lies propagated by the minions of Gate$, all holding each other up -

1 fact which 100% fur sure ... few of those you're bamboozling ever read or understood doublespeak or doublethink.

Ummm ... let's take a new testing mess which does NOT help kids on a day to day basis, because it is better to have another pustule of highly paid parasites sucking fat paychecks out of the system, so that we can supplement / replace a bunch of other tests which have their own parasitic pustules ...


Anonymous said…
I appreciated swk's information earlier today and in general. I don't necessarily agree with all of swk's perspectives but so what. I like the detailed and timely responses.

Thank you.

North parent
Anonymous said…
I can not believe the district when they say they do not intend to use the SBAC scores for my student's stake in the future.
They already did the exact same thing 3 years ago when they decided in April to use the previous Winter math MAP test as a placement test for the 5th graders (and decided solely on its score if a student can take Algebra 1 in 6th grade or not).

If they have test scores, they could use them in any way they like.

- just saying
Anonymous said…
The district also decided to use MAP for teacher assessment in a manner most sneaky and against the explicit direction of the test maker itself on how the test should and should not be used.

Don't trust SPS with your kids' test scores.

Mona said…
Members of the board bemoaned the fact that Peters/Patu didn't follow "The Process".

The Ex. Committee is composed of Carr, Peaslee and McLaren. If the Almighty and Holy process were followed, the resolution wouldn't have made it out of the Executive Committee because Carr and McLaren would have held it back.

Clearly, Patu and Peters got tired of a "process" that wasn't doing a thing to address community concerns. Good for them.
Skeptic said…
"swk - you've been doing a commendable job distracting everyone with your random "facts" to hide all the lies propagated by the minions of Gate$, all holding each other up - "

I'm not inclined to trust links to Smarter Balanced Assessment. The testing consortium is in the business of selling tests. How many millions did Gates provide to do so?

Anonymous said…
I just heard on the 10:00 version of King5 news that the Board is still considering suspending SBAC. Hmmm. Does anyone have any info on this?

Anonymous said…
Does anyone else find it ironic and frustrating that Superintendent Nyland's SBAC letter contains a dead link (for parents seeking more info on SBAC testing)? The SBAC link on the SPS website is also dead. The link to the Refusal Form, sent by the district, is also dead. One gets the feeling that SPS doesn't really want parents to be informed about SBAC testing.

We'll be writing to our Principal, opting out our 11th grade Running Start student, just as soon as we can find the Official Refusal Form.

RS Parent
Charlie Mas said…
The Swiss Army knife comment is, in fact, very fair. The superintendent's letter suggests that the SBAC is summative, formative, and diagnostic. Is that true? I think not.

Anyone want to explain how it is?

The replacement comment is fair as well. Dr. Nyland's letter suggested that one test was being swapped for another, but it isn't a one-for-one exchange. There was no 11th grade HSPE and there is an 11th grade SBAC.
Linh-Co said…
Here's the link the official refusal form for SBAC:
mirmac1 said…
RS Parent

No form is necessary. In fact, in the past no signed document was needed. I'd just send an email to all those who needed know.

Just type up a 2-3 sentence note, sign and date it and drop it of at the front office. I suggest you put your phone number on it and say you're happy to discuss the matter.
Linh-Co said…
Mirmac, I don't know if that's true. I received this from our high school test coordinator yesterday. I initially just sent an email without the form to her and the principal.

This just came in from the Superintendent this morning.
Families who refuse to allow their children to participate in assessments, including Smarter Balanced, must submit the refusal in writing, signed and dated, to go in the student's permanent record file. Parents or guardians must submit this refusal annually. Families may use THIS FORM. Refusals should be submitted to the child's principal. Here are consequences around refusals:
· Students who do not participate will receive a "zero" score on the assessment and no score report for teachers or families to view.
· A zero will negatively impact the school's overall results.
· Teachers will not receive results that could be used as a tool to measure the student's academic growth.
· Families will not receive results that will enable them to chart the student's growth over time.
· High school juniors without assessment results will not be eligible for the remedial testing waiver offered by state colleges (see above).
· Students who do not participate will receive supervision but not instruction during assessment time
Anonymous said…
Sue Peters' inexperience combined with her attempts at populism are disappointing.

From her bullhorn at Garfield, seen by me to be about her own children, to the math curriculum blitzkrieg and now a 11th hour attack on testing.

She presented as a thoughtful, intelligent woman who would take the board in a reasoned and deliberate direction. But it seems she can't resist grandstanding and seeking ego massages from sychophantic parents.

For all the hate and veiled racism seen directed at Blanford on this blog, there's an equal amount of adoration for Peters.

what gives?

Lake Union
Linh-Co said…
Never mind. It does say "MAY" use this form.
Anonymous said…
I have what is probably a dumb question: who is "swk"? I see folks deferring to this person. Does this person hold a position in the school district or ?? I ask so I have some context for their answers.

Thank you,

Roosevelt Mom
"The district also decided to use MAP for teacher assessment in a manner most sneaky and against the explicit direction of the test maker itself on how the test should and should not be used."


Mona, you bring up a good point and one that I didn't note when I was live blogging. It seemed to me that Martin-Morris went out of his way to embarrass Peters. He really didn't have to note the vote on the "Code of Conduct" and, of course, he acted like this was the first time this had ever been brought up and it wasn't.

That Patu and Peters decided to push the issue on nearly the eve of testing may not have been to his taste but they didn't do something wrong.

Lake Union, I was at the Garfield event. Sue was asked to speak and she referenced all the students. At least get your facts straight.

What racism have you seen against Blanford at this blog?

Who is SWK? Don't know but apparently someone in the know (from the precision of his/her remarks). I recall that SWK did tell us something vague about his/her background. Someone thinks SWK works for Gates; could be. I think he/she adds to the conversation in a helpful manner.
Gads said…
Populism, Lake Union? Our Board of Directors represent the community and Nathan Hale took a bold step to speak-out against testing.
Linh-Co said…
My guess is swk works or used to work for OSPI assessment department or an ESD.
Anonymous said…
Lake Union,
this blog is real whip-it-up, fever-pitch, blowhard forum. Pitchforks are always sharp and at the ready to skewer somebody or something.
It's the Daily Mail of education bloggerey, with some occasional reasoned opinions and facts. But mostly a bully pulpit and like the one presided over by the Rough Rider in chief, it's progressive in appearance but contains deep, deep undertones of race of class stratification.

Anonymous said…

"Progressive in appearance with deep undertones of race and class stratification."

I would say that is true about Seattle, not just this blog.

--enough already
What'sTheAgenda? said…
"The district also decided to use MAP for teacher assessment in a manner most sneaky and against the explicit direction of the test maker itself on how the test should and should not be used."

I also noted the above comment and SBAC isn't any different.

On the Friday thread, swk indicated that he/she has a history of drafting legislation.

There is/was never any reason to believe that swk is an expert. As a matter of fact, I don't recall any type of critical thinking about SBAC.
What'sTheAgenda said…
swk's approach to the conversations revolving around SBAC, IMO, seem a bit rabid. Disconcerting.
Rough Rider in chief? Would that be me? Except I didn't go to Roosevelt; my son did.

As for class stratification, it exists. Does it exist at this blog? Probably because our readers are across the spectrum. I would love for an even more varied group but this is a labor of love.

Interesting that you think this blog so terrible and yet, here you are.
mirmac1 said…
Could the RoughRider in chief be Nyland?

Lettuce Head said…
Why is Carrot Top, here. Must be tough when you can't control the message.
Anonymous said…
Just received robo call from SPS about SBAC. I've noticed that in every email, every call, every memo, the District makes reference to a link on its website to practice tests. Is that a hint? Are we now supposed to be using time at home to practice for this test? Please. I will not be wasting my time. Funny how they never provided practice tests for the MSP (except maybe for teachers to use in class), the MAP, etc.

Anonymous said…
@Lynn - can you explain your strategy of having a 10th grader take the test, but put in little effort? Why bother to take the test at all?

I'm inclined to opt out my 10th grader, but want to make sure it doesn't make fulfilling graduation requirements more arduous later. Does the IB diploma still qualify students for graduation?

Lynn said…

I don't think an IB diploma exempts a student from testing requirements. I found this on the Ingraham website:

The achievement of an IB Diploma waives all state graduation requirements except the EOC and HSPE state exams for achievement in Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Science. This includes waiving P.E., Health, and 1.0 out of 1.5 credits of Occupational Education, though counselors advise keeping current P.E. waivers on file just in case. All IB students must pass Washington State History in order to graduate, but those who were part of a Seattle Public Schools program in middle school should have covered this necessary credit in 8th Grade.

A student has to have attempted the SBAC and failed in order to use SAT/ACT/IB/AP scores to meet the graduation requirement.

I'd have them take the test only to make it possible to use those other scores. I'd have them fail in order to deprive anyone using those scores of meaningful information.
Anonymous said…
Theodore Rossevelt was the the head of the Rough Riders and while he was the ¨trust buster¨ and a conservationist and saved millions of acres from destruction by miners and loggers, he was a racist in regards to non-white populations.

Heres a telling quote:
“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indian is the dead Indian, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.”
– Theodore Roosevelt

Remember ¨Walk softly,and carry a big stick¨?

Sounds like Ferguson,MO police.

At least TR saved a lot of beavers and rams.


Anonymous said…
It's weird apropos of nothing comments and back and forth that make me wonder sometimes if a high school or college student or even a class is monitoring and posting on this forum. A sociology experiment perhaps?


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