Friday Open Thread

OSPI's Top Ten SBAC reasons - oh Arch Stanton, if you are out there, please make one for us.

Good article in Education Week from former SPS CAO Carla Santorno, now superintendent of Tacoma Public Schools.

And the biggest devil in the details is called "poverty".   We have more social economic disparity than any other country.  The difference between the "haves" and "haves not" in the U.S. is a gap unparalleled in the Western world.  We are the most powerful and wealthy society in human history and yet somehow we have tolerated the discarding of a large portion of our children to lives of poverty.  

One of my principals at a high-poverty high school recounted that he recently took 15 freshmen to an exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, 40 minutes away, 30 miles.  For 13 of the 15 students it was their first visit to Seattle. 

The Mayor is having a Youth Opportunity Summit on Saturday, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at Rainier Beach High School.  Summit is free, breakfast and lunch will be provided. All youth and adults are welcome but the target is youth of color ages 16-24.

This Summit is intended to launch a new conversation about how to build on the good work of our community partners through better alignment of resources, better coordination across systems and agencies, and through lifting up the voices of young people to address longstanding disparities. 

If a candidate puts this:

Candidate for School Board Director at Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors

 at the top of their Linkedin page, do you believe it?  I do.

"Before" a film by Loyal Heights parent/filmmaker Terence Brown about 5th graders at the end of school.  He wanted to capture their thoughts about how it feels to be 11, not really a kid but not quite a teenager.  What do you remember about being 11 years old?  

What's on your mind?


No Luck said…
The link to the linked-in page brings us to an odd place. Please try again.
The link works but I think if you are not signed in/part of Linkedin, you probably can't see it.
Anonymous said…
@Melissa - There is an alternate link to the person you are referencing - but it includes the name, which I assume you are trying not to use?

Anonymous said…
Jill Geary
Candidate for School Board Director at Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors
Greater Seattle AreaLaw Practice
Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors, Seattle Public Schools Special Education Advocacy and Advisory Council (SEAAC), Wolf Bay Law
Laurelhurst Elementary School, Jill L. Geary, Attorney, Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings
Seattle University School of Law

Candidate for School Board Director
Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors
March 2015 – Present (2 months)Seattle, District 3
Running a regional primary (NE Seattle), then a citywide campaign for Director of Seattle Public Schools on a platform of providing a challenging and appropriate education to each Seattle Public School's student, regardless of geographic location, income, race, and ability, and promoting real and meaningful collaboration between parents, teachers and administrators with the goal of an excellent education in the classroom and opportunity beyond.
Council Member
Seattle Public Schools Special Education Advocacy and Advisory Council (SEAAC)
December 2014 – Present (5 months)Seattle, WA

I have a Linked-In account.

Anonymous said…
If it is posted in Linked-In, it is public access as that is the purpose of Linked-In. Don't see why you couldn't post it here.

Anonymous said…
From the HCC Blog, but it applies to Spectrum and ALO as well...

We recently had our child take the Woodcock Johnson reading achievement test as part of the Advanced Learning Appeals process. Our testing provider reported our child’s scores using age-norms. I told him the district required grade-normed scores for the achievement tests, and he proceeded to explain to why age-norms are better and then sent me a letter for submission to the district using age-norms anyway, without explicitly stating in his letter what norms he had used. He also sent me an email explaining that he had been submitting age-normed scores to the district for 14 years, and that the district had never questioned his appeals letters.

Using age-based norms instead of the districts grade-based norms boosted our kindergartner's scores by 9% compared to the district test. That’s the difference between GenEd and HCC. When the provider finally sent me the grade-normed scores, after I asked four times in writing, his scores dropped by 1% compared to the district test. Our child was born in the spring. If he had been born in the summer, he would have achieved a good 10% boost simply by us paying the $200 for private testing.

Should the district even being using grade-normed scores? Have your child in September and they are HCC qualified. Have your child in June, and they are only average. It does seem unfair, but at least it doesn't seem to discriminate, as much, based on socio-economic status.

I very much support the Advanced Learning Program. And I very much support Seattle Public Schools. I believe parents should have a right to private testing, just like I have every intention of working with my son to boost his reading scores.

I've sent a letter to Advanced Learning asking them to update their procedures to prevent this from happening in the future, and copied the superintendent. It’s discriminatory against those who can’t pay for private, independent testing. It taints a program I strongly support. I don’t believe it’s intentional. And I believe every district staff member is truly dedicated to our children. But that this has been going on for fourteen years is absolutely unacceptable.
Anonymous said…
I assume the district is using age-normed CogAT scoring whether than grade normed? (Is there even grade-normed scoring for the CogAT?)

Anonymous said…
The district uses age-normed scoring for the Cogat, but grade normed achievement scoring, which the woodcock johnson is (think MAP).

I always wondered what took them so long to do appeals, if they are just checking for numbers, but now I hope they are weeding out shenanigans like this. Thank you for pressing your provider, Another Parent! I hope you reported him to the district- this is unethical, and they will take him off the approved provider list.

Anonymous said…
The Cogat is scored with age norms, and MAP testing uses grade-norms.

Children with birth dates close to or outside the cutoffs on either side will certainly show that in their achievement scores, especially in the early grades. I wouldn't worry too much about private providers using age norms. There are more important things to get up in arms about. Like the district using MAP testing for its achievement scores in the first place.

ALO mom
Anonymous said…
sleeper-- is it really unethical? Where does it say that?

Please don't encourage more parents to hold their summer birthdays back so they can get into APP. That's the much bigger problem I'd say.

Anonymous said…
An Eye-Opening Look At School Playgrounds Around The World

Very cool pictures. Norway's looks the best to me!

Anonymous said…
CogAT is aged normed as it should be. That is the cognition test. It is the achievement tests for reading and math that are grade based normed - and they should be grade NOT age normed because the HCC program is delivered by 'grade', so the candidate student must be at at least 95th and 95th in both achievement areas in order to be a fit for the class level work (the 98th minimum of cognition is critical to be a fit for the pace).

The grade based norms is data derived by blending 'old' and 'young' from that grade, so those data are representative and do not penalize students who are younger.

The District is well aware of their own standards and would not have any difficulty in spotting an erroneous result offered on an appeal.

I assume the practitioner was unaware of the peogram's requirements and their reporting was just because that was how they were used to doing it, comparing a child to his age-matched peers, instead of to their grade cohort. Should be easy enought to recalibrate the percentile, because the raw score doesn't change.

If a child doesn't hit the minimum percentiles, then the program is not an intervention that would be of need for that child.


Anonymous said…
If the district requires grade-normed scores, and a provider knowingly submits age-normed scores and leaves that fact out of their report, they are intentionally breaking the rules. Or maybe we should just submit the scores for a different child, and leave there name off.

Whether or not the rules are correct is an entirely different issue. But at the very least the district needs to enforce the rules they have.
Anonymous said…
How can Geary serve effectively? Is she going to relinquish her license to practice law? I bring this up, because lawyers are required to report another lawyer's misconduct and any known violations of the law.

So, it seems she would have an obligation to report many of the current misconduct and violations of the law going on at SPS.

Anonymous said…
It would appear a child with a summer birthday may be at as much as a 15 point disadvantage as compared to a child born in the fall, for testing into HCC and Spectrum/ALO during kindergarten on the achievement tests.

I'm guessing that the difference probably mostly disappears by second grade. That does create a tangible incentive for parents to hold their kids back with summer birthdays.

If parents holding their kids back is a problem, then maybe it would make more sense to accept age-normed results for the first two years.

I believe its unfair to question parents who follow the rules and advocate for their kids.
Anonymous said…
It's not a competition, 1:07. It's a service. If your child doesn't meet the minimum percentiles for achievement, they don't need to be in an HCC classroom. A gen ed classroom should have enough material to serve them. That is who it is INTENDED to serve. Maybe that child will indeed move up the percentiles over the years, for the reasons you stated and if their cognitive skills are high so that they learn at an accelerated pace. At that time will require HCS as an intervention. But if they are scoring in the 85th percentile now, they are well placed in a gen ed class.

Kids who are held back still have to score high enough on the cognitive side in an age based test. I have kids in APP now, and there appear to be no more red shirted(held back) than in our previous school. So far it is not a problem we need to "solve."

Anonymous said…

I have no opinion on whether or not Red-shirting is in fact a problem.

But I disagree, as you imply, that a kindergartener that scores 99 on the Cogat Quant, 99 on the Cogat Verbal, 99 on Cogat Non Verbal, 99 on the math achievement, 97 on the reading achievement age-normed, and 94 on reading achievement grade-normed, is better served in their neighborhood school, because that's where they will be assigned.

We have children that have been in GenEd, Spectrum and HCC. The kids in all three programs were assigned books at their own level. To suggest that such a child doesn't deserve to be in HCC is nonsensical. For kindergarten, age-norms for reading would clearly make sense. And probably for math as well.

- been there
Lynn said…
The district is not supposed to design a service and then go looking for kids who need that particular service. They're supposed to identify the 'most highly capable' students and then provide them the services they need.

Age-based achievement norms would identify the children who are highly capable as well as or better than grade-based norms. A child should also be able to be identified with CogAT/IQ scores alone. This would have the advantage of giving kids with little preparation for school and 2E children a better chance of having their needs met.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, been there and Lynn. Was about to post similar thoughts but you two both said it well.

I'm also still looking for where it specifies that the achievement scores must be grade-normed such that this provider is out of line. All I see is nationally-normed on the Advanced Learning site.

Anonymous said…
There has always got to be a line, been there, and no matter where you put it, it will seem a little silly to keep kids one point lower out, because of the margin of error. Kids on the line on either side are often in an awkward spot. But if there's no line, then we just have subjective, "does the child remind us of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory," and that is much more problematic.

If we had an entirely different program I would agree that we should not use achievement scores, but because our program is acceleration based, I think we do. It's the cheapest kind, so I think it is here to stay, but I wouldn't go so far as to argue it's the best.

Anonymous said…
But in been there's example, the student is well across the cutoff line according to accepted norming (age-norm). It is not uncommon at all to use age-norming of achievement scores in gifted programs, which I why I am confused by the accusations of impropriety.

Anonymous said…
From the district's eligibility requirements: "Approved standardized achievement tests include the Woodcock-Johnson III Achievement, Form B (Grade Norms)..."

The district letter we received states, "reading and math achievement testing compares the performance of your child to children in the same grade..."

The district could easily calculate and report the age-normed scores for the ITBS achievement test but they don't.

The only way to get the age-norms is to pay for a third-party provider to complete another test.

If they district will accept age-norms, they should say so, and they should report the ones they have as they already have the results. Or they should not allow them and follow their procedures. Otherwise they've created pay-to-play rules that are not fair.

Anonymous said…

I very much agree that there must be lines. Seattle is a big district and it would be untenable for them to have to fairly review each case without clear rules.

But the rules must make as much sense as possible. And they must be as fair as possible. And they must not create an unnecessary burden on our teachers and schools.

Using grade-norms for kindergarten reading testing doesn't make sense and isn't fair, and I doubt would be supported by any relevant professional. And it will also make zero different in the first grade classroom because every child is assigned books at their own level.

The only reason not to change or even discuss the issue is bureaucratic inertia and higher priority issues, which is likely what will happen once again.

-- been there
Anonymous said…
Using grade-norms for kindergarten reading testing doesn't make sense and isn't fair, and I doubt would be supported by any relevant professional.

Why isn't it fair? At early ages, no teacher who is expected to accelerate children already reading needs to have a small decoding group to deal with. Honestly, my kid was in a first-grade Spectrum where only one student literally couldn't read. Fortunately, several parents took on the reading role for that child. What's wrong with waiting a year and sending a child to an advanced classroom when he/she has the capacity to do the work?

One of those parents!
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there are no "self-contained first grade Spectrum" classrooms left in the district, with possibly one exception. Except for the single case, I believe all reading in neighborhood schools is now blended/clustered in general ed. But since no reading test at all is required for Spectrum during kindergarten testing, whether or not age or grade norms are used for reading is completely irrelevant, because for Spectrum there is no reading test. But I 100% agree, accelerating a child in class when they've never been tested on the subject makes no sense. That’s the reason Spectrum teachers get unprepared students. Since all Spectrum Schools still have walk to math, that’s the bigger problem today. Why that is district policy is beyond me.

Instead, what we are talking about is HCC. And we are talking about kids that read in the 95% percentile age-normed by the time they're tested in the winter of their kindergarten year. To score that highly a child must still be reading near the second grade level. They generally must know well over a hundred sight-words, know how to sound out short and long vowels, blends etc., and read with a fair amount fluency. If they don't, they will never score in the 95th percentile even using age-norms. I would be astounded if you found a first grade HCC teacher who would argue such a child would be a burden in their class.

So why is it not fair to keep such a child in their neighborhood school? Because a student who may have otherwise scored in the 99th percentile on their cognitive math, verbal, and non-verbal tests, as well on their math achievement tests, and who I’m guessing every credentialed professional in the country would argue should be in HCC, with the exception of those that work for Seattle Public Schools, won't receive appropriate services in their neighborhood school, simply because the district created a nonsensical rule.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Reposting for anon (and I'll add that yes, the K MAP is certainly not measuring fluency in reading as some are making it sound. A 99 on the K or 1st grade MAP in reading is a MUCH lower bar than what you are worrying about with the age-normed achievement test. Also, if the private provider would also use age-norms for a red-shirted child, it is not some pay-to-play conspiracy. It is just a professional assertion on the best measure of achievement, and the district can take it or leave it. Sheesh.)

"Aren't the K MAP reading tests taken with a headset, meaning verbal prompts? I'm not sure about K students reading at the levels you assume. My child tested into APP in K and did not read until maybe the middle of K. The test (pre NWEA MAP days) was given verbally to a group of students at school. By the start of 1st grade, my child was reading simple chapter books, and by the end of 1st grade, Harry Potter. Placement in APP seemed appropriate, and yet my child was not reading at the beginning of K. Really. Not reading. And a summer birthday to boot.

Did they use age or grade based norms? Who knows, but it's all kind of moot, because come middle school, the program falls so short of serving the needs of advanced readers. You can spend your energy splitting hairs on the identification process, but when all is said and done, it matters little when an appropriate program is not in place to serve identified students."

Anonymous said…
Look, I said a student in first grade Spectrum who could not read. No skills. Whatever the tests measure, they did not measure achievement in reading skills. Perhaps with prompts comprehension but not reading/decoding. This was a first-grade Spectrum school and it was several years ago.

The teacher said she will get one or two most years and was glad she usually had parents to help.

Whatever your child's experience is doesn't negate the fact there are HCC students at first grade Spectrum who cannot read. Rarely but there.

Anonymous said…
But spectrum is not an HCC program. How do you know this kid was HCC? There were ZERO kids in my kids' 1st grade classes at Lincoln who were not reading cheaper books -- they were all reading fluently. I really don't think there is an issue with that in the HCC programs. (I heard people complain about the wide range in math abilities, but never about reading.)

Parent 2
Anonymous said…
Sorry - chapter books, not cheaper books. Of course.

Parent 2
My son didn't read going into Spectrum first grade. I was worried but the wise teacher told me, "He's bright and he will read by the end of first grade." And he did.

I'm not sure reading is necessarily the gauge to measure Spectrum ability.
Anonymous said…
Why does the district not "un-redshirt" those high achieving older kids? Bumping older kids up who need it is cheaper than more HCC seats.
Lynn said…
HCC seats are not more expensive than general ed seats. You'd save the cost of busing if the child lived within the walk zone for their attendance area school - but the district would be giving up the capacity flexibility these kids provide.

Skipping a grade doesn't make a general ed program a good fit for a highly capable child for long. (Maybe for a month or two - but once they've caught up, the instructional pace is too slow.)
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Just watched the movie made at Loyal Heights last year.

Bullying, sex, fitting in, the future, fear of gun violence.. lots of heavy stuff in the film It's long and at times really sad and painful, sometimes disturbing and sometimes hopeful. Surprisingly short on hopeful, IMO.
The film-maker's son was in the class and it comes off as too heavy, too scripted by what the kids think the film-maker wants to hear. He had been filming these kids for a few years and they have learned to act much more serious than an 11 year old would.
I think these days kids are capable of making films themselves, certainly Ballard high cranks them out like crazy. I know when mine was in elementary, fifth grade in fact, a parent helped the kids make their own video story and now in middle school mine has taken video production and it's awesome. She's also done podcasts for LA.
I don't like the "professionals" making films about kids. They bring their own preconceptions and the kids don't come off as real. They seem like they are on a reality show.

I'd love to hear what others think of the film. It's pretty long, another complaint, even for an adult attention span.


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