Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, May 11th
Curriculum&Instruction Policy Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda
The agenda is a long list of items, some policy issues (like student fees, student rights and responsibilities handbook) and a couple of very serious items.  (To note, each BAR usually has a list of supporting documents at the end of the BAR.  In the past, each supporting document had a live link.  I now see - with help from the Board office - that instead of making each listed document a live link, those documents now follow the listing of the documents.  I do not know when this changed.)

One is the movement of Special Education from the Revised Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Office of Superintendent Public Instruction (OSPI). OSPI has listed the School Board as an approver on the draft MOU. 

Fiscal impact to this action will be $3,000,000 in federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B funding for the 2014-15 school year being released if Seattle Public Schools demonstrates substantial compliance with the MOU by June 30, 2015.

As of May 4, 2015, thirty-nine of the forty activities within the RC-CAP were completed with the one remaining activity on hold while Seattle Public Schools completes the budgeting and staffing process for the 2015-16 school year. 

The MOU with OSPI hopefully will be accepted because if not, that $3M that OSPI is holding in Sped funds for 2014-2015 will expire in November 2016 (Federal funds are only available for a 27-month period of time, and any 2014-15 IDEA funding withheld if not released and expended by the District, will expire in November 2016.) 

The second hugely important issue the the contract for Amplify testing.   What staff says about SBAC in the BAR is deeply troubling (because parents have been told how great this test is).   

Although a more balanced and integrated system than any previous state assessment system, Smarter Balanced is not a fully transparent and customizable platform.
  • First, student scores are only reported at the general “claim” or learning “cluster” level, but not for specific standards and skills.  
  • Second, teachers cannot view the test items, and therefore the system offers limited insights into how the new standards are assessed.
  •  Third, the platform does not support item-level analysis to inform teacher understanding of student depth of knowledge and misconceptions, or why students answered specific items incorrectly. 
  •  Finally, Smarter Balanced does not support custom alignment of assessments to a District curricular scope and sequence. 
To compensate for these limitations, Seattle Public Schools will leverage the Amplify mCLASS® BeaconTM platform to develop formative and interim assessments aligned to the District’s scope and sequence for College and Career Readiness Standards. 

I don't expect any one test to do everything but this is lunacy.  So because the SBAC has these seemingly numerous flaws, how much are we paying for it?  And because of these seemingly numerous flaws, the district has to spend MORE money for Amplify to get the data they seem to need to know how students are progressing?  It's about $435,000.  And what if the SBAC results don't mirror what a student does on the SBAC?  Which testing do we believe?

Ten Things You Need to Know about Amplify from the Seattle Education blog.  These include that Amplify was paid by the SBAC to write formative assessments.  (It's all one big money wheel for Rupert Murdoch.)  
District wide, students in Seattle Public Schools who took the Amplify assessments had a passing rate of 45-50% for ELA and 35-40% for math. Seattle Public Schools has decided not to share student scores with parents or posted results on the Source. 
Oh and your student's data?  From Amplify's website via Seattle Education blog:
Please note that when you use certain (Amplify) products, services, applications or other websites, our use of your information may be governed by a separate legal agreement or a privacy policy specifically posted in connection with those offerings.

  • To improve our products and services. We may use your personal information for our business purposes, such as data analysis, audits, developing new products and services, enhancing the Site, improving our services, identifying usage trends, and determining the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns.

  • To share with our affiliated education companies. Amplify may share your information with Amplify’s affiliated education companies for the purposes described in this Privacy Policy.

  • To allow service providers to assist us. We may engage third party service providers, agents and partners (“Third Party Agents”) to perform functions on our behalf, such as marketing, analytics, credit card processing, shipping or stocking orders and providing customer service. We may disclose your personal information to such Third Party Agents to enable them to assist us in these efforts.

  • To protect the rights of Amplify and our users.  There may be instances when Amplify may disclose your information, in situations where Amplify has a good faith belief that such disclosure is necessary or appropriate in order to...

  • To complete a merger or sale of assets.  If Amplify sells all or part of its business or makes a sale or transfer of its assets or is otherwise involved in a merger, transfer or other disposition of all or part of its business, assets or stock (including in connection with any bankruptcy or similar proceedings), Amplify may transfer your information to the party or parties involved in the transaction.

  • User control  If you would like to review, correct, update, suppress or otherwise limit our use of your personal information you have previously provided directly to us, you may contact us using the contact information provided below. In your request, please make clear what information you would like to have changed, whether you would like to have your personal information suppressed from our database, or if you have other questions about your personal information. We will try to comply with your request as soon as reasonably practicable.

  • Even after we have deleted your information from our systems, copies of some information from your account may remain viewable in some circumstances – where, for example, you have shared information with social media platforms and other unaffiliated services. We may also retain backup information related to your account on our servers for some time after cancellation for fraud detection or to comply with applicable law or our internal security policies. 
Tuesday, May 12th -
The last of the School Bell Times Community discussions, this one at Chief Sealth at 7:00 pm.

Thursday, May 14th
Audit&Finance Committee meeting at 4:30 pm.   No agenda yet available. 

Saturday, May 16th
Family Symposium cancelled.

Director meeting with Director Martin-Morris from 11 am to 1 pm at Montlake Library. 


K said…
I thought the school closure was on May 19, not May 12.
Anonymous said…
Yes - it is the 19th

Re: the Amplify thing - gotta love the attempts at "doom and gloom" implied in these statements of what might happen if Board does not approve the measure

1. Currently, 50 schools are utilizing mClass Beacon as an interim benchmark assessment. If the proposed contract is not approved the existing contract can continue and use of mClass Beacon can be utilized in the 50 schools already implementing mClass Beacon. Not expanding to all schools could result in schools using various benchmarks. This would limit the ability compare achievement across the system.
2. Currently, 50 schools are utilizing mClass Beacon as an interim benchmark assessment. If the contract is not approved and the existing contract is not continued, it could result in a lack of consistency and comparison across the system. This lack of consistency could create equity issues among our schools

I think most people have a very very different view of what "equity issues" mean.


Anonymous said…
Seattle Public Schools has decided not to share student scores with parents or posted results on the Source.

Parents have a right to student records, including Amplify results. The District may not be voluntarily sharing results (scores are not reported as rank percentiles, so the numbers look pretty bad) but you can ask for your child's results. FERPA, people.

We will be opting out of both Amplify and SBAC next year, without hesitation.

-just ask
Anonymous said…
Finally, Smarter Balanced does not support custom alignment of assessments to a District curricular scope and sequence.

"District curricular scope and sequence???" Does this exist? I sure would love to see it.
Anonymous said…
Parents, ask for your Amplify test scores! ASK ASK ASK!

These tests had only a negative impact at our school. Scores were as low as Melissa reports. Our teacher said the results were so poor as to render the tests not at a useful to teachers, but then our kids spent a bunch of weekends doing Amplify homework to prep for SBAC.

Opting out of Amplify next year, no question.



Yes, the teacher strike day IS the 19th - got ahead of myself.

The way to stop this is to elect a school board who will stand with students and parents against those who want to replace education with test prep.

We need one more person to step up and run for school board - in District I, which covers most of North Seattle above 85th street (or thereabouts). This week is the filing deadline. It would be a shame to let an ed reformer just walk into office unopposed.
Anonymous said…
Dorn doesn't want this year's SBAC scores to count. News to me. Story at The Seattle Times. Now SPS doesn't want to share Amplify scores with students or parents.

Rate of effort to rate of return on both tests is a FAIL. That's something the corporate edupreneurs pushing this crap should understand.


And Melissa, maybe you should do a thread on the Dorn letter. If Dorn wants to opt out of scores why is he lecturing us not to opt out of the dud test?
Po3 said…
And what does this mean for these poor 10th graders who have been forced to take this test that now everybody admits students are going to fail?

What a mess.

Disgusted said…
I asked for my child's Amplify results, weeks ago, and haven't received test scores.

Amplify provides a lot of information. Problem: Teachers and administrators don't have time to research and use these results.

I firmly believe that the folks in the John Stanford Center are disconnected to the realities of our classrooms, but they have to keep making work to maintain their jobs.

I agree with Robert. We need a school board that will stand up. McLaren and Peaslee continue to state that they don't support standardized tests, but they do nothing.

There was an article in the Seattle Times that Dorn wants to suspend SBAC from AYP- something Peters brought to the board and they refused to discuss. McLaren blocked the conversation- at every turn. Peters brought the resolution to the board on March 4th. McLaren's speech about not having time to weigh-in rang hollow. She is versed into the realities outside of the John Stanford Center and needs to go.
Anonymous said…
I feel that OSPI has abandoned the students with disabilities in SPS. That MOU is basically saying that the status quo is just about the best we can hope for. Having just read the Stevens Elementary corrective actions, where it is clear that SPS has no system whatever to govern and mitigate what amounts to a sped outage in the buildings, I cannot believe that this is the same OSPI that is allowing SPS to get off the hook here. S

Anonymous said…
Just hired to sue SPS. Can't wait any longer for a class action.

They can shove the MOU you know where! Crooks.

Scorched earth
Anonymous said…
Who says, "As of May 4, 2015, thirty-nine of the forty activities within the RC-CAP were completed with the one remaining activity on hold while Seattle Public Schools completes the budgeting and staffing process for the 2015-16 school year." The district? They are proven to be UN-trustworthy. OSPI who allowed the district to fall into level 4 determination?

Who is representing the victims of the district? Shouldn't the victims state whether or not the district has fixed it's issues.

Are we all going to sit back and allow this theft to continue?

I can I saw this coming miles away along with other.

To the teachers:

Go ahead and have your "me first" walk out, but don't ask me for another penny from levees or PTA.


Anonymous said…
Seriously? The Amplify contract BAR actually says this:

If the contract is not approved and the existing contract is not continued, it could result in a lack of consistency and comparison across the system. This lack of consistency could create equity issues among our schools.

So now they all of a sudden care about consistency across sites???

Anonymous said…
This is an effort to stop an additional 3 million in withholding and repayment of SPS IDEA provisional grants.

I can't see where OSPI has the authority to extend the dead-line SPS missed the deadline and should still be at level 4 which means another 3 million dollars withheld and repayment of 4 years of provisional grants.

Reading the MOU you can see it sets a low bar of 75%...are you kidding me, SPS will be allowed to screw over close to 2000 students without violating the MOU.

Anonymous said…
I have no idea but can SPS legally withhold student scores from their parents?

And fascinating that Dorn wants to have this years SBAC not count - all that drama for nothing?

Anonymous said…
Wait, you should never use SPS and legally in the same sentence!

Anonymous said…
They can't withhold educational records (Amplify scores), but they don't have to post them to the SOURCE as they've done with MAP.

Ask for the results. If you don't receive them in a timely manner, ask again.

-just ask
Anonymous said…
Sounds like schools can refuse to release Amplify scores.

"This year, schools have the option to share scores with families, and some have chosen to do so, primarily through parent-teacher conferences."

I'm not a confrontational person and do not want antagonize my kid's teachers or principal, but I want to know the scores and it seems wrong to hide them.

"We have not posted scores or required schools to share them because the assessments and their results are primarily designed as an internal teaching tool rather than as information for families."

Well, that's not good enough for me. If the kids have to take the test and the teachers are supposed to be using it, why can't parents see the results, even if the scores are poor?

Are we unable to comprehend the results? Will we be shocked at how poorly our kids are doing?

Finally, does the district plan on withholding SBA scores when the inevitable low passing rate is announced?

We pay for the tests, our kids sit the tests, the teachers hopefully use them to teach to our kids, but we parents are not privy to the scores?

This one blows my mind.

Anonymous said…
Wow, the old MOU trick. I was wondering what sleazy method SPS and OSPI would come up with to screw over the SPED kids. Take some time and read the MOU it's laughable and possibly violates federal law. Please show up at 6:00 at Ballard High school for the show!

Ballard showdown
Anonymous said…
"Not sharing" is not the same as withholding. It simply means they are not voluntarily sharing the results with all parents. You absolutely have a right to see your child's results. A simple email to your child's teacher is all it should take. We received three pages of results (Benchmark 1,2, and 3).

-just ask!
Anonymous said…
I will email the teacher and see, but as I understand it,

"have not posted scores or required schools to share"

means the district has not required schools to share, so they don't have to share.

Again, I don't feel that I should have to be bugging my kid's busy and very good teacher to do extra work and read and respond to my emails. It's not her fault the results aren't posted and I'd rather she spent time teaching students than getting bogged down in individual requests for the Amplify scores.

Since it's middle school, she has 150 kids and if she has to read even 20 emails, respond, send out the data after retrieving it, we're talking some serious time involved.

I'm torn between usurping time that could go to teaching all her students and asking for my kid's scores. The district has put me, other parents and staff in a no-win situation.

Anonymous said…
Ballard show. Can you please fill us in on the details. We SPED parents like to know when we're getting screwed.

Are you going?

Sped Parent
Anonymous said…
Well, before I bug my kid's teacher, I wrote the ombudsman and director Peters. I really think this is a district-wide issue. As I wrote to Ms. Peters, the rationale the district uses for not putting the Amplify scores out is that only teachers need to use the information, but I consider myself one of my kid's teachers, certainly a partner in their education. So, I should have the scores as well, without jumping through hoops.

Anonymous said…
"The MOU with OSPI hopefully will be accepted because if not, that $3M that OSPI is holding in Sped funds for 2014-2015 will expire in November 2016"

MW, are these your words? If so, you need to stop because you don't know what you are talking about.

OSPI does not have the legal authority to return those funds to SPS. Go read the citations in the MOU and find where they allow for this additional extension or return of the with-holdings.

BTW, SPED did not lose one penny because the $3,000,000.00 was replaced from the districts reserves. The systematic SPED failures of 2014-2015 are not due to lack of funds AKA the $3million, they are due to incompetence and poor or non-existing administrative over-site which is even more egregious considering SPS added a half a dozen new SPED administrator positions in 2014.

Really how long does Clancy get to keep her job? She is the director in charge of day to day SPED activities while Jessee deals with the RRC-CAP and under her watch along with OSPI and the DOE they all turned a blind eye to the Stevens elementary issue.

It was mentioned last night that several Due process request are in the works over Stevens failure to provided FAPE to SPED students and similar charges are being made against another north-end elementary.

What a disaster this has turned out to be and if you listened carefully last night you heard 2018 throw out as a date when things will be working, remember though as it was mentioned, the plan hinges on the contract negotiations with SEA.

Wink Wink
Anonymous said…
But, just to play devil's advocate here "just ask" - yes, presumably a parent can and should ask for their child's scores. However that presumes they KNOW to ask, which I'm guessing a lot of people won't have the first clue about - because lets face it - communication, clear, concise, equitable communication is not SPS's strong suit. Not by a longggggg shot.

Plus, Ceres raises an excellent point about the amount of time a teacher would have to use to respond to multiple parent requests that could, perhaps, be better used elsewhere.

Its a goofy and bizarre idea to not "share" this info in an easy and equitable way. But then "easy and equitable" is not the SPS way. Ever. On anything. Ever.

Anonymous said…
A supposed advantage of the Amplify test is detailed feedback on a standard by standard basis. Each test report is a page, with an item by item score. The overall percentage is reported, along with the class and school averages. It's more detailed information than you'd get from MAP, and more cumbersome to share. There are also fewer questions than a typical MAP test, so statistically the scores are less reliable.

If only overall scores were reported, parents would be up in arms. The scores are low. The school average is in the 50% range. They aren't ranked on a percentile basis, but are straight up percent scores (number right/number of questions).

If the data is too hard to share with parents, or the results would create a parental outcry, why are we proposing extending this testing to even more schools? It makes you wonder.

-just ask
Wink, Wink, no those are NOT my words. They are the words from the BAR that staff created. Read the link.
mirmac1 said…
S'funny. To hear it said at C&I, the fact the scores weren't posted were because Eric Anderson just overlooked that in his zeal to research and assess yada yada.

Staff could not produce any data on how teachers liked the Amplify tests, but from their hems and haws it looks like it wasn't smooth sailing. Staff also said there's lot of work to be done to make questions easier, scope and sequence, whatever because the high FAIL rate did go over well.

The Amplify contract has VERY weak language with respect to privacy, weaker than ConnectEDU. Looks like Cerqui thinks English was too hard on data stuff. In fact, the contract language protects Amplify's "confidentially" more than it does student protected data.
Anonymous said…
Re: the Amplify BAR, wasn't the idea all along that these tests would allow for ongoing assessments that teachers could use throughout the year, since SBAC data don't come until the end? If they were good tests, aligned to the curriculum and standards, easy to administer and use, didn't get in the way of regular instruction and learning, etc., that's not necessarily a bad idea.

However, there should be a CLEAR understanding of how initial implementation is going BEFORE expanding these Amplify efforts. The BAR says they did some follow-up with implementing schools, but they really need to expand upon those findings. If the data support expansion, share them. To just state that they conducted a broad survey and smaller focus groups and that "overall, 68% of survey respondents favored the continuation of Amplify assessments either unconditionally or granted some improvements" should not be sufficient. What's the breakdown on happy "as is" vs "with improvements"? Are the improvements possible--and in what sort of timeframe? If it's going to take a year to improve the system, delay the expansion. One would also need to know a lot more about implementation and usefulness of these data before making a good decision as to expansion (e.g., participation rate among teachers at Amplify schools, impact on instructional time, whether/how teachers are using the results, whether Amplify results seem to match teachers' perception of student progress, relationship between Amplify and SBAC results, etc.) My guess is that the data in support of more Amplify testing aren't that rosy, and that's why they aren't saying much.

Does anyone have access to these Amplify survey and focus group data?

Anonymous said…
So the folks down at JSCEE think the Amplify tests are our CURRICULUM???

The Amplify contract BAR includes this:

Additionally, the use of mClass Beacon as a common assessment across the district support Goal 1 of Seattle Public Schools’ Strategic Plan, Ensuring Educational Excellence and Equity for Every Student by providing equitable access to a rigorous and relevant curriculum.


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