Friday Open Thread

Yet another eventful week.

Attended the great Rainier Beach High School town hall on transportation.  It is a weird thing to have kids begging for help to get to school.

It's not "lazy kids" who don't want to walk.  It's kids who are poor, need to get back and forth to school more quickly in order to help with younger sibs or get to jobs, and it's kids who live in a neighborhood that can be scary to walk thru.  One of the excellent student speakers last night said he generally had to choose between buying a bus pass or breakfast. 

The district did a pilot program last year giving 50 students who lived within two miles of RBHS ORCA cards and yes, those kids were absent/late fewer times and had better grades. 

Note to teachers; Edutopia has a "big list" of grants/resources that might be of use to you.

Get a roundup of educational grants, contests, awards, free toolkits, and classroom guides aimed at helping students, classrooms, schools, and communities. Check this page weekly to get the latest updates!

Within that list is Google's annual contest for kids, Doodle for Google, with its theme this year, "What Makes Me - Me!"

Students in grades K-12 are invited to take part in the 2015 Doodle 4 Google contest. Like all Google Doodles, each doodle must incorporate the letters G-o-o-g-l-e. One national winner will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship. The contest is open for entries from October 19, 2015 to December 7, 2015. 

News from North Carolina - their legislature passed a bill that repealed Common Core. (which remain in place for two years until they come up with new standards.)

Don't throw out that boarding pass.  You may be giving away personal information.

Funny photos w/captions that only Harry Potter fans will get. This one is good for the kids.

Finally, for those of you with angst-ridden teens, 23 Emotions We All Feel but Don't Know the Names Of.  I would say I'm Occhiolism (awareness of the smallness of your perspective but that could be a height thing) but mostly Nodus Tollens (realization that the plot of your life doesn't make sense to you anymore.)

What's on your mind?


Po3 said…
"The district did a pilot program last year giving 50 students who lived within two miles of RBHS ORCA cards and yes, those kids were absent/late fewer times and had better grades."

This stuff makes me crazy.

District pilots a program.
Pilot program is successful.
District does not roll out pilot program.

How in the world can we ever expect students to succeed if we cannot give access to things we know will help them succeed?

dj said…
I drove past Queen Anne Elementary this am and there are dozens of parents there with professional-looking "bring back David Elliot" signs. I think the parent uprising is definitely here.
The VNESS facebook page indicated position 1 has a write-in candidate Elizabeth Wong. Anyone know anything about her?
Elizabeth Wong was one of the co-chairs of the now-defunct FACMAC. She is very bright and asks hard questions. She seemed to me a more Establishment type like Lauren McGuire but more of a tough cookie. But I have no idea if she wants to do this or why she didn't run in the first place if she does.
Maureen said…
So somebody coughed up the money to cover Pay to Play for sports in SPS, is there another private school parent who has a transportation related ethics issue who will buy Orca passes for Beach students?

(Thinking if these guys would just pay income taxes, we wouldn't have to count on them buying goodwill...)
Lynn said…
Is there any reason emails or other correspondence between the head of Athletics and a donor would not be subject to public records requests?
monkeypuzzled said…
I received an amusing email from Marty McLaren's campaign this week. Beware of candidates trying to "shake things up!"

: Dear Friends,

Here's my message now that ballots are in voters’ hands:

Our Board has hired SPS’s best Superintendent in almost 20 years. I agree with him on many of his initiatives, and our students, teachers and parents are seeing the gains that come from stable, forward-focused leadership. It is imperative to elect Board members who support Larry Nyland and the vital work he is leading. It is of great concern that some candidates for School Board promise to “shake things up,” implying that they do not support the important strides in motion. Please spread the word. You can help by committing to send this email on to friends. Please help to ensure vital continuity and collaboration in Seattle Public Schools by voting for Marty McLaren.

As the board member with actual teaching experience in Seattle schools, I know we are making significant headway against the enormous challenges in Seattle Public Schools: We’re seeing outstanding test results with the new Common Core standards, increased engagement of school principals in district decision-making, more equitable resource allocation to all schools to help close the opportunity gap, improved Special Education services resulting in SPS’s removal from the Federal Watch List, earlier hiring of teachers, and a continued high bond rating.

I remain committed to positive change, continuity, and constructive dialogue on the School Board.

Warm regards,

Po3 said…
"Beware of candidates trying to "shake things up!""

Is the platform I am voting for, thanks for the reminder to complete my ballot this weekend Director McLaren.

Anonymous said…
did you see the follow up in the Times about Spectrum, Washington, Blending, and Montessori?

Lynn said…
See page three of this document for the timeline for staffing adjustments at high schools:

An email went out stating that Garfield won't lose any staff this year. I hope it was correct - but according to the timeline principals won't be notified until next Monday.
Anonymous said…
Hey MonkeyPuzzled ... I am puzzled as well.

" We’re seeing outstanding test results with the new Common Core standards, increased engagement of school principals in district decision-making, more equitable resource allocation to all schools to help close the opportunity gap,"

The test results were on the SBAC and they were very good in Math. At the elementary level best ever in grades 4 and 5. Last year the MiF scope and sequence was followed. This year that "Scope and Sequence" has been tossed in favor of strict Common Core alignment. Is this a needed change? A change hidden from public view or discussion, a change apparently based on ... only top-down dictates.

Remember when in doubt about anything be sure and trot out the phrase "Opportunity Gap".
But the "Opportunity" problem remains largely unchanged. At the most recent Board Work Session on "Closing the Opportunity Gap" the gap was unmeasured -- no data reported or used at that work session..... I guess propaganda substitutes for data.

"increased engagement of school principals in district decision-making"
Guess this is not a reference to the QAE principal or is it how one defines engaged?

I guess "increased engagement" is not a reference to site-based decision making.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Po3 wrote:

"How in the world can we ever expect students to succeed if we cannot give access to things we know will help them succeed?"

Is the expectation that students should succeed? As Po3 points out that is hard to tell in many cases.

Why not do what is known to work?

Because political thought processes drive actions not the knowledge of what works.

Take a look from Arne Duncan on down. Political thought processes drive actions. What is known to work is rarely a large factor in administrative educational decision-making.

This is a major reason that a move to site-based decision-making and accountability is so drastically needed.

-- Dan Dempsey
Unknown said…
Monkeypuzzled - thanks for the laugh of the day! Poor Marty. A little scared of those who "shake things up" instead of saying yes to everything "staff" tells you? Dream on...

Voting for Leslie.
Anonymous said…
"News from North Carolina - their legislature passed a bill that repealed Common Core. (which remain in place for two years until they come up with new standards.)"

Stopping CCSS and SBAC in WA State should be job #1 for everyone not paid by the Gates Foundation.

This needs to happen in Legislature 2016.

Contrary to the propaganda pushed by BMGF .. the CCSS are definitely not internationally competitive and are dumbing-down Seattle elementary school math right now.

It is amazing that the far corners of the edu-verse are coming together in uniform opposition. Liberals, Conservatives, Progressives, Libertarians are all in agreement this CCSS stuff needs to STOP. If you examine those in support of CCSS you will find Gates funding under them.

The groundwork has been laid:

From Dora's Seattle Education
“Our state’s Democratic and Republican parties have rejected Common Core as being bad for kids,” said Roach, R-rural Auburn. “Someone has to stand up for the students.”

“Common Core is uniting liberals and conservatives like no issue I have seen. Our conference Thursday is about building momentum toward a legislative repeal of Common Core in 2016,” said Chase, D-Shoreline.

Chase and Roach are the lead sponsors of Senate Bill 6030, introduced Feb. 18, which would have the state withdraw from Common Core standards and return to the Essential Academic Learning Requirements that preceded Common Core.

Senate Bill 6030


Stop Common Core in Washington State
Citizens Against Common Core

--- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
The link to the bill is below

Senate Bill 6030

-- Dan Dempsey
Watching said…
In my mind, the district does not want to support alternative schools.

The district claimed Middle College was under-enrolled. Under-enrollment was used as an excuse to close this program. The West Seattle Blog reports that Middle College was prohibited from enrolling students.

The district attempted to dismantle Creative Approach schools during contract negotiations, as well.

Worth "watching" this issue.
Anonymous said…
I was curious about MAP testing - for some reason I thought that SPS was no longer using this test, but my 4th grader has taken it for both math (a few weeks ago) and reading (this week). Does anyone know if this is consistent through out the district? Thanks - just curious.

NE mom of 3
Anonymous said…
NE mom of 3,

I am really not sure .... but:

I believe that MAP is still going strong grades 3 through 8 but no longer used in High Schools.

-- Dan Dempsey
SPS Mom said…
There are 50 schools that piloted Amplify last year, which replaced MAP in those schools, so MAP is being used in only a subset of elementaries.
Anonymous said…
It is time to organize to STOP the CCSS Insanity.

The Argument: Should Massachusetts drop the Common Core?

To get $250 million in federal money, the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted in 2010 to adopt math and English Language Arts standards it knew were inferior to the state’s own standards. Bay State students had already reached first place on 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests in fourth and eighth grades in both math and reading and had stayed there. Moreover, all student groups had made steady gains in academic achievement through the 2000s. To this day, we do not know why the board voted to impose Common Core’s standards on the state. They had no track record for effectiveness anywhere and were not research-based, internationally benchmarked, or rigorous.

Nevertheless, like sheep, most school committees have supported their superintendents’ recommendations to purchase expensive technology for Common Core-based tests, more computer specialists for their elementary schools, more data managers for their central offices, curriculum materials “aligned” to these new standards, and never-ending professional development to show teachers how to teach to the new standards and the tests based on them.

Get busy urging passage of legislation in 2016 to STOP CCSS in WA State.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
The governor supports CCSS, the House Democratic leadership supports CCSS, the Senate Republican leadership supports CCSS, the State Board of Education supports CCSS, and the state superintendent supports CCSS.

Pam Roach and Maralyn Chase are your anti-CCSS champions. SB 6030 didn't even get a hearing last session, let alone a vote.

Good luck with all that.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
SPS Mom wrote:
"There are 50 schools that piloted Amplify last year, which replaced MAP in those schools, so MAP is being used in only a subset of elementaries."

I always marvel at an "SPS Pilot"... lets just test this out in over half the schools in the district.

How are decisions made on what to "pilot" on such huge scales?

I think chewing more bubble gum in grade 3 might raise student academic engagement and raise SBAC test scores lets pilot that in all grade 3 classrooms in 50 schools ... no better yet make it grades k-5 ... lets pilot that. Eventually that cohort of kindergartners will take the SBAC in 2019. Go for it. Wait what gum vendor will we use?

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
please note that MAP is now OPTIONAL for grades K-2 in the fall & winter (fall and spring for K). You can ask (advocate?) about whether your school is offering. I wonder how many schools will continue to test our youngest students 2-3 times a year now that it is not actually required by the district. See district's assessment calendar here:

SE mama
Anonymous said…
Citizen Kane,

Welcome to the discussion. I think that Senate Bill 6030 was introduced after the deadline for getting a hearing. The intent was to have it in place for action in 2016. There was no opportunity for a vote in 2015.

I believe you will find that last year the little people in both the Republican and Democratic parties at their conventions were opposed to Common Core. Now would be an excellent time to submit party resolutions to remove WA State students, parents, and educators from CCSS control.

Follow the money.
To those following the actions of Arne Duncan with his RttT bribe money.... it is no surprise that the State Board of Education supports CCSS, and the state superintendent supports CCSS. Do you really think the "leaders" deserve to be followed by the sheep? Is that your argument? Good luck with that.

So let's get on with a factual discussion and look at the pro's and con's of CCSS & SBAC and how Washington's students and their families are effected.

-- Dan Dempsey
Lynn said…
MAP tests are still being given in schools that did not use the mClass Beacon interim assessments in 2014-15. Staff had asked the board to approve a contract that would have transitioned all schools to this assessment but the board did not. See page six of the minutes from the June 17, 2015 board meeting:

Here's a link to the assessment calendar for the current year:
Citizen Kane does become a grumpy Gus as he/she sees CC slip away. I note we WILL have a different president and state superintendent by nearly this time next year. And on both sides of aisle, there are unhappy people who see this ramrodded bill of goods and say, "wait a minute."

I'll wait. One thing about me - I am very patient when it comes to this kind of thing.
Anonymous said…
I'll check back in with you when the chair of the Senate education committee gives this bill a hearing.

I don't plan on holding my breath, though. It could be a long time coming.

Citizen Kane

P.S. I'm not sure if you understand how Olympia works. If the majority party in the House (D) and the majority party in the Senate (R) plus the governor are in support of something, it pretty much makes it bulletproof. The party convention platforms mean squat.

P.S.S. A simple Google search of this forum with CCSS and/or SBAC shows a debate on these topics has been had ad nauseum. I think the pros and cons been covered (multiple times).
Anonymous said…
Thanks Lynn,

According to the calendar, it wasn't required for my 4th grader. It must have been the teacher's choice? Or the principal's choice? I was just curious what they would be using it for if it isn't required. I guess I can ask her teacher. Her teacher seems really big on pre-assessments. My 4th grader was really upset because there were all these very complex vocab words that she had never heard of and her score ended up dropping below her score of spring of 2nd grade (she has consistently been 98 or 99 percentile in reading). Her math went way up. Just seemed odd for my bookworm.

NE Mom of 3
Anonymous said…
Why would I be grumpy? Jay Inslee (CCSS supporter) is likely to remain governor, Hillary Clinton (CCSS supporter) is likely to be president, and Chris Reykdal (CCSS supporter) is likely to be state superintendent.

The Republicans (CCSS supporters) are likely to maintain their majority in the state Senate. The Democrats could actually lose the House. But even if they retain their majority, they too are supporters of the CCSS.

I seem to be perched upon the famed catbird seat. No grumpies.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
Citizen Kane,

I am really disinterested in how "the Olympia" machine operates. What I am concerned with is how CCSS & SBAC impact student learning and all that that entails.

Perhaps the public will never have enough interest in what is happening in our nation's schools to require intelligent decision-making from those in authority. In which case you can remain in the catbird seat, while never discussing CCSS impact on students and avoiding any discussion of that.

-- Dan Dempsey

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data ... not just sitting in the catbird seat" .... Discussion???

Tribalism seems unlikely to contribute much if anything to k-12 educational progress.
Anonymous said…
I was just reading the news and found two interesting items of note.

1) One of the big tech investors said in a lengthy profile article in The Seattle Times this past week?: The city should take over SPS. Because our system needs a "radical fix." Someone else posted this article but I don't think many saw it. I am calling it out again because blog readers need to keep up on insider baseball.

2) Who is a parent at Queen Anne Elementary? That would be Reuven Carlyle, 36th District state Rep and a major voice in state funding initiatives. Like the need to fund public schools. He went to the rally for ousted principal David Elliott today. His quotes indicate he is not pleased with SPS. At all.

Watching said…
I hate to break this news to Citizen Kane, but Common Core and SBAC might be issues in the governor's race. Don't shoot the messenger.(!)......;)
Greenwoody said…
CCSS isn't going away overnight. But the movement continues to grow across America. There are plenty of politicians who once supported it but no longer do, once the public got engaged on the issue.

By the 2020s CCSS will be dead, and hopefully high stakes testing too.

Charter schools will take longer to kill off. But probably not too much longer.
n said…
Seattle will be among the last to let them go. You can depend on that.
Lynn said…
I posted this on the thread on this week's school board meeting:

Here's a link to the proposed Student Assignment Plan and another to the original Student Assignment Plan for anyone curious about the differences.

Differences I noticed:

* Students entering 6th grade who attend a K-8 school no longer have a designated middle school. They are assigned to 6th grade at their K-8 and may apply to any other school with space available. So - a 5th grade student attending Madrona this year will not be guaranteed a spot at Washington Middle School this year. The rule affects students at assignment area K-8 schools and option K-8 schools.

*There is a new "designated transfer period" mentioned on page 2 but not defined.

*The old plan included specific language about schools offering Advanced Learning Services, Bilingual Services, International Schools and Montessori. This language has been removed and replaced with vague references to required services. We are directed to "the Superintendent's Procedures for Student Assignment or other supplemental documents for additional information about program and service offerings and locations." This handily removes these decisions from the board's oversight and allows (for example) the advanced learning office to change service delivery methods and locations without notice to the board or the public.

*Early kindergarten entrance is no longer limited based on available space and so assignments to the attendance area school will be made as soon as eligibility is determined.

Something else I've been thinking about is the rules related to students who move. As rents rise and stable housing becomes more difficult to find, families become more mobile. Is it right to require a student to change schools because their parents were forced to move outside of their attendance area?
The school board needs to be signing off on changes to programs offered at various schools. Let's hope the incoming board makes that change and takes back that very important bit of power.
dan dempsey said…
Can city schools address the achievement and opportunity gap?

Concerning "Opportunity Gaps" and CRPE data ....

I suggest that the CRPE data is missing a significant statistic. The difference between the "City School" student performance and the "State" on annual statewide testing. That difference in performance is significantly in City of Seattle's favor vs WA State. Unfortunately it does show Black students are under-served in Seattle. When a city's "educationally advantaged" students score increasingly higher it will in many cases expand the "opportunity" gaps. Small gaps or non-existent gaps like those in WA DC may be the result of low scoring "advantaged students".

When looking for causes of "Opportunity Gaps" the ability of higher income families to buy outside school assistance or provide it within the family for struggling students is certainly one factor. (Sylvan, Mathnasium, Kumon, etc.)

Seattle's use of Everyday Math and Reader's and Writer's workshop may have negatively impacted students with specific learning disabilities and families with resources are more able to assist their children than those without.

CRPE has produced data but are there inferences we are supposed to draw from the data? Is this to promote "Charter Schools" or "Busing" or some other intervention? Seattle's move to "neighborhood schools" has likely had an impact on CRPE data. The fact remains that curricular, school materials choices and implementation are regularly overlooked or undervalued as causes of opportunity gaps.

Seattle adopted "Math in Focus" for k-5 grades and its first year of use (SY 2014-2015) produced the largest positive difference vs. WA State ever on state-wide annual testing for grades 4 and 5. Inexplicably the Central Staff has changed the elementary school math "scope and sequence" away from that provided by MiF to an unproven mishmash of their own design. Why not use what is known to work?

Seattle's new scope and sequence
Anonymous said…
"Is it right to require a student to change schools because their parents were forced to move outside of their attendance area?"


but neither is it right to take transportation away from kids whose parents cannot get them to their out of area school.Which has happened, with no outcry from the community.
Of course the board did not make sure there was any public notification of this happening.

I hate to say it, but this change would be more equitable.
Is it in the new standards?

Dead Horse
Anonymous said…
1) One of the big tech investors said in a lengthy profile article in The Seattle Times this past week?: The city should take over SPS. Because our system needs a "radical fix." Someone else posted this article but I don't think many saw it. I am calling it out again because blog readers need to keep up on insider baseball.


Big tech money? In league with the city? Saving our schools? Really...?

Mark Zuckerberg's Newark schools donation of $100 million in 2010 reportedly evaporated into thin air while the struggling New Jersey public school district has shown little to no noticeable improvement in student performance, according to a recently published report in The New Yorker. (more)

Anonymous said…
Today's news regarding SBAC and other testing.

"Faced with mounting and bipartisan opposition to increased and often high-stakes testing in the nation’s public schools, the Obama administration declared Saturday that the push had gone too far, acknowledged its own role in the proliferation of tests, and urged schools to step back and make exams less onerous and more purposeful.

Specifically, the administration called for a cap on assessment so that no child would spend more than 2 percent of classroom instruction time taking tests. It called on Congress to “reduce over-testing” as it reauthorizes the federal legislation governing the nation’s public elementary and secondary schools."

Non-district Lurker
Anonymous said…
Wow the link provided by "Non-district Lurker" leads me to believe that Citizen Kane will not be seated in the catbird seat for four more years of Common Core.... read the NY Times comments. The public is figuring out that Common Core is a fraud.

Obama Administration Calls for Limits on Testing in Schools

It will be interesting to observe the candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction and what they have to say about Common Core while campaigning. CCSS is going to be a big issue.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
SPS is already in the city's hands and its backers. The admin hiring growth has been going on since MGJ. SEA is in an odd place much like city employees clinging to public sector jobs which pay better than crap wages with decent benefits and job stability. The students are much like the homeless and what's left of the working poor and middle class in this city. They get platitudes galore from rich venture capitalists who don't care about wage stagnation and the middle class. They can't import all the smart help they need and have to look for homegrown ones. So they're creating an education "lab" to grow smart, biddable workers. Somebody has to take care of their aches and pains you know. They'll throw some loose change around to buy the philanthropic label and education is a fertile ground for that. The really big money goes for lawyers, PACs, lobby groups, media PR, and politicians necessary to avoid paying taxes and to maintain and expand their wealth and control.

Anonymous said…
You can compare a little info on Newark and Seattle schools via this link from CRPE.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Widget certainly nails down the big picture with comments above..

Here is one of the better responses from the "NY Times: Obama limiting of tests" article.

Cinzia New York, NY 3 hours ago

I'll reserve judgement until I see the details: I suspect that the "limits" will look better on paper than in practice. Remember, this is the administration who dismissed those who raised valid criticisms of the effects of its promotion of standardized testing as disgruntled "soccer moms". (Full disclosure, while I am not a soccer mom, I am swimming, crew, baseball, lacrosse and opt-out mom and a teacher.) At the very least, to appoint John King, a true-believer in the efficacy of testing after his disastrous tenure as NYS Commisioner of Education two weeks ago, and then to announce that testing should be limited THIS week, indicates at best that the Obama Administration lacks an educational policy that is coherent, rational, and effective. Or maybe it indicates that the Obama administration believes that its critics are soccer moms who are not only disgruntled but stupid enough to be easily snowed.

Will the candidates for Washington SPI be trying to easily snow us?

If so, will the new SPI continue snowing us for four more years?

Get Legislature 2016 to Ditch Common Core.

-- Dan Dempsey
WallyMom said…
Obama now calls for limiting testing in schools
Anonymous said…
Christian Science Monitor ...

Why Obama is placing new limits on standardized testing by Michelle Toh

President Obama on Saturday announced new federal guidelines that would limit the percentage of class time taken up by standardized testing and help local governments reevaluate individual programs.

Standardized tests became mandatory in 2001 for students in third grade and higher under No Child Left Behind, a law legislators voted to overhaul in July.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
From the piece in the Christian Science Monitor ...

Obama's calculations indicate we’ll use .3% less class time on testing?
Does he think this is going to make any difference to the mad parents and teachers?

And he’s going to “HELP” evaluate? We need less, not more, federal interference.

Rampant craziness continues. Obama/Duncan/King are still clueless.

WA Legislature needs to end this in 2016 session.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said…
I did the math. If HS is required 1080 hours, we are looking at 21.6 hours of testing. Is that only Federally mandated 2%? Or can we include the PSAT and SAT which happen during the day, as well as AP tests -never mind Amplify. That would be about 26 class periods 'free for the co-opting.' How to lie with statistics, anyone? It sounds like a small number... at first.

larry said…
Do kids have Blogger accounts at some schools?

and are they protected?

Anonymous said…
Continuing the discussion of Standards Based Grading from another thread - how are schools using SBG, and what do parents think? Is it a district mandate?

Some teachers use SBG (in the extreme) and other teachers use more traditional letter grades. The grade book is set up for traditional letter grades, so you also have the weirdness of teachers grading on a 1-4 scale and translating it to number grades. 4 = 100%, 3 = 85%, and so on, with no scores in between. If you are not absolutely perfect, you are B student or lower.

I understand the intent in the lower grades, where you want to ensure the student learns the standard, with opportunities to improve, but it seems to have a demotivating effect in the upper grades. Why study when you can just retake the test? Why do your best, when it's nearly impossible to get an A? My child who did not use to obsess with grades, but just did the work, studied, and got a reasonable grade for the efforts, is now stressed by the new system. My child has taken a strong dislike to classes that focus on rubrics filled with hard to quantify expectations.

Convoluted remarked, BUT, what I don't like about it is that some teachers interpret standards based grading to mean all you teach is the basic standard. If the student meets the basic standard, they get a "Meets Standards". The only way the student can get above a "Meets Standard" is if they are taught and tested on materials above standard, proving they are above standard. So if the teacher doesn't teach/test anything beyond standard, the student is never able to get more than "Meets Standard".

That has been our experience with some classes. "A" students are suddenly MS (meets standards), which translates to "B" and parents are left to wonder why their child's grades dropped, despite doing well on assessments and doing the assigned work to a high standard. The frustrating part is the content standards are sometimes barely covered, and students are being graded on soft skills, not on actually learning content.

Anonymous said…
@ ranting and Convoluted, I echo your comments on SBG. But ranting, you said a 3 translates to an 85%, based on teachers doing conversions. However, in our experience, they don't bother with the conversions, so a 3 ("Meets Standard") is a C, not a B. For example, say there's a daily mini-quiz worth 4 pts, where 3 pts represents meeting standard. You get a 3 every day, so the teacher puts a 3 out of 4 in the Source. That's a solid C.

Are your saying some teachers will then take that 3, say it's an 85%, so then do a conversion and enter it into the Source as a 3.4, so that it shows up as 85% and a B instead? I've never seen that happen. I HAVE seen teachers SAY a 3 is an 85%, but then they go ahead and enter points straight up, so what they like to believe is a 85% actually drags grades down as a 75%. When/where is this supposed conversion/translation taking place?

Anonymous said…
Is assuming that people who provide online comments to newspaper articles and blogs are a representative sample of voters the "intelligent application of relevant data"? If you assume so, "intelligent" wouldn't be the first thing to come to mind.

For example, if I thought this blog was a representative sample of parents and teachers in SPS, I would have thought the the vote on the CBA was going to be close. Instead, it wasn't close at all --- over 83% of teachers voted for it.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
Back in September, during the BTAIV community meetings, I distinctly-remember handouts listing the proposed projects by building (i.e. Lincoln, Bagley, etc...) and by system (HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc...). I also remember finding these documents online (back in September).

I just took a look at the BTAIV BAR that was introduced at the 10/21 School Board meeting, and can only find the project summary report, not the detailed reports which break the BTAIV proposal down by building or by building system. I looked on the BTA/BTAIV site:, and also found just the summary report there, even when looking in the documents presented to the public during the September community meetings.

Is there someone out there who knows where to find the more detailed BTAIV projects documents on the SPS website?


North-end Mom
Lynn said…
Is this what you're looking for?
Anonymous said…

Thanks, but the link you sent was a document posted over the summer (BTAIV/facilities master plan), back when the BTAIV levy total was over $660M.

I'm trying to find the handouts from the September community meetings which broke down the BTA project cost for building system repairs/replacement by location/building.

Also, didn't SPS used to post feedback received at community meetings and/or via email? I can't find that, either.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said…
Citizen Kane makes an excellent point about making a generalization. A poll of MSNBC viewers will be different from a poll of Fox News viewers and neither could be generalized to the public at large.

That said readers of papers and online journals may make their reasoned positions known to many others and persuade them. This may have an effect over time on the population.

A great many liberals, conservatives, libertarians, democrats, republicans, and independents are in opposition to Common Core.

I still maintain that Common Core's days are numbered ... and it is not a really large number. I will be surprised if it is around in 5 years.

WA State and Seattle should exit CCSS & SBAC ASAP.

Looking for Citizen's United to be subject to a constitutional amendment or reconsideration by US Supreme Court within 10 years. Remember lots of folks like democracy with one person one vote vs. one dollar one vote.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
HF, the grade conversion we've seen for SBG:

4 (exceeds standard) = 100%
3 (meets standard) = 85%
2 (approaching standard) = 70%
1 (below standard) = 55%

* Students have multiple chances to show improvement (retakes and additional assessments)
* Students are expected to make progress and recent scores replace older scores
* extra credit is not calculated into grade

The semester grade is a continuation of the quarter grade. If J's grade is 80 in Q1, but 90 in Q2, the semester grade would be 90 (and if the Q1 grade was 90 and the Q2 grade was 80, the semester grade would be 80). Why even bother trying first quarter?

Anonymous said…
Wow! That is pretty crazy. My understanding is that report card grades are supposed to reflect what progress students are making in meeting expectations for that time of the year. It looks to me like this teacher is using report card grades to measure how close the student is to meeting end of the year standards. Maybe it is different in middle school, but I know in elementary that is not how it is supposed to be done.
Anonymous said…
Dan, thanks for the CRPE link. It was very interesting.

Seattle has some pretty low numbers. Why do people think Common Core will make it worse? Or is it just that most people commenting on this blog are not lower income, so if their kids are doing OK, then why change?

Lynn said…

Which numbers in particular are you referring to? Is there evidence that adherence to the Common Core will approve educational achievement for any students? If not, what is the justification for making a change that has sucked up all of our resources (both time and financial) for years and continues to do so?
Anonymous said…

24 point math proficiency gap between FRL and non-FRL-eligible students, and 21 point reading proficiency gap between FRL and non-FRL students.

Seattle's numbers are worse than most of the other cities looked at.
Why cling to something that isn't working?

Lynn said…
Seattle's gaps may be larger - how are poor children in Seattle scoring compared to those in other cities? Seattle has many highly educated parents - it would be surprising if our students who are not poor were not outperforming those in other cities. Is it more important to increase the academic achievement of poor children or to decrease the gap between them and students who are not poor? Do you think a system where no child performs well is better for anyone?

Most importantly, what has been proven to be successful at improving academic performance for poor children? We should do that. (I'm going to guess that it's programs that increase parental engagement - and that the earlier the intervention the better.)
Anonymous said…
@North End Mom - might this be the spreadsheet you are seeking? It does give projects for each school with cost estimates.

BTA IV Public and District Nominations with Staff Comments Jan-Sept 2015

Anonymous said…
Nope. That spreadsheet includes all the public and district-nominated projects.

The one I'm looking for was tied into the BTAIV project proposal that was presented at the September community meetings, and was the basis for the summary page that is posted online and in the BAR.

It would be nice to be able to see if there were any changes made to the BTAIV proposal since the community meetings took place, and see which buildings are getting what improvements, but that is hard to do when the documents aren't accessible.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Hmmmmm..the link that Lynn posted above WAS actually part of the September community meetings packet and appears to be the only other "by school" proposal doc currently available.

There are a couple of broken links off the BTA website that "might" have included what you are referencing, but nothing else currently available matches what you are seeking.

Anonymous said…
I went through my piles of papers, and found hard copies of the two documents I was looking for:

1) Seattle Public School Building, Technology and Academics/Athletics IV (BTAIV) Capital Levy Proposed Building System Repairs and Replacement by Location

2) Seattle Public School Building, Technology and Academics/Athletics IV (BTAIV) Capital Levy Proposed Building System Repairs and Replacement by System

Back in September, both documents were bundled with the Proposed Project Summary List, as a 6-page document. It is strange that just the Proposed Project Summary List is all that is currently posted on the BTAIV Board Action Report and BTAIV webpages.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Not really - that's the SPS way. Someone probably realized they were giving away too much information - or those docs are part of the broken links I found earlier on the BTA website. Neither reason would surprise me in the slightest...

Although I will say, this document does include pages with same titles you've given, starting on page 2 - so maybe they just altered something online vs from what you were given in person?


Anonymous said…
Yes, that looks very similar to the sheet I have from September. Where did you find it?

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
I did a keyword search on google using some of the title you'd given. This was the search I used "bta iv" proposed project summary - this doc is the 2nd result.

I see where the issue is - they've replaced the one from September with a shorter, briefer version on the BTA website. The newer version is dated 101515 - otherwise the title and URL are nearly identical, but the newer one doesn't have the "by system" or "by location" part.


Anonymous said…
hmmmm, indeed.

Using just the abbreviated document, it is impossible to tell which buildings are slated for BTAIV-funded improvements. Seems that information like that should be made available to the public prior to the public hearing on BTAIV scheduled for Wednesday afternoon (10/28) at 4 pm.

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Just found a version dated 10/5/2015 - so closer in time, but I agree. It shouldn't be such a tangle to find things.

Proposed projects

the details start on page 3

Anonymous said…
Wow, you're good! :)

-North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Aw - thanks ;o) I do research for a living so I have a bit of an edge. Plus used to be a librarian - finding things is in the genes I guess

Anonymous said…
LisaG asked:

"Seattle has some pretty low numbers. Why do people think Common Core will make it worse? Or is it just that most people commenting on this blog are not lower income, so if their kids are doing OK, then why change?

My opinion is that the Central Office has blindly created a "Scope and Sequence" matched to CCSS-M. As I mentioned in the "Get that Ballot In" thread, we are looking at the destruction of coherence in the use of instructional materials.

How do we know that "the kids are doing OK"? Will they be OK in the future?

The kids will be moving through a system that promises "College and Career Ready". College ready means NO remedial classes. It does not mean STEM college or STEM career ready. It does not mean selective competitive College Ready. This "No remediation" requirement will bring about a large drop in the proficiency required to pass first college courses or a very large number of failures. It seems by design more about selling innovative products than increasing proficiency.

Melinda Gates cited very early CCSS adopting Kentucky's large rise in graduation rates. Yet failed to discuss pressures to increase social promotion through graduation. It appears that a large increase in "social promotion through graduation" is particularly evident in the Black / African American community. Tune in for 2015 NAEP Analysis beginning Wednesday.

The new Health and Box "scope and sequence" is not internationally competitive because it follows Common Core, which is a really minimum standard. Additionally it requires teachers to use a hodge-podge of materials while neglecting the designed coherent order of the MiF textbooks.

I really could not care less about "Opportunity Gap" measures. If you look at Tacoma you will find smaller gaps because there are lower scoring students in the advantaged groups than in Seattle. Dumb-down the top and the gaps can be lessened. Seattle's educationally disadvantaged kids as a group out score Tacoma's -- The opportunity Gap measure is irrelevant. Let's get back to Learning.

I am interested in maximizing the learning opportunity for each child.

In the past I've advocated for the use of Direct Instruction "DI". It seems few understand that mode. Sigfried Engelmann's Direct Instruction Curricula like DISTAR have proven to be particularly effective with many "disadvantaged learners" but are apparently philosophically and politically unacceptable to many including privileged bureaucrats that make decisions.

-- Dan Dempsey (to be continued)
Anonymous said…
(continued from above)

I am a big fan of ITIP - Instructional Theory into Practice. That is theory and practice that has been proven to work effectively.

ITIP :: Seven Elements to Consider Including in a Lesson:

Learning Objectives - Select objectives at an appropriate level of difficulty and complexity, as determined through a task analysis, diagnostic testing, and/or congruence with Bloom's cognitive taxonomy.
Anticipatory Set - Motivate instruction by focusing on the learning task, its importance, or the prior knowledge/experience of the learners.
State the Lesson Objectives to the students.
Input - Identify and teach main concepts and skills, emphasizing clear explanations, frequent use of examples and/or diagrams, and invite active student participation.
Check for Understanding - Observe and interpret student reactions (active interest, boredom) by frequent formative evaluations with immediate feedback. Adjust instruction as needed and reteach if necessary.
Guided Practice - Following instruction, have students answer questions, discuss with one another, demonstrate skills, or solve problems. Give immediate feedback and reteach if necessary.
Independent Practice - Assign independent practice to solidify skills and knowledge when students have demonstrated understanding.


The more I look at the current bureaucratic curricular leadership vacuum, the more I believe in bottom-up rather than top-down. It seems that school communities should be empowered to make instructional decisions. If a school community wants "DI" great, if not, then also great. I believe this may be the next thrust in education. ... All schools will not be the same, and that will be a good thing.

It is way past time for the Central Staff to stop experimenting with students' lives. If you don't believe experimenting is taking place, you have not read the "Elementary Math Scope and Sequence."

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
from Dan:
"How do we know that "the kids are doing OK"?"
Actually we don't. Only 8% of Seattle high school students are taking advanced math according to CRPE. I should have said something like "think their kids are doing OK"

"Seattle's educationally disadvantaged kids as a group out score Tacoma's"
Do you have a link for this?

"The more I look at the current bureaucratic curricular leadership vacuum, the more I believe in bottom-up rather than top-down. It seems that school communities should be empowered to make instructional decisions."
But a school community isn't accountable to voters, so this isn't possible.

Anonymous said…
@ Dan, come again? You said:

The kids will be moving through a system that promises "College and Career Ready". College ready means NO remedial classes. It does not mean STEM college or STEM career ready. It does not mean selective competitive College Ready. This "No remediation" requirement will bring about a large drop in the proficiency required to pass first college courses or a very large number of failures.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. The system they are moving through doesn't really PROMISE college and career readiness, nor does it REQUIRE that students won't need remediation. The SBAC-determined cut scores are supposed to measure "college and career readiness," so theoretically if you score level 3 or higher you are "ready"--and thus qualify to skip remedial classes (although many who meet this level will likely go on to higher level classes and weren't in danger of remediation in the first place). Those SBAC cut scores are NOT, however, graduation requirements. A lower score--one the SBAC level-setters do NOT consider reflective of "college and career readiness"--can still be enough to graduate. Therefore, there's no illusion that graduation means you're "college and career ready." Kid not meeting the C&CR (SBAC level 3) threshold might need remedial classes. Just like kids always have. The idea that there's some "no remediation requirement" that means colleges will have to significantly lower their expectations so that everyone passes out of remedial classes doesn't make any sense.


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