Seattle School Board Meeting for October 21, 2015

I'm a little late in writing this up but here are the highlights of what is to be discussed at tonight's Board meeting.

There is to be a presentation called, "Can Assessment Actually Improve Schools?" by one Rick Stiggins.  (There is no link to his presentation.) That's a ludiacious title because, of course assessments can help.  It's how many, the cost, the time and the actual assessments themselves that are at issue. But here are his seven principles of assessment and it's fascinating that he doesn't mention data once.

Mr. Stiggins is - surprise - part of the Pearson Assessment Training Institute.  He also has his own website.  He's not here out of the goodness of his heart but I have no idea how much he is being paid.


The speakers list is full with 13 people on the waitlist.  Many of the speakers are addressing bell times and transportation and school staffing cuts.  One speaker stands out - Jane Broom who is the Director at Microsoft Community Affairs and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Education who will be speaking on the topic of the Alliance. (I had previously misidentified Ms. Broom as working for the Alliance.) 

Highlights of Agenda

- For intro and action (again, abusing this intro/action ability for NON-emergency items), we see the Authorization to draft superintendent's annual evaluation and commence salary and contract extension discussion.

This authorizes President Carr and Director Peters to write and deliver an evaluation (with input from all Board members), engage in salary negotiations for 2015-2016 school year (more on this in a minute), engage in contract extension and make a recommendation to the full Board on the salary increase/contract extension for intro on November 4th and action on November 18th.

On July 18, 2014, the Board employed Dr. Larry Nyland as Interim Superintendent for the District. In January 2015, the Board hired Dr. Nyland as Superintendent, dropping the interim designation. An employment contract was signed with Dr. Nyland with an effective date of February 1, 2015 and an end date of June 30, 2017. 

He currently makes $276,075 a year plus benefits.

I think perhaps there is a legal reason to do this BUT in the face of the austerity that the district wants schools to face, then the Superintendent can join in.  In fact, I'm surprised he isn't foregoing this negotiation for this year.

Now what's odd is that the Action report says this:

The Superintendent's employment contract requires that his evaluation be done annually in November of each year.

So naturally that might make you think a decision HAS to be made in November.  It does not because here's what the actual contract says.

For each ensuring year of employment and no later than the first legislative meeting of the School Board in December, the Board following discussions with the Superintendent shall determine whether or not to increase this annual salary , taking into account the compensation paid to the superintendents of similar urban districts. 

That would be December 2nd, after the Board elections (and probably after the installation of new directors which generally is before that first meeting).

Because the new rate of pay reflects in significant part performance over the previous school year, the new rate of pay shall be effective the previous September 1. 

And his pay cannot be decreased.

Don't you wish you had a job where you HAD to get a review every year of your salary AND a bump up is retroactive at least a couple of months AND you couldn't get paid less. 

So it's fine to have the evaluation but PLEASE, write to the Board and say:

No raise or bonus or anything because if we don't have money for bell times/transportation AND staffing at schools, there is no money for a raise for the Superintendent.  

- 2015-2016 State Legislative Agenda
The Superintendent has asked that this be delayed.  Hmm.  Here's the list and there's something odd about the way it is written:
  • Amply Fund Regional Salaries
  • In any Levy Reform Do no net harm to Seattle levies
  • close opportunity gaps
There's more that is then fleshed out and they finish like this:
Grand Bargain:
As this session moves forward, please fully fund McCleary including ample funding for salaries and cost neutral levy reform. Please stay in touch with Seattle regarding how class sizes, compensation or reduced levy lids may impact our children. Good teaching, fair salaries, adequate classrooms and class sizes are all needed to close opportunity gaps for our neediest learners.
That is one weird paragraph.  What is an "adequate classroom?"  And why are only the "neediest learners" included and not ALL students?   

Intro item highlights
- approval of Transportation Service Standards and Revised Bell Times for School Year 2016-2107.  Presentation 
- grant from OSPI for school safety for $845,310.   
- Restructuring of Partnership with the Alliance for Education.  
Because of the long-standing relationship, the possible impact to future receipt of grant funds,
the lack of alignment with SPS’s strategic plan, and thus a likely decrease in Alliance support to
SPS programs, the restructuring of the Alliance partnership is being submitted to the Board
for approval.

Intriguingly (and along the lines of what I had been considering):
SPS will explore opportunities to encourage the formation of a new 501(3) (c) charitable
fundraising organization to support SPS’s strategic plan. 
About PTA funds:
Currently,SPS is paying for those financial services; however,we have notified Seattle Counsel
PTSA and the Alliance that we will likely discontinue SPS contributions for non-SPS accounts at the end of June, 2016, if not sooner. This will result in some savings to SPS and may cause us to hire additional accounting and other budget personnel to support school account services if those
services are not performed by the Alliance. 

- update on Growth Boundaries Plan for Student Assignment. Action report here.
The district is absolutely trying to pull a fast on here and this needs a sharp yank on the leash.  The West Seattle Blog outlines this well but this was not discussed at any community meetings except a single one that did not even appear on the district's calendar.  

Adjust E. C. Hughes surrounding area (Area 53) into Roxhill attendance area, rather than the earlier proposal to add this area to the Arbor Heights attendance area.
What’s the rush?

That was just one of many questions asked in a short but contentious meeting last night at the EC Hughes school building in Sunrise Heights.

The meeting itself was an afterthought for Seattle Public Schools. When SPS went around the city earlier this month for three meetings on a package of relatively small boundary changes for its attendance-area (aka “neighborhood”) school maps, the package didn’t address the fact that SPS was planning to move Roxhill Elementary into the Hughes building, after expansion and renovation.

Though Hughes is not expected to reopen before fall of 2018 – and that assumes, among other things, the district’s BTA IV Levy is passed by voters next February – two pieces of “attendance area” would be moved into Roxhill’s zone next fall, two years ahead of time. Both would come out of West Seattle Elementary’s zone. 

And that drew protest from some at last night’s meeting.

West Seattle Elementary staffer said it didn’t seem that equity was being taken into consideration: “I have serious concerns about how this affects our community – this looks like gerrymandering – I’m concerned about (the smaller attendance area leading to) the loss of staff, the loss of the ability to write grants; they said the (most recent) boundary change won’t make the numbers go down, but it did, but I’m concerned that this will (cost even more) – The board should freeze this decision and look at it through the lens of equity. The people at WSE don’t have a voice. …

And there was this which ALL of you who are parents in the district should note:

Lumped in with the boundary changes was information about changes to the Student Assignment Plan, since that was also what was addressed in the first three meetings. Herndon said it will be a “single, standardized document” for next school year and beyond. Also, it includes “some changes in service models” since the previous one was adopted. And it eliminates the “distance tiebreaker” for people trying to get into non-neighborhood schools. Plus waitlists will be dissolved before school starts, which he described as a “key piece.” Right now they exist until the end of September. No more.

The e-mail address for feedback, meantime, are these:

Thank you to the West Seattle Blog for this great reporting.
Note; the Calendar Reminders at the end of the agenda states there is an Executive Committee meeting tomorrow but it is not on the Board calendar nor is it scheduled on the Committee meeting dates page.


Eric B said…
Re: "adequate classrooms": I talked with Flip Herndon about this at a levy meeting. Apparently, when the state funds new construction, they only fund a certain square footage of classrooms. I don't know if that covers annual maintenance as well. Anyway, Seattle classrooms tend to be bigger and have more furniture in them. Whether that is a good thing or not I can't address, but it does seem like a good idea in elementary school at least. Another interesting item: hallway square footage doesn't get counted either, so that's why you see these enormous schools with tiny hallways--the district doesn't get any money from the state for them. Incidentally, one of the building features landmarked at Loyal Heights Elementary was the hallways. Presumably having enough space to move students through is important to the landmarks board.
mirmac1 said…
Stiggins was terrific! I LOVED what he had to say! Be sure to watch his talk. Very on the level.
Anonymous said…
No raise for Sarah Pritchett either. She just showed up at QAE and fired the principal, David Elliot, who is well regarded in QA/Mag. She always hated QA/Mag ever since she was a principal at McClure. It was just her stepping stone to higher salary. QAE is one of the Creative Approach schools - just not big in the district.

Reader, wait, when did she fire David Elliott? And why? I have only ever heard very good things about his leadership.
Unknown said…
QAE parents received a note a few hours ago that David Elliott had "resigned" effective tomorrow. No explanation. A wonderful leader suddenly gone. Not good.
I'll ask, Chris.

The Board meeting is going to run late as they did not start with the speakers list until 5:30 pm.

It's pretty interesting. The Alliance rep had no words of any fault at all. It was sorrowful but also somewhat patronizing as they spoke of "the work" as though it was just the district and Alliance working for students (or that it should be). I don't know if there is some kind of gamesmanship going on here but the district's letter was very much a "burn it to the ground" and I don't know why the Alliance thinks something will change (especially given their letter's response - I heard Banda thought it pretty funny).

There were many good speaker and stories to follow up on.
Anonymous said…
Hey since we are talking about Superintendent let us go meet....

Sacramento Schools Superintendent Jose Banda

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Word in the 'hood is that David Elliot didn't do teacher "reviews". Off with his head!

Actually, Pritchett needs to go. QA rise up!

Tina Podlodowski, QAE parent said…
Here is the email I just sent to Sarah regarding David Elliott - I'm a QAE parent and we are all in shock. SPS standard procedure - you fire our principal for and unknown reason, and you send us a form letter.

Dear Sarah,

Thank you for sending this email out, but it seems a pretty impersonal and less-than-satisfying way to let our community know that David Elliott has left his position at QAE. As well as a complete disservice to the incoming interim principal, Amy McCue Jessee.

When will there be a parent meeting to meet the interim principal, discuss the circumstances and tenure of the interim principal, the process for selecting a new principal and the circumstances of David leaving?

I would assume the district would be scheduling this asap?

QAE is an option school, and most all of the parents are there because we believe in David's vision for how an elementary school *should* be run. As you know, David was so successful at Coe, and was asked by the District to create QAE.

We know that David and the district were frequently at odds as he attempted to cut through unnecessary bureaucracy to give our kids the best education possible, and was sometimes unorthodox. Your email does not reflect the DEEP LOSS many in the parent community feel right now, coupled with complete ire at the District for a "form email" regarding circumstances that change and disrupt our entire school.

A little face to face communication with parents ASAP - rather than this email - would go a long way. When will you schedule?

You're sadly out of touch if you believe that the students are the only ones with questions. And the school is rife with rumors. Everyone believes that David was fired - if so, we'd like to know why. And soon.

Please don't make the situation worse by not responding and not meeting with us within the next week.

Thank you, Tina Podlodowski

Tina Podlodowski, QAE parent said…
And here is the Form letter send regarding David at QAE:

On Oct 21, 2015, at 4:02 PM, Seattle Public Schools wrote:

Dear Queen Anne families and staff,

The purpose of this letter is to inform you Queen Anne Principal David Elliott has given notice that he intends to take leave from his principal position and will be resigning at the end of his contract.

Amy McCue Jessee will be serving as interim principal to support the Queen Anne Elementary students, staff and families, effective Thursday, October 22. Ms. McCue Jessee is currently the assistant principal at Coe Elementary School, and is a former principal of Meridian Park Elementary in the Shoreline School District. Prior to that position, she served as an Assistant Principal and a Program Manager for the Shoreline School District’s Early Childhood Special Education Preschool Program. She also served as a Program Manager for an elementary-level special education program for students with emotional/behavioral needs within the Shoreline School District. Her background includes areas of focus on instructional leadership, implementing the school-wide positive behavioral system (PBIS) and offering school-wide support of diverse students in need of interventions and/or enrichment. Amy earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame in 1992, as well as two Masters degrees from the University of Washington – a Master’s in Education and in Social Work. She received her Principal and Program Administration certification from the Danforth Program at UW in 2004. She is the proud parent of two elementary aged daughters who attend Montlake Elementary School in Seattle.

We understand that a sudden change is school leadership may cause students to have questions about what is happening. Here are some tips for talking with your student at home if they have questions:

Remain calm and reassuring. Parents often set the tone and students take their cues from parents and adults.
Be a good listener and observer. Notice when students have questions and seem to want to talk.
Do not share speculative information or rumors, as these can cause confusion, frustration and anxiety.
Encourage your student to not put too much stake in speculation and rumors shared at school, as, again, they can cause confusion, frustration and anxiety.
Answer questions factually. If you don’t know an answer, simply be honest and say so.
I want to thank the Queen Anne staff and community for continuing to ensure strong teaching and learning. Queen Anne is a great community, and I know that our caring, supportive circle of parents and staff will be able to help our students remain focused on all the positive aspects that make Queen Anne an amazing learning environment.

We’d like to thank David for his years of service to Queen Anne Elementary and the community. He is a caring educator and we wish him a successful future.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


Sarah Pritchett
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Reader - i believe they are ex-spouses (or soon to be ex-spouses). No teaching experience. Hmm...

Anonymous said…
Amy is one of the strongest, clearest-thinking educators I know. So is David. Let's support QAE without joining the drama.

Cut it
Anonymous said…
Not to detract from QAE's understandable heartbreak, but can anyone give us some additional "flavor" from the Board meeting? What happened with Bell Times etc??

Anonymous said…
Saw this coming weeks ago.

In regard to:

- For intro and action (again, abusing this intro/action ability for NON-emergency items), we see the Authorization to draft superintendent's annual evaluation and commence salary and contract extension discussion.

... Have I got this correct or am I way off base? .....

The SPS certainly could have presented this a board meeting ago as an introductory item but the SPS did not. The SPS did not because the SPS is NOT an "OPEN and TRANSPARENT OUTFIT.

This action was NOT an emergency. It was certainly expected by me because this is how business gets done in the SPS. Fits right in with the secret scope and sequence change in elementary math and so many similar actions over the years. This is standard operating procedure when community input is not desired.

Accountability??? Anyone upset that the SPS Board apparently can't hold itself or the superintendent accountable for following policy and procedures? How ironic that this has to do with Nyland's performance. Ironic but not unexpected.

Oh let us hear another fairy-tale about the desire for community input, transparency, and accountability. My how the community is served by those it elects and employs. Higher salaries for central administrators and the SPS Superintendent is assured no engagement needed. These folks have no need to strike as they control the pot. Meg Diaz drag out the spreadsheets.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
@ Dan

It is an "emergency" if it is something they want to get out of the way before the new Board members are seated.

-reality check
Anonymous said…
Dear Reality Check,

I get that. It was not only something they wanted to get out of the way before the new Board members were seated, but as important with as much cover from the public as possible. ---- This was their finest hour (no I guess Churchill wasn't talking about this action)

-- Dan Dempsey
Lynn said…
The BAR for the changes to the Student Assignment Plan and the new Director of Enrollment Planning were both a mess last night. Board members seemed befuddled by her explanation that their vote on the assignment plan would also cover a change to the date on which waitlists are dissolved. (Which was not included in the BAR.) Thankfully, they deferred the vote for two weeks.

If you think May 31st is too early to dissolve the waitlist, or that the board should vote on any changes to the assignment plan that affect service models, or you don't trust the special education or ELL or advanced learning departments to make transparent decisions or you would like more transparency on the numbers used for capacity management decisions, now is the time to ask questions.
Anonymous said…
May 31st seems too soon, unless the Enrollment office really makes an effort to move the waitlists early on. This year, no movement happened until September. I do believe that moving the date up does help in staffing planning, but enrollment seems to wait until the last minute to move these seats.
- NE parent

Anonymous said…
Assuming people move here over the summer, and move away over the summer, or delay informing SPS of their decision to attend private school until summer, or test into Advanced Learning over the summer, etc., May 31 seems too soon. And if those things don't happen over the summer, why haven't they been able to firm up rosters much sooner in every preceding year? Because those things DO happen over summer! Schools need time to fine tune class schedules and teacher assignments, true, but can't they do all that in August? Dissolve the waitlists more like Aug 1 or something.

Anonymous said…
We have TONS of changes over the summer. I can't imagine knowing by May 31st what is going to happen in the fall. It makes more sense to me to dissolve waitlists after the first week of school in Sept.
Anonymous said… know you are officially "old" when the Director of Enrollment Planning looks young enough to be your kid. And WOW May is sooo early for the reasons others have stated above...

plus she's says part of the issue is Enrollment is closed over the summer - who's fault is that? That's hardly a fair reason to shorten the timeline.

kellie said…
This is the post that I put together at the time of the Growth Boundaries vote. The short version is that I urged the board to NOT create a SIX year plan, when there was ZERO possibility that a six year plan could be successfully implemented.

Because the BEX to BTA cycle is THREE year cycle, three years is the longest time horizon that can be reasonably created for boundaries while Seattle is experiencing so much growth. The problem with a six year plan is that staff feels that they can only deviate from the plan under exceptional circumstances and as such there are simply solutions that could be implements that are not even discussed AND families have false hope that something schedule to happen will happen.

So now we are two year's into the Growth Boundaries plan and here are just a few of the "known-problems"

* Hamilton is severely overcrowded and well over the projections. Some changes needs to be made to the feeder pattern.
* There is continuing serious concern about high school capacity
* There are several elementary schools that are lightly enrolled near elementary schools that are bursting at the seams.
* EC Hughes has been added to the plan, and as such there is now a domino effect in ALL of West Seattle.
* Geo-splits are being planned for the new Cedar Park elementary
* Another HCC geo-split is in the mix with multiple (implausible) outcomes.
* Future Eagle Staff Middle School families have been promised that they will be grandfathered at their current elementary school. A promise that is impossible to keep.

That is not a complete list. Can we pull this into a separate thread because I doubt most families have any idea that this major revision to the assignment plan is being silently fast tracked.

Anonymous said…
The Hughes discussion was interesting. Apparently Hughes will be renovated to serve as the new location for Roxhill, with future use of the Roxhill building "unknown" at this point. Hughes will be a capacity of 550, which might include the 9 portable classrooms that the current tenant (Westside Schools) placed onsite? Evidently, these portables are in good condition, with sewer and water. SPS is purchasing the portables and playground equipment from the current tenant for $525,000.

It was stated that Roxhill had a capacity of 400, versus 550 at Hughes (with 9 portable classrooms?).

I don't remember this being discussed at all during Growth Boundaries? From what Marty McLaren had to say, it sounds like the Roxhill community is not thrilled with the move to Hughes (I'm guessing there wasn't much, if any, community engagement around this?). They evidently want Hughes to serve as an interim site for a Roxhill building replacement.

-North-end Mom
I think end of May is waaay too early. I can hear former Enrollment head, Tracy Libros, telling me how many kids move on the waitlist in the first week of school. She said it was astonishing how fast it went as people either didn't tell the district they were leaving.

I think the earliest should be 10 days after school starts.
Anonymous said…
I understand they want to stop the turmoil that happened this year with all the cuts etc - Director Carr pointed out that each of them had gotten "800 or 900" emails from parents about that situation, and suggested the way to prevent that next year would be earlier end to the waitlist. But earlier doesn't mean May in my book. According to the presentation, most other districts end waitlists at the end of the current school year. Have no idea if that's true or not but even the end of June makes more sense than May.

I'm still trying to figure out the reason enrollment shuts down over the summer? Does anyone know why? Maybe that isn't such a stellar idea if it impacts the waitlist etc so much.

Anonymous said…
@ kellie, you said "I doubt most families have any idea that this major revision to the assignment plan is being silently fast tracked." Do you know that they are actually working on this behind the scenes? How to we find out what sort of options they are considering? This is madness!

Half Full
kellie said…
@ Half Full,

I really don't know what they are working on behind the scenes. I think that is in essence the problem, there are very few public meetings and direct communication about proposed changes.

AND it is clear to folks on the ground that many things just can't continue (Hamilton's feeder pattern) so something has to give.

Per Melissa's Post, the change to dissolve the wait lists to May 31st was surprising to the board and it was a shock to me.

mirmac1 said…
MW I'm curious what you think of Stiggin's talk?
Anonymous said…
At the Board meeting two weeks ago, Ashley Davis (new head of Enrollment Planning), with backup from Flip Herndon, introduced the assignment plan changes, and they mentioned that they were looking into dissolving the wait lists earlier, by the end of the preceding school year. I don't remember them saying that they planned for it to go into effect for next year, but maybe that was an assumption that wasn't made clear to the Board?

Director Carr seemed on-board with dissolving the wait list earlier. Maybe a few other directors were, too. As for community input on any of this, there were a series of assignment plan/boundaries meetings, but since the only boundary changes for this year are in West Seattle, something tells me those meetings were not well-attended, and, since I wasn't able to attend the one in my region, I have no idea if changing the wait list date was even mentioned.

At this week's Board meeting, some directors seemed shocked by the May 31st date, like they had never heard of the concept before, even though it was discussed at the preceding Board meeting, during introduction.

There also seems to be confusion about what needs to be in the assignment plan document. Evidently, there are no set dates for when open enrollment will happen each year, just a general time frame. Did the previous assignment plan document state when the wait lists would be dissolved? The new Enrollment Planning director seemed to think that the wait list date was similar to that of the open-enrollment date (not set in stone?).

I agree that Enrollment shouldn't shut down in the summer, especially if that is what is driving the May 31st date.

-North-end Mom
Stiggins said the obvious - that assessments are important, there's more than one kind and oh yeah, teachers need PD around it.

But all of this baffles me because we've paid $3.5M for an assessment contract. Are we paying for Mr. Stiggins to help teachers learn how to create end of course finals? How many assessments do we need?
Lynn said…
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 next year. The rule affects students at attendance 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?
SPS Mom said…
I'm really quite concerned about this:

"* 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 next year. The rule affects students at attendance area K-8 schools and option K-8 schools."

First, for students in a K-8 who are in it as an assignment school K-5, they didn't actually choose the K-8 actively - they had no choice. Shouldn't they be able to be guaranteed a spot in a comprehensive middle school? To force them to stay in a K-8 for middle school seems unfair considering they didn't make the choice to attend there originally.

I have less trouble with students in option K-8's only being able to access comprehensive middle schools on a space available basis, but it seems that there should be one point in 9 years where a student would be guaranteed a spot in their local assignment school and the transition point to middle school makes sense. Thinking that all families can determine before Kindergarten what services, activities and courses a student will need 7 years later is a stretch. I would presume most K-8 option students would opt to stay in their option school, but there should be one opportunity to switch and this should be it.
Lori said…
Lynn, would this change go into effect next year? I'm concerned about the middle schoolers at Broadview Thompson, Madrona, and SouthShore who are being put into the first tier for bell times (potentially) despite the overwhelming evidence that later start times are beneficial for adolescents.

On earlier threads, there was discussion that families at these schools who wanted a later start for middle school could just switch to the local comprehensive MS. But now it seems that they will only be allowed if there is space.

I'm sorry to all the proponents of the latest bell time plan, which keeps "only" 13 schools on the third tier and "only" 4 groups of middle schoolers on the first tier (the 3 above plus all of Denny). I understand why some are okay with this ("the perfect is the enemy of the good"). Yet, I have ethical qualms about denying a later start time to the adolescents at Denny, BT, Madrona, and SS. If we want to see evidence-based policy enacted and if we truly believe that later starts improve academics and physical health and safety, denying those benefits to a subset of kids seems wrong to me. And this change restricts these families' options.
Lynn said…
The assignment plan is in effect once the board approves it. Ms. Davies said at the board meeting that they want it in place before open enrollment for next year begins.
mirmac1 said…
Stiggins said use tests that serve to encourage students. He said many teachers don't know how to devise assessments like this. And he was down on standardized tests that $uck the life out of district's and kids.
Anonymous said…
"But all of this baffles me because we've paid $3.5M for an assessment contract. Are we paying for Mr. Stiggins to help teachers learn how to create end of course finals? How many assessments do we need?"

The district is now focused on all grade levels developing formative assessments for ELA and math. It goes with the new scope and sequence. The scope and sequence contains the standards and the sequence in which the standards are supposed to be taught in all grades in the district. The ELA document also includes mandatory grade-level themes such as Courage and Growth, Imagination and Innovation, etc.

Each building grade-level team is now required to develop and use common formative assessments that are aligned with the scope and sequence. Formative assessments are assessments you give students throughout a course to determine if they are learning what is being taught. If students are not learning, the teacher needs to determine what to do so that students learn.

Most teachers have used some type of formative assessments for years. The district has now hired someone to teach a group of teachers how to develop better formative assessments that get at more complex understanding.

There are a few problems with this; TIME being the biggest one. Where are teachers supposed to get the time to develop all of these assessments? It is a lot of work even if you did it yourself and now you have to spend time coming to agreement about these assessments with all of the other grade-level team members. It is time-consuming doing things in committee.

I also question the rigidity of needing so many assessments. Don't get me wrong, I definitely think it is important to know before the unit test whether or not your students are understanding what is being taught, but this top down demand for common formative assessments feels like the newest wave of micro-management from downtown. It seems sometimes that all they do downtown is sit around and think up more work for teachers to do:)

This is on top of developing your own ELA and math curriculum. We've always had to develop our own ELA curriculum, but now we are developing our own math curriculum too since MIF is out. It's crazy! Teachers are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Elementary school teacher
Anonymous said…
"Stiggins said use tests that serve to encourage students. He said many teachers don't know how to devise assessments like this. And he was down on standardized tests that $uck the life out of district's and kids."

I hear what you say about Stiggins dislike of standardized assessments, but you should know that the district doesn't share that belief. The district continuum of assessments includes exit tickets, formative assessments, benchmark assessments(Amplify, MAP, TC) and summative assessments (SBAC). As you can see we are not decreasing assessments, we are just codifying more assessments into the process. I don't have anything against formative assessments. I think they are helpful. My problem is how they are being codified.
Elementary teacher
Anonymous said…
I find the new paragraph regarding grandfather of student assignments affected by boundary changes confusing.

"Grandfathered Assignments

Enrollment growth and levy-funded construction occasionally result in a need to adjust school
attendance area boundaries. As growth boundary changes are implemented, students and their
families may elect to stay at their current school, through a grandfathered assignment,
if available. All students enrolled with a grandfathered assignment who stay at the school are continued (grandfathered) at that school through the highest grade served by the school, as long as the school offers the services the student needs; no application is required."

What do they mean by grandfathering "if available?" How is the availability of grandfathering determined?

I didn't see anything about the "availability" of grandfathering in the current assignment plan.

-North-end Mom
Lynn said…
I think they're saying that sometimes they'll allow students to stay at their current school and sometimes they won't. It's yet another detail staff will now be able to decide without board approval,
Allen jeley said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allen jeley said…
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Unknown said…
Many of the speakers are addressing bell times and transportation and school staffing cuts. One speaker stands out - Jane Broom who is the Director at Microsoft Community Affairs and Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Education who will be speaking on the topic of the Alliance.
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