Friday Open Thread

Something fun for the kids to do - vote in Google's doodle competition winners for students K-12.  Some of the pieces are truly inventive.

Also, The Color of Money - McCleary Crime Scene Coloring Contest will be announcing its winners next Saturday, the 20th.
We will be announcing the winners of our coloring contest, one kid and one adult, chosen by our Celebrity Artist Guest Judge Derek Erdman, at our Color In at Zeitgeist Coffee Saturday 2/20, from 4-6. Please turn in your coloring sheets by 2/18 at midnight to enter. (Need not be present to win-but we would love to see you!)
For your own vote, here's one for parents on assessments from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Hence, any and all of you with an interest in testing, value-added modeling, educational assessment, educational accountability policies, and the like are invited to post your questions, concerns, and comments using the hashtag #HowMuchTesting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or the social media platform of your choice, as these are the posts to which AERA’s panelists will respond.

Organizers are interested in all #HowMuchTesting posts, but they are particularly interested in video-recorded questions and comments of 30 – 45 seconds in duration so that you can ask your own questions, rather than having it read by a moderator. In addition, in order to provide ample time for the panel of experts to prepare for the discussion, comments and questions posted by March 17 have the best chances for inclusion in the debate.
Soup for Teachers is have a Red for Ed day next week, Thursday the 18th, in support of teachers and public education.  (It's part of a national movement.) It's a pretty great idea and I hope your school is participating.  Basically, it's standing up at our schools and showing the legislature that, of course, Seattle parents care.  (There was a snide remark at the Washington's Paramount Duty Facebook page by Rep. Chad Magendanz last week for the PTA focus day, noting the low numbers.   He challenged parents/kids to show up in Olympia. Is showing up in Olympia the only way to show you care?  He also claimed that PTA has lost its power and its membership because PTA has become too Seattle focused and too supportive of tax increases.)
On the 18th, before the morning bell, SPS parents and students will gather together with SEA members at every school in our district. Educators will be wearing RED and will have large poster boards labeled for your legislators, ready for your community to express to them the need for action on fully funding our public schools. When the bell rings, we will enter our schools together, united for funding and support of our public schools. School will begin on time. After school starts, we will have collection points for the poster boards at middle schools, a meet-up at the John Stanford Center, and caravan from there to Olympia. Join us!
The contrast is the news that Boeing - which got double in tax breaks what it would take to fund McCleary - is now going to start cutting commercial airplane jobs.

The Olympian put out a great editorial this week - We’re 35th in tax burden; is that good? They go thru our state's tax burden, contrasting it with other states.
Of course, Washington’s tax burden feels pretty terrible for some people. A big reason is that it lands disproportionately on those who earn the least. 
Other tax revenue may be needed for K-12 schools in 2017. That will evoke the inevitable claim that we’re overtaxed. When you hear that rant, ask the complaining person in your life what they would do to balance the load more fairly. That’s the real issue.
There are no director community meetings tomorrow.

Read more here:
 What's on your mind?

Read more here:


Anonymous said…
Somewhere Ron English is smiling. D.C. did an oops by releasing the private information of 12,000 special ed students. See, it's not just JSCEE and their hired attorneys who mess up!

Anonymous said…
I caught the tail end of a news story that Chicago is going to be able to pay for full day kindergarten with gas savings from what was budgeted for transportation. Seattle must have a savings as well - enough to pay for two tiers of bus service?

Anonymous said…
Boeing's tax break from 2013 was $8.7 billion spread over 10 years. Not only is it not anywhere even approximating double what it would take to fund McCleary, it's barely a 1/4 of what it would take.

At minimum, to meet its McCleary obligations, the Legislature would need to appropriate an additional $3.5 billion A YEAR. Boeing's tax break works out to about be less than a $1 billion dollars A YEAR.

People regularly assume this $8.7 billion is an annual figure. It is not.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
To add, ALL OF MY TAXES I PAY come from income Boeing pays the math.

Some people

madpark said…
How to pick a high school?

I am renting and can move. My girls would currently go to Garfield. One is academically an OK student, one is in special ed. Neither are sports stars. Neither likes jazz.
Someone I know substitute teaches occaisionally and he had some not so good things to say about the Garfield principal, and suggested Roosevelt instead.
Any thoughts?
Po3 said…
madpark - I would not pick a school based on a principal as they could be moved at any time, which could be good or bad for the school.

Since you have some flexibility I would check out Hale in addition to RHS just to get a comparison of what the two schools offer.
Anonymous said…
Speaking of high schools- does anyone have recent experience with Center School? We went to the open house last night and my arty/non-sporty daughter loved it. I have some concerns (especially about the limited foreign language option) but for the most part, I liked it. Our reference school is Franklin, which my daughter is not interested in (too big).

Thanks for your thoughts,
Anonymous said…
Of note, Flip Herndon mentioned at last week's BHS meeting that The Armory has offered up additional space to SPS to increase the size of the Center School. I wonder if/how that will play into capacity management over the next few years.

Good Fit
Anonymous said…
The principal sets the tone for the school. Do not dismiss the importance of the principal to your child's high school experience.

my 2cents
Anonymous said…
Sorry, I was wrong about the Boeing tax breaks in 2013. It was spread over 16 years, not 10 years --- it extended a previous tax break 10 more years.

So, that works out to be about $500 million A YEAR --- barely a dent in the McCleary obligations.

Here are links, you know, for facts:

--- aka
AKA, I'll wait for a reply from Rep. Frame who said. this.
Anonymous said…
Also realize, Boeing is located mostly in the Puget Sound region. Seattle, Tukwilla, Renton, Auburn and Everett. The rest of Boeing is located out side of WA state.

Seattle has the smallest Boeing footprint. Boeing employees pay checks go towards things like, sales taxes, property taxes, both used to fund our local schools.

If Boeing jobs go away so do taxes.

Some people
Anonymous said…
Many people think the principal at GHS is doing a pretty good job. There are so many different kinds of students at GHS, it is a challenging position, in my opinion (mom of GHS senior).

I thought every artsy person would like the Center School, but there could be problems there, like any school. When it is so small, it might affect someone more than at a larger school. Someone I know pulled their student from that school because that student was not happy there.
seattle citizen said…
Some people -
Are you trying to say that we should give Boeing tax breaks so they can pay you so you can pay taxes?

And they're cutting jobs here while outsourcing to other states AND letting China finish their own airplanes, therefore outsourcing overseas. Will the workers in South Carolina and China be paying WA taxes with their incomes from Boeing and WA taxpayers? Prob'ly not, eh? THAT is the point, that the tax break was an incentive for Boeing to keep jobs here but they aren't holding up their end of the deal.
Future Washington Middle school parent said…
Went to the Washington Middle school info night and was impressed with the student panel. When the principal was asked about the fact that the school will lose half it's population in 2017 (when Meany middle school opens),she wanted to avoid the question like te plague. What is the plan for the school after some of the best elementary schools no longer go there. The school is served by 8 elementary schools from high performing schools and will be left a shadow of its former self.
It's shocking that she had no answers.
madpark said…
NE mom-

I notice you don't say you think he is doing a good job.
Anonymous said…
The POINT of the Boeing tax break in 2013 was an incentive to build the 777X here. Jobs were assumed, of course. But the idea that Boeing would/could never cut jobs after the tax break was NOT the deal. Besides, Boeing MIGHT cut 4,000 jobs over the next 5 years but increase 7,000 jobs the next 5 years after that. I think it's reasonable to look at the life of the tax break before declaring that Boeing reneged on the deal. Boeing is building the 777X here --- THAT was the deal and they are holding up their end of it.

Furthermore, people act like Boeing and its aerospace partners in the state aren't paying ANY taxes. That's BS. If you look at one of the links above, you'll see that there's a revenue assumption that the building of the 777X will generate $21 billion in additional tax revenue over the period of the tax break.

--- aka
Anonymous said…
@ seattle citizen

Seriously, you have no idea what you're writing about. Boeing has by far provided more benefits to Seattle than any other company period. Building commercial airplanes is vastly more complicated and labor intensive than making software or running eCommerce. It's also very costly and difficult to move production, unlike Microsoft or Amazon who can and do relocate work at a drop of a hat.

The problems with public education have little to do with Boeing. It's funny that I just paid sales tax for a company taxes ...noway.

Some people
Some People, McCleary is about the entire state so where Boeing is or isn't really is not the point.

AKA, no one said Boeing isn't paying taxes - they are not paying what they should to support the infrastructure of this state and now they cut jobs?
Anonymous said…
Why should your opinion count? Do you even have a job? Oh, I guess bashing one of the best employers in America is your job.

Some people
Anonymous said…
From WEA:
This week Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee passed an amendment on a party line vote to its so-called McCleary "solution" (2SSB 6195) that would restrict our ability to negotiate TRI pay. It would also delay full implementation of McCleary, dragging out the timeline for providing educator raises and fully funding basic education.

If passed, effective July 1 we could only negotiate pay or benefits for new programs outside the state-funded school day, time-based activities, and additional time for staff development outside the state-funded school day. This means:

* TRI pay is eliminated; all supplemental pay must be time-based.

* No more overload pay for large class sizes -- making it harder for teachers and kids -- but cheaper for districts to continue maintaining some of the largest class sizes in the country.

* Teachers could no longer be compensated for the many extra hours they put in to keep our schools running -- grading papers, prepping assignments, drafting lesson plans and communicating with parents are a few examples.

* Kindergarten teachers would not be paid for extra work required to implement WA KIDS.

We expect that this bill could be voted off the Senate floor within a week.

Please act now and tell the Senate to reject this bill and turn their focus to fully funding basic education.

Liza SfT said…
Thanks for the mention, Melissa! We're really looking forward to seeing everyone standing together for public schools. Over 80% of SPS schools have confirmed their participation! People can follow along on social media with the hashtags ReclaimOurSchools (the national movement) and SEAwalkinday.
I pay taxes and vote - that's all anyone needs to voice an opinion in this country.

BrooklynBridgeForSale said…

"Furthermore, people act like Boeing and its aerospace partners in the state aren't paying ANY taxes. That's BS. If you look at one of the links above, you'll see that there's a revenue assumption that the building of the 777X will generate $21 billion in additional tax revenue over the period of the tax break.'

You know what they say about assumptions.

Boeing wouldn't commit to keeping a certain amount of jobs in Washington state and Washington gave Boeing the biggest tax-break in history. No other state was willing to come close to Washington's deal.

Anonymous said…
Another local overnight field trip rape accusation and this time SPS policies/students/staff aren't the focus. "The incident happened in Highline.

Anonymous said…
The SBAC is coming up again, and I was taken aback to get a letter from the principal asking everyone to take it (high rates of opting out last year). The reason given is that if your child opts out, they average that into the school scores as a 1, which makes it look as if the school is terrible academically - basically gives a completely false idea of the school. It seems kind of odd to have that as a policy. I imagine that the intent is to ensure that schools don't give the tests only to the kids that will do well, and deliberately not test those who would bring the scores down, but it seems inappropriate to average in a 1 for up to 50% of the students (they had that many kids opt out in some grade bands). Shouldn't there be some kind of disclaimer saying that high opt-out rates have affected the reported scores from some schools?

I'm not all that concerned about how the school looks on some district-wide score chart; still deciding whether I'll opt the kids out this year. It's not until high school that it counts for anything, right?

Mom of 4
Anonymous said…
An article from the NY Times about a charter school teacher incident including shaming a kindergartner and secret videotaping.
Anonymous said…
madpark, I don't have enough info to know if he is good at his job. To me, he seems to have had a measured approach that has addressed all of his populations. I think he cares and does his best to do a good job. I am not in the school except for a rare evening event, so I am not an expert. My student doesn't say anything bad against him.
Anonymous said…
Ok so you pay taxes...where does your income come from.

Do tell
Anonymous said…
FYI - Filing Requirements for Lobbyists

IN BRIEF . . .
Anyone who attempts to influence state legislation or the legislative action of a state agency is a lobbyist.

Lobbyists who are paid compensation or other consideration, including expenses, must register with PDC on Form L1, unless they qualify for one of the exemptions, and must file monthly L2 reports, unless they will be making no reportable lobbying expenses.

So you are a lobbyists, now I need to find out who pays your bills. You might as well register because I have the feeling you have accepted money, gifts or both for your efforts.

I'm filing a complaint with the PDC against you. We will see what happens.

Truth hurts
Anonymous said…
What are people talking about?
Lynn said…
It's easy enough to see how many of the students who are reported as not meeting standards were actually test refusals. Here are the district-wide scores for juniors last year as an example:

I don't think there is any reason to take the SBAC before the 10th grade. If you might want to have your child evaluated for advanced learning, the AL department now says they won't look at them if they haven't taken the SBAC or MAP. This is a departmental decision though and is out of compliance with the Superintendent's Procedure so it may not stand.
Josh Hayes said…
NEmom, it's pretty darn confusing to me, and I KNOW this business pretty well.

As for the person (people, I guess) asking about high school choices: high school principals in SPS seem to have pretty long tenures at particular locations. It's hard for me to imagine the principals at either Hale or Roosevelt moving any time in the near future: both seem very happy where they are. Moreover, both schools have well-established cultures which would, I think, continue to sail along even if a principal is replaced.

That said, Roosevelt can be academically intense, and there's a noticeable enthusiasm for things sports-related. The inclusion model at Hale leads, I think, to broad-based academic success across ability levels, and for whatever reason, their sports teams are not particularly competitive in any sense of the word (mostly they don't do well in competition, but they also seem to be more about inclusion and enjoying playing the game). All this is IMO, of course.

As for Center School, I think for an artsy kid who finds Franklin too big, it could well be an awesome fit. NOVA might also be worth checking out. Good luck with it, and being a supportive parent (like you are!) is absolutely key no matter what choice you and your child make. Best of luck!
Mom of 4, it depends on what "means." Do you trust your child's teacher to keep you updated on how your child is doing (or will come to you if things look like they are moving downward?) Do you care if you know how your child did on one test on one day? If not, then skip the SBAC until high school.

I know there is pressure on principals and districts to not have these opt-outs - Department of Ed is threatening punishment if states have too many opt-outs. Ed reformers are saying the opt-outs are being done by selfish white people.

I think every parent gets to make their own choice and it is not illegal in Washington state to opt-out.

NE Mom, horrible video - I'm going to put that up as part of a charter story coming this weekend. Everyone has a bad moment in their job but this woman really made a choice. And the body language of those children is not one that I think - especially for such young children - that showing learning is happening.

NE Mom, we have a couple of trolls on the blog who seem to want to get personal with me. Inappropriate but just ignore them.
Anonymous said…
"FYI - Filing Requirements for Lobbyists

IN BRIEF . . .
Anyone who attempts to influence state legislation or the legislative action of a state agency is a lobbyist."

So I'm guessing all the ex-charter school staff, parents, and students who went down to Olympia to lobby for public monies despite not being public schools are registered as lobbyists? Eva Moskowitz closes her Success Academy schools ON A SCHOOL DAY and forces staff & families to go lobby for more charter funding, even though one of the original claims of the charter movement was that they could do more with less. Reigistered lobbyists?

madpark - friends just moved their 2 daughters from Roosevelt to Nathan Hale and are quite happy with the change. At Roosevelt, if you didn't belong to something, you didn't really exist (they felt). The girls are quiet, spend a lot of time on schoolwork because they take awhile to get new concepts, and couldn't keep up with the time demands for joining some of the clubs or other activities, plus they felt there was a lot of social pressure. This year - total change, and it works much better for them. Other friends have been extremely happy with Ingraham, another friend moved her kid to Shorecrest in Shoreline because it is much smaller and is happy with that. Lots of good options available.

Anonymous said…

Special Ed is treated very differently in the various high schools. I would say that Hale & Ingraham are more flexible in meeting individual needs and that Roosevelt & Garfield are more bureaucratic, 'you get what you get' kind of places.

Good luck,

-Sped parent
Anonymous said…
MW it's not personal. I'm inquiring on your motivation. Why would someone spend an enormous amount of time and effort to do what you do. You have opinions that are subjective and not factual. Most people here have children in the Seattle school district, from what I've read you do not.

Most people here have jobs, I don't know if you do or don't, but the ponderousness of your postings read that you do not have a job. With that, it's not a stretch to assume you are or might be a paid lobbyist. It's clear you have some sort of intent to influence public education in the direction you see fit.

You chose to broadcast your agenda and your mix of subjective opinions and facts "bold mine" in the same manner of using "just kidding". You bash those you don't like or disagree with at will. The alternative is to set your blog to invitation only. I think your ego driven and dangerous.

What are you really trying to accomplish and why? Bring on the deflection.

Truth hurts
Anonymous said…
I don't doubt for a minute that MW's basic motivation is anything other than a desire to support good public education in our city, but she does wield quite a bully pulpit that requires transparency. My questions are: how many individual viewers does the blog receive each month? How many individual posters? How much income does MW make since she monetized this blog a few years ago?

Eric B said…
Why should MW say why she does this? If she wants to spend the amount of time and effort needed to maintain this blog, why should anyone else ask why? As far as money, I sure don't see any ads.
Anonymous said…
help! Open enrollment is stressing me out because I don't know what's happening to certain schools....

I've heard HCC at Hamilton is moving to ES/WP but maybe not the entire cohort? Will some stay behind based on where you live?

Where is Cascasdia going??

Is QAE moving too??

When does Hazel Wolf move into their new building??

And is Bagley really moving out for renovations, or has that plan been nixed??

Thank you for any info,
Mag Mom
Anonymous said…
Mag Mom, I don't blame you one bit for being stressed out. So much is uncertain. Parents don't know, Principals don't know. SPS does not even know, until they know, at which point we all will know too. It's crazy-making.

Here's what is posted if you dig around the BEX website:

The Pinehurst (HWK8) building is scheduled to be completed by Sept 2016.
Daniel Bagely is scheduled to be closed 2018-2020 (Flip Herndon has said the plan is for them to move into the John Marshall building during that time.)
QAE is scheduled to receive a new addition by 2019. No mention of moving out for construction...yet.

Good Fit
Anonymous said…
Something cool from the BEX website: a webcam of the construction at Wilson Pacific.

Anonymous said…
@madpark, it is definitely worthwhile to check out other schools. If you apply during open enrollment, you might even get one of the choice seats and not have to move. I do think GHS can be challenging, especially if your kids' interests are not the dominant ones of the school. Friends of mine have been extremely critical of the lack of high school and college counseling at GHS and the over subscribed language classes which had kids sitting in the hallways because no class was available to them. Student leaders on the tours indicated that you had to strongly advocate for the courses and help you needed in order to get into classes and succeed. While a great skill to learn, I don't think it should be a requirement in high school. My experience, as a prospective parent with questions, was that the counselors never called me back. At another SPS school, I had no problem speaking with a counselor. Ultimately, we chose to send our student to another SPS school even though GHS was our reference school. Good luck! - NP
Anonymous said…
Oh, and one more thing - the principal does set the tone for the school. -NP
My personal life is no one's business. My professional life is as a public education advocator and writer/moderator of this blog. I am not a professional lobbyist and never have been.

Charlie and I took the monetization of this blog off years ago because the ads were annoying both readers and us.

I am under no obligation to reveal my number of readers or hits per day (do you ask the Times or the Stranger or any number of other blogs this?) That's a trade secret but clearly, it's high enough to gain a long-time bully pulpit. And, if anyone else wants to put in the time and energy that Charlie and I have to this venture, blog away. It's harder than it looks.

"Bold mine" is a writing tool to signal readers that what I am reprinting in bold (from another source) is put there by me, not the original writer. It's for emphasis and it's what you do in writing. It does not mean "just kidding."

"It's clear you have some sort of intent to influence public education in the direction you see fit."

My intent is to provide the fullest picture of any public ed issue and get others to bring their experience/knowledge to the table to maximize that picture. That I have opinions, well, it's a blog.

I note that Bill Gates also has "some sort of intent to influence public education" and has a huge bag of money and an equally huge bully pulpit.

This blog is not about me, nor is this thread. I'll delete any further discussion not on topic.

Anonymous said…
Truth hurts,

You're wasting your time.

Randy Newman
Anonymous said…
Mag Mom,

QAE is moving for one year. This was posted last year on the QAE/SPS website:

"Our current Kindergarten, First grade and incoming families will call the John Marshall School, located at 520 NE Ravenna Boulevard, home for the 2018-19 school year."

You can read the letter:

QA Mama

Wei Dai said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wei Dai said…
Does anyone know what is going on with K-3 class size reduction in 2016-17? One document (page 15 of 10/28/15 Board Budget presentation) suggests and a local school principal told me that class sizes are only reduced in high poverty schools, but other documents, such as page 13 of 1/27/16 Budget Presentation, seem to suggest that class sizes are being reduced in all schools. Comparing that page to the same information for 15-16, it seems that Grade K classes will be reduced from 26 to 22 for non-high poverty schools, and from 22 to 20 for high poverty schools). Which information is correct, or am I misunderstanding something?
Anonymous said…
Wei Dai,

It's my understanding they should be reducing them in all schools (the state is funding it) but there is nothing in the legislation or the teacher contract saying they HAVE to (unless it's a high-poverty school). My guess is there will continue to be kindergartens in the district with 28-30 kids.

QA Mama
Wei Dai, there will be class size reduction in K-3 (and I think it does have to happen) but what the size will be is unclear.

A good question to ask your school board director.
Anonymous said…
I wish I wasn't such a cynic about class size MW. I hope your optimism proves me wrong. In my experience, if there isn't teeth in legislation, it's not going to happen in SPS. Currently class size is supposed to be 26. My kids have always had 29/30 in their K-3 classrooms.
QA Mama
Anonymous said…
There was a provision in I-1351 that districts with capacity facility needs that prevented them from reducing class sizes to the "required" levels could instead use the money for school-based personnel that provide direct services to students. With our capacity needs, widescale implementation would be difficult.

There's also likely to be some flexibility in the numbers even at high-poverty schools, as the requirements pertained to average class size.

Outsider said…
Regarding opting out of the SBAC test -- the decision should be simple in elementary school at least. Has the school served your child well? Did the school pay attention to what you wanted for your child? If no, then opt out. You have nothing to lose and it's your only leverage.
Lynn said…

I would not opt out to punish my child's school. I'd do it to send a message about the test, the time and money spent on testing and the district's new focus on assessments.
And Lynn makes a good point - there are any number of reasons a parent might option out of testing.
Anonymous said…
About Opting Out
Mom of 4 wrote that the letter from the principal contained:

asking everyone to take it (high rates of opting out last year). The reason given is that if your child opts out, they average that into the school scores as a 1, which makes it look as if the school is terrible academically - basically gives a completely false idea of the school. It seems kind of odd to have that as a policy.

Take a look at SBAC data on Seattle 8th graders at OSPI


Notice Reading:
61.1% meeting Standard
68.4% meeting Standard exceeding NO Score

Notice Math:
56.4% meeting Standard
63.7% meeting Standard exceeding NO Score

That principals statement on Opting Out is a complete deception.
"they average that into the school scores as a 1"
Who is this "They"?

I would demand a retraction and a complete explanation for why this completely misleading and dishonest statement was made.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Typo above "exceeding" should be excluding

Notice Reading:
61.1% meeting Standard
68.4% meeting Standard excluding NO Score

Notice Math:
56.4% meeting Standard
63.7% meeting Standard excluding NO Score

-- Dan Dempsey
Outsider said…
I would think of it in the converse way -- if the school did server your child well, and was responsive to your input, you would be a jerk to make their lives difficult by refusing to take the SBAC test. But if none of that happened, there are a thousand noble reasons to opt out of the test. Obviously it's foolish to tell the school you opted out to "punish" them.

Like Dan Dempsey, I suspect it's not really the school rating that suffers when you opt out. I suspect it's more like this: principals simply get pressure from higher-ups to deliver test scores. Principals try to do what they are told for the sake of their own evaluation, bonus, and career prospects. That is how the world works. But it's also pressure from higher up that causes some schools to betray some segments of their students. If this whole pressure machine is not working for your child or your family, chuck a monkey wrench into the gears.
Anonymous said…
But be honest with the readers here, Dan. Those reports excluding NO Score will be at most a two year phenomenon. OSPI will likely go back to reporting the scores without this criterion after this school year. But more importantly, the percentages that INCLUDE the NO Score are the accountability percentages. These are the ones that affect rewards and sanctions and are used to compare schools. The percentages excluding NO Score cannot be used for such purposes because one could not really know how those students would have performed --- we can't assume they would all be proficient, can we?

And Lynn, policymakers and others are getting wise to the opt out movement. Opting out will send a message more YOU than a message about the test. As educated as you are on this topic, I'm sure you're aware of the demographic data about who opts out and who doesn't. It's a telling picture.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
Citizen Kane, would that demographic be "people who understand the limited value of, excessive time required for, and misused results of these tests"?

Need Sunshine

Anonymous said…
So Sunshine, let me ask you the inverse: Are those who didn't opt out "people who understand the specific value of, how little time in the school year is required, and the beneficial results of these tests"?

Citizen Kane
"Opting out will send a message more YOU than a message about the test."

I'm assuming you mean "opting out will send a message more about you than a message about the test?

Amusing. That's the ed reform line about how "terrible" these parents are.
Anonymous said…
No one said anything about terrible parents. Are you suggesting that I did? Please point to where I said that.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
There is quite a percentage of the population that is very disgusted with the way things are.

Witness the current popularity of Sanders & Trump as proof.

The latest rendition on NCLB, the ESSA - Every Student Succeeds Act (Dec 2015) may not have taken into consideration the public disgust with Federal over-reach into student learning. High Stakes testing backlash will still be present. The vendor dollar direction ... rather than spending on educating.

Opting Out is one of the few ways to protest the current education direction.

-- Dan Dempsey

Pesky One said…

Citizen Kane writes:

"So Sunshine, let me ask you the inverse: Are those who didn't opt out "people who understand the specific value of, how little time in the school year is required, and the beneficial results of these tests"?'

Are you talking about 11th grade parents that opted their children out of a SIX hour test. Last time I checked, six hours was a pretty good chunk of time to be sitting in front of a computer analyzing test questions.

Just curious, Citizen Kane, Do you think students from low income families, ELL and special ed. students will be disadvantaged? Do you think that those children have the same computer skills as students of higher socio-economic backgrounds? Very nice of the legislature to put the onus on parents.

So, I will ask you: DO you think parents really understand the benefits of these test results and the fact that certain groups are disadvantaged?
Anonymous said…
C'mon Dan. Let's focus on the intelligent application of relevant data, shall we?

This high stakes testing backlash in our state is relatively small --- about 3-4% at the elementary and middle school levels. But within that average is a concentration of opt outs in certain enclaves, shall we say.

As for the vendor dollar direction, profits among for-profit testing companies is going down. You've seen these data, right? You're as obsessed with Pearson as the next Ravitch disciple. You've read their profit reports, I'm assuming. They are reporting their profits with statewide summative tests is down, big time.

Citizen Kane
Pesky One said…
The State Board of Education can keep resetting SBAC proficiency numbers and anything is possible!!
Anonymous said…
Pesky One, but low-income families aren't the ones opting out, are they? How do you reconcile that with your narrative?

And students with disabilities can have paper and pencil tests as accommodations if the IEP makes that determination.

And can you show me any data at all that ELL students are disadvantaged by computer-based testing? Can you show me any data that indicates that ELL students are also low-socioeconomic and don't have access to computers?

And I would caution you to avoid drawing conclusions about why low-socioeconomic families are not opting out.

I have avoided attributing any causation as to why higher socioeconomic families opt out at significantly higher rates than poorer families.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
And one more thing, Pesky One. The State Board of Education doesn't set the proficiency cut scores for the SBAC assessments. Those cut scores are set by the member states of the consortium and are the same across all member states.

The SBE does set the high school graduation cut scores for the 11th grade SBAC assessments, that is true. But these are not the accountability/proficiency cut scores.

So to your point, they won't be resetting any proficiency numbers.

Do you have more misinformation you'd like to put on display here today?

Citizen Kane
Citzen Kane, sorry, that "terrible" was from an ed reform blog, not you. But you did not explain your statement. Care to clarify?

EVERYONE should use caution as to why ANY family opts out. There are a myriad of reasons why people do and just as many reasons why they don't.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, I'd be interested in reading this ed reform blog post that referred to opting out parents as terrible. Seems a misguided perspective.

Can you send a link?

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
The SBAC requires little to no computer skills. If a child can operate a TV remote then they are prepared to move the mouse. The SBAC exposes how unprepared the public school system is in teaching students the materials. There are many reasons for poor results and none of them are the students fault.

Complaining about prepping for the SBAC is legitimate, because our students should know the materials and therefor should not need to prepare. The prep is for the benefit of the system, not the student.

Citizen Kane, if you don't answer my question, I'm not sure why I would answer yours.

Orion, it is not like a remote control. SBAC and PARCC both use dropdown menus which are not that easy especially for child who has probably never used them before.
Anonymous said…
Citizen Kane, so what if higher socioeconomic families opt out at higher rates? Why does that trouble you so?

Need Sunshine
Anonymous said…
Ah, quid pro quo. I like it.

The reason I say opting out is more about the person than the test is that opting out is a conscious choice. It's more about that person's choice than the test. Opting out doesn't tell me anything about the test --- it doesn't tell me about reliability or validity. It says nothing about policy decisions made about the results. It says nothing about fairness and bias. I tells me ZERO about performance, achievement, or attainment.

But opting out tells me other things about the person opting; for example, they don't value the results of the tests. They are satisfied with the achievement information they're already getting from the school. They're likely in a school that doesn't receive Title I dollars and don't care about consequences of those dollars. It can be a myriad of potentials.

In other words, opting out tells me more about you than the test. As I said.

So, about that link? Quid pro quo.

Citizen Kane
Pesky One said…
Citizen Kane,

"And can you show me any data at all that ELL students are disadvantaged by computer-based testing? Can you show me any data that indicates that ELL students are also low-socioeconomic and don't have access to computers?"

LOL. How do you measure error for those with limited English skills and can you show me data that lower has access to computers and computer support? Shall we talk about PTAs that contribute to computer infrastructures within schools?

There has been at least one non-verbal student that became frustrated over computerized/ standard tests and threw a chair across the room.
Pesky One said…

Oh yea, Citizen Kane:

The State Board of Education (SBE) will:
• Consider approving Smarter Balanced Consortium Achievement Level cut scores on the
Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC) for use in Washington.

At some point, we can move on to validity determination that is being performed by consortium and not the state.

CK, your views on opting out are all pure speculation on your part. You have nothing to back them up. (And it's not quid pro quo to answer a question that your own writing raised. Sheesh. So dramatic.)

"How else does the condescension of the affluent manifest itself? How to explain why people who often label themselves as liberals can hold such appalling views on education?"

"But overwhelmingly, opt-out has been a white, affluent phenomenon, and its followers’ criticisms that testing is destroying public education drowns out the voices of people of color, who are typically marginalized in debates around education."

"Fear over standardizing testing, I would argue, is not that far off from the anti-vaccination hysteria, where emotion and junk evidence runs far ahead of reason. But these people hold an outsize proportion of political power, so their demands, no matter how ridiculous, are taken seriously.

In addition, wealthy people, especially white ones, can change the conversation if their ilk see a deep need emerging among their own. To wit, the drastic spike in heroin use among whites and the problem getting reframed as an issue of public health, not one of crime that largely punished people of color."

"It’s awash in the anxiety felt by well-off families who complain about stress but overschedule their children anyway. These anxieties are self-inflicted as opposed to the real dangers low-income parents of color withstand every day"

"If affluent parents could invest their energies away from dwelling on their first-world problems and more into the truly harmful ones—the lopsided funding, achievement gaps, and low expectations for students of color that hobble so many schools— that would be a revolution worth writing about."

As if only "affluent" parents are the ones opting out. As if only white parents opt out. (Neither thing is true.)

Yup, those terrible opting out parents. If that combo of writing I cited above doesn't lead you to the belief that opting out is terrible (and therefore so are the people doing it), I don't know what will.

I'll agree to disagree on the outcomes of opting out but not a parent's right to do so.
Anonymous said…
One time when I was teaching high school special education, I had a non-verbal student throw a chair across the room because someone took the sports section out of the paper before he had a chance to read it. What's your point?

And I tried, Pesky One, to make sense of your ELL, computers, and PTA paragraph but I couldn't make heads or tails of it.

Citizen Kane
Anonymous said…
I must have a reading problem, Melissa, because I didn't see the word "terrible" once in the link or the snippet you provided.

And I don't think anyone said that ONLY affluent parents are opting out. Sheesh. So dramatic.

Citizen Kane
Pesky One said…
If Citizen Kane couldn't understand that a non-verbal child became frustrated with a computerized test- so be it. If Citizen couldn't understand that a computerized test doesn't truly capture the knowledge of an ELL student- so be it.

Clearly, Citizen Kane is feeling a bit hostile. Chill, take a break and enjoy some chocolates!

Signing off.
Anonymous said…
Citizen Kane, (at 11:45 AM)

I teach in a 7 through 12 school that has no actual math curriculum and focuses only on test prep for State tests by buying vendor supplied materials for grades 7 and 8.

I stand by my comment about Vendors and profits as administrators focus on test prep rather than improving instruction. They buy lots of test prep stuff. I do admit that my school is in the middle of nowhere and perhaps few schools operate like mine.

Pearson profits are effected by current conditions.

-- Dan Dempsey
seattle citizen said…
CK, what, exactly do these tests you love so much actually test? Please remind us. It's obvious you love them (did you send them a valentine?) but many wise people consider them to be quite useless.
Public education survived without them for decades. Since their (over)use began, they've caused nothing but trouble.
Please remind us what, exactly, it is that they test.
Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you and the test are enjoying some quiet time together...;)
Outsider said…
It seems to me the screamer at educationpost is the one who doth protest to much. Her whole argument is one giant non sequitur. It's surprising, and I guess very revealing, that MW would cite it as somehow important.

It seems that schools in wealthy parts of Long Island are well-funded and happy, except that they dislike standardized testing imposed by the state or federal government. What would it matter if individual districts, where no one is complaining about the schools but lots are complaining about the tests, had the freedom to skip state-mandated testing?

The educationpost screamer moves randomly back and forth between standardized testing and funding inequality as if those topics were related. But there is no connection at all. How does it hurt any poor child if the Longuiland gentry opt out of tests? The argument is bizarre bordering on stupid. Also rather unrelated to the Washington case where education is primarily state funded.
Anonymous said…
Actually, maybe I got lost amid the coy and ironic comments in this discussion, and MW was also meaning to say the educationpost articles were stupid. In any case, they are stupid.
Anonymous said…
Outsider wrote "How does it hurt any poor child if the Longuiland gentry opt out of tests?"

If only well-off people on Long Island opt out of tests, then it probably wouldn't hurt any poor child. But some of the call for opting out is also calling for the tests to be eliminated.

And if all standardized testing is eliminated, then one source of accountability for schools is eliminated. See more at for how this will hurt poor children.

Anonymous said…
SBAC and Parcc have third graders type narrative answers. THESE are rediculuous tests. Multiple choice is about all that can be validated. I've met folks that score these tests. I am for some standardized tests, not these long, expensive, garbage tests.
Anonymous said…
Interesting reading:

Lisa, the portion of people who want those who want to get rid of all testing versus to opt-out is tiny. I have not heard near the outcry to get rid of all testing as opting out.
Anonymous said…
Maybe, but Seattle Opt-Out and the Seattle Education blog (both of which get mentioned on this blog) seem to be against all standardized testing.

Anonymous said…
I was a big fan of the IOWA Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the ITED.
Now instead of a test every few years, in many places it is NWEA MAP testing 3 times a year and annual state testing.

This is ridiculous. As Seattle Citizen wrote:
Please remind us what, exactly, it is that they test.

Lisa G wrote:
And if all standardized testing is eliminated, then one source of accountability for schools is eliminated.

Is there any move to hold the children accountable for learning and they progress through grades k-8?

In Tacoma it is Algebra for all in grade 8, ready or not.

Any focus of a holistic curriculum was tossed long ago and so much else as well. What exactly are we attempting to do?

See the publishers Race to the Bank. See HS Graduation rate at all time high, but no confirmation of increased learning from SAT, ACT, and NAEP.

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…

Is there any move to hold the children accountable for learning as they progress through grades k-8?

-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
Dan, the state requires testing once a year from grades 3 through 8, plus one high school year. I think that is enough standardized testing. I'm in favor of encouraging districts (like SPS) to remove additional standardized testing throughout the year. I'm in favor of not giving standardized tests at all in K and first.

However it seems that standardized test results are allowing you to hold various schools/districts accountable by giving you evidence to back up such claims as "See HS Graduation rate at all time high, but no confirmation of increased learning"

Anonymous said…
I would be more ok with standardized testing once a year if it just took a day, or at most two. Last year's sbac took an entire, literal week of instruction from my elementary student, and then turned out not to be instructive or useful in any way. I would be happy to give up a day a year for his school, to give them numbers they want- not a week, though. He would have been far, far better off reading novels for that week instead, which is what he will be doing this year instead of taking the test. I think 3rd grade, 5th grade, 8th grade makes sense, and something shorter. Probably pen and paper because computers appear not to speed up the process, and doing it on computer shuts down libraries and computer labs for a quarter of the year(that loss alone is surely greater than the benefit of the sbac last year).

Sleeper, I like your common sense ideas. Why every year if there are interim assessments (which I also support but again, in a limited fashion)? 3rd, 6th and 9th (or something like that) would save time and money with interim assessments (or the teacher's own judgment) to show if something is going wrong.

Jan said…
It seems to me that testing sentiment, like many things, runs along a continuum from "no standardized testing at all" (or for some educational approaches, perhaps NO tests at all -- though that is probably a very small fringe minority) -- all the way to huge, intrusive SBAC tests every year, along with MAP, EOCs, and some PSAT and SATs, along with AP tests, and regular classroom assessments (and, if this seems absurd -- it seems to me that this is essentially where we are now, except that (1) high schoolers and their teachers ultimately revolted and at least got rid of MAP, and (2) maybe EOCs are being phased out in favor of the SBA?

I like Sleeper's ideas a lot better than the status quo, but I think I actually end up where Melissa is -- with something like ITBS in 3rd or 4th grade, something similar in either 7th or 8th, and then something in 10th or 11th -- for me, PSATs/SATs would work, but perhaps they are not really the best answer for all kids. If teachers in upper grades are finding that kids arrive unprepared, then maybe some schools or districts also need EOCs -- but I would submit that maybe not all do.

I would favor pencil/paper tests over computerized assessments for a number of reasons: (1) it makes testing more accessible and accurate for kids who don't have or spend much time on computers; (2) more importantly, it will (or certainly should) cost less and be less prone to things like refusing to let kids log on, administering the wrong tests, crashing/freezing during test sessions, etc. As someone else has noted, it frees up the schools' computers and computer labs for actual learning, rather than testing, And (4) most important of all -- pen and paper tests are less accessible for data harvesting and the bulk collection, without their consent -- because they are kids and cannot give consent -- of personal information about our children. (And yes, I understand parents can consent on behalf of our kids -- but I still think it is wrong to have subjected this generation of school kids to mass collection/storage/corporate ownership of everything they do when they are kids (academic, disciplinary, behavioral, and in some cases, medical or psychological). I think that if their "future adult selves" could be asked if they wanted this, or if it is actually in their best interests, they would say "no," and so society should say no -- now -- on their behalf.

Jan said…

I also think we should step back and re-examine the entire premise of the testing craze -- which is that, without frequent, mass testing of our children, we cannot trust that our schools are teaching them anything. I think that the premise is false (though widely believed, or assumed, to be true). I think:

1. The vast majority of kids are curious and want to learn (ok -- maybe they don't want to learn EVERYTHING in the curriculum -- but in general, kids' minds want/need to be fed and challenged. If their brains were horses, they would in fact be thirsty -- and all that would need to be done would be to lead them to the water! (This assumes that the "water" we lead them to is good instruction -- and not hours in front of a computer screen, or days of "test prep," or "excerpts" of novels (because all we are doing is teaching close reading, so they don't really need ALL of Huckleberry Finn or The Great Gatsby -- just enough text to teach/illustrate the concept).

2. The vast majority of teachers love to teach. They are passionate about kids' learning. They chose a badly paid profession because they get a tremendous non-monetary payment from teaching, and helping kids learn. It is possible to degrade their teaching ability by underfunding them (so there are no books, pencils, etc. in their classrooms), overloading them with busywork or mindless stupid tasks (like, say, having to reinvent all their math lessons on the fly because someone "downtown" decided that the books they bought last year aren't good enough, and demands that they be overhauled with poorly thought-out scope and sequence changes and worksheets). It is also possible to destroy their love of teaching by denigrating them with a never-ending barrage of insults to their integrity, honesty, and work ethic, by gas-lighting them, and by demanding that they repress creativity and common sense in favor of "fidelity" to implementation and strict adherence to a list of "rules" -- like writing daily class objectives on white boards. And it is possible for teachers to "burn out" -- permanently or temporarily -- and need a break.

But if most teachers know their profession and love to teach (and the longer they teach, the better they get at it) -- and most kids actually enjoy learning and crave intellectual stimulation -- then why do we need a giant testing complex, with millions of dollars and hours spent -- annually -- and vast data banks of information collected on and about our kids -- annually -- to somehow police the system?

The answer is -- we don't. We need enough attention to the process to see (and be able to recognize) when a specific teacher, school, or school system is somehow struggling -- and on a child by child basis, we need ways to evaluate what kids are learning (or not) so that we know kids are not bored, falling behind, becoming frustrated with learning materials that don't work (for them) for whatever reason.

NONE of this requires -- or is even well served by -- the giant testing system we now have. (What IS served by the status quo is the testing and educational-data-collecting industry-- and to a lesser extent, the national effort to privatize schools) To combat a non-existent, or weakly existent problem, we are spending enormous amounts of time and money (neither of which are infinite, so each squandered hour/dollar takes away from something else useful that COULD have been done with it). In my opinion, testing needs to be totally rethought, with more accurate assumptions, and a recognition that misspent resources are not only wasteful, but are actually destructive, in terms of the learning that they could have produced if used productively.
Jan, can I reprint this as a thread about testing?

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