District Data Dashboard 2015-2016

Here's what was presented at the Work Session for the annual Operations Data Dashboard.  PowerPoint.

The current Data Dashboard cycle is from 2013-2018.  It has 31 measures in five categories - academic milestones, commitment to equity, effective teachers, positive school environments and stakeholder engagement and satisfaction. 

On-track to meet 2017-2018 target; 13 of 24 measures.  

Made improvement (or) On-Track: 17 of 24 measures.

Halfway thru this cycle and barely hitting half of the targets and it's unclear from the presentation what the measure is for "improvement" or "on-track."  Hmm.

Here's a broad overview.  The district examined 10,000 comments to open-ended response questions and came up with these themes:

  • SPS needs to better articulate its mission/goals
  • District information can be unclear/untimely
  • District engagement is often insufficient
  • Families generally don't feel like true partners
  • The district appears to prioritize opinions of specific groups (e.g. loudest or wealthiest families)
The opportunity gap between white students and historically underserved students of color is growing even as the trend for all students is improving slightly.  What this presentation does not take into account - that several readers have pointed out - is that the gap is so large because white students in SPS don't just do better, they do a lot better.

Another interesting trend is that in the elementary grades, Native Americans do the worst in most categories or near the same as black students (named as "English" as opposed to "East African.")

But in both 7th grade ELA and Math, Native American students surge ahead of all black students and Pacific Islanders.

There is also data on "Proficiency vs. Growth" that shows that Denny, Olympic Hills and Fairmount Park have been having "high growth on SBAs." Another page shows high growth for African-American students at Denny, Rainier View and Olympic Hills.

One troubling page shows the trend for all students going down a bit - from 50.6% to 47% - for completing Algebra by 8th grade.  The district says this is likely because:
  •  new math standards, 
  • schools may not send kids onto Algebra if they don't pass 7th grade math 
  • and there is inconsistency from middle school to middle school in how students progress in math courses.  
A point was made that if students take Alegbra in 8th grade they miss 8th grade math.

 (I note that this was pointed out about science courses as well at the HCC Committee meeting.  Clearly, something needs to change if this is a trend in both math and science.)

For passing the state exit exams by 10th grade, the trend is positive for the overall student rate - from 58% to 68.2%.   But for blacks and Native Americans, the rates are alarming low (under 40%.)

Special Education: the trend for all students remains the same - about 13%.  Native American students are at about 34% with (English) blacks at 22%, Latinos at 19% and whites and multi-racial at 12%.

Then there is page 32  - Average Total Days Lost for Students Suspended or Expelled (includes in-house suspensions.)

For all students in this category, it's about 10 days.  The presentation circles the (English) black rate because it went up slightly from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, from 11.4-12.7.  The rate also went up for (East Africa) blacks from 8.4 to 12.0 which is a much larger increase.  However, Asians went up from 7.4 to 11.7.  In the most notable rate, Native American students went from 23.4 days down to 9.1 days.

As well, page 34 which tracks percentage of suspended students to percentage of students by race in the district and shows that American blacks are suspended at a high rate (28.9% suspended for a group that is 10.8% of the district population.)  But again the rate of suspension is also high versus numbers in the East African black population (11.9% to 5.9%.)  

As for F/RL students having a "distinguished teacher," the overall rate is 35.7% for F/RL and 42.6% for non-F/RL.  The biggest gap is in high school by 8.1%, followed by elementary 6.9% and middle school with the smallest, 4.3%. (This data is from 2014-2015.)

School Climate Surveys

Well, the news is alarming for the student survey because in every single category except one, the numbers are down.  The worst is the measure for "adults at school are able to stop someone from being a bully" - down from 50.6% to 40.7%.  The district attributes this to "the order of response options on student survey forms was reversed in 2016.  Research shows the order of response options can have significant effects."  Were teachers instructed to tell students to look carefully at the order?  Why was the order changed (especially for students) if this could be an outcome?

Most of the school staff survey measures were about the same.

For the school-family engagement portion of the family survey, there were no downward changes and the highest growth was for "My home culture and home language are valued by the school." But oddly, for the school satisfaction area of the family survey, there was a downward trend for "teachers/staff are knowledgeable and respectful of different cultures and races."

One fascinating item is the 2015-2016 responsive to "The district central office is responsive to the input and concerns of families."  For all families, it was 21.5% agree/strongly agree, 47.1% neutral and 31.4% disagree or strongly disagree.

However, it is white families who have the least faith in central office with just 15.3% of them agreeing.  This may be that white families are more linked in with the working of the central office than other groups or may be pickier.  The most satisfied group are Asians at 48.5 agreeing with 40% of American black or African blacks saying they agree. 

High Performing Staff stats (partial)
- stagnant on percent of school leaders staying at school (75%)
- percent of lost instructional days due to teacher absences.  This one is not good; it went from 3.4% to 9% AND, with vacancies, it's 11%.
- annual retention rate for central office employees is up from 76% to 84%.

Community Support (partial)
- Percent of parents who  say "The school is preparing my child well for the future" went up from 72.3% to 80.9%.
- Percent of families that believe teachers know how to meet specific learning needs of their child went up from 66.3% to 73.6%.
- District central office is responsive to the input and concerns of families is abysmal, going from 26% down to 21.5%.
- Percent of students responding that they feel safe in school, down from 76% to 70.8%.

Board questions
Director Peters asked a question that answered a question I have long wondered about - why are there no principal figures in the climate survey?  It turns out that those figures are not there because they are used for principal evaluations per the  PASS contract so the district doesn't make those public.  Peters termed it "an unfortunate trade-off."

Director Harris pointed out that the presentation uses race throughout but it isn't until Slide 37 that staff includes F/RL.  I was quite surprised that she got pushback on that data. But Director Harris also pushed back saying that we want to close the opportunity gap and race matters but so does poverty.

She then asked about the curriculum and math and "where does that play (in these slides?)  There was quite the silence before staff opined that they were "trying to be consistent with the instrument."  They said it could be revisited and would have to come from the Board.

Director Burke asked about math as well and said that Slide 21 about Algebra in 8th grade implies that the district should n't do anything different because figures were due to the changes in math standards.  He said he had heard from families who are very worried going from elementary to middle school and algebra.  He said families said they felt their students were not being prepared in arithmetic.

Eric Anderson, head of Assessments, said that the"schools are changing to meet that need" and that there is currently a study in middle schools going on.

Director Peters asked about what "Central Office" is and where are the Executive Directors and Legal placed?  Staff was not sure about the Executive Directors and they have a work session on the budget next week and they will let them know.

Director Patu raised concerns over the issue of the most qualified teachers not teaching F/RL students and that seems to be a collective bargaining issue to look at.

Director Pinkham read the slides as I did and saw that Native American students scored lower than other groups on several measures.


To me the overall numbers look appalling, especially as this was not derived from an objective audit but a subjective staff analysis. In that vein it is very worrying staff did not define how 'on track' and 'improvement' were calculated. If this is the best staff could do I worry what the real picture is.

It seems having a figurehead rather than a leader in the position of superintendent is having a serious impact on downtown productivity. I will be urging the Board to look for a leader with the energy and enthusiasm to turn this ship around. Dr Nyland has been given every chance and now we see the results.
Carol Simmons said…
Dear Melissa,

Please forgive my delay in thanking you for your exceptionally comprehensive report on the Work Session District Data Dashboard.

I especially appreciated your notes regarding Director's comments.


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