Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Open thread

Other than test scores coming in (please use the thread below for discussing that), what else is on your mind?

134 comments :

Anonymous said...

The next Highly Capable Advisory Committee Meeting will be TONIGHT:

Tuesday, March 3, 6:30-8:30 pm
Jane Addams Middle School Library
11051 34th Ave NE, 98125
Main entrance / and Library (2nd floor) are on the SE section of the building.

Paula Montgomery, Principal of JAMS will join us and there will be an update from Advanced Learning.

Anonymous said...

Are notes from these advisory meetings posted online?
Thanks.
Potential HCC Mom

Anonymous said...

I have an open enrollment question: We will be putting in a choice form for our upper elementary student for an option school that has both spectrum and gen ed seats (though I think the school itself does not have separate spectrum classes).
In terms of waitlists, are there a few set aside "spectrum" seats and the rest are gen ed? Or is it one big pot of seats and the labels are so they know how many of each? We don't care which it is, but want to try to figure out what to put as first choice, since that is the only thing that you go on a waiting list for.
thanks,
puzzled

Anonymous said...

Anyone with an APP/HC kid who is enrolled at Roosevelt willing to share their student's experience? The RHS and Garfield AP offerings look fairly close. Our biggest concern is that the majority of daily material presented in an AP class be college level, vs. an enrichment to the class that the student has to pursue largely outside of the main class material. Other main concern is social adjustment if our student would be a year or two younger than most of the class. Appreciate your input as we are down to the wire and can't seem to decide between two great schools. Thanks!
- Wendy

Anonymous said...

@ Wendy, in case your kid is into science, note that he/she would likely have to retake science at RHS. Whereas at GHS students can use their successful 8th grade Biology EOC result to move on to more advanced science courses, from what I understand all RHS freshman have to take physical science, and all sophomores have to take biology. If you're looking for college level science earlier than senior year, GHS is probably a better option.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

How can they make students retake science classes that have been successfully passed, with a passing EOC as well? The district says Physical Science and Biology taken in middle school are equivalent to the classes taken in high school, just as Algebra or Geometry classes taken in middle school. Either they are equivalent, and do not need to be retaken in high school, or they are not. Can someone confirm the info about science options at Roosevelt? When we toured years ago, we were led to believe advanced placement in science was available to Freshman.

I understand the LA/SS pathway is somewhat rigid - all students must take the same class for specific years (AP Human Geography and AP Language and Composition?).

Anonymous said...

The point is that the district does not want HCC middle school to be a source of acceleration. They are putting a stop to it wherever-whenever they can and are snuffing out the jump-aheads when entering high school one by one. What my son is experiencing is very different from the path my daughter was able to take just a few years ago.. The district seemingly wants the only acceleration to be math and they are lukewarm about that at best. And math acceleration is not linked to HCC anyhow.

My conclusion is HCC parents have to stop thinking about the program as acceleration of high school credits. That ship sailed. Which would be fine, but HCC does not offer depth in middle school either. Witness a discovery a few weeks ago - my Washington HCC 7th grader and I realized that the Egyptian project she completed is being done at TOPS in 6th grade. TOPS doesn't have Spectrum or HCC. Since we live in the same neighborhood as some TOPS families I compared notes and have come to the conclusion that the TOPS version of Egyptian social studies is more challenging than my kid's year ahead HCC version. How can this be? It's not that Washington isn't providing a fine education for my student, but what is the point of all of our testing and then placement decisions if the end of the road is nothing more and maybe less than what is down the road?

disillusioned

Anonymous said...

The point is that the district does not want HCC middle school to be a source of acceleration

When you say "district," do you mean Teaching and Learning, or do you mean Advanced Learning? It seems there are conflicting opinions and objectives within the district, and it's not clear what say AL has in curriculum decisions. On top of that, principals and teachers are given freedom to deliver AL programs and services differently at different schools.

Take science in middle school. Next Generation Science Standards are being phased in, and the new standards can be delivered in a domain specific model (all life science one year, all physical science another year, etc.) or an integrated model that mixes domains each year (kind of how the science kits are currently used in SPS elementary and middle school). I've heard JAMS has decided to use a domain specific model, so 6th grade is all one domain (earth science/catastrophic events?, not really sure) instead if an integrated model like at WMS or HIMS (they supposedly cover 3 units - earth and space, catastrophic events, and life science/human body?) I think 7th grade at JAMS will be physical science, and 8th grade will be life science (so gen ed and HCC will align domain wise for a given grade?). Will they continue to have high school level Physical Science and Biology for HCC students?

Anonymous said...

Any word on who will be assigned principal of HIMS next year?

Anonymous said...

Any idea what the plan is for 6th grade math placement - will they still use 4th grade scores as part of the requirement. Its currently based on 5th grade MAP and 4th grade MSP but now doing SBAC and the how will they know what to make the cut (given a significant proportion of previously proficient kids will now be failing). They won't have data to correlate SBAC with success in algebra 1 as they are claimed to have for the chosen MSP cut scores.
Testing is next month and it would be good to know as it may inform whether we opt out or not.
Will opting out mean lack the needed data for math placement and therefore can't do algebra 1 or would they offer an algebra readiness test?
Conversely would doing the SBAC test and getting a poor score (which could reflect the nature of test more than the kids abilities) mean being excluded from algebra 1 (without opportunity to do a possibly more appropriate test of algebra readiness). Not thinking I'd want kid to do Algebra 1 if they're not ready for it but concerned about validity of using SB test as criteria for it. There is no info about anywhere - knowing SPS they haven't thought that far ahead!

Anonymous said...

I believe the HIMS Principal search is still in its early phases. Last I heard, district HR was to be screening the hiring pool around now, and interviews were expected to be scheduled for mid to late March. The goal is to try to find someone by May 1, but that will of course depend on the who's in the pool...

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Excuse me--should have read "screening the APPLICANT pool."

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Wendy,

That is a difficult question. The RHS AP classes are the appropriate level to ace the AP exams with no extra studying (beyond assigned homework) outside of class. My kid took 11 AP classes, never studied for any of the exams & got all 5's.

In my mind that does not mean they are college level work. I do not think they are. I don't think they are at Garfield either. Many colleges do not think they are, and no longer give credit for them. For example, Calc AB & BC could be done in one year and go much more in depth during that time.

Non-AP classes are a mixed bag. So my kid took Calc AB freshman year, but the physics classes are all algebra-based, yawn. I would say the math & foreign language depts are very strong. The History & LA depts are middling with some real bright spots. The science dept has a large range of teacher quality and, according to my child, a 'magic-school-bus curriculum'.

The honors projects opportunities for LA (enrichment outside of class) were actually surprisingly challenging & meaningful, guided by motivating teachers. My child did as many as possible. One of the best learning opportunities my kid has had.

Most classes are mixed age for all the kids, not just APP qualified kids. It was no problem, even with my introvert. The music, for. lang, sports & drama activities will be mixed age anyway.

I would ask what science your child can place out of next year. The policy seems to change each year.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Heated comments and many questions on saveseattleschools blog about the SBAC standardized testing starting in a few days. And I just received a mass district email about the test. Seemed a defensive move to me. Should we discuss here? My family has not decided whether or not to participate. As my kids are not in high school there is no state or federal reason that my kids must take the test.

Fence sitter

Anonymous said...

For starters, it would help to know when they will be tested. Have schools created their schedules? We've heard zip from our school.

Anonymous said...

We received this e-mail on the 20th of January:
Dear HIMS Families,

This spring all students will participate in the new Smarter-Balanced Assessment (SBAC) that has been designed to replace the Measures of Student Progress (MSP) that many of us (and our students) are familiar from previous years. As a staff we have been learning about the new assessment and tried to develop a schedule that will support our students to demonstrate what we all know about them, they are awesome!

Below is the schedule of assessments for this spring. One difference you will notice is that, unlike the MSP, not all students will test at the same time. The SBAC is a computer-based assessment and students will be taking it on laptop computers from the end of April through mid-May. Students will take the assessment in the morning and then join their regular classes in the afternoons.

Please help us by ensuring that your student is in school for the whole day during their assessment weeks. We appreciate your assistance by not scheduling any appointments, trips or other commitments during this time.

More information about the Smarter Balanced assessments and practice tests can be found at seattleschools.org. Under Additional Links, click “Smarter Balanced.”

8th Grade:
April 27-May 1: SBAC Math & English-Language Arts Assessment

May 12: Science MSP

May 27-29: APP students taking Biology will take an End of Course Exam during class.

7th Grade:
May 4 – May 8: SBAC Math & English-Language Arts Assessment

6th Grade:
May 11 – May 15: SBAC Math & English-Language Arts Assessment

One resource that is being made available to students and families is a keyboarding resource called Typing Agent. This resource can be accessed at home as well as in the Hamilton Library. More information about how to log into the program can be found at the bottom of this letter.

Thank you for your support of Hamilton students and for your strong partnership. If you have any specific questions about the SBAC, please contact Assistant Principal, Tip Blish (tiblish@seattleschools.org) who is leading the implementation of the SBAC at Hamilton.

Go Hawks!

Cindy Watters, Principal
Tip Blish, Assistant Principal

Anonymous said...

I see no reason for my 3rd grader to take this test. She was tested half to death to get into HCC in the first place. She is doing fine there. But she doesn't keyboard yet. Have parents seen the test? Much writing for English all via keyboard. Silly. We plan on having her read a book during the test.

Anonymous said...

If I were the parent of a 3rd grader, I'd probably feel the same way. My older child still prefers the paper and pencil tests. If I were the parent of a current 11th grader that had passed all required EOCs and the HSPE, I would not hesitate to opt out - the test is not required for their graduating class.

As it is, we're just taking a wait and see approach. Maybe the test won't be a big deal. Maybe it will be awful and we'll feel compelled to opt out mid session.

I'm feeling more inclined to question Amplify tests - what's up with those? They're given grade level tests. We don't see results. We don't know how they are using the data.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to thank HIMSmom and Good Luck for the information on Roosevelt. I did get clarification on science from a counselor and my 8th graders math and science EOC tests would place her into Chemistry. The science sequence for HCC at RHS is Chem-Physics-APPhysics-Biotech at least this year -- not as many choices as GHS. Roosevelt offers no honors LA for 9th graders. All said, RHS based on offerings and LOCATION still looks great to me, but it doesn't appear that many JAMS or HIMS students are choosing Roosevelt. I can't explain it to my student who thinks we are missing something. I'm afraid we are on the road more taken. - Wendy

Anonymous said...

I reviewed the smarter balanced sample test. My kids aren't taking the test. I don't want their 'smart kid' for lack of a better term scores used to prop up the overall scores. I think this test will be a disaster for the majority of the community's kids and I think the bigger the fail from this first test the faster the whole thing gets dumped or revised. My kids's zero scores from not taking the test will add to the low scores projected for the full community. No harm to us. No zero score goes on their record.

If the school fails big then maybe my kids' school administrators and teachers will grow a pair and do what they are apparently whispering they could do. Get vocal about kicking the smarter balanced test to the curb. Get vocal about stopping the testing madness period.

During at least one of the testing days I plan to report my kids as absent and take them on a field trip. More learning, less testing please.

Anonymous said...

What's really kind of shocking to me is my third grader is reporting test prep has already started for the reading SBAC sections at Lincoln and this is a month out. So even if you opt out, you're going to get a healthy amount of exposure / loss of regular curriculum.

Anonymous said...

yup - thats the thing they don't even take into account when reporting the time the tests will take. Its not just the 8 hrs of test taking, its all this additional loss of instructional time. A lot of it spent teaching how to navigate the question format and use the technology.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that update, Wendy. It's good to hear that the Roosevelt counselors will be flexible and place kids appropriately (even if their catalog says otherwise!).

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lincoln third graders are on their third round of Amplify and they are doing exercises from Amplify in class as test prep. I'm not sure why these scores can't be shared with parents. All other assessments results (from teacher generated or state-mandated) are shared.

Anonymous said...

why can't the amplify results be shared??
Are they that bad (along the lines of the SBAC predicted fail rates) that it would shock us?
Then. if the majority of kids are failing then doesn't that indicate the issue could just as well lie with the test rather than the teaching or the childs ability.
How is Amplify being used to inform teaching?
Who else is getting the data in addition to the teachers/school and what is it being used for? Something about the secrecy seems funny to me.
we used to get access to the MAP results at least - we could see the growth or whatever with out own eyes.

Anonymous said...

My kids are no longer at Lincoln, but I can't imagine it's legal to withhold information from the parents. Parents are supposed to have access to their child's information whenever they ask.

If it were me, I wouldn't allow the district to tell me I couldn't see it - what are they hiding about your child? I imagine that they know that they can't do this but likely expect polite Seattleites won't say anything.

Anonymous said...

We asked our child's third grade teacher about the results at parent conferences and the teacher sent us an emailed report a few weeks later. They aren't volunteering the scores but they will send them if asked.

Anonymous said...

Were the Amplify results useful in any way? Is it worth the trouble to request the score reports? When my child took the test on the first go around, results were on screen, but apparently that changed the next time they took the test.

I thought the Amplify tests were practice for SBAC. They are doing additional practice on top of the Amplify? Why?

Anonymous said...

No, they weren't useful in the sense that the standards listed were incredibly vague and meaningless to us. They certainly did not indicate mastery, by our student, the class, or the school.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Lincoln third graders are on their third round of Amplify and they are doing exercises from Amplify in class as test prep.

There are specific times to use WTF. This is one of those times.

I question the leadership philosophy of Lincoln. Actually I reject it completely. I am outraged. These kids should be in a creative learning environment, not a test prep treadmill.

Anonymous said...

There is a big push to squeeze in extra time in an already heavily booked computer lab so that kids can get typing practice. This is time that is diverted from actual curriculum.

This test will not show what kids know, it will show where in the several-hours-long test an eight year old runs out of typing stamina.

The HIMS librarian sadly told me she'd had to cancel a scheduled author's visit to the school because the library was needed non-stop for testing and test prep.

Also, did you notice that the language is different this year? It's not "opt out" it's "test refusal". OK, so refuse.

Anon at 12:40, you need to formally refuse when you take your kid out for the day, otherwise the kid will just be given a make-up upon return. That's how it goes. Otherwise, right on! The more of us who refuse to subject our kids to this abuse, the sooner the whole thing crashes and burns.

open ears

open ears

Anonymous said...

Anon at 2:28 PM

So what did the score show exactly. I mean at least with the MAP tests, you got a percentile ranking for that grade level (even if many of the kids likely got stuck on 98-99 each time) and could see some evidence of growth in the RITs, broken down by content area FWIW. Not that I was a MAP test fan particularly - I doubt it was useful in the APP setting.

Are you saying the amplify tests didn't show this sort of info or that the results were too wacky/poor to be meaningful?

What is the point of them then - if they don't allow teachers/parents to determine strengths/weakness, compare against with grade level (or 2 grade levels ahead) expectations?

Anonymous said...

I don't know that its the fault of admin at Lincoln - I think Amplify is done at many schools now - its the district/state push and I don't think individual principals can just refuse to test (at least not unless there is some sort of Nathan Hale style movement).

Lincoln could be all sorts of things but its got to operate within the constraints of this district

Anonymous said...

@ 5:29

Don't be such a sheep. Amplify is NOT mandated by this district. It is OPTIONAL. Lincoln's not only use but in fact ridiculous over-use of Amplify is entirely driven by Lincoln's leadership.

Further, ask yourself why the APP cohort needs to be tested over and over and over during the year.

Further, ask yourself what other same age students might be doing during the time Lincoln spends on test prep and testing.

They're learning, that's what. They're going broader and deeper. Lincoln kids are going nowhere. And fast.

Presumably you enrolled your student in HCC in the hope of program excellence. Yes, Lincoln third graders are on their third round of Amplify and they are doing exercises from Amplify in class as test prep is NOT program excellence.

Anonymous said...

Yep. And JAMS principal Montgomery loves that Amplify test too.

Baa

open ears

Anonymous said...

So want can us 'sheep' do about it? I mean realistic constructive suggestions.
What other schools are using Amplify and if not what are they doing instead - i.e. it was implied we were doing Amplify instead of MAP and that it would be more useful.
I would opt out of SBAC but I would not want to opt my child out of assessments that may actually help direct instruction during the year - but do they??

Anonymous said...

How on earth are they "directing instruction" besides making teachers shove aside more interesting learning to focus on a #%&$@ test?

With or without Amplify and SBAC, teachers will use the same science kits, the same math books, and the same literacy units. Is the district going to magically purchase other materials if teachers say they need them because the tests show gaps in student learning? Fat chance!

Your teacher is an educated professional and can see perfectly well if your child is struggling with, say, a math concept. The test is of little use to him/her, and of great benefit to the company that sells it to the ovine.

Anonymous said...

Teaching and Learning Memo on the Amplify assessments (9/5/14):

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/Friday%20Memos/2014-15/September%205/20140905_FridayMemo_TeachingUpdaterevised.pdf

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information.Good for a few laughs. "District assessment specialists"

Data are "easy to share with parents"

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty skeptical that Amplify has had any value. (Full disclosure I've opted out of it the entire year.) However, if you really want external validation, I would just directly talk with your teacher and ask how they've been using the data. Generally, speaking Amplify is meant to find those who are falling behind which really ought not to be occurring in the school's population. But beyond that I think we often underestimate how hard it is to differentiate in a classroom of ~25 kids anyway based on any criteria.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking about Amplify and SBAC for my kid. I see no purpose, honestly. Doubt anyone here cares about one kid. What might be interesting is to use our group knowledge to compare test prep time in the HCC schools. Can parents help find out the following information? Then we might be able to have a better discussion.

>>Number of times Amplify is given.
>>Time taken per Amplify test.
>>Separate (non-Amplify) time taken on this year's SBAC test prep.
>>(Grade level of student)

Schools for which the information is needed: Lincoln, Thurgood Marshall, Fairmount Park, Hamilton, JAMS, Washington.

Anonymous said...

my 3rd grader has taken the amplify at least three times. she is required to practice typing at home every week. the reading specialist visits the class to teach test taking strategies. we are considering opting her out. she is in a 2/3 class and i feel bad for the 2nd graders who have to follow along and do all this prep a year early. this is at lincoln.

signed, too much

Anonymous said...

My sense is that some of the Lincoln teachers might be against SBAC. They might even want you to ask for your child's Amplify results. Ask for them!

Anonymous said...

My child was still working on neat penmanship in 3rd grade. This sounds like craziness. Are parents okay with this? Where's the benefit to students? Parents have the power to refuse.

Anonymous said...

And they're all doing typing agent too. Don't get me wrong - I think typing is an important skill to learn, but it's all being done in prep for a test is potentially going to to be evaluating typing skills more than ELA, and that's wrong

SusanH said...

Off topic from testing, but a parent a couple of years ago on this forum said the best thing they did for their middle schooler was typing lessons. Any recommendations for classes? My children will be in 7th and 8th grades next year and it's now or never. I really don't want them to cement their father's "two fingers, but pretty fast" method of typing. I wish they taught it in school. No cursive, and no typing. Bah.

Anonymous said...

A free typing program is at:

www.typing.com

We were just looking into it for our middle schooler. We used Dance Mat Typing years ago (from BBC and meant for younger children).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z3c6tfr

We taught our child cursive, and it's now a preferred way of writing, but our child says some classmates can't read cursive. It's almost like a secret code.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on March 10 at 2:20-I was recently told by my child's teacher at same school that they could not talk about SBAC-could offer no opinion. The same teacher also indicated that the Amplify tests did help guide instruction by student. I have been on the fence about SBAC and really feel we may opt out. But I am also REALLY ticked off at how much time is being spent on prep for the test, typing etc. It aggravates me to know end that while I can opt out of the test, my kid and all kids are still missing out on real instructional time. What a waste. My guidance right now is that parents should ask their teachers and also their principal and administration the tough questions and be sure you get a response. And, ask for your Amplify results.
-Testing Overload

Anonymous said...

Can someone with a student at JAMS this year please be so kind as to post on the testing philosophy there? Are they doing Amplify and if so how often? Is the scoring information coming back to students and families? Also, any insight on how much additional test prep has been done for the upcoming SBAC? I do not know how to get these answers other than from families on this blog.

This information will help our family with middle school enrollment choices.

Thank you.

North Seattle Mom

Anonymous said...

According to SPS, about 50 schools are using Amplify this year (3x/year for both math and ELA), and possibly all schools will use Amplify next year. I'm assuming that excludes high schools. No matter what SPS school you're considering, there is a high likelihood they will use Amplify next year. I don't think principals can choose whether or not they administer Amplify, or whatever district test is being used. Unlike MAP, the scores do not get reported to families.

Anonymous said...

North Seattle Mom,

I have a JAMS student. They are doing Amplify -- took it once in fall, once in winter. No SBAC prep so far, at least none that I have heard about.

I'm not sure what you mean by testing philosophy, but there hasn't been a lot of discussion about it. I think they spent a day in the fall in my kid's language arts class going over Amplify stuff (good answers vs weaker ones in essays). In math (algebra), they did go over some grade level material, probably since they were taking both the algebra and the grade level Amplify test. But otherwise, I don't think testing is a focus in a day-to-day way.

L.J.

Anonymous said...

This is a 'call to arms' to those parents who (like me) aren't concerned with educational politics, who are fine with CCSS, rigor, and some standardized testing, and normally just 'go with the flow' at their school. Take the time to get informed about SBAC, do practice tests, read about the issues, ask how much class time will be spent on test prep, discuss with other parents, go to public meetings, and consider opting your child out of testing. Don't just go with the flow this time!

The problem is not the new curriculum or standardized tests, it is THIS particular test, the SBAC. I am fine with my children being tested to determine whether they have mastered the curriculum CONTENT they have been taught. I want to know - after all, their future educational trajectory, and therefore career opportunities, standard of living etc depends on this to a large extent. However, it seems that the SBAC is not so much (or not only) testing whether students have mastered the content but whether they can master the test interface.

Surely, the goal of a standardized testing in education is to test for mastery of the curriculum content. In any kind of testing you want to isolate the factor being tested, control for other variables that may affect the results. In educational testing this would mean reducing the impact of variables such as familiarity and expertise using various technological tools, typing ability, language comprehension in a math test etc ( unless those are the specific things you want to test). It is clear that the SBAC results will suffer from significant confounding due to the impact of the poor user interface, novel 'tools' that don't make sense in the context, poorly written instructions etc.

The test should be simple - even if the content being tested is difficult.
The questions can be challenging but the inputting of answers should not be.

The SBAC seems to conflate rigor in a test with complexity of the test interface. It makes use of technology for sake of it - not because it makes it easier or faster for students to 'show what they know'. This (what they know) is what they want to test and the test/interface should be designed with this in mind. It should be simple, intuitive, fast, and easy for students to demonstrate their mastery of the content being tested - not an exercise in frustration and resourcefulness. How this fact has escaped all the "great minds" in education who are behind this test is beyond me.

When the predicted pass rates are so low, and so much prepping to take the test is required (deciphering the questions, using the technology, keyboarding skills) - isn't it clear that the problem lies not with the students or the teachers, but the test itself.

It is up to us as parents to challenge this experiment. It will end in failure and it will unfairly label so many of our students failures. And, it won’t just be other kids – it might be your smart, sensitive, enthusiastic kid.
In some ways it is a civil rights issue because it will disproportionally impact disadvantaged students including minorities, and those with learning disabilities. So yeah- it's time for the white soccer mom in Laurelhurst to stand with the single mom on food stamps in Rainier Valley. It’s time for HCC and SpEd parents to unite. We might not agree about everything but I think most of us, once we have the information, would agree that it is not right to subject students to SBAC this year, in this form.
If the powers that be won't acknowledge the test is flawed, accept the results will not be fair or accurate, and call it off for now, then we will have do all we can to obstruct and invalidate it until they finally do (I guess you could call it civil disobedience).

Folks like me, we've always gone along with whatever the state/district has required because we believed ultimately it was in best interests of students but NOT THIS TIME, NOT THIS TEST.

Not this test

Anonymous said...

Not this test, this morning I was considering standing out front of my child's school at drop off time and handing out some opt out forms. Anyone doing this at your child's school?
-J

Anonymous said...

North Seattle Mom -
Another JAMS parent here. My child has done Amplify this year, but it has seemed to be no big deal. I know the principal described the test (at the beginning of the year) as being used solely to guide instruction. (Neither students nor parents have been provided scores.) I do not believe it is equivalent to MAP, which is an achievement test. Of course, this is just what I hear from the school admin, but the reports from my student seem to support it. Not a lot of stress surrounding the test; no test prep; not a time-consuming test. I'm fine with it. Not fine with SBAC.

Anonymous said...

Have any Lincoln parents spoken to their teachers about SBAC? The messages coming home with students are so mixed (this is a flawed test! but you must spend lots of time preparing for it! but most students fail! but if you fail, you have to go to the office!), I feel like I must be missing something about the way the Lincoln teachers and/or admin feel about the test and about opting out.

Anonymous said...

I won't out the teacher, but I know one who while preparing class for the test has already opted his/her kid at a different school out. Direct quote: 'worthless'.

I know another working politically to get the thing tabled. You wouldn't know it in the school setting.

If you have a friendship with a teacher, ask in a social setting about smarter balanced. You'll get an earful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. The problem is I don't know a teacher in a social setting, and definitely not a Lincoln teacher. So I appreciate you sharing! I'm hoping Lincoln teachers are not under any pressure from admin to discourage/limit "refusers"? Can a teacher suffer if they have lots of refusers? Is the Lincoln admin really wanting valid data out of this exercise?

Anonymous said...

I won't out my kid's teacher who said teachers were instructed not to comment on SBAC/discuss it with parents. I generally have been in support of the administration and they have done a great job of managing all aspects of Lincoln. I think they are a bit hamstrung as well so I don't really fault them but...if we really are dealing with so many issues that now teachers are being told not to discuss (and I also mean at other schools as well), then I have a serious problem with this.

Anonymous said...


Thank you Melissa for collecting questions/concerns. Here are some of mine.

I understand that the SBAC is a state requirement, but I would like to hear from our teachers if they think that the SBAC is a useful test. Are teachers free to discuss SBAC test with parents? Various posters have indicated that teachers are not free to discuss SBAC with parents.

Have all teachers taken the practice test on the exact configuration that their students will take the test on? Another poster indicated that taking the test on laptop with no mouse was difficult for middle school students. I think that our 3rd grader is also scheduled to take the test on a laptop with no mouse. Would it be possible to get a mouse if the students have a hard time with all the drag-and-drops, drawing lines and moving around between screens?

Why not schedule conferences for all students in all grades that score level 1 and 2 in both Math and ELA?

Why didn't all the Amplify test scores get back to parents? Could you please send all the Amplify test scores to parents? It would be helpful for parents to know what their child is being tested on.

Nisha.

Anonymous said...



Sorry I posted my questions on the wrong blog. I moved them over so that Melissa can collect them and send them to the board.


I also added

Will SBAC will be used for 6th grade math placement into Algebra 1 class?

Nisha.

Anonymous said...

The messages coming home with students are so mixed (this is a flawed test! but you must spend lots of time preparing for it! but most students fail! but if you fail, you have to go to the office!), I feel like I must be missing something about the way the Lincoln teachers and/or admin feel about the test and about opting out.

This is very concerning. Students should not be saddled with adult worries over test outcomes. They should not be used as pawns by someone that wants to increase or decrease "refusal" rates.

If the test is flawed, then shouldn't it be apparent when the results come back? I'm less than enthusiastic about the amount of testing, but I will have my child sit for the SBAC test. How will we know about it otherwise?

What I am strongly against is an undue amount of prepping. Let them get familiar with the format, but that's about all they should need. If HCC 3rd graders don't do well, even though they are working above grade level, then isn't that reason to question the test? If the typing requirement is too much, then won't that be another reason to revisit and revise the test for next year? 3rd graders should not be stressed about the test. They should be doing reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, not hours of test prep or touch typing.

It would be unprofessional of teachers to share negative opinions of the test. It's frustrating as a parent, because you want someone on the inside to give you the real scoop. It's up to us as parents stay informed and express concern over lost instruction time or undue stress on kids (and teachers).

Anonymous said...

I agree that we won't really know how the kids perform on the test until after this year. In fact, I don't expect mass actions or opt outs if they ever occur to start until this year has gone by for just this reason. But based on the language and test prep activity going on in the school and the reported pre-testing pass percentages on Amplify I think we can safely infer that the teachers/admin are fairly worried. That seems unusual.

Anonymous said...

You are falling into the trap of equating success or failure of SBAC to scores.

Talking about how kids score is missing the point. The point is the philosophy around testing and test prep. To not understand this is not very um accelerated. To not understand the affect of the test and test prep om communities outside of ours is also myopic.

Anonymous said...

I too am concerned about kids taking the test on a laptop without a mouse. I know for sure that our school (neighborhood elementary school) will be using them. I assume most kids are like mine and have never used a track pad before. It is truly unfathomable to me that SPS is dropping these laptops into schools and expecting kids to take high stakes tests on them. It is beyond ridiculous. I am quite certain my 3rd grader will be in tears over the frustration of it all (having nothing to do with the content of the exam). Now that's a sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

Why not opt your child out to avoid the tears and allow your child to spend that time reading?

Anonymous said...

Opted our kids out of SBAC.

Was told when handing in form (to Head Teacher and cc'd teachers), that 'we are not the only ones'.

I just don't want to waste my kids time.

I am not anti-testing. But this, this is too much. Not just the length of time, the test itself.

I urge you to try the sample test online. I did. It was eye opening.

I did the 3rd grade math. What bothered me was that the SBAC was NOT straight-up testing math, it WAS TESTING THE ABILITY OF THE CHILD TO TAKE TESTS. That is bogus. Won't tell me anything about how my child is doing in math.

It is a tricky test, with obscured information on some questions, which makes them difficult to answer.

If OSPI wants to test 'critical thinking', okay, but then call it that. Give all students cognition tests, in addition to a math, reading and writing test.

So, APP@Lincoln will have a few less students doing this test. My kids can read during the hours and hours of testing, which will actually make them really happy!

If more parents/guardians in more buildings opted their kids out, that is the only way these SBACs get dropped and get replaced by a better, less lengthy, more straight-forward standardized test.

-opted-out at APP@Lincoln

Anonymous said...

Spectrum LA/SS at Washington is the next domino to fall after Whitman and McClure. And once again, AFTER open enrollment. Parents, call your principal.

open ears

Lynn said...

Have you heard news about plans for WMS next year?

Given the way the boundaries were drawn, once Meany reopens it's obvious they'll have to drop separate Spectrum classes. There are only 30 or so middle school Spectrum students in the attendance areas of the three schools that will feed to Washington.

Taking the middle range of students out of the school was never a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Meany opens next year?

huh

Lynn said...

Maybe I wasn't very clear.

I asked if WMS is making a change to Spectrum next year.

On a related note, in (I think) 2017 when Meany reopens, there probably won't be enough Spectrum students to maintain a separate program at WMS.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Next year WMS goes to a blended model for GenEd/Spectrum.

Lynn said...

Well that's annoying as hell. Why are principals given this much power?

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious what's going on, Lynn. By eliminating any self-contained Spectrum classrooms, the only option for parents whose kids need self-contained to thrive is to join the HCC.
This isn't a bad thing as it will make a more robust and diverse cohort.Alignment of curriculum will make it easier to move into the cohort at any grade level.Spectrum has always been a hard program to administer as it creates unbalanced class sizes within schools. Cluster-grouping of gifted kids is going to be the new model outside of the cohort, it seems. It should actually be good for the cohort as it will reduce friction between the gifted community and gened parents and students.I don't see it as threat to the HCC.

Anonymous said...

I don't see it as threat to the HCC.

Have you been paying attention to what's been happening to APP/HCC? As Spectrum becomes less and less able to meet the needs of kids who might not otherwise "need" HCC, parents are more inclined to move their kids into HCC, as you suggested. However, this results in a lot of growth for HCC--and given the absence of effective district-level oversight, a deep understanding of the needs of gifted kids, a consistent delivery model, an appropriate curriculum, etc.--this growth results in inconsistency, inequity and, I'd venture, ineffectiveness of the program/service. Anything that changes how well neighborhood schools can serve highly capable kids absolutely does impact the HCC as well. (Keep in mind that the Spectrum changes are being done for capacity and administrative reasons, not because this is the best approach to educating these kids.)

Anonymous said...

The changes have already impacted the level of challenge in the HCC middle school classrooms. The LA/SS alignment has decreased the coverage of topics and really slowed the pace of classes. Can you assign a high level text if not all students are at HCC level? Instead you get lower level reading and tiered assignments that may not provide any challenge to those working substantially above grade level. Our child is drawing pictures (seems to be a part of almost every assignment) when developing critical writing skills should be the focus.

maddening

Anonymous said...

Maddening, which school does your child attend?

My kid could move to a middle school HCC program, but we aren't sure it's worth it. She's bored in some of her classes, where things are repeated over and over for the handful of kids that don't get it, when she and others are ready to move on.

And Spectrum meets a real need, in theory at least. Given it's nothing anymore, it meets no needs. There are a lot of kids moving at half speed because teachers and principals are so opposed to "labeling". It bugs kids who may not be at the HCC level, but still are dying of thirst as education is dribbled out by eyedroppers.

Anonymous said...

But, maddening, I don't understand. Why aren't all kids in your child's HCC LA/SS classroom qualified to be there? Last I checked, everyone has the same program entrance requirements.

Anonymous said...

@6:51, There is a bell curve in every group, with outliers at both ends, even in an HCC class. So while they all passed the same minimum bar, when they are actually in class together, the disparities in academic drive can be quite broad, especially with those who joined the program late and never had to work much during the years spent in gen ed. I think before people go through the hoops of appeals for borderline testers, they need to think about how it will feel for that child to be at the bottom of a pretty fast moving group of kids, and always a bit behind. The loss of Spectrum hurts these kids the most. Instead of being shining leaders in a Spectrum class, they're playing catch up in HCC, or trying not to stick out too much in a gen ed class.
However, this is certainly not the case for all late joiners. We have countless stories from those who joined and came alive academically and socially, having finally found their tribe.

open ears

Anonymous said...

There's also the issue that you can retest every year--actually, twice a year (public and private). With a healthy Spectrum program there was less incentive to bother, especially for kids more solidly in the Spectrum range. Destroy Spectrum, though, and many of those kids will look to HCC. And on a good test day, they may qualify. (The same is, of course, true for those who qualified the first time around--in some cases it may have just been a good day. But others would likely qualify every time if they went through repeat testing.). It makes sense, however, that if you take away the Spectum option, the GenEd population will likely shift higher a bit and the HCC pop'n lower a bit as they "absorb " those Spectrum kids.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 6:51, it seems like "maddening" may have been referring more to the LA/SS alignment issue than the loss of Spectrum. (There might be some relationship between the two--perhaps a strong Spectrum program would have made alignment seem less feasible, since across three levels rather than essentially two?--but for the most part I see them as separate issues. I interpreted maddening's comment to mean texts and materials are shared across the programs /services, i.e., the text may be at a reading level that's accessible for gen ed, but in the interest of alignment HCC uses it too.

That's a huge concern of mine with the upcoming 6-8 SS adoption. When I asked the district about this, they mentioned the possibility of finding common texts that are "rigorous for all." I'm still not quite sure how that would work.

Anonymous said...

Anon @9:16, that's helpful. I think I misread maddening's post. If so, sorry!


@6:51

Anonymous said...

OSPI concluded it's consolidated review of the district last week. One of the findings of noncompliance related to highly capable services. OSPI said: "Item 11.2 - For students who enroll in the district after the summer testing opportunity in August, the district ID process must include procedures so that a new enrollee has the opportunity to be identified within 3 months of enrollment, and, if identified, be provided services during their transition year."

When I pointed this rule out to the Advanced Learning office last month, the response was: "To give newly arrived students precedence over the 52,000 students already enrolled would not be equitable." OSPI does not agree.

OSPI's rules also don't allow the district to continue to have different rules for identification of students transferring from local private schools and those moving into the area. If a summer identification opportunity is provided, it will have to be available to both groups.

Susan said...

Greg,

My kid is in 4th grade at Lincoln. I'm getting increasingly nervous about middle school since many of our neighborhood friends (not APP) are looking at private schools. I doubt we can afford private school, but I don't want to rule it out if middle school isn't going to be reasonably challenging. My biggest fear is my kids fall way behind due to too easy of a middle school experience.

I hear a lot of negativity. Could we have a thread on middle school and the good things people are experiencing? I am trying to rule-out the private school road show next year.

I'd also like to hear commentary for things that can be improved. I mean, things people think you could actually change.

On top of this, the rumors are always entertaining for where people think the current groups of 3rd/4th/5th grade APP students will actually start and finish middle school.

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling very satisfied with 6th grade HCC at JAMS. My son has noticed a difference with the speed and content compared to his 5th grade self contained Spectrum. He hasn't been crushed but definitely challenged learning to juggle 6 classes and sets of expectations. HIs Algebra class has been challenging but not unreasonable, and it is a much more diverse experience than his neighborhood elementary, which both he and I appreciate. I actually heard the same commentary from a 7th grade friend who changed over from the jane addams k-8.

Anonymous said...

The hard part about giving feedback is you really don't know what the program will be year to year. We have found the middle school experience very teacher dependent, and the changes and moves have added some extra challenges. It's something to keep in mind when considering options. Stability and predictability can be as important as academics.

Susan said...

I guess that was part of my question, anonymous at 12:24. What IS working NOW that would be worth fighting for during program changes and as locations are added. It doesn't really help my understanding to hear stories about the old, wonderful days. So, specifically, what is working this year for middle school APP/Spectrum/Honors kids, what do you think is at risk, and if given the choice to do-over, would you go private?

Anonymous said...

Susan-

In my experience, you coming from elementary APP will have different expectations to those not in APP. In my non-scientific research, I have found people new to APP more satisfied with middle school people than those coming from either gen ed or spectrum.

For what it's worth, we disliked HIMS so much we left for private after one year. Don't regret it for a second. Our child started in APP in first grade.

-poutine

Anonymous said...

I was anon at 11:30 and I have a 4th grader at Lincoln also, so I don't lack comparison.

Anonymous said...

My biggest fear is my kids fall way behind due to too easy of a middle school experience.

@ Susan, fall behind whom, and behind in what way?

Most HCC middle schoolers are in the same boat (or one of only a few boats), and by the time they get to high school they end up having to take a lot of the same classes as non-HCC kids anyway, so they are definitely not behind.

If you're instead wondering about how this might impact your child were he/she to attend a rigorous private high school afterward, you'll probably want to solicit feedback from parents of kid who made that jump. But based on my conversations with parents of HIMS APP students who went to Lakeside for HS, it's been a fairly smooth transition. Private school students come from a lot of different schools, so there's a wide range in the preparation levels of entering students.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Keep your options open and consider private school for middle school. We wish we had. Our child feels like middle school was three wasted years, with the exception of music, world language, and one year of science (good experiences because of the particular teachers for those classes).

Our child does feel behind. The endless PowerPoints and group projects did little to develop independent writing skills. There are gaps in math knowledge (grr...Discovering texts). It's made it unnecessarily difficult to meet the expectations of high school. Come high school, there's little time in the day to make up for the deficits.

Private school students come from a lot of different schools, so there's a wide range in the preparation levels of entering students.

That's true, but private schools are more likely to have the supports (after school help, etc.) to help students get up to speed.

There's the added consideration of high school options should you leave the HCC cohort for middle school, but how is that being handled now? Do students maintain AL status if they leave the district and then return?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have experience with the Davidson Young Scholars program? My K kid qualifies on scores, and will start in HCC next year, but I'm not sure if the Davidson will be useful? It sounds like it is great for people who don't have access to a gifted program in school, but does anyone here value it in addition to HCC?

Lynn said...

If you leave the district for middle school and return for high school, you will have to re-test for HCC eligibility. If your child tests in the eighth grade and qualifies, they'll have access to IBX but not Garfield.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know -
Does the district force hiring of teachers at Lincoln who have been displaced by other schools but still have a district contract? I think this is normal process for most schools in the district, but I understand that some alternative schools like Queen Anne Elementary are not forced to take displaced teachers at all.

- Wondering

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else read the Thursday note section on Assessments and have a negative reaction?

Anonymous said...

Thursday note from Lincoln?

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 5:22, what specifically bothered you? Does it go along with what you are seeing in the classroom? What grade?

Anonymous said...

Anon @10:24- my son is a DYS. So far, we haven't used many of the services, but I anticipate that we will use the free educational consultants at some point. The private listservs, etc., have also been interesting to read and I've learned a lot from other parents. There's also a camp for Davidson Young Scholars that he might want to attend in the future.

Wondering--yes, there have been disastrous teacher placements at Lincoln because of this.

Anonymous said...

Wondering, yes, Lincoln is just like your neighborhood school in this regard.

Anonymous said...

@ Wondering: Lincoln is not an alternative school. It is not governed by the rules of alternative schools. Teacher placements are handled the same as the majority of schools. And no, a gifted ed background is not a prerequisite at Lincoln or anywhere else in SPS.

Anonymous said...

Allowing only some schools the option to skip the displaced teachers pool when hiring seems incredibly unfair. Why should only certain schools like Queen Anne Elementary - which really isn't more "alternative" than Lincoln or more other neighborhood schools - enjoy this privilege?

Wondering

Anonymous said...

ALE schools (Alternative Learning environment) are NOT the same thing as an 'alternative school'. 'alternative schools' are schools that offer different pedagogy, like MONTESSORRI like Bagley or experiencial expeditionary learning like AS#2/Thorton Creek. ALL SPS schools must go through the 3 phases of teacher hirings, including being bestowed displaced teachers whose qualifications enable them to claim jobs. This applies to Mercer or Hamilton or Hazel Wolf or Leschi.

The only schools who do NOT have to accept such teachers, schools who get to control their hiring, are "Creative approach schools". QAE is one of those, as is Thornton Creek. I think NOVA and Cleaveland also tried to become Creative Appeoach schools. I think 12 or 22 SPS schools applied to be creative approach schools. Mostly so they could control their hiring. But, it is a very rigorous application and process to get cleared for the designation.

Lincoln and Thurgood Marshall have not pursued that school board-granted designation, creative approach school, so they must take teachers placed at their buildings, like virtually every other building.

And when it happens, the results are BAD. Some misguided educators think they can show up to Lincoln and it will be so easy. Seriously. They have no clue about how challenging this student population can be. One beloved hired teacher, who came from Bailey Gatzert, said our students had just as many issues, if not more, as students from his previous classroom. Yet the misconception of 'how easy it is there' persist.

I know of 3 teachers who were added via phase 1, and all had unrealistic expectations of what the community would be like, and all had attitudes that were not supportive of student learning, and all are no longer there.

If teachers think going to Lincoln is landing on easy street, think again. We do have a really great team of fabulous and collaborative teachers and administrators, but they all work incredibly HARD and they are empathetic to the struggles of the students they teach, and, they are respectful of the strengths and challenges of those students.

A gifted teaching accreditation is what is needed - but that is up to the State.

-north parent

Anonymous said...

Opted my APP 3rd grader out of SBAC today.

You can request and get the Benchmark scores - it was enlightening. The scores appear to be low - 3rd grade at Lincoln started off by taking 5th grade level tests, and doing poorly, then switched to 3rd grade tests. The avg score from docs I rec'd only climbed like 3% between the 5th grade level test 2 and the 3rd grade level test 2.

I'll admit I might be misunderstanding the population being used for the avg - but I think it was just 3rd grade being used. Don't know.

So ... drop 2 grade levels but avg only climbs 3%, with a gifted population?

I'm going with problems w/interface, length of test, instructions, and fatigue among little kids. If these kids, who by and large have access to computers and are very accomplished test-takers, score in the 50 - 70%s on the Beacon/Benchmarks, what the heck?

*By 3rd grade level test #3, the avg had climbed to 70s.

My kid who thought s/he was a failure was actually w/in the class avg a few points in either direction, except for the test the kid quit and walked out of in frustration. And that was a test where the kid had most of the answered questions 100% right - but so frustrated s/he walked out and refused to go back?

Unacceptable. Unacceptable to me to make kids do that.

The school is supportive of opting out, from what I'm getting back, by the way.

I don't put ANY of this on the Lincoln staff - it's way higher up the food chain.

Seeing the scores confirmed for me that the whole thing is really about having kids score SO LOW that more resources must be purchased to bring the scores up. It's just a racket.

Opted out.

Ask for your Beacon/Benchmark scores - look at them - see what you think. But act fast.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:31: Maybe your kid's not as smart as you thought.

That's the way Arne Duncan put it a year ago when asked about the low scores from the new standardized tests.

It's either that, or the test is flawed.

Guess which reason most parents will go with?

At this point, I kind of feel like my fellow parents are on their own. It isn't as though many of us haven't tried to explain the many ways this test is flawed and the many ways it will be both disruptive to schools in general and to individual kids in particular.

If your own Sam or Sophie has to have a bad experience for you to give a darn, then that's the way it has to be. At the very least, once you fully understand how much standardized tests are taking away from ALL student learning, please take the time to reach out to the superintendent and a legislator or two to let them know your unfortunate experience.

Maybe 3-5 years from now enough families will be up in arms to reach critical mass.

I opted my kids out and am proud. Not a single one of their teachers had anything but (private) approval of the refusal to take part in a test that was wrongly conceived, wrongly implemented and wrongly prioritized.

Anonymous said...

Our Amplify score report showed the school average, class average, and student average for each test. None of the averages seemed to change significantly over the course of the three tests. The school average indicates there are many students scoring well under 50% (middle school, so not all APP). They are scored as a simple number right/number wrong, however, and not scale scored as I'd expect from the SBAC.

After seeing the Amplify results, I didn't know what to make of them. Then I look at sample SBAC questions and some are so convoluted or tedious that I would rather my child avoid the tests altogether. There will be no way to know if low test scores are more attributable to poor test design, sheer fatigue on the part of students, or poor coverage of standards. I feel stuck in an expensive boondoggle. Even if we opt out, that instruction time is already gone.

The State tests used to be a minor thing - 2 or 3 half days and they were done. Class was class and not so test-prep feeling. It's different this year, and not for the better, and that is probably what bothers me most.

Anonymous said...

I am a Lincoln parent trying to decide where the greater good is -- letting my third grader take the test on the assumption that data from a highly capable school could be go a long way in mitigating any fallout for general ed schools, or opting out in protest of unfair high-stakes testing.

If there's a critical mass in our school opting out, how do we know?

Also, are folks saying that the scores didn't change from the 5th gr Amplify test to the 3rd grade version? How is that possible? How are they useful then?

Anonymous said...

I thought Fairmont Park was a creative approach school.

Anonymous said...

I've made my decision without considering others but anyone could setup a poll on the facebook page under ask a question if you wanted some peer data.

Anonymous said...

I am opting my Lincoln 3rd grader out of SBAC. I don't have a sense of numbers but I am hearing quite a bit about parents choosing to opt out.
-SPS Tired

Anonymous said...

Anyone want to hazard a guess at the % of Lincoln 3graders opting out of Smarter Balance?

Anonymous said...

at 3:22 ...

Do you know what % are Lincoln 3rds are? I'm incredibly curious ...

I'm a previous poster who opted out, and I can't parse how many are or are not - we were opting out of a few last year for an older kid, not all, and we were def. alone. But it feels like we're not alone this year.


Anonymous said...

My Lincoln 3rd grader is opting out too

Snowflake

Anonymous said...

Me too. Does that make three so far? Let's get a tally going!

#3

Anonymous said...

I opted out a 3rd grader at APP@Lincoln as well... But I get the sense it is only a handful of kids opted out. Everyone seems so ...compliant. I'm very discrete, I've only spoken to 3 families who I know are anti-SBAC, yet they are still not opting out. To each their own. Last night at the Lincoln PTA meeting, a PTA board person said she failed the 3rd grade math SBAC test that she took as a trial, but she wasn't saying she was opting out her child.

I am not anti-testing. I am anti-8 hour testing on 8 year olds. That's too much. My MCAT was significantly shorter. The fact that my child tells me how they spend class time test prepping to beat the test ("when you answer an essay question always start your essay restating the question as a statement in your first essay sentence so that you incorporate key words and show you are answering the question to the reviewer's satisfaction" - eeew) is disheartening. Call me crazy, I would rather they spent that precious language arts instruction time actually teaching language arts, you know, things like grammar paragraph structure, rather than test-taking strategies. And when the children have finished being coach on test taking strategies, they then carry on language arts blocked time to go to the computer lab to type. They are hunting-and-pecking to try and type their meager stories, instead of spending time drafting, editing and polishing their writing. My older child had a very different 3rd grade experience in the same building a few years ago. I blame the SBACS. It is NOT the teachers' fault. The teachers are wonderful. It's the intrusion of these tests into the 3rd grade (recall, the MSP was 2 subject areas in 3rd grade, not 3).

If you want an appropriate standardized test - you must opt out of SBACs. Only that will stop the maddness of these beta-experiments that are messing with teaching and learning.

#4

Anonymous said...

I didn't think there was an appropriate time at the meeting last night to say people were opting out. I took from that board member's statement that she was. Yesterday at school, I ran into three third grade parents who all said they were opting out and wondered if I was. my sense is more half and half. But I also know some classes have been doing more prep than others. The prep would really both me. These kids are, if absolutely nothing else, good at taking tests. Let it be. My third grader's class has had 15 minutes, plus they'll have the practice test, but that's it.

Anonymous said...

I have a third grader moving to 4th at Lincoln next year. We have opted out of testing at our ALO school and sounds like many in the grade are in the same boat. I wondered if there was any reason to do the testing for a new student, such as math group placement, class assignments, etc. if scores ended up on either high or low end.

Anonymous said...

APP@Lincoln

Alert!!

The program in the south wing has reported a confirmed case of infectionous disease: Pertussis (whooping cough).

Although entirely preventable by a series of vaccines, the infectious agent is now in the building.

If you have questions, please contact the public health nurse of King County, Eileen Benoliel.

(I wonder if all non or under vaccinated students for this disease will now be fircible disallowed for the building for the 21 day appearance of symptoms period? That would be sad, especially for our medically fragile students who might not be able to be vaccinated :(

I hope the sick child gets well soon and no others get ill, but with that programs very low vaccine rate, I worry another child may end up I'll too before this is contained.

Be well

Anonymous said...

How does a PTA member know she failed the test? The practice tests I've taken (for ELA and math) don't score the result.

Julie said...

I missed the PTA meeting on Pacific Wilson with Sherry Carr last night. Does anyone know what happened and what was talked about?

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this thread, my child is a recent newcomer to Thurgood Marshall HCC. Have others commented on the size of the classes and the inconsistency in classroom management?

Reader

Anonymous said...

Reader,

Can you describe what you've seen at Thurgood Marshall and at what grade?

Interested

Anonymous said...

Interested, I think it is the impact of several experienced teachers having left with the previous principal, to a new West Seattle elementary school. In their place, less experienced teachers. In such mega-sized student:teacher ratios (e.g. 34:1) the management issues really stand out.

Reader

Anonymous said...

To 3/27 Be Well

RE: whooping cough - it has also made the rounds at Ingraham (and I heard also at Roosevelt). And all of the Ingraham students confirmed to have whooping cough had been vaccinated. Apparently the vaccination for whooping cough is only 80% - 90% effective.

Jane

Anonymous said...

34 kids in a class?! Is that legal?

Snowflake

Anonymous said...

The Seattle Education Association's (SEA) (aka teachers' union) agreement with Seartle School District (per the Collective Bargain Contract) is 28 students max per teacher in the 4th or 5th grades. That is not factoring in special circumstances such as ELL or SpEd, as those children have additional supports.

The District can go beyond those limits by paying the teacher a bit more.

At APP@Lincoln, there were 30 or 31 students in each of the 5th grades. Some kids have moved since September, though. It sucks. No classroom should ever go beyond those limits! It is even worse at middle schools; some middle school teachers have insane loads and are pushed out of their rooms for prep period.

My 5th grader started in K in a classroom of 30 as well.

Yes, and so many think the 'north' is so great.

Respect the CBA!

Anonymous said...

Under the CBA, class sizes are based on an "average SPS building ratio." Individual classes do go over the average ratios, but teachers are supposed to be compensated for the overload. Yes, it is "legal" to have classes 32 and over. This has been the norm, rather than the exception, for my child's classes from about 4th grade up.

http://www.seattlewea.org/static_content/cbacert13-15.pdf

See pg 84-85.

Anonymous said...

My understanding from our principal is that up to 40 is the limit. At least for middle school.

-parent

Anonymous said...

HI-- I have a child who will be joining the HCC cohort for 6th grade. She may also qualify via MAP & MSP scores for Algebra I in 6th grade. She has been in a great public elementary and has been in the highest walk to math class each year. Although she picks up math concepts very fast and loves math, I am concerned about her skipping 3 years ahead without having covered foundational concepts. Does anyone have recs for books, courses etc so we can review concepts prior to her skipping ahead? I would especially appreciate hearing from someone whose child entered HCC from a strong ALO school.

Thanks,
-M

Julie said...

Does anyone know how they are going to fit 780 kids into Pacific Wilson elementary site? Did anyone go to the last meeting about it?

Anonymous said...

M-

My son was exactly like your daughter when he started HCC in 6th grade. We opted out of Algebra for Math 8 because we thought it would make the transition to HCC easier, but now I don't think so, he would have been fine in Algebra. IF your child has a natural ability for math she'll be fine in Algebra, I'd suggest if you or others in your family are good at math you may need to tutor for a bit, but she'll probably catch on quickly. That's what happened to my DS, I've had to help him maybe twice in two years of advanced math. He's in Algebra now, 7th grade, and he's easily receiving As. There are GREAT youtube channels for math concepts which we've used when I couldn't remember the formula for a line, for example. I never use Algebra anymore!

So, to answer you, if she's good at math she'll probably be fine without much summer help, have a fun summer before the pressure picks up in middle school. But if you want to refresh your Algebra Memory, look up some youtube math channels.

-been there, done that

Anonymous said...

Short story: it's very unlikely they could fit 780 elementary kids on the WP site. What's probably going to happen is another building will be spun up. For me, what's annoying about this is its fairly foreseeable now that this is going to happen but given how terrible the process is in the district we'll probably ignore it for a few years and then have a terrible fight at that last possible moment making the actual split process much rougher than it needs to be.

Random possibilities that come to mind.

1. Olympic Hills has been floated in the past.

2. Lowell and Madrona have slack space right now. The irony is the program has been situated in both buildings in the past.

3. Potentially there is the new elementary in Magnolia but its on the fringe.

4. Generally there is no reason that the existing boundaries are fixed forever. QA and Magnolia for instance could go southwards.

That said what I would really love to see is a serious planning effort starting up now.

Anonymous said...

All projectef 788 1st-5th APP students could EASILY fit at new Wilson Pacific elementary school.

It is built for "660", but that doesn't take into account the various rooms that are currently envisioned as non-classrooms; plus; that count is as if classrooms only hold 24 students or 26, when in reality the classrooms are booked to contractual limits and beyond of 28 or 30. Plus, add 6 portables, and they all can land there. 1,000 student elementaries are the norm in many other parts of the country. It is 18 acres, so fitting 2,000 students on the property (the compressive middle school on the western edge of the property plus the elementary on the opposit side) is workable. Look at Hamilron, it had 1120 students in a building built for 950 on 2 acres.

The school board KNOWS they can put portables there, they know they've even built services like electrical into the plan for the portables. The portable placement is marked on the plan. The school board and super's cabinet also know many, many other elementary schools have portables (Sacajawea 7, Adams 4, Hay 4, Laurelhurst 6, Viewridge 7, Sandpoint 5, Wedgwood 8,Bagley 8, Thornto Creek 8, Loyal Heights 7, MacDonald 5, Montlake 8, North Beach 5, Olympic Hills 8, john Rogers 5, ETCETERA!!!). They know that actually, Wilson Pacific elementary with a few portables is still way less pressurized than many other SPS elementaries which have tiny 'cores' relative to the # of portables. The poster child for this is Schmitz Park, who have an astounding 17 portables parked at a school built for 258 students. Clearly, this is inappropriate, but it shows just how school campuses can flex with enrollment numbers via portables. And, the WP school is modern, so the number of bathrooms, space in library, etc, will not be unduly taxed by 4 or 6 portables. They also no there is no where else to put them, all k5s are FULL, even after BEX IV.

So why are they talking about splits? Either they have an agenda or they are ignorant. An agenda to weaken APP and foist it upon an unknowing and unwelcoming community (hello Thornton Creek or Olympic Hills or Salmon Bay) or they don't even realize the mechanics of how facilities work and how there really, truly is no where else to put them. If they tried, there would have to be a complete boundary redraw for all northern K5s, triggering more split siblings. That would be nuts, since we just went through that.

Our school has been a great school for our 2E kids. They are nurtured by caring teachers who 'get them' and are accepted by their peers without being subjected to bullying. Their teachers benefit by having a great Professional Learning Communities who can focus solely on the unique attributes and needs of these atypical learners. And the enrollment size offers numerous benefits, such as no less than 5 levels of instrumental music for the 4th & 5th graders, 6 walk to math groups for 3rd grade, and a specialized small math pull-out led by the math specialist for the extremely math-gifted 5th graders. That critical mass is a direct result of the size.

So yes, WP can easily fit 800 students. And no, there really is no where else to go. Madrona K8 is full, Olympic Hills is being enlarged to relieve the explosive growth of Maple Leaf/Pinehurst/Lake City/Cedar Park areas (see portable counts above), it has no excess room - that school was projected to have the WORST capacity slam due to residential housing growth, worse than even JSIS- and besides, did anyone ask them? HCC self contained is not compatible with their educational approach. What would their parents say? And Lowell's space is needed for the students currently overcrowded in Stevens. Expect a boundary adjustment soon, because Stevens can't really take portables on its 2.4 acre site.

Putting it simply, a split won't work because there is no where else to go, and, no one else really wants to see their school cut in half to accept these students anyway.

We need BEX V!!


BEX V

Anonymous said...

I posted this on the saveseattleschoolsblog but wanted to highlight it here as well.

Melissa Westbrook wrote:

"I am hearing from one parent that one school is saying if APP/Spectrum kids opt out, they will be exited from the program."

My response:

"What? How can that be possible? Isn't opting out your right per OPSI? How could that not be blatant retaliation against a parent exercising their rights?

Please post what school is saying this. If it's true, then it needs to be publicly stated by all schools with an APP/HCC population. If it's not true, then shame on the school that is putting forth misinformation.

I opted out my HCC kid at JAMS, and did not receive any pushback."

Please post if you have any information that can help shed light on this. It smells like a rumor, but given some of the tactics coming from SPS administration around the SBAC I want clarification.

-Areyoukiddingme?

Anonymous said...

Posting from the save seattle schools blog since its relevant to HCC middle school math pathways…..

Anonymous said...
I have a kid in 4th at Lincoln. When I inquired about opt out, was told SBAC would be used for math placement for 6th grade, suggesting that the more advanced option (how I interpreted it) such as Alg I would not be avail without these results. Is that what others understand?

No Algebra?

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@ No algebra

I asked Anna Box, head of math department at SPS, about that very issue, i.e. what would replace the 4th grade MSP score that is currently used for 6th math placement. Her response was this " I am planning to work with both our internal assessment partners, teachers, principals, and parents over the next 6 - 8 months to be prepared for this transition."
So, it seems it remains to be decided.
However, the reason 4th grade MSP was used is because the 5th grade MSP scores would not be back in time to use. Given that the turn around time for scores is much quicker for SBAC (that is touted routinely as one of the advantages) I can't think why they would need to use 4th grade SBAC rather than 5th grade anyway.
If they did use the SBAC, how will they determine an appropriate threshold score to allow kids to take algebra in 6th anyway?
I'm not a 'mathy' person and don't feel I can contribute anything in this area but I would urge folks who are interested or do have expertise to contact Ms Box at SPS if they want to be involved in the decision process.

TBD
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I suspect it is in SPS's interests to keep the math placement issue up in the air for now - after all, the possibility that it could be used for future placement will be enough to make many parents think twice about opting out.
Frankly, I think it is wrong to use any test for future course placement if students don't know that it will be considered for that purpose at the time they take the test (I understand that has happened with MAP in the past). Students should know what is at stake (if anything) when they do a test.

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Julie said...

Thanks for the info:
"Short story: it's very unlikely they could fit 780 elementary kids on the WP site. What's probably going to happen is another building will be spun up. For me, what's annoying about this is its fairly foreseeable now that this is going to happen but given how terrible the process is in the district we'll probably ignore it for a few years and then have a terrible fight at that last possible moment making the actual split process much rougher than it needs to be."

Was this the conclusion from the meeting with Sherry Carr? Good grief. As mentioned by BEV V where are they going to pull this second building out of?