Ramona Hattendorf

Apr 212016

Changes to assessments, again?

  • Some school board members think we can do better by tests. But it’s not clear if their opt-out resolution aligns with changing law
  • Federal law – What’s really required

Graduates with diplomas. Close-up of four college graduates standing in a row and holding their diplomas

Vice President, CPPS of Seattle

APRIL 21, 2016 – The Seattle School Board is considering a resolution to request local alternatives to state testing. It is not clear, though, if what the board is considering is anything the state can act on.

While states are free to select their own assessments, those tests must align to their state standards, and all districts in the state must use the same test, unless the U.S. Department of Education grants a waiver. It appears those waivers are intended for states that want to set up pilot programs for new statewide assessments, not for local control.

Testing 101

At the federal and state level, standardized tests are used to gauge whether or not schools are meeting students’ academic needs and, theoretically, help them track efforts to improve. States first establish their learning expectations, then use the standardized tests to measure student achievement and growth. When states have comparable data, they can identify schools that are especially successful in certain areas or with subgroups of students, or schools that need more focused support and resources.

Standardized assessments are supposed to inform continuous improvement. Whether tests currently in use provide actionable information is a point of dispute. The big summative tests that Washington uses are useful for monitoring schools, but many argue they don’t inform teaching and learning.

There is movement nationally to develop more holistic assessments of school health and student success:

  • Tacoma has a whole child initiative that tracks metrics beyond academics
  • Some states are moving into competency-based learning that require different types of assessment
  • Others are looking into using interim assessments during the school year, or adding adaptive features to measure growth, particularly of students working below and above grade level

The Smarter Balanced test that Washington uses is summative; that is, it  measures what students know at the end of the year against grade level expectations. It is also adaptive; that is, it adjusts the difficulty of questions based on student response. This last feature is supposed to give more accurate information about the test-taker, but it also requires familiarity with and access to computers.

Students take the Smarter Balanced tests in grades 3 to 8 and once in high school.

The Smarter Balanced high school exam is intended to gauge whether or not a student is on track to transition into career or college by measuring mastery of state learning standards. In contrast, AP tests that some high school students take measure mastery of specific course material for possible college credit; the SAT measures developed reasoning and is not aligned to high school curriculum; and the ACT measures general educational development in English language arts, math and science.

Can Seattle choose its own test?

When ESSA, the new federal legislation, takes effect in 2017-18, any district can choose a high school test as long as they get state approval. Choosing a separate test for grades 3-8 doesn’t appear to be an option.

In rules under consideration at the federal level, up to seven states could apply to participate in a local Innovative Assessment System Pilot, but this isn’t to accommodate local control. It is to allow states to pilot tests that are aligned to different learning models, such as competency-based ones where students advance upon mastery.

Last year, New Hampshire got a waiver to pilot alternative tests for just such a model. Some of their districts will use the Smarter Balanced test while others will pilot the competency-based test under development. But the goal is a new state test for an alternative system, not local district choice.

Seattle isn’t pursuing an alternative model, nor is the state.

Why is this an issue?

In its proposed resolution, the Seattle School Board cites implementation issues with the Smarter Balanced test, the summative nature of the test, the time it takes, and language barriers, among other issues such as low performance among certain groups of students. (If you follow the link, be sure to scroll to the end; that’s where the resolution is.)

It also cites the number of tests students are taking, though outside of the Smarter Balanced tests none of those listed are state or federal requirements; several are private tests students take for college purposes, and some like the end of course exams have been replaced by the Smarter Balanced test.

For an update on federal testing requirements and changes prompted by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), click here.

Have something to share with the board?

You can contact the Seattle School Board members here:

A Better Way: The Charles Rolland Initiative for Public Engagement is based on the principles of dialogue and deliberation, with the intention to foster public decision making. This is part of an occasional series to give background information on current topics so families and community can engage more effectively.

 April 21, 2016  Posted by on April 21, 2016 Parent Line No Responses »
Apr 212016

New federal testing requirements aren’t so different after all

  • Though keep an eye on high school assessments and accommodations for ELL and special education students

sbe photoAPRIL 21, 2016 – So, what’s changing with new federal K-12 testing requirements? Not a whole lot, though there are some differences, most notably around high school assessments.

Following are highlights. Education Week has a reader-friendly cheat sheet that goes into more detail and offers context. Edutopia also has a summary.

Please note these are requirements districts need to meet to receive certain federal funds, such as Title 1, which supplements funding for low-income children.



Tests need to be aligned to state standards. States still set their own standards.

With state approval, districts can choose their own high school assessment.

Districts must test in reading and math, and science three times, but can test other subjects if they choose.

Results need to be reported out for gender, English-language learners, students receiving special education services, different racial groups, students who qualify for free or reduced price meals, students living in homelessness, student in foster care, and students connected to the military.

Students need to be tested in grades 3 to 8, and once in high school.

All students in the state have to take the same test in each grade, unless:

  • The district is participating in an assessment pilot
  • The district selects (with state approval) a nationally recognized high school test instead of the state exam
  • 8th-graders who are taking advanced math classes—like Algebra or Geometry—can take a test at their level, instead of the regular state math test for 8th graders

Tests don’t have to be end-of-year summative tests. They can be smaller, interim tests. They can include portfolio work.

Tests can be adaptive and include questions below grade level so schools can monitor growth. But they need to show whether the student is at grade level for the grade they are enrolled in.

As always, states can develop their own assessment system; under ESSA there is more flexibility inwhat they look like.

New, a high school option:

If the state gives the OK, then districts can choose which nationally recognized high school assessment to administer. These can include college entrance tests like the SAT or ACT, or AP college-level course tests, or International Baccalaureate tests, or the Common Core aligned PARCC or Smarter Balanced assessments.

Washington’s Smarter Balanced high school exam is intended to gauge whether or not a student is on track to transition into career or college by measuring mastery of state learning standards. In contrast, AP tests that some high school students take measure mastery of specific course material for possible college credit; the SAT measures developed reasoning and is not aligned to high school curriculum; and the ACT measures general educational development in English language arts, math and science.

It’s important to note that if Washington allows this option, all high schools in the district must use the same test. Districts must ensure that students receiving special education services or designated English language learners are given the accommodations they are entitled to. (Education Week’s cheat sheet goes into more detail.)


Districts can’t unilaterally switch the high school tests. First, they need to engage parents – give them an opportunity to provide input and explain to families how instruction might change. Then they need to request the change from the state. If a new test is adopted, they must notify parents.

Where we are in the process:

The “rulemaking” process for the new Every Student Succeeds Act isn’t final yet, but the committee charged with interpreting the details has come to some agreement. Next step is a comment phase.

To back track, as policy moves from idea to law, first legislators pass broad policy statutes and the executive – the president, governor, mayor, etc – signs them into law. But interpreting the nitty gritty details of statutes and agreeing to rules about them falls to a selected committee. The appointed “rulemaking” committee discusses and negotiates; shares proposed regulations out to public, possibly makes changes; then forwards regulations for final agency approval.

So even though the ESSA passed, what it will look like in practice is still being worked out.

 April 21, 2016  Posted by on April 21, 2016 Parent Line No Responses »
Mar 202016

What’s a personal pathway? (And will your student get one?)

Community meetings this week; surveys online

UPDATE: Survey has been extended into the first week of April. GREAT response in the first go-around, but we need to hear from as many parents as possible.

Starting with this year’s 7th-graders, high school graduates will need to earn 24 credits. In return, they get access to personal pathways driven by their career or college goals.

Tools for families to support their students in career and college planning:


Dear families,

Washington State is transitioning to new college- and career-ready graduation requirements. This could affect how students’ courses are selected, as well as daily schedules at Seattle public high schools – for instance moving to “block schedules” that alternate classes, or to a trimester schedule that allows kids to take fewer courses at a time, but more courses over an academic year.

Or changes could be as simple as adding an advisory period and making more online credit retrieval available.


There are two community meetings scheduled for families to learn about the new requirements and potential changes for students:

  • March 24 at Ballard High School commons, 6:30-8 pm
  • March 29 at South Lake High School commons, 6:30-8 pm


There are also two surveys – one for current high school parents, and one for current middle school parents. Links to those can be found also be found here.


For Seattle Public Schools students, changes in graduation requirements take place for the class of 2021 – or this year’s 7th-graders. But changes to high school schedules could affect older students.

Statewide, graduation requirement changes are in effect for the class of 2019, unless their district sought a waiver.


The state is moving from 20 to 24 credit requirements to give all students the opportunity to better transition to life after high school. The increase in credits accommodates course sequences that open doors to certification programs, or more in-depth study in a particular area. For instance, allowing students to take multiple courses in an art or technical field, world language, math or science.

Students can tailor the credits into a personal pathway, based on a High School and Beyond Plan that they craft; or they can follow a default pathway that aligns to college entrance requirements.

The state has already phased in a third year of math, and a fourth year of English language arts. The additional credits making up 24 are in arts, science, and world languages – though students have the option to swap the arts and language requirements for personal pathway courses.


Currently SPS high school students have the opportunity to take at least 24 credits, but not all students do. Others attempt 24, but fail or drop a course. Some schools, such as Nathan Hale and Cleveland STEM high schools, have modified block schedules that allow students to take more classes. Other schools offer zero hour classes, and some students have access to online courses.

The district currently requires 21 credits, but some high schools require more.

In considering implementation issues, the district’s 24 Credit Graduation Requirement Task Force looked at the need for students to have in-school time for career planning and exploration, in-school help with courses or counseling, and in-school time to re-take a course, if necessary. The committee also reviewed scheduling needs for staff and components of the High School and Beyond Plan.


From the State Board of Education: “The High School and Beyond Plan is a formal process designed to help students think about their future goals and how to accomplish those goals. This includes exploring interests and career options, developing a course plan for high school, and exploring opportunities to develop skills.”

The state superintendent’s office (OSPI) also offers this overview.

The plan has been a state requirement since the class of 2008, though the push to make the plan more meaningful by giving students the power to use it to craft a personal pathway is fairly new (since about 2013). Family engagement around the plan hasn’t been a priority, at either the state or local level, though recent state budgets allocated more funds for career counseling in high schools.

From the State Board of Education: “The High School and Beyond Plan must include a plan for the year after high school (WAC 180-51-066, WAC 180-51-067) It is also recommended, though not required that plans should include at least a career goal, an educational goal, a four-year course plan for high school, and identification of required assessments.”

Currently Seattle Public Schools offers neither uniform comprehensive career planning nor an online tool to help families track pathways. The state superintendent’s office has posted an online tool for educators, but there is no tool for families.


Bottom line, more will be asked of kids, but in return it could potentially be easier for them to design high school course loads that are meaningful to their life plans and better prepare them for careers. Currently, Washington students graduating from four-year universities are disproportionately white, and about 50 percent of students going to 2-year colleges and technical schools need to take remediation courses, usually in math. This means it costs some students a lot more to prepare for careers.

The goal is to prepare all high school students for life success, and give them the space and support to determine what that looks like.

Depending on what happens to scheduling and budgeting, kids could have more opportunities for electives and exploration. It also potentially makes it easier to expand career and technical education options.

Ramona Hattendorf,
Vice President, CPPS of Seattle
Member, Seattle Public Schools’ 24 Credit Task Force Force (2015-16)
Governor appointee, Career Education Opportunity Task Force (2013-14)

grad req

* In Seattle Public Schools, new graduation requirements are for 2021 and beyond, due to a waiver.

 March 20, 2016  Posted by on March 20, 2016 Parent Line No Responses »
Oct 192015

Got a senior? Help is available for college applications

graduation cap and booksFrom the Seattle Public School’s College and Career Readiness Office:

Seattle Public Schools will be hosting a series of College Application Completion events throughout October and November.  These events are free and open to all 12th grade students.  Resources will be provided to support students with all aspects of applying to college.  This includes access to computers, printers, Admissions Counselors, and trained volunteers.  Visit www.roadmaptocollege.org for additional information on these events.

The dates and locations for these events are as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 21st @ Rainier Beach HS (2:50-4pm)
  • Thursday, October 22nd @ Chief Sealth International HS (3:15-6pm)
  • Thursday, October 29th @ Garfield HS (2:30-5:30pm)
  • Thursday, November 5th @ Roosevelt HS (2:30-5:30pm)
  • Tuesday, November 10th @ Cleveland HS (2:30-5:30pm)
  • Monday, November 16th @ Franklin HS (2:20-5:30pm)

The Seattle Public library will also be hosting events on the following dates:

  • Saturday, October 31st @ Douglas Truth Library (10am-5pm)
  • Wednesday, November 18th @ Lake City Library (5:30-7:30pm)

Check out the attached calendar for a full list of College and Career Readiness events that are happening this fall.

The SPS College and Career Readiness Office

Email: collegeandcareerreadiness@seattleschools.org2015-2016 CCR Senior Calendar.docx

 October 19, 2015  Posted by on October 19, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »
Oct 052015

Senators will listen, and review proposed changes to levy and salary policies

Senate Education Committee listening tour
  • 5 to 7 pm, Monday, October 19, 2015
  • Educational Service District 121 – Puget Sound, 800 Oakesdale Ave. SW, Renton, 98057

piggy bank

Vice President, CPPS of Seattle

Got ideas, concerns, feedback or questions about how the state is going to meet its constitutional duty to amply fund K-12 education?

The education committee of the state senate is hosting a listening tour this fall, and they’re stopping in King County on Oct. 19, at the Puget Sound Educational Service District offices in Renton.

The committee’s presentation highlights the unconstitutional use of local levies to fund basic education, including compensation, and gives an overview of Senate Bill 6130, which was introduced in the last legislative session.


In rulings that long preceded the 2012 McCleary decision, the state supreme court had interpreted the provision in Washington’s constitution for “ample” funding of a “general and uniform” system of schools to mean that the legislature must define an instructional program of basic education, and must amply fund it from a regular and dependable source.

Local levies, the court ruled years ago and confirmed in 2012, are neither. The court described them as wholly dependent upon the whim of the electorate; only available on a temporary basis; and tied to the assessed valuation of property at the local level. That is, since land values vary, the amount that can be raised locally varies quite a bit, as does the tax burden on individual property owners.

Yet school districts rely on these levies to cover basic operations and, especially, to offer staff competitive salaries. For instance, Seattle’s recently negotiated contract includes boosts in base pay beyond the state’s salary allocation model. Seattle’s local school levy covers more than a quarter of Seattle Public Schools’ operating budget and is the second largest funding source for our schools. It is up for renewal this February. (SPS 2016-17 budget)


Some legislators and advocates believe that addressing competitive pay (which can vary by region) and reforming levy collections are key to resolving ongoing constitutional issues with education funding. There have been several proposals for “levy swaps” in which state property taxes increase while local levies decrease.

But while at the state level these are “revenue neutral” proposals, at the local level, taxes will increase for some without any corresponding increase in funding available to local schools. Seattle falls into this category. In general, rural areas would get more state money and local tax relief, while urban areas would pay higher state property taxes and face limits on what they could add locally. A big concern is whether the state hike would be enough to cover funding needs in urban areas. Other concerns are about over-reliance on property taxes and spillover effects on already high housing costs. Some advocates and legislators see revenue reform as a inter-related issue – specifically adding a capital gains tax or income tax into the mix to mitigate over-reliance on property and sales taxes.

  • Here is a bill summary of SB 6130, at the end are summaries of testimony for and against.
  • Here is a link to the 2012 McCleary ruling that said the state was failing to meet its constitutionally mandated “paramount” duty to “amply fund” education.
 October 5, 2015  Posted by on October 5, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »
Oct 052015

Teachers contract, wellness, instructional materials, special education all up for vote

sps hqThe strike is over and a deal negotiated, but the Seattle School Board has yet to vote on the 2015-18 collective bargaining agreement with the Seattle Education Association. That is slated to happen this Wednesday, Oct. 7.

  • Click here for the action report (includes summary of proposed contract, AND the full contract)

Also up for a vote: The district’s student wellness policy. There is an active Lunch and Recess Matter parent group working on this.

  • Click here for the action report on the wellness policy (includes proposed resolution).

Special education action is an MOU for consultant services. Items for introduction include the 2015-16 state legislative agenda; a resolution in support of the McCleary decision, and approval of the student assignment plan (revisions proposed around tie-breakers, waitlists). Links to all action reports can be found on the board agenda. Action reports, in turn, will either include or link to more detailed information.

This week in Seattle Public Schools (Oct. 4-10)

BELL TIME COMMUNITY MEETING: Monday, Oct. 5, 6:30-7:30 pm, Jane Addams MS, 11051 34th Ave.NE

UPDATED: GROWTH BOUNDARIES COMMUNITY MEETING, Monday, Oct. 5, 6:30 – 7:15 pm, Schmitz Park Elementary, 5000 SW Spokane St. Information on local changes to assignment plan for 2016-17. Interpreters: Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.

UPDATED: GROWTH BOUNDARIES COMMUNITY MEETING, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 6:30 – 7:15 pm, Seattle World School, Meany Building lunchroom, 301 21st Ave E. Information on local changes to assignment plan for 2016-17. Interpreters: Chinese, Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese

BOARD SPECIAL MEETING, Audit and Finance committee. Tuesday, Oct 6, 4:30 – 6:30 pm. Board Office Conference Room, John Stanford Center. Open to the public.

REGULAR SCHOOL BOARD MEETING, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 4:15-8 pm, Auditorium, Stanford Center. See link for agenda. Requests for public testimony need to be made in advance. http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=2493070. Student wellness policy is on the agenda.

UPDATED: Oct. 9 is slated to be a regular school day, pending board approval on Oct. 7. (It was a scheduled work day for teachers, with no classes for students. It is now slated to be one of the make up days for the strike.)

BEX Oversight Committee Meeting, Friday, Oct. 9, 8:30-10:30 am, Room 2750, 2nd Floor, Stanford Center

DROP-IN MEETING for School Board Dir. Carr, Saturday, Oct.10, 8:30-10 am, The Hearthstone at Green Lake, 6720 East Green Lake Way N.

 October 5, 2015  Posted by on October 5, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »
Sep 232015

A School-Family-Community Engagement Conference for Washington State

From the Washington State Family & Community Engagement Trust:

trust eventYOU’RE INVITED!

United for Student Success

  • Saturday, October 10
  • 8 am to 3 pm
  • Evergreen Middle School, 7621 Beverly Lane, Everett, WA 98203. Map
  • Cost: $125 professional rate (6 clock hours for K-12 staff; 6 STARS for early learning)
  • Event volunteers get in free! A limited number of parent scholarships are available, courtesy of the Tulalip Tribes. Please contact info@wafamilyengagement.org to confirm eligibility


  • Breakfast buffet and lunch included
Morning breakout sessions:

Engaging Pre-School Families ꟾ How Families Can Promote Children’s Language Development ꟾ Partnering for Special Education Success ꟾ Engaging African-American Parents ꟾ Reset Families: Bringing Home Positive Intervention ꟾ Parents Come to Class ꟾ Working With Interpreters and Translators

Afternoon breakout sessions:

Understanding Equity in Education ꟾ Top 10 Practices to Engage all Parents ꟾ How to Improve Kids’ Motivation to Learn ꟾ Conversations About Race with Young Children ꟾ What is the Natural Leaders Program? ꟾ How to Get Kids into College ꟾ Parent Ambassadors

Who should come? Educators, early learning providers, parents, community groups, school board members, funders and researchers. If you care about kids and how we can better unite behind them, you should be here.

Presented by the Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust, www.wafamilyengagement.org


What does it take to build great partnerships?

Come hear the latest research, build skills, and improve practice. This event is designed for both educator and parent. We cover strategies, parent leadership models, equity, inclusion, diversity and special needs in a dual-capacity framework — that is, we help both school staff and families learn how to partner effectively around student success.

Questions? Contact Adie Simmons, executive director, Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust, info@wafamilyengagement.org; 425-273-1595;

Special Thanks to Our Partners:

  • Everett Public Schools
  • Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle
  • Tulalip Tribes

AGENDA: United for Student Success, Oct. 10, 2015

8-8:30 am: Registration

8:30 am: Opening session, Connecting, Sharing and Inspiring – interactive community learning

9-9:50 am: Welcome and keynote

  • Anne T. Henderson, national family engagement expert, with a welcome from Everett Public Schools Superintendent Gary Cohn

10-11:15 am: Morning breakout sessions

Engaging Pre-School Families ꟾ How Families Can Promote Children’s Language Development ꟾ Partnering for Special Education Success ꟾ Engaging African-American Parents ꟾ Reset Families: Bringing Home Positive Intervention ꟾ Parents Come to Class ꟾ Working With Interpreters and Translators

11:30 am-12:20 pm: Lunch and presentation

12:30-1:45 pm: Afternoon breakout sessions

Understanding Equity in Education ꟾ Top 10 Practices to Engage all Parents ꟾ How to Improve Kids’ Motivation to Learn ꟾ Conversations About Race with Young Children ꟾ What is the Natural Leaders Program? ꟾ How to Get Kids into College ꟾ Parent Ambassadors

2-3 pm: Closing session, Reflecting, Sharing, Uniting –interactive community learning with Anne Henderson

trust logo

Course descriptions/Morning sessions

Engaging Pre-school Families – Dr. Gina Lebedeva

When we speak to the needs of families, they are better able to speak to the needs of their children. Similarly, when other professionals can speak to your needs, you can better serve your families. Growing alongside each other in this manner is called parallel process, and using the model can help you develop stronger working relationships with families. We’ll discuss techniques, strength-based tools, and strategies, for instance how to create relationship-based notes to engage and support families, particularly for home visits.  FOCUS: Family engagement strategies

How Families Can Promote Children’s Language Development – Dr. Angela Notari Syverson and Linda Rose Slater

Learn and practice three evidence-based strategies that families can use in everyday conversations to support their child’s development in their home language. Free DVD to take home. FOCUS: Early family engagement, child development strategies

Partnering for Special Education Success – Margo Siegenthaler and Ginger Kwan

Learn how a strong, effective Individual Education Program (IEP) team works together. What does a healthy process for growth and change look like for a student receiving special education services? FOCUS: Diversity and special needs, pre-K through age 21

Engaging African-American Parents – Dr. Stephan Blanford.

FOCUS: Family engagement, multi-cultural models

Reset Families: Bringing Home Positive Intervention – Dr. Gregory J Benner and Sharon Aller

Modeled after the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) approach used in schools nationwide, and drawing on the principles of trauma-informed parenting and restorative justice, Reset Families gives caregivers a strategic approach to building strong relational connections while preparing children to be accountable for managing their own behavior. This workshop identifies five components of a strong family and reviews activities to support each. It will also look at research findings from the pilot project.  FOCUS: Family engagement, parent leadership, restorative practice

Parents Come to Class – Dr. Stephanie Jones, PhD

Parent Volunteer Mentorship builds community bridges into schools and promotes family engagement through classroom volunteering and cohort-based capacity development. Participants and coordinators of this Community & Parents for Public Schools program will share their perspectives of what works, and why, when working with teachers in a multicultural setting. We will include data from our pilot program in Seattle Public Schools. FOCUS: Parent leadership, multi-cultural models

Working with Interpreters & Translators – Adie Simmons.

FOCUS: Diversity, communication


Course descriptions/Afternoon sessions

Understanding Equity in Education – Dr. Chris Katayama

What strategies do school staffs use where diversity is growing exponentially? This presentation gives insight, with particular attention to approaches emphasized in preparation courses for aspiring principals and program administrators. Objectives: Understand what “equity” means, what the challenges are among school leaders addressing equity, and how to contribute or collaborate toward the goal of equity for all students. FOCUS: Diversity, equity, multi-cultural students and families

Top 10 Practices to Engage all Parents – Adie Simmons. FOCUS: Parent engagement strategies

How to Improve Kids’ Motivation to Learn – Dr. Wayne Benenson

Research on student success points to three interrelated strands of learning: knowledge (new information), skill development (new behaviors) and dispositions (new internal attitudes). Schools tend to focus mostly on the knowledge strand; skills and dispositions are difficult to define and measure. However, recent research-based tools from psychology and educational neuroscience can train children in non-cognitive behaviors such as plasticity—or the way the brain changes physically during learning This session will present strategies and exercises on skills and dispositions to improve student motivation and engagement. This session includes in cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness and critical thinking. FOCUS: Diversity, parent engagement in learning

Conversations About Race with Young Children – Dawn Williams

Young children notice diversity, and families play an important role in helping them understand race and culture. We will discuss messages sent to young children about race, learn about racial identity development, and – through role play – explore ways families can address race with children. FOCUS: Diversity

What is the Natural Leaders Program? – Natural Leaders Washington Alliance for Better Schools

Natural Leaders start with listening. Parents themselves, they ask families what they need to succeed in school. Then they team up with schools and community groups to implement those ideas, and to create support networks for students. Natural Leaders are also learners themselves, mastering public speaking, meeting facilitation and conflict resolution, for starters. FOCUS: Family engagement; parent leadership; multi-cultural models

How to Get Kids Into College – Charles Hoff

It all centers on a plan, and that starts with research: Which colleges are good fits? Which might help cover costs? It also requires engaging families early in the admissions process. This session has practical advice for families and models strategies that school staff can use in college counseling. FOCUS: Family engagement, college planning

Make Your Parent Voice Heard – Lori Pittman, Parent Ambassadors

Learn about this intensive, yearlong advocacy program where parents train parents in communications, leadership, legislative advocacy and grassroots organizing, and where parents lead advocacy efforts at the state and federal level for investments in early learning and related children and family concerns. FOCUS: Family engagement and parent leadership



Sharon Aller, former executive director of Rebound of Whatcom County, is pursuing her PhD and piloting a home-based approach to Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports. At Rebound, Ms Aller provided families advocacy, skills and resources to help them step out of poverty. CLASS: Reset Families: Bringing Home Positive Intervention

Dr. Wayne Benenson is a professor of education and department chair at Argosy University. He studied political science and government at UC Berkeley and earned his doctorate from the University of Idaho. His dissertation was a quantitative study of peer mediation. Dr. Benenson also serves on the board of the Washington State Family & Community Engagement Trust. CLASS: How to Improve Kids’ Motivation to Learn

Dr. Gregory J Benner, PhD, is a professor and Executive Director of the Center for Strong Schools at the University of Washington-Tacoma. Dr. Benner specializes in preventive, systemic and sustainable approaches to meeting the needs of the whole child, particularly those with emotional and behavorial disorders. CLASS: Reset Families: Bringing Home Positive Intervention

Dr. Stephan Blanford, EdD, is principal and co-owner at Lighthouse Consulting, a provider of equity-based research, evaluation and consultation services to school districts and community based nonprofit organizations. He is also serves on the Seattle School Board. He earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington. CLASS: Engaging African-American Parents

Anne T. Henderson, national researcher, family engagement expert, and co-author of best-sellers Beyond the Bake Sale and A New Wave of Evidence CLASSES: Morning group presentation; afternoon learning community

Charles Hoff is a former school board member, deputy superintendent and college admissions counselor. Since 1999 he has been conducting seminars to teach parents and students how to get financial aid and how to secure spots at some of the finest colleges in the world. CLASS: How to Get Kids Into College

Dr. Ann Ishimaru, assistant professor at the UW College of Education, focuses on the intersection of leadership, school-community relationships, and equity-based reform. She co-leads the UW Equitable Parent-School Collaboration Research Project CLASS: Lunch presentation

Dr. Stephanie Jones, PhD, worked as a middle school and high school teacher, education researcher, and consultant on school improvement before taking on executive leadership of Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle. She earned her doctorate in Human Development and Social Policy (Education Policy) from Northwestern University. She has three children. CLASS: Parents Come Class: The Power of Parent Development

Dr. Chris Katayama is a former high school principal of the year and has been recognized as a leader among women in education by Phi Delta Kappa International. Currently with the School of Education at City University of Seattle, Katayama has taught in Honolulu and Puyallup, served as assistant principal at Federal Way High School, and as principal at Tyee High School in the Highline School District. She serves as an equity advisor for the Professional Educators Standards Board and has long advocated for resources, support and opportunities for students, particularly those whose families are challenged navigating traditional school systems. CLASS: Understanding Equity in Education.

Ginger Kwan is a parent of a child with special needs and founder of Open Doors for Multicultural Families, a nonprofit providing workshops and advocacy resources to diverse families throughout Greater Seattle. CLASS: Partnering for Special Education Success

Dr. Gina Lebedeva, PhD, CCC-SLP, uses an interdisciplinary approach to support families and professionals in early learning. A practicing early intervention speech-language pathologist, she uses the lense of infant mental health and coaching. She teaches in Early Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Washington and was the founding director of Translation, Outreach and Education at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. She holds a PhD and MS in speech and hearing sciences from the UW, and a Magna Cum Laude BS from Cornell University. She has three children. CLASSES: Engaging Pre-School Families

Natural Leaders, part of the Washington Alliance for Better Schools, are teams of parents focused on connecting with families of all cultures and working with families, schools and community groups to improve the school experience. CLASS: A Natural Approach to Home-School Partnerships

Lori Pittman has made the federal and state early learning programs of Head Start and ECEAP her life’s work. For more than 21 years she’s been working in its multi-generational approach, and in 2013 she was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her vision and commitment. Currently, she is an Early Learning Policy and Advocacy Senior Advisor at the Puget Sound Educational Service District and serves as director of the WA State Parent Ambassadors. CLASS: Make Your Parent Voice Heard: Parent Ambassadors

Margo Siegenthaler is the special education ombuds for Seattle Public Schools. She has worked at the school and district level for three decades, designing materials and outreach strategies to engage families. She also serves on the board for the Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust. CLASS: Partnering for Special Education Success

Adie Simmons, M. Ed, is the founder and executive director of the Washington State Family & Community Engagement Trust. She was also the founding director of the Washington State Office of the Education Ombudsman – a state agency within the Governor’s Office – and the founding director of Seattle Public Schools’ Office of Family and Community Partnerships. A former pre-school, ELL and Spanish language teacher, she has over 25 years of experience working with public schools, families, non-profits, and serving on numerous local and state boards. CLASSES: Working with Interpreters & Translators; Top 10 Practices to Engage all Families

Linda Rose Slater is a Head Start curriculum writer at the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning and board president for the Washington State Family and Community Engagement Trust. CLASS: Conversations at Home: How Families Can Promote Children’s Language Development

Dr. Angela Notari Syverson, PhD, is lead curriculum specialist at the National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning at the UW. She has expertise in early language and literacy development and assessment, and has worked as a speech and language pathologist in Seattle Public Schools. CLASS: Conversations at Home: How Families Can Promote Children’s Language Development

Dawn Williams is a curriculum developer at the Childcare Quality and Early Learning Center, where she drafts professional development materials and trains early childhood professionals. She is also a doctoral student at the University of Washington studying leadership and policy. CLASS: Conversations About Race With Young Children

 September 23, 2015  Posted by on September 23, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »
Sep 192015

Heads up! Forums start for Seattle School Board contenders

school board electionsSept. 24
  • First A.M.E. Church, 1522 14th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122
  • 6-9 pm
  • Sponsored by Tabor 100, Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators, League of Education Voters, the Seattle chapter of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, APIC King County and APIU Candidates Collaboration, and the Coalition of Immigrants, Refugees and Communities of Color
  • Registration, agenda
Oct. 8
  • Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle, WA 98122
  • 7-8:30 pm
  • Sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Seattle Council PTSA
  • Registration, agenda
UPDATED: Oct. 20
  • Southside Commons, 3518 S. Edmunds St., Seattle 98118
  • 6:30-8:30 pm
  • Sponsored by Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (that’s us!) and the Southeast Seattle Education Coalition.
  • We’re bringing back the Parent Friendly Candidates Forum, complete with the Grab Bag filled with audience questions, and our rotating mix of rapid fire questions, followed by face time with candidates in small groups.
 September 19, 2015  Posted by on September 19, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »
Sep 192015

Seattle operating and capital levies up for renewal

  • Sept. 21, 24, 28, 29 and 30, at various school locations

sps hq

Vice President, CPPS of Seattle

A quarter of the operating revenue needed to run Seattle Public Schools is up for vote in February 2016, and the district is hosting a series of community meetings to present information, ask for comments and answer questions. This levy renews every three years, but the amount of money raised varies.

Also up for renewal is the capital levy, officially called the Building, Technology, Academics/Athletics IV (BTA IV) levy. It renews every six years and funds both small renovations and major maintenance projects, as well as technology, academic and athletic initiatives in school buildings. Like the operations levy, the amount raised can vary from the current capital levy.

The school district decides what amounts to put before voters. Typically, administrative staff make a recommendation; the final decision about how much to seek, or even whether or not to run a levy, comes from the school board.

Click here for district levy information and meeting specifics, including where and when translators will be available.

Some  budget and funding background:

Seattle Public Schools only gets about 55 percent of its operating revenue from the state. “Operating” covers the expenses of running a school − everything from staff salaries to utilities. The federal government kicks in another 8.5 percent for specific programs like Title I, Head Start, special education and free and reduced price lunches.

That leaves about 37 percent of SPS’ operating budget dependent on local levy money and “other.” The current operating levy covers more than 25 percent of total operating costs in Seattle Public Schools. “Other” revenue can include things like grants, donations, revenue from various fees, and proceeds from charges like “pay for K.” (This last one will be phased out as the state phases in funding for full-day kindergarten at all schools.)

The discrepancy between what the state covers and what Seattle Public Schools spends comes from additional costs the district chooses to take on, such as pay negotiated locally, and continued shortfall from the state. In 2009, the state broadened its definition of basic education, and starting in 2010 passed a series of bills addressing issues like learning standards, school interventions, and staff evaluations that affected school budgets.

The state legislature is phasing in the money it says is needed to cover the new definition of basic education (its self-imposed deadline is 2018; a deadline the state supreme court is enforcing as part of its McCleary school funding decision).  Disputes remain around the level of funding needed to make education equitable, for instance to cover extra learning assistance or needed supports throughout K-12, and the amount needed to cover competitive salary and benefit packages for staff.

Some resources for you:

Good stuff to know:

Oh, and if you belong to a nonprofit group like a PTA, your group CAN endorse or oppose a levy, and you CAN share campaign literature. You just can’t endorse political candidates (a federal rule for 501c3 charities) and you CANNOT (don’t even think about it!) use school resources to advocate for a ballot issue (a state rule about use of public resources).

“School resources” include official school websites run by the district, school copy machines, school office supplies, school mail delivery (i e “kid mail”), etc. If you are a 501c3 nonprofit (like a PTA) you can use your independent websites, newsletters, e-mail etc, to campaign for or against a ballot issue, but you have to keep costs to a minimum (like 5-10 percent of your overall budget, max, for all issue campaigning). You can at any time, and without restriction, share factual information, such as when the election is, what the money is for, etc. Just don’t urge a “yes” or “no” unless it is completely school-free communication. The district could face fines.

 September 19, 2015  Posted by on September 19, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »
Aug 172015

Smarter Balanced tests results are in, and most Seattle students did … OK

Statewide, proficiency rates are lower than under the old standards, but generally higher than what state officials expected. Seattle students continue to score higher than state average, especially in math.  Students affected by the gaps, though, continue to struggle with proficiency, at least as measured by the state assessments.

For grades 3-8 in Seattle:

Proficiency rates in the more rigorous Common Core English language arts ran 61 to 66 percent, depending on the grade.


sps ela 2014


state ela 2014

Proficiency rates in new Common Core math standards were lower, running between 56 and 64 percent.


sps math 2014


state math 2014

Testing opt out rates in Seattle for grades 3 to 8 ranged from 5 percent (3rd grade) to 11 percent (8th). Students were more likely to opt out of math, and more likely to opt out in higher grades.

The science test didn’t change; 71 percent of 5th-graders in Seattle Public Schools scored proficient or better, and 67 percent of 8th-graders scored proficient or better. That’s down slightly from past years.


sps science 2014

For 11th-graders:

Most juniors opted out of the test last year. There was no English language arts score for 76 percent of the juniors, and no math score for 80 percent.


On track for career and college ready?

Here is how Seattle 8th-graders did on the English language arts:

sps 8th grade ELA

And here is how they did on math:

sps 8th grade math

Theoretically, those achieving a level 3 or 4 in 11th grade will be on target to graduate ready for at least a 2-year college or technical program. Those falling in the level 1 or 2 range may need to take remedial courses before starting a post-secondary course of study. Currently, about half of the state graduates enrolled in 2-year programs need to take remedial math, English, or both before starting their program.

Different story for kids affected by the gaps:

When you sort the data by subgroups, however, entrenched gaps remain.

sps 8th reading AYP 2014

sps 8th math AYP

You can explore the data by state, district and school from the state superintendent’s website. Sup. Dorn’s press release is here.

Background on how the achievement levels were set is here.

 August 17, 2015  Posted by on August 17, 2015 Parent Line No Responses »