Archives for category: Washington State

This just in from teachers in Everett, WA:


WHEREAS, the motto of Mariner High School is to “provide an excellent education to every student;” and

WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each 11th grader to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

WHEREAS, there are not enough computers to test the students in a reasonable amount of time and it is unacceptable for computers to be unavailable to non-testing students for such a long period of time; and

WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is going to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

WHEREAS, student performance on this test will in no way be indicative of their learning and instead this test must be given to meet arbitrary, antiquated and poorly considered state/federal mandates; and

WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant shift, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests is unacceptable; in addition to other assessments during the last seven weeks of school we must administer two weeks of AP testing, many weeks of 11th grade SBA testing, the 10th grade ELA exit exam, the Biology EOC exam, the Geometry EOC exam, and the Algebra 1 EOC exam; many of these exams are required for graduation or could possibly earn students college credit; moreover, during this time we are also required to teach our students and administer year end finals and projects; and

WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on the school schedule and more importantly student learning cannot be justified simply to meet a superfluous bureaucratic requirement; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, the members of the Mukilteo Education Association at Mariner High School object to the administration of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to providing an excellent education to every student.

Passed Unanimously 3/6/2015

This just in:

Local Teachers Condemn New Standardized Tests

REDMOND, Washington-March 26, 2015-Teachers at Redmond Middle School in the Lake Washington School District have publicly announced their objection to the “Smarter Balanced Assessments” to be administered to students this spring. Their announcement comes as educators across the nation have begun to react against standardized testing and its negative effects on teaching and learning.

“For me, it’s a matter of social justice,” said David Sudmeier, a twenty-eight year veteran teacher at Redmond Middle School. “We might as well pass out scores on the basis of family income. These tests pretend to offer an objective measure of student learning, but really discriminate against students who have parents working multiple jobs, who have limited home resources for activities that support learning, and who may go home to a bare cupboard instead of a warm, nourishing meal.”

“We care deeply about student learning,” remarked Shell Lockwood, who is about to end a long career as a teacher of gifted students, “but we don’t get any useful information from these tests. By the time scores are reported, those students have moved on. Every group of students is unique, and we can’t assume that the next group will have the same needs or abilities. These tests are more a distraction from productive teaching and learning than anything else.”

Some people might find it odd that teachers who object to the test are going to administer the test anyway.

“Our kids are the bottom line,” said Lockwood. “We want the public to know that we stand by our students to support them in a no-win situation. To abandon them just as testing begins would be unthinkable.”

So what can parents do in this situation? “Many of us are parents, too,” said Adam Wujick, math teacher at RMS. “I am disappointed in the lost instructional time for both my own kids and my students. I know that some parents are opting their children out of standardized testing entirely.”

It’s quite apparent that these teachers are determined to make their voice heard. “We have confidence in the wisdom of parents and the public,” said Sudmeier. “Now we just need our state legislators to heed our state constitution and lift public education to its rightful position as the paramount concern.”

From members of the Lake Washington Education Association of Redmond Middle School, east of Seattle, and part of the Lake Washington School District:


WHEREAS, the stated mission of the Lake Washington School District is that ”Each student will graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society;” and

WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each student to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

WHEREAS, student computers and district infrastructure are unreliable and it is unacceptable for students to have learning time diverted to an activity so likely to be plagued with technical issues; and

WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is likely to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

WHEREAS, student performance on this test is unlikely to be indicative of learning, but very likely to correlate directly with family socioeconomic status; and

WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant flux, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests and End of Course exams deprives teachers of adequate time to provide instruction and for students to learn; and

WHEREAS, some of these exams may impact high school graduation; and

WHEREAS, during the testing window teachers are also administering unit tests, year-end finals and facilitating summative projects; and

WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on school schedules, student learning, teacher and administrative work time is out of proportion to the limited value of the test results; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, we, members of the Lake Washington Education Association at Redmond Middle School object to the administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to assisting students to “… graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society.”

David Sudmeier

Denise Gross

Shell Lockwood

Sacha DeBeaumarchais

Kristin Rhode

Heidi Knable

Adam Wujick

Kaylee Hansen

Mary Chandler

Melissa Brown

Dena Kernish

Carol McCaig

Eric Fredlund

Ben Pinneo

Sara Hall

Scott Nelson

Quinn Thompson

Paul Neet

Kelly Konicki

Meg Town

Kris Kornegay

Chris Fleharty

Dora Taylor, public education activist in Seattle, can’t understand why two elected officials want to split Seattle into two school districts that are likely to intensify racial segregation.


For Dora Taylor, this is personal:


“I feel very strongly about this bill because my dad had no other choice but to live in the Central District when he was growing up in Seattle because of a city covenant that did not allow African-Americans to live outside of a boundary determined by the city. That meant little opportunity for my dad to grow beyond that border. He was fortunate enough to have a high school coach, at Franklin High School, who saw his talent and with his coach’s help, my dad, Brice Taylor, was one of the first three African-American students to attend the University of Southern California even against the wishes of the college president, but that’s another story.


“My dad went on to become the First All American at USC in football and that opened doors for him. Not everyone had that kind of opportunity. That’s why, what I term the Apartheid Bill, hits home for me. Some people find fault in my use of the term “Apartheid” but that is how I perceive it, through my lens.


“The Seattle Public School system reverted back to neighborhood schools not long ago which re-segregated our schools. Then with transportation cuts, it became even more difficult for students to attend special programs outside of their neighborhoods.


“Now, Representatives Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew want to split the city in half along racial lines again, through legislation, into two separate school districts, separate but not equal. This is why politicians should not determine education policy. Either they don’t know enough to make an informed decision or they are following through on a donor’s agenda.”

From a reader in Seattle:



Here’s what they’re saying in Seattle.



________ I have read and understand that:


 This refusal will be filed with the student’s permanent record.


 Students who do not participate will receive a “zero” score on the assessment and no score report for teachers or families to view.


 A zero will negatively impact the school’s overall results in assessments such as Smarter Balanced.


 Teachers will not receive results that could otherwise be used as a tool to measure the student’s academic growth in the core academic areas of reading, writing, math, and/or science.


 Families will not receive results that will enable them to chart the student’s growth over time.


 High school juniors without Smarter Balanced assessment results will not be eligible for the remedial testing waiver offered by state colleges.


 Students who do not participate will receive supervision but not instruction during assessment time.


 Students who do not receive a score for the high school state assessment in required subjects, or an approved alternative, will not be able to obtain a high school diploma.


We’re not taking the test. I’m phasing out of teaching now — I started in Title I schools, and am ending with charters, both physical and virtual — so I’ve reasonably little fear of reprisals against my teaching license. And keep in mind, my son attends a high-performing school (over 90% proficient), with only 5% or so FRPL. Save Seattle Schools (, an excellent local blog, has offered response to each of these mendacious threats, and I believe them.


This enforced compliance is unconscionable for all parties involved.

This is one of the strangest political alignments ever: George W. Bush put annual testing into federal law, a practice unknown in the high-performing nations of the world. And Democrats–including President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Washington State Senator Patti Murray–are fighting to keep George W. Bush’s policy in place. In the case of Senator Murray, her role is especially puzzling because Washington State has been a stronghold of opposition to high-stakes testing–from the Garfield High School teachers’ refusal to give the MAP test to the Legislature’s refusal to evaluate teachers by test scores, which led to Duncan withdrawing the state’s waiver from NCLB. Now, in accordance with NCLB, every public school in the state of Washington is a “failing” school, having not reached the goal of 100% proficiency on state tests of math and reading. But Senator Murray blithely defends the obnoxious annual testing policy that has so infuriated educators in her home state.


Here is the latest from


GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR NCLB?: No Child Left Behind’s spectacular sputter in the House last week overshadowed headway being made in the Senate: HELP Committee aides working to craft a bipartisan NCLB bill have been inching closer to an agreement on Title I, according to several aides and lobbyists. An announcement could come as soon as today. What will the compromise deal look like? Tough to say. But HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray has been firm about keeping statewide annual tests and getting rid of the bill’s Title I portability provisions, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Washington Democrat is ready to give up to strike a deal.
– Of course, getting a bill through both chambers won’t be easy. Take last week’s House debate. Members approved an amendment from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would allow local assessment systems but chose not to take a recorded vote. It signaled that Democrats and Republicans expected the amendment to pass easily, and potentially with ample Democratic support. And it’s a sign that even if the Senate preserves annual statewide testing, the House may rebel and demand more flexibility for local districts.
– One more testing note: Political advocacy group Education Reform Now, a partner of Democrats for Education Reform, is calling out the National Education Association for a video [] aimed at persuading lawmakers to scrap the annual testing mandate. ERN’s own video [] tries to “fact check” the NEA ad – and warns the union’s stance “could cost you your child’s future.”

To friends in Washington State: Join the struggle against high-stakes testing at a rally in Olympia on February 16. Now is the time to speak and be heard in alliance with other teachers and parents. Enough is enough!

In Denver last July, the National Education Association Representative Assembly supported a campaign that would end the test, blame, and punish system that has become prevalent in public education over the past ten years. The resolution to end “toxic testing” is a powerful statement and a step we must to take to protect our students. Along with this business item, another passed that would share with educators, the rights parents have when it comes to standardized testing and their children.

At the Washington Education Association Representative Assembly in Spokane, support for parents who refuse testing for their children, also passed. A strong connection between parents and educators needs to be fostered and nurtured if the removal of toxic testing is to be realized.

To that end, a group of parents, teachers, education support professionals, and concerned citizens have banded together and are ready to step it up in order to raise awareness about testing, parental rights, and how to get support when opting out. A rally is planned for February 16, noon-3PM, in Sylvester Park in Olympia. The event includes speakers and entertainment. All who attend are encouraged to set up meetings to lobby their legislators, in an effort to end testing madness.

We need you to join us in this battle! Getting educators, parents, and students to the rally is very important. Raising awareness of parental rights is powerful. So many teachers are scared to say anything about this option due to repercussions from their districts. Concerned citizens from all areas of public education must work together so that the message can ring loud and clear: Stop toxic testing!

What we ask from you:

1. Share with your organization

a. The rally is on Presidents’ Day so what better way to make a statement than to get people to show up!

2. Get involved—Contact Becca Ritchie at if you would like to help with planning, logistics, or any other part of the rally.

3. Reach out to parents, community members, and educators who would be willing to learn about testing and/or join in this action.

4. Arrangements for donations to cover organizing costs to can be arranged through Michael Peña at

5. Have a sign making party to share ideas for signs to use the day of the rally.

6. Contact Shannon Ergun at when your organization endorses the rally.

Let’s stand together, and with a collective voice, let it be known that we will not subject our students to the toxic testing environment that has overshadowed the many joys of teaching and learning.

In Solidarity,
All 720 Washington BATs

Anthony Cody reports that Democratic leaders in Washington State passed a resolution condemning the Common Core standards.

“The Central Committee of the Washington State Democratic Party has passed a resolution that roundly condemns the Common Core standards. This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party.

“More than 200 delegates representing 49 legislative districts, from 29 counties, gathered at the Red Lion Inn in the state capital, Olympia on Saturday, Jan. 24, where there was a showdown between “new Democrats” and a scrappy coalition of education and labor activists. Activists mixed in with the delegates, and carried homemade signs expressing their opposition to the Common Core. They also arrived early and made sure there were flyers on each chair carrying their message.”

Wayne Au and Joseph J. Ferrare have published an interesting article in the TC Record about the passage of charter school legislation in Washington State.


The intriguing aspect of the charter referendum in 2012 is that a similar proposition had been presented to voters three times in the recent past and voted down three times.


In 2012, however, billionaires and venture philanthropists and their allies created a huge fund to support the charter initiative, over $10.9 million. You will not be surprised to learn that Bill Gates supplied over $3 million of the total, followed closely by Alice Walton, heiress of the Walmart fortune, at $1.7 million. What is startling is that almost 98% of the $10.9 million was contributed by only 21 individuals.


We have seen a number of elections where extraordinary individuals managed to overcome a huge spending disadvantage to win a school board seat. This was not one of those elections where the power of the people beat the power of the purse.

The state of Washington rejected charter schools three times. But in 2012, Bill Gates and his wealthy friends like a Walton and a Bezos, spent $10 million and barely got their legislation passed.

The state’s first charter is in big trouble.

According to the Seattle Times:

“Just months after it opened, First Place Scholars, the first charter school in Washington state, is in turmoil.
Its first principal resigned in November, more than half of its original board of directors have left, too, and the state’s charter-school commission has identified more than a dozen potential problems that need to be fixed soon if the school wants to keep its doors open.

“Among them: hiring a qualified special-education teacher for the roughly two dozen students who need those services, and completing background checks on some of its nonteaching staff.”

The Washington Policy Center, a free-market advocacy group, insisted that the charter school was not in trouble and the law is working just fine.

In an earlier post, I expressed the concern of parents in Seattle that the selection of a permanent superintendent was moving too quickly. Some parents, always suspicious that Bill Gates is trying to buy their schools, feared that he was involved in the rushed process. I regret that I cast aspersion on Dr. Larry Nyland, the interim superintendent who is under consideration for the post of permanent superintendent. I have it on excellent authority that he is an experienced educator of impeccable integrity. If the board slows down, listens to parents, and engages the public in this important decision, it will build trust and good will.

Here is a statement from Seattle parent leaders. They do not oppose Dr. Nyland. They want public engagement, which is a precondition for building trust.

Dear Seattle School Board Directors,

As strong advocates for family engagement, we are concerned about the timing and rushed nature to appoint Dr. Nyland permanently through 2017.
Our council board feels that a search for a Superintendent could provide other qualified candidates, however we also believe that providing consistent leadership and stability for staff and families also has value for our district at this time. When asked to provide support for a contract extension for Dr. Nyland as interim Superintendent, we agreed. Dr. Nyland’s commitment to stewardship and accountability of SPS resources, closing the opportunity gap, providing better customer service, and responding to parent concerns is encouraging. However, when appointing a permanent Superintendent these criteria and commitments should be fully assessed through a formal process.

SCPTSA did not realize the School Board would be voting on this action so quickly without providing time for families to engage. The specifics of the contract extension, specifically to make this a permanent appointment, and the process for hiring the Superintendent, were unknown even to us. Families have been led to believe that there would be a full and transparent search process for the appointment of a new Superintendent. Five days’ notice over a holiday weekend is simply not enough time.

The School Board should move at a more deliberate pace. This rushed action will likely perpetuate distrust of the School Board and the District. Rushed decisions continue to force parents to react instead of being able to engage effectively in their children’s education.

We ask the School Board to delay this vote to explain the decision process to parents and school communities and allow sufficient time for response. It is vital the School Board takes the proper time to confirm the right person is being hired as the permanent Superintendent of our schools.


Seattle Council PTSA Board
Katherine Schomer, President
Cassandra Johnston, Vice President
Dianne Casper, Secretary
Jenny Young, Treasurer
Eden Mack, Advocacy/Legislative chair
Julie van Arcken, Central Area Director
Cecilia McCormick, Special Education Director
Annabel Quintero, South West Area Director

CC: PTA Board Leadership for all 82 PTA Local Units in Seattle


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