Rainier Beach students ask for help with getting to school

At the last school board meeting, a group of Rainier Beach High School students, attended by one teacher, came to ask the board for a simple request: ORCA cards to help them travel to and from school.

The district responded by having a “listening meeting” with students in mid-December. Any news of solutions will have to wait until after the break.

At the school board meeting, one student describes how on his long walk to school, bus drivers will sometimes take pity on him and give him a lift, and sometimes they won’t, and that makes the difference between being late or on time.

Another said that the lack of help for transportation costs pushed her and other students into stark decisions.

“Students are having to choose between having money for food and money for transportation. College is in my future and transportation is not making it easier to get there.”

[Read more…]

Stories to watch in 2014

With a new year in a growing district, there are a lot of things going on.  Two new schools are opening in September: Jane Addams Middle School in the northeast and Fairmount Park Elementary School in West Seattle. Here are five stories we expect to shape Seattle’s education scene in 2014. [Read more…]

Yes, the public schools do need fixing

If you want to work for the betterment of public education, you get used to a certain amount of smack talk.  But when the sniping goes so far as to deny that we do have profound problems and inequities in our schools, then it goes too far.

Let’s go into this step by step, using one example: third grade reading.

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Color ink and books: December highlights from Donors Choose.

Here are our monthly highlights from Donors Choose.
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Seattle student growth by the bubbles

Earlier this week, the office of the superintendent of public instruction released a big bundle of data on student improvement in Math and Reading MSP and in Algebra. The way they measure it, creating a figure called Student Growth Percentile, is a bit involved. Here’s a handy video explaining it.

Here is an overview of the results for Seattle Public Schools. For bigger charts with more data – including the names of the schools the hot pink dots represent — you need to go here, and do the following:

  1. click on “Static Data Files” (a blue box on the right hand side),
  2. in the “Select a Subject Area” menu on the right hand side, click on “Assessment.”
  3. Click on “SGP District (All Schools Bubble Plots.)
  4. Scroll down to find the Seattle Public Schools file.


Here are the growth results for reading, for math, and for Algebra 1. The hot pink dots are Seattle schools. The pale pink dots are other schools in Washington.









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School’s out, so check out the library.

School doors will be closed, but the libraries will stay open through most of the break . At Stanislo Elementary, they’re encouraging kids to make use of that. The school is having an event at the Delridge Branch’s meeting room from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. They’ll have snacks, board games, and a computer on hand, so that families can learn about the public library’s electronic resources. They’ll also give away free books, said Stanislo teacher-librarian Craig Seasholes. The Seattle Public Library’s branches are open regular hours through most of the break, closing on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan. 1, and closing at 6 p.m. on Dec. 31. And while they are open they are hosting a variety of free events for school-aged kids, including movies, craft sessions, and something called Lego Mania! (The exclamation point is part of the name.) Lego Mania has been running at the Northgate Branch of the Seattle Public Library every Monday after from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. since August. (It’ll stop for a while starting in January, because someone else is using the room.) The librarians put out three plastic tubs of legos, play some music, and let the kids create. It’s been very popular, says Northgate Branch children’s librarian Claire Scott. During the second week of the break, the event will go to three other branches. Lego fits with the library’s mission because it is a very educational toy, promoting math and engineering skills, Scott says. “It all connects to the learning goals we have as a library,” she says. Scott enjoys watching how different kinds of kids work with Legos. For some, it’s a social activity, and they work together. For others it is a chance to retreat into the world of building. “Different kids have different things they need.” Stops for the Lego Mania! Tour: Dec. 31 South Park Branch from 2 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. Jan. 2 Columbia Branch from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. Jan. 3 Lake City Branch from 1:30 p.m. until 3 p.m. -By Fiona Cohen

Teacher pay in two maps.


Here’s a map, from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center,

showing the average cost of living in different states as of the third quarter of

this year.

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Success Story: Seattle World School

At the Seattle World School, they have a lot to celebrate. It’s the third school year since Seattle Public Schools merged the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center- a school where newly arrived immigrants went for up to 18 months get the skills to go to other public schools-with a secondary school whose purpose is to prepare English language learners for college or careers.

The school, one of six Creative Approach schools in the district, specializes in teaching academic subjects in ways that work for English language learners without any dumbing down. The staff all has professional  training in teaching for these learners. All but three have ELL endorsements, and those three are on track to earn their credential by the end of the year, said Veronica Gallardo, Seattle Public Schools’ Director of ELL and International Programs. The school continues to draw an amazing diversity of kids, as you can see by this graphic, made by a World School 8th grader.

And it is getting results. In winter 2012, World School ninth-graders showed far greater improvement in Math MAP scores than ELL students in any other high school, with more than 90 percent meeting or exceeding growth expectations. They were second in the district for improvement in reading with more than 75 percent meeting expectations. [Read more…]

Must read: The Invisible Child

Last night, I started reading the New York Times’ extraordinary series, The Invisible Child, about  a homeless middle-school student named Dasani, her family life and her school. I couldn’t stop reading it. I stayed up past midnight. One thing that kept me up later: an increasing number of children share her predicament. Last school year, there were an estimated 26,ooo homeless K-12 students in Washington, 1,324 in the Seattle School District.


-Fiona Cohen

Road Map Resolutions

At Thursday’s Road Map Results Report meeting, Community Center for Education Results executive director Mary Jean Ryan asked participants to fill out cards with their resolutions for how to help the project meet its goals next year. Here are a few, showing the range of people this project brings together.

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