Early indications are that Edmonds School District has slighly higher refusal numbers than previous years for Smarter Balance Assessment

Edmonds School DistrictWhile some school districts in the state have reported a high level of parent refusals for the Smarter Balance Assessment, the refusal numbers appear to be slightly higher than previous years for students in the Edmonds School District.

The district provided an update on how the Smarter Balance Assessment (SBA), a new state assessment on English Language Arts and Mathematics, was being received by parents and staff during Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting.

So far schools are reporting slightly higher parent refusals than in the last few years with the general range between 0 and 5 per school. Principals have reported that in the past, parents sometimes wait until just before testing to submit a refusal.

Much of the district has yet to take the Smarter Balance Assessment. About seven elementary schools began testing third graders on the English Language Arts SBA before spring break. The busiest time of SBA testing started this week and will last through May 14 with about 15 to 20 schools a day conducting some form of SBA testing. High schools will be testing May 19-22.

A problem with the district’s bandwidth due to a surge in Internet use was noticed on April 14 and resulted in connectivity issues for students. District staff report there were two days that were especially difficult but that since then there haven’t been any bandwidth issues. The district is planning a hardware upgrade (new firewalls) to fully leverage its Internet bandwidth.

Boardmember Gary Noble said that he was contacted by a teacher whose students were knocked off the SBA during this time period. The next day the students restarted the test but were not able to go back to the section they had been working on when they were disconnected. The teacher was very worried and stressed out, Noble said.

District staff acknowledged there were significant problems for two days but that since then the problems were addressed.

To support staff, the district has assigned Building Online Testing Support Specialists (BOTSS) to each school. The district also has established a Tech Hotline for technology-related questions and an Assessment Hotline for assessment-related questions.

The District is distributing 2,300 Chromebooks in five waves to support online testing in addition to the PCs and Chromebooks already in schools.

High School principals have said they are worried about juniors choosing not to attend school on the days of testing. Staff, however, is informing students that there will be make-ups, so that if a student does not come in for testing during the late start schedule, then they will need to make up the test during a school day and miss classes.

District staff indicated that overall implementation of the SBA has been relatively smooth for most of the schools but that the majority of testing has yet to be completed.

– The district also reported that the state is in the process of developing Kindergarten Guidelines, which outlines effective practices in programs including learning environment, curriculum, assessment and family engagement. The guidelines are scheduled to be released in August and districts are expected to implement the guidelines when school starts in September.

– The Rotary Club of Lynnwood awarded the district $30,000 for three early learning programs:

  • Professional development with literacy consultant David Matteson
  • A second day of programming for Edmonds PreK: a Family Learning Experience at Beverly, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and College Place elementary schools.
  • Funding for Kindergarten Learning Kits.

– The district plans to sell a 100- by 50-foot piece of property located in the current Transportation and Maintenance Building location near Alderwood Mall to the City of Lynnwood. The City has an easement for an underground sewer lift station and has plans to upgrade the lift station. Increased capacity at the lift station is needed in anticipation of the new residences at Lynnwood Place. Both Lynnwood and the school district will obtain appraisals for the property. The Transportation and Maintenance facilities are located on a 10-acre lot.

– Work is proceeding on the Costco building at Lynnwood Place. District Executive Director of Business and Operations Stewart Mhyre said that the grand opening looks like it will be at the end of August, though it could be even earlier.

All of the underground work has been completed and next week asphalt will be laid down. The contractor is scheduled to complete all of its work by the first week of July, Mhyre said.

– The Board recognized the Snohomish County Human Services Department staff for their work in the development and funding of the district’s Student Support Advocate program. The program, collaboration between the district and county, enabled the district to place four advocates in middle and high schools. Some of the issues that advocates focus on include detection and treatment of drug/alcohol use, homelessness, mental health and crisis intervention.

“I feel so privileged to work in a district that has the support from the county in this regard,” said District Assistant Superintendent (Secondary) Patrick Murphy.

In attendance to receive the honor were Ken Stark, recently retired Department Director; Mary Jane Brell Vujovic, newly appointed Department Director; Cammy Hart-Anderson, Division Manager for Chemical Dependency, Mental Health and Veterans Services and Shelli Young, Supervisor for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Program.

The program has been so successful that the district has received a second grant from the Verdant Health Commission to expand it to middle schools.

– By David Pan

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