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Archive for the ‘Open Government’ Category

Thurston County eighth-graders middling on state tests

by Matt Rosenberg March 14th, 2013

In 2012, pass rates on the eighth-grade state achievement test exceeded the state average of 56.6 in four of nine Thurston County School Districts, and were lower in the other five. The best pass rate on that test among the county’s districts was in Olympia, where 66.9 percent of eighth-graders met the state performance standard in math. Three of the five districts which underperformed the state average on this metric had markedly low pass rates. They were Yelm, 39.2 percent; Tenino, 39.4; and Centralia, 43.8 percent. The Centralia, Yelm and Rochester districts include parts of neighboring counties.

The data come from the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and are viewable through customized visualizations users can create with the Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) developed by the Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington-Bothell. The first visualization below portrays the eighth grade state math test pass rates for Thurston County districts versus the state average. They are ranked on the right by 2012 outcomes, but by hovering over any district’s name, the seven-year history for the chosen metric can be tracked.

On the eighth grade state reading achievement test, five of nine Thurston school districts outperformed the state average in 2012 and four underperformed it.

Public Data Ferret’s Education archive

By clicking on “Explore The Data” in the lower right-hand corner of either of the above charts, you can enter the WADE interface at Google Public Data Explorer and devise a customized report from the state data, choosing different measures, grades and districts. Demographic data for each district or school, which is often correlated with outcomes, is also available. Among other features, Google Public Data Explorer provides customized HTML embed code for each data set that is constructed by users. This can be used to easily create charts like those displayed here, for Web sites or blogs. You can also enter the WADE interface, with a tutorial, through the the UW-Bothell/CEDR gateway.

Some previous reports we’ve generated here recently have compared statewide eighth-grade pass rates on the state math and reading tests with results from among major urban region school districts in Washington; and between districts in Pierce, in Snohomish and in King counties. We also examined trends in statewide average pass rates in math and reading for all K-12 grades which take the tests.

Editor’s Note: some of the general explanatory verbiage in this article was borrowed from our own above-linked articles.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

WA achievement test pass rates mostly stagnant since 2006

by Matt Rosenberg March 11th, 2013


Recently updated state data packaged into customizable visualizations through the University of Washington-Bothell’s Center For Education Data and Research and its Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) tool show that for third, fourth, fifth, eighth and tenth-graders in Washington, average statewide pass rates on state achievement tests in math and reading have been either relatively flat or down between 2006 and 2012. Pass rates on the state tests have grown for sixth and seventh-graders. A series of visualizations follow; as we mine the OSPI/WADE data on statewide pass rate progress for all grades taking the tests. By clicking on “Explore Data” in any of the visualizations, users can enter WADE’s Google Public Data Explorer interface and add in other school districts to compare results to the statewide data.

Some previous reports we’ve generated here recently have compared statewide eighth-grade pass rates on the state math and reading tests with results from among major urban region school districts statewide; and from districts in Pierce, Snohomish and King counties. Now we’ll dive in to the state average pass rate results by grade – and progress, if any – from 2006 through 2012. Hover over the graph line for exact rates by year.

Bellevue to pay $750,000 to woman hit by city vehicle

by Matt Rosenberg March 6th, 2013

The Bellevue City Council Monday approved a settlement for $750,000 with a pedestrian who two years ago was struck and badly injured by a city vehicle driven by a parks department employee. The victim was Evelyn Rissman of Lynnwood, now 58, a certified pediatric nurse who works for Group Health in Bellevue. The driver, who later retired and is now deceased, was William Richard Sackville, a facilities operations specialist for the city parks department. The most recent public records available online show that in 2007 he earned $81,726 for the city, plus another $5,588 in overtime.

Privatize management of Lynnwood’s golf course, report urges

by Matt Rosenberg March 4th, 2013

In a report to be presented tonight to the Lynnwood City Council, the city’s director of parks and recreation strongly recommends the city privatize the management its troubled, money-losing golf course. The facility was the subject of a critical state audit in December because it has relied on continued bailouts from the city’s utility fund including a $1.3 million chunk of recent borrowing repaid slowly enough to constitute a “permanent diversion” of funds in violation of state law, auditors said. The city pledged to explore new options including closing or selling the course, or contracting out its management. The new report says the latter would “produce significant cost savings and efficiencies coupled with a strong marketing approach to produce higher revenues.”

Troubles for most Pierce County school districts in 8th grade

by Matt Rosenberg March 3rd, 2013

By a rate of more than two-to-one, public school districts in Pierce County last year underperformed the statewide average for percentage of eighth-graders who could pass Washington’s math achievement test. A majority of districts also lagged the statewide average in percent of eighth-graders who passed Washington’s reading achievement test. Using the Google Public Data Explorer tool and an interface developed by the Center for Education Research and Data of the University of Washington-Bothell, we run two related visualizations incorporating recently-released 2012 data and corollary outcomes dating back to 2006, in math and reading for all 17 Pierce County school districts.

UW scores DARPA grant add-on to boost soldier health

by Matt Rosenberg February 28th, 2013

According to an announcement this week by the U.S. Department of Defense the University of Washington has won a $9.6 million modification to a “cooperative agreement” with a high-tech DoD special projects unit to advance its work on a system to let soldiers in the field self-collect biomarker-bearing substances such as semen, urine, saliva and hair, and swipe them onto cards sent to labs where they will be used to help diagnose possible health problems which can then be treated on the fly if needed with other advanced tools in development. Meanwhile, other U.S. military contracts sent the way of Washington state in this month alone are worth up to another $293 million. They are for unmanned drone support, a tactical equipment facility, food and radiology systems.

Explore latest K-12 achievement data with UW tool

by Matt Rosenberg February 25th, 2013

Using the Google Public Data Explorer tool, we run two visualizations from recently-released 2012 data on percent of eighth graders meeting the Washington state achievement test passing standard in math, and reading, at 26 selected urban-region districts. In each case, half the districts exceed statewide average performance and half don’t. See custom charts, below. Top performers on the eighth-grade state math achievement test – among districts we examined – were Bellevue, Lake Washington, Port Angeles, Everett, and Olympia. The lowest performers for the same measure in 2012 were the East Valley district near Yakima, plus Yakima, Tacoma, Pasco and Longview. State academic achievement tests data for 2012 have recently been added to the user-friendly, interactive Washington Achievement Data Explorer (WADE) database operated by the Center for Education Data and Research (CEDR) at the University of Washington in Bothell. WADE is integrated with and can be explored using tools from Google Public Data Explorer.

At the WADE site, users can select school districts to compare for achievement test outcomes by grade and subject. Demographic data for each district, which is often correlated with outcomes, is also available. The data come from the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Among other features, Google Public Data Explorer provides customized HTML embed code for each data set that is constructed by users. Following are two charts developed by Public Data Ferret using the WADE site.

First are eighth-grade “meeting the math standard” rates for the 26 selected urban-region school districts in Washington state, from 2006 through 2012. They are ranked on the right by 2012 outcomes, but by hovering over any district’s name, its seven-year history for the metric chosen can be tracked.

Next, for the same 26 districts, are the 2012 rankings and seven-year histories of percent of eighth graders meeting the state standard on the reading achievement test.

Public Data Ferret’s Education archive

By clicking on “Explore The Data” in the lower right-hand corner of either of the above charts, you can enter the WADE interface at Google Public Data Explorer and devise a customized report from the state data, choosing different measures and districts. You can also enter the WADE interface, with a tutorial through the the UW-Bothell/CEDR gateway.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.



Washington state’s “sunshine committee” battles doctors, hospitals, insurers on medical malpractice data disclosure

by Matt Rosenberg February 7th, 2013

The Washington state legislature’s “Sunshine Committee” is advocating for House Bill 1299 to open up data on settled medical malpractice claims but public hospitals, doctors and insurers are voicing strong opposition. A preview of the looming battle came earlier this week in testimony to the House Government Operations and Elections Committee; TVW video is below. The bone of contention is 1299’s provision to remove from current state law an exemption to the Open Public Records Act which bars disclosure of information on “the identity of a claimant, health care provider, health care provider, health care facility, insuring entity or self-insurer” in settled medical malpractice claims. Such information could be important to consumers and the media, and increase pressure for improved standards of care where needed – but opponents are warning of privacy issues and potential conflicts with federal law.