Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

Study: Seattle Schools’ family help program needs re-boot

by Matt Rosenberg October 2nd, 2013

There’s not yet any evidence the City of Seattle’s Family Support Program for at-risk students in Seattle Public Schools is improving academic outcomes, and changes in the program’s focus, worker training and performance metrics appear necessary, say University of Washington researchers who recently published their findings in the journal Advances in School Mental Health Promotion.

Ex-software manager deported in Seattle sex sting plea deal

by Matt Rosenberg August 15th, 2013

In a King County Superior Court plea deal settled August 1 a former Amazon.com software development manager from India named Vishwastam Shukla – who according to his attorney was a rising star at the Seattle company but has lost his job and “most everything” in connection with his crime – agreed to permanent banishment from the United States in return for reduction of charges from felony to gross misdemeanor in an online sex sting. It involved a Seattle Police detective posing as an apparent 15-year-old prostitute on craigslist, and a planned sex-for-money interlude at the Seattle Hyatt while Shukla was in town on company business, from the San Jose, Calif. Amazon unit he headed. He supervised eight other workers. Following the recent court actions Shukla was to have boarded a plane back to India August 3, and had to pay a $5,000 fine. His return to India is to be verified to the court in a hearing scheduled for August 21.

Pols urge “system-wide” tolling study; I-90 EIS looms

by Matt Rosenberg May 22nd, 2013

Proposed electronic tolling of I-90 just east of Seattle – to fill a $1.4 billion gap in building the western approach of a new bridge on SR 520 – is getting more complicated. There will now be a full Environmental Impact Statement, not just an Environmental Assessment. Regional pols are also pushing for a “system-wide” study of tolling in greater Seattle which they say should include looking at using vehicle tolling revenues to fund transit. And in the end it could be that instead of relying on I-90 user fees, tolling on a broader swath of SR 520 itself will help pay for the new bridge’s western approach.

Data viz: Seattle public schools “pass rates” on state tests

by Mike Klaczynski May 15th, 2013

To graduate from a public high school in Washington, students in the classes of 2013 and 2014 must pass the state’s High School Proficiency Exam (HSPE) in reading and writing and an End-Of-Course (EOC) test in either algebra or geometry. Starting in 2015 those requirements will grow to include EOCs in algebra and geometry, and biology. State assessment tests called the Measurement of Student Progress (MSP) are also given in grades three through eight to help students, parents, teachers and administrators assess academic progress and adjust teaching methods and curriculum as deemed necessary. For non-special education students, passing the regular tests requires a grade of Level 3 (proficient) or Level 4 (advanced). Using Washington state data on achievement tests taken and passed in math and reading in different Seattle public schools across different grade levels, we developed the following interactive data visualization. Explore it to see how neighborhood public schools rate, compared to others in the district.

USER INSTRUCTIONS
1) Make your selections. Under “choose grade,” use the pull-down menu to select a type of school (elementary, K-8, middle, high). Using the “compare schools” tool select one school, or all schools within that category, or a custom combination of schools. Under “choose a test,” select either math or reading.

2) Explore the data. Here’s an example. By choosing all elementary schools and state reading test pass rates, you can: a) get a quick comparative overview via a mouse-over of any school’s dot on the map. You’ll see a pop-up box summary for each dot over which you hover, with a combined multi-year pass rate in the chosen subject, and relative ranking versus peer schools within the district; b) drill in to a school’s data by clicking on its map dot. Then you will have two more views of the data – above to the left (percent low-income and not, plus total number of tests taken); and below (yearly results by grade, subject and income group, versus district averages).

Additional technical notes:

  • Aggregate pass rates for schools were calculated by the author using number of tests passed versus number taken, from the state’s data because the state’s own pass rates for some schools in some subjects did not match the data.
  • Pass rate data for some schools in some years are not available because it was not included in the state’s datasets.
  • “Low-income” students are currently defined by the state as those eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
  • The state high school math assessment test was not offered in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years because it was being redesigned.
  • In 2008 and prior, the equivalent of the MSP, HSPE and EOC tests was called the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL.
  • RELATED: FAQs on state testing from Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; additional information on who must take what when, and alternative tests.


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    Seattle Central’s Tougher “Occupy” Code Advances

    by Matt Rosenberg March 20th, 2013

    Under proposed new state regulations all-night vigils by off-campus groups would be allowed outside of Seattle Central Community College, but a no-camping proviso already enacted would stay in place and a series of other guidelines would be enacted around the exercise there of First Amendment-protected free speech rights. Non-college protest groups such as “Occupy Seattle” – whose wild and wooly days-long encampment on the college’s grounds in fall 2011 sparked conflict with the college and neighbors while inspiring declarations of support from faculty and students – would be subject to a registration clause. They’d have to comply with provisions to limit noise; clean-up; pay costs for any litter left and damages caused; and refrain from blocking students and faculty from using college facilities. There’s also a long list of what constitutes prohibited “camping,” as well as a ban on leaflets with obscene language or incitements to violence, and a strong suggestion such flyers include author or group contact information, to encourage accountability.

    $16K lifted from Seattle Central in parking garage caper

    by Matt Rosenberg March 18th, 2013

    According to the results of a fraud investigation made public last week by Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley, two attendants at the Harvard Garage of Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill misappropriated $15,932 in mid-2011, and another $31,532 may have also been skimmed away but internal accounting controls were too poor to tell. The lot was cash-only and there were initially no security cameras. The Auditor’s Office says employees used voided and reprinted receipts to cover up pocketing of the $15,932; and for the $31,532 in question, were able to classify some paying customers as unpaid visitors, staff or ride-sharers, in order to apparently funnel away proceeds.

    One worker has admitted to his misdeeds and is paying back the college district; and several corrective measures have been put in place. Both were terminated. The news comes in the wake of six other 2010-2012 cases of misappropriated funds by district employees verified by the state auditor last fall.

    Rasmussen: Seattle needs transpo levy renewal or increase

    by Matt Rosenberg January 10th, 2013

    At a meeting this week of the Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee, Chairman and Council Member Tom Rasmussen said the city will have no “other choice but to go back to the voters again in two years to ask for approval of extending or perhaps even increasing” the current “Bridging The Gap” levy before it expires in 2016, in order to continue progress on bridge maintenance, repair and replacement, and funding for other city transportation system fixes. His remarks came at the close of a presentation January 8th in which department officials accented some sobering facts. They stressed Seattle has a $1.8 billion deferred transportation maintenance backlog including more than $1 billion for bridges, retaining walls, public stairways and other vertical structures; and that current annual transportation maintenance spending of $40 to $50 million by the city is far short of the needed $190 million per year.