I’ve spent the better part of a 40-year career working with data to analyze results to help understand what worked, or moreover, what didn’t work in many complex and dynamic situations. In that time I have experienced two types of environments where the data and results determined future expenditures in time and money. One is unbiased where the results speak for themselves and are critically examined; the other is a politicized or skewed biased approach that hopes to influence the outcome or direction or worse, hide the real results and dominate the outcome the data provides.
I read Superintendent Tammy Campbell’s response to the real world concerns stated in Mrs. Comito’s letter and my biased data antenna went up. I was not impressed with Campbell’s answers. I am not going to dive into any of the spotlighted, dare I say cherry-picked results and explanations by Campbell. That would take away from the distressing real issue at hand; i.e., exceedingly poor SBA math and English results. The results were clearly not being represented in an unbiased approach.
The real fears I believe Mrs. Comito’s letter tries to communicate are two-fold: 1) with worsening Federal Way student SBA math and English results showing 66 percent failed math and 54 percent failed English, what might be the future permanent negative educational consequences on our children?; and, 2) that these results can mean only one thing: a “failed education system.”
These SBA scores are alarming by any measure, and what parent of a child who is a Federal Way student wouldn’t be seriously concerned? The problem is quality education is not proven by a district’s good intentions, nor how hard a district tries, and certainly not based on future promises. Quality education is proven with actual results, and the sad reality is that these SBA results after three years are disturbing.
The problem at hand for the superintendent and the board is, how do they manage parent expectations and explain these results to the school taxpaying voters of Federal Way? Because these SBA results are irrefutable and definitive “data-driven” proof based on this district’s own facts, data and evidence that our children are on the wrong education path; and, distressingly, the superintendent’s only SBA defense to the concerns in Mrs. Comito’s letter was that there was a 4 percent increase in third-grade scores to 42 percent from 2017-2018 coupled with some irrelevant information that has nothing to do with SBA results. Is this really the best defense that Superintendent Campbell can offer to parents and the board for the district’s alarmingly low SBA results? And is 42 percent truly a number to celebrate?
Campbell claims that the district’s “efforts take time.” How much time does Campbell need? Next year, five years, 10 years? Who knows? In the end, these are our children, and we should not accept ever (and I would hope the board also never accepts) indefinite forever-moving timelines to try and reach goals that may never be achieved. How many thousands of students will be graduated and long gone by the time, if ever, we see SBA results that are considered respectable?
Finally, if this school district was a private sector, for-profit company, how long would the board of directors of the company tolerate these kinds of results?