Email exchange in which Julie advocated for the disaggregation of racial data in funding methodology

From: [Julie van Arcken]

Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2018 6:43 AM  

To: [District Officials]

Subject: Question about Pacific Islander students in equity tier scoring methodology for BEX V projects

Hi, all. First I wanted to say “great work” on  including equity in the BEX V planning process. This is a huge step in  the right direction for Seattle Public Schools. I am so excited to see  the Board and administration working together on  concrete actions to improve equity. I’ve been a district watcher for  many years now, and I honestly think this is a milestone achievement.    


However, I also have a question, which I believe may be of special interest to School Board Director Betty Patu, who has an individual and family legacy of working with the underserved  populations of Filipino and other Pacific Islander  students in Southeast Seattle. Are Filipino and other Pacific Islander  students afforded any consideration in the BEX V equity tier scoring methodology (separate from how they may intersect from  non-racial/cultural equity groupings)? If not, why not? All available evidence suggests that they are an underserved population in our schools.          

Thank you,

Julie van Arcken         

Articles about how Pacific Islanders are underserved in education:         

1) “America’s neglected demographic: Pacific  Islander students dramatically lag in key indicators of college and  career readiness” - Forbes    


2) “How Pacific Islander students are slipping through the cracks” - NBC News         https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna144281         

3) “‘We didn’t know it was this bad’: New ACT scores show huge achievement gaps” - Washington Post (calls out “Scores  from the ACT show that just 9 percent of students in the class  of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not go to  college, and who identify as black, Hispanic, American Indian or Pacific  Islander are strongly ready for college.”)         https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/local/education/we-didnt-know-it-was-this-bad-new-act-scores-show-huge-achievement-gaps/2017/09/06/c6397f36-9279-11e7-aace-04b862b2b3f3_story.html              

BEX V Scoring Methodology:    http://seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/18-19%20agendas/October%2010/20181010%20BEX%20V%20WS%20Packet.pdf  

On Thu, Oct 11, 2018 at 2:41 PM Anderson, Eric M wrote:

Hi Julie,

Thank you for your ongoing engagement – and for  acknowledging our efforts to incorporate equity into our decision  making.  With respect to your question, we do classify Pacific Islander  students as “historically underserved students of  color” along with Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and Native  American students.  Pacific Islanders are therefore given the same  weight in our Equity factor calculations as these other historically  underserved student groups.     

We do not currently classify Filipino  students in this same “historically underserved” category.  This is due  to the fact that Filipino students are classified within the larger  “Asian” Federal 7 race/ethnicity category, as established  by the federal department of education.  Filipino students and other  Asian students however are counted in the Equity formula if they are: (1) from a lower income family; (2) born outside the United States; (3) an English Learner; and/or (4) homeless.         

I have attached a 1-page overview of the 2017-18  Equity tiering methodology, which hopefully helps to explain this  further.  I have also attached a summary disaggregation of student  achievement on the 2017 state ELA assessment.  This document  hopefully helps to illustrate which student groups are currently  included in the “historically underserved” category, and which are not,  and also illustrates the issue you have raised.      

Fortunately, we will be reviewing the Equity Tier methodology for possible changes this school year.   The issue of including historically lower achieving subgroups within  the larger Asian category (such as Filipino students) has  surfaced before, and we will be sure to reconsider this issue for  2018-19.  I have copied Director DeWolf who specifically requested  further School Board review of the Equity tiering in the near future.   To this end, I have spoken with JoLynn Berge (also copied)  who has agreed to include a review of Equity tiering as an agenda item  at an upcoming Budget board work session (most likely in late November).   We will also be reviewing potential changes to this year’s Equity  tiering in our WSS committee that includes district  staff and school principals.

I encourage you to continue to stay engaged as we refine and improve our equity-based decision making based on valuable  feedback from our stakeholders and community.

Please let me know if you have any further  questions or concerns.  I would be happy to speak with you by phone, if  that would be helpful.


From: Julie van Arcken

Oct 11, 2018, 9:06 PM

To: [District officials]

Hi, Eric.  Thanks so much for your quick and thoughtful reply. I appreciate how  you're looking at the mean of test scores, and using that to inform your  thinking about who is underserved. I think that's a solid approach. 

However,  I want to stress that including underserved Asian students, such as  Filipino students, within the larger Asian student population is not  fair. I understand that this may not seem like a big deal, since  Filipinos only comprise ~3% of Seattle's population. However, due to the  extreme racial segregation in local housing patterns, this means that  census tracts like mine (104.02, on Beacon Hill) are 17% Filipino,  presumably with even more than 17% Filipinos among the school-age  population. 

I understand that you are  still counting these students among your 2nd equity group, if they are  also low-income. However, this is still not fair, as non-Filipino  low-income underserved racial groups are counted twice (in equity  groupings 1 and 2), while low-income Filipinos would only be counted  once. The same holds true for Laotians, Thais, and Cambodians, though I  happen to be less acquainted with the size of those populations in  Seattle neighborhoods, the way I am aware of the large, vibrant Filipino  community on Beacon Hill. 

I would  therefore ask that you consider breaking out the Asian population into  subgroups when classifying underserved students. Seattle has such a  large Asian population that any effort in getting that part of the  equity analysis right will be worthwhile. 

Beyond  that, I would ask that the administration and Board consider applying  this equity index to more of your decision-making processes (e.g.  staffing, boundaries). This is the type of solid, data-driven framework  that should be used to help reduce the achievement gap whenever and  wherever possible. 


From: Anderson, Eric M

Oct 12, 2018, 8:53 AM

Hi Julie,

Yes, we agree it will be necessary to review which  student groups we include and count as historically underserved, which  may necessitate disaggregating our data beyond the Federal 7  race/ethnicity categories.

Thank you again for your thoughtful engagement.  Please stay in touch as we continue to review and improve this important  tool this year.