In a recent post, I wrote about the need for interventions for students who are not working at grade level.
From my perspective, the District should have a system to assure early and effective intervention for individual students not meeting standards. There are, of course, other perspectives. Some may think that each school should develop their own interventions and apply them as they see fit. I suspect that there are others who see no need for such interventions and find the whole idea of "working at grade level" or "meeting Standards" as artificial and industrial rather than natural and humanistic.
In addition to the question of whether there should be interventions, and the question of what authority should direct them, there is the additional question of what form they should take. The range could run from teachers taking additional time to provide students with remedial instruction on an ad hoc basis within the regular class time, to Individual Learning Plans, to additional instruction provided during an extended school day or week, to pull-out programs, to separate programs. There is no reason that we could not have multiple programs depending on the severity of the case or at the option of the student's family.
I think there is - or should be - a lot more interest in this topic and a lot more discussion of it than we generally see within Seattle Public Schools. For all of the high-minded statements about "Every Student Meeting Standards" the fact is that we have a lot of students who are not meeting standards. Despite the high priority we claim for this crisis, I don't see a commensurate amount of effort spent addressing it. Most of the work done to close the academic achievement gap - as far as I can see - is applied across the board for all students (such as literacy training) or in areas other than instruction (such as home visits). Personally, I would like to see a more targeted effort focused specifically on providing direct instruction to those individual students who are working below Standards.
Perhaps I am naive, but it has a sort of "apply directly to forehead" simplicity to it. The problem is that there are specific students who need specific instruction. So why not identify those students and give them the instruction? What am I missing here? How does it serve those students to take no action or to continue what we have been doing? Do you think what we have been doing is working?
Have the District's current efforts been successful? What results have we seen from culturally relevant curriculum? from home visits? from literacy training? from instructional coaches? Is there data that shows these District-driven efforts have been effective? What efforts tried by schools have proven effective? What does Maple do? or Van Asselt? Can we determine what works and what doesn't, and can we expand and duplicate the effective strategies?
Please don't jump to any conclusions about boot camps, or WASL-driven curricula. If that's not what is best for the students, then why in the world would we do such a thing? If, however, you think that IS what is best for the students, then please speak up in favor of it.
Honestly, I can't think of any more important topic for discussion. We can go on about the District's failure or refusal to engage the community on any number of topics. We can host a religious war over math curricula or gifted ed. But this issue speaks directly to the purpose of public education, and it is a deep concern for me and a great number of other people. I have been frustrated to the point of madness by the District's inability to make progress on this matter - particularly with all of the highly charged talk about it. The talk just doesn't match the action. That has to end. What can we do?