Monday, February 04, 2008

Accountability

The accountability targets for the Southeast Initiative have not yet been set. They were due in September.

So far, this is our only example of how Dr. Goodloe-Johnson implements accountability. I'm not impressed.

The story I heard was that the schools were asked to set their own goals. The goals they presented in September, however, were so dreadful that they were asked to try again. Their second attempt was also sent back for revision. They are supposedly now composing their third draft.

The school year is now more than half over and we still don't have the goals for this deal. Do you think that the Superintendent is going to be able to hold the schools accountable for the first year numbers when they didn't even know the target for most of the year? I don't think so. I don't think she will even try.

The Board now needs to seriously consider revoking the funding for this boondoggle. After all, didn't the Board also promise accountability on this deal? So doesn't that mean that without the accountability element the deal is off?

Will the Superintendent ever be able to enforce any sort of accountability? It certainly hasn't been demonstrated.

So, for all of the talk about accountability, we have no more now than we ever had.

20 comments:

dan dempsey said...

....They are supposedly now composing their third draft.

This sounds like a guess what I am thinking problem. Maybe Dr G-J should just tell them. Wait that would be autocratic and this is to be a more open process -- Guess they have to keep guessing until they get it right.

Accountability is just like open and transparent and data driven -- these appear to be only words that are used to confuse the public.

Wish it wasn't so but check the last two years.

Momma snark said...

When schools are "asked to set their own goals," what exactly does this mean? Do the principals decide on these goals, or do they ask for input from teachers and staff, or engage the parents and community? Does every school have the same process for setting these goals, or is it left up to the individual school to figure out how to go about such a task on its own?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

If you are a Title I school, you will have two plans, not one. And there's probably a resource teacher working with an administrator to keep the plans current. The district has a Title I Director that does the final approval of the SSC plans - there's usually two drafts before a final gets submitted - so this might be a deadline set for a first draft.

If you have a school site council that is certainly one way to make the process more democratic.

One of the logistics problems is collecting and organizing data to show your school is making improvement. This requires a full time staff person. Some schools use parent volunteers if they have one. High schools are larger organizations and I know its difficult for them to assemble their plans on time.

The redundancy and teacher-hours required to assemble two plans is taxing on a school for both teachers and principals.

The school site plan was definitely more workable, mostly since its been in existence longer and created by experienced teachers. I've been to several schools that didn't have one and it was quite intense and discouraging.

There are very few principals who should attempt arguing with a Title I resource teacher.

What you have then are two plans that overlap the organization and address pretty much the same concerns or at least should since you save yourself some time.

The difference is the SIP goes to the sup and the SSCP goes to the Title I Coordinator. The SIP is directed top-down and governs everything. The SSCP is within that plan and I believe has even greater importance than before in terms of providing a checks and balances between site goals and the Principal's pet projects.

The SIP in one sense is the blueprint for the reform movement. Staff that is aligned to the movement (usually new teachers) can provide the arm twisting a principal needs to carry out the superintendent's plan.

Usually the last hold-outs will be the teachers who have created strong academic programs and resource specialists who depend on Title I funding for their students.

There is always an attempt made by staff to take those purse-strings away and put it into the general fund. One of the common criticisms is that the current reforms are not in compliance with Title I. Rubber stamping a SIP does not mean a school is in compliance. It just means the sup/district/principal's friends says it is.

The worst SIP workshop I have ever been to was run by the English Department where the Math department spent their mornings listening to a young teacher lecture to them about low math scores and why "reading? to learn" was important for students. He'd obviously hadn't done his reading assignment.

Charlie Mas said...

And which, if any, of the schools in the Southeast Initiative are Title I schools?

Anonymous said...

That is what is at issue. NCLB reformers created a loophole and changed how schools qualified for funding. Now if you can show a need in your SIP for Title I you qualify.

The charter foundations and school alliances got what they wanted and OSPI returned the funds back to those districts in the form of grants. So for instance, in NY when Giuliani found assistance for public schools to buy textbooks because some schools had none, private schools were entitled to a third of the money. And since PSs had new textbooks already that money was used instead for supplementary curriculum.

To qualify under the old program it was the number of children who qualified for free and reduced lunch. That is not the case any longer. So yes, southeast schools lost money; they just can't figure out why.

In addition, any vendor who registers can be paid with Title I funds and there is no oversight, since the person responsible can't possibly investigate all of the vendors.

NCLB created a vacuum that will sink public education, it is hardly equitable and by every standard, Washington is one of the most reformed (financially challenged) states of the union. The school alliance is nothing more than a squeaky wheel paid for with state/private funds.

Anonymous said...

As indicated in the Act, the intended purpose of these funds is to improve the school. This is why funds are allocated to schools not to children. As a result, if a child leaves a Title I school and transfers to another school, there is no transfer of Title I funds to the receiving school.

Why do you think so many alternative/support programs have been created? - even kids have started calling these places dropout mills or holding tanks. The purpose is to isolate students with low scores to raise AYP to show improvement. These kids usually don't make it through a year. If you had the WASL at the first of the year, your WASL scores would drop like a rock. NCLB is going to create one of the truly most inequitable societies in our history.

Anonymous said...

Loophole for outside consultants

The intent of the law is to use funds to acquire "highly qualified staff"(professionals, i.e. teachers, psychologists, social workers, etc.). Although the final draft of the law permits the use of funds for other staff, the primary focus remains on "highly qualified staff". Schools intending on hiring non-professional staff with Title 1 funds should request clearance from the district Title 1 office. The state further prohibits the expenditure of Title I funds in school level clerical, administrative or school safety personnel.

Anonymous said...

In the reauthorization of Title 1 under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, now requires districts to allocate Title 1 funds to those schools with the highest concentrations of such students, particularly to those schools falling above 75%. Districts may extend Title I benefits to schools lower than 75%, yet not below the district average percentage of free/reduced price meals. The state determines to what extent Title I benefits are extended to schools. I do not know what our district average is 50%.

Charlie Mas said...

The only Southeast Initiative school that receives any Title I funding is Aki Kurose. All of this talk about Title I is off topic and irrelevent.

It doesn't matter if the school qualifies for Title I. The District decides how to allocate their Title I money and the District has decided to spent it primarily (until recently exclusively) in elementary schools. Consequently, all of the blather about Title I has NOTHING to do with the Southeast Initiative. More to the point, it has nothing to do with the District's failure to establish the accountability elements of the Southeast Initiative plan.

Please do try to stay on topic. I know you have a lot to say and a lot of axes to grind, but this is not the place.

Anonymous said...

From your comments, you mean there was accountability, but now there isn't.

This is not because the district doesn't have a plan, because the funds have been released already. Before NCLB, schools had a plan and accountability, it couldn't be implemented because the district interfered.

You still have Title I, just no school site council. The oversight is not the same and there is less accountability, therefore the district doesn't have to release any plan.

Federal funding is still based on students enrolled in free/reduced lunch programs. If you've privatized food services, then that's a whole new concern for the public.

If you mean pointing out flaws in the current method of funding schools as an axe to grind, then I'll take that as a compliment and not as a criticism. Accountability means being fiscally responsible, not just meeting deadlines. Does this bb have a pro-charter agenda?

Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous wrote:
"From your comments, you mean there was accountability, but now there isn't."

While it isn't certain, it is likely that I am the "you" referenced here. The anonymous commenter often uses pronouns without antecedents; it is part of what makes these comments so unintelligible. Presuming that I am the "you" referenced, I will take the bait and ask which comment, specifically, indicated that there once was accountability?

It was not me but the anonymous commenter who wrote that there once was accountability, before NCLB.

Yes, Title I is still around, but it has NOTHING to do with the Southeast Intiative, the topic of discussion. Please try to stay on topic just a little bit for just a little while.

Here are some things the anonymous commenter can take as criticism: You are off topic. You are inaccurate. Your comments are largely unintelligible. You are boorish. You are an ineffective writer and a worse reader. You appear incapable of following a logical train of thought from point to point. Are any of these registering as criticisms? I'm trying to be just as plain as I can be.

APP Dad said...

I don't blame her for slow-walking this one. Those schools are a dreadful mess and it's going to be ugly, trying to clean them up. I suspect Dr. G-J figures that this is going to be all-consuming when it gets going (and angry interest groups start pushing back) and she's giving it more time.

This is the optimistic interpretation: the other possibility is that the administration simply can't get their act together. This is more likely, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

All the federal funds, including Title !, are grouped together and dispersed wherever the central admin wants to spend it because Seattle has Local Flex funding. Title 1 does not have the same meaning in Seattle as it does elsewhere in the US because Seattle is lumping all its federal dollars together.

Read about the failure of Seattle to reach its goals and yet the feds gave us another round of flex funding. Going back to 2003, "A school’s progress toward goals is also monitored by the examination of data at the school site. In March
2005, each school participated in a review of their Transformation Plan. The review panel consisted of a representative from Title 1, Bilingual, Special Education, an instructional coach and education director, and a representative from the Budget and Human Resources Departments. Each Transformation Plan is kept on file in the District’s Teaching and Learning Department. (The instructional coaches that work with Tier 1 and 2 schools are very familiar with the specific plans of each of the Tier 1 and 2 schools in which they work.) "

Look up Local Flex and Seattle to learn more.

Anonymous said...

The dollars from the SE initiative probably come from the Local flex dollars, what would be Title 1 in other cities.

Anonymous said...

School Accountability under NCLB:
Aid or Obstacle for Measuring Racial Equity?


http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/esea/NCLB_Policy_Brief_Final.pdf


Schools recognized as serving at-risk students receive Title I funds, which are intended to ensure equal achievement between
these students and students with more social or economicadvantages. While the AYPrequirements apply to all schools, only Title I schools are identified as needing
improvement and subject to the law’s sanctions.

Before writing an editorial, know what you are writing about. The superintendent is trying to comply with NCLB, not meet an arbitrary deadline - this not what we mean by accountability.

This is much more complicated than it looks on paper and it takes years of experience. Even then its difficult - if you mess it up, the consequences are huge. This situation has many similarities to what happenned in LAUSD. So it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Anonymous said...

The flex-agreement, should be viewed as a grant and as with all grants there are strings attached -the repercussions will be huge. The GAO interviewed states and districts that either did apply or chose not to apply.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d03691.pdf

As described in Seattle's Application, each subgroup of students will meet or exceed their annual performance targets for each year of the five year Agreement (until 2013).

The only way to meet AYP is lower the content of the WASL/lower standards?/fake enrollment - good luck Seattle.

According to the GAO for states that did not apply, the reason given was the costs far outweighed the benefits.

And furthermore, the states and districts that were most eligible to apply, that is had their goals and strategies already aligned did not apply. That alone is proof that the waiver might not have been the right course. And with a new sup?

Flex allowed districts to transfer up to 50% of their funds into Title I or consolidate their funds for up to 5 years.

And Seattle did what? Chose to be less accountable.

dan dempsey said...

Accountable ???

Look at Seattle's recent Math adoptions of Everyday Math and Connected Math and Seattle's prior advocacy for TERC/Investigations. Hard to find more ethnically discriminatory materials than these.

Look at Bellevue's use of TERC/Investigations and Connected.
On WASL Spring 2007 Bellevue produced their worst ever 10th grade WASL performance in Math for Black students.

Check out these numbers:
Current Math Gaps in Bellevue:
..........grades.. 10th ... 7th ... 4th
Black Students.... 55% - 53% - 59%
Hispanic Students 41% - 46% - 40%

White 10th grade students in B.vue --> 73% WASL math pass rate
Black 10th grade students in B.vue --> 18% WASL math pass rate
Thus the Math Gap is 55% at grade 10 for Black students. The 18% pass rate is the lowest in the last nine years. The 55% is the largest gap ever. ....The UW College of Education ignores the best k-6 Math books in the world......Singapore Math is written in simple basic English because over 50% of the children come from homes in which English is not the primary language. This is the curriculum of the top math nation in the world. How about closing the gap?
Read the research.

When Seattle repeatedly makes ethnically discriminatory math decisions, and generates a decade of declining scores for children of poverty --> Why does Title I fail to hold them accountable???
Guess it is just all politics.
The SPS board continually chooses to be on the side of SPS Admin, U of W, and OSPI, which harms our children. Let's see what they do with the coming high school math adoption? Will more ethnic discrimination be on the way?

More at:
The Math Underground

Charlie Mas said...

I am familiar with the five-year Flex agreement the District has with the feds. Does anyone know for sure that it is the funding source for the Southeast Intitiative or is that just a guess?

Given the Flex agreement, the usual Title I rules don't apply, making them all the more irrelevent.

The Southeast Initiative and the accountability element of that program have nothing to do with school transformation plans, nothing to do with School Improvement Plans, nothing to do with AYP, nothing to do with Title I, nothing to do with NCLB, and nothing to do with the federal government. All mention of these other structures is a distraction and an attempt to confuse the issue.

The Southeast Initiative was approved by the Board with the New Assignment Plan framework and it has its own rules. These rules have not been met and we need some accountability. But we are in the ironic situation of having no one held accountable for failing to implement the accountability plan.

Anonymous said...

Receiving funds from the feds supercedes any local plans or any local accountability. We have one administrator who has risen to the top who specializes in following grant requirements and filling out reports. She is no doubt putting the brakes on the supt.

Anonymous said...

This grants coordinator has her work cut out, because it means coordinating with all the schools in the district and meeting all the requirements of the grant.

No doubt she'd be putting the brakes to the supt and coordinating with support services. You might have changed the funding model and extended deadlines for showing growth, but the end result is the same, and failing to meet the flex guidelines wil mean harsher penalties as in more fed oversight or a substantial loss of federal funding.

Otherwise, why did most districts choose either not to apply or send the flex money to underperforming sites and put the principals in charge. SPS didn't think clearly; or else they have a new grants coordinator.

It probably won't amount to anything when NCLB doesn't get reauthorized, because there will be no republicans left to vote for it.