Saturday, February 21, 2009

Interested in Hearing Discussion on Start Times?

From the district website:

Curriculum & Instruction Policy Committee Meeting
February 23, 2009
4:30 - 6:00 pm

AGENDA
1. Grading Policy
2. Promotion/Non-Promotion Policy
3. Transportation/Bell Times

Committee meetings do not include public input but you can hear how issues are presented to the Board by staff and glean some insight into Board feelings by the questions they ask.

I e-mailed the Board and 4 (count 'em four) members wrote back. (I expressed my annoyance that every decision seems money-driven and if ever there was an academic benefit to be had, it's a later start for middle/high school and 15 minutes wasn't it). They seem to be going on what staff is saying is possible (they must have an hour and 15 minute turnaround). I felt their responses were thoughtful. Director Carr indicated that she would be asking some questions. I wrote back and told her of the discussions here. I mentioned that some here have asked about the multiple stops and might there not be savings in fewer stops and lessen bus ride time. I also asked about why we did not see every K-8 and high school on the list.

8 comments:

Dorothy said...

*Some* routes may need such a turn around time, but in my neighborhood there are two places where buses commonly idle for long times in the morning between routes. I keep thinking I should report the polluting offenders to the district, but I haven't yet; keep forgetting to bring my camera or have pencil ready to take numbers.

Again, this is putting the cart before the horse, because one cannot effectively streamline transportation issues without having the assignment plan known.

And of course, this transportation decision is devoid of any academic merit. I thought all decisions were to be data-driven and based on academic goals.

dan dempsey said...

WOW!!!
I would be even more interested in hearing the discussion on:
2. Promotion/Non-Promotion Policy

dan dempsey said...

Here is all of D43.00:
POLICY

It is the policy of the Seattle School Board that students will be promoted to the next school level only when they have achieved the academic requirements of the previous level.


In mathematics the Seattle Schools have yet to figure out if the curriculum is the state Math Standards or not.

From the Feb 12, 2009 NEWS release:
In 2006, Seattle Public
Schools adopted the CMPII math curriculum for all middle schools and Everyday Math, augmented with Singapore Practice, in 2007 for elementary schools.


So I guess that the curriculum is CMP2 at grades 6,7,8 and EDM at grades k-5. So then what are the academic requirements for promotion?

I would be inclined to believe that the State Math standards are the curriculum except it is hard to support that view given the SPS math situation.

Here is the situation....
The Strategic Plan of June 2008 says:
Immediate Actions

• Math: A Math Project Team will develop an implementation plan and timeline for action during summer 2008. Alignment of the elementary and middle school instructional materials to the new State Performance Expectations will be completed this summer. Teacher leaders from each elementary, middle and high school will be trained during the summer of 2008 to facilitate professional development sessions for their schools around the mathematics content and the pedagogy needed to support implementation of an aligned program.


---------------
Math program director Anna-Maria de la Fuente believes that this June 2008 Immediate action was met during the Summer of 2008. So I imagine the board members might think the same. She sites evidence of this with the posted pacing plan for Everyday Math. ... Found here:
http://www.seattleschools.org/area/math/PacingGuides/Pacing.htm

Take a look for yourself at Grade 5.
This guide shows only the rate at which lessons are covered in EDM and nothing else. Does Ms. de la Fuente believe that EDM alone covers the Wa State Math Standards? I would have to assume so.

Here is the introduction to D44.00 the Promotion/Non-Promotion policy for k-5:
Generally, except for unusual and compelling circumstances, a student who has not achieved the Necessary skills will not be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher grade. Grade-level curricula and associated student learning objectives of the District represent the expectations for student performance. Classroom instruction is planned to accommodate a reasonable range of performance. However, some students' skill deficiencies may be so severe that allowing more than one year for completion of a particular grade level is a
reasonable alternative to promotion.


----------------------------
This should be a really interesting discussion on Wed Feb 23, 2009 in light of the following.

At grade 5 the state math standards clearly state that students will demonstrate fluency and accuracy in dividing a four digit number by a one or two digit divisor using the standard algorithm.

The EDM standard Grade 5 math text does not teach the long division using the standard algorithm. In stead a couple of weeks are spent on partial products and estimation instead of what the State standards require.

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A big problem is the language from the strategic plan:
the pedagogy needed to support implementation of an aligned program.


From board members statements: the math program is to be aligned to the state math standards .. great idea.

To do so will require content alignment and content alignment has ZERO to do with pedagogy. If students can demonstrate content mastery they have learned the needed processes to do so (processes are learned within the learning of content).

Unfortunately the SPS have yet to admit their math programs from the last decade are horribly content deficient. From the Math Program Director on up there is no one with a math degree in the Current SPS admin. When you do not know the content ... I guess all there is would be talking about pedagogy and the decision making process.

E.D. Hirsch and the Core Knowledge movement ... please come to Seattle.

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The easy vote will be to toss out the promotion/non-promotion policies and just write up the de facto social promotion policy that has been in effect for so long.

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To improve a system requires the intelligent application of the relevant data.

Empirical evidence should be used to form one's views. The SPS relies on a failed philosophy to make math decisions.

--------------
Empirical evidence reveals that the Immediate actions for math on page 17 of the Strategic Plan have not been met.
Will anyone be held responsible? ... Hey, will anyone even notice?

The math program manager and the central admin apparently have not.
Any chance the school directors will notice?

dan dempsey said...

As to what the math expectations might be expected for grades 6, 7, 8 and how the SPS is currently meeting them that would be anyone's guess.

Of course the District has the math grade level performance expectations website posted for grades 6, 7, 8. These can not be the basis for promotion / non-promotion because they are not connected to what happens in Grade 6,7,8 any more than EDM connects to the State Standards in grades k-5.

There is no pacing plan that I can find for CMP2 or any correlation to the WA state math standards. Hey wasn't that supposed to happen in Summer 2008 according to "Excellence for ALL"?

Does anyone have an idea about this?

Thanks,

Dan

dan dempsey said...

From the middle school policy D45.00

Generally, except for unusual and compelling circumstances, a student who has not achieved the necessary skills will not be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher grade.
.........

2. Notice To Students - A document which clearly sets forth the requirements and standards of performance that are necessary to pass a class. This document will be:

A. Provided to the students by the teachers.
B. Studied thoroughly.
C. The basis for a quiz assigned to determine how well its contents are understood by each student.
D. Signed by students and parents or guardians and returned to the teacher.
E. Retained by the teachers or counselors for future reference.

----------------
Has anyone seen this document in the last 10 years?

Has anyone been held responsible?

Charlie Mas said...

It's pretty clear that the people who wrote the Strategic Plan thought - as most of us thought - that the District would implement the new State Standards starting this school year. That is apparently incorrect. The new State Standards, adopted in April of 2008, will not be implemented in Seattle Public Schools math classes until the 2009-2010 school year. The Strategic Plan is wrong.

Once again, we see a lot of confusion between materials and curriculum - from the District. And they act haughty and dismissive when members of the community are confused.

From the Feb 12, 2009 NEWS release:
In 2006, Seattle Public
Schools adopted the CMPII math
curriculum for all middle schools and Everyday Math, augmented with Singapore Practice, in 2007 for elementary schools.

Everyday Math is not a curriculum - it is materials.
CMP II is not a curriculum - it is materials.

When I attended a meeting on the Strategic Plan I asked about the initiative to align the math curriculum. When I asked what it was to be aligned to, I was told Everyday Math in K-5, CMP II in 6-8, and a textbook series to be named later in high school. When I pointed out that these are materials, and not curricula, the person leading the meeting and answering the questions didn't appear to understand the difference.

Do we have a document that defines the curriculum? I have seen documents that define and describe the State Standards, but nothing that defines the curriculum for Seattle Public Schools. That's probably because the Board has yet to adopt one.

Director Martin-Morris asked Ms delaFuente if adopting materials wasn't putting the cart before the horse since the District had yet to adopt a curriculum. She told him that the State had determined the curriculum with their new Standards and that there wasn't anything for the Board to do on that score.

At that same meeting Ms delaFuente told the Board - very clearly - that the materials do not dictate the curriculum. She told them that the State Standards and Performance Expectations dictated the curriculum. (Actually, the Board is supposed to determine the curriculum, but the Board's curriculum will essentially match the GLE's from the State.) Ms delaFuente also said that the pedagogy, the teaching style if you will, was a third independent element. She was emphatic on the point - so long as the content of the curriculum is supported by the materials, the teacher will pick and choose what is needed from the materials to support the lesson and can deliver that lesson in either the traditional math style or the reform math style.

This view, that Ms delaFuente holds so strongly, that the curriculum, the materials, and the pedagogy are all independent decisions, is difficult to accept. Most of the rest of us have observed that the materials - along with the District's insistence on fidelity of implementation - are dictating the curriculum and the pedagogy. It has been a common observation that the choice of Everyday Math has locked us into teaching only what is in the EDM books, teaching it in the order that the content appears in the books (the pacing guide does not skip around), and teaching it in the reform style supported by the books. These books cannot be used to support teaching content they do not include (such as long division) so they dictate the curriculum. They cannot be used to support teaching in a traditional style - because they lack directions for the standard algorithms and they lack the sufficient number of practice problems.

All of this makes me curious about a few things:

1) How could the writers of the Strategic Plan not know when the District intended to implement the new State Standards for math?

2) Why does it take us a year and a half to change the content of our math instruction to match the new State Standards? Why wasn't four months sufficient planning time for that?

3) Why did Seattle Public Schools invest the time and effort during the Summer of 2008 to update and revise the Pacing Guide and the Curricular Guide to match the obsolete State Standards? Couldn't they have used that time and effort to re-write them to the NEW State Standards instead?

4) How is it that we can adopt new materials for high school math in the Spring and be ready to teach them in the fall but we couldn't alter our existing elementary and middle school instruction over the same time period?

5) What is Ms delaFuente observing in math classes that leads her to believe that the textbooks are NOT dictating the lesson - which is what everyone else sees?

6) When will the District get it straight about what is curriculum, what is materials, and what is pedagogy? When will they stop confusing the public on the distinction and when will they stop talking down to the people they have confused?

dan dempsey said...

So the question now becomes ....
When (if ever) does the School Board state that elements of the Strategic Plan timeline have not been followed?

I hope they do not ignore this in the same way they ignore School Board policies that often get ignored for years.

In particular: page 17

Immediate Actions
• Math: A Math Project Team (who was on this team and who directed them?) will develop an implementation plan and timeline for action during summer 2008. Alignment of the elementary and middle school instructional materials to the new State Performance Expectations will be completed this summer.

This did not happen. There is no alignment to Math State Standards.
Is there a school board member with enough gumption to say so?

or is no one ever held accountable?

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

You said:
When I attended a meeting on the Strategic Plan I asked about the initiative to align the math curriculum. When I asked what it was to be aligned to, I was told Everyday Math in K-5, CMP II in 6-8, and a textbook series to be named later in high school. When I pointed out that these are materials, and not curricula, the person leading the meeting and answering the questions didn't appear to understand the difference.

It is increasingly clear that to be in a math leadership position in the SPS requires a commitment to a failed philosophy and has nothing to do with math content knowledge or common sense.

These folks look to be competing with facilities for that most dysfunction award.