Monday, February 23, 2009

News Roundup

Let me see if I can keep all this straight. We have a number of balls in the air right now and I want to have a sense of what's going on with a diverse set of issues.

Please remind me of anything I've left out.

1) Follow up and fall out from Capacity Management Plan
A) Design Teams are meeting but their authority - relative to the principal's authority - remains unclear. In the absence of a clear sense of their authority, their purpose remains unclear. There's a rising concern that they have neither.
B) Open Enrollment has been delayed and the School Fair has been cancelled.
C) There is supposed to be a second phase of Capacity Management for high schools. But no one is talking about it, when it will start, or how it will work.
D) The Capacity Management Plan was flawed in a number of ways, but there is no sign that anyone in the District leadership is interested in fixing those flaws.

2) Work on the new Student Assignment Plan continues.
A) It has supposedly completed Phase I in which the Academic Guiding Principles and the Operational Guiding Principles were determined. I haven't heard what they are. Maybe that work isn't done. I will contact Dr. Libros and get a solid answer.
B) We are supposed to now be in Phase 2 during which the District staff models scenarios. Didn't they claim they were doing this a year and a half ago at the end of 2007? According to a Superintendent Update to the Board, dated September 19, 2007, the District staff would Design and Test models between September and December of 2007 and present an initial detailed proposal in the first quarter of 2008.
C) Phase 2 is scheduled to end and Phase 3 begin in April. During Phase 3, which is scheduled to last until the end of June, the Board will approve and adopt a new Student Assignment Policy and Plan. The new Plan would then take effect in the Fall of 2010 - although not necessarily for all grades.

3) The Strategic Plan implementation plods forward.
A) A great number - apparently an overwhelming majority - of the initiatives of the Strategic Plan appear seriously, seriously behind in their work. A whole lot of deadlines have passed without any evidence of the action taken.
B) There's no sign of any accountability tied to the Plan.
C) There is little or no information available on the progress made on the Plan initiatives. All requests for progress reports are forwarded to Communications, who have no information to share. The Engagement Protocol, finalized in October 2008, has not been implemented.
D) The Board will not actively monitor the Strategic Plan.
E) There is a disturbing practice of revisionist history getting applied here. Projects are added (Capacity Management) and deleted while the District tries to maintain the fiction of no change in the project list. The District is re-defining the Action Item list (math curriculum), redefining the declared deadlines (claiming they represent when work is supposed to start rather than finish), and redefining the benchmarks (within 10% of the goal counts as meeting the goal) while trying to pretend that there have been no changes.

4) The Southeast Education Intiative has stalled
A) The Initiative suffered, from the start, with mission creep.
B) Initiative resources have been spent on efforts not tied to the Initiative. Rather than using Initiative money to attract new students, expand academic and elective offerings or to increase rigor in core academic subjects, it has been spent on home visits and additional remedial education efforts.
C) Much more money has been spent on the teachers than the students.
D) The selection of Performing Arts as the "signature program" at Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach was questionable - at best.
E) Initiative benchmarks - a year late in getting set - have not been met.
F) The Initiative's first year has been redefined as a planning year and not as the first year at all. This revisionist history extended the three-year effort into a fourth year and has deferred the accountability for a year.
G) Closing Meany Middle School and allocating 225 Hamilton seats to APP will increase enrollment at Aki Kurose as Southeast students will be denied access to these other locations. This increase will be lauded as a sign of the Initiative's success.

5) The Math curriculum is deeply flawed
A) The District is behind on updating curriculum and materials to reflect the new State Standards and performance expectations for Math.
B) The District is long overdue on adopting materials for high school math.
C) The District is in deep denial about the failure of the K-8 math materials and pedagogy.

6) There is no sincere effort to provide equitable access to quality programs and services.
A) Advanced Learning, International, and CTE programs are not equitably distributed.
B) The promises of Special Education reform have grown, but the actual reform has been stalled for yet another year.
C) Bi-lingual programs have seen no significant improvement.

7) The Board is taking a passive role.
A) The Board isn't updating or deleting obsolete Policies.
B) The Board isn't writing new Policies.
C) The Board isn't enforcing any Policies or demanding accountability.
D) The Board isn't actively monitoring the implementation of the Strategic Plan or demanding accountability.
E) The Board isn't representing the community or demanding community engagement.

8) The District appears headed to dictating new start times for schools.
A) There has been no effort to engage internal or external stakeholders on the issue.
B) Cost appears to be the only criteria in the decision.

9) The District's credibility remains in the toilet.
A) The District has chosen to reneg on commitments to the S.B.O.C. and a number of other schools.
B) The District appears to still make decisions in a political and capricious way, without supporting data.
C) There are a shocking number of unfulfilled commitments - See Director Harium Martin-Morris' blog.

10) Capital projects continue to spark controversy
A) The District remains obstinantly intent on cutting down half of the grove at Ingraham.
B) The costs at Garfield continue to spiral up
C) The process by which capital projects are chosen and prioritized has been shown to be dysfunctional
D) Questions continue to arise regarding the Denny/Sealth project
E) The lack of coordination between BTA projects and BEX projects continue; we are spending money on BTA projects that will soon be demolished as part of BEX projects

16 comments:

zb said...

"Much more money has been spent on the teachers than the students."

Huh? because the teachers do what? stay home and eat bonbons? Or because we have a new model of education where instead of paying teachers to teach, we should be paying students to learn?

Central Mom said...

Don't forget the various audits that are supposedly underway or starting soon. Facilities. Alt Ed. Others? Would like a status update on these, too.

Michael Rice said...

Hello

Thank you to Mr. Mas for his news roundup. A few points of interest:

4) The Southeast Education Intiative has stalled

Exactly how has this stalled? We are fully committed to the SE Intiative. It is driving everything that we do.

A) The Initiative suffered, from the start, with mission creep.

Can Mr. Mas please explain the original mission of the SE Initiative? How has "mission creep" occured and even it has, has this been a negative?


B) Initiative resources have been spent on efforts not tied to the Initiative. Rather than using Initiative money to attract new students, expand academic and elective offerings or to increase rigor in core academic subjects, it has been spent on home visits and additional remedial education efforts.

Yes, we do home visits, but those are under the cover of the Flight School Initiative. I can't speak of other schools, but we have spent our money on increasing Advanced Placement offerings. In fact we no longer offer Pre-Algebra.

C) Much more money has been spent on the teachers than the students.

Well, yes, I do get a $5,000 stipend, but it is for additional work and training and extra days beyond the school year. Just to confirm what zb wrote, I am not eating bonbons at home.

D) The selection of Performing Arts as the "signature program" at Aki Kurose and Rainier Beach was questionable - at best.


I find this statement to be shockingly uninformed from such an informed person. RB has one of, if not the best, performing arts centers in the district. To select the Performing Arts as a signature program at RB was a no brainier. I guess Mr. Mas didn't see "Little Shop of Horrors" put on by the RB drama department. I would like to know what the "signature program" at RB should be?


E) Initiative benchmarks - a year late in getting set - have not been met.

I can't speak for all of the benchmarks (because the year is not over yet), but we easily met the enrollment benchmark for this year.

F) The Initiative's first year has been redefined as a planning year and not as the first year at all. This revisionist history extended the three-year effort into a fourth year and has deferred the accountability for a year.

I can't speak to this. RB was prepared to start a year ago, but I think the other schools were ready, but I don't know.

G) Closing Meany Middle School and allocating 225 Hamilton seats to APP will increase enrollment at Aki Kurose as Southeast students will be denied access to these other locations. This increase will be lauded as a sign of the Initiative's success.

I can't comment on this. I only know what happens at RBHS.

I'm sorry Mr. Mas feels the SE initiative is not being successful. I think it is too early to say, but I feel like progress has been made and this is progress that would have been made with the support of the SE Initiative. Now only time will tell, but I think that we have earned a chance to find out if real progress can be made.

dan dempsey said...

So if...
"D) The Board will not actively monitor the Strategic Plan."
What do they do?

Why did any of these people run for School Board?

Clearly no one is held accountable except perhaps some of the students.

There is no formal salary for the School Board members. I guess they are making sure we don't get more than we pay for.

But shouldn't we get what we pay for in the way of an educational product? Who but the board can improve this product when following the Strategic Plan has become "de facto" optional.

anonymous said...

Regarding point 6)b "special education reform has been stalled for yet another year".

This is incorrect. They are moving ahead with the new sped integrated model in fall of 09. It will not be possible to adopt in every building this fall - which I think is responsible to not take on too much too fast when implementing a complete paradigm shift. Please remove this item from your list.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not sure how the anonymous comment got thru but Anonymous, just to be clear, this blog doesn't accept anonymous comments. You have to give your name or some alias so comments can be referenced.

dan dempsey said...

In regard to SE intiative and WASL.

So how do things look now that the 2008 WASL results are in for RBHS?

For Spring 2007 then Spring 2008:
70% in Reading, 69.1% -1 ..goal is for 87.1%
37% in math, 28.6% -8 .. goal is for 81.2%
72% in writing, 92.7% +21 .. goal is for 87.1% {Nailed that one Hooray!!!}
11% in science. 10.9% +0 .. goal is for 35.0%

Here is Cleveland:
62.7% in Reading, 62.8% +0
17.9% in math, 12.2% -5.7 (shows what UW NSF math dollars can do? zilch minus)
73.7% in writing, 76.6% +3
8.0% in science. 6.9% -1

and Aki Kurose at grade 7

54.9% in Reading, 45.5% -8.4
21.8% in math, 22.4% +0.6
57.5% in writing, 59.2% +1.7

-----------------------------
If the district refuses to put a decent k-8 math program in place there is NO WAY that RBHS can make an 81% WASL math passing goal.

It looks like OSPI is going to go for end of course testing for Algebra and Geometry (and maybe Int I and Int II testing) rather than the 10th grade math WASL (sometime in the next few years). Thus that goal of 81% math passing of the WASL may be irrelevant.

--------------------------
There is way too much math repair needed at grade 9 after students survive dysfunctional SPS k-8 math for much high school level math to be taught in grade 9.
Let's see what the board comes up with for a promotion / non-promotion policy as they are currently working on it.
---------------------------

Do the SouthEast initiative testing goals look like they can be attained in the time-frame indicated?
At this point ... it is very unlikely that all the WASL testing goals can be met. Does that mean that the Southeast initiative should be shelved? Again what is the SPS doing to effectively educate the children? and how are they doing it?

I guess that is more than News Roundup .... predicting what this outfit will do next is never easy.

I thought following the Strategic Plan would make predictions of future action easier; but no the SPS admin does not even follow the Strategic Plan and the board seems unconcerned about it.

rugles said...

Here is a public notice I came across last week...

Tacoma School District Equipment Auction/Sale: The Tacoma School District has recently migrated to a new system and is declaring 21 items of mainframe equipment as surplus.

Tacoma got it done.

Is the Seattle School District close to getting it done, or are they still just at the planning to have a plan in place stage?

frustrated seattle parent said...

re: Pathways cuts
As you are all aware the school district has decided to elminiate the current Pathway's program which would elminate math and reading teachers to help students improve their skills in these areas in order to pass the WASL. There has been no mention of what program or safeguards will be put in place of the Pathways program. The school district and the schoolboard are both treating the proposal as a non issue. What are other parents doing to elevate this issue?

Theo said...

I have to agree with Mr. Rice that choosing RBHS as a fine arts academy makes sense. We found and hired an absolutely stellar teacher in Mrs. Linefsky (recruited from North Carolina btw) who has done amazing things with minimal department budget and more 'partnership' headaches than anyone should put up with. RBHS WASL scores are still exceeding every school but one in our demographics and yes we didn't make a few benchmarks this year but we're going to keep hitting it hard. The SEI money paid for many and many textbooks, AP Trainings, and science lab equipment than anything I've seen before of since in that building. The focus on student success is definitely there. Every text, every training, and collaborative days exceeding contract requirements are all student focused.

I agree however with Charlie on his assessment of mission creep. Initially we were to focus on high rigour and intense instruction. Then we got hit with the SpringBoard curriculum which is quite frankly junk. Now they're trying to get teachers to teach all of these 'add-on' components from SpringBoard like CollegEd (which is a voc counseling program) and several as yet unspecified but announced additions. All of that mess needs to be put by the wayside so we can concentrate on a student focused curriculum not a profit focused trough of pork-fodder that is the SpringBoard curriculum.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

re: Frustrated Seattle Parent

See this post here on Pathways cuts.

See this post here on the state education budget.

I wish I had some concrete ideas at this point. Believe me: as soon as I do, I will get the word out.

Charlie Mas said...

The primary purpose of the Southeast Initiative was to make the southeast schools, Aki Kurose, Cleveland, and Rainier Beach, more attractive to the families who live in that area but are sending their children to schools outside the area.

Here is the actual text from the Board Action Report:

"Development of The Southeast Education Initiative reflects a recognition that targeted, District-level intervention is needed to support efforts of selected secondary schools in southeast Seattle to enhance the range of quality programs and instruction that they offer to students.

The vision of the initiative is to:

• Ensure that local secondary schools are the "schools of choice" for residents of southeast Seattle by providing targeted and sustained resources that will enable each school to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for school transformation.
"

Is that how the SEI money has been spent? To make the three schools the schools of choice? Really? When did anyone from the District ever ask families what it would take for them to choose these schools? They never did.

Maybe they could just duplicate the programs that the families were sending their children north to get. I'm sure we can all make a list of the popular programs that families are going north for.

275 Southeast Region students are enrolled at Hamilton, home of an International program. Did the SEI bring an International program to Aki Kurose? No.

Would anyone say that a significant number of them are going north for a school with a performing arts focus, such as the ones at Aki Kurose or Rainier Beach? Unlikely, since they are not going to the schools known for that. I can appreciate the fact that RBHS has a wonderful performing arts facility, but should the facility be driving the curriculum? If the school had a really wonderful kitchen would the signature program be culinary arts? And why a performing arts focus for Aki Kurose? Does Aki Kurose have an amazing performing arts space that demands more use?

Would anyone say that a significant number of them are going north for an extended day, such as the one at Aki Kurose? Unlikely, since no other school offers it.

How is that extended day spent? Does it allow the Aki Kurose students to explore additional electives? Does it allow the students to pursue interests in interesting and challenging programs? No, it's spent in remedial exercises - for ALL students. Is that what people are going north for? Is that going to attract families with students who are working at grade level?

When you look at how the money from the Southeast Initiative is spent, a whole lot of it is spent on teacher training. It is spent on education for the teachers, not education for the students. What evidence do we have that this additional teacher training is attractive to families choosing a school? I suppose it is intended to raise test scores with the idea that the higher test scores will make the schools more attractive. What evidence do we have that the teacher training raises test scores?

There's just not a lot of focused, data-based decision making reflected here.

The 2007-2008 school year was supposed to be the first year of the Initiative, but it was re-defined after the fact as year zero.

Where are the benchmarks? Where are the results? The continuation of the expanded transportation was supposed to be contingent on a 10% increase in the enrollment from that area, but when it came time to renew it, no one asked if the target had been met.

I'm not saying that the staff at these schools aren't sincere and hardworking. I'm positive that they are. I'm saying that the initiative has been horriby mismanaged and that no one is providing the promised accountability.

AutismMom said...

Anonymous, so... are we really sure they are moving ahead with integrated services? I don't think we really know this. Are principals really committed to serving everyone who shows up at their doors? We won't know until it has actually happened.

The enrollment guide says special education students can enroll using the enrollment center.... but, oh wait, if you're not in "resource room", central office staff will be deciding afterall... just like they always have before. So, are students really going to get placed like everyone else, with choice and a system of tie breakers? Will sped students get to go to good schools that have been off limits to them? Or, will the central office just decide to place them in the dud schools again? ... and using to the "we know best" formula? At least with programs, families had an idea of where they might be sent and could petition from a list of known locations. With the "central office will decide" method, we no longer even have that. EG. You can request TOPS or Laurelhurst... but oh darn, don't worry, you'll really love Madrona or Leschi, that's where we've got the "services". Wink. Wink. TOPS never really was an option for you... but you can go ahead color in the bubble on the form.

Proof of equitable assignment will come in 2 years... when we can examine the distribution of special education students from the OSPI records.

dan dempsey said...

Thanks for a link.

When I ran for School Board I said that radical changes like closing schools should be carefully evaluated and co-tenancy should be explored with public service providers and businesses as a way to reduce building maintenance and occupancy costs.

I also thought it unwise to do much until an outcome from the NEWS lawsuit was known. I thought this was going to court in January but it will happen in June:

In a conference call with NEWS consultant Jerry Painter, a retired attorney, the Orcas Island school board discussed the background of the network, its efforts to ensure that “the state ... makes ample provision for the education of the state’s children” and the process of Phase I of NEWS’ lawsuit, which is scheduled to be heard by the Superior Court on June 1, 2009.

The NEWS council looked at similar lawsuits in the U.S. and defined their Phase I goal as “strategic,” holding the legislature to its responsibility to define and fund basic education from stable sources. The lawsuit to be heard next June seeks to order the State of Washington to determine the cost of “21st century basic education” and to set a funding mechanism to pay the cost, said Painter."

dan dempsey said...

I-728 and Class Size.

I-728 may be used for class size reductions but the SPS usually uses lots of I-728 money for coaching and other teacher development programs.

MG-J is not an advocate for class-size reductions. She wants more teacher training.

Charlie is correct
in questioning whether the expenditure of funds on teacher training brings results. I do not think we have much hard data and I am sure results vary.

What can be said is that the teacher training with the Everyday Math adoption did not produce much in the way of positive results. This entire adoption did not produce much in the way of positive results.

Mismanaged .. it is not just the Southeast Initiative that is mismanaged.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

re: I-728

According to the OSPI website, I-728 money may be used for the following purposes:

* Reduce class sizes in grades K-4;
Make selected class size reductions in grades 5-12;

* Provide extended learning for students in K-12;

* Provide additional professional development for educators;

* Provide early assistance for children who need pre-kindergarten support;

* Provide improvements or additions to school facilities which are directly related to class size reductions and extended learning opportunities.

The Pathways cuts are cuts in extended learning. At the beginning of the budget process, Don Kennedy said that cuts would be consistent with the Strategic Plan. I do not see the cuts in Pathways as even remotely consistent with Strategic Goals. What is at work, in my view, is that it's convenient to cut Pathways because there doesn't exist a powerful constituency to defend it.