Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things to look for in September

On another thread on this blog I made a quick list of the things that the District promised would be in place in September in the wake of the APP split. The District has made a number of other commitments about what will be in place come September.

Help us all to remember those items, from instructional and curricular guides for math teachers that align with the State Standards, to a high school ready building for NOVA and SBOC. A number of these commitments come from the Strategic Plan, some out of the Capacity Management Project, and some came out of the Math Adoptions (When exactly are the classrooms supposed to start using the Singapore materials?).

Right now we only want those items that are supposed to be completed, implemented, and fully up and running when school opens in September. By the time we are done, we should be ready with handy guides for the public and the Board to use when "holding staff accountable" (whatever that means), if they should choose to do so.

13 comments:

TechyMom said...

Here's one. A functioning ALO in the general Ed classes at Lowell and TM.

reader said...

And why is a "functioning ALO" more important at Lowell and TM than anywhere else? Why shouldn't there be functioning ALO's everywhere. BTW. There's no ALO in K, so you can cool your jets.

TechyMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TechyMom said...

It isn't more important, but it WAS promised. The question was about things that were promised.

And, honestly, I was just trying to get the conversation started since no one had posted, and holding the district to their promises is one of the most important things we can do. I hope Lowell and tm are pilots, and that there will be more. If they promise city-wide ALO next year, and they haven't executed at Lowell and TM, will you believe them? I won't.

reader said...

Lowell and TM can't be pilots, there are already many ALO's in many schools. If some of them are good, then they should be the pilots. I'd stick to the meaningful "promises".

TechyMom said...

A promise is a promise. We need to hold the district to all of them. Thisone is important to my family, and I'm in a position to verify whether it happens.

Reader, what promises do you think are most important. Are there any you can check up on?

momoftwo said...

reader,
Why the negativity? I've always liked this blog because people are usually respectively of others views. It appears that you are jumping on TechyMom for simply having an opinion and I think everyone has a right to their own opinion.

Charlie Mas said...

I happen to think that the ALO's at Lowell and Thurgood Marshal ARE pilot programs and very important ones.

Every other ALO was the creation of the school. Every other ALO started because the school wanted it, it was designed by the school, and the school is responsible for it.

The ALOs at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall were mandated by the District. The District started them and designed them and has accepted responsibility for them. That's a revolutionary change and an important one as the District moves towards mandating the creation of ALOs in every elementary school.

Also, Thurgood Marshall HAD an ALO before this, but the District is telling them to re-create their ALO into another type. That's also revolutionary. It may be that the District will tell other schools that already have ALOs that they need to re-make them into the standardized type also.

These are pilot programs in a very important way.

ed. practioner said...

Saw a report for Seattle Schools Highly Capable... During 2008-09 school year, in grades K-12, there were 382 students in ALO programs.

For two years, on the district's Advanced Learning home page, ALO has been listed as "an available K-8 offering", NOT a PILOT. There are listed eligibility criteria for determining ALO participation.

ALO uses "differentiated" instruction in a general education setting. The proposed ALO instructional strategies of "differentiation" requires extensive teacher training, separate teacher planning time, special instruction materials, smaller classrooms and measures of student progress in order to work. Otherwise, its just daydreaming about another education theory that can't be practiced in a real classroom. A nice thought though!

A seeming contradiction, the teacher's union has issued a 2005 position against teaching highly capable which includes the ALO students. This is understandable given the requirements for "effective" differentiation for highly capable.

Now how WILL ALO work?

SPSMom said...

Well I will be looking for those Singapore books myself.

owlhouse said...

We walked around Meany this week, peaking in all the windows we could access. Sure enough, labeled Nova and SBOC boxes were in many rooms. That along with left over wood shop-looking scraps, piles of furniture, projects of a bygone era, classroom decorations, shelves partially filled with books, and the occasional message from Meany...
"We'll miss you"
"____ was here"
"Meany was the best"
and, in one particularly clean and organized room, "Welcome BOC, we hope you like it here. Challenge yourself everyday. Always do your best. Open your mind."

I don't remember how much time teachers/staff were allotted to unpack and set up, but from what I saw of the Nova wing of Meany, it's an even bigger task than I would have expected. Or maybe the district is going to send in cleaners?

Mercermom said...

Excerpts from the letter Dr. Vaughan sent to APP families in December 08:


• Specifying curriculum: Two highly-regarded former APP teachers, Sarah Alsdorf (LA/SS) and Fritzie Reisner (Math), will work with Lowell faculty to clarify curriculum that can be replicated at two sites. Dr. Reisner is also working at Washington and is representing Advanced Learning (AL) on the district high school math adoption committee. AL consulting teacher Roger Daniels is working with science instructors and curriculum specialists to clarify an accelerated APP science curriculum from Lowell through Garfield. This is work that was planned and is being accelerated to support anticipated program changes.
• Equal academic quality: The district is concerned about ensuring high-quality schools across the whole system. As part of our strategic plan, we will implement a performance management system, set common performance targets, and with the district's new common assessments, provide visibility to progress.
• Principals: We will have stellar leadership for both elementary sites and will support current middle-school principals in reviewing nationally-renowned exemplary programs for highly gifted students. We intend to announce elementary leaders by March 1 or earlier.
• Teachers: APP teachers will remain with APP students. Regular collaboration between sites will be supported by the Advanced Learning Office.
• Co-housing: At the APP/ALO elementary sites, their principals and faculty, the design team, and the Advanced Learning Office will collaborate to specify, implement, monitor, and refine two model schools that will flourish. Similar efforts will support changes that need to be made at Hamilton and Washington Middle Schools.
• Instructional grouping: Core APP academic classes (language arts, social studies, math, and science) will continue to be self-contained and working 2 years above grade level.
• Staff and resources: All four schools will be staffed and resourced by the district to ensure comparability of programs.
• PTSA: Creating two elementary APP/ALO schools will bring together several PTSA constituencies. APP families moving to Hamilton can anticipate joining a strong, supportive PTSA. Advanced Learning will work with PTSA leaders to ensure all interests are respectfully involved going forward.
• Program capacity: Limits for APP, ALO, Spectrum, and other programs at each site will be monitored and adjusted collaboratively by school leaders, Enrollment Services, and the A.L. Office.

Mercermom said...

Part two of Dr. Vaughan's letter excerpt:

• Design teams: Program leaders, experienced teachers, parents and representatives of key stakeholders will use project management strategies to specify work that must be accomplished to be ready for fall 2009 including resources needed, milestones to be met, stakeholders to be involved, and deliverables to be accomplished.
• Future directions for APP: create curriculum frameworks & common assessments (academic & socio-emotional), increase diversity, improve professional development for staff, offer accelerated learning in more domains, and share in what we intend to be strong program improvements in all schools where APP is offered. At each site, the Advanced Learning Office will collaborate with school staff to explore acceleration strategies to share across the district.
• Future directions for Advanced Learning: improve APP, develop Spectrum programs of comparable quality and appeal throughout the district, develop acceleration strategies to use in all elementary and middle schools to enable students from all schools to take grade-level advanced courses in middle school and AP or IB courses that will be more broadly offered in all our high schools.
• Benchmarks in your child's future in APP: continued accelerated learning with peers, more frequent assessments to document progress, diverse friends who will make middle and high schools even friendlier, teacher collaborations across schools to refine curriculum and assessments, outstanding music programs, earlier access to a broader array of Advanced Placement courses in high school, scores on National Merit, SAT, and AP exams that surpass those of their parents, and high and improving acceptance rates into the most selective colleges and universities in the US.
• Who is working on changes to achieve what by when: work has already begun on specifying the composition and objectives of the design team. Work on curriculum refinement is underway in math and science; language arts and social studies will begin after the holidays. A very promising, innovative testing program (MAP) is now being evaluated by our district's REA Office for possible implementation next fall. Improved bus transportation strategies were slated to begin trials this week; however, inclement weather has pushed back the trial. By February, we should have data to evaluate and possibly replicate the new strategy across all routes to Lowell.