Friday, October 30, 2009

Open Thread

There's a number of important SPS meetings next week. The weather is gray, dreary and rainy.

But it's Friday. It's the Friday before Halloween. Saturday night it's time to fall back one hour to standard time - change those clocks!

(Yes, I had it wrong previously.)

71 comments:

dave said...

I believe it's "fall back" (as opposed to "spring ahead")

seattle citizen said...

Yep, set clocks BACK: at 2:00am Sunday, reset to 1:00Am (hence the extra hour of sleep)

seattle citizen said...

I write that only because I so often get confused...I'm writing to myself, really!

Robert said...

Well we got Mary's fluff and filler brochure. I normally recycle those immediately so I was wondering if they shouldn't have more to say about their ideas for the future and previous accomplishments. More than 2/3 of the flyer was photos (and most of those appeared to be taken before she was elected 8 years ago). Where's the relevance?

TechyMom said...

The photos were of her as a student at Central Area schools. I found them compelling. I ended up voting for Kay, but it was the hardest decsion on the ballot. I think both of them have a lot to offer the board. They have very different perspectives, both valuable, and wish we could have both of them. I actually ended up writing in Mary in DeBell's race. I rarely vote for unopposed candidates.

Robert said...

Interesting TM; Who did you chose for district 7?

Dorothy said...

LOL, I almost never vote for the unopposed either. For DeBell's race I put in Chris Jackins.

TechyMom said...

Patu, who I hope will bring some of what Mary has offered, in terms of representing the needs of lower-income students, and not being afraid to call BS on MGJ.

Butter Goats said...

I hope by "open thread" you mean anything is fair game. I've been reading this blog for awhile; I've got a 6th grader and a 3rd grader. I often read here about someone not liking their child's school or a particular class or subject. And I wonder, how do I know if my child is learning what he needs to learn in class? Aren't I dependent on the teachers for that - I don't know what math a 3rd grader is supposed to learn, or what a 6th grader should learn in English or science. It's not all test scores, is it? I help with the homework so I see what they're doing, and I assume it's the right stuff. Sometimes they struggle with it or need extra help, but I figure that's normal. For instance, I see most people hate Everyday Math, yet my daughter learned that from 1st grade on and is now in Honors Math at Hamilton. Am I wrong? I don't want my kids to fall behind because I'm missing something.

seattle citizen said...

Butter Goats:
Your student is "expected" to learn these things, among others:
Washington:
Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) - these are what the WASL (umm, the new tests, now) test - the skills and knowledge washington thinks your kid needs.
District:
The approved curriculum, which, in theory, are the skills and knowledge the district approves. These SHOULD correlate with EALRs. These are the grade level expectations found in the District-Approved curriculums (see text books for the main evidence of this) Schools can also supplement their curriculum, with approval by the principal, with, uh, supplementary materials.

The teacher should be able to provide a syllabus - I don't know what they do at third grade, but in 6-12 teachers HAVE to. This should tell you what, generally, the teacher will cover over the scope and sequence of the class (the scope bing what they'll cover; the sequence being in what order....hopefully "scaffolded," where one lesson is followed logically by the next.)

To find out what your child will supposedly be learning (and I don't mean that facetiously: things change, even in the best classrooms. Unless lessons are scripted, without variation, there will be variation...)
look at texts;
ask teacher for syllabus or list of concepts they'll teach;
Go online to OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) and look for EALRS
(wait, here, I'll link:
http://www.k12.wa.us/curriculuminstruct/
EALR_GLE.aspx
GLE are grade level equivilants - the tiny little target knowledge in the bigger strand of the topic or knowledge of the EALRs)

Butter Goats said...

Seattle Citizen -

Thanks for the info. Does this mean that I SHOULDN'T trust that the teachers are teaching what they should be? I need to actually go and look this all up? Wow.

seattle citizen said...

No, I didn't address your whole post, just the part about "what should my student be learning?"

Hmmm...trust...well....

Yes, we would like to trust that all the teachers are just fantastic, and they all know how to differentiate to meet the various and sundry variables they're presented with in any given class: skill level; style of learning; culture; gender; etc etc etc.
But of course they can't. MOST teachers are very good. SOME can differentiate amazingly well. ALL have a variety of issues facing them in a classroom, including the aforementioned things but also such things as management, transitions, etc.

One would hope that you could assume your teacher is doing a "good job" and you can trust that, generally, things are going well. Will your student learn EVERY GLE? No. I'd say it's impossible. BUT this is the way it's been for years, and when things are going right that's okay: good teachers inspire, cover material, vary lessons...outcomes might not by quantifiable or similar, but outcomes are QUALITY outcomes - we trust teachers to do what's best given their circumstance and the needs of the children.

Should you check? Absolutely. Check work, check assessments (what kind are they? How is your student doing?) Check the new MAP system results (if your child is K-9) and see what that system tells you, as a GENERAL indicator (it's just a machine), where your child is at in various skills...
Check at home: do a CLOZE reading assessment.
Check literacy - comprehension, evaluation and reporting, not just of words but of anything...can they THINK?

Call the teacher...sometimes. Don't bug them if you think things are generally okay, but if you ahve questions...actually, use email if you can; teachers are often busy, and email allows them time to answer at prep or lunch or whatever.

Check materials: are they appropriate? Does homework introduce new skills, or is it practice (should just be practice or demonstration, i.e. write a paper after learning how in class)

Get to know other parents to compare notes on how THEIR kid is doing, is teacher meeting THEIR needs? Some students excel with certain kinds of teachers, some don't, it might not be the teacher but rather the style of learning the kid is used to...ask your student to be flexible, to learn new ways of learning...pretty real-world, eh? But if a teacher is off-track for many students, is assigning new material as homework, is not assigning anything...is assigning off-the-wall stuff that doesn't seem connected to scope and sequence...

But by all means familiarize yourself with with EALRs, GLEs and teh textbooks, etc. Don't study them, just glance through so you have an idea of what might be expected at that level. But remember your child isn't a "level" but a complex, amazing little human bean.

gavroche said...

Blogger Dorothy said...

LOL, I almost never vote for the unopposed either. For DeBell's race I put in Chris Jackins.


Now that's inspired! What a great protest vote. I think I may follow your lead.

SPS mom said...
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gavroche said...

Butter Goats said...
For instance, I see most people hate Everyday Math, yet my daughter learned that from 1st grade on and is now in Honors Math at Hamilton.


Has Everyday Math really been with us that long? I thought the District used something called TURK before EDM, and only switched to EDM a few years ago.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, SPS is absolutely right, IF you are looking for what YOU think your child should know...

My advice was directed towards what the state and the district say they want your child to know: These might not include some things you want, or include some you don't.

CA Science standards might be different than WA, but WA is what is supposed to be taught in schools.

Of course, these standards don't speak to history, art, shop, civics, philosophy...In fact, there is no graduation test, WASL, to measure those things at all.

SPS mom said...
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SPS mom said...
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Laura said...

I would love a thread about class size. What are the class sizes out there? My son's in APP 3rd grade with 29 kids. I think that class is too big. While I like his teacher, and see that he is learning, I have many examples of how things would be going better if there were just a few less kids in the room.

When I toured schools for his kindergarten year in 2006, average class sizes were around 23-24, for k-3. I noticed a spectrum class at whittier that had 32, but that was an exception. Now it seems like the norm.

Anytime I complain, I get something like "well that's no big deal, Bryant has 30." So that makes it OK? I also see the district being able to average out class size across a school or schools to make things look good. For example, the 2rd grade ALO at Lowell has
14 kids, the 2nd grade APP, 28. So average 2nd grade at Lowell is 21. If only.

I'd also love to know if there's a big North end/South end discrepancy with class size. For APP, South end APP has much better class sizes.

By the way, I googled class size, and learned that New York City parents are up in arms about class size. They have the worst (biggest) class sizes in the state. Average third grade class size: 21.8

lak367 said...

I'm with Laura. I'd love to know more about class sizes throughout the district. I also toured in both 2006 and 2007, and NE schools were aiming for 22-23/grade for K/1 back then.

When Bryant added a 5th K class in 2008 for my child's large cohort, we were told that a teacher would basically follow this cohort to keep class size reasonable. That commitment is already broken, as we have four 1st grades instead of five. Each class has 27 students. If they'd used a 5th teacher, the class sizes would be 21-22. Interestingly, the Bryant web site still talks about how they use I-728 funds to keep 1st grade classes at 22 children, however!

I was told that there just wasn't enough money to have another 1st grade teacher this year. I am not really willing to accept that. If it was a priority to have small classes for K/1 for the last decade, it should still be a priority today. Maybe someone in the central office needs to come back to teaching in schools, if Meg Diaz's report is accurate (and I'm guessing it is).

And like Laura said, it's not encouraging when folks say "Well, another school has 30/class." We need to compare throughout the district to see how endemic class size creep is so we can advocate for all our kids.

And FWIW, I have two good friends that teach elementary school on the East coast, and both told me they were sorry to hear that my daughter was in such a large 1st grade class, that that was not a good way to go.

I feel like a broken record on this topic, and I'd love to have a dedicated thread to discuss it with others who are concerned. Yeah, it's not the largest issue in the district right now, but it's large in my life.

seattle citizen said...

SPSmom, thanks for the figures. Let's extrapolate $695 per year to a family's expenditures:

For a 500,000 house, say a fmaily needs 100,000 joint earnings, take home...70,000
= Take home approx 6000

Mortgage: 2000
Household 200
Food 400
Cars 300
Util 300
Prop Taxs 400
General 500
Fun 400
Invest 1000
--------------
expenses 5500

School levies 58

hmm...what a deal!

Cara said...

This radio show on KUOW was a very interesting look at high schools from the students perspective. I hope the Seattle School Board and MGJ are listening...

The Teen Perspective on Education, Transportation, and Youth Violence
Wednesday, October 28, 2009 11:05 AM
How do teenagers view the city of Seattle? City government legislates, funds and enacts lots of programs meant improve the education and safety of young people. What's working? Has the money that's been spent to reduce youth violence or combat gangs changed the lives of young people in this city? What do teenagers make of the city's transit system? They often rely on Metro more than adults do. What's it like to attend Seattle Schools? What would they change? What are the most pressing issues from their perspective? Which adults help them the most? Four young people join us with their insight. Are you a teenager? What's your experience? Call 206.543.5869(KUOW). All of that after the news from Canada with Vaughn Palmer.
Media files
WeekdayB20091028.mp3

Mum o 2 said...

My son's K class is 26 students. I would like smaller class sizes. When we toured last year (north and north-west schools) all the k's seemed to have 21 or 22. I think all the schools are just overcrowded and had to not only add now K classes but also increase class sizes.

Then I hear about some class-size reduction funds. Are those funds now being used for something else??

lak367 said...

I don't really understand it, but I've been told I-728 funds "dried up" this year. That was the initiative passed earlier this decade to reduce class sizes.

So in my earlier post, I guess my point is that Bryant should update it web site! I'd rather read what the school is doing to ensure adequate learning opportunities in this budget environment, rather than being reminded that although 74% of us voted for smaller class sizes with that initiative, some of us just won't be given those smaller classes any more.

Isn't education funded through property taxes? Despite decreased housing values in the last year or two, our property tax bill has gone up double digit percents for a decade now. So why isn't there still money? I never understand this discrepancy. (Sure, sales taxes are down during the recession, so do they just divert property tax money to cover that?)

Laura said...

I can't remember how long ago it was (few months?), but Ross Reynold's interviewed Dr. G-J on KUOW and he asked about class size, as in "what are the average class sizes in Seattle?" and Dr. G-J's response was "I don't have those numbers memorized." That was it. End of discussion. How hard is it to memorize the average class size number? That seems like an important fact to know. Maybe if you supervised a few less "Directors" in the central office, you'd have time to memorize that information and be able to communicate it effectively to the tax payers

Catherine said...

lak367,

My son was in first grade at Bryant last year and he had 28 kids in his class too. Last year the principal invited the first grade parents in to basically warn us that when those four first grade classes reached second grade, they would be compressed into three classrooms, which would have been 33+ students per class. I suppose the only reason they did not go through with that was due to the limits imposed by the teachers' union.

Someone asked why the website cited 22 students per first grade when there were actually 28 and Ms. Fox told us that they basically average out the time they are in the library and PE, etc, to arrive at that number!

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I've always heard that Dr. G-J doesn't worry about class size. Evidently she thinks it doesn't matter. Can anyone contradict this?

Teachermom said...

I would imagine that when MG-J was a teacher, she cared a whole lot about class size.

But I have heard her say several times that class size doesn't matter. It's just the teachers that need to be better and work harder.

Yup.

StepJ said...

The small class sizes do make a difference.

I have had children at younger grades in a class of 28 with excellent teachers. But there were so many kids it was more about crowd management than getting to know individual students and engaging them in a way that they would truly excel.

At a different school with great teachers and small class sizes the teacher has been able to get to know my children as individuals and their individual learning styles. Their trajectory of learning has been like a rocket ever since.

In my personal view the MGJ line about class size not mattering is crap.

A great teacher can work wonders -- but with too many kids they will either have to devote their entire life to only the classroom. Or, they will burn out in a very short period of years to the detriment of their own family.

So yes. Class size does matter for both student and teacher.

gavroche said...

Blogger SolvayGirl1972 said...

I've always heard that Dr. G-J doesn't worry about class size. Evidently she thinks it doesn't matter. Can anyone contradict this?


Does anyone know how big the class sizes are at South Shore/New School? Because that is where Supt. Goodloe-Johnson has sent her daughter. What's the bet the classes are smaller there? Practice what we preach...not?

10/30/09 5:48 PM
Blogger Teachermom said...

I would imagine that when MG-J was a teacher, she cared a whole lot about class size.


I've heard that MG-J actually wasn't a teacher for very long but quickly left teaching for administration. Anyone know if this is true?

She certainly does not run this District with the sense or sensibility of an educator. The vast majority of her edicts have been harmful to our kids (disruptive and irrational closures resulting in larger class sizes, successful schools and programs broken in half, moved or weakened, kids dispersed) and shockingly disrespectful of our teachers (RIFs announced on Teacher Appreciation Week, for godssake(!), and rendered further senseless by the increase in enrollment).

I believe her resume says she has a Special Ed background, and yet she treated some of the District's most fragile Special Ed kids callously during her "Capacity Management Plan" process.

If this is how she performed as a teacher, I don't suspect she was a particularly good one.

What exactly is her record as a teacher? Does anyone know?

gavroche said...

On the subject of the School Board races, does anyone know what Kay Smith-Blum's position is on charter schools?

I thought she said she opposed them in a forum during the primary election.

If so, why has she highlighted and linked to this pro-charter edu-reform-speak op-ed by Nicholas Kristof on her Facebook page?

(see: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kay-Smith-Blum-for-Seattle-School-Board/161467469417?ref=mf)

"There are no silver bullets, but researchers are gaining a better sense of what works in education for disadvantaged children: intensive preschool, charter schools with long hours, fewer certification requirements that limit entry to the teaching profession..." NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Op-Ed Columnist - Democrats and Schools - NYTimes.com
Source: www.nytimes.com

old salt said...

Historically Bryant has had some of the biggest class sizes in the city. They have been over contract limits more often than under them. Using the weighted student formula, bryant was able to pay for a head teacher, full time librarian, reading specialist and other staff that were not affordable with the otherwise small allocations the school received. For a few years (5 or 6?) they had I-728 $ to lower only first grade class sizes. When they started pay for K, kindergarten class sizes went down, they were at 28+ before that.

Tour guides use to tell parents that class sizes were big at Bryant and parents for whom that was a priority would choose other schools. I remember walking into a 5th grade classroom on the tour & kids couldn't even move their chairs, the room was was so crowded with 33 kids.

Since the change in budgeting to Weighted staffing standards, Bryant lost a significant amount of funding and any advantage from big class sizes. They also lost the ability to control enrollment with the overcrowding in NE. The principals in NE can no longer restrict class size.

Ben said...

"I'd also love to know if there's a big North end/South end discrepancy with class size. For APP, South end APP has much better class sizes."

My 2nd grader at Marshall APP is in a class of 18. Unless it's 17.

SPSMom said...
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SPSMom said...

"I've always heard that Dr. G-J doesn't worry about class size. Evidently she thinks it doesn't matter. Can anyone contradict this?"

Class size may not matter to MJG while on the job. But it has been noted that HER child is enrolled in a program known for free PreK and all day K...and small class sizes, subsidized by private funding.

adhoc said...
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adhoc said...

I didn't know much about New School so I looked at their 2008 annual report.

From the report:

New School offers "a fully developed arts program including vocal and percussion music, visual arts, technology, dama, PE, Yoga, swimming and movement"

What a contrast to say, Madrona.

New School offers "academic acceleration"

Wow, revelation, a parent (MGJ) wants a school that offers academic acceleration opportunities for their child.

New School uses "project based learning" and has a "social justice theme"

Both of these have been tested and proven effective in the very alts that MGJ is closing and standardizing.

New school has free pre-k, free all day K, extended day opportunities, after school enrichment classes, and before and after school care.

And to think most elementary schools have no pre-k, have $200+ per month tuition for all day K, and only offer tuition based before/after school babysitting (with no scholarships).

New school does home visits.

I've not heard of any other public school doing this anywhere in SPS.

As of 2008, the New school has a 6 year grant.

Wow, stability. Wonder what the families at Jane Addams would do for that?

And I saved the best for last:
New school is committed to "Small class sizes and a high adult-to-child ratio"

Shocking at a time when we hear about major overcrowding in the NE cluster, and Bryant having a 33 kid 5th grade class.

No wonder MGJ chose this school.

old salt said...

Just a note,

I toured Bryant a number of years ago. I do not know what their class sizes are currently.

adhoc said...

My son graduated from Bryant last year.

He had 30 kids in his 3rd grade class, 31 in his 4th grade class, and 30 in his 5th grade class.


Even at 30/31 the classes are huge. The kids can't walk up and down the aisles in the classroom, and had to turn sideways in some areas. They had to share cubby's. Had 3 lunch shifts. Lost the science lab to form another classroom.

Meanwhile....at New School.......

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, if New School gets some kind of protection out of the new SAP (not filling the school - they are up to grade 7 so they should be at grade 8 by next fall) then we'll know something's up.

adhoc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
uxolo said...

from the New School Foundation site, "How long will your program be in the schools?
The foundation's commitment to T.T. Minor was for eight years and ended in 2006. The current commitment to The New School is for ten years and is scheduled to end in 2012."

What's the point? Is this foundation trying to prove that if every school has a bunch of outside donors and can get the supt or other political figures to enroll their kids that the school will work and/or be protected from the idiocy of the central district decision making?

Charlie Mas said...

I, for one, would have been much happier if the superintendent had enrolled her daughter at Dunlap, on the other side of the fence from South Shore. I think it would have been a stronger statement of her belief that every school were a good school.

On the other hand, it does bode well for her support of alternative schools, doesn't it?

Melissa Westbrook said...

So Adhoc reports that
"As of 2008, the New school has a 6 year grant." That would make it thru 2014.

But Uxolo reports:

"The current commitment to The New School is for ten years and is scheduled to end in 2012."

I wonder which it is?

adhoc said...

Melissa, I got the 6 year figure from the SPS 2008 (most current) annual report.

From the report:
"Grant-supported for at least the next 6 years by the New School Foundation. These additional dollars support Pre-K, small class sizes,instructional assistants and staff training"

Here is the link to the report:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/test/anrep/anrep_2008/291.pdf

adhoc said...

So, what happens to New School if the grant isn't extended? How do they fund all of the "extras" without the private dollars? Do they all just go away, and New School becomes just like every other public school? And are parents who enroll aware that this could happen?

SPSMom said...

"On the other hand, it does bode well for her support of alternative schools, doesn't it?"

I don't think it does, I think it bodes well for charter schools. Two reasons, there is nothing really alternative about the New School and two, it is an example of what a private/public partnership can do. Free tuition and smaal classes, and some enrichment.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Adhoc wrote: So, what happens to New School if the grant isn't extended? How do they fund all of the "extras" without the private dollars? Do they all just go away, and New School becomes just like every other public school? And are parents who enroll aware that this could happen?

Isn't that pretty much what happened when the money ran out at TT Minor—another Sloan-funded school? Does anyone know the history on this? I only vaguely recall what happened and don't want to state my memory as fact.

uxolo said...

The New School history is not very pretty. Olchefske let them establish before going to the Board for a Memorandum of Understanding was ever presented.

I would not trust the district website regarding the funding cycle. I would trust the New School's site for accuracy.

TT Minor had part of their building's programs operated by funds from the Foundation. It was not a good thing for those who were not provided with their dollars. Where were those dedicated Sloan/New School people once the funding ended? Did they lobby to keep TT Minor open? Did they admit failure? I don't think so.

Butter Goats said...

To Gavroche,

Sorry I wasn't around this weekend to answer your question about EDM. My daughter went to Green Lake, and they started piloting it there when she was in first grade.

Charlie Mas said...

There was a reluctant admission of failure at T T Minor, but there was also a lot of blamestorming.

The Sloan people blamed the district and the school, the school blamed the district and the Sloan people, the district blamed the Sloan people and the school. None of them ever acknowledged that they did anything wrong.

The school was torn apart in every possible way. Then it was isolated from its community. Then enrollment was messed with. Then it was abandoned. Then it was closed.

Robert said...

Yeah Gavroche Kay has told me that she is against charters. Send her an email and ask her yourself (I am certain she will respond ;-) electkaysmithblum@gmail.com ).

dan dempsey said...

Math history for Gavroche,

TERC/Investigations was widely used in the SPS prior to the Everyday Math adoption on May 30, 2007.

EDM was piloted for a number of years at Green Lake prior to SPS adoption. As usual lots of EDM anecdotes came from the Green Lake principal but relevant data was nowhere to be found.

I testified about Denver's poor k-8 results with an EDM / Connected Math combination. Now k-5 we have similar results in Seattle. The board is consistent ... they ignore relevant data .. and no improvement results.

Schmitz Park has not used EDM going to 100% Singapore Math in 2009-2010 from a blend of TERC and/or Singapore in since 2007-2008 depending on the teacher.

North Beach has been using Saxon since then principal Niki Hayes introduced it in 2001.

Recently with the arrival of principal Joanne Bowers ( a couple years ago) North Beach's WASL scores have tanked in all subjects. North Beach is at the bottom of the barrel when comparisons are made with schools of similar demographics.

reader said...

Seems the high performing schools like Schmitz Park and North Beach don't do especially well using old-fashion math. They should be required to use the new stuff too, like everyone else, since they haven't really shown any appreciable gain with Singapore or Saxon compared with schools of similar demographics. Data cuts both ways. Compare those schools scores to the scores of similar schools: Lafayette, John Hay, Montlake, Bryant.. etc.

Handing out "hall passes" should only be allowed if there's a clear benefit (not as in these schools). Otherwise the district incurs extra costs, extra trainings, extra difficulties when parents and kids transition to and from those schools...etc etc etc.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the parents at South Shore are aware that their school is greatly helped by the funding from the New School Foundation. Do they all know when it runs out? I doubt it. Will New School continue this experiment? Again, unclear. But if the funding goes away, they will be funded just like every other K-8. I have no idea what would happen to the pre-school; maybe a private operator would take over.

Charlie is right; the TT Minor/New School Foundation relationship ended up a mess. As was pointed out, for some odd reason, part of the school was funded (I think it was K-2) and the rest wasn't. You can imagine how this felt for parents.

As I have mentioned previously (and is shored up by the recent thread on charters) many foundations/charter organizations would rather start a brand new school than try to overhaul an existing one.

SPS mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hschinske said...

North Beach used to have much better math scores, I believe. I always figured it was probably more due to their grouping kids for math and allowing them to proceed at their own pace than it was to their using Saxon. I know they still do group that way, because they've started mentioning the fact on their website: http://www.seattleschools.org/schools/northbeach/ says
"All School Math Block
Students in first through fifth grades are taught math based on their ability, not their grade level. In addition to our classroom teachers, we have three other teachers that take groups for math instruction."

I wonder what *has* changed for them. Does the new principal have anything to do with the scores going down? Have crucial teachers retired/moved? *Is* there a meaningful pattern to their scores, or could it be random fluctuation?

Helen Schinske

SPS mom said...

Go to the 9/16/09 recording of the Seattle School Board. At minute 18:00 is testimony given by a former North Beach teacher. It explains a lot about the changes in math instruction.

hschinske said...

Wow, that is some testimony. I'm surprised I hadn't heard of Linh-Co Nguyen before (she has been mentioned on this blog, but only glancingly if the search function is to be trusted).

Helen Schinske

Dorothy said...

Last night I heard a fascinating radio program. An hour documentary by Nancy Solomon called Mind the Gap, about --- you guessed it --- the achievement gap. Lots of voices and lots of thoughtful commentary. I learned some things.

One issue for the high school she profiles is "leveling" or "tracking." How this might help, hurt or be irrelevant to the gap and other educational issues. While they did explore various pros and cons for "Leveling," they did not suggest a modification that I and others would like (hello, Adhoc.) And that is more freedom and encouragement on the part of students to choose to enroll in a higher level. It sounded like at that school, leveling is teh evil tracking, imposed by others.

Dorothy said...

I agree, that was quite compelling testimony. Thanks SPSmom for the pointer. I'd love to know more.

I watched the rest of the testimony as well. Can anyone give more details of the school with the after-school programing tuition-based with no scholarships? Usually these sorts of things are run through the PTSAs and usually (as far as I know) there are scholarships. If this is through the PTSA, are they in need of help? If this is through a private vendor, can we find out who?

adhoc said...

"Can anyone give more details of the school with the after-school programing tuition-based with no scholarships?"

Most school have "on-site" before/after school daycare programs that are run by private organizations like YMCA, Kids Time, etc. They are not PTSA sponsored. They charge tuition and do not offer scholarships (at least they don't offer scholarships at the schools in the NE cluster).

This is different from after school enrichment classes that are sometimes PTSA sponsored (like an after school Spanish class, or Chess club, or Math Olympiad club). They often do offer scholarships.

TechyMom said...

Many of the after school care programs can be paid for with DSHS funds. I know this is true for YMCA, and assume it's true for any others that are primarily daycare, rather than enrichment.

Dorothy said...

I am talking specifically about the testimony from the 9-16-09 board meeting about afterschool programs, not after school programs in general. Was that tesimony accurate, and if so, where?

Joan NE said...

On 11/2 Robert wrote "Kay has told me that she is against charters."

I wrote to Kay Smith-Blum last Friday (10/30) about the New School. She wrote back immediately that she "loves" the New School.

I then wrote to her to ask if she know about C54 and Alternative schools, and commented that I don't understand why the Superintendent supports the New School (with progressive curriculum), but doesn't support Alternative schools (with progressive curriculum).

She hasn't responded yet.

h2o girl said...

Charlie, would you mind sharing how things are going at Nova since the move? (If your daughter is still there, of course.) I noticed the school website is no longer up so I don't know where else to get any info. Or anyone else have a child at Nova? Thanks much.

hschinske said...

One of my daughters is there, and Nova seems to be doing fine. See http://novaprojectptsa.wordpress.com.

Helen Schinske

Stu said...

Open thread . . . only place to post this?

From the Seattle Times:

Seattle judge rules against parents in school closure suit

By Seattle Times staff and news services

A group of parents who sued the Seattle School District were dealt a setback in a court hearing Tuesday in their challenge to the planned closure of five school buildings and the discontinuation of school programs such as the African American Academy.

King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen said the state law the parents cited in their suit applies to school buildings but not to school programs. The law uses the term "school property."

Scott Stafne, attorney for the nine parents who sued the district, argued the term includes both. The parents had asked for a summary judgment — an immediate ruling — that the scope of law could not be limited to school buildings. The judge disagreed.

In a separate ruling, Inveen told the district it has 14 days to produce all public comment about the planned closures.

Part of the parents' motion claims the district failed to follow proper procedure in the way it conducted public hearings before announcing which schools and programs would close.

Stafne said three thick notebooks the district had compiled as its record of public comment about the proposed changes "had been literally stripped of public testimony."

He cited as an example a 20-page letter from a concerned parent, that he said had been reduced by the district to "a one-sentence bullet point."

A hearing was set for Jan. 4 for the judge to rule on the case.

Stafne said if the district doesn't produce all public comment submitted, he'll ask the court declare the closures invalid.

h2o girl said...

Thank you Helen!

SPS mom said...

More about standardized test scores and teacher performance...

There was a report on NPR this morning about Obama visiting schools in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin is reversing a law that prevented students' standardized test scores from being used as a part of teacher performance evaluations. Reversing the law will allow Wisconsin to get federal "Race to the Top" stimulus dollars.

Once again, I ask what will the District be doing with those MAP scores?

SPSMom said...

Read Seattle (Nov 2009) magazine today at the doctors office. Little blib on MGJ, who stated that the one thing that surprised her the most was the public's reaction to the change in start times as there is no connection between school time and academic acheivement.

Oh my.