Sunday, November 08, 2009

Cleveland STEM

The Board has voted to make Cleveland High School an option school next year with a STEM focus. STEM stands for Science Technology Engineering and Math. Beyond that announcement, however, there is nothing very much determined about the school, what it will offer, or how it will function. There are a lot of questions that haven't been answered.

This year's freshmen will be part of the STEM school, but this year's sophomores, juniors, and seniors will not. I'm not sure what will happen to them.

It is unclear what classes Cleveland will offer that will reflect the STEM focus. Will Cleveland have more or different math and science classes than other Seattle high schools? Will it have any math or science classes other than those available at Garfield and Roosevelt? What will be the Technology classes? What will be the Engineering classes? No one knows.

Will Cleveland have CTE courses or programs that reflect the STEM focus. I have heard people suggest that Cleveland duplicate the Biotech Academy CTE courses now found only at Ballard High School. Will it? What other CTE courses will Cleveland have? No one knows.

The District has been pretty clear that they expect the STEM school to be particularly rigorous. The Board Action that created the school reads: "STEM high schools are unique, and offer a systematic, four-year course of study with an intense focus on preparing students for academic and professional futures in science, technology, engineering and math. Because of this, a STEM school is not necessarily desirable to all students." Here's a quote from the school web site: "Why is Cleveland becoming a STEM high school? Seattle Public Schools has a need to improve its offerings in advanced science district-wide, and recognizes the need to offer a highly rigorous, college preparatory high school choice located in south Seattle." So will the STEM school be looking for students who are specifically interested in pursuing a rigorous course of study in the maths and sciences or will it be open to students of all abilities and interests? No one knows.

Now the bad news. These answers are not likely to come soon. In fact, they are not likely to come before the close of open enrollment. The Cleveland STEM project is being led at the District by Susan Derse, who is not particularly well known for her effectiveness or ability to communicate.

I fear that the STEM program at Cleveland will never appear. The Board Action creating the program included this requirement:
Further, prior to the Superintendent making a final decision to open a STEM program at Cleveland High School, the Superintendent will provide the School Board with: (1) a report from the project team addressing the deliverables described in this School Board Action Report; and (2) an identification of the funding source(s), both for start-up and long term, for the STEM program.

What are those deliverables?
In order to effectively implement the STEM program a project team has been identified, including a project manager and sponsor, and a statement of work has been created. The following are deliverables for the team:
• Identification of the appropriate STEM program model
• Development of a project budget and long-term costs for the program (note: this project team is not charged with identifying the funding source but rather with identifying the costs)
• Creation of a communications plan, including a plan for stakeholder engagement
• Identification of the necessary instructional skill sets to ensure staff are ready
• Creation of an implementation plan, including a readiness plan for the 09-10 Cleveland 9th graders, in preparation for a 2010-2011 continuation at CHS STEM
• Creation of a transition plan for those students who chose not to remain in the program
• Creation of an evaluation tool for the first, second and third years of implementation

First, I presume that the Board will forget that they put this requirement on the Superintendent. Second, I doubt that the superintendent will remember it for herself and provide the required deliverables. Third, even if I am surprised and the superintendent DOES provide some sort of "appropriate STEM program model" I doubt that it will have to be (or will be) very detailed. All of the rest can be sketched out on the back of a napkin. The Board requires these things but there are no established standards for these things so they must accept whatever the superintendent provides.

In the new Student Assignment Plan, the District's Enrollment Planning office assumes that 5% of all students in the attendance areas for the north-end schools will choose Cleveland STEM. What's more, the District expects 6.5% of the students in the Garfield attendance area to leave it for Cleveland. Right now, this appears to be an insane and absurd expectation. The only way it could become any kind of possible would be if Cleveland STEM actually offered something unique and truly rigorous, which could mean real math, real science, and real rigor.

The vast majority of the students now at Cleveland do not appear ready for that. Only 31 students (21.2%) in Cleveland's 10th grade class met the standard on the Math portion of the WASL in 2009. Of course, that's a huge improvement over last year's number of 12.2%. Only 22 (15.5%) met the standard on the science test. So who is going to do this advanced work?

The District expects 13% of the students in the Franklin and Rainier Beach attendance areas to choose Cleveland STEM. If that were to happen, and if they were choosing Cleveland STEM for the math and science rigor, that would represent a devastating brain drain on these schools. Only 17.6% of the tenth grade students at Rainier Beach passed the math portion of the WASL last year (none with a level 4 score). If 13% of that community's students left the school seeking more rigorous math, it would leave the school with very few students performing at grade level in math. The math pass rate at Franklin was 28%. Franklin would also be significantly altered if 13% of that school's students left in search of greater math challenge.

During Open Enrollment this year only 49 incoming 9th grade students named Cleveland as their first choice for assignment and only 88 were assigned there during open enrollment. By October 1, however, there were 244 9th grade students enrolled at Cleveland. Some of those students are second-year freshmen who did not earn five credits in their first year at Cleveland. I can't find a number for them. The rest are students who enrolled after open enrollment. Under the new student assignment plan, I don't think nearly as many students will be enrolled at Cleveland after open enrollment. Instead, I think that students who appear in April or later (there are obviously a lot of them) will be assigned to their attendance area high school. Since Cleveland will not be anyone's attendance area high school, there may not be many students added to Cleveland's 9th grade class after open enrollment. Moreover, the district will not be able to make mandatory assignments to Cleveland as they have in the past.

Without some serious work getting done very soon, Cleveland is likely to draw little more than 50 students into their incoming 9th grade class for next year. To prevent that disaster the District is going to have to take some strong steps and take them soon.

1. They are going to have to define the program. I haven't seen any sign that they are even close to doing this. They are divided between making the program authentic and rigorous versus making the program attractive, accessible, and accomodating to the under-performing students in the area. They need to resolve that conflict. I hope that they will decide to make it rigorous but to create supports for students who are not yet prepared for that rigor. Bad news: the District is really bad at this sort of decision and this sort of work. Good news: Princess Sharif, the Cleveland principal, is one of the few people around here who find that path and make it work.

2. They are going to have to connect with outside agencies to create those formal relationship with local STEM companies, institutions and universities that provide both students and faculty deliberate STEM projects and internships; where they engage with real math, science, and engineering. Bad news: the District is really bad at this.

3. They are going to have to engage the community about what sort of school they want Cleveland STEM to be. Bad news: the District is really bad at this.

4. They are going to have to promote the Cleveland STEM program to attract students to the program. This step has to come AFTER the previous three or they won't have anything to sell. Bad news: the District is really bad at this.

So unless the District starts developing and using new skills really fast, this program is going to be tiny, tiny, tiny.

Now for the flower growing in the cow chip. My 8th grade daughter, an APP student at Washington, may be very interested in Cleveland STEM if it is a rigorous and authentic math and science program. As a bonus, the school is within walking distance of our house. This could be really really good for her. Given the commitments made to this school and this program, if she were to enroll she could find herself in some very small classes with a lot of individual attention and tons of support. But wait, there's more. In addition, Cleveland was totally renovated just two years ago. The facility is gorgeous and state of the art. And they are getting more science labs this year as well.

If you have a student who is really looking for a rigorous math and science program, this opportunity could be a real bonanza. Since enrollment is likely to be low, you are practically guaranteed assignment upon request. The more high performing students who appear and demand rigor, the more that is what the school will provide. There is a lot of pride on the line for the District here and they need to make this school perform (or at least appear) as promised. This is a high profile effort on their part and one tied closely to a lot of public/private partnerships. There is a risk that they will water it down and wash it away, but I'm pretty sure that, even if they do, there will be some extraordinary opportunities here for the students who seize them.

Your thoughts?

48 comments:

SPSMom said...

I think they have had PLENTY of time to define, communicate, implement the program and yet here you are with an 8th grader wondering about the program.

Have you looked at the Aviation Academy?

SE Mom said...

I really, really think this would be a great opportunity and program for my student if the district can get it together.

But, if I don't see more specific information and concrete evidence that a top notch program will be in place next Fall, I won't even consider it. I am not enrolling my kid based on a hope and a prayer.

I also have alot of concern for the kids already at Cleveland. Are they going to end up being assigned to Rainier Beach? What kind of transition will they really get? There are not really alot of other school options in the area.

I hadn't considered before the impact of drawing the brightest students away from other schools to Cleveland. But, if something was done right, Rainier Beach could bolster programs that would appeal to bright kids more interested in humanities, art and other non science/math classes.

Central Mom said...

Wouldn't touch the program for 2010-11 with a 10 ft. pole. District doesn't have the past history or current attention span to pull this off in a few short months. But perhaps it will be a viable choice the year after, when the questions Charlie details are in part (mostly!) resolved.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, as I mentioned in my report on the boundaries meeting at Roosevelt, a sheet was handed out about STEM but with no real details. I'll try to get the PDF.

The lead staffer on this is Dick Lee, 252-0476 (rjlee@seattleschools.org).

I like the model over in the Tri-Cities, Delta High.

As I have written before, I don't have a lot of faith that the district can pull it off. If I saw some big names attached (UW, Fred Hutchinson, Vulcan), I might believe it. There has to be a BIG carrot to get people in there but as SE Mom says, a hope and a prayer won't do it.

adhoc said...

I posted this on Harium's blog a few weeks ago:

The first that I heard about the progress of, and vision for, the STEM school at Cleveland was by an anonymous poster on the Save Seattle Schools Blog? Why is this? Obviously the design team has been meeting, and plans are under way for STEM. Why isn't the district keeping the community informed on the progress of the STEM? Why isn't the district actively engaging the community?

Here are a few of my suggestions on how you could make a real and genuine effort to engage the community.

Hold a community meeting where you fill the community in on the progress happening at STEM. At that meeting gather community feedback, ask families for their, ideas, and needs. Hand out a survey or questionnaire, and then collect them at the end of the meeting. Ask questions like

1) Would you consider sending your child to STEM?
3) If so, why? If not, why not? What would we have to do/offer to get you to send your child here?

Post the design team progress and meeting minutes on the Cleveland website, so interested families who don't have time to attend meetings can keep up with what's happening.

Have a way for parents to give input online, either on the Cleveland website, or on the SPS website. Have a point of contact person, that families could call to speak with a live person and ask questions, give input. Then be sure that the input collected gets to the design team, BLT or whoever else is directly responsible for getting the program up and running.

Have a speaker from a successful STEM school come to Cleveland and give a presentation. Invite the whole community. Share the vision. Get families inspired and excited about the possibilities.

Invite parents to Cleveland one evening to attend a "mini" class, taught in the project based learning style, so they can know first hand what it looks like, what it feels like, and what to expect for their children.

Have a college admissions director or job councilor come out and speak to families about post graduation opportunities for STEM students.

Have a Cleveland STEM representatives visit SPS middle schools (just like colleges visit high schools to recruit and attract students). They could go during the day and speak to 8th graders (during an assembly?), and they could also have evening meetings and invite potential families of 8th graders, to hear a presentation on STEM at Cleveland.

Hire a marketing rep if you have to. Get the word out to the community that SPS is taking STEM at Cleveland very seriously. Make sure the community knows that it is not STEM in name alone, and that there will be substance, and rigor, and opportunity for all. Then define that rigor.

And good grief, do this before open enrollment begins.

hschinske said...

I would look at the kinds of things that got the Ballard biotech academy off to a reasonable start.

http://www.fhcrc.org/about/pubs/center_news/2001/feb15/sart5.html

"The Biotechnology Career Academy at Ballard High School was initially funded by a grant from the Immunex Corporation to start a science program for high school students.

"Further funding from the Career Academy Support Network allows academy teachers to work as a team to coordinate an integrated curriculum of science, math and English centered around the theme of biotechnology."

I would also note that principal Chinn first started talking about Ballard becoming a STEM school about 1990 -- it was a decade or so before that really materialized (and of course the biotech thing was different than the STE focus he originally talked about), and there was a big boost because the new building and the biotech stuff all came at the same time, after a lot of very public fundraising. Even though Cleveland HAS a new building, the excitement for the new building isn't there.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

Slight correction: of course I meant renovated building, not actually a brand-new building. All the same, I've heard it's pretty nice, and probably as suitable for this purpose as Ballard has been for their programs.

Helen Schinske

adhoc said...

"Since Cleveland will not be anyone's attendance area high school, there may not be many students added to Cleveland's 9th grade class after open enrollment."

I fear the same fate for Jane Addams. Last year the district did many many mandatory assignments to the K-5 program. They can't do that this year now that JA is now an option school.

Furthermore, MS kids in the Lake City area, where JA is located, now have guaranteed access to Eckstein. That's some strong competition. I wonder how many will choose JA over Eckstein?

I am very interested to see what enrollment will look like for JA this year.

It could go either way. A lot will depend on what has been happening in the school this year. Never underestimate the power of parent gossip! What are families reporting? Has it been a good experience? Are they pleased? Or has it been a disaster?

When they start open house tours, JA will have an advantage this year, in that they will be settled into their building, and have teachers hired (remember at last years open house Summit still occupied the building, and staff had not been hired yet).

So who knows? We'll see? Debbie Nelson is fantastic, and if anyone could make it work, it's her.

SPSMom said...

STEM sounds a lot like "Differentiated Learning" that was to be put in place once the ability to work at above grade level was taken away in many K-5, K-8 schools. After one year of that, I moved my student into a Spectrum school. Not perfect, but better, much better.

Charlie Mas said...

I've been thinking some more about the 160 or so students who were assigned to Cleveland this year after open enrollment.

Let's remember that every student will get an assignment in February. All of the students who live around Cleveland will get a letter from the District in February telling them that they have been assigned to Franklin or Rainier Beach. The letter will advise them that, if they act, they can change that assignment.

I'm thinking that those 160 students fall into one of two major categories.

I think the biggest category is people who, for a variety of reasons, didn't return their open enrollment form. I don't think many - if any - of these people are likely to act to change their default assignment from Franklin or Rainier Beach. They will get the letter in February and consider the matter closed.

The second major category is people who are new to the district. Again, they will get a default assignment to Franklin or Rainier Beach and will be unlikely to act to change that default assignment.

Charlie Mas said...

To what extent could families who make an early commitment to Cleveland STEM influence the program?

Charlie Mas said...

To what extent does anyone believe that the Board could EVER determine that the superintendent failed to adquately provide the required deliverables and therefore cancel the program?

• Identification of the appropriate STEM program model
What does this mean? Does this mean a list of classes? Does this mean a mission statement?

• Development of a project budget and long-term costs for the program (note: this project team is not charged with identifying the funding source but rather with identifying the costs)
Again, how detailed does this have to be? Who in the District or in the school has the expertise and ability to write a budget like this? What other program has ever been asked to write a budget like this? Will this be little different from the budgets written by design teams following the capacity management project? Those were sketches.

• Creation of a communications plan, including a plan for stakeholder engagement
You'll note that it doesn't have to be a good plan or an effective plan. More than that, they are required to fulfill the plan, just write it.

• Identification of the necessary instructional skill sets to ensure staff are ready
Again, the level of detail required here is absent. It could be answered with just a vague statement. Also, they are only required to identify the necessary skill sets; they are not required to acquire them.

• Creation of an implementation plan, including a readiness plan for the 09-10 Cleveland 9th graders, in preparation for a 2010-2011 continuation at CHS STEM
There's no good standard for this. I would expect the sketchy sort of work that we saw from the design teams.

• Creation of a transition plan for those students who chose not to remain in the program
Think of the transition plan for the students who left Cooper when Pathfinder moved in. The transition plan will be nothing more than "50 of them will enroll at Rainier Beach, 40 at Franklin, and 13 at other schools"

• Creation of an evaluation tool for the first, second and third years of implementation
Ha Ha Ha. This, I suppose, will be like the one that they created for the Southeast Initiative. Where is that?

So, although I fully expect the District to do a totally half-assed job on all of these deliverables - if they do them at all - I certainly don't expect this Board to disqualify the program based on the failure. Given the fact that the Board will not disqualify the program no matter how bad the work product on these deliverables only lowers my expectations for them even further.

dan dempsey said...

Cleveland had the 2006-2009 math debacle led by UW & SPS coaching experts. On a really positive note Cleveland has had remarkable improvement in Reading and Writing WASL scores over the last several years. Considering the relocation distruption to "Boren" and back during the rebuild, these positive results say a lot about dedication to improvement.

On the STEM side things are not looking particularly good. At this time the math program will be "Discovering" (learned this from a Cleveland contact) because it is the district's adoption. The district is still planning on staying the course with k-8 math so many SE kids will not be prepared for a "Real STEM" program at high school. So they will get the patronizing non-rigorous "Discovering Math" program, because most in SE are unprepared for high school math.

When the Board was considering the STEM "option school" idea for Cleveland, no one I contacted either on the board or at Central Administration could provide any information as to what that would mean for math or any other instructional piece as all that was yet to be determined.

Was this another Board vote on the lines of:
"I don't really know what this means but I am voting YES because it sounds good"

I am not enthusiastic about "Delta High" STEM in the Tri-cities and Math. At this time Delta plans to be using "Core-Plus" one of the most unsuitable text series possible for learning the Math required for a STEM career.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. There are mountains of data documenting the futility of using "Core-Plus" to learn the math required for success in technically oriented majors at Universities.

"Club Ed" decision making strikes again.
===============

The board vote was made with little understanding of any information about what the instructional program would look like and I believe it was 7-0. I doubt many students and parents will choose this program if the same lack of information is presented to them.

Look at the Everyday Math mess. If the district plans wrong there is likely NO correction other than "More Spin".

Good luck to the Cleveland Principal. I hope she can pull this off in spite of Central Administration dysfunction. If 2006-2009 math is any indicator ... Cleveland is headed into deep "DueDue". As in "Due" this "Due" that because we know the "Best Practices" etc., we just cannot produce results (other than that UW College of Ed knows it all).

dan dempsey said...

Understatement of the year follows:"There are a lot of questions that haven't been answered."

The Board and the folks downTown are unable to answer any questions about instructional program materials.

Hey but sign the kids up.

Signing up at Cleveland will be like reaching into a grab bag and praying you pick a prize.

reader said...

Cleveland right now is perhaps the most unpopular high school of all. What will happen if nobody signs up for Cleveland STEM? Or, if something like 10 kids sign up? Will it become an 10th-12th school? And then fade out?

I guess one could ask the same thing about Jane Addams? But in that case, the only hope for Jane Addams is that Eckstein and Hamilton become so overcrowded that some people just can't stand it.

Maureen said...

So the current principal at Cleveland is Princess Shareef. Has she ever expressed an interest in or support for a STEM program?

Seattle Parent said...

Charlie writes,"In the new Student Assignment Plan, the District's Enrollment Planning office assumes that 5% of all students in the attendance areas for the north-end schools will choose Cleveland STEM".

Charlie, the District's enrollment assumptions say actually they are assuming that 5% of all the north end and West Seattle high schools will go to Cleveland, 6.5% from Garfield and 13% from Franklin and RBHS. The projected enrollments posted online are based on this. In all, they are assuming that 925 students will choose this option. The 10% open choice seats in all of the schools are based on this pie-in-th-sky assumption.

Has the district polled any families about their plans? I think they are going to have a big surprise, and this will impact ALL choice seats all over the city also.

SE Mom said...

Charlie:

What specifically would you want to see and know before you'd take that leap of faith and have your daughter enroll at Cleveland?

I struggle with this question myself: what is realistic to see and know by the end of open enrollment at the end of March?

I'd like to have a public statement of support from the principal, written specifics on exactly which classes will be offered and a specific plan for how they plan to grow the school and curriculum through to graduation.

TechyMom said...

Bein an option school, Cleveland is likely to have fewer of the disruptive kids, the ones described on another thread as not 'giving a s**t'. Those who don't give a s**t will likely go whereever they're assigned. That probably means that Cleveland will be safer and have fewer disruptive students than it does now, and than other SE schools. Combined with likely very small classes, this could be a better option for many families than the options they have now. Maybe. If enough people think so, and Cleveland gets enough serious students to reach a tipping point, it could just grow into a good school. JA is different in that the other options available to parents in that area are far more attractive.

kellie said...

As for Jane Addams, I think this is going to be become a very attractive option.

Debbie Nelson is amazing. She is one of the best principals in the district and inspires a ton of confidence. The new assignment plan is currently supporting the K8 configuration so they are going to be around for quite a while so it is worth investing in. Finally, many many parents are terrified of the incredibly large numbers slated for Eckstein. All the parent voices I hear are from folks that are planning on looking at Jane Addams as a smaller option for their middle schooler.

And keep in mind that like all options schools, it will get a population that wants to be there. Eckstein's population is going to change dramatically over the next few years.

MathTeacher42 said...

First - I'm speaking as someone with a bit of knowledge of some parts of the district, HOWEVER, I am NOT speaking on behalf of any school, union, department ...

The U.W. has this outreach program - U.W. in the High School or some such thing - where kids can get U.W. credits in classes such as Pre-Calc 120, Calc 124. You use U.W. math dept texts and exams.

Putting classes like this in would be a complete home run for the kids - WHEN they're ready for that level of work. Struggling through all kinds of foundational concepts from Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 will NOT equal success in 120.

I know that the MAP tests given to all 9th graders and below have this score which approximates grade level - I haven't a clue what is on the horizen for using that data to help kids get from where they are to something which would be a REAL application bright spot -

5 college credits from the U.W. for Pre-Calc!

Oh, and, by the way - with that level of skill, they could more readily work on some interesting problems.

Bob Murphy

Charlie Mas said...

One of the essential elements of a STEM school is connections and partnerships with local businesses, universities, and institutions.

I'm hoping that means that math at Cleveland STEM will be more influenced by the MATH department at UW than by the EDUCATION department at UW. In fact, it will be something that I push hard for. It couldn't happen at many other Seattle high schools, but it could happen at Cleveland STEM.

SPSMom said...

Charlie, You are looking for a shift in how the district operates. Parents of the JA K-8 really "pushed" for an authentic science/math school, which would have meant a more rigorous math curriculum tied into science. It did not happen.

So you have to decide, how much effort do you want to put into an uphill battle at CHS/STEM v. finding another program that is a good fit for your student.

anne said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/board/09-10agendas/091609agenda/stemupdate.pdf

I found this document on the SPS site. I don't know if it's happening, but it says they have been meeting with the Cleveland community already. Another item of interest is that it says that this year's freshman will be the first STEM class. I wonder what they've been told regarding the expected level of math/science they need to master before graduation.

adhoc said...

Anne thanks for the link! It does answer some questions that I have been asking.

1) Cleveland will have two STEM academies, the first focusing on Physical Sciences, technology and engineering, and the second focusing on life sciences and global health.

2)In the fall of 2010 current Cleveland students in the class of 2011 and 2012 will form a third academy, with a focus on college readiness. Those students will remain at Cleveland until they graduate.

3)They have a vision statement: Project based learning, technology as a focus in every class, 1:1 student computer access, community internships

4) Hopeful outcomes: Increased partnerships with Puget Sound community, businesses and higher education

5) There is a list of who is included on the design teams and what the design teams goals and responsibilities include

6) There is a STEM steering committee headed by MGJ. There is also a STEM work group. These are in addition to the design team.

7)There is a project time line.

8) Page 12 and 14 describe their outreach to the community which included a community focus group held in August, electronic messages about STEM, the creation of a STEM website, a special STEM email address for questions, ideas and concerns and an FAQ sheet.

9)Apparently the district has community meetings. 1 in September, 4 October, 3 in November, and will have 2 in (if I am reading the table right?) I hadn't heard anything about these meetings??

I this is a good general over view. But I think families still need much more information. I am glad to see that updates though.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I wish they would meet with MORE than just the Cleveland Community. If the District is planning on luring students from all over the city, they should be reaching out to all of the incoming 8th graders—at both public AND private schools.

There should be notices going out to all of the 8th grade students within the system, asking for input and interest in a STEM program at Cleveland. There should be a spot on the SPS website where parents outside the system can take a survey, ask questions and express interest. I know of a number of SE 8th graders currently in private schools who would definitely benefit from a QUALITY STEM program.

If the District engages ONLY with the current Cleveland students it is neglecting a huge portion of the pool of potential students.

adhoc said...

Anne thanks for the link! It does answer some questions that I have been asking.

1) Cleveland will have two STEM academies, the first focusing on Physical Sciences, technology and engineering, and the second focusing on life sciences and global health.

2)In the fall of 2010 current Cleveland students in the class of 2011 and 2012 will form a third academy, with a focus on college readiness. Those students will remain at Cleveland until they graduate.

3)They have a vision statement: Project based learning, technology as a focus in every class, 1:1 student computer access, community internships

4) Hopeful outcomes: Increased partnerships with Puget Sound community, businesses and higher education

5) There is a list of who is included on the design teams and what the design teams goals and responsibilities include

6) There is a STEM steering committee headed by MGJ. There is also a STEM work group. These are in addition to the design team.

7)There is a project time line.

8) Page 12 and 14 describe their outreach to the community which included a community focus group held in August, electronic messages about STEM, the creation of a STEM website, a special STEM email address for questions, ideas and concerns and an FAQ sheet.

9)Apparently Cleveland has been having community meetings. 1 in September, 4 October, 3 in November, and will have 2 in Dec (if I am reading the table right, it's a bit confusing?)

I this is a good general over view. But I think families still need much more information. I am glad to see that updates though.

Charlie Mas said...

I have a bad feeling that little or none of the things that are supposed to have been done have actually been done - other than the staff meetings.

Where are the Program Model, Project Budget, Communications Plan and Instructional Skill Set were due by the end of September 2009?

Where are the Assessment plan and the Readiness plan for the class of 2013 were due by the end of October 2009?

What chance do we have of seeing the professional development plan, implementation plan, and plan for a sustainable program will be due at the end of November 2009?

Did they do the four community meetings at middle schools in October? I don't remember hearing about them. Will they do the three promised community meetings in November? I haven't heard any notice of them. Have they been scheduled?

I deeply fear that these people are screwing up just as badly as they usually do.

Maureen said...

This is what is posted about STEM on the Cleveland Web Site.

Academies & Programs

Cleveland High School will be an Option School in the 2010-2011 school year. This means that all students who are not already enrolled at Cleveland in 2009-2010 must use the district's enrollment process to apply for assignment to Cleveland. Here is the link to the SPS Enrollment site for more information about how to apply to attend Cleveland in 2010-2011.

Cleveland is in the process of developing an instructional program based on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).


Seattle Public Schools STEM Program @ Cleveland High School
Design Project Update: September 12, 2009


Many people know that the Seattle School Board has voted to create a new Option program at Cleveland High School, and called for this program to have a STEM focus. Although the change is still being designed, here are some Frequently Asked Questions and the answers that can be provided at this time:

1) What does STEM mean? The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

2) Why is Cleveland becoming a STEM high school? Seattle Public Schools has a need to improve its offerings in advanced science district-wide, and recognizes the need to offer a highly rigorous, college preparatory high school choice located in south Seattle.

3) How will enrollment at Cleveland change? The School Board has voted to make Cleveland an “option school” in the new Student Assignment Plan. This means that students from all over the city can choose Cleveland. Enrollment priority will be given to students in Cleveland’s geographic neighborhood.

4) How will teaching and learning at Cleveland change? This is a central question being considered right now by the design team. So far we have learned that many successful STEM schools approach the teaching of all classes through hands-on, real-world, project-based learning. Cleveland is looking closely at project based learning models for STEM, and continuing to research STEM schools with proven track records.

5) What about connections with the community, higher education, and industry? They are indispensable to a successful STEM school. As guest instructors, or audiences for student work, or hosts for job shadows and internships, our community partners will play a vital role in the development of STEM at Cleveland.

6) Are there academic requirements for admission? Absolutely not. Seattle Public Schools and the staff of Cleveland High School are firmly committed to creating a program that can provide rigorous college preparation for all our students. Opportunities for after school and summertime academic support are being explored so that all students can access advanced math and science.

7) How will the community be engaged in this process? The Design Team will periodically inform and gather feedback from the community throughout the fall. Some of the known dates for community meetings related to STEM are:
a. Saturday, September 12, from 9:30 to 11:00 am at Cleveland High School.
b. Thursday, September 24, an update will be provided to current Cleveland families at our Open House.

8) Who can I contact with questions about this project? Susan Derse is the SPS Project Manager. She can be reached at stem@seattleschools.org.

Charlie Mas said...

I wrote to Susan Derse at the STEM email address. I asked her for all of the work that is supposed to be done by now. I don't think any of it has been done, and I don't think I'm going to get copies of any of it. Knowing the Susan Derse is in charge makes it even less likely that the work has been done on time. More than that, knowing that she is in charge makes the liklihood of authentic community engagement about zero.

I'm not optimistic. If I had known that this woman was in charge of the thing I never would have been as cheerful about the prospects. She has been at the source of just about everything bad that has come out of the High School Reform Steering Committee, and that's a lot. She's a top-down autocrat and a bureaucrat of the worst stripe, obsequious to those above her and imperious to those below.

According to the STEM model, the learning is supposed to be project-based. That's how it is at NOVA. The project-based math classes at NOVA are NOT Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2. If there is going to be project-based math at Cleveland it will NOT be the standard classes with the standard texts. I don't believe that the people now in charge of the STEM program have any understanding of anything non-standard. I don't believe that they can even perceive of how to design a project-based math class. I'll be happy to be proved wrong. I hope I am.

goeagles said...

So here's one more anonymous post from someone who's been working on the Cleveland STEM design team. The communications plan folks are schedule to be announcing this week the dates of several public/community meetings where more info can be shared. I'll respond to the part about the "deliverables" from Charlie's original post, and try to clarify what these deliverables refer to in the work on Cleveland STEM (from my citizen’s perspective, and speaking for no one else).

• Identification of the appropriate STEM program model
This refers to the fact that the superintendent wanted Cleveland STEM not to be created from scratch, but based on a proven instructional model. The team has done a fair bit of research and visited several STEM schools, including High Tech High and Aviation High, while considering instructional program models. Project-based learning has a strong presence in many successful STEM schools, and will likely be a hallmark of Cleveland STEM.

• Development of a project budget and long-term costs for the program (note: this project team is not charged with identifying the funding source but rather with identifying the costs)
Steps along this road have included doing a detailed walk-through of the current building to determine what it would take to make the building wireless, possible ways to implement additional classroom technologies, and any renovations that would be needed to the current science labs. It also includes considerations for professional development for teachers to transition/be hired into the new STEM program. Importantly, it also includes budgeting additional support for ALL students to succeed in the program. There is no intention whatever to limit students' access to the program based on their academic preparation in math or science (or anything). Students who come in underprepared will be expected to accelerate their learning, and not on their own. Schedules are being considered to "double dose" students who need math support, or provide a 7 period day for those students needing additional support.

• Creation of a communications plan, including a plan for stakeholder engagement
This is very close to finished. Cleveland parents have already had some engagement in this process (not enough, really, but some good-faith effort has been made). Other partnerships have begun as well--faculty from the University of Washington Engineering Dept., Seattle U., SPU, and South Seattle Community College have all met with members of the design team, or, in some cases, are serving on the design team. Many existing STEM models emphasize access to college classes as a part of their program, and we intend to make that a reality for Cleveland STEM as well, and have had several encouraging meetings to begin that process. Also, on October 21st, a variety of industry and university STEM field practitioners met with members of the design team to share their expertise on what skills and knowledge are needed in STEM fields, and how partnerships with industry might look. And the CTE department of SPS has taken an active role in planning the program. (continued in separate post)

goeagles said...

• Identification of the necessary instructional skill sets to ensure staff are ready
This depends a good deal on the final details of the instructional program, of course, but it looks likely that teachers will be expected to implement "wall-to-wall" project based learning, where student work is regularly exhibited in a real-world setting, or with an authentic audience. Integrated curriculum is also ubiquitous in STEM schools (since this resembles the "real" work of STEM fields so closely), so collaboration will be key. Teachers will need to differentiate skillfully for the range of learners in this program. Of course, teachers’ content knowledge will have to be strong. And teachers must be agile and purposeful facilitators of technology tools used in the classroom. Math is not my own discipline, and I am reluctant to step into the heated conversation about it, but I will say that for readers who believe that algorithmic, or “traditional” mathematics instruction, is the only way to teach math rigorously, you might not find a good match in this program. That said, math courses and schedules are being designed to accelerate the usual math sequence in order to bring all students to calculus by senior year, with a variety of AP math and science opportunities along the way.

• Creation of an implementation plan, including a readiness plan for the 09-10 Cleveland 9th graders, in preparation for a 2010-2011 continuation at CHS STEM
This is work that has been close to the heart of the design team, and there’s an important correction here: All current Cleveland students will be automatically assigned back to Cleveland next year. They may choose to attend another school if they wish, but I personally expect we will retain many of this year’s 9th through 11th graders. This deliverable is trying to make sure that all those students will be offered the courses and resources they need to be college-ready when they graduate, and, in the case of this year’s 9th graders, ready to be part of Cleveland STEM next year.
• Creation of a transition plan for those students who chose not to remain in the program
• Creation of an evaluation tool for the first, second and third years of implementation
I don’t know as much about these last two, which is not to say they are not being addressed, but perhaps not as much in the large-group work of the design team (or perhaps addressed at a meeting I had to miss!).

I am impatient, as many of you are, for the communications plan to roll out to the public, but I do appreciate the care and dedication that many district staff are giving to this work. I recognize that it is hard, at times, to maintain optimism about our district’s capacity to design and sustain good work. I know, too, that there are many ways to do this project badly. However, I have been impressed with the district’s commitment to the project thus far, and continue to be impressed by Princess Shareef, Cleveland’s excellent principal. Thanks to all here who will evaluate the results of the STEM design in a clear-headed, informed manner, and not dismiss the effort because of vague rumors and perceptions about Cleveland or Seattle Public Schools.

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

Charlie, I don't really want to engage in a conversation about whether or not Susan Derse is deserving of your critique, but I would clarify that Susan Derse is the "project manager" for the Cleveland STEM project. Her role is to coordinate communication among the parties involved and facilitate meetings. Michael Tolley is the "sponsor" of the project. Princess Shareef, as Cleveland's principal, leads much of the substantive conversation about the work. Many voices are at the table, even if only one person is listed as an email contact.

Charlie Mas said...

goeagles, thank you for your participation on the blog and for the information you have provided.

I look forward to the upcoming community meetings and seeing the deliverables that are now due.

anne said...

That sounds promising. I'm anxious to hear the courses and path that will be available to already advanced students.

Also wondering about your expectation that current students will stay... Math and science are hard to recruit for, even among high achievers. I'm suprised you think a population of students that are really struggling will suddenly step up to the challenge. It would seem like you would have to be running something like Rainier Scholars to get them caught up. Those kids have made a huge time commitment, afterschool and summers. I'd be suprised if all the current students would choose that.

SPSMom said...

goeagles, everything on paper looks really spiffy. But in January parents will need to make decisions about high school and clearly CHS is no where close to having a program in place.

Just putting a little sign on the Web site saying "NEW: STEM SCHOOL at CHS." does nothing.

At the very least you should have said:
"NEW Science, Techology, Engineering, Math (STEM) program starting at CHS."

At least parents would have a clue what the program is about.

Word of advice: Assume nobody has ever heard the word STEM in relation to education.

dan dempsey said...

Project based learning requires prerequisite skills if it is to take place at a college prep level.

Looking at Aviation High and thinking it has a lot of relevance for Cleveland may miss the huge differential in prerequisite skills between the Aviation Population & Cleveland.

Check these WASL scores for Aviation in bold and Cleveland.

Aviation High & Cleveland

10th Grade Reading
Year School Cleveland
2005-06 97.80% 67.40%
2006-07 98.90% 62.70%
2007-08 97.90% 62.80%
2008-09 99.00% 64.40%

10th Grade Math
Year School
2005-06 88.50% 21.10%
2006-07 84.90% 17.90%
2007-08 80.40% 12.20%
2008-09 87.40% 21.20%

10th Grade Writing
Year School
2005-06 96.60% 59.60%
2006-07 96.80% 73.70%
2007-08 97.90% 76.60%
2008-09 100.00% 76.20%

10th Grade Science
Year School
2005-06 70.90% 7.80%
2006-07 77.50% 8%
2007-08 78.90% 6.90%
2008-09 87.60% 15.50%

========================
Notice the enormous Math & Science gaps above between Aviation & Cleveland. Julliard produces great actors and artists they were exceptional before they enrolled.
I do not think all this math science competence at Aviation took place only because of its 9th & 10th grade programs.

A good question was why not try to replicate Ballard's Bio Tech rather than starting from ground Zero?

The district with UW collaboration just continued a giant math mess for the last three years at Cleveland with lots of NSF funds.

I am waiting to see a better plan but there is little to inspire much hope thus far.

Core competence in mathematics will not just suddenly arise because of projects. The selection of "Discovering Algebra" was insulting to competent students. It happened because the District sends large numbers of math clueless students to high school and wants them to be successful in Algebra I.... Thus Algebra "really light" will be taught. Is that the STEM plan as well?

Until the math situation is faced realistically k-8 ... 9-12 math will be a big problem. Just calling it STEM is hardly a solution.

Charlie Mas said...

I have the STEM hotline number, 252-0046, but all it does it take messages and promise a call back.

Neither the District Customer Service office nor the person who answered the phone at Cleveland had the number. The Customer Service office didn't even know what I was talking about. The person at Cleveland didn't think that the hotline had been established yet.

Charlie Mas said...

No call back yet from the hotline and no response yet to the email from Susan Derse. Not good.

Maureen said...

I was looking for STEM info for a possible HS info night for our 8th graders so I emailed Michael Tolley and Susan Derse' responded quite quickly:

"We are just in the process of sending out postcards to all of the district’s 8th Graders regarding the STEM option for high school. We also will be presenting information at the PTSA Council meeting in December, and are in the process of establishing a website for the program (linked to the District website)

.... [O]n January 23, 2010 (Saturday), from 10:00 AM to 12:00 noon , at Cleveland High School, we are having a STEM Open House, with Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, community partners in the new STEM high school, and many others there. Families are welcome—we plan to have a number of interactive opportunities for attendees, as well as presentations and Q and A’s.

The STEM telephone hotline is 206-252-0046.

STEM@seattleschools.org is the email “ mailbox” for this project.

....We are excited about this project and the experiences that students will enjoy at this fabulous new program.

Susan Derse’
STEM Project Manager
Assistant to the Educational Director for High Schools"


The Powerpoint from the PTSA meeting and other info will be posted. She is planning to get the website up by Friday the 20th.

She encouraged me to share this info with my school, so I figure it's ok to post it here.

I'm encouraged--now I would like to see a couple of teachers from established strong math and science departments sign on. I don't want anyone from Roosevelt's math department to leave, but if they were excited about STEM, then I would be more likely to be as well.

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