Sunday, November 15, 2009

Meg Diaz Report Follow Up

I was at the meeting of the Audit and Finance Committee and I heard, very clearly, the Board members ask that Meg Diaz's presentation and the District Staff response both be posted to the District web site. I heard, very clearly, Mr. Harman say that they would be. He looked right at Communications staff when he said it and they gave him the nod.

So... where are they?

Has anyone been able to find on the SPS web site? I couldn't find them on the Budget web pages, not on the page for the Operating Budget either. I couldn't find them on the Board web pages or attached to the agenda for the Audit and Finance Committee.

So where the heck are they?

I found them! They are in the District News section.

Here is the presentation by Duggan Harman and the one from Meg Diaz.

I notice that the link to Meg's report is an external link. That means that Meg can edit her report to respond to Mr. Harman's presentation - if she wants to - and the link from the District will take people to the updated version.


Seattle Parent said...

Sorry to be off topic, but the last post for the SAP was way back...and the vote is coming up in a couple of days.

From the Action Agenda posted on Friday is mention of an amendment being proposed by the Executive Committee for the new SAP. Does anyone know what it will be about?

Could we please have a new posting for the SAP? I heard that there were some interesting meetings on Saturday with both DeBell, Carr and Sundquist and alot of last minute proposals are floating around.


Executive Committee Proposed Amendments to Recommended New Student Assignment Plan Boundaries – This item will be posted by Monday, November 16, 8:00am.

zb said...

OK, on this topic. What I derive is that they moved some items from "Central Admin" to "Teaching Support" resulting in a lower Central Admin budget (and one in line with other districts).

They argue that this "re-coding" is OSPI-compliant, in a way that the previous coding was not.

The main change is the "Instructional Coach" budget (which is now part of the teaching support budget). From their point of view, this makes the problem go away.

But, is this like moving books from my "shopping" budget to "education" and calling myself done? I kind of think it is, but they have side-stepped the issue that Diaz raised, if indeed their new classification is OSPI-compliant.

I think what we now need to discuss in instructional coaches, what they do and how they're used (but, we'll have a much harder time). Still worth doing, though, but one that is more difficult to talk about than budget issues, because it relates instructional details and management.

dan dempsey said...

Sorry to be off-task but about the coming school board meeting on Wednesday.

In the introduction items:

D. Introduction Items
1. Superintendent Incentive Measure for 2008/09 and 2009/10 – This item will be posted prior to introduction. (introduction)

Well there is no description posted about this Superintendent Incentive Measure... so what is it???

How about a little transparency eh??

Melissa Westbrook said...

ZB, well put.

Michael said...

"Superintendent Incentive Measure"

Sounds like they want to give the Superintendent a bonus (this on top of her generous pay package).

How tone-deaf can they be??

BL said...

"Superintendent Incentive Measure"

Hopefully, it's an incentive to hit the road.

Meg said...

Charlie, if that doesn't sound like a big fat hint, I don't know what does. I've been doing dealing more with swine flu than number-crunching, but even light research is backing me up on the direction of my thoughts so far. Also, pardon me in advance for posting a series of comments that are longer than your post.

1. Does coaching meet the definition of teaching? The district, as recently as June 17, 2009, appeared to think not. In his remarks about Teaching Activities when presenting the 2009-10 budget, Don Kennedy referred to the budget segment as "direct teaching." It's a telling way to refer to the segment. Teaching Activities should accurately delineate how many resources the district devotes to its primary duty: the instruction of students. Re-coding coaches to this category clouds the picture for everyone - for the community, the board, and district administrators. Because…

2. Should coaches be classified as teachers? I still have some questions. Coaches are not involved in direct teaching. Their primary job duty is not to instruct students, but to direct the professional development of teachers. A job description for instructional coach includes the phrase "this position is a full-time release position [sic] from classroom teaching duties." That doesn't sound like direct teaching to me. The district's assertion that "many" coaches spend "some" time modeling teaching techniques in front of students (and so by this reasoning count as teachers) was totally unquantified. Unlike teachers, school-based coaches do not report only to a school principal; they also report to the Director of Instructional Services and other central administrators. How many teachers report to the Director of Instructional Services?

Meg said...

3. Where should coaches be coded? The district says that because coaches cannot hire, fire or promote the teachers they coach, they are not supervisors, and therefore cannot be coded to Supervision of Instruction, a central administration category. This is much like an exchange my daughter and I had when she was in kindergarten and I said she shouldn't talk with her mouth full. "But," she said, crumbs dripping from her mouth, "it's not FULL." O-tay. In both cases, the literal-minded response is not relevant to the main issue. SPS is trying to focus the issue on Supervision in a deeply literal sense: the number of administrators who manage direct reports, rather than the number of administrators engaged in Supervision of Instruction activity – whether as a supervisor or an individual contributor. Someone whose primary job duty is observing, directing, and managing another person's professional development is, even without the authority to hire-fire-promote, supervising. Coaches appear to have been correctly coded to Supervision of Instruction.

4. What do other districts do? I still need to do some legwork to answer this for all of the large districts. As an example, Lake Washington School District codes their coaches as teachers. Since they have SEVEN coaches (count 'em. It won't take long), it doesn't make a material difference to administrative costs how they code them. If SPS had a proportional number of coaches to Lake WA, there would be 13 coaches in the district, not 111.

Meg said...

5. So why are there so many coaches? By discussing "coding," SPS avoided discussing the big question: why is SPS pouring so much money into this segment? Why has it grown so much? Have the results justified the increased spending? What is the timetable for expected results? What other tactics has the district used for professional development, and are they more cost-effective?

Side note: It’s not clear that there aren’t more coaches. Mr. Harman was very specific in noting that 111 instructional and school-based coaches would be re-coded to teaching. I can think of at least one other type of coach (STAR consultants). That the type of coaches was so carefully delineated makes me wonder if there are other types of coaches that were not mentioned.

SPS’s investment in coaches is massive. The current coaches, if deployed as teachers, could fully staff Garfield and an elementary, with enough left over to act as substitutes (am I suggesting that? No. I’m illustrating the quantity). It should be very, very clear (with quantifiable results) that the tactic is worth pursuing. Otherwise, it's a financial Gallipoli, with the district using professional development tactics in pursuit of a questionable benefit. Right now, SPS doesn't have the money for that kind of boondoggle.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Michael made that point, Meg. He said that the district needs to show this is working because it's a lot of money.

Joan NE said...

Meg - I really admire your work. I was hoping you wouln't let the district off the hook easily. Finding out what these "coaches" are doing seems quite important. I have never seen a coach at the school I know best. I highly doubt that Micheal will pursue this question - notwithstanding his show of interest - unless outsiders like you keep pressing the issue. Keep uo the good work. You are doing all of SPS a generous favor.

Charlie Mas said...

I would be very skeptical of any statements about future actions by anyone in the District leadership. They always say that they will do things, but they almost never actually do them.

Director DeBell said that they should review this strategy, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the Board to do it.

zb said...

Meg -- One defense the SPS seems to have are the statement that this new coding is "OSPI" compliant. Is that correct? Does "OSPI" have a position on the classification of instructional coaches? or are they interpreting an OSPI rule on instruction in general (or the supervision)? and is the use of instructional coaches in SPS significantly different form that of other districts? Do other districts classify instructional coaches as teaching support?

Meg said...

zb- SPS was never out of compliance. OSPI has accounting guidelines (available on the OSPI site and dull, dull, dull). But they're just that: guidelines, not regulations. I may have nodded off from boredom and missed the part in the OSPI Accounting Guidelines that explicitly said "Hey, make the budget numbers you present to the public at least vaguely relate to what you file with us," but I didn't see that in there. I pointed out that the budget numbers were different because I felt the budget being presented to the board and public obscured the substantial growth in the central office. Compliance wasn't the issue.

As to coaches... yes, it appears that SPS uses coaches very differently than other districts. The biggest difference is that SPS uses coaches on a much, much larger scale (that assertion takes into account that SPS would have more coaches because of its size). It looks like other large districts count coaches as central administration or teaching support, but I'm not very far down the data-gathering road, so it COULD be that "many" other districts count coaches as teachers. It's not currently looking that way, but you never know.

Did that answer your question, or did I just not quite get it?

Dorothy said...

Plus, there's still the fact that the district admits to 2% central admin growth during a time of declining enrollment. Isn't that enough to be suspect? Along with the decline in teaching staff, while comparable districts had central office decline during the same time period (and less decline in teaching staff). The "comparable" districts Duggan used were not the same as the ones Meg used.

Joan NE said...

Here is information about how instructional directors and instructional coaches are used at AS#1. This information is gleaned from AS#1's 2008-2010 CSIP (Continuous School Improvement Plan). It appears that AS#1 has one instructional director (ID), and at least two full-time instructional coaches (IC). There may be more. It appears that the reason that AS#1 has been assigned these "outside experts" is that AS#1 is at risk of "failing."

This leaves me wondering if these supplementary teachers (ID, IC) are used primarily at schools that are in reconstruction or are in danger of failing. If so, then the information about what IDs and ICs are doing at AS#1 may have some general relevance.

From page 9: "Our school did not make AYP in Spring 2008 in Reading (for Special Ed and Low Income) and Math (for All, White,
Special Ed, and Low Income) for two or more years in a row. So, we are identified as a “School in Improvement” in
Step 4....This school does receive Title I funds."

I looked at one source to get an idea of what the magnitude of Title I spending is: this source indicates that it is probably in the range of $1,000 to $3,000 per qualified student. AS-1 has about 80 students that qualify for free-or-reduced price lunch. Total enrollment in 2007-2008 was 191. the school's budget in 2007-2008 ($1.3 million) amounts to $6,806 per student. Title I is a pretty significant part of the budget, then - potentially enlarging the per student allotment perhaps as much as nearly 50%! The district is implementing a weighted student funding formula, and is intending to have 1/3 of funds raised by strong PTA's be transferred to less well-supported schools. These two factors will further increase the net per-student funding at these schools, possibly quite significantly.]

Here is 2007-2008 budget information from the school's annual report: 2007-08 "I-728 Allocation $40,437 (100% used for class size reduction); 2007-08 Total School Budget $1,325,081."

Back to the roles of instructional coaches and directors: Under this CSIP, Central office provides certain personel to help with improvement efforts. As this is a Title I school, AS#1 has a "10% set-aside for professional development." This is being "used" for the instructional content coaches provided by the Central district [see page 8]. [I don't know what this means. Does this mean that AS#1 forfeits 10% of its budget [~%130K) to the district?]

In addition, the school commits to extended days and to contracting with after-school tutoring companies. Title I funds [don't know whether some or all] pay for in-class math intervention, math tutoring and extended day learning opportunities (math) [see page 26].

The personnel provided by the Central District includes one Instructional Director (ID) [doesn't say whether full or p/t], full-time instructional /content coaches [number of such not indicated, but use of plural indicates at least two], and technical assistance from the School Improvement (SI) Department.

Joan NE said...


Responsibilties of Instructional Director
---"oversee school operations and supervise/evaluate principal"
---oversees [improvement of instructional practices], "creation of best possible master schedule, use of district curriculum, and designing interventions for students below standards on WASL and classroom‐based assessments."
---assists the school in developing a restructuring plan, so that such plan will be ready for implemention in the event the school moves to AYP Step 5 next year.

Responsibilties of the full-time instructional /content coaches ---"collaborate with the district’s Director of Curriculum & Instruction (C&I), C&I Content Managers in literacy and math, and Instructional Directors (IDs)"
---"work directly with instructional staff in the areas we did not make AYP (i.e., reading/literacy and math.) to address instructional improvement, content delivery/pacing, and engaging learners in culturally competent ways."

The CSIP provides specific information about the direct assistance provided by the instructional coaches to teachers:

-"use data to develop instructional plans for individuals, small groups and whole class."
-"develop student learning plans for students not meeting standards"
--"Teachers will administer edusoft assessments quarterly, and the math coaches will work with the principal to prepare reports that will give the teachers data that includes % at mastery level, item analysis for looking at what students don’t understand, demographic break downs to identify disproportionalities"
---"Peer to peer coaching And one on one math coaching" [this is part of staff's Professional Development activities]"

Professional Development is aligned to the District's Strategic Plan, and will serve the goals of the CSIP. Professional Development consists of the following three elements:

1. “District sponsored studio classrooms. Math teachers and principals will meet together as cohort groups to examine best practices and problem solve for improved instruction. Studio classes as well as seminar discussion groups will be included.”

2. “Data teams. Teachers will meet [as Grade band teams] twice monthly to collaborate, analyze student data, and identify strengths and weaknesses in instructional practices.”

3. “Peer to peer coaching And one on one math Coaching. All teachers k‐8 will work with a math coach twice per month to [get] feedback on their practice as well as [receive] new information on instructional practices that they have seen work.”

It's clear that the math coaches will make sure the teachers are strictly following the district's math curriculum. [Knowing how bad EDM is, I don't think enforced strict fidelity to the District's EDM pacing guide will help AS#1 avoid entering Step 5 and being subjected to "restructuring"].

Joan NE said...

Here is the link to the CSIP:

Sahila said...

Joan - AS#1 lost its Title 1 money this current school year, because its tied to the percentage of FRL-eligible children in the school, and the baseline percentage necessary to receive Title 1 money was raised to 55%, I believe.. I believe AS#1's FRL rate (pre current year enrolment) was 47%...

I know this because I was on the BLT at AS#1 last year... and in preparing this year's budget, we had to work with a loss of more than $40K...

Megan Mc said...

Sahila is correct in that AS#1 lost its Title 1 status this year. However, as part of the mandatory restructuring plan, the district is footing the bill for a principal coach, .5 math coach and .5 literacy coach and some professional development money (mostly $ and subs for teachers to attend workshops).

The 2008-2010 C-SIP is particularly moot as there is a new principal this year. It'll be an interesting process going through with a fully active BLT. Last time, the old principal wrote it up himself and asked a teacher and parent to go with him to the approval meeting at the district. He seemed to think it was just paperwork that had no real significance to the work of the school.

As for coaches, are talking about having the math coach attend a parent meeting so we can hear about the rationale behind our current math placement program. If I learn anything about her job description from that meeting I'll report on it. The teachers speak highly of her expertise and I think they serve as teacher advocates as well as instruction support but that is just my inference.

Megan Mc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

I just had this thought.

The coaches are considered teachers in the budget.

The average total compensation for the coaches is like $90,000 per year.

When school budgets are written, the district doesn't use the actual pay of the actual teachers at the school. They use average teacher pay. That average pay is about $45,000.

So... if the coaches are teachers and they are making twice the compensation of average teachers, then shouldn't the inclusion of the coaches among the teachers raise the average pay per teacher that is used in school budgets?

Did I explain that very well?

I guess what I'm asking is this: are the coaches compensation included among the teachers' compensation when average teacher compensation is calculated? And if not, why not? What would be the justification for holding it out?

Maureen said...

"What would be the justification for holding it out?"

Maybe because they aren't teachers?!

Our school had two coaches last year--the Vice principal scraped together $ for them when we went from Weighted Student to Weighted Staffing Budget(is that what it's called?).

The money went away for this year and one of the ways they managed to hold on to one of the coaches was to start charging $200/month for kindergarten. Given that we draw over half of our kids from areas with free all day K, that will have all sorts of implications for our population in the long run.

But hey, the math coach is very nice and competent and does reduce effective class size. (The writing coach seemed to spend more time on PD, but also worked with the kids.) There is no way either of them would have been paid $100K though--that can't be true of the school based coaches, can it?

hschinske said...

Doesn't "total compensation" by definition include the value of benefits packages? I don't think the average teacher salary figure includes that (or they're getting paid a lot less than I thought). So the gap is probably more like 3:2 rather than 2:1, but Charlie's point still stands.

Helen Schinske