Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's Due and What's Overdue

Today's board work session on the District scorecard serves as an excellent reminder of all of the things that are either due or overdue. It also serves as an excellent reminder of how horribly slack the Board has been about holding the superitendent accountable for all of the things that are due or overdue.

The District scorecard was supposed to be ready by fall 2008. See page 45 of the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All".

Other items from the Strategic Plan that appear overdue:

Math curriculum alignment - should be in place this year.
Science curriculum alignment - should be in place this year.
Common formative assessments K - 12 for math and reading - should be in place this year. We have the summative assessments (MAP).
Teacher training on analyzing MAP results - should be in place this year.
School performance framework - was supposed to be completed by December 2008, still absent.
The performance management system, including the school performance model - was supposed to now be operational across the District.
New hiring process - was supposed to be in place in the spring of 2009.
Expand the STAR mentoring system - no particular schedule
A detailed professional development plan - was supposed to be completed by fall 2008.
Expanded professional development programs - was supposed to be implemented in fall 2008.
Teacher evaluation processes - was supposed to be determined for the start of the 2009 school year.
Principal evaluation connected to the school performance framework and school-specific goals - implemented beginning in 2009
New performance evaluation for Central Office staff - implemented beginning in 2009.
eSIS Enhancements migration - was supposed to be complete by summer 2009.
Academic Systems data migration - was supposed to be complete by summer 2009.
A new budget process - was supposed to be fully implemented beginning in fall 2009 for the 2010-11 budget.
A proposal for a major Web site overhaul - was supposed to be complete by spring 2009.
The Communications team was supposed to work closely with the Family Engagement staff and the School Family Partnership Advisory Committee to evaluate what we learn in the engagement process for the Strategic Plan and propose recommended changes. They have not.
A more meaningful communication channel between the superintendent and the School-Family Partnership Advisory Committee was supposed to be established for the 2008-09 school year. It wasn't.
Develop a customer service protocol, including a measurement tool, and send two groups through training (beginning with Transportation - was supposed to be done by fall 2008.

Outside of the Strategic Plan there are plenty of other missed commitments:

Making Meany high school ready
An aligned, written, taught and tested curriculum for APP
A review of Policy D12.00
Development of the STEM program at Cleveland
A response to the APP review
Responses to the list of unmet commitments on Director Martin-Morris' blog

So when is the Board going to start holding the superintendent accountable for getting this stuf done and getting it done on time?


Greg Linden said...

It looks like there is a lot to discuss here.

In the interest of keeping the two smaller APP issues listed above from dominating this discussion thread here, I started a separate thread on the Seattle School APP Discussion Blog for talking about the overdue "aligned, written, taught and tested curriculum for APP" and "response to the APP review."

Charlie Mas said...

Maybe people have to start bringing these items to the Board's attention. Maybe Board members have to start hearing about these things everytime they allow people to speak with them - at testimony at Board meetings and at their community meetings.

Stu said...

Maybe this is a stupid idea, but what if someone printed up a simple flier, a list of all these things, and every single time someone got up to speak, they handed one of the fliers to all the board members. Over and over again . . . every speaker, regardless of topic, hands each member this list. Every time someone had a meeting with an administrator, met with an official, did anything with anyone, they hand them the exact same list of broken promises. The same list goes to the Times and the other news organization.

Until the board shows that they care even the slightest about these broken commitments and the oft-touted accountability, none of the other things are going to get done and there would be no reason to have faith in any of the newest promises.


Joan NE said...

Stu - I think it's a great idea, except that I for one am glad that the District is behind schedule on so many of the elements of Excellence for all (E4A). The goal of E4A is to make all Seattle Schools uniformly, indistinguishably mediocre, to break the teachers' union, etc, to elicit an apetite for charter schools.

Even though I'm glad the progress on perveted reform is slower than the reformers had hoped for, I am not glad that this Board is, by its own choosing, weak. This list of unmet commitments shows that very well.

Having a weak board makes perverted reform much easier to promote. The Broad Foundation is clear on this. They are also clear that perverted reform is much easier in district that have mayorally appointed Directors.

TO anyone reading this comment who believes mayoral appointment would be good for SPS, I ask, "Please show me that there is sound judgment being this conviction of yours."

I for one hold the opposite view, but I am open to being persuaded by a well-reasoned argument we should be helping Mike McGinn to get this power, instead of trying our UTMOST to prevent this.

Anonymous said...

We throw the board out every few years, but, despite the high turnover, the school board fails to get the message, do their job, and hold the superintendent accountable.

I noticed the mayor-elect, Mike McGinn, says this is his position on education in Seattle: "The mayor needs to be held accountable for the success of the school system ... Urban schools fail when no one is held accountable ... I pledge that our city's schools will improve, and our children will receive a better education. And no one will be left wondering whose responsibility it is."

Perhaps we could engage the new mayor's office? Could working with the mayor's office be a way to pressure the school board to start holding the superintendent accountable for getting this stuff done and getting it done on time?

Charlie Mas said...

I really like Stu's idea.

I would not presume that I could remember every item that should be on the flier, but I will get it started.

I will start a new post for the flier and everyone can add items to it. It will take me a while to get it organized. I'll have to go through the strategic plan, "Excellence for All", and I'll go through Harium's blog. Then I'll go though the Board's Action Items.

I'll see if I can post the list up on Google Documents or somewhere like that where everyone can see it and download it.

Again, Stu - FABULOUS idea.

adhoc said...

Flyers! Simple and easy to do, and could be very effective. Great idea Stu!

Central Mom said...

See today's Seattle Times story about the District giving itself report cards.

wseadawg said...

Folks: The Five Year plan is the Board's business plan, nothing more, nothing less. Parent concerns that get in the way, like facts and evidence, be DAMNED!

This board and Superintendant will do what THEY want to do, regardless. We parents are just flies in their faces. We saw this with the closures last year, despite all the evidence presented, the board plowed right on through with a "we know better" attitude all the way. They'll say what we want to hear, to quiet us down, and once they mention it to staff, the Board's job is done it seems. What happens after that is all spin. Example: Meg Diaz's "thoughtful" report. Any action on that? Nah.

As I've said before, the Board seems to have a blood oath with each other and MGJ to execute on that 5 year plan, regardless of who gets ground up in the gears. Kind of like "democratizing" Iraq. It will be a good thing, someday, aside from the million or so who die during the process.

"You Gotta Believe!" The Board believes that their plan will ultimately work...someday, if they stick with it and don't get sidetracked but us pesky parents.

We aren't dealing with open, reactive minds here. We are dealing with people who take pride in being team players and "thanking the staff for all their hard work" time and time again.

Every time I hear that butt-kissing from DeBell, I can't distinguish it from MGJ's infamous, "I don't loose any sleep" comment.

This board does not see it's role as being responsive to its community. Instead, it's part of the larger "reform" agenda, and, sadly, it seems to be all-too-comfortable with that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS Marketshare, I'm already on it. As I have mentioned previously, I interviewed McGinn before the primary and I think he is more than willing to listen to parents. I think education would definitely be part of his agenda (although decidedly down the list) but taking over the schools would not.

Stu, great idea. Simple and easy to implement but it would get the message across. Of course, the Board members and staff could start to decline to take the sheet if they say, "I have one of these."

Stu said...

Of course, the Board members and staff could start to decline to take the sheet if they say, "I have one of these."

"Yes, I realize you have one of these. This one's just in case you misplaced the other. By the way, have you taken a look at this list and is anyone being held accountable? Thanks for looking into this for us."

SPSMom said...

"I have one of these."

In which you respond...

"Now you have one for the home and one for the office."

Robert said...

haha or one for each pocket!

Charlie Mas said...

I would love to hear every testimony begin with
"Before I get started, I have a sheet for each member of the board with a list of unfulfilled commitments. Each item on this list not only represents a failure by the district staff but also a failure by the board to hold the superintendent accountable. I, along with a number of other community members, strongly encourage the superintendent and the board to fulfill these commitments without further delay. If indeed everyone in Seattle Public Schools is to be accountable, that accountability must start with the eight of you and the items on this list."

This, of course, could be shortened to "Before anything else, here is a list of the District's unfulfilled commitments to students and families. Do your job."

Robert said...

or even shorter... Here. Now do your job!

Robert said...

oh from the seattle times front page: By Linda Shaw

Seattle Times education reporter


Seattle Public Schools rolled out a new set of report cards Thursday — not for students, but for schools, central-office departments and individuals.

Most were just drafts that won't be put into use for another year or two, but the one that had marks — the overall district scorecard — provided some sobering news.

Of the district's 20 goals for 2013, it is on track to meet just six of them.

As part of a five-year plan approved in 2008, the school district said it would set specific goals, measure progress, and report how well it's doing to the community.

To see the district's overall report card:

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

Whatever happened to the 2005-2010 five-year plan complete with action steps, due dates, calculated costs and who was accountable? The new plan does not seem to have implementation dates, goals and controls, action steps, whose responsible and estimated cost. Or did I miss something? I usually do.

RBHS does need new text books, not just for AP. Here she goes again, you say. A correction regarding my report on books at Rainier Beach: I found my younger son using one of our old homeschool books, PUBLISHED IN 1993, World Cultures: A Global Mosaic, a text where I learned Saddam was still alive and in power and Myanmar was still Burma. This is the history text used in his class and I bet you'd agree with me that this text is way out-of-date. No wonder teachers choose to use their own curricula. Perhaps the money being donated (or if money is available in the budget) should be applied to new history books. (As for my copy, I bought it at a thrift store bag sale, $1.50 a bag.)

I'd also add that the new math curriculum is ridiculous. We are still using Saxon in addition to the new math program. (Side note, Saxon is cheaper than the books they use now.)

Somewhere, I read that the district was paying for outside tutoring services. I know of two tutoring programs that use students from Seattle University (they need service hours and tutoring fills that requirement). NO MONEY EXCHANGED.

For AP programs available at all schools, I'm not sure if it is possible, but what about partnering with some of the online public high schools? Internet Academy, for instance, offers AP classes as do several others. Think of the cost savings: no need for books because most books are online and no need to hire more teachers because teachers are already in place and offsite.

These are only ideas so please do not criticize me for being ignorant and/or misinformed.

Joan NE said...

Most of you responding to Stu's suggestion seem to be pro-Excellence for ALL. I just don't get it.

What's to like about E4A?
What's to like about MGJ?
What's to like about data-driven decision making?
What's to like about performance management systems?
What's to like about curriculum alignment, when it means every single student at a given grade level having to use the same horrible mathcurriculum?

What's to like about elimination of open enrollment, unless you are a homeowner who picked or wants to pick a property based on the expectation of getting into a certain school? unless you are a real estate investor (as is Michael DeBell and Stuart Sloan), and want a high-quality charter school to pop in a gentrifying neighborhood where you already own many parcels purchased at low-market value? unless you are school exec-wannabe who wants a certain school to "fail"(e.g. Sandpoint, perhaps?) so that the property will be transferred to your CMO?

I like Stu's idea, but instead of listing missed E4A target dates, why not list the strongest evidence against E4A, and the strongest evidence that proves that what MGJ is doing, and what E4A calls for is not best practice?

I have been compiling such evidence. By far, the most signicant I have found are these: the letter from BOTA dated 10-5-09. It is highly peculiar and disturbing that this letter has gone unnoticed by the Obama administration and the press. There is also the 2008 NAEP results summary that came out early this year. That's just the start of the list.

How about the flyer also describe what the best, most recent research review papers show are the essential pillars of strong schools and strong school districts?

If anyone here wants to know more about these references - I will share links and short descriptions.

If anyone would like to have such flyers, let me know- I can prepare one. If you want to help prepare the flyer, let me know.

BTW I have a background as a scientific researcher, so I am practiced at the skills that are pertinent to preparing such a flyer.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"What's to like about data-driven decision-making"?

A lot if it is done right and the data is manipulated. This is how I would like most decisions in the world made. But this district really uses data for their own ends.

Joan NE said...

Melissa - can you describe what a good, beneficial data-driven decision making program looks like? Can you give me any relevant web links? Have you read the BOTA letter?

I really am interested to try to understand how data-driven decision making can be good for students, teachers, schools, and districts.

Charlie Mas said...

Joan NE, not all of the data that the District has comes from the WASL.

The District has data about the conditions of its buildings. They can and should use that data to drive the decisions about which buildings are repaired or renovated and when. It would be a lot better if those decisions were based on that data than on the purely political criteria that have historically driven them.

The District has data on where students live. They can and should use that data to drive decisions about how much neighborhood school capacity they need and where. It would be a lot better if those decisions were based on that data than on the purely political criteria that have historically driven them.

The District has data on the demand for alternative programs. They can and should use that data to drive decisions about how much alternative education capacity they need and where. It would be a lot better if those decisions were based on that data than on the purely political criteria that have historically driven them.

Same for advanced learning programs, special education programs, and bilingual programs.

Now, with the MAP data, which forms much of the basis of the performance measurement system rather than the WASL, the District has data on which students are working below grade level and exactly how they are struggling. The District can and should use that data to deliver early and effective interventions for those specific students. It would be a lot better if those actions were based on that data than either taking no action (as is typically done) or delivering the additional instruction to the teacher - or all of the teachers in the school - instead of the student.

Similarly, the MAP data can and should be used to drive decisions - and actions - about providing additional challenge to students working beyond grade level - instead of what is done now, which is usually nothing.

If decisions are not based on data, then what are they based on.

The problems come when the data is misinterpreted or when it is used to drive decisions that it cannot support.

Abc said...

Charlie, I could not agree more. The only thing I'd add is that certain subjects might be more in alignment with college classes, especially English classes: detailed instructions on how to outline, write a thesis, how to take a paragraph and create the five paragraph essay, spelling, sentence structure and what sites are credible for research and which are not (i.e., wikipedia). Yes, I know they were supposed to learn this all in middle school, but many didn't (like the fact that contractions have no place in an essay). Allow them to differentiate between MLA or APA. Certainly, course content matters, but the most important numbers should be the percentage of students who graduate from a certain school, especially those who are able to go on to college without taking "catch-up" courses for things they were not taught in high school.

Abc said...

One more thing, Joan NE, all students deserve an excellent education. If that means decentralizing from schools that have everything, maybe mediocre for all is better than excellence for a select few.

Joan NE said...

This discussion about the pro's and con's of DDDM (data-driven decision making) hinges on semantics. The Rand Corporation has an 18 pp. paper that defines DDDM. The title of the paper is "Making Sense of Data-Driven Decision Making in Education." The paper was published in 2006.

The authors surveyed a number of districts, and learned that when teachers, principals and administrators use the term DDDM, it primarily means using students' scores from high stakes test as a basis for making significant decisions that affect the academic progress of students; the careers, working conditions and work climate of teachers; and about the fate of school buildings when the school is determined to be failing under the provisions of NCLB.

It is clear from the introductory paragraph that DDDM and accountability - as used by school reformers, NCLB, and RTT--are closely related.

The link for the Rand report is

For all the examples Charlie gave, I agree that decisions should be based on data. Doesn't everybody?

But as for using data from high stakes tests to make decisions about whether students should be promoted to the next grade or should graduate, about whether teachers are effective or not and should be fired or not given a pay raise, about whehter schools should be closed or entire staffs replaced, is what I want to debate here.

This is what I am talking about when I use the term DDDM.

I think this is what MGJ is mostly talking about when she is uses the term DDDM.

In my estimation, all of the terms in the list that follows are closely related. They are facets of DDDM:

SAP, curriculum aligment, core curriculum, performance management, teacher quality assessment, merit pay,instructional leadership, and teacher mentoring (I suspect SPS may mean teacher mentoring when they use the term "teaching coaches").

These are terms used frequently in the E4A and the the peer-audit reports. Thus, I think DDDM in the sense I mean here is what E4A is mostly all about.

If you don't understand why I choose [or disagree with my choice] to lump all of these terms together, then--BEFORE you start defending any of these concepts-- ask me to explain this.

Now that we have semantic alignment, let me ask my question again:

What's to like about data-driven decision making?
What's to like about performance management systems?
What's to like about curriculum alignment, when it means every single student at a given grade level having to use the same horrible mathcurriculum?
What's to like about E4A?
What's to like about having a Broad-Acedemy - affiliated superintendent?
What's to like about having uniformly mediocre schools?

Please do not answer any of these questions until you have read the first several pages of the BOTA letter (Oct. 2, 2009).

Joan NE said...

The link for the BOTA letter is

Besides reading the 1st several pages of the BOTA letter, and before replying to my reiterated questions, please also read what I have written (and others' responses to me) about the BOTA letter on the "Performance management" strand within this blog site. (and comments on my writing)

Then you can give me your opinion on this question: Do you think I am attaching too much significance to the BOTA report?