Thursday, January 07, 2010

Board Meeting and STEM

I listened to most of the STEM discussion last night. (I missed the first 10 minutes because of a recording error so help me out if you can. I note that many readers also listened in and had good comments under my thread about the Board meeting. So repeat the same info in the Comments section if you like because I read many valid points.)

I had questioned the costs for the "upgrade" for a 2nd computer lab. There are two pots of money in the BTA III levy for Cleveland. One is capital and one is technology. The one for technology is for $1.1M. The one for capital is for $1.6M is stated as "Academics- Curriculum review and any capital work to facilitate STEM school implementation." The company, Project Lead the Way, that is providing the engineering curriculum clearly told me they asked for nothing more than a wired classroom. Cleveland is new building and is fully wired. That would be the technology money going for either computer stations or laptops. (Dr. Enfield stated this last night in terms of what they need for technology.) I believe the capital pot of money is quite nebulous and the district isn't quite sure what they need the money for but they are clearly worried about having enough money.

(FYI, I'm going to do some research tomorrow and look other STEM schools in Washington state and elsewhere and see what they did to start up and what they are using for materials.)

Dr. Enfield also said;
  • New Tech Network, the company that is doing the start-up for STEM, has been working with SEA
  • Under implementation, she said that 10 teachers would take a 2-day trip to shadow STEM teachers at other schools, there would be a 5-day intensive professional development for the Cleveland STEM teachers, a leadership academy workshop for the administrators and they would be using LAP dollars for math enhancement for current students to get them up to speed before the fall.
  • The Board is to vote on the NTN contract on Feb. 3rd.
  • All current Cleveland students are guaranteed to get in as well as priority for their incoming sibs.
Q&A

Harium: What is the criteria for success? I would like to see something "thicker" here to gauge the program. How do we know if the program is doing what it needs to do?
Enfield: We are developing an agreement with staff that they will sign in terms of commitment to the program. Those who don't will get super seniority to go elsewhere (there's a gift to those teachers and I'll bet you'll see some younger teachers at Roosevelt, Garifield and Ballard get moved).
Harium: Will teaching be open to all district teachers?
Enfield: No, it first goes to Cleveland teachers.
Harium: How do we know we have the right teachers with the right skill set?
Enfield: We're working with staff and the SEA, NTN training and some who don't feel up to it will leave.

Maier: Beyond 4 years, what is the expectation for spending the $600,000 a year for the extended day - that's a big investment for one program.
Enfield: We looked at successful models and what is essential for success for a STEM school. This may not be an on-going cost but it provides extra prep for students. [So does this mean the extended day is temporary? Hard to say.
Maier: what about some $100K-$300K for lab upgrades? He asked if it were in BTA III.
Enfield: It is projected funding out of BTA III but they are getting the money now from BEX and paying it back. [Keep track of that bouncing capital ball, kids.]
Maier: Are the LAP funds all out of Cleveland funding?
Enfield/staff guy: (italics mine) No, there will be a redistribution of LAP funds from other schools (the state budget did not cut LAP funds). [Okay, so here's what Betty Patu astutely predicted: money will be taken from other schools for STEM.]

Sherry: I would like to see an accounting of the repurposing of funds from other schools for Cleveland. How much of the two-thirds that you anticipate the district spending on this will come from other programs?
Enfield: will get that to you
Sherry: NTN has a lightweight website and I'd like to know more about them and who they are.
Enfield: will get that to you
Sherry: How will we know we are succeeding with this program with kids all over the city who choose it? Meaning, these are students who are likely to be successful at any high school so how do we know we are reaching new students looking for rigor?
Enfield: Well, we will be looking at antedotal evidence [but she didn't mention surveying initial students and parents] for how students react to the program. [Sherry seemed happy with this answer but I was baffled.]
Carr: If there are a limited number of seats - 100 for each grade, 9th and 10th initially - what will happen if more apply?
Enfield: Lottery

Michael Tolley said they are expecting to be at 900 students when the program grows into 4 years. [Good for them, that would fill the school.]

Patu: will they need a certain GPA?
Tolley: no GPA. [Then he said something about use of the geographic tiebreaker and sibling tiebreaker which confused me because of her question.]
Patu: What guarantees of success do we have for the money being spent?
Dr. G-J - STEM is not the first step. SE Initiative was so we have been laying the groundwork for success. There is no guarantee but staff is doing all it possibly can to make it succeed.

Steve: We have a budget deficit. What I would like to know is this all or nothing? Or can we scale back and then scale up as it grows?
Enfield: we had a lengthy budget process to pare back without hurting the quality
Kennedy: we have a timed budgeting sequence and so some things need to be decided in advance. Can talk about it later during my budget piece. [I haven't heard this piece yet but it certainly sounds like when the Board votes it'll be a "hurry up" vote.]

Kay: teacher development costs under NTN contract at $100K first year, $150K year two, etc?
Enfield: Correct so total NTN contract is $500K
Kay: she references TAF (TEchnology Access Foundation and their programs) and how long they took to find the right teachers
Enfield; There are links to sites at NTN with other schools and their models especially New Tech in Napa. She also referenced site visits for the Board.
Kay: What about the summer tech program?
Tolley: Summer tech is more a recruitment for Cleveland students so they could see themselves there. [I never heard this before, anyone?]

De Bell: I sense that many of my colleagues are like me; enthused but skeptical of the costs. Are there less expensive models to look at?
Tolley: the district staff couldn't come up with the program on their own so we have to go outside. No comparable program to NTN
De Bell: yes, but a quick web browse shows many other models. Where are they with costs?
Dr. G-J: I can show you a matrix of programs we looked at.
De Bell: I'm skeptical about the extended day model. The SE Initiative did not move Cleveland ahead; what is different here?
Enfield: The extended day work will be purposeful and work to help the program.
Dr. G-J: Performance managment shows the SE Initiative did increase academic performance with significant gains at Aki and Cleveland. [Clearly, this is not what De Bell understands to be true and I'd have to see it myself.]

There's no reading between the lines to see that the Board is worried. They want this to work, they think it's a good idea but the money is a lot for the state of our budget. I don't blame them for not wanting to make a huge, costly mistake.

I still believe that have Cleveland operate as Sealth and Ingraham do - comprehensives with a rigorous program embedded would work the best. It wouldn't cost as much, you could go slow and get it up to speed (especially with funding). With IB, anyone can take a class - you do not have to commit to a program. This allows teachers who see a promising student to nudge them over. Maybe they could have a STEM program with some crossover classes to encourage those students.

I think the problem of the money - both from where we fund it (where is it all coming from and what other programs/schools have to sacrifice for it) and how huge the start-up costs are are - are really troubling the Board. I don't think this district is in the right place and time for a full-out program but it's not my call.

50 comments:

SPSMom said...

"the district staff couldn't come up with the program on their own so we have to go outside."

um, Bio-Tech?

Currently fully enrolled, waitlists and lottery for entrance....

SPSMom said...

Just replicate what is working.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, as I said elsewhere, a Board member told me that the BioTech program had professionals for teachers when they first started and this Director believes that was key to its success.

I thin what Mr. Tolley meant is to come up with an overall single program would have been too much for staff to do. BioTech was put in while the existing program stayed. It was a much smaller part of Ballard. This is what I advocate which is to make it like Biotech at Ballard or IB at Sealth/Ingraham; one program as part of a larger school.

seattle citizen said...

I think there's plenty o human capital resources in SPS, and also plenty of staff who would be very excited to help design a new program like this. I don't know what NTN is costing off hand, but I'm certain that existing staff (and I mean ALL educators in SPS) could have been accessed to provide a structure, and even pay them a little extra time (if they wouldn't do it for the challenge and excitement of it...which they would!)

North End Mom said...

Here is a history of the Biotech Academy at Ballard:
http://www.ballardbeavers.org/
biotech/academyBeginning.html

Local Biotech company Immunex (now Amgen) contributed both financially and on the advisory committee. Did SPS approach local companies or universities for a STEM partnership at Cleveland?

Ballard also RECRUITED qualified teachers.

The academies that they are proposing for Cleveland, one in IT/Engineering, and one in Life Sciences/Medicine, are very specialized. I don't see how the program at Cleveland will succeed without the recruitment of qualified instructors in these fields.

I would be more supportive of a program that partnered with local tech and life science companies and/or institutions, with training and support provided locally, and not in California, etc. It would save thousands of dollars in travel expenses (for staff training).

Partnering with local companies/institution could also result in internships for students that would provide the opportunity for hands-on, real-world learning. I watched the STEM presentation, and I don't recall any mention of interships.

I'm all for STEM, I just think that the way they are doing it is too expensive, and that it should be more local.

SPSMom said...

But couldn't you take a successful program and use it as the model for a school? And couldn't that be done for less money?

Charlie Mas said...

The key will be the project-based learning. If the classes are no different from the same classes at other schools then there will be no reason to take them at Cleveland STEM.

To deliver a project-based lesson requires certain training on the part of the teachers. I don't know if they can get that training in the five days allotted for it.

It will also require all new lesson plans from the teachers. NTN offers lesson plans ready-to-go, which none of the teachers could prepare adequately for themselves.

Since the lessons are practical, I wonder if they wouldn't require some practical experience on the part of the teachers. Where is that going to come from?

Charlie Mas said...

The question was raised on the other thread about whether or not it was too late for the Board to suddenly get tough about STEM and maybe decide not to do it.

No. It is not too late.

The Board action that created the STEM program was contingent on District leadership coming back to the Board with a set of deliverables BEFORE the Superintendent made the final decision to move forward with the program. Those deliverables are now due.

Some of them, frankly, are absent.

If the Board really believes in accountability they should either defer the STEM decision until such time as the Superintendent can get her ducks in a row or they should just say no.

If they say no, then Cleveland will still be open next year, it will be a comprehensive high school similar to the way it is now. It will just be an option school. It will likely be poorly attended, but it is poorly attended now.

Charlie Mas said...

Also, I am glad that the Board recognizes that the academic outcomes from Cleveland STEM cannot be compared to the academic outcomes from Cleveland High School because there will be a near-complete turnover in the student body. This will not represent greater success with the Cleveland students; it will represent greater success with a different set of students.

dan dempsey said...

Dr. G-J: Performance management shows the SE Initiative did increase academic performance with significant gains at Aki and Cleveland.
Little wonder Melissa was skeptical.

Complete and totally false in regard to math at Aki and Cleveland. Since this was a STEM conversation would not this increase need to be in math?

Grade 6 Math Black students
Aki Kurose percents
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4

2006 7.00% 59.00% 22.00% 12.00% 0%
2007 1.40% 56.20% 17.80% 15.10% 9.60%
2008 0% 66.00% 22% 8.00% 4.00%
2009 0% 70.00% 11.70% 10.00% 6.70%

Aki Kurose grade 7
all students
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4

2006 3.70% 62.60% 18.20% 12.80% 2.70%
2007 4.00% 55.20% 19.00% 15.50% 6.30%
2008 3.30% 54.60% 19.70% 17.10% 5.30%
2009 1.70% 61.70% 14.20% 10.80% 11.70%


Cleveland percents Black students
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4

2006 10.60% 48.90% 31.90% 8.50% 0.00%
2007 12.70% 61.90% 14.30% 9.50% 1.60%
2008 16.70% 66.70% 11.50% 3.80% 1.30%
2009 11.30% 63.40% 12.70% 9.90% 1.40%
=======================

So how did MGJ see significant academic gains at Cleveland and Aki?

I have NO confidence in much of anything this district says in regard to math.
=======================
Cleveland has a small improvement in math from 2008 to 2009 for all students but to say Cleveland and Aki have had significant improvement is only a fairy-tale.

Cleveland
math all students
year no score level 1 level 2 level 3 level 4
2006 8.90% 37.80% 32.20% 18.90% 2.20%
2007 11.60% 55.40% 15.20% 14.30% 2.70%
2008 14.70% 59.70% 14.70% 8.50% 2.30%
2009 11.60% 47.30% 19.90% 12.30% 7.50%

==============================
Where is the return on investment in math for the SE Initiative?

As DeBell said: Reform math was a noble experiment but it has failed.
Unfortunately the Superintendent has yet to figure this out as she thinks that the above is a significant improvement.

dan dempsey said...

De Bell: I'm skeptical about the extended day model. The SE Initiative did not move Cleveland ahead; what is different here?

What is different is that the Superintendent believes in fairy-tales with no supporting data.

Who makes decisions based on bogus fabrications?
When it comes to math Seattle does over and over again.
Why would STEM be any different?

dan dempsey said...

When it comes to math the district refuses to face reality and deal with it. The STEM project is not cheap, the district has a huge budget problem. As Director Patu points out this will suck $$$ from other programs. This district just refuses to fix either their buildings or their math program. Is there a budget crisis?

Does the Instructional coaches model work? Does the SE Initiative work?

Does anyone believe that the Student Assignment Plan will make every school a quality school?

Kennedy says we have long term structural finance problems ... so how can spending big money on STEM help?

I have NO confidence in the Superintendent or her perception of significant improvement.

dan dempsey said...

March 31, 2008 in the Times:

But as budget season dawns, some School Board members are raising concerns that not only are many of the initiatives unfunded, but some don't even have price tags. They're also questioning whether the district has promised too much to schools in Southeast Seattle.

"What we have right now is lots of items," said budget committee Chairman Steve Sundquist. "What we don't have is all of it costed out and a good sense for how we're going to pay for it."


So now in 2010 what can be paid for?

Theo said...

There are plenty of former engineers that are currently teaching in SPS. For $500k couldn't we simply hire 9 or 10 more teachers rather than pay some vendor and squander already tight budget funds?

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said:
"
If the Board really believes in accountability they should either defer the STEM decision until such time as the Superintendent can get her ducks in a row or they should just say no."
......
"This will not represent greater success with the Cleveland students; it will represent greater success with a different set of students."


Amen.

TechyMom said...

"This will not represent greater success with the Cleveland students; it will represent greater success with a different set of students."

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. There have been precious few options for this "different set" of students in the south end.

Melissa Westbrook said...

But Techy, it's not all kids in the south end. It may be 10% or 50% but to point to it as a success for that community would be wrong if the population doesn't reflect that community.

Nothing wrong with having a successful school but is it a major or minor help for its community? It could be worth it even for 10% of those kids if their options have been dismal. However, many parents have their kids truck up to Ingraham, which has IB, so it's not like rigor wasn't available. So now it will be in their neighborhood but how many will avail themselves?

I suspect a lot of Cleveland students will be pressured to stay on but many will go to Rainier Beach if only for the athletics/arts.

Charlie Mas said...

I suspect many of the Cleveland students will leave to escape the extended day and higher expectations.

The students now in the 9th grade at Cleveland will be part of the STEM school. They will have to take the four years of math extending at least through calculus and four years of science to graduate. Those will be their graduation requirements. They didn't sign up for that when they joined the school last year.

The students now in the 10th and 11th grades at Cleveland will be placed in the College Readiness Academy. They too will have additional graduation requirements and be expected to take more classes and more rigorous classes than students at other schools. I don't think many of them will remain on for that. These students have not demonstrated an appetite for that sort of work.

Charlie Mas said...

The question was asked "If the extended day from the Southeast Initiative hasn't provided the desired results, what makes us think that the extended day at Cleveland STEM will be effective?"

The answer was "We will be more purposeful in how we use the extended day in the STEM program."

For me, this should then lead to the question "Why haven't we been that purposeful in our use of the extended day in the Southeast Initiative?" But that question wasn't asked or answered.

blumhagn said...

Re: student population

I heard two numbers on Wednesday night, and I'm not sure what was right. At full enrollment, they are planning on 2 academies with 100-125 students/grade in each, for approx. 900 students. At a couple of points, it was unclear whether they are thinking that the program will start with roughly that many students or half that. I'd like to see clarification on how many students they expect the first year, and how the population is expected to grow over time if it's starting half full.

Eric

seattle citizen said...

Joan posted this comment on another thread, and I think it bears discussion:

"BTW, it was announced at the Garfield mtg(in such a way as would be easy to miss) that the District intends there to be a standardized test for every core curriculum class. A Student will not be able to get credit unless they pass the standardized District assessment. The teacher-issued grade of C or better won't be enough now for a student to get credit for a course."

ann said...

"They too will have additional graduation requirements and be expected to take more classes and more rigorous classes than students at other schools. I don't think many of them will remain on for that."

Yes Charlie, I think you're right in theory. Howevery, current Cleveland students will automatically roll up to the next grade at Cleveland, unless they make a choice not to, which would require that they participate in open enrollment. Will these students, many of whom do not have much family support, make the effor to participate in open enrollment? Many students currently attending Cleveland received mandatory assignment there because they never filled out enrollment applications in the first place. They didn't care where they went to school, or they weren't aware that they had choice. Will these kids fully comprehend how the changes coming to Cleveland will affect them? What the changes mean and what they will look like? If they do, and they reject them, will they then follow up and participate in open enrollment?

Charlie Mas said...

In the information provided about STEM there has been a good amount of information about the Class of 2011 and the Class of 2012. According to the STEM people, these students have been told, any number of times, what will become of them starting next year. They are very much aware of how the expectations will change.

Also, even if they weren't paying attention and don't respond during open enrollment, Cleveland students are very much aware of their ability to change schools. There were a total of 284 transfers at Cleveland (in or out) last year. That's with an initial student body of about 700. A total of 830 different students attended Cleveland at some point last year and a total of 246 of them either came or went during the year. That means two things. First, 38 student both transferred in AND transferred out of Cleveland last year, and 30% of all of Cleveland's students either started or ended the year at another school.

These kids know that they can change schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Eric, the numbers you heard (as I heard them) were starting with 100 each at 9th and 10th grades with growth to about 200 (more or less) per grade when the school is full. That's how I understood it.

Joan, could you tell us what Garfield meeting it was where you heard this and its topic? I'm a little unclear on how this discussion was started.

Charlie Mas said...

blumhagn writes:

"I'd like to see clarification on how many students they expect the first year, and how the population is expected to grow over time if it's starting half full."

There have been no public projections on the expected demand for Cleveland STEM in 2010. They simply have no idea.

I have written here that I expect the incoming 9th grade class to be about 50 students, but I have no way of knowing either. I think I will know more after I count the crowd at the January 23 Open House.

The District and the school have, as always, done a perfectly dreadful job of promotion. Only really engaged people even know about the thing.

Numbers may improve with the publication and distribution of the Enrollment Guide. We'll see. We'll see if Cleveland is shunted off into a separate little ghetto for Alternative and Non-Traditional High Schools with NOVA, The Center School, and the Homeschool Resource Center (as was done last year). If so, people may just miss it.

Let's remember that before the Open Enrollment period even begins, every student family will get a letter saying "Your student is assigned to school X for the 2010-2011 school year." Only the people who don't accept that assignment will even participate in Open Enrollment and only people who participate in Open Enrollment can ever have their child assigned to Cleveland STEM. My expectation is that a great number of southeast Seattle families will get the assignment letter and consider the decision made. They will not heavily consider the opportunity to choose Cleveland STEM.

Further, I don't expect a lot of families from outside southeast Seattle to seriously consider Cleveland STEM. The school is rather inaccessible from the rest of the city. Only one METRO route serves it, the 60. And the 60 runs only every half hour from Capitol Hill and First Hill to Beacon Hill. It never gets any closer to downtown than 9th and Madison. It does stop across the street from the Beacon Hill light rail station, both for north-end students that would require a bus ride downtown, a transfer to light rail, and then a transfer to the bus again. The southbound 60 stops by the light rail station once around 7:00am and then at 7:30am, so what time would students have to arrive downtown to catch a train that would allow them to catch one of those buses?

I'm not seeing it. Also, how many families will reject a guaranteed place at Garfield, Ballard, or Roosevelt for Cleveland STEM? I'm thinking of a number close to zero.

And how many students will make the trek to Cleveland all the way from north of 85th Street? I'm thinking of another number close to zero.

It's not much easier to get to Beacon Hill from West Seattle. Students would have to go through White Center and catch the 60 coming out of Georgetown. How many students who have guaranteed assignments to West Seattle or Chief Sealth will make the journey? A few. Not many.

So almost all of the STEM students will have to come from the Franklin and Rainier Beach attendance areas. Honestly, I'm not sure how many will turn down a guaranteed seat at Franklin and I'm not sure how many families in the Rainier Beach neighborhood will buy the District's promises and take the chance on Cleveland STEM instead of trying for a seat at Sealth, Hale, or Ingraham.

STEM could get a lot of students who name it as a second choice school.

Still, no one will list it if they have never heard of it. I expect a freshman class of about 50. I'd love to be wrong.

TechyMom said...

I think there are a lot more high-achieving kids living south of Garfield than public school enrollment numbers (including those who bus north) would lead one to believe. They go to private school, Mercer Island, and Vashon. The public school population in the south end doesn't currently reflect the racial, economic, and educational level diversity of the neighborhoods there. I'm hoping that Cleveland STEM will help fix that, by being attractive to middle and upper income families with higher educational levels. Those families ARE part of the south end community, just not part of the schools at the moment.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

I am one private school southend end parent who has no interest in STEM. My child does OK (Bs at a college prep school) in math and science, but they are not her passions. A quality, comprehensive high school with similar offerings as Roosevelt or Garfield is the only ting that would get me to consider switching BACK to public school.
Add that to the dysfunction I see in the District's day-to-day operations and the chances we return are extremely low. My husband is facing a layoff and we still aren't considering a return to public. We're willing to cut to the bone to get our child a quality education that serves her needs.

Charlie Mas said...

So here's the funny thing.

I have some GRAVE doubts about how well Cleveland STEM will work. I seriously question how much of the work will really be project-based. I question the teachers' ability to present, conduct, and manage a project-based lesson when they have never done it before.

I question how much of the work will be at grade level. There are likely to be some students in the room who are not ready to work at grade level.

I question the school administration's ability to write a functional schedule. You wouldn't believe how complex it's going to be with the block classes and non-block classes, with some 9th grade students in Algebra and some in Geometry. It's going to be a nightmare.

I don't see any of the promised partnerships with outside institutions. Where will there be internships? I don't, for that matter, see any of the private funding that was supposed to pay for all of this. All I have seen so far is an in-kind gift for the wireless network.

And I seriously question the school's ability to attract very many students. I think a lot of the juniors and seniors are going to leave and I don't think they will attract many freshmen.

Yet I still think it will be the best choice for my daughter.

1. Even if the lessons aren't all project-based, there will be more project-based work than at any other school (other than NOVA).

2. Even if the lessons aren't all at grade level, grade level work will be available.

3. If she doesn't get all of the classes she needs in one semester, she'll get them in another.

4. There may not be many intern opportunities, but there will be some.

5. I am relying on the low enrollment to translate into small class sizes and lots of individual attention.

Add to that the fact that Cleveland is an easy twenty minute walk or five-minute bike ride or bus ride from our house, and it is a pretty strong case.

Charlie Mas said...

Now that I mention it, where is the private funding that was supposed to pay for much of this STEM program. All I see is money from the District.

Where are the philanthropy dollars that this program was supposed to attract?

dan dempsey said...

Charlie great job on the analysis of the SE initiative. Guess MGJ must have new and improved metrics that she is using to find success in SE.

I can hardly wait for how TEAM MGJ will deal with the fiscal problems in the coming two years.

Team MGJ lives in upside down world.

District school board buys Santorno's statements that Everyday Math will eliminate the math achievement gaps in 5 years. EDM expands every achievement gap. The board then sees EDM and CMP2 use as justification for adopting HS "Discovering" in the interests of vertical alignment of instructional materials.

Cleveland's population has been 50+% Black students. The Cleveland STEM program aims for Calculus competency for all students. Unfortunately the district seems to believe that students coming from a defective k-8 math program can somehow with extra periods learn Calculus in HS for STEM careers.

This belief is so strong that money will be diverted into this STEM program from other areas in a huge budget deficit year.

I would love to see a well designed and carefully implemented STEM program ... but this one does not fit with current reality.

Perhaps MGJ would like to release those PSAT results to show us how well the SE initiative is working.

In Seattle 54% of all 8th grade students passed the Math WASL, while 24% of Black students passed.

There is no plan to fix k-12 math but these STEM students will become Calculus proficient in High School. Director Patu asked Tolley about entrance requirements to get into this STEM program. She learned there are none.

What has worked successfully under MGJ? This lady could not even put out 4 quarterly reports in one year as required by her strategic plan. Now with a pathetic math program swept under the rug it is onto STEM spending with little thought.

Will the board ever hold TEAM MGJ accountable for anything?

How about starting with a useful release of PSAT data.

Stu said...

Charlie said: 1. Even if the lessons aren't all project-based, there will be more project-based work than at any other school (other than NOVA).

2. Even if the lessons aren't all at grade level, grade level work will be available.

3. If she doesn't get all of the classes she needs in one semester, she'll get them in another.

4. There may not be many intern opportunities, but there will be some.

5. I am relying on the low enrollment to translate into small class sizes and lots of individual attention.

Add to that the fact that Cleveland is an easy twenty minute walk or five-minute bike ride or bus ride from our house, and it is a pretty strong case.


Every one of these things is a excellent reason for your daughter to attend the STEM program. I'll give you the one argument against sending her . . . will the program be there the next year? And the next year?

The problem I see with the STEM program, especially at the beginning, is that it's one thing to enter the program but another to leave it . . or be left. What if your daughter goes and it's everything you dreamed it would be: small class sizes, individualized programs, mints on every pillow? Then what if they pull the plug, or change the whole program again the next year? Your daughter has to start all over with another school, another program, another group of friends . . . The thing that you call "small class size" the district calls "lack of interest." What happens then?

Just a thought . . .


stu

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, regarding Joan's post on mandatory standardized testing after each core class:
Below is some information from two District Curriculum Alignment pages. Reading them, it's easy to see how a standardized test at the end of each class would be seen as necessary to ensure vertical progression: A student would need to know the standards in the class as part of the progression.
Now, using this as a "pass/fail" gate is not mentioned, but seems to be implicit: if common assessment shows that student is not "ready" for next vertical step, then the student would either have to not pass, or progress with the caveat that they receive remediation.

Here's the info from the two pages:

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/curriculumalign/index.dxml
“In an aligned system, common rigorous expectations for student learning in any one grade level are consistent across the district, grade level expectations build on the prior year’s work and feed into the next year…Each course in the SPS curriculum will be aligned horizontally with identified course outcomes so that courses with the same name across SPS high schools reach established goals and expectations. Content courses will be aligned vertically to ensure students possess the knowledge and skills to be successful in the next course in the sequence.


http://www.seattleschools.org/area/literacy/Alignment.html

LA Curriculum Alignment:

“coherent and consistent progression of content, instruction, and assessment within and across a course of study….Horizontal and Vertical Alignment
Furthermore, each course in the core curriculum will be aligned horizontally with identified course outcomes so that courses with the same name across SPS high schools reach the same goals. Some content courses will be aligned vertically to ensure students possess the knowledge and skills to be successful in the next course in the sequence…
Common Assessments
In addition to measuring student progress, guiding teachers’ instruction, and focusing student learning, common assessments will also inform building improvement and district-wide decisions pertaining to curriculum and instruction. “

Dorothy said...

Well, Stu, there's no way they'd pull the plug in just a year or two. During that time, a child who is motivated and interested could very well have had some great opportunities and a chance to shine in a small group. A chance to network. Could be a lot of opportunities opening for someone like that if the program fails before they graduate. Nova with a self-created program, UW Academy for Young Scholars, private school with scholarship, "home" school that builds on the projects or internships...

Yes, the program might fail, but that doesn't mean the kids would start over, they might have to be creative, but could build on what they did at Cleveland.

SPSMom said...

And remember there is always Running Start.....could go full time, earn dual credits and SPS pays for it.

I think I would give CHS a shot if I knew that RS would be a good fit by 11th grade.

Chris said...

Re Joan's Garfield meeting: I believe there was a "community engagement" meeting on curriculum alignment in early December at Garfield that she went to. It was the same night as another meeting, of course, and we heard about it at the last minute...

Joan NE said...

Seattle Citizen, thanks for the effort to verify my report from the Garfield mtg. Do you agree that these assessments qualify as High Stakes Tesing (HST)?

I doubt that many parents outside of those who read this blog have a good understanding of HST.

Lack of knowledge among parents as to what is meant by HST and related terms oft used by the Superintendent (e.g., Data-driven decision making and performance management systems) works in the District's favor.

I am sure that the District has little interest to educate the public. The more the public understands these terms, it is to be expected the less they would support the initiatives.

Do you agree or disagree with this last statement?

This quote from your post sounds like a coded reference to "district intervention."

"common assessments will also inform building improvement... “.

District intervention, in my view, is, is very often very harmful to students, is immoral, and, because Title I schools are the main targets of intervention, appears to me to be racist. The Race-to-the-Top program strongly encourages "district interventions," especially the more severe of the four forms listed in the final program announcement.

Danny K said...

If the Board really believes in accountability they should either defer the STEM decision until such time as the Superintendent can get her ducks in a row or they should just say no.

I'd really love to see this! "Dr. G-J, I'm sorry, but you didn't do your homework so you can't have your new project. Come back next year..." Too bad it will never happen.

Danny K said...

Joan NE, why are you so opposed to District Interventions? I think they can serve as a way to shake up failing schools.

When used as a management gimmick, they will fail and perpetuate dysfunction, just like every other management gimmick in education for the last 50 years, but that's not the tool's fault.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's another thing about the STEM budget that doesn't make sense to me: software costs. They list software purchase as a one-time expense with no recurring annual expenses. In what alternative universe?

So there are now three big questions about the budget:

1) Where are the philanthropy dollars that STEM was supposed to attract? All of the money in the budget shown to the Board comes from the District.

2) What will fill the gap for the funding listed as TBD? Is the Board going to approve this with all of that To Be Determined funding in the budget? I sure hope not.

3) Where is the budget for recurring software purchases. Why do they pretend that there won't be annual expenses for software?

By the way, if you were wondering who was supposed to be out there raising the cash for STEM from donors, it was the STEM Steering Committee, lead by Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. That's the group who has utterly failed to perform in the preparation for the STEM program.

Anne said...

WOW! I'm so thankful too!!! Not really words to express it.
Professional Development Workshops for Teachers

Stu said...

I'm hoping that Cleveland STEM will help fix that, by being attractive to middle and upper income families with higher educational levels.

I would bet that none of these students would consider moving to STEM until the program has proven itself. These are families who've made a pretty strong decision about the child's education; they'd have to have some pretty big guarantees to move to a new program.

By the way, I agree with what Charlie said about proximity. We live in the Northeast area and, although our son loves science and math, would be hard pressed to consider STEM for transportation issues alone.

Just for the fun of it, I checked the online Metro trip planner to see the shortest bus trip from our intersection to CHS, this coming Monday, with an arrival time of 7:50 am. The shortest trip was 1:04 and takes three buses. Same thing on the return trip, though I didn't check during rush-hour if our son wanted to stay for an after-school activity; three buses and a little over an hour.

stu

Joan NE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joan NE said...

Oh dear! The gears are in motion to get legislation passed that favors state "interventions" into persistently failing schools.

http://www.educationvoters.org/2010/01/04/sbe-adopts-accountability-framework-legislation/

This article is undoubtedly referring to the Race-to-the-Top program, and the legislation, if passed will strengthen the State's anticipated RTT application.

It will take a very smart grassroots action plan to be able successfully oppose these awful reform initiatives.

If you are one of those who wish to be more than a passive observer as the ship goes down, please make yourself known to others of your ilk.

Please write to me at joan@mathascent.org if you have ideas about how to block this legislation, and/or want to meet like-minded, action-oriented folks.

Here is the full text of the article:

The State Board of Education adopted legislation related to its accountability framework today in a special meeting in Olympia.

The approved legislation now goes to the Legislature for its approval during the 2010 session beginning next week. If passed by the Legislature the SBE will implement a system of identifying and assisting low-performing schools and districts, and gain intervention authority. The new system would also identify and reward the state’s top-performing schools and districts.

This work is the much-anticipated result of the many, many months of work by the SBE’s System Performance Accountability workgroup, as well as the Board itself. The U.S. Department of Education deserves a mention, as the intervention models in the plan are required for School Improvement Grants (as well as future receipt of Title I funds).

George Scarola testified on behalf of Excellent Schools Now, along with Caroline King. They spoke to the merits of the framework and the need for accountability at all levels.

Joan NE said...

Anne - I clicked on the professional development link that you provided in your brief, cryptic post. I found this:

"Maintaining Creativity while Increasing Student Achievement (7.5 or 15 Clock Hours)

"This one-day workshop provides innovative strategies for creatively raising student achievement. In an age of accountability, much of what used to be referred to as 'creative license' has been stripped away. Find new ways to make teaching fun again, all the while helping your students to succeed!"

Yep, this is a propos of regressive school reform. And this is what LEV, SchoolsFirst, MGJ, SchoolBoard, PTA, Ron Dorn, State Board of Education, Seattle Times, Arne Duncan's U.S. Dept. of Education, Broad Foundation, Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, Sen. Oemig, Rep. Ron Hunter of Medina, Washington Business Roundtable, ..., want for SPS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joan, Danny just expressed an opinion. He didn't say you were bad or even wrong. Enough with the flame throwing.

Joan NE said...

Melissa - thank you for reminding me to be better mannered. I am sorry especially to Danny for giving a non-answer and for the aggressive tone of my response to his question. I am going to try to do a better job self-filtering.

A couple months ago (late Sept.), when I first heard of and wanted to know more about the Broad Foundation, I spent many hours on the internet seeking out information and news stories about what was happening in other districts around the country that are heavily influenced by the Broad Foundation.

I found out that SPS is on the same reform path as these districts. I realized we can look to these districts' histories to understand what the future holds for SPS if we stay on this path.

In my informal research effort, I kept encountering the term "district intervention." I found many stories that were negative; I don't recall finding any that were positive. Of course, in the news we only generally hear the bad news, and rarely the good.

I suggest that a person who wants to form their own opinion about "district intervention", put this term in quotes, and then couple it with the name of a big city or big school district, such as Chicago, New York, LAUSD (that's Los Angeles), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, OUSD (Oakland), Washington D.C. Another good search string could be something like ["district intervention" definition "Broad Foundation"]

I can dig out some representative articles, and provide the links.

Chris said...

Danny, one reason we are suspicous of interventions (which has been discussed elsewhere on this blog) is that they are generally school-based and disruptive. Is that sometimes needed? Yes. Unless the building leadership is truly dysfunctional, it is unfair to to "shake things up" because a subset of teachers or students are failing.

School-based intervention should be a last resort after student-based and teacher-based interventions.

Another reason we are suspicious of "intervention" is the NCLB trick of using "intervention" to channel public funds to private companies. Are you aware that we are giving almost 1M taxpayer $$ to Sylvan this in the name of ______. (fill in the blank.)

Joan NE said...

Common sense and empirical data suggest that conventional forms of distict intervention are destabilizing socially and/or academically.

By "conventional," I mean the four models desribed, in detail, in the Race-to-the-Top program announcement.

I suspect that a distinctly different model for district intervention might be very much more effective for promoting GENUINE student success than the conventional models.

I'd like to know what others think would need to be a priority in a district intervention, in order for the intervention to have a strong positive impact on socio-academic lives of the affected students.

Here is my answer to this question.

1. De-emphasizing high stakes testing in favor of alternative forms of assessment.

2. Ensuring that students have time in every school day for at least one high quality, self-selected, engaging elective course.

3. Professional-standards for teacher evaluation, wherein the principal has the duty and the requisite authority to dismiss teachers that have received unusually high frequency of poor parent/student evaluations, and who do not show the ability or interested to identify the cause of the poor evaluations and to develop, with the principal's input, and then follow through on a sound plan to remedy the identified performance deficiencies.

4. High quality K-12 social skills/anti-bullying/conflict mediation curriculum

5. Intellectually challenging and engaging curriculum

6. Culturally relevant curriculum and pedagogy

7. Emulation of SPS' extraordinarily successful but little-known Middle College High School program.

8. Full-time school nursing services (currently elementary schools have a nurse on site only one-day per week)

9. Ample psychosocial counselling services for students whose academic progress is stymied by high stress circumstances;

10. Sufficient quantity of effective high school career and college counselling services.

11. Having security personal on site if needed to manage student conflict, with staff that is well-trained in how to develop trust-based, constructive, respectful, effective relationships with students, to support the goal of promoting an safe learning environment.

dan dempsey said...

Danny K said:

If the Board really believes in accountability they should either defer the STEM decision until such time as the Superintendent can get her ducks in a row or they should just say no.

I'd really love to see this! "Dr. G-J, I'm sorry, but you didn't do your homework so you can't have your new project. Come back next year..." Too bad it will never happen.


=================
This could happen. Cheryl Chow's board is gone. Director Betty Patu although new to the director position and faced with a steep learning curve has lots of experience with the district.

Betty P. has seen over many years the chaotic way that the district spends and changes direction. She raised the question about what gets shorted from other programs to make STEM happen in a budget restricted year. She knows that the funding shortfall is likely going to be more than one year.

She is NOT Cheryl Chow. Eventually Patu in place of Chow will make a huge difference for SE students and likely all students in the district.
She gets it that STEM will not help the vast majority of students in the district but rather hurt them by restricting funding to things Non-STEM.

The DeBell board asks a lot of good questions ... they just never close the deal on those questions. Betty Patu will not just sit by and let MGJ continue with her chaotic leadership.

Director Patu is more than willing to admit there is lots she does not know ... but she is a listener and learner.

Some directors, Sundquist for sure, resemble slick politicians (preparing for high political office) rather than effective directors.

Sundquist's statment about pouring over NMAP's "Foundations for Success" report during the math adoption was total bunk. You will not see Director Patu spinning fairy-tales to support MGJ.

I think there is a real chance that in the current environment and with MGJ's failure to perform that STEM maybe Stopped with:
Dr. G-J, I'm sorry, but you didn't do your homework so you can't have your new project. Come back next year...

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