Saturday, January 30, 2010

Program Placement

It was done as a footnote to the Student Assignment Plan and got almost no discussion from the Board, but the Program Placement decisions for the coming school year have been made.

The process for Program Placement decisions was just as opaque and mysterious this year as it has been in previous years. The rationale for decisions were just as flimsy or non-existant as they have been in previous years as well.

I just wanted to take a bit of space to review and discuss both the decisions and the given rationale. It seems appropriate at a time when a King County Superior Court judge is trying to determine if the School Board makes decisions capriciously.

1. The superintendent decided to place a Spectrum program at Arbor Heights. Since this decision is concurrent with the closure of the Spectrum program at West Seattle Elementary (and the creation of an ALO there), it constitutes the relocation of the elementary Spectrum program for the Denny Service Area from West Seattle to Arbor Heights. The rationale provided was: "Locating the Spectrum program at Arbor Heights is consistent with the implementation of the New Student Assignment Plan." That doesn't really explain much, does it? This decision is even more difficult to understand when you remember that the District rejected THE EXACT SAME PROPOSAL last year. Last year it was such a bad idea that it did not even merit discussion; this year it is such a good idea that it is the only proposal from a member of the public that was accepted. What changed? Nothing. Both the decision to reject the proposal last year and the decision to accept it this year appear capricious. The real difference? Director Sundquist wanted the change so it happened. Also, the failure to consider this proposal last year and the weak rationale given for its rejection was a black eye against the process.

2. The superintendent rejected a proposal to place the Spectrum program for the Mercer Service Area at Kimball. Instead, a new program will be located at Hawthorne. The rationale given was "Locating the Spectrum program at Kimball is not consistent with the goal of locating services closest to where students live." So we're to understand that Hawthorne is closer to where the Spectrum students in the Mercer Service Area live than Kimball is. Here is a map of the Mercer Service Area. Kimball is clearly more central to the service area than Hawthorne. The schools are of comparable size (Hawthorne functional capacity 428, Kimball functional capacity 466). I don't have data on how many Spectrum students live within the attendance area of each school, but the decision is for students throughout the service area. A more likely rationale for this decision was that Hawthorne has significantly lower enrollment (284 at Hawthorne vs. 486 at Kimball) and significantly poorer WASL pass rates. This was a move to bolster both the attendance and the test scores at Hawthorne, the only elementary school in the Mercer Service Area that isn't showing strong improvement. WASL pass rates at Hawthorne are unquestionably the worst in the whole district.

2009 WASL Pass Rates, Hawthorne vs. District averages
3rd Grade Math, Hawthorne: 23.7% - Lowest in the District
3rd Grade Math, District Average: 71.6%

3rd Grade Reading, Hawthorne: 18.4% - Lowest in the District (by far)
3rd Grade Reading, District Average: 75.0%

4th Grade Math, Hawthorne: 12.5% - Second lowest in the District
4th Grade Math, District Average: 60.6%

4th Grade Reading, Hawthorne: 21.9% - Lowest in the District
4th Grade Reading, District Average: 75.0%

4th Grade Writing, Hawthorne: 9.4% - Lowest in the District (by far)
4th Grade Writing, District Average: 70.0%

5th Grade Math, Hawthorne: 23.1% - Lowest in the District (by far)
5th Grade Math, District Average: 68.8%

5th Grade Reading, Hawthorne: 30.8% - Lowest in the District
5th Grade Reading, District Average: 75.4%

5th Grade Science, Hawthorne: 3.8% - Lowest in the District
5th Grade Science, District Average: 53.3%

Given the record of academic achievement at Hawthorne, how likely is a family to enroll their Spectrum eligible student there? Where has this worked in the past? The APP Audit specifically recommended that the District place gifted programs in schools with students who are academically similar to the gifted students. This is an incredibly bad program placement. It is most similar to the decision to place a Spectrum program at West Seattle Elementary; a decision that was finally reversed just this year. Did they learn nothing from that experience? This appears to have been a deliberate decision, but one that goes against all stated policy and practice.

3. The superintendent rejected a proposal to place north-end elementary APP at McDonald. The rationale given was "The Board approved pathways for APP are consistent with the New Student Assignment Plan." This rationale essentially presumes that program placement does not have a role in determining the placement of APP, which clearly isn't true. It may be that the current location of north-end elementary APP is consistent with the new Student Assignment Plan, but it is not consistent with the Program Placement Policy and it certainly isn't consistent with the goal of locating services closest to where students live, a reason strong enough to be the rationale for otherwise questionable choices. It's pretty clear that this decision is regarded as made and is not open to discussion. The proposal was not seriously considered. It was capriciously dismissed.

4. The superintendent rejected a proposal to place the Spectrum program for the Washington Service Area at Madrona K-8. Instead, the program at Muir will serve the Washington Service Area. The rationale given was "Locating the Spectrum program at Madrona K-8 is not consistent with the goal of locating services closest to where students live." So we're to understand that Muir is closer to where the Spectrum students in the Washington Service Area live than Madrona is. Here is a map of the Washington Service Area. Madrona is clearly more central to the service area than Muir. In fact, any other school is more central to the service area than Muir. Madrona also has the extra advantage of being able to provide additional Spectrum capacity for grades 6-8 if the program at Washington reaches capacity - which it does every year. Middle school Spectrum students in the Washington service area put on the waitlist for Washington do not have access to another Spectrum program. Students on the Whitman and Eckstein waitlists for Spectrum can enroll at Broadview-Thomson or Jane Addams for Spectrum 6-8. Washington students have no comparable option. Additionally, the presence of a Spectrum program at Madrona might signal the school's willingness to address the academic needs of students working beyond Standards. This decision appears both bad and in violation of the Board's policy guidance.

5. and 6. The superintendent rejected proposals to expanded special education inclusion programs at Salmon Bay and TOPS to grades 6-8. The rationale given was "no expansion of services is recommended" and "there are no recommended changes". These are not rationale. This rationale, if it is to be believed, is the very essence of caprice. The superintendent says that she isn't going to do it because she isn't going to do it.

7. and 8. The superintendent rejected proposals to create international schools at McDonald and Sand Point. The rationale given was "This does not support the expansion plan for International Schools." This is an interesting rationale. You might wonder "What plan for International Schools?" The plan for the expansion of International Schools was released on the same day as these program placement decisions. An examination of the plan for International Schools does not reveal any rationale for the timing, location, or number of these schools. They are completely lacking any supporting data or logic. To use this capricious plan - which was heretofore secret - as the rationale for rejecting these proposals is artificial and without merit. Here's the funny thing. The plan actually DOES call for the identification of an international school in the north-end in the coming year. No school is identified.

9. The superintendent rejected a proposal to create a Montessori program at Roxhill. The rationale given was "There is no plan to extend Montessori programs to additional attendance area schools." Ummm... yeah, that's why a member of the public had to propose it. Make a plan. Actually, this rationale appears to signal the District's intention to discontinue the practice of installing Montessori programs as a part of a school (such as it appears at Graham Hill and Bagley) and instead create only entire Montessori schools, such as Queen Anne Elementary. Even so, there is no alternative school in the Denny Service Area, so the proposal could have been adapted to extend to the whole school and make it an Option school using Montessori pedagogy. That idea would also have been rejected (see below). This decision was based on another decision which was not made public and which does not have any data or logic to support it. It is in opposition to Board policy directing the equitable distribution of programs.

10. The superintendent rejected a proposal to create an alternative program at McDonald. The rationale given was "There is no plan to extend alternative curriculum to Attendance Area schools." Once again, the absence of a plan is not a reason to reject a proposal. There is no alternative school in the Hamilton Service Area. This decision was based on another decision which was not made public and which does not have any data or logic to support it. It is in opposition to Board policy directing the equitable distribution of programs.

41 comments:

zb said...

One quibble, Charlie. The administration statements don't say that a plan is "rejected." They say that they don't support it, or recommend it or something along those lines.

Theo said...

Is the APP placement rationale similar to the method used when the Horizon program was taken from Rainier Beach? I wasn't around here back then but I'd sure love to see why it happened.

wsnorth said...

Are they trying to be funny with those "rationales"? That is like something from an SNL skit! If not, it is pathetic!!

wseadawg said...

The examples show how impulsive and foundation-less their decision-making actually is. The community engagement, speakers at hearings, etc., is all ignored and done only for minimal compliance with the administrative laws that require it. Bureaucracies don't have to listen or do what the public wants. They just have to let the pubic speak and they're off the hook beyond that, free to do as they please.

The Five Year plan is a business plan, plain and simple. They are sticking to it at their convenience. Last year's APP split decisions ignored the APP audit recommendations and the equity, diversity, and access rationales were, and are, cynical jokes. It furthered none of those.

If this is "data-based decision-making," then its time to take a sledge hammer to the databases. In truth, it is fiat-based decisionmaking, repeatedly carried out in a "ready-fire-aim" fashion.

The ultimate plan seems to be to make schools turn-around and look good on paper; not to help the struggling kids who need the most help. If Spectrum is wildly successful at Hawthorne, it only helps the Spectrum kids, none of the others who are so far behind right now. But the district gets to claim victory for "turning around a school" while making the struggling kids invisible by disappearing into the pile of statistics.

They know exactly what they are doing and shame on them for it.

I agree with wsnorth. This is like an SNL skit, only written by Kafka.

IvyLeagueMom said...

I am a West Seattle resident and I am disgusted and tired of watching Director Sundquist goose step his way through West Seattle, making decisions that only help the status quo and strip any people of color and foreigners of rights and dignity. He appears to go above and beyond to help the North end schools while West Seattle South (with the exception of Arbor Heights.) gasp on life support. We in West Seattle know why Arbor Heights is still around. I for one, am ready to recall this man. I do not support a Director who sacrifices half if his constituency to build up the other half. I would say most of his decisions border on racism. Thanks to the new student assignment plan, in five years the former West Seattle North Cluster elementary through High Schools will be predominantly white. I do not welcome this kind of segregation in the 21st century.

1/30/10 1:44 PM

wsnorth said...

IvyLeagueMom, I also live in West Seattle - "North" and am equally sickened by our director's lies and apparent incompetence! Our schools in the north are pretty screwed up too by this plan! The boundary lines are insane, diversity will be destroyed, our neighborhoods cut in half, elementary schools (3 of 4 in disrepair) overcrowded with portables, and our Middle and High schools starved of feeder students and, therefore, funding, Denny/Sealth will be packed with no option seats. The whole thing just makes me ill. Spectrum at Madison might be a positive, but I heard it was the only middle school without it already...Recall? I agree!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wow, Steve has infuriated and upset both North and South in West Seattle? That seems some kind of trick to pull off. How widespread do you think this feeling is?

Maggie Hooks said...

Thank you, Charlie, for suggesting that the Spectrum program go to Madrona. It would have been a huge help in attracting neighborhood families to the school. I guess moving it to Muir is a carrot for the Mt. Baker parents? There is no obvious rationale for moving it from Leschi, in any case.

yumpears said...

I am in West Seattle north and I think Steve Sunquist is completely ineffective. He is a “good” listener in that he nods his head and looks so thoughtful, but he doesn’t actually do anything other than go with the board majority. He has lots plans for things we should consider in the future (i.e. his ramblings right before the transition plan vote), but I wonder when the future starts for him?

dj said...

Maggie, there already is a Spectrum program at Muir; it is popular and well-attended. Of course, it is popular and well-attended mostly to my understanding with families who will be outside of the Washington service area under the new SAP.

It makes sense to me to close Leschi's unpopular program and keep Muir's if those are the choices, and perhaps the district's real rational for maintaining the program at Muir rather than moving it to a central school that is more . . . well, central is for capacity management purposes. But then they should say that, rather than pretending that Muir is centrally located. It is a fairly convenient location for its current families, but not for the families in its service area under the new plan.

wseadawg said...

IvyLeagueMom: We too are in the North and feel your pain. The moves in W.Seattle, especially closing Cooper and shotgunning those kids all over the place have caused a Counter-Clockwise shift in the feeder patterns and made what were once meaningful "neighborhood" reference areas a clusterf*&^ of torn up, split up neighborhoods. To call this a "neighborhood assignment plan" to any West Seattleite, North or South, is a scoff-producing farce. North end kids get assigned to Gatewood, while kids living a mile or two South of them get assigned to Alki? Ludicrous.

Pathfinder was in the center and their building was horrible and should have been rebuilt years ago. But by eliminating that central population and jamming it into a school on the East perimeter caused serious overcrowding and overcapacity in the North end, which is going to get worse year after year.

But the worst part is that the old map worked fine, except it had to make room for the displaced Cooper kids, literally bursting the seams of the North Cluster.

It's really more than a rationale person can take, especially with Sundquist whistling the district's tune as it runs rough-shod over his area.

wsnorth said...

I've talked personally to and/or heard about literally scores of ticked off West Seattle parents from (some formerly) Lafayette, Schmitz Park, Gatewood, West Seattle Elementary, Roxhill and Arbor Heights. 6 of our 10 elementaries! On the bus, at holiday parties, at the schools, friends, neighbors, anyone who actually understands the details is either ticked off, saddened, or just glad it somehow didn't change things for their family! If you look at all the levy money and program enhancements, virtually none of it is heading for West Seattle. If, as the price for that, the district would actually just re-open one of our closed schools and then leave us alone, we'd probably gladly take that deal!!! Finally (whoa this all is so not me normally), it is not just Director Sundquist, the whole board seems to be remarkably spineless (other than KSB).

dan dempsey said...

IvyLeagueMom,

Yes .. Director Sundquist makes interesting votes.

I really liked the way that Charlie tossed that capriciously word around in his writing. I learned a lot in Judge Spector's court room on Tuesday. Here I was thinking that these directors are OK making most of the zany crazy votes they make. Good News it is NOT OK to make an arbitrary and capricious decision. While this is a difficult standard to meet, the HS math adoption legal action is going to be an interesting learning situation. Many Thanks to Marty McLaren for getting this thing rolling and shouldering much of the financial burden thus far. She needs donations.

When a director votes for a balanced Program only because they failed to do due diligence to find out if it was balanced there is a problem...... Especially when inquiry/discovery learning has been a colossal flop and widen the achievement gap. The judge was not happy with the scores for ELL students during the three years of IMP discovery/inquiry at Cleveland and Garfield. The district's defense was oh that was a different book and this is Discovering and it is balanced. Those were WASL math scores and the WASL is not a valid test of math skills. --- Yup that was the district's explanation.

I will be sending a good deal of information to the directors and outlining exactly why I see a vote for the $800,000 contract as arbitrary and capricious. I will be asking for an explanation from any directors voting for, so that a judge can clearly determine if this board decision was "Arbitrary and Capricious" by looking at reasons to justify a "For" vote.

The Math legal action has cost $11,500 so far. A pro se do it yourself is just a $200 filing fee.
Look for a much cheaper legal assault of the NTN $800,000 contract, if this approval occurs.

If the board does not make some action to allow additional schools to use Singapore Math (and several will be requesting it in the next two years) get ready for the Civil Rights action in Federal court.

CMP has just been down graded by the What Works Clearing house and since CMP was adopted around 2005, it will be up for tossing out around 2012.

dan dempsey said...

"it is not just Director Sundquist, the whole board seems to be remarkably spineless (other than KSB)"

Get ready for Wednesday's board meeting..... Mammals or Jellyfish?

At the end of Wednesday's Work session most of the directors were not happy with the failure to answer questions on NTN schools success or lack their of.

Charlie Mas said...

I didn't discuss the elementary Spectrum situation in the Washington Service Area in much detail before. The post was long enough.

Currently, the Spectrum program is at Leschi. The program there is small and ineffective. There have been years when every single fourth grade Spectrum student in the district who took the WASL passed it - except at Leschi where the pass rate was only 50% on the math test and 80% on the reading test. Remember that these children were among the top 10% nationally when they entered the program and after some time at Leschi they weren't even at grade level.

Few of the Spectrum-eligible students participated in the Leschi program despite the fact that there was only one ALO in the Central Cluster - at Thurgood Marshall. High performing students were well-served at Montlake, McGilvra, and Stevens and their families had no incentive to move their children to Leschi, a school with a lot of low performing students.

The Spectrum program in the Central Cluster needed to be relocated. The program at Leschi wasn't working.

Muir does have a Spectrum program and it is a pretty good one. It has enough students to be credible and viable and the students are achieving well. Now that Muir is in the Washington Service Area instead of the South Cluster, it would seem to make sense to make it the Spectrum program for the Washington Service Area.

But it doesn't. First of all, the students for the Spectrum program at Muir come primarily from the South Cluster. Muir is the only South Cluster school in the Washington Service Area. So almost all of the neighborhoods that used to send their children to Muir Spectrum will stop because Muir won't be in their Service Area. There is little reason to believe that the program at Muir will continue to be strong and effective. By putting Muir in the Washington Service Area instead of the Mercer Service Area, the District has killed this Spectrum program. It will become like Leschi's.

Also, as I pointed out, Muir is at the extreme south of the Service Area. It is a long way for little children to ride on the bus. The bulk of Spectrum-eligible students in this service area live at the north end of the service area. The District could not have chosen a school further away from them. Families have not been participating in the program at Leschi. What makes anyone think that they will participate in the program at Muir?

Better options were available. Yes, the District could have chosen Madrona and Kimball, as I proposed. They could also have made Muir the Spectrum school for BOTH service areas.

The District can designate any school they want as a Spectrum school, but that school doesn't have a Spectrum program if there aren't any Spectrum students in the building.

Maggie Hooks said...

@dj and Charlie -- I stand corrected for my misunderstanding. thanks.

Seattle Parent said...

IvyLeagueMom wrote:"(Steve Suindquist) appears to go above and beyond to help the North end schools while West Seattle South (with the exception of Arbor Heights.) gasp on life support."

IvyLeagueMom- I'd love to see that list of "above and beyond" help, because it must be invisible, at least at the middle and high school level. I hear constantly from north end teachers at all school levels that they hear the district's (and board's) mantra "whatever it takes" to support and promote the poster children schools of Denny and Sealth, while the rest of the schools (north AND south end) can swim on their own.

Believe me, IvyleagueMom, neither Madison nor WSHS have had any district or board favors compared to Denny/Sealth. The Spectrum program had to be passed because it was part of the SAP that all middle schools would have Spectrum and Madison was the only one without it. The Denny Spectrum and honors programs have been skimming off the north end kids for several years now, lining them up for Sealth.

Just compare AP and IB course offerings- WSHS currently has 6 different AP courses while Sealth offers atleast 15 and planning for more next year (WSHS will get only 1 more).

Additionally, the new SAP has dealt the possible death blow to the north end's attendance at Madison/WSHS with assignment cuts of 30-35% projected by the district, while Denny /Sealth will stay at full capacity. Yes, and the demographics will remain almost the same (incl. F&RL rates) at Denny/Sealth, but the north end will loose it's diversity.

Please tell me what favors again?? It seems as if both the north end and the south end of West Seattle will be loosers and all the board members and district will say is that it was "too late" to make any changes and the fragile VAX system would have a meltdown. Pathetic!

uxolo said...

Muir is and has been successful. It is easy to get to Muir coming from I-5 north. And very easy to reach from anywhere south. Hawthorne is only .8 miles from Muir. Why have these two schools as the Spectrum providers? Do both schools feed to Washington Middle School?

Melissa Westbrook said...

To the issue of Pathfinder and Cooper, I would gently remind folks that this is why you MUST pay attention when things like school closures happen. The ripple effects can be many. I know the community at Cooper tried to tell people what would happen if their building closed. As I have mentioned previously, if South Shore had moved to African American Academy and that money had been used for Pathfinder, well, things would be different.

And before anyone from South Shore tries to tell me that South Shore had a far worse building than Pathfinder, I politely say, prove it. No one, at any time over last 6 years has been able to do that via any documentation.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

Great points about Kimball and Hawthorne. You have pointed out that at Cleveland the STEM school idea will replace the Cleveland Students.

So the current Cleveland population is around 50% Black and 70% Low Income. It is clear that the district has a k-12 problem in serving many of this demographic. Kimball and several other feeders of Mercer are doing a much better job than traditionally has been done.

Kudos to the students, staff, and families at those schools for stepping up their game.


Nice job pointing out that the Hawthorne proposal is not founded in policy but rather founded in raising Hawthorne scores by changing the students at the school (at least this will be done by addition rather than wholesale replacement like at Cleveland). At least the demographic of those likely to attend the current school will still be able to attend.

In the case of Cleveland things will be so altered that most of the current 70% Low Income 50% Black demographic of incoming 9th graders will likely be assigned to Franklin, where they will go because STEM is aimed at someone else, not them.

The more I look into NTN it is quite apparent that this STEM is aimed at making MGJ look good and will not effectively serve most of the Low Income and/or Black students that the district serves so poorly. "Calculus will be "required" ... WOW look at those WASL Math scores at AKI and even Mercer. I can hardly wait for the 1000 student STEM school that requires "Calculus", which is dedicated to serving Cleveland's current demographic. Anna Maria and the board just don't get it. Its the curriculum stupid: EDM and CMP2.... instead look for Performance management that blames teachers rather than "Fidelity of Implementation" to pacing plans based on defective instructional materials.

Talk about Program Placement. The math programs should be placed in the trash and replaced with new one's that work .... like Singapore Math 'cause ya best start at da bottom and go up.

Mercer is changing for the better because many of the feeder schools are doing better. Franklin is doing a bit better thanks to the schools that feed it. Note Mercer was NOT in the SE initiative but Aki Kurose was.

It certainly appears that the proposals for Hawthorne and Cleveland are based on Focused Hocus Pocus.

dan dempsey said...

================
New Plan for a real "Philosophy of Instruction". Rather than collecting data to blame the teachers, the major effort should be on data that has already been collected by others.

Effect Sizes:
Problem Based Learning 0.15

(those small groups with lots of talking sometimes even about the problem ... very popular in CMP2, IMP, and Discovery {The investigative HS math Program, the one the publisher's market, not the balanced one that was described by Anna Maria but does not exist.}

Inquiry Based Learning 0.31

===============
I propose a greatly reduced focus on the above two approaches as they do not produce nearly as well as the next two:

Direct Instruction 0.59
Mastery Based Learning 0.61

{Mastery Based Learning is the exact opposite of the "Highly Ineffective" EDM spiral. That type of "Spiraling" was called out in the NMAP report as NOT a Best Practice.}



There are lots of approaches with effect sizes larger than 0.40
Why doesn't the district try some?

Instead they push "Fidelity of Implementation" grounded on ineffective approaches.

Next step will likely be Performance management of teachers based on MAP scores..... after all the "Broad Foundation" gave MGJ $1.2 million for her "performance management agenda" so she can fulfill her Strategic Plan.

It is time for a Program Placement decision .... a lot of the bloated and getting more bloated central administration should be placed somewhere else; placed in classrooms or better yet, in many cases, outside the city.

dan dempsey said...

Seattle Parent said:
"Believe me, IvyleagueMom, neither Madison nor WSHS have had any district or board favors compared to Denny/Sealth.

TEAM MGJ supports what they find attractive and which they had a hand in proposing.

WSHS had their 4 period day changed to 6 periods. Nationally Board Certified and Super Science teacher Laura Sugden, her Mesa teams dominated (like John Wooten's UCLA BB) and whose classes really rocked and were greatly enjoyed and profited from by students. Laura liked the MGJ execution of the 6 period day proposal so well... she moved to Bend, Oregon and is teaching at a 4 period day high school there.

Meanwhile many at WSHS actively opposed the MGJ plan.... so no cookie's and milk for WSHS .. go to your room until further notice.

Concurrently the Denny/Sealth fiasco was underway. Rip up thousands upon thousands of various campus improvements completed within the last 5 years. Why?? To create a 6th through 12th school of over 1500 students. I challenge anyone to find such a school built in the Western States within the last 20 years. This is a really poor idea.

Ergo TEAM MGJ will support this school to the max to avoid possible embarrassment.

Is it possible to embarrass TEAM MGJ about anything? ... They have quite a list of failed decisions accumulating .. yet no embarrassment is apparent.

We need not go into the SE education initiative's "unknown accomplishments" as nothing embarrasses these folks.
============

We need not pick each other apart, North v. South or East v. West etc.
just because we have a lousy Superintendent and a Board that fails to direct that superintendent.

Charlie Mas said...

It's funny, you know. I never knew just how bad the academic achievement was at Hawthorne until I did the research for this post.

Academically, Hawthorne is far and away the lowest performing school in the district. So, of course, it is where the District leadership would want to place a Spectrum program.

This will mean that almost no Spectrum-eligible students in either the Washington or the Mercer Service Areas will participate in Spectrum. It is clearly an effort to kill the program and it is going to work.

There was only one credible, viable program south of the Ship Canal, and it was Muir, but that's over.

This will, of course, put more pressure on the program at Lafayette, where a lot of South Seattle Spectrum-eligible students enroll.

dan dempsey said...

Charlie,

You are indeed amazing. From you I've learned:

1... The Peter Principle squared at JSCEE. Thus without any skills to improve academic performance Politics drives every decision.

2... The principle skill of those in upper management is self promotion.

A corollary of number 2 is when in doubt hire more public relations personnel to snow the public.

3... The superintendent must always be in control of everything and data is irrelevant. Schools can be opened and closed on a whim. It is not necessary to provide the board with answers or correct information even when they repeatedly ask. BUT board memories are improving. I guess "we'll get back to you on that" can't work forever.

4... It is vitally important to scarf up every possible grant dollar, it is not necessary to have a coherent academic direction that has any chance of improvement. Racking up grant money is what is important.

5... Being connected is what is really important for upper management ... strategic partnerships need to be established.

6... MGJ's belief is...More expensive Centralized control is the answer to everything and Performance Management of the incompetent teaching force is really needed.

==========
You have been watching this circus for over eight years. I on the other hand am just beginning year four. Your insight has made this much easier to understand. But only director DeBell has more than 4 years experience, none of the rest much more than 2. So who really runs this chaotic show?

Is it MGJ or Eli Broad or Who?
I am so puzzled.

Why did the class of 2007 find so much money with which to run campaigns?


Maier $167,000
Sundquist & Carr over $120,000 each
Harium running almost unopposed $65,000.... what was up with that?

Remember before that election the Times had predicted the winners might spend as much as $50,000 which would break all previous spending records.

twokidmom said...

Just curious who suggested Spectrum at Madrona? My kids tested in but I didn't want to leave our school for Leschi just to be in the program. Was it suggested by a board member?

RickAndLink said...

At North Beach, we are in the process of having our Spectrum inclusion program "relabeled" into ALO. Bob Vaughn of JSCEE came to a PTA meeting to justify and explain. He did neither. Although reassuring the North Beach community that there would be nothing different about ALO, he still insisted that this was a necessary change. Our family used to attend an ALO school, and in that case, it meant that you got a different report card. That's it!

From Bob Vaughn:
"Consolidating Spectrum programs to 2 elementary school sites (Whittier and Broadview) in the Whitman MS service area is intended to help develop two robust Spectrum programs where eligible students can be served in classroom-sized groups of qualifying students."

Basically, North Beach's Spectrum inclusion model is getting flushed to help the district build up capacity in other schools. Sorry North Beach.

Stu said...

Basically, North Beach's Spectrum inclusion model is getting flushed to help the district build up capacity in other schools. Sorry North Beach.


I don't know the details of every school and every program, nor the Spectrum enrollment numbers at North Beach, but I actually think Bob Vaughan might be heading in the right direction in this case. One of the overall complaints about Spectrum over the years, especially when compared with something like APP, is that the program is significantly different school to school and, in many cases, that individual schools don't always have the numbers to actually teach separate Spectrum classes. By consolidating programs within clusters, they can ensure that the numbers are there to have actual stand-alone Spectrum AND the capacity to get all the kids into the program. While this might affect individuals badly, in some cases, it might actually strengthen the program at a time when there's a superintendent working so hard to dumb everything down.

stu

dan dempsey said...

"When there's a superintendent working so hard to dumb everything down."

Amen

OK now I understand SPS math textbook selections

Thanks.

TechyMom said...

Charlie,
I'm not convinced that Muir is such a bad placement. It's true that spectrum-eligable kids at Stevens, Lowell, Montlake, TOPS and McGilvra are not likely to travel that far for Spectrum, because they are bein well served in their current schools. However, there is a lot of demand for programs for above-grade-level kids in the southern half of the Washington SA, demand which before now went unmet. There are a lot of kids in the Leschi, Madrona, Gazert and TM areas who have never had a real spectrum option before. TM has an ALO, so its likely that spectrum-eligible students there would stay, but there's also a pretty big risk of overcrowding, should APP-South gain popularity. Leschi, Madrona and Gazert area students will have very little chance of getting into the schools at the northern part of the SA (except maybe TOPS after the siblings cycle through). The new Lowell and Stevens areas stretch pretty far south, and Muir might not be a bad option for some of those families either, even though it is quite far from those schools.

Muir has a good repuation. I have personally talked to people in the Madrona and Gazert areas who are excited to have it as an option. If my child places into Spectrum (letter this week) I'll look at it with an open mind, even though she's well-served in the Lowell ALO. I'm at the southern edge of the McGilvra area. I would not consider a Spectrum program at Madrona, even though it's very close, because of the school's history of not serving high-performing students, and the issues APP had there years ago. After a few years under a new principal, local families might be more willing to trust Madrona. But, right now, it's reputation is too tarnished.

Finally, there are a lot of kids in those areas who are in private school. A viable Spectrum program will be very appealing to many who previously felt that private school was their only option.

twokidmom said...

Can someone explain what "true spectrum" is? Leschi had the program. Was is not spectrum?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ah, "true" Spectrum (when every school does it differently). To me, true Spectrum is a class where the kids have tested in (and if that doesn't fill the class, then teacher recommended kids). It the same as every other classroom in curriculum but it moves faster and goes deeper. The teacher has some gifted training. Hopefully, the kids meet up with kids at their grade level in PE and/or music. (Whittier used to do half and half so that every kid in the 5th grade knew everyone in the 5th grade.)

Now you would think that this would be the same for middle school but no, that's just for elementary. In middle school, if you a Spectrum eligible, you have a Spectrum LA and Social Studies class as well as math. (But math in middle school is test in for everyone so you don't have to test into Spectrum to meet your math needs.) Again, though, it's different at every middle school so that was just how Eckstein did it.

Naturally, Spectrum drops off in high school because of Honors and AP and IB and Running Start. This is never explained by the district but it's what you can figure out.

TechyMom said...

I wasn't being nearly so specific. I meant "Spectrum that doesn't suck." I meant a Spectrum program where student outcomes are what you would expect, not that students who were in the top 10% on a nationally normed test fail to meet grade level expectations 2 years later. I meant Spectrum in a school that supports advanced learning, that offers opportunities to learn a wide variety of subjects, that doesn't tolerate teachers yelling, and that doesn't make children march silently in the hall.

Now, I hear that Leschi is changing a fair bit under it's new principal. Perhaps the district thought that building the Montessori and the Spectrum programs at the same time was too much for one school? Perhaps they thought that offering a school that already has a good reputation would work better to attract students? I think the second may be true.

twokidmom said...

Thanks for all the Spectrum info. I never ended up looking into it. Good info here.

Charlie Mas said...

techymom is telling us that Leschi Spectrum was not only rejected by families in the north half of the Central Cluster, it was also rejected by families in the south half of the Central Cluster.

Muir, she predicts, because it has a reputable program, will be accepted by those families, now in the south half of the Washington Service Area, so the Spectrum program at Muir will not wither and die.

Of course the Spectrum-eligible students in the north half of the service area don't need an acceptable Spectrum option because they are served perfectly well at TOPS, Montlake, McGilvra, Stevens, and Lowell. Is that the thinking here?

TechyMom said...

Yes, Charlie, that's the thinking. There may also be some families in the Mercer SA who would be willing to drive to Muir to access its Spectrum program. And, of course, any Spectrum-eligible students in the Muir attendance area are likely to access it as well.

I'm not sure it will work out, but I could see it happening.

Charlie Mas said...

I still think it would be better if Muir served as the Spectrum site for both service areas.

TechyMom said...

I agree with you Charlie, but the district doesn't seem to want any exceptions to the rule of a set of elementaries feeding to a single middle school. I'm just saying that I don't think this will be the death of Muir. I wouldn't want families in Washington SA to get the idea that Muir is doomed to become Leschi. From everything I've heard, the non-academic issues that made Leschi unattractive to families are simply not present at Muir.

spedvocate said...

There is no available inclusion programs at ANY alternative schools for special education students rising into middle school. Zero, Zip, nada. The superintendent's comment is more than capricious as Charlie points out. It represents as civil rights violation against people with disabilities. Kids with disabililites do not have ANY access to the choices others have. Salmon Bay has 2 programs but they are completely full (and overloaded) with 6th and 7th graders. Nothing else is available. No other alternative school has a program at all. Now, of course families could write down a middle school with no programs. And maybe the district would even dump you somewhere. But they will not start serving you until you fail in that placement. And you will have to have all sorts of meetings, file suits, and complaints, wait a year... and then, maybe they will fix it. Wouldn't it be more honest to just put something in place, so families would know their child could be served without "waiting to fail". (PS. The "wait to fail" model of special education is illegal.)

Fremont Mama said...

Charlie - I have been trying to find this information on the SPS website to no avail. Do you know where the Spectrum program will be for the Hamilton attendance area? My daughter is currently at B.F. Day and just got into Spectrum for next year. There was some talk in the fall about the possibility of starting a program there next year, but I can't find anything official. I've emailed our principal and she doesn't even know yet. Thanks.

steve in west seattle said...

Hi Charlie,

I have a different opinion about why Arbor Heights got a spectrum program.

Sundquest did want a spectrum program at AH, but so did a number of parents. The principal was opposed to spectrum, she believes in the integrated classroom model. This hasn't changed since last year.

What changed was the aligning of curriculum and the top down leadership from SPS. I believe that Dr.Coram was told to accept a spectrum program or she would be replaced

word said...

Kids who are Spectrum eligible would be well-served by just bumping them up a grade. Instead of using the Spectrum program as a means of adjusting school demographics, I would prefer my daughter (who is in Spectrum) be bumped up a grade. Then she would be immune from the School District's cheesy machinations.