Thursday, March 18, 2010

School Board Meeting Roundup, Part 1

As I said, it was quite full and quite rocking at the beginning with many counselors with signs about their job loss and teachers with signs against the performance policy. Also, as previously mentioned, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson left because of her daughter's preschool event and the crowd was not happy. (As it turns out, she magically appeared almost to the minute when the testimony ended which seemed odd. Maybe she had to make sure to give her Superintendent's remarks but it did not leave a good impression.)

Some of the speaker comments:
  • "It sounds like blame the teacher is the message."
  • Meg did a great presentation that the audience really appreciated. Her data-driven testimony really strikes a chord. She explained how the Superintendent had given an explanation in a letter about Title One and LAP money but did not give a full picture/details to the story. Her specific example was what will happen to Thurgood Marshall with the loss of Title One dollars.
  • an executive from a labor council said, "Don't dumb the debate down to 'getting rid of bad teachers' ".
  • A NOVA student ceded her time to Ola Addae the head of the SEA. She was blunt - don't adopt the performance management policy. She said a substitute motion had been given to the Board (wish I could see that - maybe it's at their website). She then went on the attack against what Dr. Goodloe-Johnson had been doing since coming to Seattle. She claimed that Dr. G-J had refused money from the state for a CTE center (that funding was in the BTA III levy). She said "disruptive change is what she does." I'd call it churn but whatever you want to call it, I'd agree. She also said that seniority is "sacred" and the only way to RIF. (I don't agree but it got a lot of applause.) Ms. Addae was the next scheduled speaker and tried to continue to Michael told her no, every speaker only gets 3 minutes for fairness sake. She went ballistic and claimed it wasn't in the rules. She said it was racist and wrong. The crowd started to chant, "Let her speak, let her speak." but Michael held his ground and said no. She told the crowd they should all leave and go chant in the lobby and got a great number of people to go. Oddly, there was no chanting and most of them didn't come back.
  • At this point I noticed one of the teacher who exited had left a catalog under her chair. It said, "Massage and Bodywork Franchises".
  • Patricia Bailey, a 2nd grade teacher, pointed out the difficulties of assessing kids with issues like poverty, math books, student mobility, etc. She asked how MAP accounted for these factors in the scores of students. She showed the Board that the MAP book has 24 pages of goals for students and with 28 students in a class, how was she to do it?
  • Another speaker asked about performance management when they had lousy materials (see math) to use. It was pointed out that Cleveland had tons of resources given to it with students going to UW for help and yet their math pass rate is much lower than RBHS.
  • Robert Femiano, another elementary teacher, said that the performance management plan doesn't acknowledge the art to teaching and doesn't accommodate creativity.
  • Dora Taylor asked for open meetings with Brad Bernatek, staff and parents to answer questions about MAP.
  • Laura Reback, a South Shore parent with a child with many issues, said they couldn't help their son without the South Shore counselor. She pointed out that losing the counselors could cost money if the district has to hire outside help to work with IEP students.
  • One parent, Jennifer Matter, questioned whether the performance management policy might hurt schools if parents don't want a school that gets labeled by the district as "low-performing". (The same might be asked about teachers not wanting to go teach at a labeled school.)
  • Gail Longo, a Montessori educator at Ballard's pre-school, had several parents speak highly of her program which integrates teens and pre-schoolers in working together.
  • Another speaker was Jonathan Knapp who read the rest of Olga Addae's speech. Continuing she states that now Dr. G-J is coming for counselors. She pointed out that we have 90+ coaches but only 5 STAR teachers (mentoring new teachers) when there used to be 12.
  • the last speaker, Rickie Malone, a former SPS principal and frequent speaker at Board meetings, complained that she had a call from a SPS staffer who warned her that she would not be allowed to speak if she signed up for a place and then did not speak on the topic. (Apparently she has done this 3 times in a row.). I only put this in to point out that yes, it is a rule that people who are speaking to an Action or Introduction item get first dibs on spots. That's because it used to be whoever signed up first but many people who wanted to speak to an item being introduced or voted on that night didn't get the chance. The Board feels (and I agree) that it is important to allow speakers who are speaking to agenda items. And most of the time, the list isn't full so there are usually speaker to general topics.
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson then gave her remarks which were about principal selection. I missed her first few sentences but she said that they are using attributes to get to 6 candidates and that school teams could pick 3. She said then there would be a "learning walk" thru the school with each candidate and she would make the decision with announcements in April. She said Center School had picked 5, Madrona had 4, and that Coe, John Hay and McGilvra still were working through the selection process.

Then came the math presentation by Miss de la Fuente. It was very long and pretty dull (except when she figured out that she misspelled a word in one of her titles). And guess what? The Math department has a "vision and mission". "Every student empowered to do rigorous mathematics with confidence." Really? They really spent time on thinking that up? Good to know.

She said that the district is in year 2 for Everyday Math, 4th year for CMP2, and first year for high school of Discovering Math. She said that with cuts the math coaches would likely work with teams of teachers instead of one-on-one. She said there would be transition work for 8th graders to 9th grade for algebra readiness. She said the next Board Work Session on math "will provide a national national perspective on systemic math change and achievement in urban districts, and in-depth analysis of district math data with recommended changes for improvement. We will also engage with national experts and mathematicians as we move forward and examine how we increase math literacy and student skills."

Sherry asked about on-line resources and that she knows one school that can't get access. Would be looked into. Betty asked about how difficult math is for ELL students when there is so much reading. Miss de la Fuente said that ELL students acquire language skills through math and that all national strategies support this. (Really? Can she back that up with data?) She said it was a challenge but the district supports this.

Peter passed on a couple of ideas he had and then said that he wanted to hear more about middle school outcomes given how long the district has been using the materials. Kay echoed this and said at the next Work Session she wanted to see in-depth data on gender, race, etc. (Let's see if the "I'll get back to you" line gets used at that Work Session given that two Directors said to come armed with data.)

I wish this had been done at a Work Session. I feel like so many people want to get to the Agenda items and yet staff does these long presentations.

36 comments:

Dora Taylor said...

This was my testimony:

Good evening.

This is regarding Performance Management Policy 2.0 and how it ties into Assessment Program Policy C4.

$4.3M dollars was approved when the levy passed to implement MAP testing in all of our schools. It is my understanding that this will be the test used to asses a student’s performance and be a large part of rating the effectiveness of teachers and principals. According to Performance Management Policy 2.0, this could result in removing teachers or the principal or closing a school. From what we have just heard from Meg Diaz, the implementation of this plan will cost $3.1M.

At the same time, due to a lack of funds, schools are now being forced to make decisions on losing teachers or other resources and many of us will be losing our counselors. In doing this, classroom sizes will increase putting more of the load on teachers, and schools will no longer be able to provide support for students in need of personal counseling.

This is not Strategic Planning.

Our students are to perform on a test that appears to be flawed within a context of even larger class sizes with little to no outside support to deal with family, financial or community issues and, our teachers and principals will be evaluated within this system?

Regarding the MAP test, there are problems with it. First, the students know how to manipulate the test so that they can get through it more quickly. The kindergarten students apparently like certain sounds that some of the animals make on the test and will hit that button several times. If you read the Save Seattle Schools’ blog, you will see questions that parents have in terms of the results of the test, no one seems to understand what the test is to evaluate and one parent has tried to get answers to her questions regarding the test but to no avail. Also, there are many variables that are associated with each student when they take the exam and yet something as crucial as the fate of a teacher or principal’s career or that of the school is to be determined by these test scores?

I would recommend that before spending money on rolling out an exam that is not ready for use, that it be revised. In the meantime, I would also recommend that there be open meetings with parents, SPS staff and Mr. Bernatek who is the Director of REA and manages the assessment and evaluation of students within SPS, to answer questions about this test. It IS that important.

The ideal solution would be to hold off on rolling out this MAP test, allow time to work out the flaws, rework this performance management policy and use the money instead to fund our schools and keep our counselors so that our students will be able to achieve and succeed.

Seattle Ed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dora Taylor said...

Regarding Meg Diaz testimony, $2.1M of Title 1 money is to go towards implementing the Performance Management Policy. The additional $1.3M is FRL money.

My question is, is this legal to do, take Title 1 money to pay for this policy?

Dora Taylor said...

I do like what Olga said about the rif's last Spring, that HR had told the supe that the rif's were not necessary which supports what Brad Bernatek's team had said then, that we were 1,200 over at that time in enrollment even though Don Kennedy said without any back up, and none that I have found subsequently, that they were necessary because of the school closures which were due to a decrease in enrollment.

I have not said this before but because I have yet to receive or find confirmation of this, the rif's were manufactured, as Olga said, to underline the presence of seniority in the teacher's contract, which is there for good reason, which laid the foundation for all the chatter that has ensued about teacher's unions and seniority. That laid the groundwork for the lobbying of Bill 6696 regarding education reform. That in turn also laid the ground work for teacher performances based on student testing which is now part of the Performance Management Policy and will be part of union negotiations.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

I don't know to what extent the district would like to use MAP data in teacher performance reviews. However, I will say that it would be deeply irrational to do so. And not only is it irrational, it is obviously so. Here's why:

As in a social science experiment, you can't control for variables when comparing the student MAP data of one teacher with another. For example, one teacher may have three preps (three different classes to prepare for) and another teacher may have one prep. Some teachers have more complex and difficult assignments than other teachers. Some teachers teach within supportive programs, and other teachers don't. Some have supportive supervisors, and some don't. Some strong teachers work in weak schools, and some weak teachers teach in strong schools. Some teachers have all honors students, and some teachers have no honors students. And so on. There is no way to control for variables when comparing sets of MAP data, and therefore it is not valid to use it in performance reviews.

But this idea of using standardized test data in performance reviews is apparently now a widespread idea, which tells you something very interesting about our nation. It tells us that some very irrational ideas are widespread and that they are not publicly debated in a serious way. Why is that?

I believe that the increasing emphasis on test data is part of a larger drive to commodify education. In order to turn education into a profit-making business in which education is produced like any other commodity, there has to be way of quantifying it. The purpose of education then becomes the production of student outcomes which can be measured competitively.

The reformists work on Pythagoras' assumption that "all things are numbers." They are, in my view, dehumanizing education. There are serious moral consequences for such a process. There is really more at work here than just trying to figure out how to hold teachers accountable. There is something deeply irrational and insidious at work.

Eric M said...

This is the text of one of the speakers at the Board meeting 3/17, who spoke about performance management. It's a repost from another thread about this board meeting, but I thought I'd put it here, as this speaker was very effective, and is not listed in roundup...

Good evening. My name is Gabriella GutiĆ©rrez y Muhs. I am a professor at Seattle University, with a Ph.D. from Stanford University, a credentialed bilingual teacher in California and Washington States, and a parent of Seattle Public School students. I am deeply concerned about the cultural apartheid that will occur if Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson’s performance management initiative.

As someone who served as the Wismer Professor for Gender and Diversity from 2007 to 2009 at Seattle University, I find these initiatives utterly dumbfounding because they would eliminate the possibility of our youngest and most diverse teachers’ and students’ advancement and the recognition of their value by privileging only one way of teaching to our children.

Incredibly enough, our superintendent, a woman of color herself, wants to continue counting beans with measuring cups instead of measuring the abundant essence of what diversity, bilingualism, social class issues add to the learning and teaching of our students and teachers.

How will the fieldtrips to the Indian Cultural Center or to El Centro de la Raza be measured in containers? How will the empowerment of children of color taught by people of color for the first time be measured with her strident initiative? Will standardized tests measure the anti-racist and anti-homophobic initiatives teachers add to their curriculum in order to create a classroom with less micro-aggressions against people of color, girls, homosexuals, gay and lesbian teachers? Will “teaching to the test” improve understandings of cultural difference?

These standardized tests privilege normalized middle-class ways of knowing the world, which paralyzes growth and learning about the enriching value of working-class and immigrant peoples’ participation in the learning and teaching process. This also excludes the parents of color and working-class parents, whose knowledge about the world becomes superfluous according to this curriculum. This initiative establishes, for our students, a standard by which we judge society, which also delimits the diversity.

As a child growing up in migrant camps and moving around throughout the year, I understand the value of respect from teachers for my mother’s tortilla-making skills and my father’s work in the fields. This respect and these skills did not come about through a standardized test, but through compassion, collaboration, and the participation of immigrant parents in our classrooms. This allowed for other children to value what my parents had to offer as they crunched on a delicious apple, which my father picked, or ate Green Giant cauliflower, which my mother packed.

As a professor, a past high school and junior high school teacher, and a published academic in the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, I deeply resent the arrogance of this initiative. If there was one thing I valued about living in Seattle, it was teaching the students that came from kind, creative, communal teaching environments in the Seattle school districts in the past. I hope these reductionist and unfair initiatives will not be implemented to the detriment of our kind, well-trained, and well-educated teachers.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

I post rarely on this blog, but I'm in a talkative mood these days. Forgive me if I go on a bit longer before I relapse into prolonged silence.

The other thing I find deeply irrational about the reformists is that they are creating an incentive system for the most effective and experienced teachers to avoid teaching the very students whose "performance" they want to improve.

One of the unspoken rewards for becoming an experienced and effective teacher is that you get to move to teaching honors classes and electives of your choice. You get to move to higher "performing" schools. In the case of my wife,--a highly talented and experienced teacher who "paid her dues" in the public school system--you get to teach in an elite private school with higher pay, better benefits, and more recognition.

Why would anyone want to teach at the Cleveland STEM School? Why would anyone want to be under that kind of a microscope? I will probably be RIF'd in the coming weeks. If I'm recalled, I will likely have some options for which school I return to. I have a background in the tech industry, and I would be just the kind of teacher for a STEM School. But I don't want to teach there.

Likewise, why would anyone want to teach at a weak school in which the entire staff--now per the new Performance Management policy--could be displaced?

Why would an early-career teacher want to teach in SPS where that kind of thing could happen?

blumhagn said...

At Sherry Carr's community meeting last week, she said that 75 of the HQ coaches are grant funded. Based on the numbers of layoffs at HQ, it appears that all non-grant-funded coaches are being eliminated. However, I have to take the layoff sheet with a grain of salt, since Don Kennedy said that the 5 education director positions are included in the layoff sheet, even though they plan to create 5 new positions to replace them.

I did think it was kinda funny how the math presentation danced really close to the line of saying that they had problems with discovery-based math in the lower grades, while not saying anything that might jeopardize the high school math lawsuit.

Eric

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

And finally (sorry, I will stop after this post), why would any teacher want to teach math or language arts? These are the subjects that will get the most scrutiny under a system that takes into consideration MAP data in performance reviews. If you can get an endorsement in a category that avoids this kind of scrutiny and still retain your job, why wouldn't you do that?

Again, why create an incentive system that encourages skilled math and language arts teachers to move into other fields?

seattle citizen said...

blumhagn,
I, too, was somewhat taken aback by the bizarre inclusion of the dollars saved by laying off the five Ed Directors in the budget, when it was acknowledged that they would all be hired back.
Soo...."we have some hundreds of thousands removed from the budget due to these five layoffs....but we're hiring them back."

Why were they laid off? To create an instant 400,000 or whatever "savings" in budget projections? Of course the District will need to find those dollars again, right quick...where will they come from?

An obvious slight of hand, and when Mr. Kennedy was questioned on this he did not own up.

Melissa Westbrook said...

LA, my husband and I thought, since Bush started office, that the main goal of NCLB was to comodify public education. I think the fight over public health is not about what's in the bill but who gets to make money off health care.

Well, there's money and lots of it to be made off of education. One thing I'll give Randy Dorn credit for is realizing how much the WASL cost to give and score. A ridiculous amount of money was walking out the door just for the test.

And what is the point of listing the Ed Directors if they are to be rehired under a new title? Smoke and mirrors.

wseadawg said...

MGJ is in a can't lose situation. Do you all get that? When scores lag, she purges union teachers. Should they go up, she gets the credit and gains more power and influence.

Any educator worth their salt knows that narrowing curriculum and teaching to the test are not well-rounded education, and MGJ knows it too. Any wise educator who wants to keep their job knows that they'd better focus on the test first, if they have any hope of being around long enough to influence and actually teach knowledge.

The reformers' goal is not to educate. The goal is for U.S. business interests and their ilk to control and run schools like dictatorships in the private sector, running roughshod over communities, minorities and democratic processes they don't, and never have, believed in.

NCLB is the "How do we get there from here(?)" means of accomplishing that goal.

But again, MGJ and the Board are in a win-win. If scores go up, they can demand even more concessions from teachers and communities down the road. If they go down, union purges and more political support for charters.

No local press has enough chutzpah to ask the question in a few years, "whose idea was this?"

hschinske said...

Regarding the MAP test, there are problems with it. First, the students know how to manipulate the test so that they can get through it more quickly.

To be fair, that's not a MAP-specific problem. ANY child can underperform on ANY test. I remember a story in our family about one of my siblings coming home saying the standardized test (probably the ITBS or something like that) had been so dull that she just filled in all the ovals with a zigzag pattern and waited until it was over. The problem is not using test data intelligently.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

One (relatively small) thing that confused me: parent Laura Reback was concerned about losing the South Shore counselor, but K-8s are not losing their counselors--in fact South Shore is scheduled to have 1.5 counselors next year (they were budgeted 1.0 for 09-10). I thought I missed her point and that she was concerned that her particular counselor would be displaced by one with more seniority but Melissa's summary matches what I heard. If anyone knows her they might want to reassure her.

zb said...

LA Teacher's Warehouse (and yes, that name sure confuses me). I get your point -- indeed, I wonder about the people who think that if we just changed the rules about how we evaluate teachers we'd suddenly get a bunch of eager superstars willing to do the job.

I think it's a terribly tough job, and that threats like firing all the staff in a school because kids' test scores aren't increasing, wouldn't make me eager to join the profession. Do people really think that weakening union protections, without changing pay will encourage a lot of new people to enter the field? and, more important, to stay?

My guess is that reforms that make it easier to fire teachers, or entry (i.e. changing certification requirements) might cause a short term entry of inexperienced young people who can't find anything else to do right now in this economy (in exchange for experienced, more expensive teachers we fire), but that they won't stick around.

Do we want to staff our schools with teachers who have taught less than 5 years?

wseadawg said...

ZB: That's the million dollar question that nobody seems to ask or spend much time thinking about. On the other hand, maybe its so obvious it isn't said. But that seems where things are headed. Look at TFA, for example: Two years in the classroom, then transitioning to a career in "leadership" positions in education is what they're all about. The ranks of NCTQ, among other supposedly pro-public ed outfits, are stuffed with TFA grads and teh like. They just plain think they're better than union teachers, and that their measly two years of "experience" qualifies them to say that. It's ageism at its best, but its what they're all about, along with many other groups howling for "reform." There's no respect for union teachers, or the importance of unions as a check against abuses, which benefits our kids tremendously because that allows most teachers to focus in teaching, knowing they don't have to watch their backs all the time. With merit pay, every teacher will have to watch their back, lest they be stabbed by the brown-noser down the hall.

Am I jaded? Perhaps. Sorry, but I've watched too many people sell their mothers down river for a buck. For too long, its been the American way, and that won't change anytime soon.

MathTeacher42 said...

Maybe someday I'll figure out how to do public testimony such that I'll be able to say what I want to say and it will be said in a way I'm comfortable with, and it will be said in a way which will be clear and persuasive to others. yawn. meanwhile, I'm paid by the community to do a job for them.

I've noticed some features of the reform messaging and the reform framing - it is very effective at marginalizing people who think the king has no clothes - or the clothes aren't as beautiful as many are claiming.

I have seen this kind of effective messaging and framing from exactly 1 organization in my 50 years - a certain political party and its lies about their stealing and its lies about their lies.

The craziness ... in 30 years, American management has been staggeringly successful at:
- NOT being held accountable,
- NOT being held responsible,
- having great authority,
- having GREAT rewards,
- blaming the underlings...

and the main reason the system is falling apart is that those on site don't fit the glib profiles of anecdote laced articles in the popular press, articles supported by flaky research!!

The U.S. is still 1 of the most affluent societies on the planet - and we should be exporting armies of experts to help the world develop world class health care, education, housing, transportation, power generation and distribution ...

instead of exporting armies of experts, instead of Caesar's legions keeping the mob at bay, we're collapsing under armies of highly credentialed, highly degreed, highly paid power point parasites who couldn't run a hot dog stand effectively, much less transportation, security, education, health care ...

BM

To promise is most courtly and fashionable:
performance is a kind of will or testament which argues a great sickness in his judgment that makes it.

reader said...

Do people really think that weakening union protections, without changing pay will encourage a lot of new people to enter the field? and, more important, to stay?

Oh gag me. We don't need a lot of new people to "enter the profession". We need quite a few to leave, as there's no money to pay them. And no, there's no reason to wish that people would stay... just because staying is somehow good or desirable. Besides, we don't really see people leaving in droves now do we.

Yes, it's a hard job. Yes, we want to avoid abuses... but folks... the tides have turned. There's lots and lots of good people out there wanting to teach, in every difficult position. The district (and public) really should be in the driver's seat in this negotiation.

emeraldkity said...

-a highly talented and experienced teacher who "paid her dues" in the public school system--you get to teach in an elite private school with higher pay, better benefits, and more recognition.


Interesting- but my experience in Seattle ( with Matheia, UCDS, SAAS et.al ) has been that the teachers in private schools don't generally have teaching degrees-although they do have experience.

They also are paid less than the teachers in public school, and have fewer benefits- as you might expect in a field without unions- however the tradeoff seems to be worth it for many.

They do have more autonomy, often smaller class sizes and more parental involvement.

Dora Taylor said...

LA Teachers' Warehouse,

I would highly recommend if you haven't already, read:

The Rise of Venture Philanthropy and the Ongoing Neoliberal Assault
on Public Education: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation

http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/workplace/article/viewFile/65/saltman

I read this again yesterday and the parallels that are happening now in our state and city are the as described in this paper. Many of us saw this freight train coming down the tracks and it's now at the station.

Oh yeah, and keep on talkin'! I enjoy reading what you have to say.

Dora Taylor said...

Hschinske,

If the supe is going to use these test scores like they're the Holy Grail then they better be accurate.

And yes, there are so many variables in any sort of test, the environment and the student taking the test, that it's ludicrous to use any test score to evaluate a teacher, a prinicipal with the potential effect of losing teachers wholsesale,a perincipal or closing a school. That's called high stakes testing.

And then to think that they are going to see a trend within a three year time to me is iffy. They'll see something but no one would be able to validate the accuracy of the results. Not with what I'm hearing now.

Also, since this has NOT been road tested for three years to see what kind of results are possible, our school system has now become the guinea pig for basically seeing what might happen.

In the meantime, since we really don't know what sort of outcome there will be, the reliability of the test, the supe STILL wants to evaluate schools, principals and teachers on an unproven test.

That's the point that I was making.

Dora Taylor said...

Here's an excerpt from "The Rise of Venture Philanthropy and the Ongoing Neoliberal Assault
on Public Education: The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation" by Kenneth Saltman that touches on achievement testing in his introduction.

"Broad’s educational activities derive from a few key assumptions about improving public
schooling including: 1) that the problems facing public schools are administrative
problems caused by bad management practices -- especially caused by bad public school
managers who lack the leadership skills of the private sector; 2) that public school
improvement begins with top-down reform; 3) that educational quality can be understood
principally through standardized test-derived achievement scores and that poor and
minority students suffer from an “achievement gap” which can be remedied through
better educational methods and management. On their own many of these assumptions
are widely held rather than specific to Broad. However, taken together these assumptions
are closely aligned with the neoliberal educational reform movement as championed by
not only the venture philanthropists but also neoliberal think tanks like the Fordham
Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institution, and leading right-wing
policy wonks associated with them, especially Chester Finn and Frederick Hess among
others."

See:
http://m1.cust.educ.ubc.ca/journal/index.php/workplace/article/viewFile/65/saltman

emeraldkity said...

http://thebroadreport.blogspot.com/


wow ::::::::::::shudder::::::::::::

hschinske said...

In the meantime, since we really don't know what sort of outcome there will be, the reliability of the test, the supe STILL wants to evaluate schools, principals and teachers on an unproven test.

But the MAP isn't unproven. It's been around for many years. I think it weakens your argument to complain specifically about the MAP as if there were something wrong with *this* test when what you're really saying is that *no* test results can reasonably be used this way. If the latter is true, it doesn't matter a damn whether the MAP is an "unproven" test or not.

If someone was trying to judge how well children were nourished by how tall they grew, it would not make any sense to attack the brand of ruler they were using. It might be a fine ruler, exquisitely calibrated. Or it might be an old, warped, inaccurate ruler. It might also be true that young children wiggle and are hard to measure. But none of that would matter: what matters is that, while height is indeed correlated with good nutrition, and there can be good reasons for tracking children's growth rates, especially over large populations, height-for-age is an incredibly lousy way to measure an individual's nutritional status.

Helen Schinske

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

emeraldkity,

Increasingly, private schools prefer teaching degrees. At least that has been my experience. Needless to say, because I expect to be RIF'd, I'm applying for jobs in private schools.

Some private schools pay less than public schools; some pay more. My wife works at one that pays more. Her salary went up when she moved back to a private school. And not only that, the retirement benefits were fantastic! And not only that, everyone received an across-the-board 4% salary increase, in addition to their yearly step increases.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

With regard to MAP, there is an untold story in the data. The data indicate that there are huge ranges of skill-levels in non-honors classes at various high schools. I'm talking about a spread of 11 grades, for example.

How do I know this? I looked at the data myself.

Some time ago the superintendent visited our school. A colleague pointed out that we'd lost funding for math support and that the range of skill levels in our math classes was huge. The superintendent responded by saying that good teachers know how to differentiate instruction.

hschinske said...

The data indicate that there are huge ranges of skill-levels in non-honors classes at various high schools. I'm talking about a spread of 11 grades, for example.

Is that really news? There've been stories about high school students who read at early elementary levels for years, and it would hardly be surprising for someone who entered high school reading at a first-to-fourth-grade level to be low in math as well. http://evans.washington.edu/research/public-service-clinics/topics/garfield-high-school-read-right-program

"For six years, Garfield High School has offered the Read Right program to students who enter high school reading significantly below grade level. Approximately 90% of the students who enter the program begin reading at a 1st to 4th grade level."

There are a lot of kids in Read Right at Garfield -- a Bark article last fall said a quarter of the class or so.

What I would be interested to know is what kind of data do we have showing that the Read Right students generally get up to grade level in under a year, as claimed, and how the students' 9th-grade MAP results correlate with that data. Maybe the UW study will get into that.

Helen Schinske

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

In many cases, the students at the bottom skill-levels are getting NO help now that intervention classes have been cut back or eliminated.

Here's a scenario for you. The district eliminates support classes. A teacher--say a math teacher--ends up with an 11-grade range of skills in her classroom. The superintendent says that she's not a good teacher unless she brings everyone up with differentiation. If the data show that she's not done that, she's not meeting performance expectations.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And where is the support and training and class size to help teachers with differentiated teaching, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson?

Maureen said...

I have heard great things about Read-Right at Garfield. Googling it lead to this post at the Evans School at UW:

The Garfield Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) launched this program out of concern for the large number of Garfield students who were reading many years below their grade level and struggling in many of their classes. The PTSA researched effective programs and raised the funds to pay for it. Due to the program’s success, the PTSA has obtained partial district support, enough to hire a full-time teacher....Despite its anecdotal successes that have teachers in the building whole heartedly supporting it, the program always seems to have to fight for its yearly budget.

It sounds like the Evans school was looking for someone to do an evaluation of the program in 2007(?). Did that ever happen? Is the program secure? Does SPS support it?

Is it available at any of the middle schools?

Meg said...

I'm pretty late to this comment party, but...

Eric- I'd definitely take the lay-off sheet with a grain of salt. As you noted, there are the 5 ed directors (at over $110K a pop in salary alone). There were retirements and unfilled positions counted towards "cuts" (um... how are we saving money on empty positions that we weren't paying for, anyway?) and there were things like a few laborers filling out the numbers (who were, one is inclined to ask, centrally administering what, exactly?). Adding to my amusement/annoyance: the district has argued strenuously that coaches are NOT central administration. But in the lay-off sheet? Coaches suddenly count as central administration. Apparently SPS can have it both ways.

Also: it's true that a number of coaches are "grant-funded." It's misleading to put it that way. Being grant-funded could mean that those coaches are paid for with state or federal grants like LAP or Title, grants that could pay for people working directly with students. Title II, for instance, is a grant that can be used to reduce class size. So I'd take the "grant-funding" with a grain of salt as well, unless you get a complete breakdown. And, er... good luck with that.

hschinske said...

Maureen, according to the Nov. '09 Bark article I mentioned, at http://www.garfieldhighschool.org/UserFiles/File/PTSA/theBarkNov09_webOP.pdf, "We have applied to the UW Evans School of Public Policy for technical assistance in evaluating the impact of the Read Right program on its participants. Specifically, what is the impact of participation in the program on students’ overall academic achievement? What is the impact of the program on students’ attitude toward reading and toward school? We have received word of UW faculty interest in this project and await being matched with a graduate student who will lead this evaluation effort."

Helen Schinske

Dora Taylor said...

At some point in this thread we were discussing Performance Management.

I was just going through my e-mail when I came across this Broad Foundation Newsletter that someone sent me a few weeks ago.

It seems apropos after the Performance Management Policy passed last week with all but Patu voting for the policy.

Seattle could be in the Broad's next newsletter as they explained with pride how, with the leadership of Broad Academy graduate, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, Performance Management has been put into place in Seattle.

(This might take two comment windows.)

From the Broad Foundation's quarterly newsletter, Education Quarterly, 1st Q, 2009:

"Broad Superintendents and Residents Leading Bold
Teacher Performance Pay Efforts Across America

For more than a hundred years, educators in America have been paid essentially the same way — based on their number of years on the job, not the quality of their work in the classroom. Broad Academy and Residency participants and alumni are leading the way, however, in a seismic shakeup of the old foundations of teacher compensation. (Note by Dora:Besides our superintendent being a Broad graduate and on the Broad Board of Directors. Brad Bernatek was a Broad Resident within SPS and now is Director of REA. Mr. Bernatek was instrumental in developing MAP implementation here in Seattle. We also have Jessica de Barros, Cordell Carter thanks to the Broad Foundation.)
In cities like Washington, D.C., Houston and Denver, Broad Center leaders and alumni are rattling the bureaucratic and political cages that have kept teacher pay trapped in the last century, leading closely watched efforts to tie compensation to performance in the classroom.

Performance Pay in Houston Independent School District

In Houston, Broad Superintendents Academy graduate Abelardo Saavedra, head of America's seventh largest school district for the past four years, worked with his reform-minded board to enact a teacher performance pay system that gives large cash bonuses to teachers who help students make the most academic progress. Over the past two years, Houston Independent School District teachers and staff earned nearly $40 million in performance bonuses, and school district officials believe the new pay system is one factor in strong academic gains in classrooms around the city.

"Performance pay is one of the most important reforms in education in our lifetime," said Dr. Saavedra, a 2002 graduate of The Broad Superintendents Academy. "For more than a hundred years in this country we basically paid teachers the same amount of money, depending on how much seniority they had, not based on actual classroom performance. Now, everything has changed. Teachers can earn huge bonuses based on how much children grow academically from one year to the next."

Houston is leading the nation in performance pay for teachers, just as it has led the nation in so many important education reforms.
"It's taken a lot of hard work, plenty of mistakes, and several do-overs, but we have a system now that rewards with big money those teachers who are getting the most academic growth out of children. That's real reform"
- Abelardo Saavedra, Houston ISD Superintendent and Broad Academy Alumnus

(We're havin' some real reform right here in Seattle!)

Dora Taylor said...

(And for all you KIPP fans:)

New Compensation Plan for Teachers in KIPP Houston's Charter Schools

Houston's teacher performance pay revolution isn't just the province of Saavedra and his veteran reform board. At the nationally renowned KIPP charter schools, officials are preparing to roll out next fall a new teacher compensation system based on performance.

Bradley Welter, a current Broad Resident, was handed the challenge of his young career five months ago when he arrived at KIPP Houston. He was assigned to work on the new teacher performance pay program.

"This is an amazing opportunity for me," said Welter, who is in The Broad Residency class of 2008-2010 after having been an engineer for a prominent petroleum engineering and construction contractor. "A few months ago, I was designing refineries, and now I'm helping to design a new way to compensate teachers." (God help THOSE kids.)

Performance Management Initiative in Denver Public Schools

In Denver, school district officials have been a mile high in the teacher compensation reform business for five years with their ProComp system, which rewards teachers financially for their professional accomplishments while also linking pay to student achievement. The Denver program was designed jointly by teachers and administrators and approved by Denver voters.

Two Broad Residents are in top leadership positions at the Denver Public Schools. Shayne Spalten, who is in The Broad Residency class of 2008-2010, is chief human resources officer in Denver, and Connie Casson, class of 2005-07, is deputy strategic officer.

"It has had an incredibly powerful impact on the culture of Denver Public Schools," Casson said of performance pay. She is heavily involved in the school district's new performance management effort, which will include a new performance pay plan for operations staff. "External incentives are part of the culture. It's one of the things that really attracts people to work in Denver Public Schools."
Casson, like all Broad Residents, came to education with experience in other sectors. She has an M.B.A. from the University of Texas. "It's a good time to be in Denver," Casson said. "There's really great leadership here who value the business perspective. This is a great place for someone with a non-traditional background to shine."

(And one more. We can't have a conversation about ed reformites without including one of my favorites...)

Dora Taylor said...

(continued)

Innovative Teacher Contract Proposed in Washington, DC

There's nothing traditional in the way Michelle Rhee is shining as chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools. Rhee, a Broad Center board member,(and my personal favorite) has commanded international attention for her bold effort to shake up the status quo in Washington with a performance pay system for teachers. Her compensation and other reform efforts recently landed her on the cover of Time magazine and, she admits, in the crosshairs of some who don't want public schools to change.

Rhee has proposed a teacher contract that would give big pay raises to teachers who agree to be judged based on how well their students perform in the classroom.

She has run into substantial opposition from the teachers union, which didn't surprise her.
"Absolutely," she said when asked if she expected the opposition from the union. The chancellor said she has been in negotiations on her proposals for 15 months, and that she's put in her last, best offer. She offers other leaders advice when taking on an issue as controversial as teacher performance pay.

- Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools and Board Member, The Broad Center

"You can't get caught up in the compromise of all of this... We can't continue to turn a blind eye to what is happening to kids every day in the name of harmony amongst adults. That is essentially what it boils down to. To make the hard changes, you're going to have some unhappy people."

Rhee said she couldn't have undertaken any of her reforms without the leadership of Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty behind her, and she advised current and future Broad Academy Fellows and Residents to work closely with political leadership.

"You cannot underestimate how important really high quality political leadership in the city" is for educational reform, Rhee said.

(Our supe meets with the mayor on a regular basis per an interview with McGinn on KUOW last week. Mayoral control with our supe handling the mayor as Eli Broad does with the mayor of LA. Scary thought.)

(I'm looking forward to the Broad's next newsletter when Seattle's Performance Policy is the feature article.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have told the Board, in testimony, that we do not have the money to keep our Broad residents, Jessica de Barros and Cordell Carter. Their two-year residency is up at the end of the year (not sure if school or calendar) and I'm sure their service is appreciated. However, we are cutting administration jobs, not adding them. We cannot afford their salaries ($90K each) and therefore, cannot keep them on.

If either or both of them are kept on, then you will know this district is NOT serious about the budget.