Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Alternative Courses of Study

Very different from the Online Learning Policy is Board Policy C04.00, Alternative Courses of Study.

With the Online Learning Policy, the Board grants the superintendent the authority to determine which courses earn credit and which do not.

In Policy C04.00, the Board retained control of the question. Any school that wants to award credit to students via an Alternative Learning Experience must annual present written policies to the Board for review and approval.

The difference is rooted in the state law authorizing Alternative Courses of Study, WAC 392-121-182, which, in Section 2 requires "The board of directors of a school district claiming state funding for alternative learning experiences shall adopt and annually review written policies for each alternative learning experience program and program provider". The law does allow the board to delegate the decision, but Seattle's Policy makes no provision for that.

Oddly, some online courses are covered by the Alternative Courses of Study rule in law, but it is unclear which Board Policy covers them, which would make it unclear who is supposed to approve them.

Here's an interesting consequence of this Policy: any question about what will be required of alternative learning experiences in Seattle (such as compliance with curriculum alignment initiatives) will be determined by the Board, not by the staff.

I think it would be easy for a staff person to impose curriculum alignment rules on NOVA - or any other alternative school that makes use of the alternative courses of study policy, but it would be politically difficult for the Board to do so.

10 comments:

Maureen said...

Here's an interesting consequence of this Policy: any question about what will be required of alternative learning experiences in Seattle (such as compliance with curriculum alignment initiatives) will be determined by the Board, not by the staff.


So if an alternative school wants a complete variance from the SPS standardized curriculum, they can go through the Board and completely bypass the staff?

Chris said...

Charlie, I'm confused. After the paragraph Maureen cited, you go on to say

I think it would be easy for a staff person to impose curriculum alignment rules on NOVA - or any other alternative school that makes use of the alternative courses of study policy, but it would be politically difficult for the Board to do so.

So it's formally the board's call, and politically you'd expect them to lean in the direction of site-based authority for alts? Is that what you are saying?

Sounds like good news, but since when has this board ever exercised its authority? And I suspect the policy applies only to formal ALEs (Nova, Middle College, and homeschool)?

seattle citizen said...

And that might be a point of discussion for the Board: IF they approve alignment, and IF they approve ALE, and IF they approve online learning...THEN they better have the system in place that defines these, notes their similarities and differences, has a system of policy and procedure that accounts for these similarities and differences...

But when I ask if online learning will have the same metrics and accountability as aligned curriculum, I'm really saying it won't, and this generates enormous potential for use or abuse: Use by public entities who wish to teach things a different way; abuse by public/private entities that wish to escape policy or contracts.

Sahila said...

From a discussion elsewhere:
Re alternative forms of education - the citizenry setting up and managing schools...

The Worker Ownership Model as adopted by workers in Mondragon in the Basque area of Spain.

Basically, the people of Mondragon after WWII saw the inherent problems of overall capitalist control governing and running business/firms in Franco's fascist Spain.

They decided to use the existing laws regarding coops to construct worker owned firms, the Caja Laboral Popular Bank and education and health facilities for communities all worker owned and managed. Check it out ... its a great model the world could use right now!

BBC Horizon program did a documentary on Mondragon in the '80's...also, the Participation and Labour Managed Program (PPLMS) at Cornell University would have all the info..."

http://www.justpeace.org/mondragon.htm

X. EDUCATION

"Education and Training have played a decisive role in the creation and development of the Mondragón Co-operative Movement.

Its founder and main driving force, the priest José María Arizmendiarrieta, was always quite clear that 'education, understanding as such the complex of ideas and concepts adopted by a man, is the key to the development and progress of a people'.

Insisting on this idea, Father Arizmendiarrieta liked to repeat 'that education is the natural and indispensable cornerstone for the promotion of a new humane and just social order' and that 'knowledge has to be socialised to democratise power'.

"Therefore, on the basis of this approach, the first thing he did when he came to Mondragón was to create the Polytechnic School in 1943 (today Mondragón Eskola Politeknikoa), which during all these years has been the main source of managers and skilled workers for our co-operatives."

http://www.vimeo.com/7479644

Charlie Mas said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that a Board director, perhaps in the course of reviewing the new online education policy, bothered to read the Alternative Courses of Study Policy, C04.00, and noticed this line:
"Any District school that is an Alternative Learning Experience program provider must annually present to the School Board for review and approval written
policies
" and then thought back on the past 12 months and could not remember ever getting a presentation or doing a review or voting to approve anything having to do the NOVA Project.

That, of course, would be yet another failure by the Superintendent to follow policy and yet another failure by the Board to enforce policy and yet another failure by the Board to hold the superintendent accountable.

I have good news for them. They approved NOVA when they approved all of the other schools on October 21 in the consent agenda.

ttln said...

Are you saying that they approved the consent agenda without actually knowing exactly what it is they approved? Or did they approve it on the consent agenda without knowing the rules thereby setting precedence and indirectly amending policy by said precedence?

Charlie Mas said...

I'm saying that while the Board was definitely aware that their vote to approve the consent agenda that evening included the approval of the CSIPs for every school, they probably were not aware that, by approving the CSIP for the NOVA Project along with all of the others, they were also approving the school's Alternative Course of Study.

Charlie Mas said...

The alternative to belief that the Board approved the NOVA Project's alternative course of study when they approved the CSIP is to believe that the Board did not approve the school's alternative course of study.

If that were true, then no student at NOVA will earn any high school credit this year and the superintendent and every member of the Board has horribly violated their oath of office and failed tragically in their duty.

Which do you choose to believe?

Charlie Mas said...

Ah! Wait! It appears that I may have been mistaken.

It may be that the Board reviewed and approved the NOVA Project's ALE on 3/3/10.

Charlie Mas said...

Yep. Now that I'm at a fully functional computer I can confirm that the Board approved the ALE at the NOVA Project, along with Middle College and the Homeschool Resource Center, on 3/17/10 following introduction and a presentation on 3/3/10.

The action was strictly regulatory. Curricular Alignment was neither asked nor answered. Neither of the other two, Middle College and the HRC could be expected to provide alignment so it isn't a requirement for approval of ALEs.