Thursday, June 10, 2010

Board Work Sessions - Math and Advanced Learning

The Board has two work sessions scheduled for this month.

The first, today, Thursday June 10 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, will be on Math. No agenda details are available but there is sure to be a powerpoint and it is sure to appear on the District web site soon. I have to believe that the Board is looking for a report on the implementation of the curricular alignment, the implementation of the Theory of Action from the High School textbook adoption, and some update on student academic progress in math.

Next week, on Wednesday, June 16, from 4:00pm to 5:30pm, will be a Board Work Session on Advanced Learning. I honestly cannot imagine what the District staff will have to report

They cannot report on the response to the APP Review because they have quietly dropped that project from list of Strategic Plan strategies.

They cannot report on the implementation of the APP curriculum because they have not implemented the APP curriculum - the one that was supposed to have been fully implemented with the start of school in September 2009.

They cannot report on the quality or efficacy of the Advanced Learning programs because they make no assessment of the quality or efficacy of the programs.\

They cannot report on progress reviewing and revising Policy D12.00 as the Board voted to direct them to do on January 29, 2009 because after a year and a half they haven't done any work on it.

Here are some other things they won't report:

They won't report that Spectrum capacity in the Northeast is inadequate.

They won't report that - with a couple notable exceptions - Spectrum programs south of the Ship Canal exist only on paper.

They won't report that there are no assurances of quality in any of the Advanced Learning programs.

They won't report that elementary APP at Lowell is 150% the size of elementary APP at Thurgood Marshall.

They won't report that the District has broken every commitment ever made to Advanced Learning communities.

They won't report that the District has gone against every recommendation made in the APP Review.

They won't report that program placement of Advanced Learning programs has been political and in violation of the Program Placement policy.

On the whole, I really can't think what in the world they will report other than the number of students in the various programs.

This is the moment when I wish more than ever that I were a Board member. I would not hesitate to ask about ALL of these things.


Moose said...

I sure wish you were a board member too!

Another thing they will not report on -- the MAP being used as a data point for the math pathway. You know, despite assurances that it was going to be used to drive instruction only. Oh, and it has not driven instruction either, but that's a different thread.

Rosie said...

As critical of the Board as you have been on so many topics, I was delighted to see that you aspire to be a Board member. I hope that means you're going to run for election in the next cycle. If you win, then you'll have the ultimate bully pulpit to try to achieve the changes you have advocated.

It's much harder to work within an entity than to lob criticisms from the side, which is why so few people are actually willing to run for office. Especially an unpaid office. Again, I applaud you for what I interpret as a commitment to do just that.

Ben said...

Charlie did run.

And he would have made a great board member.

Dorothy said...

Charlie's run twice. The more recent time I figured he'd be a shoe-in, until out of the blue it became a three way race. Betty is being clueless and whatever happened to whatshisname? Wouldn't you think that even if one lost the school board election, if one cared about the schools one would stay involved. So where the hell is whatshisname?

Anyway, thanks for the reminder, I knew there was something entertaining available to do this evening, but I had forgotten what it was.

hschinske said...

Moose, I think I know what you mean, but in a way using MAP scores for the math pathway *is* using them to drive instruction. It's just in a much broader-brush sort of way.

Helen Schinske

Lori said...

Earlier in the year, several schools without formal ALO plans were told to develop them by this fall. Perhaps there will be an update on which schools have had their new ALO plans approved and thus ready for implementation this fall. That won't take a whole meeting to cover though.

Charlie Mas said...

Ah! The Math Pathway. The Pathway that makes no reference to classes beyond AP Calculus, Running Start, CTE classes for dual credit, or the possibility of doubling up and completing two years of math in a single year.

By leaving these possibilities off the map, the District staff are denying people knowledge of these options and, therefore, access to these options.

dan dempsey said...

Here are two reports
#1 from David Orbits

#2 a three page guide to #1

All about Math with a huge focus on Seattle Stats and research articles.
Real genuine solutions are proposed and backed up.

Need more Seattle Stats try this. Its the pretty one.

dan dempsey said...

What's his name is Wilson Chinn seemed like another Peter Maier to me. One of those is one too many.

Yes I was a "Charlie" Backer but I will take Betty everyday over another Peter.

Steve said...

They should also talk about how the split of the APP program negatively impacted Title I funding for Thurgood Marshall. They should also stipulate that test scores for the APP schools should be segmented by program instead of combining the scores for everyone in the school. No one, esp. the superintendent, should be given credit for higher overall school scores just because APP landed in the school.

dan dempsey said...

What we need is a theory that explains dismal results and what to do about them .....

Instead we will likely get another pointless ungrounded theory of action ... featuring more great ideas from UW CoE. The fountain of NO results overflows. Bring on more coaches, consultants, reports, and Project Based Learning. Note "Complex Instruction" is it now.

Read the Orbits' report and get sane.

Melissa said...

Uh Rosie, Charlie did run. He can't run next cycle because the seat he ran for isn't open. A lot of us do more than just "lob" criticism. Actually being on the board isn't a bully pulpit. You have to keep wise counsel and not actually say what you might think or want.

As someone who checked, Monday, on a board work session scheduled for yesterday and drove through some absolutely horrendous traffic to get to it only to find it had been canceled, I urge you to check the DAY of the meeting before setting out.

Shannon said...

My suspicion is that by AL the District means "getting learning opportunities for all kids in neighborhood schools" ie. ALO away as much specialized AL as possible. Also, I'd expect to hear about the grant for more AP classes in schools with a low SES profile. I thought that there was a pretty significant pot of money for this. Once again, mainstream and disperse these initiatives.

Patrick said...

But Steve, the entire point of splitting APP was to bring up the test scores of another school without actually doing a better job teaching. If they reported the scores by program it wouldn't be an effective resume bullet point for MGJ, now would it?

Charlie Mas said...

I think it is time for the Advanced Learning community - ALO, Spectrum, and APP - to band together and say that starting immediately, and until such time as the District fulfills all of their commitments, Advanced Learners in grades 3-8 will not take the MSP (the test formerly known as the WASL).

We have tried everything else without success. Nothing has worked. Let's try this.

Opting out of the MSP does no harm. It doesn't harm the student's education because it isn't a formative assessment. It doesn't harm the teachers. It doesn't harm the schools. It doesn't even really harm the District, although it my hurt the pride of District leaders. They won't be able to claim to have raised test scores. I'm okay with that.

While it is true that it could cause schools to fail to make AYP - it undoubtedly will in a number of cases - that fact alone does no harm. There are no federal sanctions if the school isn't a Title I school, and the state and the District actually rewards low-performing schools.

None of the Title I schools have significant advanced learning programs so federal sanctions are unlikely. The State provides LAP funds for under-performing schools. That's money that the school would not otherwise have recieved.

At the District level, low MSP pass rates will reward the school with more resources through the District's Performance Management System.

The schools will not forgo any benefit they would have realized from high pass rates because there are none. Not at the federal, state, or District level. The District has talked about "earned autonomy" for high performing schools, but we now know that there's no autonomy to earn.

Yep, the only people harmed by a MSP boycott would be the District leadership, and they would only suffer wounds to their pride. Of course, that is their tender spot.

Dorothy said...

I attended the Math Board Workshop yesterday. There were two other citizens in attendance, Chris Jackins and Dan Dempsey.

Overall impressions: Vaguely dissatisfying. Lots of data, but mostly it seemed scattered and shallow and hmmm, that needs more study. The Board directors present (Sundquist, DeBell, Smith-Blum, Patu, Maier) for the most part asked good questions. As expected, DeBell and Smith-Blum asked the best questions. They clearly want to see change and progress. However, I just kept reading in my head the fact that Charlie has reinforced over and over. The staff works for the superintendent. The staff does not take direction from the board. So no matter how much Kay or Michael ask questions or point out flaws or anything, the staff can simply talk around them. And they do.

First Brad B gave a chart heavy powerpoint presentation. Biggest thing that shocked him is that if you ignore all ELL and special ed and FRL status kids, there is still a stubborn achievement gap and for Black-White kids. It's huge and not shrinking. Guess he isn't really clued into national trends, because I've been reading about this for years. And Helen, bless her librarian soul, just shared an excellent article that summarizes this phenomenon for us. Here it is again for your ease. BlacksBattleAchievementGap.

He compared Seattle WASL scores to state averages. Claimed that we have the most bifurcated schools in the state, meaning that while we have an average FRL status of 40% district wide, at the school level it's actually either much higher or much lower. (That alone is a whole discussion, eh?)

Mr Data Wonk did leave the HS data blank, said it wasn't useful because of that one year where they let 9th graders take the 10th grade WASL, that really screwed up reporting. Plus, there's the year the district started classifying students based on credits earned, so a whole bunch of second year HS students who would otherwise have taken the WASL all of a sudden didn't. DeBell was not pleased and wants to see the HS data anyway. With caveats noted of course, but don't just leave it blank!

One slide says "At the elementary level, the percentage of students that are well below standard has been relatively constant for Seattle. At the middle school level the percentage has decreased somewhat for Seattle." Hmm. Actual figures show that the percent in elementary school is about 18% and middle school has moved from 30% to 26% of students scoring Well Below Standard. Here Peter Maier commented that it shows that parents' fear of middle school is unfounded. At least as far as academics. (um, what?)

Then slides on achievement gap. Yes, it's growing. "Generally increased across levels and across ethnicities."

Then slides on demographics of ethnic groups. Shows that subgroups vary dramatically with respect to special ed status, ELL and FRL AND that the change in demographics over time shows a huge increase in Hispanic kids in special ed. Here's one of many places where the data is irritatingly preliminary. Enfield's response: "We are doing a study of disproportionality."

Then that slide with the Ethnic Achievement Gap controlling for FRL, Special Ed and ELL. For black students in particular, it is huge and growing in middle and high school (seems stable in elementary).

I could go on, and maybe I will later after I eat breakfast. DeBell did say that the session (which was in the big room, not the conference room) was being videotaped.

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the data presentation.

And here is a link to the program presentation.

Moose said...

You are right; I hadn't thought of pathways as driving instruction but I can see it. It's just not how I was lead to believe that the data would be used. I had read that the MAP would drive instruction in the current classroom. Kept hoping that, in fact, until my child's teacher gave me the scores in winter and a speech that the school (including leadership) had little clue as to what the scores actually meant and that the test itself was very "moody"!

dan dempsey said...

The meeting was highly informative and it definitely showed how far off the tracks this SPS math train has run.

Anna Maria: It is important to stay with what we are doing to develop success as districts that switch a lot do not produce success.

KSB: So how long to we need to use programs where the achievement gaps keep increasing?

I find Anna Maria to be right on as she has not changed anything. In fact the SPS does not teach the new Washington Math standards. Nor does it evaluate math based on the new math standards.

The Everyday math pacing plan sure looks like the k-5 math curriculum.
Perhaps we can have a few k-5 teachers join in.

Spring 2008 WASL testing of old Math EALRs & GLEs

Spring 2009 WASL testing of old Math EALRs & GLEs

Spring 2010 MSP testing of old Math EALRs & GLEs

Spring 2011 MSP testing of New Math Standards

The MAP which the district is spending over $400,000 on this year does not measure the New Math Standards like the 2009 WASL and 2010 MSP it measures the Bergeson Math EARLs and GLEs.

The district is NOT providing teachers with the NEW Math Standards for their grade nor are teachers instructed to teach these standards to students.

When I discussed the fact that the MAP is inadequate saying:

The NWEA/MAP test used by SPS does not test the New Math Standards and the district does not assess student knowledge of new math standards.

I found:
The Director of Data Services Brad Bernatek, a former “Broad” intern, fails to acknowledge the very large differences between the old “F” rated standards and the New Washington Math Standards. It seems given the fact that MAP testing is in place and NOT testing the New Math Standards his view that “differences are minor” between the two sets of standards is convenient.

My next day letter to Michael DeBell can be found here.

KSB said I have concerns that students entering high school have only Geometry and Algebra for grade 9 courses.

Well so what Anna Maria is doing that ... so much for Harium's visionary leader.

Check Orbits full report on Seattle here ... compare it with the sorry by comparison product of SPS Math Central.

Here is my intro guide for directors for the Orbits report.

BUT LIKE WE NOW KNOW THE BOARD HAS Absolutely no control over these math folks ... they just vote to support the appeal of mathematically unsound instruction materials (4-3).


Charlie Mas said...

Let's be perfectly clear.

The data presented to the Board at the Math Work Session shows, without any doubt, two absolutely undeniable facts:

1. The growth of achievement in math is far too slow to meet the goals set in the Strategic Plan.

2. The academic achievement gap in math is growing.

The District staff's response to both of these situations is to continue along the same path that we have been on.

Dorothy said...

Charlie, you are mostly right. Yes, your facts are right. However, the staff doesn't say do nothing. Not quite. The one thing that de la Fuente said over and over was "level of use" in that they were teaching principals how to monitor this, how they were getting coaches to monitor this, how they were going to use video to monitor this. See, Level of Use seems to be the new buzzword, replacing fidelity of implementation. Level of use suggests something slightly different. More like: how comfortable is the teacher with the material? So at what level is the teacher using the material? At no time did she use the word curriculum. Although it was pretty clear that she was talking about fidelity of implementation of the adopted materials as curriculum. DeBell responded -- using the term fidelity of implementation, and kinda sorta expressed unhappiness with that as the focus. But because it was all kinda softpedaled and de la Fuente was being vague with that new phrase, it didn't really go anywhere.

Yes, as Dan says, the main conclusion of staff is that the only thing worse than keeping with the current plans (ie, materials? curriculum?) would be to jump around into something new. No, giving up too soon and plunging into a whole new program causes chaos. So, we stay with what we have and use principals and coaches and professional development to improve.

Kay Smith-Blum disagreed, saying that we now have four full years of CM2 at middle school level and we have solid evidence that its not working. Response from de la Fuente and Enfield
(and Cathy Thompson was part of this as well) was vague and forgettable (at least so vague and general that I have forgotten it.)

Dorothy said...

At the end of the meeting, Dan asked me what I thought. I didn't really have anything to say (sorry, Dan) because I have to think about what happened before I can synthesize. Now that I have had time to think. Two main thoughts:

First. As I said earlier, the staff does not take direction from the Board. So they see this sort of meeting exactly like they see a community engagement opportunity. It is for them to share what they are doing, they control the level of information, they control the spin and they control the conclusions and future plans. Their only reason for being there is to provide one way communication. They do politely listen and sort of respond, but inside their heads it is all lalalaIcan'thearyou.

Second: These presentations share a main flaw with our math curriculum. A mile wide and an inch deep. So much is covered that there's no time to dig deeper into any of it. So there's never mastery of the material, just a sense of going over the same level of information over and over. Over and over and over there's the tip of the iceberg, just a hint of a place where further investigation could tell us a lot about what works and doesn't work. But that never seems to happen. That always seems to be left for further study.

Dorothy said...

So to add to Charlie's fantasy board meeting, what I would like to see is the board taking one or two of these "further study" places and specifically say "Do that and report back at Date X."

Example: Brad shared a "Beating the Odds" analysis done by the state. Based on a school's demographics (mobility, gifted, FRL...) they compare predicted WASL scores to actual ones. Schools get an accountability index score from 1 to 7, where 4 means scores as predicted, 7 is way better, 1 is way worse. Slide 19 lists all the Seattle schools that scored a 7 (in math). THAT SLIDE ALONE could make an entire investigation, analysis and presentation. What characteristics do they share? What do their teachers say? What do parents say? How has their index changed over time? Feeder school patterns? Amount of tutoring kids get? The only comment about this list was from a board member (I forget who) who said that they notice these all seem to be schools with strong principals. Some staff member agreed. And then everyone moved on.

Another example. The concept of walk-to-math came up. This was immediately pooh-poohed by staff (Cathy or Maria? Dan?) who said that some schools that do walk-to-math have terrible scores. What! What is the objective data here? Who does walk-to-math, how do they implement it, how is success or non-success being measured? The only reason offered is that if kids walk around from class to class, no one teacher feels accountable for the children.

Ironically though, Maria showed a video that they use for professional development, a video of several elementary school teachers with high level of use of Everyday Math managing group activities. The video is supposed to inspire and teach other teachers how they can manage group learning in mathematics. So at the same time that the staff disagrees with walk-to-math where kids change rooms --- and be supervised and instructed by a teacher --- they just love a 'walk around the room into small groups and teach each other unsupervised' approach to learning.

Charlie Mas said...

Ah, yes. I've been hearing this to.

Ms delaFuente is very quick to blame the failure on poor "quality of instruction" and to advise more coaching and more professional development.

Dr. Deming tells us that in exactly those situations, the flaw is in the system, not in the people.

She hasn't read Deming, so she says that it's not that the system has failed, but the people in the system just aren't operating it right.

Even if you haven't read Deming, if the system is so difficult to operate that the people can't operate it properly, then the system is a failure.

dan dempsey said...

And to add to Charlie's numbers:

#3 The Superintendent is the Board's only employee.
Except for writing policy (which staff essentially writes for the Board as they usually only slightly modify the staff's provided "template") and voting up or down on instructional materials the board seemingly controls nothing about math. They sure have no control of Math Staff or math direction.

Susan Enfield once pointed out quite correctly that "The board gets to vote up or down" on recommendations coming before them for instructional materials. That is it folks ... nope the board cannot make additional choices for stuff like Singapore Math.

I have a solution for all this, after watching four years of SPS chaos up close and personal {1 Manhas & 3 MGJ}:
#1 Fire MGJ
#2 Hire Charlie Mas as Superintendent

{I could not be more serious about this Mas for superintendent}

Harium has spent two years telling us that the State Math Standards are the curriculum, when this is clearly NOT the case. So what is he or any board member going to do about it? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING... they will approve the next MAP purchases at the June 16 board meeting.

Note for far far less that $200,000 a test that tests the each student on the WA Math Standards, which should be the grade level expectations, could be developed and used. Then teachers could receive a report for each student on which standards appear to be mastered and what interventions are needed to bring particular students to mastery of identified standards.

This has never been done before and Math Staff has no intention of ever doing it. MAP is not designed to do this nor will it be.

Take a gander at what the books for C45.00 :: POLICY (1996??)

The Superintendent shall have responsibility for the equitable distribution of all programs
in order to maximize academic achievement and enrollment.

Proposals for new
programs shall be comprehensively reviewed prior to implementation.

It is the policy of the Seattle School District to develop and maintain a high level of
effectiveness in each of its schools and programs as determined by multiple measures of
improvement and in relation to established standards.

A review of all schools and
programs will be conducted annually using a process and criteria as approved by the

Support and intervention will be provided for schools
and programs
identified as not meeting the criteria, with those failing to improve subject to progressive
interventions/sanctions as determined by the Superintendent.

This is from 1996 ????? really WOWzers.

=================== .. (cont)

dan dempsey said...

Try this one of my all time favorites D44.00: The elementary school promotion/ nonpromotion policy.

This one talks about effective interventions for students.

Note MAP is perfectly set up for the sanctioning of schools ala C45 but pretty useless for actual improvement of student learning ala D44.00

Westneat's article about Everett's approach clearly shows how Far Off the Tracks the Goodloe-Johnson express has been allowed to run.

Spend lots of money on products that do not improve instruction and then beat up school communities and teachers.

D44.00 ....
Generally, except for unusual and compelling circumstances, a student who has not achieved the Necessary skills will not be considered eligible for promotion to the next higher grade.

Then see page 5 #2
it begins talking about students "at risk" of non/promotion.

Goes on to talk about intervention support and monitoring intervention.

NOTE: Map is not designed to do this .... result for June 16.. it is proposed the board spend over $400,000 next year on a tool that will not do the job for students ... but will be fabulous for beating up communities and closing schools and intimidating teachers. YUP exactly what MGJ and the National "Broad" team wants for Seattle's schools. Good thing there is no conflict of interest in MGJ sitting on the board's of both "The Broad Foundation" and "NWEA" the MAP test provider.

Since mastery of anything is never really taught in Seattle's k-12 math program ... one certainly would not wish to test for mastery of standards.

Clearly time to figure out how to get the rest of this sorry ass math mess headed into court (k-8)...

Note Scully (representing Porter, McLaren, & Mass, HS math adoption) will be responding to the appeals Court by June 21 as initial appeal brief was filed by district around May 21.

Hope to see ya'all at the Wednesday Rally at 5:30 PM June 16.

dan dempsey said...

To continue with Charlie's Deming....

Deming stated at most 15% of a system's problems can be the fault of inadequacy of the personnel. Note when admin directs personnel to do insane stuff it may look like way more than 15% .... but clearly the fault is the insane directives.

One more time for good measure:
"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."
W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

Dorothy's analysis of the meeting was spot on....

Think of this Work Session as...

a share and tell ... where those sharing present as they are in change and those told play the role of infantile novices ... and you pretty much have the Staff Math presentation picture from the Central Admin view.

Note this was billed as a School Board Work Session .... I give up.

So what work are the directors allowed to do?

Check the current governance concept ... seems the only work they can do is wave good bye as the system is flushed down the drain.

dan dempsey said...

Correction... Sundquist, Carr, Maier, and Martin-Morris often vote for flushing in addition to waving goodbye.

Dorothy said...

I kinda like that Charlie for superintendent idea. It has a nice ring to it.

More on Level of Use, professional development, and content knowledge. The question arose, what about math content knowledge in elementary school teachers? Anna Maria (and Cathy Thompson) said that they are requiring PD and that there are other great opportunities for teachers to gain content knowledge. Maier asked what about teachers that just cannot be professionally developed to a good enough level of content knowledge? It seemed he was suggesting that math specialist coaches and walk-to-math be used to allow those "otherwise excellent" teachers to avoid teaching math? The response was that we don't have the resources to allocate coaches that way and that walk-to-math doesn't work.

But seriously folks. This is one of those places where I just want to shake people! Otherwise excellent elementary school teachers that do not have a solid mastery of mathematics up through Alg1/Geometry?!? (Because that's the level of mastery I think they need.) WTF!!! Could you possibly claim that we have otherwise excellent teachers who can only read at the fifth grade level and no amount of professional development can improve that -- but let's keep them because otherwise they are excellent teachers.

Charlie Mas said...

Forget the idea of me as superintendent.

I am by no means qualified to serve as superintendent.

I have never had managerial responsibility and I never want it.

Sahila said...

On the question of replacement superintendents...

I have had at least half a dozen conversations (phonecalls and emaila) from people signing the Community Declaration of No Confidence telling me they know lots of local people - who have combination of education and management experience - who they think would do an amazing job at a 1/3 of the cost of MGJ.. with the added benefit that they know and love the District and have developed trust and credibility with this community...

If you havent already signed the Declaration and you do want to add your voice, please go here:

dan dempsey said...

Ok ...

Charlie Mas for vice-chancellor at large

Charlie Mas said...

I wouldn't mind having the job of the District's internal auditor - an employee of the Board, not the superintendent.

seattle citizen said...

Since the proposed policy change on the Consent Agenda, to repeal E04.00, appears to be based on research done by the Alliance, I am standing in line for a job with one of these groups like the Alliance: You can set policy, earn a fat paycheck, and not be an actual employee of the district.

none1111 said...

Charlie brought up a new idea: "the job of the District's internal auditor - an employee of the Board, not the superintendent."

What a FANTASTIC idea!

And Charlie has the perfect skill set.

This should be brought up with the Board (without mentioning specific candidates). I'll certainly mention it at whatever community meeting I attend next.