Thursday, September 23, 2010

THe District Wins Big (What Does It Mean for the Levy)?

(NOTE: I updated this thread a couple of hours later to reflect other info I saw in the news release.)

It was announced today that the district has won a $12.5M Teacher Incentive Grant. This is money to be used for staffing at 34 high-need schools over 5 years. There are a lot of interesting things in both the feds' press release and the district's. Let's start with the district's PR.

The five- year TIF program seeks to strengthen the education profession by rewarding excellence, attracting teachers and principals to high-need and hard to staff areas, and providing all teachers and principals with the feedback and support they need to succeed.

“I want to thank our teachers and leaders for their work to reach this historic agreement, which was a key factor that evaluators considered when they awarded this grant to our district.” (Dr. Goodloe-Johnson)

Glenn Bafia, Seattle Education Association’s (SEA) Executive Director, said that “SEA is excited
that portions of our negotiated collective bargaining agreement will be funded thanks to this TIF grant. We all worked very hard to get this agreement, knowing that we would have to work together to secure the needed funding.

What is weird is that they are saying this is part of a larger $21M project and no one I have spoken to can figure out where that number comes from. It isn't the levy number which is $19M for teacher evaluation processes.

From the district:
Over five years, this project will directly impact more than 800 teachers and 54 principals and
assistant principals; and most importantly, more than 16,000 students who will be led by
motivated, highly effective teachers and principals across 34 target high-need schools. After the project period, SPS will sustain the momentum enabled by this TIF grant to reach all schools in our K-12 system, the largest in the state, and set an example for school systems throughout the rest of the state.

"...will sustain the momentum..." - how? They don't even buy textbooks in a timely fashion. They don't even have a line item in the district budget for textbooks. So how will they find the money to sustain this effort? Not saying they shouldn't but where's the reality check? (I have to smile a bit because I'm sure it isn't often that SPS is an "example" for other school districts.)

And fyi, that's 34 schools out of 88 schools.

Here's the really weird one (and don't be drinking anything when you do this because you might do a spit take) from the feds (bold mine):

Over the last three years, Seattle has moved from a collection of independent schools operating with little direction and no accountability, to one with clear system-wide performance goals, aligned supports to help schools and staff meet expectations, and differentiated interventions based on performance. This work to design and implement a performance management system for the district, schools and central office departments provides SPS with the foundation needed to be successful with the next phase of work: developing a similar system for our most impactful employees - teachers and principals.

What's funny is how SPS is now phrasing it:

Over the last three years, Seattle has taken significant steps toward becoming a coherent
system where all schools and central staff work together to achieve clear goals for student
achievement.

So we were a hodge-podge of schools just operating independently before Saint Maria came. Too bad the feds don't know that she doesn't know how to manage a district given what the State Auditor has said about her work and the work of her management team.

What this grant will do:
  • Recruit: Incentives for recruiting principals and teachers to high-need, low-performing schools;
  • Mentor: Mentoring programs for teachers and principals;
  • Support: Teacher and principal professional development aligned to new evaluation;
  • Evaluate and Assess: System includes observations and student growth measures for evaluating teachers and student achievement goals for principals; and
  • Recognize/Reward and Retain: Career ladder opportunities for teachers; incentives for teachers in high-need, low-performing schools; and principal incentive pay for high performers.
Note that even though we still don't have a principal contract, there is principal "incentive pay for high performers."

From the Big Promises Division:

The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a dramatic improvement in student
achievement. Specifically, SPS expects that over the next five years the district will see a 15
percentage point decline in the number of schools performing in the lowest two segments of our quantitative performance framework.

So reading that I thought it was a 15% improvement for those schools and it's a 15% decline in the NUMBER of schools performing in the lowest two segments. Oh.

From the feds info:

Seattle Public Schools' state of readiness meets all three absolute competition priorities, but not all competitive preferences and core PBCS elements. Much of what is outlined in this proposal is currently being or will need to be bargained with our union partners. Therefore, SPS proposes taking one year to plan, further refine, and engage stakeholders in the proposed work plan. The district is committed to good faith bargaining and continuous improvement - as a result, we are confident of a productive planning year. Over the subsequent four years, SPS will roll-out new teacher and principal evaluations that include student growth expectations and offer recognition and rewards for high performers.

Engage stakeholders - again, something they told the feds but neglected to put in the press release. I think this paragraph is pretty darn important (and the SPS is two pages and still not there). Interesting what they told the feds but not the Seattle community.

Applicants were also required to demonstrate a high level of local educator support and
involvement and a plan for financial sustainability after the 5 year grant award period. Applicants received additional points for using value added measures, attracting effective teachers in hard to staff subject or specialty areas, and for being a first-time applicant.

29 comments:

wsnorth said...

Maybe they can just spend their time "helping" those 34 and leave the rest alone! That's 54 out of 88!

peonypower said...

ARGHHHH! Educator support- where - who. So district scores have gone down, the achievement gap has increased and yet the district is "cohesive" and provides differentiated support. Sorry, I cannot even wrap my mind around this.

seattle citizen said...

What a load of spin hooey. The feds release looks like it was fed to them by SPS. The feds didn't study anything, or look at what was actually happening over the last three years; the feds (Arne Duncan and his Broad/Gates cabal) are merely feeding their monster.

Bah, it's all smoke and mirrors, anyway, and people are waking up to it. Within a year the reform monster will be dead.

dan dempsey said...

So where in the name of God are the fact checkers.

seattle citizen said...

Feds say:
"...clear system-wide performance goals, aligned supports to help schools and staff meet expectations, and differentiated interventions based on performance. This work to design and implement a performance management system for the district, schools and central office departments provides SPS with the foundation needed to be successful with the next phase of work: developing a similar system for our most impactful employees - teachers and principals."

So...the foundational work (alignment; performance goals -student, teacher, principal, superintendent, board? who knows? - differentiated interventions, staff meeting expectations based on aligned supports....) is done! and this allows the next phase, "developing a similar system [alignment, preformance goals for the various staff levels, differentiated intervention...for staff!

So: Look for alignment everywhere, for that is the only way the staff can be evaluated under this "next phase," and this paragraph explains that.

Students, curriculum, interventions, everything must be in place, or else how could you evaluate the staff on performance? If interventions aren't in place, it's not the staff-s fault if students don't "perform." If the curriculum is not "aligned" (standardized), it's not the staff's fault if students don't perform. Everything leading to staff evaluation (note that it's all about the teachers, not the principals, admin, or board) requires the standardized system, or the "outcomes" won't be standardized and an evaluation system based on these outcomes (RIT scores from MSP, for instance) will be meaningless.

I hope educators (and parent/guardians) are watching closely to make sure there IS intervention, there IS district-supported alignment (texts, instruction, everything); otherwise, all the teachers are going to be evaluated on student scores that were not supported by district interventions and curriculum. It's not the teachers fault if the supports and materials and resources aren't there.

So the system will try to become completely packaged, as that is the only way for teachers to be "evaluated," and that is the ultimate goal of this tired charade: Ding teachers, get them out, allow a quantification of education. Your children are merely mechanisms towards this end, and their curriculum will be standardized, their supports, their classrooms, their teachers, and their assessments.

God help them.

gavroche said...

So what is this -- "Race to the Top Lite"?

Sounds to me like another forced agenda from Arne & Co. Or an effort to make it look like Goodloe-Johnson is doing a good job in Seattle.

State audit? -- Never heard of it! No confidence in the Superintendent votes from a dozen schools, hundreds of parents and teachers’ union? -- Que?

The fact that the Feds have apparently ignored the damning state audit which happened on Goodloe-Johnson’ watch, and leapt to hyperbole in support of the mess she has made of our District is the height of arrogance and ignorance on their part.

I don't think this should be considered a 'big win' for the District. In fact, I think there's good reason to worry that this is going to lead to more straitjacketing of teachers as they and our kids are tied to standardized test scores and abused some more by the reformers.

Again the reformers use the term "highly effective" teachers and principals. In ed reformerspeak that has only meant those who focus exclusively on raising standardized test scores.

Combine this with Rep. Reuven Carlyle's recent idiotic random demand for Teach for America "teachers" to come to Seattle, and I don't think this bodes well for true teacher quality at all.

I find the Feds' s assessment of our SPS schools pre-Maria downright offensive. I would argue that we were better off before Goodloe-Johnson brought her Broad/Gates hurricane of hubris and chaos to Seattle.

Before Goodloe-Johnson, our arguably top high school, Garfield, was not a public embarrassment, so overenrolled that kids are without teachers, classrooms or class assignments weeks into the schoolyear; before MGJ, the kids of Cooper Elementary had a beautiful building of their own where they felt they belonged – now they are scattered to the wind and forgotten; before MGJ, we had more school choice, options and more alternative schools; the Summit kids had a school of their own, the Nova kids had a funky, great (and safer) building of their own, the APP kids of the top-performing Lowell Elem. school had their community intact – not torn apart into two unequal pieces, same for the APP kids at Washington Middle School; before MGJ middle and high school kids in Seattle had freshly cooked hot meals at school – now they get central kitchen overpackaged airplane food; before MGJ our elementary schools had counselors and full-time librarians – not anymore; everyone had more choice of schools; siblings could attend the same schools with each other -- not anymore; kids and schools did not have to waste time and effort taking the questionable $4.3 million MAP test three times a year; SPS high schoolers were not subject to the crappy Discovery math text book, we did not have annual RIFs of teachers and schools closing and reopening in quick, expensive and destructive succession -- the list goes on and on.

How dare the Feds declare there was no accountability here before Goodloe-Johnson. There has been ZERO accountability, transparency or "excellence" SINCE Goodloe-Johnson.

This is just another instance of the Obama/Duncan/Broad/Gates gang forcing their top-down, teacher-bashing, union-busting, data-obsessed, one-size-fits-all agenda on our kids YET AGAIN.

This is not a win for SPS. It is a bribe, and most likely a loss for our kids, teachers and schools.

But it is a good reminder that all the sneaky crapola in SPS and in the guise of national “education reform” is still going on, so charm-offensive or not, aux barricades!

dan dempsey said...

Gavorche,

Great summary.

Not to overlook the results reported on annual state testing on 9/15/2010 by Director of REA, Brad Bernetek, that were to say the least "Disappointing" and showed an unfavorable trend in the Goodloe-Johnson era.

Feds clearly chose to ignore all pesky numbers and focus on the spin.

The Obama/Duncan campaign is more of the Oligarchs R Us .... let us ram more of this ineffective crap on you and use even more money to do it.

dan dempsey said...

HERE is the usual cheer-leading in the Times on this event.

Eric B said...

"...the levy number is $19 million for teacher evaluation processes."

This is a bit of a hijack, but do you know where I can find what the levy will actually fund? Last a I looked a couple of weeks ago, the only defined budget item was textbooks at about $6M (can't remember if that was yearly or total).

Thanks!

Arnold said...

Hey Dan - How's that recall effort going?

Dorothy Neville said...

Eric, it's not really a thread hijack about the levy because they are definitely intertwined.

$5.9M total for textbooks
$19M total for the teacher contract obligations (and that is broken down as well)
$8.9M for reserves for teacher contract obligations in year four. (SEE! this is ongoing obligation that the district estimates will cost ten million by year four even though the one-time levy is for three years)

Which leaves (drumroll please) only $14M for the district to do what they please. And what they please will be -- as this funding application wording makes clear -- will go to the Performance Management Framework, which the feds now think is fully in operation and has changed us from some chaotic group of hippies into a first class 21st century organization.

Note that the $12M here is a one time fund that requires the district to be able to continue to fund it on its own later.

The Committee for Responsible Education Spending will have a more complete response to this grant after we get a chance to meet and roll our eyes a lot.

reader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bird said...

Specifically, SPS expects that over the next five years the district will see a 15percentage point decline in the number of schools performing in the lowest two segments of our quantitative performance framework.

So is that an "aspirational goal"? ;)

reader said...

Recall? District wins big over tax wasting, self-appointed watchdogs. Next up, math whiners.

Zippo said...

Thanks for the warning not to be drinking anything...I'm STILL not sure what I just read. Going back to re-read...

Central Mom said...

Not to overlook the results reported on annual state testing on 9/15/2010 by Director of REA, Brad Bernetek, that were to say the least "Disappointing" and showed an unfavorable trend in the Goodloe-Johnson era.

Can someone please post, in this thread, the actual results that Brad reported on? I don't think many will go reference that report and I really would like a way for everyone to have another look at the data, myself included, as I didn't really digest it the first time. I think this may be a really big deal and I want to attend one of these meetings and ask about it, IF I really have the data down pat.

dan dempsey said...

Arnold,

You asked about recall.
I'll comment on it under the previous heading about legal odds and ends, which included P. Fletcher's KUOW reporting.

-- Dan

dan dempsey said...

Arnold,

Your answer is at comment #7 here.

The First Arnold said...

Sign...Why do I feel like we have millions of Fed dollars that will be going down the drain?
Oh yea, Southeast Initiative, State Audit Reports, increased achievement gap and lack of fiscally sustainable programs.

This voter continues to feel NO CONFIDENCE

Eric B said...

Thanks Dorothy. The same info is available here. This page has not been updated for the TIF award.

The First Arnold said...

Eric B, The SEA website has more information on the Levy.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm not a fan of the leadership of Seattle Public Schools, and they haven't done anything to polish their image in this episode, but this is still good news.

This money from the federal government frees up the District's funds to be spent in another way. The bad news comes when we see how Seattle Public Schools will, once again, find some higher priority and more urgent need for this funding other than delivering support to struggling students. It will probably be for some consultants, or software to facilitate more centrally directed management - work that doesn't do anything for students.

The First Arnold said...

Charlie, I totally share your sentiment. Let's see what the District has to say during the 2011-2012 shortfall.

Jan said...

I am trying to interpret what this means:

The ultimate outcome of the proposed work will be a dramatic improvement in student
achievement. Specifically, SPS expects that over the next five years the district will see a 15
percentage point decline in the number of schools performing in the lowest two segments of our quantitative performance framework.

Are the 34 schools the ones in the "lowest two segments of [their] quantitative performance framework?" If so, a 15% movement over 5 years means, that in the next 5 years (8 years overall, because they are 3 years into this administration), they will have moved only 5 schools from the bottom two levels to some level above that -- with 29 still down there?

Do we know what 34 schools are in "the bottom two levels" and what the criteria are? Assuming those levels have any value -- am I the only one who thinks that 5 schools in 8 years isn't a really great benchmark, aspirational or not?

Of course, an even bigger fear is that, based on the movement of scores over the last 3 years, we won't make it anyway, but even if that weren't the case, it seems like too low a bar for a District whose motto is Excellence for All.

seattle citizen said...

Worse still, Jan, someone's math is off (District and/or feds, depending on who fed who the numbers):

“SPS expects that over the next five years the district will see a 15 percentage point decline in the number of schools performing in the lowest two segments of our quantitative performance framework. This shift from 40% of schools in these segments (68% of which enroll more than 50% FRL-eligible students) to no more than 25%”

34 out of 88 schools are in the 38.6 % (not 40%)that will be targeted

15% of 34 is about 5 schools

34 - 5 = 29 schools which will still be “in the lowest segments”

29 as a percentage of 88 = 33%....NOT “no more than 25%”

So after these five years and twelve million dollars (plus all the other money fed into this system of "reform") will result in five schools out of 33 miraculously rising out of "failure" (I hope the individual students who might be failing, and the individual staff who might be failing, rise with the school; I also hope the individual successful students and staff aren't rendered "failures" by the restructured school around them...)

33% of schools will still be "failures," not 25%

And these are educators crunching this data? I thought quantitative analysis was their bag...

WV, seeing the Feds feed the shadow reformistas, gasps: "consparg"!

Dorothy Neville said...

The way I interpret their math, they mean that now 40% of the school are in the bottom two rankings and they will reduce that to 25% of the schools. That's the 15 percentage point decline, 40-15=25

The Real Arnold said...

@The First Arnold: "Why do I feel like we have millions of Fed dollars that will be going down the drain? Oh yea, Southeast Initiative, State Audit Reports,..."

Are you saying that State Audits are paid for with federal dollars? If that's what you are saying, you are wrong.

Signed, The Real Arnold

Charlie Mas said...

Real Arnold, the State Audit wasn't a waste but it documented waste. So, from the state audit, a person might presume that funds will be wasted.

The Real Arnold said...

@Charlie: "Real Arnold, the State Audit wasn't a waste but it documented waste. So, from the state audit, a person might presume that funds will be wasted."

I know. That is what I was saying. It appeared the comment I was referring to was implying that federal money was used to pay for the audit and, therefore, that the audits are a waste of federal money. Nothing could be futher from the truth. The audits are done regardless of whether there is federal money, and federal money is not used to pay for the audits.