Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quick Report from Curriculum and Instruction

I caught the very end of the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meeting yesterday just as discussion of the waiver process was wrapping up.

At the end of the last meeting Director Martin-Morris said that he would come to this meeting with a draft process or policy or something, but he spaced it and didn't do the work.

The Committee did get things done on the matter at this meeting, thanks, in significant part, to the presence of Director DeBell. The Board members, along with Dr. Enfield, discussed the elements of a waiver policy/process and want her to come back to their next meeting with a sort of bulletpointed outline of the main topics to be considered (equity, purpose, duration, professional development, revocation, etc.) and some thoughts on each. One of the ideas to promote equity came from Director DeBell. He noted that the District didn't have to buy Board-adopted materials for schools with a waiver and that savings - such as the money that was not spent to buy EDM materials for Schmitz Park or North Beach - should go into an "account" to help pay for alternative materials at schools that need that help.

Again, the Board is really focused on the idea that waivers should be part of a District-managed innovation plan with the purpose of discovering ways to improve instruction across the District. So, for example, if a school gets a waiver from the Board-adopted math materials, and state math proficiency test pass rates at that school are demonstrably better than the pass rates at the schools using the Board-adopted materials, then the District should take and apply that lesson across the District. Right now, there is no effort to derive benefits for the District from the waivers.

The waiver policy/process will walk a careful line that should go a long way to clarify the distinction between thoughtful curricular alignment and mindless standardization.

After looking around, the staff can find no example of a district that is doing this sort of managed innovation. Districts seem to fall into two distinct camps: they are either cookie-cutter standardized (Bellevue model) or they are totally laissez faire (old Seattle model). There doesn't seem to be any in-between - or at least not a thoughtful and managed in-between. I'm sure they can find districts that intend to be standardized but fail to enforce the standardization. There is no district they can find that tries to derive any broadly applicable benefit from the variety of materials, professional development, or pedagogy at their schools.

It's at times like this that you see the depth of disaster and the utter lack of management across the whole freakin' public K-12 education industry. The culture of the industry frees people from the need to make any effort to connect rhetoric to action.


Central Mom said...

Just posted this to the MacArthur thread, but perhaps it belongs here...

Here's a prominent NYT story about a non-charter public high school significantly raising academic achievement despite a huge student body.

4,100 Students Prove ‘Small Is Better’ Rule Wrong

Significantly, the turnaround is credited almost solely to teachers at the school who revamped their curriculum and focused on strong basics and continuity of learning. District administration got out of the way. School administration got out of the way. The union got out of the way. There was no mass firing of teachers or mass turnover of students.

Again, it can be done.

And again, this story has almost nothing in common with the current tactics of our own district administration.

emeraldkity said...

Maybe Maria should have a blog
PDX Carole Smith

emeraldkity said...

Didn't know where to put this either- but am I naive in thinking that originally the Alliance was intended just to be a place that accepted donations to schools and made sure money was sent to where it was intended instead of the monster it has become?

The Davis Schools Foundation's mission is to support educational excellence in Davis public schools by raising funds from the community for district-wide programs or that promote equitable opportunities between schools.

The foundation is run by an all-volunteer executive board whose members come from all walks of life but share a common thread: all are parents of current, former or future Davis Joint Unified School District students and all support public education.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That is off-topic so I'll start an Alliance thread.

cascade said...

At the end of the last meeting Director Martin-Morris said that he would come to this meeting with a draft process or policy or something, but he spaced it and didn't do the work.

Really? Is it just me or has HMM lost interest in his role or become too busy to do his job? His engagement continues a deep dive down.

dan dempsey said...

"The culture of the industry frees people from the need to make any effort to connect rhetoric to action."

These industry folks are also never required to connect actions with positive results. Clearly UW's MEP is the poster child for complete failure to model any fiscal responsibility that would connect spending with desired results.

Fiscal irresponsibility and accompanying irresponsibility for the promotion of defective instructional practices have become two hallmarks of so many in the current "house of elite education experts".

NOT working ... NOT a problem .. HIRE MORE COACHES..... as class size is not important

NOT working .... hire more consultants to do more studies ...
Studies show we are on the right track

How much longer is anyone in Seattle supposed to belief this stuff?

So when is the Board Work Session happening to discuss the anemic results from State testing recorded in the TEAM Goodloe-Johnson era?

Jan said...

I guess I will take any reasonable waiver policy that comes along (the current one -- as given to Garfield's science department -- NOT being reasonable, in my opinion). But here is my criticism: I think that requiring any waiver to align with some "innovation" project is needlessly restricting. Here is why.

I think that a school's greatest assets are its teachers (followed by its students and its parents). But, they are human beings with individual strengths, weaknesses, passions, interests, etc. While I realize that schools are not businesses, the best businesses know that they go the farthest when they figure out ways to enable the creativity and passion of their people -- not when they hand them a script and tell them to "execute it." Clearly, there are, and should be, limits to creativity (that is what alignment is for) -- but I think it is bogus to place on the creative process the requirement that it justify not only what benefit it has to the students (by providing some reasonable assurance that the curriculum is "aligned" with the District standards -- but ALSO some "extra" benefit to the District, district wide. As we ask for accountability from teachers, we also need to value them enough to let them bring their best to the table. In the case of Garfield, Mr. Stever's and Mr. Spangenberg's "best work" is pretty obviously done in teaching Marine Biology (at college standards, and from a college text). They are crazy about the stuff, the kids catch their enthusiasm, and everybody works up a storm and has a great time doing it. Is it innovative? Yes, I guess, though it has been there now for years. Can it be replicated district wide? I don't know, but it would be a pity to try to make the rocket guy at Ingraham with 3 or 4 rocket teams performing nationally switch to marine biology. Just as it would be a pity to ask the Garfield marine biology teachers to stop and teach rocketry.

Take people's best -- and run with it (as long as it is aligned). If the district really thinks that a particular course can be "canned" and moved to different teachers,
in a different school -- let THEM come in (with their 100+ coaches and curriculum specialists) and do things like pacing guides, etc. etc.

Leaving things to the teachers within a school also permits them to come together to use their strengths as a teaching team in ways that are unique to that group of teachers, and that group of kids. The kind of effort and results that happen in schools like the one in the NYT article are borne of talented, enthusiastic, individuals, who are committed to a common goal, and who have great (building-wide or department-wide) leadership.

When I spoke with CAO Enfield the other night about Garfield's science curriculum, I got the predictable "we worry about kids moving from one school to another, blah blah." This is another case that seems like a solution desperately looking for its problem. How many kids is this? Do they truly wash up at high school B and find that there is no science course they can take? Don't we have this issue, in any case, with kids moving here from out of town, or to SSD from private schools? I just don't buy it. I think that (a) they don't trust or respect teachers be able to teach unless they are force fed a standardized currculum and a pacing guide and (b) they are just control freaks.

This whole approach just seems too "crabbed" and "miserly" for me. Aaagghh. Let my [teachers] go!!

seattle citizen said...

I see a lot of possibility in what Charlie reports happening at the C+I meeting.

It sounds like there is indeed an opporuntity here to model a district that analyzes what its successful, allows opportunity for a variety of approaches, and becomes thereby a more vibrant and up-to-date educational system.

The last few decades have seen enormous change in the world, and change is happening still, very quickly. It is, in my opinion, crucial to have a system that is always looking at what works, and is not locked into one system.

Recognizing that students need some basics, however, the district could, in the model described with waivers, do a good job making sure that programs or curricula that differ from the basic structure it sees as fundamental maintain a connection to those fundamentals, those "standards" (which, for instance, the new LA standards help define operationally)

My only concern would be that "standards," as they are met (or not) in the district's curriculum and in the waivered curricula that does something different, are only defined by test scores. In my opinion, we need a more robust system of triangulating a variety of assessments, including qualitative, in order to decide whether district's curriculum or a waivered curriculum is "successful."

hschinske said...

I thought we had "neighborhood schools" now. What's with this kids moving from school to school bit?

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

When it was sold, we were told that Curriculum Alignment would allow schools to keep the really good things that they were doing: rocketry at Ingraham, Marine Biology at Garfield, BioTech at Ballard, Language Arts at Roosevelt, the Singapore math at Schmitz Park, the Saxon math at North Beach, and similar successful programs at a number of other schools.

Then, once the District had the direction to move forward with curriculum alignment, they forgot all about that stuff and tried to pave the world with it.

So here we are, fighting the battle that we thought we already won.

Fortunately, members of the Board have taken an interest and may actually be stirred to act in support of these non-standard programs. At least, we hope so.

So what are going to be the rules for this sort of thing? And who is going to have to do the work to fulfill the rules? Will the onus be on the teachers to write reams and reams about how their non-standard program teaches students the knowledge and skills needed to satisfy the State Standards and the college-readiness Standards? Or will they be allowed to make their case more simply?

Will the policy be to approve waiver requests so long as there is no reason to deny them, or will the presumption be to deny the waiver unless there is some compelling reason to approve it?

And, in the absence of a procedure for this year, how can the District justify denying waivers for continuing programs?

Charlie Mas said...

I will tell you this.

This is one of those times when I know EXACTLY what I would do if I were on the Board.

I would be asking to see those reports.

I would be insisting on the continuation of all existing programs until the waiver process is up and running.

I would be VERY clear about the distinction between standardization and curricular alignment.

I would be asking Dr. Enfield to tell me how she intends to duplicate the success that Schmitz Park has seen with Singapore math.

I would be directing her to approve all waiver requests for Singapore math.

I would not be put off with nonsense answers or delay.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Board has never publicly stood up to the Superintendent. I would like to believe that not allowing waivers to do things that have proven their worth would be something the Board would stand up for.

That's takes political courage.

seattle citizen said...

Well put, Charlie. But as I just now wrote on the thread about that NY school, which has made some of us (myself included) all weepy about the fate of our alternative schools, how does the larger, nationwide "reform" movement feel about independent programs and waivers from a district-wide alignment and possible standardization?

Along with the disconnect between "we want quality teachers" and "bring in Teach for America!", this is another of the strange aspects of "reform" I haven't figured out: On one hand "they" seem to want conformity - standards, packaged curriculum (often tech-driven), a way to tie together curriculum, student data (categories, for instance) assessments, into one, neat package so it can all be "analyzed" quantitatively (with one obvious outcome being the dismissal of teachers based on these metrics.)On the other hand, the "reform" movement seems to value charters, magnets, and other forms of more independent schools.

I'm not so sure how these go together, and so I wonder what someone up at Broad (Don McAdams, for instance) would be telling the our board about waivers.

Where do waivers fit into the Broad agenda? Into RTTT?

Maureen said...

I don't understand: I am under the impression that there basically are no standards past 10th grade. So why are Marine Bio/BioTech/RHS LA Options at risk due to alignment? What is there to align to once kids have completed Biology/Physical Science/10th grade LA? (I know, but don't they at least PRETEND that they are aligning to some sort of standard? Not just standardizing courses to some arbitrary level?)

Charlie Mas said...

The question was asked about how many students change schools.

The answer is pretty interesting.

At the high school level, in the 2008-2009 school year, there were a total of 1,831 student transfers in or out of the non-service high schools - 683 transfers in and 1,336 transfers out. There was some pretty significant differences among the schools. Some had a lot of transfers:

Cleveland had the most, 246 - 88 in and 196 out. Given the fact that Cleveland had an average enrollment of 662 that year, it would appear that about 37% of Cleveland students moved either in or out of the school during the year. Now that may not be true since some of the 196 students who transferred out were also among the 88 students who transferred in, and they get counted double. That is a HIGHLY transient population. This is one of the demographic counters we should watch when comparing Cleveland with STEM.

Sealth had 236 - 120 in and 145 out.
Ingraham had 224 - 92 in and 168 out.

Other schools were much less busy.

Roosevelt had only 125 transfers, 41 in and 90 out. Nathan Hale had 123, 43 in and 86 out. Garfield had 115 32 in and 95 out.

I think that curricular alignment meets the needs of students changing schools. They should be learning the body of knowledge in the same classes in all of our schools. However, I don't think that they need to learn that body of knowledge out of the same books.

seattle citizen said...

That's a good point, Maureen - what standards are being aligned to, or are keeping 11th and 12th grade science programs from doing what they will?

District Academic Standards has nothing in science grades 11 and 12, and the HSPE doesn't test past 10...nor the MAP, of course...

seattle citizen said...

...which raises the question again: which standards? HSPE assumes that when a student meets 10th grade standards they are ready to graduate (they are awarded the Certificate of Academic Achievement which is the necessary addendum to a diploma).

If the state thinks students are good to go by the end of 10th grade, (well, March) then can we assume that 11 and 12 can be used for more exploratory, individualized studies? The district has its requirements for credit attainment, but no standards that match all requirements...

My vote is for students to have all the basics by 10th grade, then be "freed" (more variety in programs) to study other things in 11 and 12

Anonymous said...

Let me say it again. Schmitz Park gets great scores by pushing special education students out, and actively not serving them. That practice shouldn't be rewarded with anything. Let's hold back on the trophies and the math cheerleading sessions. They've got about 1/2 the district's percentage of students in special education. They've got 2.5% black, another group that hasn't done well in math MSPs. And, it's got around 10% FRL. That is, they serve only 10% the number of black students as the district. They serve only 25% the number of FRL as the district.

When they serve special education students well with a particular textbook... or any group besides wealth lily-white ones, call us back for the waiver.

Afterall, Lakeside and Bush do fantastically well using CMP and EDM for their respective demographics. It doesn't mean much in the real world.

Special Education Parent.

ParentofThree said...

This isn't about aligning to standards, we know there are no standards past 10th grade. This is about ensuring that every high school offers the same thing - equity. So RBHS will look exactly like Franklin and Franklin will look like Garfield and so forth.

So if your school has a unique program or class, it will be eliminated simply by forcing teachers to submit reams of paper to keep their class or program.

Then the district will sit back and say, "not our fault there is no Bio-Tech at BHS, the teachers failed to submit the paperwork to retain the program.

As far as any "Innovation" in our schools. Sorry folks, but the super lacks the skill set to innovate. Unless of course there is a company she can hire to "innovate."

And also, I do have to agree with what Special Ed parent is saying, I looked at those stats and yes, one year there was 11% spec ed. next year forward 7%. It's kinda like what Cleveland did...ensure you have an achieving population and you will have high test scores. Also, if you look at some of the northend schools you are seeing 90% pass rates in math @ 5th grade. With that said, I would take Singapore over Everyday Math any day....just not sure the argument holds that Singapore is the sole reason for the Schmitz Park test results!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Special Ed parent, that's exactly what I say about charters. (I don't know about Schmitz Park.) Charters can write their charter so they don't have services for ELL and Special Ed students. It's a lot easier to do well when you can control who is in your population. (That said, many charters do serve low-income kids but that's another story.)

Dorothy Neville said...

Maureen, SC and others asking about 11th and 12th grade classes when the state standards only go to 10th.

Why say that the only classes that can count for science credit are the uniform ones, so that the Marine Bio and the Genetics and others must become electives? (Which effectively eliminates them.)

Well, teachers are scratching their heads and asking themselves that very question. Here's a possible answer some are positing: We need the standardization of courses so that there can be end of course assessments that can be used to measure teachers' effectiveness. After all, if you teach 11th or 12th graders, there's no MAP or HSPE the ed-deform oriented philosophy folks can use to ensure "excellent teachers in every classroom."

seattle citizen said...

Ah, Dorothy, good point. No MAP, no evaluating teachers on district-wide (nationally normed) tests.

That's why I worry what Broad (Don McAdams, our board's advisor at their last retreat) has to say about waivers and the like.

That is the question we must keep in mind: What do Broad, Gates, Arne Duncan and other "reformers" want?

For every Curriculum and Instruction meeting, there is another one, probably, with Don McAdams, Tim Burgess, and others working THOSE deals.

Charlie Mas said...

But arent' the Education Reform folks all about innovation? Isn't that their stated reason for supporting Charters? Or do they actually just come right out and say they want to break the unions?

seattle citizen said...

Oh, so THAT'S what the Department Exit Criteria each department is supposed to put together by the end of the year are!

They are the precursors to that department's MAP test?

Or are they? What are they, anyway? Anyone know? Each department (and I believe it's school-by-school) is supposed to craft "Department Exit Criteria," which are supposed to be based on college-ready expectations.

Anyone know anything else about these?

Jan said...

Anonymous (Special Education Parent): I don't think that the difference in math performance by Schmitz Park can be totally explained by the low(er) numbers of FRL and special ed kids they serve, but I will stare at the numbers a while and see if I can figure it out.

I think that if there is an issue with improper exclusion of special ed kids -- you need to face that one straight on. Get the Special Ed PTA involved, organize the parents of excluded kids and demand a meeting with Marni Campbell, whatever. But it makes no sense to deny the school a waiver (i.e., to deny at least ONE school its access to better math curricula) because the school is screwing up somewhere else (special ed exclusion). Also -- while it might be possible for them to weed out special ed kids (by jiggering around what programs they offer, etc. etc.), there is no way I know of to offload FRL kids or minority kids. If the school has the misfortune (and I do think it is unfortunate for those kids) to be undiverse -- so be it, but it should not affect the waiver unless the entire discrepancy in student learning (measured however -- I refuse to concede the value of the high stakes tests as a sole or even primary measure) is attributable to the absence of FRL, special ed, and minority kids.

Don't just pick up any stick at hand (withholding the math waiver) and whack 'em. There is too much collateral damage that way. Instead, target the REAL problem you see (illegal/improper exclusion of special ed kids from the school).

grousefinder said...

Okay...Special Education Parent. @ 9/28/10 5:35 PM

Since nobody else will call you out on this...I will. You have pushed this SpEd. myth twice on this site. It is false and a fabrication to state that that Schmitz Park (or any school) has the power to "[push] out special education students, and actively not serv[e] them." Since I know this for a fact, and have the data and inside information to prove it, I will gladly meet you at the proverbial flagpole at Schmitz Park after school on any day to prove you are fabricating this story. I will be there with the SpEd. teacher and Inclusion Teacher. Name the day and time. All press are welcome to attend.

To Melissa: Do you always allow anonymous people to profess that schools violate state laws by pushing out SpEd. students. Not only is it ridiculous, but it demonstrates a bit of Fox News surrealism about the stuff that remains printed here. The premise is a bit crazy...'Schmitz Park became #1 in math because they underserve SpEd?' Are they serious??? Ironically, most math SpEd. end up in honors math once they leave Schmitz.

Time for some deletions...feel free to start with mine...

peonypower said...

@seattle citizen-
Our principal asked each department to craft exit criteria. The idea is that when a student leaves that class they will have demonstrated mastery of ______ things before they move on to the next class. Frankly- I think it is just a way to appear to be raising the bar, as my feeling is that if you pass the class you have successfully met the "exit criteria." This is not something in our contract or from the district, but it is coming from our building. Just like we are supposed to have our lesson goal posted on the wall of our class every day. To achieve this I had to buy and install a new whiteboard (mine is covered by the projector screen.) Never mind that I cover the objective every day with my students so that they know what we are doing and what exactly I expect, and it is on every lab handout. Oh no it has to be on the board so an administrator can see it if they walk in my room. I guess it takes too much time to ask a student about what they are learning. I actually had an administrator walk in my room this week look at my board and then walk out with no discussion, no questions, no interaction, nothing.

@Jan- hear hear- teachers need a chance to share their passion and having a class that allows that encourages the best kind of teaching. I could teach a variety of science classes, but my passion is plants and luckily I get to teach about plants. As a result the numbers for those classes have grown every year and now most of my teaching day revolves around plant curriculum. My students know that I love those classes, and they sign up to take them because of that passion.

Also- the new Washington science standards go to grade 12- they were revised in June 2010.

wsnorth said...

Anonymous Special Education Parent, you have no credibility whatsoever. Schmitz Park does not even serve a relatively wealthy part of West Seattle, which itself is not a relatively wealthy part of Seattle. Maybe you should visit a school before you bash it, or at least do some research.

seattle citizen said...

"Our principal asked each department to craft exit criteria. The idea is that when a student leaves that class they will have demonstrated mastery of ______ things before they move on to the next class...This is not something in our contract or from the district, but it is coming from our building."

sooo....in a class that has MAP (9LA, for intance) isn't MAP the de facto exit criteria now? Will the "exit criteria" match the new District LA standards? Do the LA Standards match "exit criteria," MAP, and HSPE (and the soon-to-be-online national standards?

I'm becoming more and more confused as to which standards "should" be taught.

I believe it used to be expected that teachers put Reading and Writing standards posters on their walls. I think these were HSPE (WASL, then). Should teachers now put those, the District LA standards, and Exit Criteria on the walls?

It's all so confusing. I'm feeling all through-hither. Ach.

Trudeau might have had it right, in Doonesbury: Teaching is dead.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris said...

Wow, Charlie got as much out of that meeting in 15 minutes as I did in 2 hours...I do have a few comments to add though.

First, compared to the last C & I mtg I went to (May? June?) the waiver pendulum has really swung. Back then, Holly Ferguson and Kathy Thompson were saying no, no, no and no to waivers. Now it's more like what boundaries to put on them. H & K were silent. It does seem like they are only doing this, though, because Michael DeBell is putting pressure on them.

Second, there was talk of a cap on waivers at 10% of schools, which if you count separately for each materials-adoption being waived, seems acceptable to me. After all, said MDB, if you're going to to the experiment, you might as well do it with a meaningful sample size. (OMG how it is that that guy can say something so dumb one day and something so smart the next???)

That segues into #3, which was Susan Enfield stating several times that they must not talk of experimentation because that makes parents fly off the handle. Hence the term innovation. Which just cracks me up; what is EDM (and in fact every edu-reform initiative if not a great big experiment?) They should thank Schmitz Park and North Beach for volunteering to be the control group!

OK, so back to #2, the task seems pretty simple to me: set the bar low enough that you get some innovators, but high enough that they are a minority. I think this makes sense - you want enough people (staff & families) on board at the school for the innovation to stand a chance of success. At a minimum, there should be some documentation of how the proposed documentation meets state standards at least as well as the adopted materials (italics my additions) and some proposal for measurement of the effects. However, existing programs should be grandfathered for at least a year to give them time to put this material together.

Bird said...

Just like we are supposed to have our lesson goal posted on the wall of our class every day.

This'll probably win me no friends, but even though this practice sounds insulting and ridiculously bureaucratic, there's a part of me that sees the point of it.

It's not aimed at you. It's aimed at the bottom of the barrel teacher.

I had a couple of these in middle school and high school. Teachers that literally never taught anything all year. They just babysat, ran movies and waited for the year to end. I often think back to those teachers and think of what could have been done to catch them or force them to teach something.

I had thought forcing them to publish their syllabus of what they were going to cover might be one way to force their hand. Forcing them to write on the board what they were teaching might have been another.

Of course, I'd rather they'd have just been fired.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Schmitz Park gets great scores by pushing special education students out, and actively not serving them."

Okay Anonymous Special Ed parent, how do you know this (factually)? What information do you base this on?

If it's "I've heard" or "I was told", no good. What were SP's numbers of Special Ed 5 years ago, 3 years ago? Have you heard this from the principal? TEachers?

"They've got 2.5% black, another group that hasn't done well in math MSPs. And, it's got around 10% FRL. That is, they serve only 10% the number of black students as the district. They serve only 25% the number of FRL as the district."

I've read this 3 times and I'm still unclear about what you are saying except that SP has a lower black and F/RL number than the district average. There's several schools that can say that.

"It's kinda like what Cleveland did...ensure you have an achieving population and you will have high test scores."

I mean this isn't true. Cleveland as STEM has just started so that's an assumption but not the truth.

Please back up any factual claims with where you got your information.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I know it factually because I know kids who have been pushed out, underserved until they had to leave. Placement decisions happen all the time. If you underserve students enough, their placement will be changed. Yes schools push out sped, all the time. And, the numbers bear it out. Look, they got rid of their horrible level 3 program. (call the school and check it out if you doubt it). Those kids are, poof, gone. After years of keeping them out in the portable, they finally got rid of them. And now they've underserved the "inclusion" kids. And in the future, they won't even have those. If you doubt their numbers.. how about you go look it up on OSPI?

7% sped (district average 14%)
2.x% black (district average 21%)
10% FRL (district average 40%)

Not really a tough crowd.

If Singapore is so wonderful, why don't they teach it to sped students? WHy do they chase them out instead? Why don't they show it working on minority and/or FRL's?

I am taking no position on a particular math program (or other). I'm just saying that SP isn't a testbed for anything. You can't chase everyone out of everywhere. At some point, you've got to take on the challenges. You can use CPM, EDM, TERC, Singapore, etc, etc, etc... on the high SES white students. Guess what? They all pretty much work.

You're right WSN, SP may not be the uber-wealthy. That was never the claim. They just underserve, the already underserved. And that's a pretty easy thing to do.

And besides. Melissa isn't that your long-running comment. "It's the demographic stupid." Not the teacher (or the textbook, in this case). Why get all glassy-eyed over a textbook? And not over "teacher accountability"?

sped parent

karyn king said...

The LA department is being told that everyone will be aligning to a version the College Readiness Standards from the ACT. Whether they have anything to do with MAP, HSPE or other state standards, is hard to decipher, since the reading standards on the OSPI website only to to 10th grade. It still concerns some that teachers do not know what the MAP covers, making it difficult to prepare students for taking it, especially without textbooks to help.

ttln said...

Watch your students take the MAP. See what passages and questions they get. You can also interview them after it is over and ask what they found "difficult" or "surprising" or "unfamiliar." At our building, we were allowed to take a test. Nothing I saw on the one I selected was familiar at all. The test also terminated without giving me a score (drat!)

From what I have seen, stick to the cannon (Shakespeare, Red Badge of Courage, etc.) and you won't go wrong with the Reading. I haven't watched the math.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It's the demographic stupid."

Never said it, nope.

dan dempsey said...

Let us get a grip. No one is mandating Singapore Math for every school. What is being asked for is a right to requested waivers for this material. Check the Numbers. Loyal Heights is I believe the Special Program school. Both schools below scored exceptionally well on the 5th grade MSP with SP scoring slightly higher in Pass rate #3 in state vs. #5 for LH..... in regard to percent of 5th graders at level 4 again a slight edge to Sp over LH. Neither of those margins would classify as statistically significant.

Having closely looked at Singapore I am incredibly impressed with the Model Method that is taught. It is absolutely phenomenal. It is essential that a child have grade three instruction where the model method is initially introduced and taught.

The proof of the pudding of SP success came on placement tests for middle school.

Keep in mind SP 5th graders did not come out of k-5 Singapore.

Also keep in mind District Central Administration has ignored this success.

In very few classes has SP had enough Low Income to show up on WASL. In 2008-2009 they did have enough in one class and the Low Income out scored the non-low income.

Please check the Demographics:

Loyal Heights.

Race/Ethnicity (October 2009)
American Indian/Alaskan Native 1 0.3%
Asian 18 4.7%
Asian/Pacific Islander 18 4.7%
Black 5 1.3%
Hispanic 16 4.1%
White 347 89.7%
Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals
(May 2010) 21 5.4%
Special Education
(May 2010) 30 7.7%

Schmitz Park

Race/Ethnicity (October 2009)
American Indian/Alaskan Native 8 2.3%
Asian 32 9.0%
Asian/Pacific Islander 32 9.0%
Black 9 2.5%
Hispanic 18 5.1%
White 288 81.1%
Special Programs
Free or Reduced-Price Meals (May 2010) 34 9.6%
Special Education (May 2010) 26 7.4%


This year with new student assignment plan boundaries in place SP will have a lot of new kids and more Black and Low Income I believe. Also with the MGJ belief that buying lots of consultants and technology is more important than class size. It is likely that SP teachers will have much more challenging classrooms. This is hardly a plus for the district overall. As more challenging classrooms is likely to be a widespread change.

dan dempsey said...

Dear K. King,

That is the problem with MAP.

Teachers are supposed to be teaching the WA Math Standards and the LA EALRs and GLEs ... etc. So what is the MAP testing? This is an incredible expensive boondoggle.

Teaching is not to align with the MAP. Teaching is to align with the standards. Unfortunately --- we got screwed again.

-- Dan

wsnorth said...

Anon Special Ed Parent "That was never the claim"... I believe the exact phrase you used was "wealthy lily-white ones".

I don't think Scmitz Park unilaterally closed its "horrible" level 3 program, that was a district decision.

I also don't think you are doing special education students any favors by implying they are neither white nor wealthy. Special ed crosses all income levels and demographics, though it may be weighted towards FRL and "minorities" within SPS, as is the SPS student population as a whole.

Even if the number of Schmitz Park Special Ed students was doubled and they ALL failed their math tests, I don't think that would drag down the SP average very much.

Schmitz Park represents its neighborhood, and Seattle for that matter, all of which are 70 to 80% white, and none of which are 40% poor.

Random unsubstantiated ranting does not help anyone.

Charlie Mas said...

I would say that asking teachers to write the "lesson for the day" on the board is completely consistent with the introduction of management to Seattle Public Schools. This is a step towards enforcing curriculum alignment.

While I would prefer that the principal gather this information through observation, it's not an onerous requirement on the teacher and it's not a bad practice from the students' perspective either.

Likewise, drafting a list of the things that students should know and be able to do when they finish the class at the end of the year is necessary for curriculum alignment. It is also a fundamental part of setting student learning goals as described in the teacher contract.

I don't have a problem with either of these, but maybe I need to be educated about what is wrong with them. At the same time, I would like those who oppose these requirements to consider how we are going to overcome the real obstacle to curricular alignment and how else teachers should express the student learning goals referenced in the contract.

Chris said...

Actually, Charlie, before you arrived Dr. Enfield and Holly Ferguson reported that they HAD found some districts that had some sort of waiver process. They couldn't recall any names or details but agreed to provide that information at a later time.

Anonymom said...

I think Charlie is right on this one. It is another step in the right direction toward curricular alignment (not to be confused with standardization).

dan dempsey said...

Back to Singapore Math and diversity.

(1) The program was developed incrementally over decades. Singapore became an independent "City State" in 1963.

Incremental development ==> keep practices and lessons that work and refine them even more based on success of students;;; toss stuff that does not work effectively. {Pretty much the opposite of US publishing houses and certainly the opposite of materials developed under Nation Science Foundation/ Education and Human Resources grants.(of which EDM is one)}

(2) Over 50% of homes that children come from do not have English as the primary language. {The big Three other languages are: Tamil from India, Malay, and Mandarin Chinese, which account for over 50% of the home primary languages.}

(3) All math instruction in Singapore takes place in English. The Math Books gradually increase the English language difficulty as the students progress through grades k-6. Some classes are taught in the student's home language ... English, Tamil, Malay, or Mandarin Chinese.

(4) In Singapore students do home work to practice what was learned in class as well as figure out challenging stuff. Class time involves some engaging discussions but these are not minimally guided discussions.

(5) Singapore is really big on long range planning. A nation with little geographic area and few natural resources the big investment was and is in people through education. Singapore is now an international banking center one of the largest in the world (somewhere in the top 5 I believe).

Singapore’s current per capita net worth of households classified as millionaires is second highest in the world behind Hong Kong. Projections show in 10 years Singapore will surpass Hong Kong as #1.

dan dempsey said...

Back in the early days of young nation Singapore in the film camera era, German manufacturer "Rollei" out sourced the manufacture of their successfully German manufactured compact 35mm camera to Singapore. The cameras made in Singapore were judged to be of the same high quality of those of German manufacture.

It is time for Seattle to get a math plan that works. The SPS does not have one now.

Aki Kurose now has a school day one hour longer than that of other schools. Kids without home support will require at least 90 minutes of Math time daily with suitable materials for significant academic advancement to occur. A 75-daily minute minimum with EDM has done very little for Seattle's educationally disadvantaged learners. HERE.

Maureen said...

Dan says (about Singapore Math):The Math Books gradually increase the English language difficulty as the students progress through grades k-6.

I think this is very important. I wish a school with a high percentage of ELL and FRL qualified kids would pilot Singapore. From my experience (and there seems to be some research to support it) difficulty in Math for those groups are often related to poor language skills. (and a kid doesn't have to be ELL to have poor language skills)

Wouldn't it be great if the staff at Schmitz Park partnered with that at (say) West Seattle Elementary(*) to adopt Singapore? What would have to happen to make that possible?

(*WSE is 79% FRL, 23% Sped, 42% Non English Speaker, 15% White)

Central Mom said...

Maureen...Alt schools should also LEAP at being first in line for waivers, and the District should support them in this. (Aren't alt schools supposed to be innovators?!)

TOPS would be a fabulous place to give Singapore math a go. True, it does not have as much socio-economic diversity as many neighborhood schools, but it DOES have a long-standing commitment to welcoming and embracing communities of color. It has extremely strong ties to ELL Chinese students. Through word of mouth the Chinese community has chosen TOPS for years, and the ELL aides at school are ominpresent for students and their parents.

BUT despite this, EDM is a disaster for many of these students. The spiraling pattern is confusing. The wording is a huge barrier. The curriculum's assumption that home support will play a large role in daily lessons is erroneous. Singapore seems a much better choice for our kids. Plus, the Schmitz Park principal was a VP at TOPS before his promotion. Talk about District efficiencies and best practices...here's a principal who could easily partner with TOPS to share curriculum learnings.

dan dempsey said...

At the Diane Ravitch Video conference forum at Seattle U's Pigott auditorium on Oct 5 at 7:00 PM I will have Singapore Math books available for inspection. If you come at 6:30 or stay late you can have a look.

We may also have OSPI/SBE top rated Math Connects available as well ... (no promise on that one).

Chris said...

OK, here's the rest of what I gleaned from the C & I meeting. The waivers was definitely the most interesting part, but some of the earlier stuff was marginally entertaining:

1. Instructional minutes at High School – I was multi-talking during this part -I have to have some boundaries around what I'm obsessing about- but I did hear Susan Enfield say “This year we are focusing on quality rather than quantity.” Also there seems to be some question about what the state is going to do.

2.Alternative Learning Experience - Two new schools have become ALEs, STEM and Interagency. At STEM they did this to allow a “bio-lit” class, although they have plans to take advantage of more ALE features in the future. ALE seems overall to be a great fit for Interagency – its students and the dispersed model need scheduling flexibility, individual learning plans, online courses, internships, etc. All the ALE principals had been summoned, although only the new ones spoke.

3. Materials appeals procedure- they have tightened this up, requiring that complaints are limited to offensive or age-inappropriate material, and that complainants must have a child in SPS. Gosh, I thought, double jeopardy for Dan Dempsey (not that Dan couldn’t or wouldn’t argue that constructivist math is inappropriate for anyone under the age of forty…) But the business about offensive or age-appropriate made me think, well, teachers are at the front lines and most likely to notice any problem first. And although I know the selection process is rigorous, given the sheer volume of verbiage in EDM for example, a careful review of every word of every workbook at every grade level might not be feasible. So I passed Harium a note asking if this meant that teachers couldn’t complain. And he actually raised it, and they discussed it for a bit!! I think the good and true answer is that teachers have an internal mechanism to address their concerns thru the chain of command, but no one actually said that. Instead, the content of the discussion was almost entirely about how much or little they wanted to open themselves up for complaints. Bottom line: this group is primarily interested in protecting themselves, not in the welfare of student. My botton line: I’m not worried; I’m sure teachers would prefer and would find it easy to rally a parent for their cause…

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wsnorth said...

Previously someone posted that the district's SPED % was about 15%. For what it is worth, the most recent enrollment #'s seem to put it a bit less than 10%. 4,500 out of 46,000.


Anonymous said...

Wrong again WSN. I never mentioned anything about the ethnicity of students in special education. That is not germaine to the discussion. Also wrong is your math. If another 7% of the students were added to SP who were disabled, and they all failed.. then their scores would drop the pass rate to 71% in 4th grade, and 87% in 5th. That wouldn't be such a big deal accomplishment for a white non-poor school. It would be pretty ho-hum. Incidentally, the SP fourth grade math scores are already pretty ho-hum at 79%. Why do we "cherry pick" 5th grade? Why not look at 4th grade as we usually do? That's the grade required by NCLB and the one used for AYP.

I'm glad that the very low percentage of special education students remaining at SP are doing well. But, there are quite a number of students in the SP reference area NOT served by SP. Those are simply facts. You may call facts "rants", but it speaks to your own bias.

I agree with Maureen. Do Singapore to WSE. Then show us the pudding.


Anonymous said...

Look again WSN.

Here is what the district actually reports to OSPI. What they report to other people omits certain groups. The rate is 14.1%. I guess you could say that was "close" to 15%. The rate at SP is 7%ish. Same reporting mechanism.

another SP.

wseadawg said...

Anonymous, I wouldn't care if Singapore was the official math for the Third Reich. I've suffered through enough years of this Everyday Math crap with my kids to know that almost any program is better than EDM's "spiraling" curriculum nonsense. I know many, many families at SP, and I'd vouch for the decency in all of them. Your complaints paint the entire community as evil, selfish, and inhumane, which is a load of crap, and you know it.

Take grousefinder up on the offer to meet at the flagpole, or at least take Jan's advice and stick to the issue that concerns you the most, instead of defaming the entire SP community. You're not persuading anyone with your illegitimate linkage of high math scores with the supposed mistreatment of Special Ed kids. Who are "they" (the evil ones) in your scenario? Parents, teachers, staff or students?

wsnorth said...

I apologize if I attributed this to the wrong Anon poster:

"When they serve special education students well with a particular textbook... or any group besides wealth lily-white ones, call us back for the waiver."

Another reason not to allow so many anon posters.

wsnorth said...

There's that Every Day Math shining through: 4,400 Special Ed students on one district report, 6,600 on another. I guess they are trying to find the meaning of the numbers!

Speaking of odd statistics, the district wide (that would be the 40% poor and 60% "non-poor", I suppose) 2009 Math WASL rate was 67.7% for 5th Grade and just 60% for 4th grade. That is quite a lot of variation in one year, as one anon or another also noted at Schmitz Park.

anonymom said...

"TOPS would be a fabulous place to give Singapore math a go"

Maybe, but TOPS is an alternative school, and Singapore is a tried and true traditional math curriculum. Not really very innovative for an alt school....