Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quarterly Strategic Plan Update

I attended the quarterly Strategic Plan update this evening. It was, far and away, the best one ever. Credit for the clearer and more informative format goes to Mark Teoh, the new person in charge of the Strategic Plan. He said it was easy to present the information clearly. He didn't say that was true once the goal became to share information rather than horde it.

The Board, except for Director Martin-Morris - who was silent throughout the presentation, was engaged and asked some good questions.

The Powerpoint speaks for itself, so I'll just make a couple notes...

On slide 8, Special Education, the District doesn't yet keep IEPs as electronic records, so it is extraordinarily difficult to measure or track the work. They are transitioning to an electronic format. It was noted that two schools experiencing a lot of progress and success, West Seattle Elementary and Highland Park Elementary, are using a "workshop" model in the classroom which allows the teacher to provide more individualized support and instruction.

On slide 9, ELL, the typical growth measure is based on the median (or mean?) growth in year-over-year MAP scores nationally for test history peers. So that 65% growth goal isn't an automatic one from the Colorado Growth Model. 65% of students exceeding the typical growth is actually a pretty ambitious goal.

The District's goal for the ALO's (slide 10) is a bit soft - it is to get 100% of Spectrum- and APP-eligible students in the five targeted schools to "participate" in the ALO. I just don't know what that means. It could be good. It could be meaningless. I have no idea how many students we're talking about.

Slide 11 is about math and it needs some explanation. First, you'll notice that every other goal is measured in student outcomes. The District is counting students. In math, however, they count schools. The Milestone target is listed as "100% of schools" and the Actual outcome says "90% of students". This is a typo. It should have read "90% of schools". Apparently the District cannot track students from year to year. I know that it appears that they do so in a number of other cases, but they claim that they cannot do it in this case. I spoke with Ms delaFuente and she showed me the raw data. Of the students in the Level 1 and Level 2 schools, 61% saw their test scores rise as much or more than the average for their test history peers. That's not bad, but we don't know which students that is. Some schools, notably West Seattle Elementary and Dearborn Park made exceptional growth.

On slide 14, the one about curriculum alignment, Director Carr asked about the accuracy of the self-survey. Kathleen Vasquez told her that there will be coaches in the schools who can corroborate the data.

Finally, I want to direct everyone's attention to April 13 when the Strategic Plan Refresh is due. We can look forward to some clear information about what is in the Plan, what progress has been made, what it is costing us, and which parts will be continued, altered, deferred, added, or dropped.

25 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Directors were complimentary of the "more transparent" presentation, less mumbo-jumbo. I'd have to agree; even I could follow it.

The prospect ahead is that SOME of these Strategic Plan objectives may fall away due to budget realities. Personally, I would say the "value-added" measures would be the first (though I hope that Brad Bernatek's replacement, Eric Anderson, is more competent and conscientious than his predecessor).

Personally, because I want student benefit to be the ultimate outcome, I will add my compliments for a clearer, less obfuscated, qtrly update. Supt. Enfield is moving aggressively (in a nicer, more collaborative way) to make everyone feel better about things.

I'm not feeling good about the "value-added" thing. How many people in the private sector have their names in a list comparing favorably or not to their coworkers. I know my multi-national employer doesn't feel compelled to do it. We have a robust evaluation system. Managers are required to do their job to manage their employees.

We'll see

Anonymous said...

Special ed electronic IEP tracking... big yawn. Tracking IEPs is not very interesting. The only thing the district has added, is electronic IEPs not progress reports. It's complete fluff at best, even if it worked. Tracking the progress in general education, of students on IEPs... now that's interesting, and completely doable without electronic IEPs. Do we ever hear about that? No. How lame that this sideshow would become something report-worthy.

--SPED Parent

dan dempsey said...

At this time I am an Eric Anderson fan ... Brad B attempted to deceive from Day one. The scam sham job Brad B did for the EDM math push was ridiculous.

Not so with Eric A.

Eric A. has written some good stuff. But will anyone be listening? .. or will he be required to change his tune?

dan dempsey said...

Super Duper .. Updates

I just finished a letter calling for an update and explanation on the District's position on the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

You can read it here as a webpage.

I wonder if Pres. Sundquist will:
#1 Write Back?
#2 Put this on the Agenda for the April 6 Board meeting?

-- Dan

dan dempsey said...

mirmac1,

Good questions about competence and conscientious ... guess it is wait and see.

Eric A. wrote the better NTN memo that MGJ and Enfield pretended did NOT exist.

Anderson's memo had a few difficulties in that:
#1 Anderson failed to point out he was working from a cherry-picked list of schools provided to him by others for his analysis.
#2 There are no NTN STEM schools in CA.

Eric A also wrote a nice analysis of practices at High Performing Urban Districts that MGJ, Enfield, and the Board totally ignored.

Here is that report =>
Correlates of High Achieving Schools

dan dempsey said...

Interesting that Special Ed is going so well ...

Look at the testimony about Special Ed bullying and intimidation from the SpED higher Ups....

Check it out HERE.

Seattle's Special Education Mismanagement is about 3/4 down the page.

Why must Seattle parents become exhausted by trying to get the services their children are legally entitled to receive?

Anonymous said...

Funny. I didn't know electronic IEPs were on the strategic plan. The district can go out and buy some software, and now talk about that instead of anything actually on the strategic plan? What about that ICS thing? How's that working for ya? Oh yeah. IT DOESN'T WORK!!!! AT ALL!!!

Another sped parent

Salander said...

Slide 14. Using the aligned curricula --- sounds like and enforcement measure not an achievement measure.

Is the curricula that cost thousands of teacher hours and millions of dollars in administrative time and money effective? How are we measuring the effectiveness? MAP scores? What has been gained and what has been lost?

It is not enough for the district administrators to pat themselves on the back for enforcing the use of an aligned curriculum.Requiring the use of something does not prove that thing's efficacy.

Walk -throughs are are JOKE. A bunch of administrators who have no clue what went on the day before or what follows the day after stand around in a room for ten minutes and make pronouncements that ultimately determine their effectiveness.
Hmm. Would this incline their opinions one way or another?

mirmac1 said...

Salandar,

The presenter stressed that the curriculum maps and guides are purely "resources" made available to teachers. The concept of "walk-throughs" got shot down by teachers. Now reliance will be on self-report surveys as to whether or not the "resources" are being used, helpful and/or can be improved.

SeattleSped said...

Yes, the emphasis is being misdirected, again. Rather than focusing on the child, the SpecEd "Excellence" milestone seems to be alot about making it easier on the managers.

This IEP software make the setting of IEP goals more prescriptive. Excuse me but for my child the IEP goals are very much tailored to his weaknesses, not what some vendor code writer and IEP consultant thinks is easy to roll up, categorize and spit out in school and district-wide reports.

Ironic that other children that struggle because of reduced ELL support ARE measured on their academic success.

mirmac1 said...

Dan,

Guess what! Eric A. got a chance to say "I told you so"...in a NICE way. Hey, more power to those that speak out even when no one listens.

Jan said...

I know Melissa said it was unclear, but do people read slide 10 as an end to self-contained Spectrum and APP programs/schools? I am curious because after thoroughly looking into it, we determined our beloved neighborhood school (which has an ALO program) is not going to be able to meet the needs of our APP eligible child so we decided to move her to Lowell next year.

In my opinion, there are just too many kids in each class and too little money for the ALO to work as proposed. I wish it could work! Readers and writers workshop and walk to math all sound great in theory, but in practice, there's no money for teachers to give the reading tests to determine appropriate levels for kids more than a couple times a year. There's also no room in the other rooms for my kid to walk to another room for math. Once again, great in theory, but my experience is it doesn't work in practice.

Jan said...

Jan: this is the "other" Jan asking -- I am curious. Is your child's current school one that is overcrowded due to the NSAP (either by commonsense standards or by the District's criteria>)

If so, it seems to me that one of the things the District needs to track is what negative effects the NSAP is having on district priorities (OTHER than assignment predictability, transportation costs, etc. -- where the assumption seems to be that the effects are good).

What have we "given up" to get those benefits? The question is important not because we might go back to another system (pretty sure that won't happen), but because until we identify the losses, the District cannot take action to either change the programs to meet the new reality (schools and classes to0 crowded for ALO to work) or take action to mitigate the harms caused.

This is particularly important because many (me included) suspect Spectrum is being disassembled in favor of ALOs (and that our new Supe is no fan of Spectrum). If Spectrum is losing support, AND ALOs don't work -- it is a huge problem, especially for kids (not yours) who do NOT qualify for APP, but who clearly need accelerated education.

Patrick said...

Dan,

Eric A. wrote the better NTN memo that MGJ and Enfield pretended did NOT exist.

This link says it requires a login.
Is this a mistake, or will I be able to see this if I create an account?

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

The district has had electronic IEP's for years. If you don't know this you're not paying attention...They recently made a switch to a new system that allows better tracking of LRE
stijockey

SeattleSped said...

stijockey

Then what was all the talk about laborious shuffling of paper files to collect the all-important data?! Have they been using "prescriptive" goal setting for years? How about the nifty emphasis on "pushing out" reports for the desk jockeys downtown? Will it improve why our "Johnnys can't read"?

Part of the initial Strategic Plan milestone wording said: Expansion of critical student programs and services at targeted elementary schools. No mention of that last night.

Jan said...

Jan,

If you asked me, I would say our school is overcrowded with 28 kids in each K class, but it's not one of the identified schools that you referenced. To me, that means we have an even bigger issue than the one you raised with just the identified overcrowded schools. For ALOs to work, we need smaller class sizes at ALL schools. If not, we need to keep Spectrum and APP.

We really want to stay at our local school. The Principal at the Spectrum school in our neighborhood said she is working hard to align curriculum across all 1st grade classes. Unless my understanding of Spectrum is wrong, aren't you effectively eliminating the program by aligning curriculum across all 1st grades? Shouldn't 1st grade Spectrum be aligned (at least) with 2nd grade?

You're right, we have APP as an option, but it's not our preferred option by a long shot. I know that a ton of kids at our school would thrive in the APP program, but didn't test in for one reason or another. I have guilt about that. The answer to this is REAL ALO programs with funding to put the theoretical plans into practice. I see the answer as increased funding to pay for subs several times a year so the teacher can administer reading tests more often. Also, class sizes need to be small enough to actually allow kids to walk to math. Having walk to math as part of an ALO program only works if there is room in the other classes!

Use some of the money saved by having neighborhood schools for these issues. Reduce or eliminate MAP and have teachers identify kids for the ALO programs. The teachers would identify kids more successfully than a computer test. Use the saved MAP money to create true ALOs. All kids benefit not just kids who need advanced learning.

Maureen said...

create true ALOs

But what is a true ALO? I've had two (supposedly) APP level kids go through a K-8 school that has no Spectrum or ALO (FRL=20-25%, ELL and Special Ed both about 12%). Not every year was perfect, but overall they have had a great education that met their needs. They occasionally had teachers who sent extra worksheets home with them to 'challenge' them. Those were not the best years. The best years were when they had teachers who designed open ended assignments that required imaginative application of grade level material and gave the kids the resources to pursue above grade level topics as part of those projects (and gave them encouragement for stretching themselves).

I'm not snarking, I really wonder, what is a real ALO?

Jan said...

Jan -- good points all. I realize that Dr. Enfield's office hours are all booked for the foreseeable future, but it would sure be great if you could get these arguments in front of her. If I recall correctly, she is a fan of ALOs and trying to keep kids in mixed groupings with individualized instruction (which is what ALOs, are -- but in a more organized fashion).


I had a child in Spectrum (no ALOs back then) so I can't speak to the issues personally, but while I don't really want ALO to supplant Spectrum, I would like to see it grow and flourish (and then we'll see, I guess, whether it wins). That won't happen if the ALO model doesn't/can't work at most/all schools due to stresses on the schools for other (NSAP/budget/program lack of clarity/etc.) reasons.

Jan said...

Oops -- meant to sign myself the "other" Jan (really -- this is NOT me just talking to myself! :>)

jana said...

Maureen,

You didn't sound snarky. That's the question, what's a true ALO? Did you have reasonable class sizes and teachers well-versed and supported with differentiated instruction? I do believe this can be done. I believe our school was doing it, but is now less able given the current strains of class size and lack of resources. Our school's ALO plan sounds great, but from what I've seen, they aren't practicing what they are preaching for one reason or another.

Anonymous said...

Looking at school with good ALO programs and how they do it would be a good start. I think the district need to look at John Hay for example and see what resources and staff training they need to do it well.

You can still use MAP 1-2x/year for now along with teacher recommendation to determine groupings since we spent so much money on it. Otherwise, it is a lot of money that got wasted for just a 2 year roll out.

Differentiation is very appealing on paper, but tough to implement well in the classroom. You need collaborative trained staff, smaller class size, and not too many ability groupings in one class. You need to reevaluate frequently to allow for dynamic shifts among groups as kids make progress or regress.

Unfortunately, given all the many directions and expensive initiatives the district has undertaken these past 3 years along with gloomy school budget, Maureen and Jan is right to ask how the district is going to implement ALO so that it lives up to its namesake.

ALO supporter

Anonymous said...

True StiJockey,

The district HAS been using some software to type up IEPs for years. So, I guess that's what you mean by electronic IEPs. AND, they've also tracked LRE for years too. Haven't you ever seen them trot out those tables showing hours in general ed for special ed students? That's why they are in hot water. What they really want, is some software to prove that everybody's really in general education now, even when they are obviously NOT in general ed. And even when they are obviously NOT doing well in general ed. Just because something is on somebody's IEP, doesn't mean that it's really happening. That's what ICS is all about. And now the newest big claim: "We're paying for everybody to have a SEAT in general ed." What does that really mean? It doesn't mean your kid will actually go to general ed or be in the LRE. It means the school will use your kid's funding to buy an art teacher, or a librarian, or a counselor.

--SPED parent

Charlie Mas said...

I am a huge supporter of ALOs. I was part of the committee that created them.

I regret, however, that the District never fulfilled its side of the ALO deal. The District was supposed to perform a quality assurance role for all Advanced Learning programs. Instead, the District just rubber-stamps schools' claims that they have an ALO and then never thinks of it again.

Maureen said...

How about we move this ALO discussion up to the Program Placement thread since we're talking about it up there as well? (and Charlie can threads be tagged after they have started? Neither of these are tagged with ALO.)