Friday, May 20, 2011

Open Thread Friday

Fire and rehire - first Martin Floe and (hopefully) Cliff Mass.

Two Community meetings tomorrow:
DeBell - 9- 11 am at Cafe Appasionato
Maier - 10:30 am-noon - Bethany Community Church

Plus, the Superintendent meets with members of the Latino Community at El Centro de la Raza at 2524 16th Avenue S. from 9:30- 11am.

Lastly, are you ready for tomorrow?  Got someplace for the pets to go?  Or, maybe conversely, looking forward to the extra room here on Earth?  You did know that The Rapture is happening tomorrow, right? So if you are not in those good numbers, well, it's going to be hell on earth.

If I don't see you again, thanks for being part of the blog.  Otherwise, have a good weekend.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rapture tomorrow? Tonight I'm going shopping!

WS mom

Anonymous said...

Repost from old thread:

After YEARS, Arbor Heights Principal is gone! But only moves a few blocks north : (

Bah-By!

Interesting, is this how an Exec Dir does it right?

WS mom

Dorothy Neville said...

The 46th DEMS had their candidate forum last night. First up were city council contenders. The first question of the evening, to the flock of contenders for Jean Godden's seat was what will you do as city council member to help SPS to fix the overcrowding problem in North Seattle? All were (unsurprisingly) flummoxed. Jean spoke 4th or 5th and said pass the F&E levy, so that's what the next person said as well. But really, no one was prepared for school questions.

Later, other city council candidates were asked about SPS issues and one woman said that there was talk about the city taking over facilities and letting the district concentrate on education. I dunno where she got that idea, isn't that something that Charlie has argued for but hasn't gotten any traction from anyone else?

There were good questions for the school board candidates (Harium, Peter, Sherry, Michelle Buetow and Kate Martin) as well, including North End overcrowding, to which there were not good answers from the incumbents (although Sherry's was most on target and showed thinking). They also did a fast Yes/No Q&A and asked school board candidates whether they supported campaign finance changes to conform with other offices. While all said YES, Sherry and Peter seemed confused by the question. (Harium just seemed blank overall.)

Anonymous said...

We've been dealing with overcrowding for all the years we've been in the Seattle Schools.

We've learned to make do, and to grin and bear it, but this coming year is different. For the first time I do not feel the students will be safe with the enrollment numbers being projected.

I get the feeling the school is being asked from above to make it work without complaint. I want more than verbal reassurances this time.

If fire code were being violated, beyond the obvious risks that would pose, someone could call the fire department during an assembly and the building would be shut down and kids sent home.

Please, Seattle Schools, show us the numbers verifying that it's safe, and within code, and we'll go back to grinning and bearing it (for now).

In the North

dan dempsey said...

On that Arbor Heights situation....

Dr. Coram cites health reasons as deciding to take a different job, that of assistant principal at Denny International Middle School.

My Father-in-Law was an assistant Principal and Principal at a middle school and also a principal at an elementary school....... Dr. Coram is the first person I've ever heard say that Assistant Principal at Middle School is less taxing than being an elementary school principal.

How many Asst. Principals does Denny MS have?

Stu said...

I can not make either director meeting. Could someone PLEASE ask a simple question for both of these guys? See if maybe they can get a real answer . . if they want to, that is.

Lowell is over capacity and is, supposedly, planning on adding another 100 or more students. That means they are going to have at least 250 more students than their functional capacity AND most likely be far more than the fire codes allow. (Remember, these guys originally wanted to close Lowell 'cause of condition and capacity issues.) In addition, the sprinkler systems have not been updated to code. If something happens, there will be such legal consequences! Here's the main question: will they find out what is the actual legal limit of the Lowell building AND will they commit to not allowing the district to cram more kids in there?

This is not just a capacity issue; this is a safety and legal issue. They are aware of the problems which would make them even more liable in the case of an accident.

stu

dan dempsey said...

From Professor Stephen Krashen of USC comes this.

PUBLISHED IN THE SEATTLE TIMES, May 13, 20
More access to books

Editor, The Times:
There is no evidence that Sen. Patty Murray’s bill to improve literacy will work [“Murray’s literacy plan a test of clout,” News, May 11].

As The Times notes, Murray’s LEARN Act is a combination of three existing programs, none of which has been successful.

Reading First only helped children do better on tests on which they had to pronounce words presented in a list. It had no impact on tests on which children had to understand what they read.

The Early Reading First program is for preschoolers. According to Education Week, evaluation of one version of this program produced “disappointing” results.

Striving Readers, aimed at adolescents, has produced only small advantages over comparisons.

LEARN also calls for vastly increased testing at a time when students are already overtested, and it will cost over $2 billion, in a time when schools are having huge financial problems.

There is strong evidence that students make impressive progress in literacy when they have access to books and develop a strong reading habit. Students living in poverty have the lowest literacy development and also have the least access to books.

If the $2 billion were invested in supporting school libraries and librarians in high-poverty areas, the impact would be substantial.

— Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles, Calif.

Greg Linden said...

On a lighter note, don't miss this recent article from The Onion:

"Budget Mix-Up Provides Nation's Schools With Enough Money To Properly Educate Students"
http://www.theonion.com/articles/budget-mixup-provides-nations-schools-with-enough,20350/

rugles said...

My 2nd grade daughter is going to a reading tutor, and now it looks like she will need a math tutor as well.

I of course suspect Everyday Math.

Has the school district ever done a survey of how many kids in the district are having to resort to outside tutors?

Anonymous said...

For fire code, the limiting factor is most likely the assembly space. According to my lay person reading of the code, it's 7 SF/occupant for assembly (no tables) and 15 SF/occupant during lunch (with tables).

For a 60x60 space, the max. occupancy would be 514 (and 240 for lunch). For a 60x70 space, the max. would be 600 (and 280 for lunch). Without knowing exact dimensions, it's hard to determine compliance. The guestimates are based on a bing map dimension.

-parent

Single Child said...

Did anybody attend the yesterday's Garfield HS meeting about cutting classes (Calculus BC, Spanish etc)? I would appreciate any comments...

Lori said...

As for assemblies, the "solution" is to just not have all-school events. That makes me sad.

My daughter's school had a successful Move-a-thon yesterday, great community-building, school spirit event. Another parent shared photos, including one of all the kids sitting in the auditorium afterwards. There isn't a single spot of floor space for another kid. So when there are 100+ more in the building next year, there is literally no way that they will be able to have all-school assemblies anymore.

I've always heard such wonderful things about Lowell's community blending the two populations (APP/special ed) so well for so many years. Now there are three populations and the district is essentially forcing the school to create splits. There will always have to be two assemblies now instead of one. Coming up soon is an Open House for current families and a separate ice cream social for new families, explained in part that we can't have all families at one event any more due to space. Sorry, but that sucks. A school should be one community. All the kids and all the families should fit into the building at once. It's hard enough building community at a school that is physically far from where most of us live; we don't need the added burden of overcapacity making it even harder.

StopTFA said...

WTF! Breaking News from Scrapin' Mom on TFA thread!

Stop the presses!

UW has just offered its current masters students, the ones who were going to be screwed -- uh, humiliated -- uh, unable to compete on an equal footing with TFA candidates -- yes, that last one is the one I will choose to use. The current masters students who were going to be unable to compete on an equal footing, those guys. UW has just offered them an alternative in which they will be able to get their masters degree by going to summer school this summer. There are several different options, but they all end with the degree itself being granted at the end of summer rather than next spring.

Truth, justice, and the American way, or just a way out of the controversy and negative publicity that has arisen from this TFA problem? Whatever the reason, this now puts the masters students and the TFA students on an equal footing for this hiring period. What happens next year will happen with the people choosing to take the traditional masters pathway knowing when they sign up that they will be competing with the TFA crowd.

I wonder why those chose now to come up with that idea. Anyone? Anyone?

Scrapin' Mom


Hmmmm, indeed.

hschinske said...

On a lighter note (though still on a serious subject): http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/05/george-takei-takes-on-anti-gay-tenn-bill-wins-the-internet

Yay, Takei!

Helen Schinske

Charlie Mas said...

rugles asked: "Has the school district ever done a survey of how many kids in the district are having to resort to outside tutors?"

No.

No such survey has ever been done.

And it's not just paid tutors. A lot of kids are getting their real math instruction at home from a family member.

Anonymous said...

If the District ever cares to take a survey of "Outside Math tutoring" ..... then how about at that same time......=>

The SPS surveys all the kids that failed to make standard on the MSP and find out what percentage were provided meaningful efficient and effective interventions.

Old policy required those interventions ... but they were rarely done..... the new D 43.00 policy does not require interventions.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

There is currently a bid out for interior modifications to Lowell to add/remove walls and doors.

-googled it

Anonymous said...

Based on a quick look, modifications include enclosing the art space into two rooms, taking down a partition between Rms 212/213, and other modifications to Rm 209.

The plans show locations of existing restrooms, and by my count they currently are not meeting plumbing code for the number of stalls needed (I don't think you can count the stalls without doors).

-googled it

Anonymous said...

A link to the Lowell modifications is here:

https://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=batch_download&batch_id=dkJwckhSbEE1aVpjR0E9PQ

-googled it

Jamie said...

Very interesting. Just got this email:

Dear Parent/Guardian:

Thank you for your interest in taking the Seattle Public School District’s Pilot Physical Science Exam. The District has recently decided to cancel the physical science assessment for incoming 9th graders at Ballard and Garfield. Therefore, we will not offer the Pilot Physical Science Exam. All students who are “math ready” (defined as in geometry or a higher math class) are eligible to take biology as 9th graders.

If your son/daughter is assigned to Ballard High School next year, we would like to inform you of the following information for the 2011-2012 school year.

If your son/daughter is interested in the Biotechnology Career Academy, he/she must apply to that program by filling out an application. Applications are available for download on the BHS website under Academics-Academies-Biotech. The due date for applications is 3:00 p.m., June 10, 2011. Students will be notified by the lead teacher of the Academy, Dr. Dewey Moody. If your son/daughter is not accepted in the 9th grade cohort for 2011-2012, there is an option to be waitlisted for the 10th grade cohort the following year. If your son/daughter opts to be on the waitlist for the 10th grade, he/she must take physical science in 2011-2012. Students who choose to take Biology in 9th will not be eligible to join the 10th grade biotechnology cohort.

Anonymous said...

So the building modifications for Lowell are taking precedence over fire sprinkler upgrades?

Greg Linden said...

Sorry, different topic, request for a thread.

Melissa or Charlie, could you do a post sometime summarizing all declared candidates for school board and who they are running against? At this point, I've lost track, and I suspect others have too. Thanks!

Stu said...

WS mom wrote: Rapture tomorrow? Tonight I'm going shopping!

Ya gotta feel sorry for some of these directors . . . stuck down here.

On the other hand, they'll finally be free of our complaints and I'm sure that He will make sure all the teachers are qualified and all the class sizes are small.

speducator said...

This from the West Seattle Blog:

http://westseattleblog.com/2011/05/west-seattle-schools-new-job-for-arbor-heights-principal

mirmac1 said...

Just thinking out loud here. Is this combination (or some version of it) what we may need. An educator as superintendent, an experienced administrator/attorney as deputy? Someone for vision and educational leadership, and someone to make sure the trains run on time?

Now, I'm not saying Enfield and Treat fit this bill, BUT is a team that can pull this off what's needed to pull SPS out of the ditch?

Unfortunately, the current occupants of JSCEE are a little too tight with vestiges of the MGJ crew. Noel's wife was one of the MGJ lieutenants. Enfield did not distinguish herself under MGJ. But than again, that kind of environment, where staff addressed Go-Lo-Jo as Superintendent or DGJ, does not foster freedom to express oneself or urge ethical behavior.

I see Noel as someone who'd rather manage than lawyer. Unfortunately, he must clean up the legal department of the ethically challenged. I would like to think he will strive to bring ethics and order to the mess that is CA.

GreyWatch said...

Read this last week, so may be old news. The Education of Jose Pedraza: Why Fixing Schools Isn't Simple Math.

Dorothy Neville said...

Heads up on Walk to Math.

(While this reveal happened several weeks ago, I don't think it's been discussed here yet.)

At a recent board workshop, IIRC it was strategic plan refresh, the discussion briefly touched math and in particular Walk-to-Math. Some board member brought it up as a strategy to accommodate appropriate math instruction. Well, first Cathy Thompson said Oh Yes, we embrace Walk to Math. But then she clarified what she did and did not mean by that.

Walk-to-Math, according to the district's interpretation and allowed uses is NOT having students disperse between different classroom teachers in a building for differentiation. No way no how. That is tracking, that is wrong.

Walk-to-Math as defined by the district is having kids walk to a Math specialist for instruction. And honestly, as far as I could tell from Cathy's explanation, this is not sending a few kids who are ahead or behind out to the specialist, it is sending the entire class to a math specialist because the teacher -- who may be wonderful in other areas -- is not deemed competent in math content or instruction.

Now I know this is not how walk to math is being implemented in some schools. But if your school actually mixes kids up into different groups for math to be taught by general ed teachers, then they are doing so explicitly against the district's rules.

Anonymous said...

So serving kids AT their math ability so that they make progress is "tracking?" Weird. I thought it was "teaching."

-Luvs Learnin'

Floor Pie said...

For special ed parents (if you haven't heard about this already): Marni Campbell, the executive director of special education, is starting to hold open office hours on Thursday afternoons. 15-minute appointments. You can contact her secretary at 252-0054 to schedule.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, thanks for the heads up on Walk to Math. Schools like Lawton who are transitioning their Spectrum programs to cluster grouping are in real trouble b/c that is exactly how they intend to accomplish delivery of the Spectrum model, while simulatneously dividing up the Spectrum designated kids into two classrooms.

Actually, wouldn't all ALO programs have a problem too since that's how they delvier math to students at different levels?

Since the Advanced Learning Dept signed off on Lawton's cluster grouping plan, I presume this is a issue of the SPS left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing.

-what is happening at SPS?

Anonymous said...

Dorothy are you sure about this interpretation and is there a documentation clarifying this. We just went through a very long process re: differentiation and how it will be implemented at our school. I hate to see our school community be thrown into another uproar over this new definition of what walk to math is.

Also how do you fund this math specialist?

Concerned Parent

MikeS said...

Mr. Treat isn't an "experienced administrator/attorney." His biggest qualifing job was being the Chief of Staff for an Interim County Exec for a few months. He is a nice guy, but at the KCP's office, he didn't supervise anyone but himself and a support staffer. His time at City Light was brief for a reason. Does he seem to be a better general counsel that Ikeda? Absolutely. Is he the person who should be in charge of the business side of SPS? No. Not after just a few months and not if how the Martin Floe situation played out is how he thinks a high profile HR move should be made.

Dorothy Neville said...

Yes, I am sure that I got Cathy Thompson's explanation of Walk-to-Math correct. I brought it up at Michael DeBell's coffee hour today and that is the way he recalls it as well. The workshops are audiotaped, let me check my notes to see if I can pin down which one it was, so we can get audio proof.

mirmac1 said...

Based on the information I have, Treat had a few administrative positions at the King County. I'm curious what you know regarding the (brief) City Light stretch.

Like I said, I'm just looking at the right nexus for leadership for the district. As far as I can tell so far, it would seem that Treat may have the ethics to emerge without sh*t on his shoes, but I may be wrong. He didn't need to go to an upstanding guy like Wayne Barnett for SPS ethics reviews. Please illuminate what you may know about City Light.

SeattleSped said...

Floor Pie,

I would like to think Marni Campbell felt impelled to do this because of parent complaints finally coming to a head.

We are SICK of lies. If Marni's bosses would like to think that it is due to our thickheadedness, well they'll see otherwise (or exit stage left).

SPS_Parent_2010 said...

Like we don't have enough things to worry about in education and in parenting....
This via the Seattle Schools Fourm fb page...

Please take a look at this (proposed) serious breach of the individual right to privacy, taken before a child is out of kindergarten, following a child throughout his or her education, and done without parents' knowledge or consent. You have until Monday to comment. If you comment, be sure to put the Docket # (ED-2011-OM-0002) at the top of your comment.

from the linked article....
The Department of Education (DOE) has proposed regulatory changes that would gut the primary federal student-privacy statute, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA imposes strict limits on how the government may use so-called Personally Identifiable Information (PII) collected on students by schools or government education agencies. Under the proposed changes to the regulations issued under FERPA, DOE would enable a system of massive data collection on students – potentially including such things as family income range, hair color, blood type, and health-care history – that could then be shared with other government agencies (both federal and in other states) for unspecified purposes. This disclosure of PII could be accomplished without parents’ consent, and in most cases without even their knowledge.

(later in the article....)
There are three key points to be made regarding these proposed changes: 1) DOE is weakening longstanding student privacy protections by greatly expanding the universe of individuals and entities who have access to PII, by broadening the definition of programs that might generate data subject to this access, and by eliminating the requirement of express legal authority for certain governmental activities; 2) DOE’s proposed interconnected data systems could be accessed by other departments, such as Labor and Health and Human Services, to facilitate social engineering such as development of the type of “workforce” deemed necessary by the government; and 3) DOE is attempting to evade Congress by pushing through these radical policy changes by regulation rather than legislation.

Whole article from Missouri Education blog here

Anonymous said...

Floorpie, why should anyone bother with private appts w anybody in central office re sped matters??? The problem in the first place is lack of transparency and accountability. Parents should say no firmly. Let's have a sped board work session where the public can provide inputs.

Skeptic

Anonymous said...

Fire regulations & over-crowding:

A teacher requested this info from building staff. she was told "up to 50" per classroom is ok.

Don't worry about desks - the school doesn't have enough desks - the students are sitting on windowsills.

-JC

Anonymous said...

RE: Walk to Math, it won't be Lawton only who will be affected. Just check the CSIP reports, you will find many elementary schools with Walk to Math. I wonder how Ms. Thompson plan to enforce HER vision of Walk to Math. And how does this help kids learn math?

-learning on a curve

Maureen said...

Re Walk to Math: Is it possible that this is just a semantic issue? Maybe they call what we are talking about "Multi Classroom Differentiation" or something.

MontMom said...

JC-


Am I understanding that correctly- up to *50* kids per class?

Anonymous said...

Dorothy, Could it be that while SPS has a different definition for "Walk to Math", that it doesn't preclude what the schools are doing? Did they specifically say that any other program described as "Walk to Math" was not allowed?

doubtful

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

According to the PDC, Steve Sundquist now has two opponents: Joy Anderson and Charita Dumas. That leaves Peter Maier.

Sahila said...

I heard on the grapevine that there may be a third challenger in West Seattle, and that Peter Maier will also have an opponent... not at liberty now to give details....

Dorothy Neville said...

Walk to math:

A: I am not making this up. Cathy's version of Walk to Math is Walk to Math Specialist
B: I have heard similar things from Cathy before, but this time was very clear. Does it mean no walk-to-math-for-differentiation? She seemed pretty clear to me.
C: I will write Cathy and ask for clarification
D: If necessary, I will contact Theresa Hale and see if I can listen to the tape down at HQ, as the internet versions of worksessions is not current (stops in February)

Dorothy Neville said...

My bad. While preparing my email query, digging through my papers to find my notes on the Walk to Math thing, I noticed that I had written very small in my notes AMD. So now I am thinking that it was Anna-Maria De la Fuente with the Walk to Math definition. I will address both Cathy and Anna-Maria in email for clarification.

Anonymous said...

The way I understand it, "Walk to Math" at Adams Elementary (an ALO) is differentiation (a.k.a. tracking). I don't have information on how many "walk to mathers" there are, but do know that a group of fifth graders walk to a math specialist for sixth grade math. There may be some kids in other grades who walk to a math specialist for remedial math, as well. I do not know.

Signed: liking walk to math

Anonymous said...

For an interest read about what goes on behind "grass-rots school advocacy" in the new age of Ed Reform, check out NYT's article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/education/22gates.html?_r=1&hpw

Yes, it involves lots of Bill's money.

-A Reader

SP said...

from the SPS homepage-

Public invited to fill out survey regarding District's Strategic Plan
Seattle Public Schools is updating and adjusting the Strategic Plan with input from teachers, principals, parents, families, and members of our community. Please visit the following survey link to provide feedback to Seattle Public Schools: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SPS_Strategic_Plan_Survey_Spring_2011. The survey consists of 21 questions and will close on Tuesday, May 31. Responses to the survey will remain confidential and anonymous. For questions about the survey, please email performancemanagement@seattleschools.org.

May 19, 2011 | Audience: Families, Community | Contact: Communications, (206) 252-0200

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JA said...

I hope somebody good runs against Maier. I'm a Jane Addams parent, and his silence during the whole fiasco when JA opened was very disheartening. I had naively assumed his job was to fight for his constituents.

Sherry Carr actually stood up for us, and it isn't even in her zone.

Anonymous said...

Re: Lowell Overcrowding

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/spsplan/schools/Lowell.pdf

This older document, referencing the MENG report, places Lowell's capacity at 533. The building condition score was 53 out of 100, in part because of low fire control capability and resistance.

From the report, the total capacity of the building is 533 and the number of students in the building is causing safety concerns. The original recommendation? Split APP with the North end location at Broadview Thompson and the South end location at Lowell.

So now 700 or so students is just fine?

Confused

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

I've actually read several different ALO specs for different schools (each school has its own spec for how it intends to be an "ALO school" - for those who are unfamiliar with the acronym, that means "Advanced Learning Opportunities"). Every single one describes differentiated instruction as a key element.

Frankly, I can't see how one could offer any kind of ALO without differentiation. How does SPS Central imagine it could happen otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Tried to post yesterday but it didn't show up ?
This via the Seattle Schools Fourm fb page...Deadline is Monday to comment to DOE !

Please take a look at this (proposed) serious breach of the individual right to privacy, taken before a child is out of kindergarten, following a child throughout his or her education, and done without parents' knowledge or consent. You have until Monday to comment. If you comment, be sure to put the Docket # (ED-2011-OM-0002) at the top of your comment.
from the linked article....
The Department of Education (DOE) has proposed regulatory changes that would gut the primary federal student-privacy statute, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA imposes strict limits on how the government may use so-called Personally Identifiable Information (PII) collected on students by schools or government education agencies. Under the proposed changes to the regulations issued under FERPA, DOE would enable a system of massive data collection on students – potentially including such things as family income range, hair color, blood type, and health-care history – that could then be shared with other government agencies (both federal and in other states) for unspecified purposes. This disclosure of PII could be accomplished without parents’ consent, and in most cases without even their knowledge.

(later in the article....)
There are three key points to be made regarding these proposed changes: 1) DOE is weakening longstanding student privacy protections by greatly expanding the universe of individuals and entities who have access to PII, by broadening the definition of programs that might generate data subject to this access, and by eliminating the requirement of express legal authority for certain governmental activities; 2) DOE’s proposed interconnected data systems could be accessed by other departments, such as Labor and Health and Human Services, to facilitate social engineering such as development of the type of “workforce” deemed necessary by the government; and 3) DOE is attempting to evade Congress by pushing through these radical policy changes by regulation rather than legislation.


Whole article from Missouri Education blog here

-SPS Parent 2010

Dorothy Neville said...

Josh I have heard several times at worksessions that differentiation is all supposed to happen within a classroom. Sending kids to other classes to make different levels of achievement or ability are bad.

It is acceptable to sometimes group kids by ability within a classroom, but teachers are also encouraged, taught, (required?) to group cross to that, with each group having high and middle and low achieving kids. There's a PD video produced by the district showing this for elementary school math, several teachers who do this are profiled. We saw part at a board worksession, I don't know if the district would allow other viewing.

SP said...

re: from Liking Walk to Math's post
..."differentiation (a.k.a. tracking)"

I think these two terms are different, in how they are implemented (within the classroom for "differentiation" and in a separate classroom for "tracking"), and also in their end results.

In my experience it takes an Exceptional teacher to pull differentiation off effectively at all levels for all kids in the classroom, especially when there is a wide range of ability. A high school teacher proudly announced at parent's night that she had kids reading from 3rd grade to college graduate school level all in one class! (parents were not so enthusiastic to hear that). This cannot be the most effective way to teach. Why not just have a one room school house then?

"Tracking" on the other hand has a very negative reputation in some Seattle schools (even being called "racist" by some), but grouping kids by ability is what high schools have always done in some subjects (world language, math, etc). Why it is such a negative thing in other subjects such as Language Arts/English baffles me.

For one of my kids (at the high end with some subjects and the low struggling end in others), the classes which are most effective have always been the ones which are an appropriate ability level- differentiation has rarely been as successful in the end result.

Meg said...

The Magic Of Differentiation drives me a little bit nuts. Do I think all teachers should be able to provide some differentiation? Sure, absolutely. But there can be, easily, a span of 5 years to teach in a general ed grade school classroom - kids who are two or more years ahead, and kids who are two behind. In any subject.

Class sizes have been increasing - both officially, in the WSS, and unofficially, due to overcrowding. Differentiation gets harder as classes get bigger. Dividing kids into ability groupings for instruction, whether with a specialist or their regular teacher, strikes me as a simple common sense way of making sure all kids in the classroom continue to advance as class sizes rise.

If sending kids of any ability specialist in ability groupings is tracking, isn't some tracking a good thing? Isn't having kids continue to advance, no matter what their level is, the ultimate goal?

Anything that reduces the ability of every kid in the building to make advances - in any subject - generally makes me want to put the "idiotic theory" label on it.

Anonymous said...

reply to MontMom:

Yes, 50 kids per class. And the classes are 49 minutes.

Why do we have empty rooms in schools with rooms that are severely over-crowded?

Something like one school administrator equals two teachers and a parttime school nurse.

Anonymous said...

The debate about tracking or "ability grouping" vs. differentiation is an ongoing one. There is a good article in Education World about this.

http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/voice/voice124.shtml

It is a real dilemma as Meg pointed out as class size gets bigger. How can you differentiate well in a large classroom, if you have wide distribution of abilities- from kids who perform 2 grades below to 2 grades above? Working in the classrooms, I've seen 4th grader struggling with EDM because they have not mastered multiplication facts or have solid number sense and are failing at fraction. I've worked with 3rd grader reading only at 1st grade level. Without individualized or very small group (2-3 kids) instruction, these kids do no make much progress.

For kids who are not APP, but are working 2+ grades above in reading, writing, or math, they are often underserved and bored. They don't make much gain on their MAPs unless they are being supplemented at home.

It is even tougher to differentiate in math without break out groups. How do you do that and keep all kids in one classroom with only 1 teacher?

If you google differentiation, there are educators (including teachers) who believe it is another fad and doesn't really work in the real world, some feel it is a fancy way of "tracking", others (S. Winebrenner) think it work, but you need extensive teacher training and small class size for it to work well .

I can't believe SPS admin is focusing on this given they have far more serious issues re: curriculum (or lack of). Do we really have money to pay for a math specialist or reading specialist in all schools? If so, where is it in the WSS or are we counting on PTA funding? How does that work for poorer schools? SPS tracking schools instead of students?

-leave what works alone

Anonymous said...

For kids who are not APP, but are working 2+ grades above in reading, writing, or math, they are often underserved and bored. They don't make much gain on their MAPs unless they are being supplemented at home.

This is true for some kids that are in APP. Even in APP, there are kids being underserved.

-Been there

Anonymous said...

Great article on Education reform movement from the Washington Post.

Five Myths about America's Schools

--SPS mom

Bird said...

Josh I have heard several times at worksessions that differentiation is all supposed to happen within a classroom. Sending kids to other classes to make different levels of achievement or ability are bad.

Previously, on this blog people have said that district staff didn't like the walk to math because of issues of responsibility for student achievement.

Folks made it sound like that staff didn't think teachers would feel responsible for student achievement when kids are being scrambled, but I would guess that the bigger problem would be that the district couldn't easily assign responsibility to teachers. If they are all going to be evaluated by the progress the kids in their class make as measured at HQ by the MAP test, mixing them across classes and grades by ability kinda puts a monkey wrench in that plan. Purely, speculation on my part, of course, but an argument against the MAP performance evaluations none the less.

dan dempsey said...

Ok so here is the ideological stance:

It is acceptable to sometimes group kids by ability within a classroom, but teachers are also encouraged, taught, (required?) to group cross to that, with each group having high and middle and low achieving kids.

NOW where is the data to support that this District has a clue about how to actually increase academic achievement?

The District Administrators regularly ignore the data on what practices have actually been proven to work ... instead they continue to walk through fairy-tale land.

Anonymous said...

Mike S is wrong about Mr. Treat. I worked with at the county. He was the boss of quite a few attorneys and was also head of the facilities department. He is a good guy.

Jim B

Dorothy Neville said...

Update on Walk to Math. I got a reply from Anna-Maria. I asked her about the May 4th board workshop where she said that Walk to Math was *not* going to different teachers based on achievement level but was walking to a Math specialist. What did this mean for the schools that were currently doing the former?

Her reply is that Walk to Math can mean anything, that there is no official definition. She even provided an additional model, where one teacher specialized in science and another in math, so the students switched classrooms daily for that subject. She does not come out and say that the district officially approves of all these models, but she doesn't say the district doesn't.

I replied that this does seem to contradict the May 4th worksession and previous worksessions where I have heard (as has Bird, see above) that Walk-to-different-teacher was not acceptable because it interfered with knowing which teacher was effective -- one couldn't match kids test scores to a specific teacher. I said that I was happy that official policy was more inclusive than what she told the board on May 4th.

I will let you know what response I get. I am also contacting Theresa Hale to see how to access the recordings of the worksessions. I would like to listen to the May 4th explanation again.

mirmac1 said...

Jim B.

As long as you are not really Jim P., who wrongfully defended Treat's misinterpretation of the Ninth's Circuit TFA ruling last November, then I agree with you.

I see that Treat has apparently demonstrated his administrative acumen at King County. Although I have yet to see him clean house at SPS legal (which needs it badly!), I think he may have the chops to help SPS on the administrative side (by namely chopping it).

Anonymous said...

The following looks like a Big Bingo:

"I have heard (as has Bird, see above) that Walk-to-different-teacher was not acceptable because it interfered with knowing which teacher was effective -- one couldn't match kids test scores to a specific teacher. "

The plan by its nature in this instance limits the effectiveness of the program. Measuring a teacher's effectiveness is far more important than having an effective program.

{[We've measured the effectiveness of the math program ... it sucks ... thus it is teachers that are to blame]}

It is hard to miss that the district has continually failed to select instructional materials that are effective and has failed to promote instructional practices known to be effective. The providing of interventions has been extremely low on the priority list. => BUT The Administrative direction is never wrong... thus the lack of improvement in k-12 math ... must be the fault of teachers.

It therefore is important that testing tools for teacher effectiveness are put in place and that further guidance from UW CoE Math Education Project be sought.

It seems when things do not work ... the SPS solution is more of the same with greater intensity.

UW CoE MEP results

Note some of these Folks are now "helping" North of the Ship Canal.

{[It is really hard to miss that ideology trumps the intelligent application of relevant data.]}

Why are UW MEP faculty members even allowed near Seattle Schools? Because MEP folks know the way ... and can show teachers the true path to enlightenment. --- this faith based professional practice ... is a total disaster but relevant data goes unnoticed.

The Board just adopted a policy (7-0) with no mention of interventions (Dr. Enfield's recommendation) ... because the Board trusts the SPS hired administrative professionals.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous parent said...

Some additional reading on the tracking debate-

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2011/05/the-new-tracking/