Friday, June 17, 2011

Open Thread Friday

 Updated 9:54 am

From SPS Parent:

Re: Attendance policy  (the vote postponed at the Board meeting)

The reason given was that staff's going to take another look at the policy and submit a possible revised version for the next meeting. 

Old policy
New policy

If you have problems with the new attendance policy, now is the time to make your voice heard.  Write to the Board, schoolboard@seattleschools.org.

Or attend one of the last Director Community meetings of the school year.

Peter Maier - 10:30 - noon - Bethany Community Church, main building

Director DeBell has canceled his meeting.

Also, the Budget book is available for light reading.  The public hearing for the 2011-2012 Budget is Wednesday, June 22 from 4-5 p.m. 

48 comments:

JvA said...

It looks like most of the council endorsed Maier. Do any of the council members have kids in SPS?

SeattleMom said...

MAPS scores are up. Will be interesting to see what parents have to say. My student stayed flat for math; dipped 4 points for Reading Fall-Spring. Opted out Winter.

Name said...

If the district is looking at reducing the MAP testing to two times a year why are they doing it in Winter and Spring? If the whole point of the test is to be an adaptive assessment tool for teachers they would need to do it in Fall and Winter. Unless they are changing up the dates and doing the testing in early Nov and early March which would still give teachers who know how to use MAP data time to alter their instruction/curriculum.

klh said...

Would it be possible to have a link to the new attendance policy being proposed? A link would help in figuring out the issues...thanks.

Floor Pie said...

I understand the arguments against standardized testing, and I agree in theory.

However, I have to say, MAP tests have actually been a useful tool for me to advocate for my son . He has Aspergers and behaves, well, like a little boy with Aspergers. He can't sit still, he blurts out, he balks at handwriting and has a hard time following directions.

People see the behavior and jump to conclusions about his academic abilities. BUT, his MAP scores are consistently through the roof. And, for better or for worse, the test scores are something people take seriously. (A lot more seriously than a stressed-out mother saying "No, really, he likes to read! Trust me!")

I know that's not a strong enough argument for "MAP Tests For All." But it's one example of how one family found them helpful.

Anonymous said...

I find the MAP tests somewhat useful, although 3 times a year seems overboard. My first grader enjoys taking them and has a high tolerance for them, so I'm assuming that's why she' doing so well in them (95-99%). I imagine a lot of kids don't have her tolerance for computer testing. I never know what to "do" with the results though, and we don't get feedback from her teacher about these tests. So taking a lot of time up for what?

Ballard parent, Seattle.

Kathy said...

JvA,

Peter had his hand in every scandal within SPS.

Peter was given the Sutor Report which pointed towards problems with the Small Business development. Peter trusted Fred Stephens and did not follow up

Peter extended MGJ's contract despite a state audit which pointed towards increasing financial and operational incompetence. In doing so, MGJ and DK left with $366K intended for our classrooms

Peter voted the sale of MLK out of committee. Our general counsel budget is $4.2M. Peter felt confident our legal dept would enforce the covenants. Translation, more dollars out of our classrooms.

Our City Counsel endorses Peter. We have people in the city that value ideology over accountability.

I called T. Burgess out on this issue. T. Burgess told me he wouldn't rescind his endorsement of Peter Maier.

Time for ALL to be held acountable even the 46th Democrats!

Charlie Mas said...

The MAP is a tool. It's a perfectly good tool. When used and used properly it provides value. When unused it doesn't. When used improperly it can cause damage. Same as a hammer.

Some teachers make good use of MAP for some students.

Some principals make good use of MAP results.

A lot of teachers and principals make no use of MAP results.

The District seems focused on mis-using the MAP test results. The District's plan could be damaging.

If they really want to use MAP as a formative assessment to guide instruction, then they want to administer the test in the fall and the winter more than in the spring.

If the District wants to continue to mis-use MAP test results as a measure of teacher effectiveness or for student placement (two inappropriate purposes for the assessment), they will want to administer the test in the spring and the fall.

Dorothy Neville said...

They suggest Winter and Spring because the mean scores from Spring to next Fall are flat, therefore Fall does not provide new information and everyone says it is disruptive early in the year. So the recommendation is for Winter and Spring. Fall would be for kids new to the district and perhaps kindergarteners.

See, some would like to see Kindy kids not take MAP to save money because their scores are not reliable, etc. But Kay pushed for kindergarteners because it provides parity for advanced learning opportunities. I completely see her point about parity for opportunities, but I question the MAP for that. I question MAP as a gatekeeper and I question whether low SES kindergardeners demonstrate their abilities well using MAP. I think those are two separate issues.

Anonymous said...

What does it mean that my kid (first grader) dropped from the 70-74 percentiles in reading and math to 46 and 48?
With tutoring?

-should I go private?

dj said...

Anonymous, what do you think it means? What does your teacher see your child doing? What do you see your child doing? My kid's MAP scores drop in the winter and bounce back up in the spring. I doubt it is because knowledge fell out of her brain in the fall. I think it is possible that MAP will measure something real for your kid. It is also possible, however, that your kid was tired that day, or wanted to drop down to easier questions so purposely threw some, or otherwise had a test-taking session that did not reflect what was in his brain. I'd talk to your kid and your kid's teacher -- and think about your own observations -- before switching schools or sending him private.

Anonymous said...

Floor Pie, how is the Advanced Learning Department reacting to your Asperger child's MAP performance? Has the Special Educatio Department advocated for your child with Advanced Learning? As Advanced Learned advocated for your child with the Special Education Department?

Parent

Anonymous said...

Re-post from an earlier thread:

For those of you who say "if a teacher is differentiating properly, we don't need to track/segregate/separate kids," please explain to me how a group of kids getting 60 minutes per hour from one teacher at the same grade level will do just as well splitting that time with one or two different grade levels in the same class, let alone how the teacher can "effectively" teach 3 different grade levels at once.

While anything is possible, I do not understand how one teacher could teach as well to 3 different levels at once, or teach effectively to three different levels devoting 20 minutes to each, per hour, as they could to a more aligned, cohesive group.

If there's a practicing teacher doing this right now, I want to hear from you, rather than PhD's and former educators. I want to hear it from somebody in the trenches.

Somebody explain to me how this is all possible "if teachers are doing their jobs, correctly and 'differentiating' properly."

How do you get around the problem of "less time and attention for all" when you mix groups working at different grade levels? How does it help a struggling kid below grade level when their teacher can only spend 15 minutes of an hour with them or their group, instead of 60?

Seems to me its always easier to work with cohesive groups with less differences in abilities between them, versus more. Easier to do lesson plans and targeted interventions for too.

Somebody educate me on this, because it makes no sense to me at all. WSEADAWG

StopTFA said...

SPS's Plan for its "Urban Teacher Residency, or in other words, TFA. Here is where a partial FTE counts as one vacancy and, lo and behold, there are HUNDREDS! With this kind of reasoning, no wonder HR is a mess.

Describes the hiring process. SIG schools go directly to Phase III. This is where disadvantaged kids will be taught by unexperienced teachers, to a disproportionate degree. Can you say "civil rights violation?"

Anonymous said...

It makes sense if you are primarily focused on equally distributing high-scoring students to bring up average classroom test scores. All the teachers want access to the high scoring kids. Their jobs are beginning to depend on it, actually. This is happening despite the fact that much of the research on differentiation in the classroom shows that it works best with a narrower, not wider, range of levels assigned to a single teacher.

You are assuming that this is being done for the benefit of the kids. It is not. It is being done for the benefit of the building. Individual kids will very likely suffer, but the overall averages will very likely rise. At least until the higher-scoring kids are demotivated, or are pulled from the district. Then average scores will begin to decline.

And it's not like we haven't been down this road before. The entire movement towards "tracking" and fostering cohesive groups began 30-35 years ago as a reaction to the failures of trying to serve wildly heterogeneous students in a single classroom.

There is nothing new under then sun. We've just rotated around, again, to the latest fad. And administrators are grasping at this as a way out of the problems inherent in over-reliance of student test scores as a measure of teacher performance.

-- Seen It All

SeattleMom said...

I agree with Floor Pie. I have gotten mixed messages about how my easily distracted kindergartener is doing in school. So, even though the MAP test only tests for maths and reading, it has been a good way for my K boy to show that he actually does know something. I believe it has helped the teacher to evaluate him better as a kid who does not get many work sheets done in school, but who is still academically strong. Teacher evaluation combined with MAP (or other) testing seems to me to be a good way to go to give both, kids that are very active and do well in the class room and those that do better during individualized testing, a chance to show their strengths.

SeattleMom said...

PS: I guess I should have called myself SeattleMom2 since I am not the same as the one at 7:45am.

Anonymous said...

Seen it all, that's my understanding too. Since I was in school, I see increased "tracking" as a very positive step toward helping all kids, although many other people feel just the opposite, but for educational reasons or socialization reasons? I'm not sure.

I viewed Spectrum and APP self-containment models as vastly superior to grade-skipping, which is what they used to do way back when, for socialization reasons. In fact, even grade-skipping practices established that decades before, teachers felt it best to keep kids nearer to other kids performing at their level.

Is "differentiated teaching" then largely an unproven ideal that is being pursued, versus an actual, practical student-centered learning approach?

I've heard many arguments that "it can work, if, a, b, and c..." But is it really the best way to deliver resources and instruction?

I Junior Varsity kid shouldn't play varsity unless or until he's ready, right? The presumption is, that eventually, that JV kid will become a Varsity kid, right? Maybe sooner, maybe later, maybe right now. Who knows? But is it worth risking putting the JV kid in over his head, or causing Varsity kids to slow down or dial it back a bit to groom the JV kid up to their level? How can this be done without extreme risks and sacrifices at both ends of the spectrum? How can this be done without forcing each kid to spend or sacrifice significant amounts of playing time in scrimmages at inappropriate levels?

The only way it ads up in my mind is by slicing up instructional time for each different level, which means more shallow curricula at vastly wider levels, instead of deeper concentration at appropriate levels.

If I'm upside-down and backwards on this, somebody please step up and straighten me out. I recognize the desire to prevent classism and credentialism from stratifying our kids into haves, have-nots, and have-mores, or bad-good-better-best and the like, but in my mind, that responsibility lies much more with parents at home than teachers in the classroom. And yes, many parents are falling down on the job of not raising stuck-up kids, I know. But I can honestly say, schools and parents do a lot more today to address those issues than they did in my day.

Anyhow, I really want to hear the case for "differentiated teaching" because I fear it is being promoted as a way to cram more butts into seats, with the mixing of test scores being a side benefit to make things look like great things are happening, when they aren't.

WSEADAWG

Anonymous said...

One more concern about testing - when and how do students make up classtime that has been diverted to testing?

Three MAP tests per year at 3-5 days per test. (One instance I know of took 8 days for one test.) That's a lot of missed academic time.

Aren't class hours mandated by state guidelines? How does the District so blithely circumvent these guidelines?

I know plenty of teachers who are very frustrated because of the continual interruptions due to testing. Some report being 4-6 weeks behind.

And now it's summer vacation. And summer school is cancelled.

-JC.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes - regarding the Lowell upset, what is going on at West Woodlawn? Parents boycotted a teacher's class yesterday - took their kids out of the school for the day?

Why? Are parents so ignored and disenfrachised that a walkout was their only recourse?

And, secondly, there is apparently a hidden page on the District website for "principals communciation" which spells out principals agenda, etc.

Harrasing teachers and parents, supporting bad curriculums, etc. appears to actually be District policy - not a confusion or mistake.

-JC.

Anonymous said...

WSEADAWG

Differentiation as I see it happening at Lawton is differentiated classwork, not differentiated instruction. When it happens at all, which isn't much. And this is a school that has staked all the changes to Spectrum and classroom assignments on their ability to differentiate. Hmmm. Good luck with that.

We don't "track" kids because it hurts them to be labelled. But they are labelled within their classrooms. They and everyone know who is not "getting it". They feel lousy and frustrated. I wholeheartedly believe that tracking (with fluidity) would be much better for them and their egos. They'd get the instruction they need at the level they need instead of just getting further and further behind, more and more convinced they will never get it.

If the tracking is fluid, you could move kids among the different sections as they gained skills. So it's not like they are being labelled. More like they are being coached so that they can rise faster.

But that is a lot of work for teachers. I really feel for these kids. With the right help, they could do so much better.

Just a mom

Patrick said...

"Should I Go Private", to me it would mean both talking with the teacher and forming your own idea of how well your child is doing in reading and math. MAP not perfect; the child might have figured out that by answering lots of questions wrong it will be over sooner, or simply have had bad days when the test was given. How your child is doing in class work and in tutoring should tell you and the teacher more than the MAP.

Maureen said...

Seen it All said:

All the teachers want access to the high scoring kids. Their jobs are beginning to depend on it, actually. This is happening despite the fact that much of the research on differentiation in the classroom shows that it works best with a narrower, not wider, range of levels assigned to a single teacher.

Remember, teachers are being evaluated based on 'growth' in MAP scores, not level.

So, if teachers are going to be evaluated based on student 'growth' I don't think they should necessarily want the highest performing kids in their classes. Those kids tend to be topped out in terms of growth, so they are just as likely to have their MAP scores drop as rise. The lowest performing kids are actually the best candidates for growth.

Maybe schools are redistributing the Spectrum kids to be fair so their lack of growth doesn't ding the Spectrum teachers. In any event, if it is in practice true that kids learn best in classrooms with a narrow band of abilities, schools may be sorry that they are dismantling classes divided by ability level because they will observe lower growth across all students than they did before.

Anonymous said...

JC-
For my kids MAP testing took 2 hours in the fall, 2 more in the winter and 2 more in the spring. So a total of 6 hours, or about 1 school day over the entire year. Doesn't seem excessive to me.

I take the MAP scores with a grain of salt, but I do find them useful. I see what my kids bring home as far as their work, but I don't know what the expectation is for their age. So MAP gives me some sort of benchmark data, plus the trend, which is helpful. I don't find report cards all that useful, but maybe that's just me. I do read the teacher narrative, but it's usually pretty sparse.

Does anyone have a link for the strand definitions? So that I have an idea of what each strand is attempting to measure?

Thanks,

Just a mom

Anonymous said...

WSEDOG - Yes, differentiation does work and has worked for centuries. What about great schools like Montlake, Graham Hill, Bagley, etc that have multiage grades for everyone? And have had them for decades. Differentiation is built into their practice: the classrooms are multiaged to begin with. Yes, you do have to differentiate when you've got 30 kids (or 40 kids) in a classroom in secondary. There simply is not going be the "right" lesson. And what a simple-minded notion of a "lesson" you seem to have:
Teacher spits out "lesson", students swallow it. Teacher must provide exactly the correct morsel or no-go for the students. Everyone must be tracked.

Equally simple-minded is the notion of linear progression. Nearly all curriculum are spiraling, with much of the same material repeated and accessible at many levels. If you didn't fully understand it the first time, you'll get it later. If you did get it, you'll get more nuance and depth later. That's real life.


The reality is all learning is individual and something students do at their own pace and depth, with inspiration from a teacher. Stand and deliver - simply is the technique that delivers the least. If that is what you want, and it seems that it is, I'm glad the district isn't listening.

--parent

Charlie Mas said...

I think differentiation may become easier if we shift our perception of the teacher's role.

More and more I'm coming to see the key to student success lies in the student's motivation. As student motivation grows in importance in my mind, the teacher's role shifts more towards coach and further away from data dispenser.

I'm still in flux with this, so I don't have it all nailed down just yet. Pardon me if it's still kinda squishy.

The goal is higher achievement for every student. I don't believe that students can be driven to that high achievement like a mule team. Instead, I think that the students must be motivated in different ways.

So long as we don't - unreasonably - expect all of the students to be working on the same lesson at the same time, then the most efficient and effective way to get the right lesson to each is to have them each manage their own education (under the close supervision of the teacher).

Okay, so that's one thing that the teacher is doing instead of dispensing knowledge like a gumball machine. What else?

The teacher should be leading the students in exercises that require higher order cognitive skills and working to motivate students and keep them motivated.

Since students need some pre-requisite basic knowledge and skills before they can do the deep thinking bits, the teachers will have to spend some time checking that the pre-requisites are there and filling gaps as necessary.

As I wrote, I don't have it all figured out yet, but differentiation will be less of a challenge when teachers focus on motivating students instead of transfering data into their heads. Skill level grouping will seem as meaningful as grouping students by height.

dan dempsey said...

"For those of you who say "if a teacher is differentiating properly, we don't need to track/segregate/separate kids,"

Ah yes ... the ideologically pure analysis of differentiated instruction....

But in real classrooms with actual students ... it has no evidence of success.

Look at the SPS scores in annual testing from OSPI..... for SpEd, Low Income, etc. etc.

This Differentiated Instruction is another piece of Ed School Mumbo - Jumbo... ==> The SPS needs to believe it to continue its failing policy of NO Meaningful Interventions for struggling students with accompanying Social Promotion.

We have academic coaches for teachers at $100,000 each.... and when things still do not work ..... lets blame the teachers for being unable to make the impossible work.

Floor Pie said...

To answer Anonymous/Parent's question: "How is the Advanced Learning Department reacting to your Asperger child's MAP performance? Has the Special Education Department advocated for your child with Advanced Learning? Has Advanced Learning advocated for your child with the Special Education Department?"

Neither department took much of an interest until I started being a big pain in everyone's patootie to get some help for the kid.

My impression is that Advanced Learning doesn't really know what to do with "twice exceptional" kids like my son. Marni Campbell, the special ed director, tells me that lots of people still don't *get* that twice exceptional is even a thing. How can a student be special ed AND academically gifted? It blows their minds.

My son was initially denied special ed services in K because there were no academic issues. (Once we had an Aspergers diagnosis, that changed.) Then when he tested into APP, we had to pass because Lowell doesn't have the service model he needs for special ed.

So...he's been reassigned to a school which has the special ed service model he needs plus Spectrum. Hopefully that will work. We'll see.

The consulting teacher we worked with from the school district was a big help and a good advocate. So was the principal at our new school. Bob Vaughn never returned my calls or e-mails. I'm not sure if he was involved in my son's school reassignment or not.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I second Seen it All's comments. I've more than one teacher tell me that of course they want to spread the highly capable kids throughout the classrooms. This was a reason that some south end schools used to never advertise or put out forms for the Highly Capable program. They didn't want to lose their best learners. It became even more important with WASL scores and now with teacher evaluations.

One teacher told me that they needed the "spark" that "these kids" bring to a class. That's all good and well but what about what my kid needed from the class?

I think differentiation is great but for a couple of problems. One, not all teachers know how to differentiate curriculum and teach it. Two, I disagree that with a large class that is when you would differentiate. I think a teacher with a large class size would probably throw up their hands and teach one lesson and hope for the best. How do you differentiate with really large classes? I don't get it.

none1111 said...

parent states: "Equally simple-minded is the notion of linear progression. Nearly all curriculum are spiraling, with much of the same material repeated and accessible at many levels. If you didn't fully understand it the first time, you'll get it later. If you did get it, you'll get more nuance and depth later. That's real life."

I hope you don't teach mathematics, because that mindset has been repeatedly proven to NOT work.

It's one thing to have these lofty ideas of how things could work, but in reality (and specifically in math), spiraling is a complete failure for most kids. The ones who succeed do so in spite of the program, not because of it. The ones who survive are the ones who essentially already understand the material going in. i.e. the high achievers, the Einsteins, and kids who get outside tutoring or lots of enrichment at home.

And when you wed the two ideas (differentiation and spiraling) you get a huge mess because nothing "lines up". Picture a helix, with kids at various points along the way. Unless you can differentiate on a very, very granular level (like 1 or 2 or 3 kids at a time - good luck with that!), you've pigeonholed the kids because you've made it incredibly difficult to fluidly move between "level groups". Talk about tracking!

Learning mathematics is a highly linear process, with specific dependencies. Mastery at each stage is imperative. Anyone who says differently is flat-out wrong.

hschinske said...

in reality (and specifically in math), spiraling is a complete failure for most kids.

I don't think that's completely true. I think spiraling is often done quite poorly, but that many concepts can be first introduced quite early, with simple numbers, and then each year the student can expand their ability to deal with the same concept but more complex, multi-step problems. I see no reason to wait until the student is old enough to multiply and divide numbers like 5/7 and 8/13 before doing a few simple problems with halves and thirds, for instance.

Helen Schinske

lowell parent said...

i have a question about the school climate survey.

spouse got a phone call, sounded like junk, deleted it.

the web page at http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=233076 says "Families will have 7 days to respond to the web survey by email if they prefer"

q1) what the heck does it mean to respond to a web survey by email ?!

and there are no links to the survey available. i tried calling downtown, but never found anyone around to answer questions.

q2) is this an anonymous survey? or is it somehow tracked and attached to your student?

i'm a lowell parent and i would really like the district know how unhealthy the climate in the building is right now, but there is no way on earth that i'm going to do that and have it attached to my kid. not now.

any ideas? for those of you who did the survey online, can you explain the process? if they give you an initial url with an incomprehensible string of characters, you can bet that will uniquely identify you.

-lowell parent

(sorry if this is a duplicate, the previous attempt got eaten)

none1111 said...

I see no reason to wait until the student is old enough to multiply and divide numbers like 5/7 and 8/13 before doing a few simple problems with halves and thirds, for instance.

Kinda-sorta. There are some concepts that can be introduced "out of order", but you need to be careful about timing; kids need to be ready to digest the new idea, otherwise you're doing more harm than good. If you're teaching 1 or 2 kids (as in: tutor or parent, not classroom teacher), the notion can be leveraged quite well because you can tailor it very carefully.

It's a lot like the discovery method, which can be very powerful for one-on-one teaching, or maybe 2 or 3 if they are close in aptitude and learning style, but disastrous (for most kids) in a classroom setting. There will usually be a small number of kids that are at the right stage to "discover" the new concept, but it's wasted effort for the balance of the class.

GreyWatch said...

boycott at West Woodland? Can't picture it. Details please!

Salander said...

And, secondly, there is apparently a hidden page on the District website for "principals communciation" which spells out principals agenda, etc.

Harrasing teachers and parents, supporting bad curriculums, etc. appears to actually be District policy - not a confusion or mistake.

Anyone know more about this?????
It would certainly explain what has been happening to teachers.

Anonymous said...

Helen: I agree spiraling and differentiation "can work." That's my issue. Does it reliably work better than anything else for the most kids? I have to argue that spiraling math is a disaster across the board. Other subjects, maybe not so much. While it's true that not all learning is linear, a significantly large amount is: Math, spelling, vocabulary, word usage, phrasing, and on and on. While there may be some poets and geniuses amongst the commoners, Jaime Escalante would say "stand and deliver" serves many kids quite well too.

I've had two kids in Montessori, so I've seen first hand that a certain level of differentiation can work, but we're talking about a very tightly controlled, absolutely linear learning process from day one. What is great about Montessori is the close-in-age mentoring inherent in the system as kids can literally mimic the older kids in class and pickup a lot from the immersion, along with all the independent learning supports in that context. And of course, there was a teacher and a T.A. in each room of less than 25 kids, so the ratios mattered a lot too. And of course, disruptive kids and argumentative parents go bye-bye, quickly.

But in a typical SPS public school classroom, which, sorry parent, wholly excludes Montlake - the undefeatable/uncloseable Montlake - isn't typical.

And are Bagley and Graham Hill leading academic schools btw? Two years ago Bagley had so many empty seats, it was reserved as temporary quarters for the Queen Anne elementaries, so are we talking apples to apples with say, Lawton, Lafayette or Wedgewood?

Way back when, the Horace Mann one room schoolhouse might have rocked, but in today's world, I don't see it happening. My kids thrive in classes with their "academic peers" better than they ever did in a typical classroom. And yes, as a parent, I like it that way. So crucify me and damn me to hell if you must, but my belief, until I see something better, is that kids are best served in a supportive environment they are all comfortable in that meets their academic needs.

At some point, most kids will hit their strides and wind up where they belong. My nephew took his GED after 10th grade, and he's doing fine, is a great writer and talented musician. And he got that way mostly by hanging around and working with kids interested in writing and music, but couldn't give a damn about history and science. In other words, his academic peers without much "differentiating" them from one another.

I think we owe it to all kids to never tamper with an environment they are thriving in, but instead try to replicate and develop as many alternative environments we can to reach the largest, widest group of kids we can reach. Which is why all this standardized testing and differentiation talk is so scary. If they start dismantling strong programs in which kids currently thrive, then nobody, anywhere is safe. WSEADAWG

SP said...

From West Seattle blog:

A new principal has been announced for Arbor Heights Elementary School, less than one month after current principal Dr. Carol Coram announced she’s moving to an assistant-principal job at Denny International Middle School. From the letter going home with AH students today, from West Seattle’s executive director of schools Aurora Lora:

I am excited today to announce the appointment of Christy Collins as your new principal, effective July 1. Ms. Collins comes to Seattle Public Schools from the Lake Washington School District and brings more than 29 years of experience leading faculty and students. She is an instructional leader and has made a lifetime commitment to quality education. She is well-known for her work in building partnerships with the community and I know she will be a great fit for the Arbor Heights families, students and staff.

Ms. Collins served as principal of (McAuliffe) Elementary in Sammamish from 1999-2006 and was principal of Rockwell Elementary in Redmond from 1993-1999. Most recently, she served as Special Education Coordinator for the Lake Washington School District for the past four years. In this role, she guided and directed all aspects of administration of special education programs for the district.

She started her career as an elementary special education and general education teacher, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in K-8 education from Western Washington University and a Master of Education in Education Administration and Principal Certification from Western Washington University.

Ms. Collins was selected after a hiring process that included input from staff and families in the Arbor Heights community. The selection team committee was impressed with her curriculum expertise, special education background, and experience with Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop. Please join me in welcoming Christy to Arbor Heights and Seattle Public Schools!

According to the AH PTSA website, Collins will be at the school tomorrow morning to meet parents. Also changing principals for next school year is Lafayette Elementary, as reported here yesterday.

Josh Hayes said...

I was lucky enough to teach a small class (eight kids) of talented eighth-graders this year, and we zoomed through the eighth and ninth grade curricula with no real problems.

I don't know how "spiraling" might have figured into my approach; I pretty much pushed through a concept until they were gasping for air - but at the same time, we'd find places where they wanted to go further. For instance, we worked through the generalized vertex form of a quadratic equation, and they noticed that one term is analogous to the "slope" term of a linear equation, and not surprisingly, we spent a day or so talking about what "slope" means in a non-linear equation, and that led us to the notion of derivatives, and... well, you see how it goes.

No teacher has the luxury of working with that kind of class in the real world, of course. And in this district, they're forced to use utterly useless textbooks (I worked mostly without a text, making up problems and handing them out as we went. The 9th grade text is marginal; the 8th grade books are abysmal). I can't see how an eight-grade math teacher could take a class of about 25-30 kids of wildly varying ability and have any hope of pushing the upper-end kids while not losing the struggling kids.

More thoughts about differentiation in OTHER subjects follow.

Josh Hayes said...

As for Charlie's musings, I think that project-based approaches offer a really good platform for differentiation. Let's say a class is working on a poster presentation about, oh, alternative approaches to energy production and transmission. Each kid selects a topic, and researches it, and writes about it, and designs a poster, and does the work. I think within this framework there's room to demand more from more motivated kids, and to provide more support to struggling kids, because there are so many components to the project, and so many opportunities for intervention in both ways.

Does this make any sense? It's certainly something I've seen emerge in a project-based learning environment, but I don't know if it's viewed as a positive aspect.

Salander said...

Bottom line- there are many approaches that work for kids. An experienced teacher knows how and when to use these -depending on what is appropriate for any class of individual learners.

What does not work are the methods that SPS is pushing- aligned curriculum, teaching to the test,slavish adherence to the Danielson Framework and TFA, and all the blah, blah, blah they continue to churn out.

MontMom said...

Regarding the MAP test, I have conflicting feelings. I used to actually find them useful, but this time, my child's reading scores dropped to a little below where they were in the fall and significantly below where they were in the winter (1st grade). I was hoping to get an accurate picture of his reading level, but that definitely didn't happen. All his scores are in the 99th percentile, even though they vary a lot, so it's pretty much useless. I asked my child if he'd been distracted or anything, and he said, "I think that was the one when I had to go potty really bad." So now I guess we have a picture of how he reads when he really needs to go potty? Great.

seattle citizen said...

There has been discussion here about vaccines, and those who choose not to vaccinate their children (potentially impacting other children in the schools.)

This week's Weekly...the weekly weekly...has a long article about this issue.

Who knew a music band's main lyrical theme could address vaccination?

WV suggests we ednabl our children to learn BEFORE they enter public schools!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Josh. Where/how did you teach this group? Are you independent or teaching in a private school? Sounds like a great class, but as you point out, not what a kid in a large, diverse class will experience.

Just a mom

dan dempsey said...

About new principal Collins at Arbor Heights:

"The selection team committee was impressed with her curriculum expertise, special education background, and experience with Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop."

"experience with Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop"
well she is onboard with what the district has been selling .... but does it work?

OSPI MSP scores are not particularly encouraging ... this approach seems a bit content deficient ...

Could be another "Reform Math" fiasco ......
A great "Best Practice" that is not.

Is there any data from well controlled situations for the "Current Miracle"?

---
Hopefully the principal selection committee was harder to impress than those math materials selection committees.

Sahila said...

nothing to do with education directly, but:
HOUSE-SIT/HOUSE-SHARE/SUB-LET WANTED 1 JULY (NE SEATTLE/SHORELINE/LAKE FOREST PARK)...

Mature, responsible woman and elementary-aged son looking for temporary housing from July 1...

Experienced home owner, landlord and tenant available for medium - long term house-sitting/house-sharing/sub-letting engagement.

Rent to $500 for house-share/sub-let situation.

"Alternative" social, political, spiritual view on life; non-smoker, not into drugs or alcohol...

Works in communication, education/social change advocacy and as shaman/personal-spiritual growth facilitator

Areas preferred: NE Seattle, Shoreline/Lake Forest Park

Duration: minimum 3 months of summer (long-term depending on how other circumstances pan out)

We have been house-sitting in Wedgwood since February, and this engagement will finish at the end of June.

We have two sane cats and two frogs...

Prefer furnished so we don't have to take our stuff out of storage for a short-term stay...

Will love/respect your home as our own and keep it clean, tidy, safe and secure.

Have references from landlords and the people who own the house we are currently looking after...

Interested? Maybe we should meet for coffee and talk this over....

call 206 679 1738

Thank you for your time today

Sahila....

Please spread the word.... thanks

Jamie said...

Fascinating story on NPR this morning:

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/20/137172536/fight-ensues-over-facebook-money-for-n-j-schools

Bird said...

Has anyone had the waitlist at their school move yet?

Anonymous said...

For high school students looking to earn community service hours:

The Seattle Public Library is looking for volunteers to help garden and maintain grounds at area libraries.

High-school students can obtain service-learning hours for graduation requirements. Student volunteers must be at least 15 years old.

The Library’s Maintenance Supervisor will provide an on-site orientation and work with volunteers. The supervisor will provide gardening tools, gloves and eye protection. Volunteers must be able to use basic hand tools and work safely.

Work parties will be scheduled at the branches from June through October.


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