Sunday, December 04, 2011

Mercer Middle School's Success Story

A good story in the Times about the growth and success of Mercer Middle School by reporter Brian Rosenthal.  What's interesting about this story is the subtext - namely, that Mercer has raised its achievement level by going off the district script.   To whit:

- Mercer didn't follow the Strategic Plan.  That's not in the story but when Mercer was being extolled at the Seattle Channel forum on the Strategic Plan at Town Hall earlier this year, the question was asked if this work done at Mercer fell under the Strategic Plan directives.  The answer was no.

- This story explains:

There have been some bold moves, such as scrapping the district's mandated math textbook in favor of a specialized curriculum built to the same state standards.

While the district requires middle schools to use Connected Mathematics Project textbooks, Mercer decided those books were too reading-intensive for its large number of students whose native language isn't English. So school officials decided to supplement the district model with whatever resources they thought would best help students meet state standards.

Yup, go off-script with math and create your own hybrid math curriculum and see what happens.  (But, to my knowledge, Mercer doesn't have an official waiver.  How many other non-waiver waivers are out there?)

- Better yet,

The grasp that Ettinger held his students in represents part of the core Mercer teacher philosophy: Lead with energy and joy. Move quickly. Respect students and ask them to work hard to meet high expectations.


They also use data to identify struggling students early and place them into a structured intervention plan.  Those students get extra instruction tailored to their needs. 

Most important, teachers work together. The faculty is grouped into teams that meet weekly to discuss individual students and coordinate lesson plans, and all of them gather for a full day every two months to discuss broader strategies.

Sound familiar?  Haven't we heard from Finland that teacher collaboration is key?  Making learning active?

What about the outcomes from Everett and Tukwila for direct interventions for struggling students? 

It is the basic hard, intimate work of teaching with some flexibility for the staff who knows their students best.  But then there's this:

Meanwhile, a School Board committee is working to adopt policies that would give schools more flexibility in curriculum and instruction.

Yes that's true, but as Betty Patu asked at that meeting, "What if half the schools wanted this flexibility?"  The answer was a quick, "Well, it's up to the Superintendent."  But what if half the schools had a good reason for wanting flexibility?  Would the Superintendent allow that or not? 

I wonder.  

This is great for Mercer (and kudos to all involved) but the district does NOT have a great track record on being able to assess strategies that work and get them into other schools quickly. 

115 comments:

dan dempsey said...

At Mercer, it seems that MAP testing is not being used to determine whether interventions are needed.

Classroom quizzes are much more appropriate to create a responsive environment for students' needs.

The central administration was largely unaware of Mercer's approach, School Board member Kay Smith-Blum said.

---- NOW THAT IS PROBLEMATIC .... for it seems that Mercer is where achievement gaps are being closed......

BUT ENFIELD BROUGHT IN TFA to close achievement gaps.

In requesting Conditional Certificates for TFA corps members .... Enfield submitted a document which she signed that claimed a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps had been performed...... Looks like Just another ... poorly written action report that was accompanied by a fraudulent claim submitted to OSPI.

SEARCH for a REAL Superintendent please.

Po3 said...

Somebody please explain the logic in allowing failing schools to succeed by giving them autonomy and watch then successful schools being to fail chaining them to mandated curriculum and tests?

And remember when the district starts touting district-wide gains in scores to remind them to pull schools like Mercer out of the formula and then see if they are still dancing in the streets.

Anonymous said...

Good for Mercer and other schools like it. Successful schools are often successful thanks to a large part to its demographics. When you have PTAs raising 120K +, huge volunteer cadre, < 15% FRL, a few or zero ELL students, a school should be successful. Schools that struggle because they have many more challenges, have to rely much more on collaboration and their ability to try many approaches to meet the needs of their very diverse student population. As many have said on this blog- it's hardly rocket science.

Successful schools are successful because the staff collaborates, gets to know their students individually, uses various measures to determine students' learning rather than glancing observations. (I would argue for ELL students, MAP is not the best measure of their abilities.) Those pieces have to be there whether you are in poor schools or wealthier schools to be successful.

If SPS is figuring these things out with their most vulnerable schools before applying the strategy to the whole, then at least they are using techniques that have been field tested.

In anycase there is nothing to stop successful schools from using the collaboration model. It does mean much more work for staff to sit down and assess individual students as a group. After all it wasn't that long ago when school-based decision making was the norm. That system had many flaws too.

The point shouldn't be to bash one style vs. another other, or failing school vs. successful school, but to find strategy that works. That might mean for SPS and critics that in order to find what works, you may have to apply different strategy depending on each school's circumstances and needs. Finding methods that work does not mean a free for all, but a cohesive, well administered and managed approach.

If Mercer is making positive gains and their students are learning and not just turning into good test takers, then I rejoice and take hope.

Seattle mom

suep. said...

I'm not sure what to make of that article. If meaningful, whole-child gains are truly happening there, then that's great and worth studying.

But I also noticed a few issues:

For example, the influence (infiltration?) of KIPP and TFAers on the staff: a KIPP-trained former principal and a former TFAer was a teacher there. Seems like there is heavy focus on test scores (are they teaching to the test?) and rumors of expulsion of poorly performing students (let's hope that's not true).

Whenever someone touts using "data" to "differentiate," that can mean lots of testing.

Also, the school is unofficially bypassing the district's mandated math curriculum -- for an apparently better one. Brings up the question of why can't all schools get a math waiver?

Makes me wonder if someone is trying to wet everyone's appetites for independence from district mandates and restrictions, which is currently being called "innovation" by the ed reformers, which in turn is being used to lead to charters. It's a false set-up, though. There's no reason the district could not allow math waivers and autonomy to all its schools right now, without handing everything over to KIPP, Inc. et al.

Another observation (brought up by someone in the ST comments): Note how former teacher Chris Eide is quoted in the article --yet again. That makes three times in the last six months that the Times has used him as its 'random' teacher source. Eide is a former TFAer married to SPS exec director Bree Dusseault (the former charter-school principal who helped Enfield fire Ingraham Martin Floe allegedly over test scores and is now stationed in the SE part of town), who taught briefly at Mercer before quitting to start a non-union teacher's organization funded by Gates. Apparently he's the only teacher source in the Times' ed dept. Rolodex.

Yes, an interesting article indeed. Mixed messages.

It reminds me of the short-lived series the Times did on West Seattle Elementary School last year. That also touted efforts by at least one TFA-trained teacher (Chrissie Coxan) using KIPP-style motivations (e.g. making the kids aware of how they tested compared to other kids in the district, making them aspire to go to the same college as their teacher). Interestingly, that teacher quit the school after one year. (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013366091_westseattlepilot07m.html)

Always hard to tell with the Times' ed reporting what is legitimate news and what is puffery fed to them by sources with an agenda.

Still waiting for the whole story.

Jack Whelan said...

This story brings into focus the now age-old debate between centralization and decentralization. Deborah Meier on the subject last week:

"New York City's efforts to decentralize, imperfect as they were, were primarily dismantled by the claim that there was corruption in some districts. Yes, I know that. But I also know that the corruption in the centralized system is, while more sophisticated, probably at least as great if not greater. We are now talking in the millions of dollars for no-bid contracts." [Sound familiar?]

Meier goes on, "Given the ugly 99/1 divide in wealth—and therefore power—no strictly school-based solution can entirely balance things out. But, under current circumstances, the evidence suggests that local control, weighted in favor of those who actually have a personal stake in the enterprise (students, parents, teachers) is the best we can do."
(http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2011/11/tueswed_nov_2223_2011blog_dear.html)

No solution is perfect, but especially in the current political climate we should be biased toward de-centralization and local control. At the very least downtown needs to provide the flexibility and encouragement for schools that want to take initiatives as Mercer did.

Bureaucrats, even the best intentioned and most enlightened, don't know best; the people on the ground most affected by policy decisions more often do. And it's not the bureacrats' job to know best; it's their job to get out of the way and support and coordinate the efforts of the people who are doing the real work on the ground.

For the same reason we need to push back against CCSS, RttT, and all aggressively top-down federal and state programs that whatever their merits in theory, almost always fail or cause other bigger problems in practice on the ground.

Ecrasez la technocratie

Anonymous said...

Waivers? You don't need a waiver to supplement the textbook. It seems Mercer is doing what many schools are doing: supplementing the texts with relevant extra's. Our principal told us we had that leeway too. If your school doesn't feel the need to supplement, then it won't and probably isn't. If it does need it, then they do. What's the kerfuffle? Why are everyone's undies all in a bunch? I don't hear from my school that CMP is terrible.

When we see good gains from a KIPP-style pedagogy, why lament it? Sounds like KIPP is doing a good job training people to innovate within a traditional framework. Who could argue with that? Are people so close-minded that they can't see it.

Of course it's possible there's a rat in there somewhere. If you aren't there, you really won't know.

-parent observer

Anonymous said...

I would also add that for school-based decision making to be successful, you need good leadership on site and good communication, trust, and collaboration taking place among staff, administrators, parents, and students. In many schools, successful or not, we don't have all those pieces in place.

Seattle mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Our principal told us we had that leeway too."

And are you a teacher or a parent? Because I would wonder what the teachers are told about their autonomy to go off the district's math curriculum. I'm not sure all principals are saying this and I'm not sure how much leeway teachers really have.

Anonymous said...

Number One: "It's not a silver-bullet story or piece of magic."

How many times have I written that on this blog?

Number Two: "It wasn't about getting rid of teachers," said Lutz, who left last year to work for KIPP in Washington, D.C. She and her administrative team "really worked in collaboration with the teachers and really thought about what they needed to be great."

Again, how many times?

Number Three: At the same time, the school initiated dozens of home visits to increase parent involvement.

The effort to engage parents was "very positive," especially for immigrant families, said Adrienne Hidy, president of the school's PTSA.

"The families at Mercer from the get-go are welcomed into the school and then it kind of builds upon itself," said Hidy, whose son is in the eighth grade.


Parental involvement? Gee! Who'da thunk it?

Number Four: The most talked-about aspect of Mercer's success is its decision to essentially form its own math curriculum.

While the district requires middle schools to use Connected Mathematics Project textbooks, Mercer decided those books were too reading-intensive for its large number of students whose native language isn't English. So school officials decided to supplement the district model with whatever resources they thought would best help students meet state standards.

Board Vice President Michael DeBell said Mercer is likely to prompt district leaders to rethink their emphasis on a standardized curriculum across the city.


How's that "hopey-changey" discovery math thingy workin' for ya? (I apologize for channeling Palin.)

Pretty much chapter and verse what I and others, especially Dan D, have been arguing for the past 3 to 5 years, and 180 degrees opposite of the direction that Big Ed Reform and this district have been pushing and pulling us in ever since MGJ arrived.

It is nice to be vindicated by actual "un-Bernatek'd" data so publicly after all this time and effort.

So, thank you, Mr. Rosenthal, for finally, at long last, telling the public the truth, after your paper has propagated the bad teacher scapegoat for so long. I don't know how you slipped this by your editors, but some people at the Alliance and LEV are likely crapping their trousers this morning. So, be ready for some blow-back from those with vested interests in the Ed Reform industry.

Parental involvement, real math, collaboration...BAH! Reformers know better! WSDWG

anonymous said...

Melissa, a rogue teacher using their own curriculum might not go over very well with a principal, but many schools math departments work together and collaborate to come up with effective supplementation as a group, and in my experience principals have been very supportive of the math teams proposals and ideas. I think Roosevelt's math department has a strong track record of supplementation, at least that is what their math dept head told me when I toured the school a couple of years ago.

Though the district isn't doing much to support intervention for struggling students, I think many individual schools, like Mercer, are. Over the past few years Eckstein has worked very hard to develop a process to identify struggling students, and once they are identified a chain of events and interventions go into play to support that student. And it has been most effective!

And I'd agree with Parent Observer, if schools with X-TFAers or a Kipp style pedagogy are doing well, we should celebrate, not lament. It's about the kids, and if it is working, and families are happy, then lets support it, despite our own differences or beliefs. And remember, Sue, when you complain, that these schools are doing this work within the public school framework, not as charters. If we don't want charters, we'd best be somewhat open minded to trying different approaches within our public schools.

go green

Anonymous said...

Good points, Go-Green. And while I myself have occasionally railed against Charters as not "magic bullets," I too think we should be happy with successes in whatever forms. Of most Charters, KIPP performs among the best, but they pull some tricks too, as most do, to tout bigger successes than actually occur. But in general, they do a good job with the kids who can manage to keep up with, and remain in their programs. So it's worth looking at what they do well and replicating it in our schools if and where we can.

I remain opposed to Charters because their attrition rates are terribly high, meaning too many kids fall through their cracks and wind up back in a typical school, with their self-esteem in tatters. And I don't believe they would help anything in Seattle, as we are seeing at Mercer how the "methods" are far more important than the "models."

The funniest thing to me, is how we are celebrating "infidelity" as a method that works, with regards to math anyways. Remember MGJ's "fidelity to the curriculum" proposals? Whew! So glad the facts are trumping the myths. Finally. WSDWG

Anonymous said...
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Jan said...

Interesting. DeBell's comments -- in this article and elsewhere -- lead me to believe that he now totally "gets it" in terms of curricular choice and more decentralized decision-making.

From other posts, my understanding is that there were problems in the past with more decentralized, less bureaucratic, school-based decision-making -- and as Seattle Mom points out -- it requires good site-based leadership and a team that is willing and able to work collaboratively. What I wish I knew better is where Dr. E comes down on these issues. MGJ was clearly -- from day one -- all about top down centralization and control (and her "words" about school autonomy for schools that were performing well proved to be total, hollow lies -- there was no school autonomy -- except for a few minor victories that schools and parents had to scratch and claw to preserve. I would love to get a sense that Enfield has a clue here -- and is willing to support more independent decision-making by schools.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If you want more success stories like this, ask for a new superintendent. Dr. Enfield was in charge of the curriculum that expanded the flawed discovery math textbooks in all high schools. We are still stuck with Everyday math textbooks at the elementary level. Her recent comments to questions about math are all about keeping the status quo in math.

I am in favor of strong local public schools with enough flexibility to innovate. This example shows what can be done with this approach.

Ask the board members to conduct a search. We need fresh thinking at the top.
S parent

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linh-Co said...

It's true. Mercer uses Saxon and I hear it's not just to supplement. This is the core curriculum. Saxon has weekly tests that are given after every five lessons. There is a built in fact fluency component as well.

Susan Enfield has been informed on this fact, let see if she does anything to change the current direction.

Mercer with its 77.3% free and reduced lunch outscored Whitman (with only 29.4% free and reduced lunch) in 6th and 7th grade math MSP.

It's time to dump CMP2 for everyone. All the recent middle school adpotions in districts like Bellevue, Shoreline,and Northshore have scrapped CMP2.

anonymous said...

Over the past 8 years SPS has gone from a willy nilly, site based management approach where schools had very few standards or boundaries to the polar opposie - top down management where everything is the same, standardized, and prescribed.

I don't like either approach, and am in favor of a middle ground. I think there should be some standardization, for instance all high schools should offer a minimum number of AP classes, all high schools should offer band and orchestra, all middle schools should offer at least one foreign language. But I am against curricular alignment in the form of all middle schools have to use Writers Workshop, and all 10th grade LA classes must choose between the same 5 books to read.

How to find that middle ground and balance is tricky, but it sounds like we are moving in that direction, and that is a good thing IMO.

South parent I refuse to hold anything that Dr. Enfield did under MGJ against her. MGJ was a tyrant, and I doubt Enfield had much leeway or influence. I am watching how Enfield performs now, while she is in charge, and will judge her by her current actions.

go green

suep. said...

@ go green

I would argue that schools like Mercer are not functioning exactly "within the public school framework"-- they are being allowed to bypass a math curriculum that other schools are being forced to use, and they are getting more resources (apparently) which allows them to give the follow-up attention each kid needs.

I think EVERY school in the district should have the independence and resources to do this. So why don't they?

Meanwhile, most other schools in the district are struggling under the standardizing mandates of the district.

I think the fact that the district is giving such resources and leeway to a school where KIPP and TFA trained people have been hired is not a coincidence. I think it creates the false association that KIPP/TFA types get results because of their backgrounds etc., when in fact if they are getting good results at Mercer it's probably because common sense and care (solid curriculum and attention to individual students) are being applied, allowed and funded.

Why not give these resources and independence to ALL the schools in SPS?

Lack of autonomy and a restricted curricula are reasons that are used to justify bringing charters to Seattle. This article indicates that SPS has it in its power to grant all the autonomy and perhaps even all the resources to all its schools NOW, without charterizing the schools. So why doesn't it?

I am also a bit wary of the measures of success they are using here -- test scores. I'm not convinced that KIPP and TFA training leads to whole-child education. They are test-score driven and that worries me.

Anonymous said...

From The Seattle Times comments (signed CliffMass3):

This is a very strong proof of the problems with discovery math--in this case the connected math series--and how switching to good books/materials with a more traditional approach (and which cover the essential materials!) can result in rapid gains in math skills. The results at Mercer were kept under wraps (a school board member told us, but asked that we keep quiet about it so the District didn't come in and force them to quit!). The teachers at Mercer have been using materials from the excellent Saxon math series.
I should note that the current superintendent and her staff have fought for the Discovery approach that is failing us---and recently turned down the requests of three schools to switch to a more traditional approach. At a recent meeting Susan Enfield was asked about the current district math policy (Discovery at all three levels) and she replied that is was working fine and the district was improving. Her policies are actively working to keep bad Discovery math at all schools, and I note she was a major proponent of the Discovering Math series in high schools. There are other experiments in the school district where traditional approaches have resulted in huge gains (e.g., Schmitz elementary) and the district is trying to ignore it. Folks...time for a new superintendent.


This definitely sounds like supplanting the District math, not just supplementing.

FYI

Someone said...

To play devil's advocate, what happens when schools and teachers have too much leeway in curricula choices and the results are disatrous? What happens when the chosen materials are inappropriate and the standards are not followed?

How do you strike a balance?

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

"I would argue that schools like Mercer are not functioning exactly "within the public school framework".

Yes, they are Sue. They are absolutely working within the public school system.

And, yes, I agree that all schools that want it should be able to have the same independence that Mercer does. And maybe they do? It doesn't sound like SE is opposing this. Sue, do you know that other schools can't do this too (currently under Enfield, not based on years past under MGJ)?

Perhaps other schools aren't using Saxon because they don't want to use it? Or because they don't have strong leadership that is advocating for it? Or their math departments don't want to take on the challenge and work of learning a new curriculum all over again? Or (gasp) they like Discovery and/or CMP?

Unless you know why every school in the district isn't using Saxon, or that they are not allowed to do what Mercer does, I wouldn't be so quick to shoot arrows.

go green

Linh-Co said...

"I would argue that schools like Mercer are not functioning exactly "within the public school framework"-- they are being allowed to bypass a math curriculum that other schools are being forced to use, and they are getting more resources (apparently) which allows them to give the follow-up attention each kid needs."

From what we were told, I don't think that central office was aware of Mercer using Saxon. I think the staff went rogue similar to North Beach and Schmitz Park. However, Dr. Enfield has been recently notified of this fact. The issue is that when schools have asked for waivers like Loyal Heights, the principal has been "encouraged" out of the process. I heard Lowell staff visisted Schmitz Park two years ago to learn more about Singapore but in the end was also discouraged to not apply for a waiver. Meanwhile, central office would like the directors and general public to believe that we are all happy with EDM and CMP2.

anonymous said...

Two years ago we were under the MGJ regime. This is a new day. Do we know if Enfield is opposed to allowing schools to have some autonomy in these areas? She knows about Mercer, what has been her response.

TraceyS said...

Someone,

One way to strike a balance is to do what go green suggested - require a minimum number of course offerings, a set of curricular material choices to mix and match as needed for the school population, and a well defined waiver policy. Curriculum alignment should be abandoned, but there is no problem with defining a set of minimum material that should be covered over the course of the year (this is what colleges do, btw).

SPS should continue to offer a healthy selection of option schools, for those students and parents who want to try a less traditional approach. This allows neighborhood schools to align with their neighborhood, and not try to be all things to all comers, yet still allow flexibility to those who need it.

The district should be focused on getting resources quickly to struggling students within the schools that need it. This can best be done by spending a larger, combined pot of money than can be done by most individual schools. And we need trained intervention staff that can quickly expand and contract within an individual school as need warrants.

The district should also be looking not only at test scores when it evaluates a building, but parent/community involvement and satisfaction within the school. Successful schools are always collaborations between staff, admin, parents, and students. Principals should be supported, of course, and should be encouraged by the district to collaborate with the entire community. San Diego is an awesome example of how this collaboration can be highly effective. Ultimately, if there is growing dissatisfaction within a school, the buck needs to stop with the principal, and bad ones need to be removed far more quickly than they are now.

These are just a few observations off the top of my head, and I am sure there are more. IN a nutshell - a middle ground CAN be achieved, if there is a willingness to move towards a more collaborative, local approach to running the schools, with some nod towards leveraging centralized services when appropriate.

Po3 said...

"If SPS is figuring these things out with their most vulnerable schools before applying the strategy to the whole, then at least they are using techniques that have been field tested."

SPS isn't figuring anything out, in fact they are trying there best not to grant waivers. There is no evidence in this article that SPS is working with Mercer to implement best successes across the district.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Another very good discussion. I mean that sincerely.

Sue makes a good point that Mercer might have been given more leeway given they have some KIPP and TFA alums in their ranks. That very well could have resulted in greater trust and delegation of authority to Mercer versus other schools, without broadcasting it publicly, just in case. Sure, it's a bit conspiratorial, but I wouldn't put anything past Central Admin, and we know they love the Charter & TFA alums who increasingly fill the ranks.

And you are right, go green, MGJ was a tyrant! And a "fidelity to the curriculum" loving one at that!

But I think we've past the tipping point on CMP/Discovery folks, and the horses are out of the barn. Let's celebrate this momentum and bury central admin in math waivers. YESTERDAY!!

Cliff: How's it feel to be so clearly vindicated? WSDWG

Chris S. said...

#1 From C & I meetings last year, I am pretty darn sure SE knew what was going on at Mercer. She called it "supplementing." She has been tolerant of "math rebellion" as long as it was kept quiet.

#2. In Cliff Mass' comments at the times, he also said 3 schools had requested a waiver and been turned down. At last week's C & I meeting, Cathy Thompson was asked to gauge the interest in the waiver policy, and to paraphrase, she said three schools had asked but backed off when they found out what was involved. This in the absence of an actual policy. Translation: "this policy we've proposed sets too high a bar for anyone to actually do it (pat self on back.)"

The answer is clear -if anyone asks, you're "supplementing."

dan dempsey said...

What I wish I knew better is where Dr. E comes down on these issues.

Take a look at Action Reports that come from her. Take a look at the absolutely rigid impossible to meet "waiver" proposal that was reported on at the last Curriculum and Instruction meeting.

Take a look at spending on central administration ... raises for central administrators etc.

Here is the Central Admin spending.

Note in 2004-2005.... on Central administration
Seattle spent $671 (state average $533)
In 2009-2010 ....
Seattle spent $1058 (state average $630)

Over 5-years the WA state school districts increased spending per student by 18% on Central administration
while Seattle increased it 58%.
===========
It is really clear to me that Enfield is supportive of a very strong central administration and does not look for solutions elsewhere. Her Math direction is just one of many serious problems. {{Ed Reform is her guide}}

Scott Oki wrote a book "Outrageous Learning". I certainly do not agree with a lot of what he wrote but he puts forth an excellent model for autonomous schools. Oki's model would really support making "every school a quality school" in a way that would put the New Student Assignment Plan into positive academic action.

Anonymous said...

I hope Charlie and Dan will comment on C & I work as they follow it closely. Just as capacity issues has hit crisis mode, the constant deferment and lack of enforcement/managment of C & I work is affecting schools directly. I hope Director Martin-Morris is paying close attention and has a plan as he has taken on this leadership position. Many are looking your way.

Seattle mom

RosieReader said...

"For example, the influence (infiltration?) of KIPP and TFAers on the staff: a KIPP-trained former principal and a former TFAer was a teacher there."

Statements like this worry me from whichever side of the political spectrum they come. It's pretty simplistic to say, basically, that if something doesn't fit with your preconceived notion of good and bad then it must be suspect. In this case, suep is apparently one of many commenters on this blog who thinks KIPP and TFA are bad. Therefore, she worries that their presence in this school must be nefarious in some way?

Sigh.

Linh-Co said...

Perhaps the principals are just pawns and would rather keep their job.

At North Beach we were given a year by year waiver for three years in row. The parents fought the battle for the staff and testifed regularly. We had everyone from Rosalyn Wise to Anna-Maria dela Fuente come to our PTA meeting at the request of PTA presidents to explain the waiver process. No answers were ever given and they couldn't clarify the requirements.

As a deterrent, the last time we asked for a waiver, Anna-Maria dela Fuente went as far as bringing in dozens of her coaches to observe every teacher teaching math. They couldn't come up with any good reasons to deny us. Since then we have been granted an indefinite waiver on condition that our scores are good. I know this for a fact because I was a staff at the time and had Ms. dela Fuente and two coaches come through my room. It was disruptive and was an intimdating tatic.

Most principals and staff would not want to subject themselves to that in order to obtain a waiver.

Jan said...

Chris S: AArrghhh! What you are saying makes me want to hop around my office and tear my beard out (except I don't have a beard -- at least not one I will admit to). I can't stand it that the downtown folks have all these suffocating, enervating layers of administration that get in the way of just 1. Figuring out the problem; 2. Analyzing available resources; 3. Coming up with a solution that solves as much of the problem as possible with available resources; and 4. Implementing it.

This is NOT rocket science. The posts last week about documenting teacher collaboration sessions by making them write down their conversations in quadruplicates (goldenrod, yellow, green, blue) -- this is the sort of stupid stuff that bureaucrats use to CYA. We can prove we "did" something -- see! We have notes of our meetings! I have done IEP meetings. I know how this nonsense works.

Or the science alignment process last year that cost Garfield and Ballard teachers hundreds of hours trying to qualify their fabulous courses under it -- only to then be told that no "hybrid" course (i.e. -- not "straight" biology, chemistry, physics) would ever qualify. A "course" had to meet ALL the requirements of one of the "straight" science courses.

Make them stop! Throw them out! I can't stand it! The Board shouldn't stand it either! AAGGHH!

anonymous said...

Linh-Co, you are talking about things that happened during MGJ's reign. It's a new day. A new administration. Lets move forward and live in the present.

go green

Jan said...

RosieReader: I don't know that Sue is correct in thinking that the presence of TfA/KIPP folks in a school might make the administration more willing to grant them "de facto" waivers to "infidelity of implementation" -- but I don't know that she is wrong, either. Certainly the TfA materials suggest that those teachers come "preloaded" with some curricula or teaching methods that they have been taught during their summer -- and we know they have non-District TfA coaches to give them help and advice (which I could easily imagine might include use of materials or methods that are not the same ones as the District requires of its other teachers). I don't have any data to support a conclusion -- and so wouldn't want to jump to one. But it is an interesting hypothesis -- particularly if it turns out that either the principal or the ed director are big TfA/charter school proponents.

It would be ironic indeed if teachers who come in with 5 weeks of training are deferred to when they want to abandon curriculum choices that the District requires when other teachers (with full teacher training programs, full certification, and possibly years of experience) are not accorded that leeway. Frankly it makes no sense -- which would argue against the validity of Sue's argument were it not for the fact that so much of the TfA-in-Seattle decision made no sense, and yet, here we are.

And now, having read Linh-Co's post, I have to go off and iron my ears, or bite myself, or something. I feel like Dobby.

anonymous said...

Considering that we have several schools using waivers, mainly in affluent areas like North Beach, where there are no TFA or KIPP teachers I think SueP's theory about Mercer is shot.

zipster

Jan said...

ah, go green, thanks for the reminder. I feel much better.

anonymous said...

Yes, Jan, all of the players in Linh-Co's account are no longer a threat. MGJ is gone! Ms. Dela Fuente is no longer the math program manager (thanks Dr. E!) she is now an SPS math teacher. Not sure what happened to Rosalind Wise but she's not with SPS any longer.

go green

Anonymous said...

"if schools with X-TFAers or a Kipp style pedagogy are doing well, we should celebrate, not lament. "

Yes, we should celebrate the successes and make sure Mercer's progress is maintained. The article noted that the principal who instituted the changes was hired prior to MGJ -2004. She brought ideas from Kipp and adapted them to her school. This took buy-in from staff and parents. A shared vision built on trust with the students always being number one. But this turn around took patience and persistence -six years of it- and a grant and levy money.

While techniques from a charter school may have been used to some degree here, this case proves that public schools can and do provide a great education in spite of the odds.
MCB

Anonymous said...

I hesitate in so many ways to comment about Dr. Enfield and what she did nor did not do under MGJ. If you worked under a bad boss or a tyrant, you are often on survival mode. What happens though when you replaces your boss? If you are new to the job?

From her resume, she has risen quickly and with each job has added on greater responsibility, pay, and accountability. I would expect hesitancy and missteps along the way. I would also hope to see some corrections and confidence and wisdom gained with time and experience.

With regards to Mercer, if its success is true, personally I want to focus on the whys and hows and hope what was learned here can be used elsewhere. The accolades go to its staff and community. For everyone else, fighting for a little piece of the trophy, that's just chicken shit.

If Dr. Enfield did know and allowed Mercer to "supplement" while C & I is dithering away, then she is walking a fine line. There are times a leader must make that judgement call. (Yes, if you make the right call, you rock, if not, you're the big L.) Good leaders know that. They can lead quietly, let the people that do the work shine. There are so many other schools and district wide issues that need tackling. No rest on one success. Her future job will depend on more.

I tend to think the district has a good idea of what went on at Mercer. There is too much there to be ignored and as inept as the district can be, this ST's article would not have made it without the district's nod.

Seattle mom

Anonymous said...

@zipster: So are you saying affluent schools can get waivers but non-affluent one's can't or don't?

And how does that (or does it) shoot down SueP's theory of preferential treatment for TFA/KIPP alumns?

Aren't those two different things?

I can't connect your dots. Help me out. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"Supplementing" curriculum?

So maybe we can "supplement" some grammar and spelling into Writers Workshop?

Actual literate students. Wouldn't that be a kick!

-JC.

anonymous said...

WSdWG, SueP said that Mercer got a waiver because they had TFA and Kipp connections. As we know TFA recruits are only placed in low income schools. Since several other schools in SPS also have waivers, and those schools are in affluent neighborhoods, sans TFA, her theory can't be correct that Mercer got some special privilege due to TFA being there. Does that make more sense?

zipster

Anonymous said...

Re: math curriculum. With budget cuts, the cost of replacing texts (incl. teacher training)may not be so easy. This is frustrating. However, the genie is out. Yes, there are schools that are "supplementing" witout waiver, so what will this mean? With EDM and CMP being around for several years now, are teachers more comfortable teaching it? Many seem to know which sections to skip and to use other materials to provide skills mastery.

All in all, whether the district anticipated this or not, the ST's article has forced it to confront the waiver and math issues.

Seattle mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

" I refuse to hold anything that Dr. Enfield did under MGJ against her."

I WILL hold TFA against her as the e-mails show that MGJ was fairly disinterested and TFA was all Dr. Enfield's baby. That's pretty well documented. That she used some pretty poor judgment on Martin Floe; documented.

Go Green, have you been keeping up here? Because yes, schools have asked for waivers (or even what the waiver process is) and have been put off by Central. Schools do not have the autonomy you might think (except in several odd cases like over at Wedgwood where the principal seems to be able to dismantle Spectrum at will with no oversight).

When I see a flexibility coming from the top that schools desire (and parents also seem to want), then I'll believe it's Susan Enfield. Until then, I give credit to the schools who fight for this flexibility.

Anonymous said...

Unless Kay Smith Blum is sadly mistaken, I will take her comment at face value:

The central administration was largely unaware of Mercer's approach, School Board member Kay Smith-Blum said.

Susan Enfield is in charge of central administration. Therefore, Smith-Blum is saying that Susan Enfield was largely unaware of what was occurring at Mercer (particularly in terms of math).

For those of you who think, like Go Green, that this is a "Morning in America"--Seattle style, think again. The teachers are demoralized, and Enfield is a pawn of the Alliance, among other wealthy, unelected networks (like TFA and Gates). Enfield has been the primary sponsor and advocate of the math program that had to be canned under the radar in order to make the success at Mercer happen.

How these facts can be spun to make it look like Enfield has been a party to this success is wishful thinking at best.

--just the facts

Anonymous said...

The SPS idea of curricula alignment under MGJ was materials standardization. The materials were standardized, state standards be damned. What is happening at Mercer sounds like they are teaching to the standards, the SPS materials be damned.

If this is a new day, then we should expect Enfield to be expediting the waiver process or seriously re-evaluating the District's material choices.

What's described at Mercer is what I'd expect from any good school (with the exception of letting social studies fall by the wayside).

SPS parent

dan dempsey said...

Here is some KAHN Academy info from the NY Times..

Online Learning, Personalized
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
Published: December 4, 2011

.......
So given Mercer MS success and how it was achieved...
WHY is the SPS spending $500,000 annually for MAP testing?

..... Does anyone actually believe that MAP has anything to do with providing "timely interventions" for struggling students?

Charlie Mas said...

The question has been raised about Dr. Enfield's attitude towards variation from the Board-adopted materials.

From her statements in Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee meetings, I can tell you that she is categorically opposed to any waivers. She has both feet firmly planted in the standardized materials camp and is militantly opposed to variation.

She now sends Dr. Thompson to C & I meetings to fight a rear-guard action against waivers. Dr. Enfield has drafted an absurd waivers procedure that makes it nearly impossible for a school to get a waiver. Her procedure gives a string of four or five people the sequential authority to veto any waiver request - all without appeal or recourse. A waiver request has to clear each hurdle one at a time. She retained the final say for herself so she can personally deny any request that shows any possibility of gaining approval.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Thanks for the clarification. So are you still saying that Enfield should become permanent superintendent without a search?

--just the facts

Anonymous said...

"The results at Mercer were kept under wraps (a school board member told us, but asked that we keep quiet about it so the District didn't come in and force them to quit!)."

Which board member?

"At a recent meeting Susan Enfield was asked about the current district math policy (Discovery at all three levels) and she replied that is was working fine and the district was improving. Her policies are actively working to keep bad Discovery math at all schools, and I note she was a major proponent of the Discovering Math series in high schools."

One-year-contract? Between this and TFA, really? Hurray for Mercer, that's they've helped students in spite of this over-paid derangement.

Color me Clueless

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

From Coolpapa in the ST comments:

"Quick summary of what works:

4) Curricula designed around the needs of students instead of the mandates of bureaucrats"

Isn't this you? How can you make this statement and then advocate for making Enfield permanent superintendent without a search, particularly based on the information that you just conveyed about her inflexibility on waivers? Your position on this issue has become intenable and is verging on ridiculous. How can you advocate for someone who is doing the opposite of what is, according to your own words, one of the primary foundations for effectiveness?

--just the facts

Patrick said...

I don't see any reason to assume that now that Enfield's out from under MGJ she's going to be a sweetheart. Would MGJ have appointed someone with fundamental disagreements with her approach? Enfield is just holding her tongue until she's got the 3-year contract. Then, it'll probably be charters and TFA and standardized tests as the primary teacher evaluation tool, with all the additional powers the Board has given her during the procedure revisions. Her manner is less abrasive than MGJ's, but I don't see any less resolve to do things the reform way regardless of what the community, the voters, or the Board want, or what the data supports.

Dorothy Neville said...

Who is the Ed Director for Mercer! Susan didn't know about Saxon? The Ed Director should have and should have firmly put a stop to it! It was against the rules and other schools who tried to follow the rules and ASK were told NO! So who is that Ed Director who is supposed to be policing principals or at the very least inform the superintendent of such egregious behavior? If Susan didn't know, then that Ed Director was not doing their job and needs to be fired.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy,

Haven't you learned? One of the biggest lessons of the MGJ?Enfield dynasty is that rules are for suckers.

--just ask Dan Dempsey

hschinske said...

From the story: Bob Ettinger stood in front of his eighth-grade science class last Wednesday at a critical point in a lesson on evolution...

It seemed improbable, but the list showed whales and hippos as having the most traits in common. But when Ettinger announced those animals were the most closely related, the kids were dumbfounded.

"Oooh!" they exclaimed. "What! Why!"

The grasp that Ettinger held his students in represents part of the core Mercer teacher philosophy: Lead with energy and joy. Move quickly. Respect students and ask them to work hard to meet high expectations.


Did anyone else look at that example and think it was absurd for eighth graders to be so astonished? I mean, don't a heck of a lot of kindergartners know that whales are mammals? I'd have thought this would be about a third-grade level at most. I hope other elements of the lesson were more advanced (it does sound as if they were).

Helen Schinske

Jan said...

Following up on Melissa's thought (and the post on how you can't tell how those who work under tyrants will really behave until you remove the tyrant):

I agree with Melissa that TfA is pretty much on Dr. E -- except that she knew she had a board with a solidly Ed Reform majority -- so it was a done deal, MGJ or not -- but she sure seemed mighty happy about it all in those icky emails. To exonerate her, I would have to see a little more circumspection or reticence (a gagging sound or two would be nice too, but doesn't seem her style).

I think it is not "fair" to parents (and other taxpayers) and kids-- given the time constraints of this contract -- to give her a complete pass on things like curriculum alignment, waivers, building leadership issues, and other education issues without getting her to tell us, up front, where she really stands on those issues, and what policies (with reasonable specificity) she intends to support, and how. Are we revisiting Discovery Math? Are we going to keep the promise that was originally made to have two programs (CMP and Singapore) available at the elementary level? Will she look at the cost and benefit of the NTN contract? Of MAP at its current usage levels and cost? What are her plans for dealing with huge levels of staff unhappiness as per the school reports (in schools where it is in the 30s)?

Most "second level" leaders, when the dictator has been dispatched, are more than happy to explain to the populace how they will govern differently. We need some clear answers.

She talks about principals being the "instructional leaders" of their schools. Well, then, let them lead. Get all those goldenrod forms, and four tiers of approval, etc. out of the way -- and let them pull together their staffs and lead. Or are the principals, as they were under MGJ, just the "bureaucratic enforcers of District micromanagement in their schools?" In that case -- we should just call it like it is -- and get started on a search.

Anonymous said...

just the facts: I think Kay likes both Enfield, and good results through "curriculum variability". I wonder if she is just being the denier so Enfield doesn't have to be. With all the coaches and ed directors they have it strains credulity to think Central adminitration didn't know about Mercer's approach.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Dusseault the Ed Director in the Southeast (for elementary and middle school)?

Linh-Co said...

School board directors were unaware of Mercer using Saxon. One of the directors who Cliff Mass mentioned only recently found out after talking to some staff members at Mercer. They have been using Saxon for two years or so. I did not get the details of when Mercer actually made the switch.

Go Green, I think you are optimistic about Enfield. She was after all the CAO and continues to obfuscate the waiver process.

Anonymous said...

The more info that comes out about this story, the more I want to shout a long list of expletives.

We've spent countless hours teaching math at home, er "supplementing," to deal with the District's poor choice of math materials. Schools are denied waivers, and our students our held hostage to the poor materials, while another school shows success by bypassing the District materials. The District conveniently looks the other way. Meanwhile, my child's MAP scores falsely show the materials are working "just fine" at their school across town.

Arghhh.

suep. said...

zipster, you're misquoting me. I said I didn't think it was a coincidence that a school that had staffers trained by KIPP and TFA was given extra "resources and leeway." I wasn't just referring to the math.

Maybe it is a bit conspiratorial to consider this, but there have been enough conspiracies in this district that have proven to be true.(!)

And yes, go green, I do know that other schools who want math waivers are not getting them, as Linh-Co and others have stated here. I also know of a teacher who was fired for diverting from the district's mandated math curriculum, even though CMP math wasn't working for his kids.

Enfield, like Goodloe-Johnson, has not been handing out waivers to all who have asked for them.

Maybe this story will inspire the district to reconsider its math texts, and also a return to autonomy for schools. The centralization that happened under Goodloe-Johnson is another issue that Michael DeBell has also lamented as a negative development.

Anonymous said...

@Zipster: I don't think Mercer actually got a waiver. I didn't see that in the article or in SueP's comments. But, in reading SueP's earlier post re: West Seattle Elementary, and all the exposure it got last year with now-departed TFA superstar Crissy Coxon & Co., I don't think preferential treatment is a stretch. Not saying it happened by conspiracy, but that it wouldn't surprise me to see favoritism from Central Staff, who are big TFA fans.

Schmitz Park and North Beach, affluent or not, have long standing high math scores and always prided themselves in the strength of their math programs. Whatever it took, they were able to hang onto what they did very well, despite apparently heavy push-back from Central Admin staff.

I think the allegation was that Mercer was allowed to quietly toss CMP completely aside in favor of Saxon, without a waiver, by calling it "supplementation". Maybe we should all use that term while quietly feeding CMP books into the furnace.

So long as scores increase, I'm not sure central staff would care why.
WSDWG

Po3 said...

"Yes, Jan, all of the players in Linh-Co's account are no longer a threat. MGJ is gone! Ms. Dela Fuente is no longer the math program manager (thanks Dr. E!) she is now an SPS math teacher. Not sure what happened to Rosalind Wise but she's not with SPS any longer."

Players may be gone, but the kids are sitting at the dining room table with EDM, CMP and Discovery math books!

Charlie Mas said...

@just the facts, I never said that Dr. Enfield was perfect. She's not. I just don't think that anyone else that we are likely to hire will be much better.

I do not expect to agree with the superintendent 100% of the time. And any superintendent who did share all of my views would have views that someone else found unacceptable.

Regardless of Dr. Enfield's resistance to waivers, the Board really wants them, so they will happen. She has already lost that fight.

Likewise, I expect the Board to get rid of Teach for America in January. She will lose that fight as well.

So, once we have a waiver process - a reasonable one - and we are rid of Teach for America, then will Dr. Enfield be more acceptable to folks?

Anonymous said...

It is probably easier for schools to do what is right with math now that Ms. De La Fuente isn't running around berating principals with the district's Enfield Santorno fuzzy edicts - while telling math teachers that the lousy textbooks are fine for any teaching style.

IWasThere

Anonymous said...

I always love it when APP parents lament, complain, etc about the district using test scores for something. Too low brow for them. Isn't it test scores that get them into APP? And if those test scores weren't good enough - they pay somebody for another test score that will prove them worthy? So, it's OK for them - but not for others? Suddenly, once in their APP - test scores should be abandoned for everyone else and for every purpose. But that is a digression.

Yes. Our principal definitely has told parents and teachers that they aren't "mandated" to use particular math text books. Guess what? Most teachers actually like inquiry based math, and the research behind it. I don't see the brou ha ha over this issue that appears in this blog. Most teachers do NOT believe in the "back to basics" math. Back to Basics didn't work back in the day - why do we think it will magically start working now? I don't know of any teacher that doesn't believe in supplementation, or special extras - especially for populations that have special needs as described in the paper about Mercer's particular constituents. That said, the district absolutely needs to have a curriculum that is practiced at all schools. You can argue all you want about which text it is - but they need it.

And as to "struggling students". Is there really a school that does nothing about them? I think nearly every school does have a strategy and/or program to address this. It simply isn't the easy problem you would think reading this blog. Nor is it the lack of effort. It's a real challenge - the Times article did a good job of describing the lack of a "magic bullet."

-parent observer

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

"Most teachers actually like inquiry based math, and the research behind it."

Can I assume this is at your school and you did a survey of your teachers? I know there isn't any way to know this in general for the entire district.

Jan said...

parent observer said: "That said, the district absolutely needs to have a curriculum that is practiced at all schools. You can argue all you want about which text it is - but they need it."

Why? Kids go to private schools, or switch from private to public and back again all the time. They come in with all sorts of different backgrounds in terms of texts -- and they do ok. Why do all kids need the same texts. That is like saying every kid needs to hit 10th grade having read exactly the same books, and written papers on exactly the same topics. The standards (and mastery of them) is what allows a new teacher to pick up each year and start where the last teacher (should have) left off.

The Schmitz Park kids seem to do ok in middle school -- even though they don't use CMP. And I am beginning to wonder if there is a connection between the good Franklin math EOC grades for 9th grade and the Mercer "supplementation." No clue, of course (and no way to find out, though the District could) -- but it is an interesting theory.

In any case, I know of no reason why the district needs to have a "curriculum that is practiced at all schools" -- and can think of lots of reasons (anecdotally -- not research based) why they do not. In any case, they don't need an all-school curriculum that has been determined to be mathematically unsound -- which is the case with Discovery.

Jan said...

Charlie -- if we get rid of TfA and get a robust waiver process, I am "better." But I keep mulling over the distinction between governance and management. If we really want the Board to govern and oversee -- but not manage -- they will (and ought to) still, to some extent, be at the mercy of the Supe in terms of designing and implementing the steps to "improve the schools" and "manage the budget." If she is, at heart, all about top-down ed reform, how are we ever going to develop a robust, first rate education system that maximizes the abilities and opportunities for kids to learn. For all their lip service to the contrary, ed reform is really not at all about student learning -- it is all about managing the cost and look of the delivery system -- (the teachers, class sizes, purchased materials, etc.) and measuring the different outcomes of teaching systems (testing, testing, testing). Knowing what we now know about Dr. Enfield's strengths, I wish we could make her the COO of the District -- and do a search for a Superintendent who is passionate about kids learning. I realize that, as CAO, this was supposed to be her specialty -- but frankly, she seems better at managing operations (facilities, etc.) -- not student learning.

Anonymous said...

"So, once we have a waiver process - a reasonable one - and we are rid of Teach for America, then will Dr. Enfield be more acceptable to folks?"

A leader demonstrates good judgment and fairness. Just because the board may now have some reins (and Charlie, you apparently have insider's information, since you speak so assuredly)doesn't mean we have to buy into Enfield's cynical, political ultimatum ploy, which coincided with the Alliance PR campaign.

"It could always be worse" cannot be used to justify the hiring of someone with Enfield's track record of performance and disdain for genuine public input (see her quotes in TFA emails), while ostensibly under her best behavior as "interim."

Like I have stated before, Charlie,
you need to be careful how much time you spend with these people because you are starting to sound like them. Parsing truth, rather than expecting truth itself, is the first sign. Rationalizing away basic ethics, by saying that we don't live in a perfect world, is another indicator. I am alive and well in the real world and know that good leaders need sound judgment and fairness in order to be effective in the real world, regardless of who has the reins.

--Just the facts

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

"That said, the district absolutely needs to have a curriculum that is practiced at all schools. You can argue all you want about which text it is - but they need it."

I agree with this statement.

Under the old choice system I don't think it would have mattered very much whether all schools used the same "texts" or not as long as all schools taught the state standards. After all if you didn't like the materials that one school used you could simply choose another school.

But it's different with the NSAP. Families have little to no choice in which schools their kids attend, especially in over crowded parts of the city. Imagine if Bryant got a waiver to use Saxon and John Rogers decided to stick with EDM? That hardly seems fair to the families that can't choose one school over the other.

As it stands now I believe that waivers allow schools with strong leadership or proactive PTSA and active families to get a pass where other schools don't and that's just not fair.

Instead of advocating for waivers for some schools, I wish folks would advocate for new texts for ALL schools in the district.

I have to say that I'm with Enfield on the no waiver policy.

go green

Anonymous said...

Jan, sure lots of kids can move on from a different texts. But, for those most mobile, consistency is best. AND, probably lots of schools would pick inferior texts. Let's consider for a moment what "mathematically unsound" even means. Does it mean they say 2 + 2 = 5 is true? Is that what discovery math does? Hardly.

All it means is that SOME concepts presented happen not to be fully proven first. So what? That doesn't mean they're "wrong", or that you can't learn from "unsound" concepts. How many people reading this remember how to prove even the most basic mathematical concept from high school math? I know - not too many. Interestingly, you can't both be mathematically "sound" AND mathematically "complete" and that is, actually provable. Goedel's theorem. Nor does it mean anything at all about "pedagogically soundness". Really, you want your math curriculum to be about problem solving and thinking... not a dogmatic "soundness".

-parent observer

Not Popular said...

One needs to consider that waivers can create a problem when students move onto middle and high schools.

Adequate supplementation can work. Do all teachers (particularily TfA) have this level of knowledge and experience? I don't think so.

I'm not a fan of EDM, and teachers certainly have to supplement. The issue of ELL and EDM needs to be addressed.

The truth of the fact is- the district can't afford new texts. So, how does the district deal with ELL and maintaining some type of alignment as students pass through system.

dan dempsey said...

It is time once again to make the distinction between curriculum and instructional materials and practices.

In math prior to the 2008 standards saying that the curriculum was the math GLEs and EALRs ... told no one anything. These were hardly descriptions of much.

Making the 2008 Math standards the curriculum was a good move as these are easy to understand.

Enfield continually delivers rhetoric ... but continually fails to provide direction based on evidence.

Take a look at Cliff Mass's most recent BLOG posting HERE=> Seattle's Math Secret Revealed

dan dempsey said...

WOW ...

Nor does it mean anything at all about "pedagogically soundness". Really, you want your math curriculum to be about problem solving and thinking... not a dogmatic "soundness".

-parent observer


As someone who spent time on the State Board of Education's Mathematics Advisory panel ... I do not believe you have much of a handle on the term "Mathematically Unsound" nor how it was arrived at.

On the day of the "Discovering decision" OSPI's Greta Bornmann ... failed to mention Mathematically Unsound ... here is her ramble.

She wound up saying most anything might work....

Well it is not working.

Discovering is used in Seattle, Everett, and Bethel. All three districts are seriously underperforming the state. It was clear that Bethel's use of EDM , CMP, and Discovering was NOT working... Then Seattle adopted Discovering and now has a program that is not working k-12 when the adopted texts EDM , CMP, and Discovering are used.

WA State all students taking Algebra I class in 2010-2011
All ………...9th grade …. 9th grade low Income
pass rate 60.7% …. 53.7% …… 43.8%
level 4 28% ………17.5% …… 11.7%
level 3 32% ……… 36% …….. 31.8%
level 2 19% ……….23% …….. 25.3%
level 1 20% ……….23% …….. 30.8%
43.7% of WA students are low income.

Seattle all students taking Algebra I class in 2010-2011
All ………...9th grade …. 9th grade low Income
pass rate 59.4% …. 48.8% …… 38.5%
level 4 31.5% …… 17.9% …… 12.9%
level 3 26.7% …… 30.1% …… 24.9%
level 2 15.6% …… 21.4% …… 24.8%
level 1 24.6% …… 29.8% …… 36.7%
43.3% of Seattle students are low income.

Everett all students taking Algebra I class in 2010-2011
All ………...9th grade …. 9th grade low Income
pass rate 57.1% …. 36.2% …… 33.1%
level 4 28.0% …… 6.2% …… 7.1%
level 3 29.1% …… 30.0% …… 26.0%
level 2 19.1% …… 28.2% …… 26.3%
level 1 23.3% …… 35.6% …… 40.6%
35.3% of Everett students are low income.

Bethel all students taking Algebra I class in 2010-2011
All ……...9th grade …. 9th grade low Income
pass rate 41.9% …. 36.6% …… 29.6%
level 4 8.9% …… 5.0% …… 2.8%
level 3 32.5% …… 31.6% …… 26.8%
level 2 26.2% …… 30.2% …… 32.0%
level 1 31.3% …… 33.2% …… 38.4%
33% of Bethel students are low income.

Anonymous said...

@ParentObserver: You say, I always love it when APP parents lament, complain.........But that is a digression. Reads more like a diatribe to me. :)

It's a catch 22: If APP didn't advocate for non-APP kids' interests, they'd be crucified for being so selfish, wouldn't they?

Heads, you win. Tails, they lose.

WSDWG

Anonymous said...

The real discussion here should be about leadership. Mercer has improved because of the leadership that Lutz brought to the school. She figured out how partner with teachers and parents and inspire them to envision better outcomes, then gave them the tools and the flexibility to figure out to achieve those outcomes. It so happens that her training in how to implement this approach came from KIPP, which has a proven track record of helping poor kids from communities of color achieve. Let's celebrate the successes of leadership here and figure out how every school can have a strong leader like Lutz.

As for the continual TFA/KIPP bashing, these programs are clearly finding success. Certainly with any success, you can focus on the few things that arent as great, but I prefer to look at these programs and see the good ideas that they are bringing to education. I welcome their influence in our district. I support TFA teachers in the district and if we think we can do better than charters, then let's have more Mercer-type successes to prove it. I personally would have never sent my child to Mercer, but now would consider doing so.

I am curious about the readers and commenters of this blog...how many of you have low incomes and are a recent immigrant or from a community of color? Until we are hearing directly from these communities more, it seems a little foolish to be so against something that will probably only impact some of the schools in the district, schools where I would venture for of you actually send your children.

I only stumble on this blog every few months, so my apologies if my assumptions are incorrect or I have missed a cnversaton on this already.

-Mary Barmann, SPS parent and alum

Anonymous said...

How about advocate having classes where disadvantaged students get the benefit of APP? Instead of insisting on segregation for your sweet little dear? That would truly be advocating. Instead we see - "oh - those poor kids have to take tests. When are they ever going to learn that they're too stupid to be taking tests like my kid does? My kid took his test and did well, I surely don't want others to have that same benefit".

That type of advocacy we can do without, thank you very much.

-parent observer

Charlie Mas said...

Hey, parent observer, who peed in your corn flakes?

Your last comment, at 7:13am on 12/6/11, was the strangest, pissiest thing I have yet to read on this blog. What year did you graduate from Dale Carnegie?

How about instead of putting words in other people's mouths you try speaking for yourself?

What do you imagine is "the benefit of APP?" I'd like to know.

How should parents regard their children other than as a "sweet little dear"? What would make you happy? Abuse?

When, exactly, did "APP parents lament, complain, etc about the district using test scores for something." Please support your claims. It is one thing for the District to use test scores appropriately and another thing for them to use those scores inappropriately. Which was it in this case?

And who gave you the authority to dictate when and how people should complain?

"Too low brow for them." What is that a reference to? Explain yourself and your venom.

"And if those test scores weren't good enough - they pay somebody for another test score that will prove them worthy?" This is a categorical lie. If you can prove this, then I dare you to do so. If you think, for one second, that any professional who administers a test would risk their license and career to squeeze some kid into APP, then you have escaped reality. If you can name even a single case of this, then you should report it immediately to the state licensing commission.

You wrote: "Most teachers do NOT believe in the 'back to basics' math. Back to Basics didn't work back in the day - why do we think it will magically start working now?" No one. That's why no one is advocating for this. How about instead of straw man arguments you actually listen to what people are saying and writing. They are not suggesting a return to anything old. And, for the record, old style math instruction worked and works better than inquiry-based instruction for significant numbers of students and for all students in general.

"the district absolutely needs to have a curriculum that is practiced at all schools." There appears to be some confusion about the nomenclature here. What do you mean by "curriculum"? Do you mean "materials"? Curriculum and materials are not synonymous. The curriculum is set by the State Standards and Grade Level Expectations. Not only does every school in the District have the same curriculum, every public school in the state shares it. Is that enough uniformity for you?

I fully support curricular alignment, but there is no need for standardized texts. They are two different things. You seem to have them confused.

"And as to 'struggling students'. Is there really a school that does nothing about them? I think nearly every school does have a strategy and/or program to address this. It simply isn't the easy problem you would think reading this blog." Ah, now parent observer is an expert on both APP and struggling students. How wonderful. In answer to your question you can read each school's CSIP (I did) to learn their strategy and/or program to address struggling students. For the record, some of them do nothing. In fact, most of them do nothing. They lack the resources. Many of them apply the so-called strategy for struggling students to ALL of their students. Most of them are just doing more of what has not worked in the past.

As the Times article noted, what Mercer is doing is unique and Mercer's results are unique. Mercer is the exception, not the rule. That's why there was a newspaper story written about it.

Maureen said...

Parent Observer, If you want to bash APP parents there are all sorts of issues they are weaker on than MAP testing. Do YOU support using MAP testing as a gate keeper for APP? I was carefully reading your posts earlier in the thread. Now I won't.

just the facts says: "It could always be worse" cannot be used to justify the hiring of someone with Enfield's track record of performance and disdain for genuine public input (see her quotes in TFA emails), while ostensibly under her best behavior as "interim."

I want to believe this as well, but in the case of SPS, I'm afraid I can't dismiss Charlie's point. We have no idea who would end up on a search committee. I am coming to believe that we may be better off with Enfield, who was not explicitly selected by the Alliance, LEV, Gates and the Seattle Foundation to be Seattle's Superintendent. (Basically this is as close as we could expect to get to just randomly picking someone with an education management background to hire--which, to be clear, I think would be much better than allowing the above to coronate the hardest hitting Ed Reformer they can find.) I am not saying I definitely think she should be given a contract, I'm just saying, that I think we could in fact do much much worse and I think that is worth taking into account.

go green (daf again), thanks for reminding me to be grateful that my now teens grew out of their "that's not fair!" stage by the time they got to middle school. I hate that sort of argument: if everyone can't have an appropriate education then no one should. How can we ever expect to improve things for all kids if no school is allowed to try anything new?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious what parents are actually hearing from teachers about the math materials. I have a young elementary student and his Everyday Math homework seems like garbage to me. His teacher supplements with drill & kill on basic math facts. But when I asked his teacher what she thought about EDM, she was pretty positive about it. She thinks it does help kids develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts in the long run. I must say, I'm still skeptical. But I would like to hear more from teachers.

Have you asked your kids' teachers? What do they say?

Math Lover

Anonymous said...

Too many folks are giving Enfield the benefit of the doubt that she will grant waivers. With her strong support for discovery math and a uniform curriculum at all schools, I do not draw this conclusion at all. One nice newspaper article does not guarantee a new direction.

Mercer is the exception, not the rule. We still have lousy textbooks from elementary through high school. If you want to see real progress in closing the achievement gap, more schools will need access to better math materials. This may not happen under Enfield, even if some board members support it. She is a top down administrator with big, burdensome, strategic plans, like many before her.

Another question is the ability of principals to stay at their schools long enough to show real leadership. MG-J moved principals around like chess pieces, creating needless turmoil for parents and teachers. Enfield appeared to follow this path with her embarrassing removal of the Ingraham principal. I would like to see far more stability to allow principals the time to create more success stories like Mercer.

I support a full search for a new superintendent.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Math lover, my sons both had teachers and principals who promoted the discovery approach to math. They tell you it will teach your child to solve real world problems in a more creative way. But if they are supplementing with other materials, it may mean they are hedging this bet.

Unfortunately, the discovery approach (like Everyday Math) does not give students enough practice to get really proficient. It is especially confusing for students with ADD or language challenges, who could benefit greatly from examples in textbooks.

A good book about math was written by Laurie Rogers titled “Betrayed, How the Education Establishment has Betrayed America and What You Can Do About It.” She gives the most up to date research on math curricula and why this approach to math is so popular in spite of its drawbacks.

My sons both tested into remedial math in college, after getting pretty good grades in Seattle public high schools. Like many others, they were not well served with discovery math.

I am not surprised to see the Mercer students succeed with Saxon math. Other approaches are much better than what we now have in Seattle Public Schools.

S parent

Bird said...

Haven't middle school math scores been on the rise across the distirct?

This is a suppostion, but I suspect, in the absence of other information about district-wide changes, that the adoption of Everyday math in elementary strengthened the math preparation for middle school students. The rise per grade tracks pretty well with the EDM adoption.

Not that I like EDM. I think it has grave deficiencies.

It is, however, from everything I've read a vast improvement, and significantly less "discovery" than TERC, which I believe was widely used in many schools before EDM.

Anonymous said...

@ParentOberver: Better to pity than censor. Turning the other cheek. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Math Lover: (Me2, btw) It's an interesting question, because my kids' right brain teachers seem to like it, while the left brainers, usually men, usually math or science, seem to all prefer the traditional stuff. Yes, I'm generalizing a lot.

But, I think they key is the performance data. Regardless of opinions, a generation of kids' scores have tanked with inquiry based math.

My kids' teachers said my kids were getting it, but after 4 years at the kitchen table, I know otherwise. So we supplement like mad, with the UW or B&N quick-study guides, Math for Dummies, etc.

I think math bores a lot of Right brainers and always has been burdensome for them, like literature was for Left brainers like me, prior to high school, anyways.

But, regardless of theories and feelings, the data is overwhelmingly pointing towards the need for a serious correction and soon. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

My sons both tested into remedial math in college, after getting pretty good grades in Seattle public high schools. Like many others, they were not well served with discovery math.

That statement right there should set off alarm bells all throughout the district!

Thanks for sharing, S Parent. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"How about advocate having classes where disadvantaged students get the benefit of APP?"

As an middle school APP parent, my students classes are no different than any other class in the district. They are

1) Overcrowded
2) Using district mandated materials
3) Taking MAPS, EOC MSP tests.

So not sure what I should be advocating for?

APP Parent

suep. said...

@Mary Barmann said..." As for the continual TFA/KIPP bashing, these programs are clearly finding success."

Really? Where is the success? TFA, Inc. recruits with only 5-weeks of training and only a two-year commitment to the profession are merely adding to the teacher churn in some of the nation's most struggling school communities. Most of them leave the profession entirely after three years, and do not perform better than fully credentialed teachers. This is not a record of success.

KIPP, Inc. has a mixed record, high attrition rates, does not tend to serve children with special needs, and makes demands on teachers that are unreasonable and unsustainable -- 6 day work week, longer work days, on call for students nearly 24/6.

Both multimillion-dollar operations, run by the husband and wife team of Richard Barth and Wendy Kopp, are controversial and heavily funded by corporate ed reformers and the Obama Administration (which gave $50 million to each in 2010 alone).

There is good reason to question the value of these enterprises.

@ Maureen..."I am coming to believe that we may be better off with Enfield, who was not explicitly selected by the Alliance, LEV, Gates and the Seattle Foundation to be Seattle's Superintendent."

How do you know who selected her? She has longstanding ties to Vicki Phillips of the Gates Foundation. All of the organizations you mentioned are connected. And it would appear they support her now.

Po3 said...

"Haven't middle school math scores been on the rise across the distirct?"

I believe there has been a slight rise in scores, in 6th grade. But in 8th grade; after three solid years of CMP this is what we have seen for the past three years.

09 = 50.8
10 - 51.6
11 - 50.4

This means half are students are not at standard going into 9th grade.

Mercer, on the other hand appears to be having great success with their 8th graders.

09 - 48 (last year of CMP)
10- 57 (first year using Saxon)
11 - 60 (second year with Saxon)

And remember, Mercer is part of the distict-wide percentage!

Patrick said...

The truth of the fact is- the district can't afford new texts.

Oh, but the District can afford MAP, raises for central office staff, and accepting the low bid when selling schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent Observer you said:
"How about advocate having classes where disadvantaged students get the benefit of APP? Instead of insisting on segregation for your sweet little dear? That would truly be advocating."

I'll just first say, I don't care for your tone. Every parent has the right to advocate for their child. APP and Spectrum parents are advocating for program that the DISTRICT created and designed, not parents.

Second, Charlie and I have, for years, advocated to find more minority/low-income students. Bob Vaughn has worked very hard to find them to the point of personally calling parents whose children have high test scores to invite them to apply.

Third, when Dr. Brulles came to give her talk to Wedgwood parents, I looked up her district. They have a school just for ELL gifted students and use a completely different test to find them. I personally will advocate the district to try this.

Do not say that most parents only care about their child when many, many AL parents would welcome more diversity and the district has take strides to make it happen.

suep. said...

Well said, Patrick. My thoughts too.

The district appears to be able to afford what certain people in HQ decide they want to afford.

suep. said...

Also to Parent Observer:

"How about advocate having classes where disadvantaged students get the benefit of APP?"

Disadvantaged gifted students do get the benefits of APP if they join the program.

That is one of the great aspects of a public school system offering a gifted program -- it is open to all gifted kids, no matter what their family's income. (Those who may believe there are no working-class or low-income kids in APP would be wrong.)

And the advanced learning test is offered by the district for free.

Having said that, I agree with APP Parent that APP kids are given much of the same standardized curriculum, weak math texts, overcrowded classes, MAP testing (unless you opt your kid out), hit or miss teachers (especially in middle school) in worn-down buildings as everyone else.

Po3 said...

I find it ironic that Parent Observer thinks that APP is getting some sort of great classroom experience that "disadvantaged students" are not getting, when in fact we now know that a high% F/RL school has a proven math text that APP students do not have access too.

I have a question: Who bought those Saxon books?

Maureen said...

suep, well those groups may have selected Enfield, but they didn't select her to be Superintendent! I laid down that sentence very carefully! You're right of course. So how would we create a search process that isn't entirely driven by those organizations?

mitt said...

Here's a theory for you:

SPS Central Admin absolutely knew what was going on at Mercer with the "under cover" math, etc.

They allowed the Mercer principal, a TFA and Kipp product, to break the rules that were set in stone for the other schools. In this way, any success at Mercer could be held up as 'look what great things happen with TFA/Kipp/charter types." It was a rigged deck -- constrain all other schools with poor curriculum and threats if you wander from it, while quietly approving the experimentation at Mercer. Set up the other schools to fail while setting up Mercer to succeed (I would also argue success needs to be measured in the long term. One year of test scores does not a miracle make, but that is the reformers' pattern. Leave town before the results bear the test of time.)

Bree Dusseault's husband Chris Eide was a teacher at Mercer. Do you really think Dusseault, as a central administrator and charter school proponent, had no idea Mercer and her husband were teaching off script? The Eide/Lutz/Dusseault/Enfield connection was the perfect blend of conspirators.

Check out how Ms. Lutz's time in Seattle is being portrayed by Kipp DC:http://www.kippdc.org/about/headquarters-staff/andhra-lutz/
" After college, Andhra joined Teach For America and became one of the founding corps members....Andhra spent five wonderful weeks at KEY Academy where she learned a tremendous amount about how to put students on the path to college. She returned to Seattle to start her school. Unfortunately, at the same time, the voters of Washington State passed a referendum banning charter schools...During her six year tenure, Mercer became one of the most successful schools in the district."

Pretty disgusting. And if you ask me, pretty obvious.

dan dempsey said...

WOW!!! Nice work Mitt.

Disgusted said...

The district is giving our middle school math teachers push-back for using supplemental materials.

Time for a superintendent search.
Write the board.

Anonymous said...

@Mitt,

Pretty much what Sue P. has said, too. After a few days of processing, I have to agree with you both. Thanks for being ahead of the propaganda--Sue P. was onto it instantly (she's got it going on).

The Good News--it backfired. Enfield looks like a saboteur of success because the article focused on the math program more than the players. Central administration seemed woefully AWOL from having knowledge of the basis workings of Mercer. Enfield, champion the poor math program and waiver opposer, is left with some explain' to do.

Chris needs to hire Bree and Wendy needs to hire Susan so we can get some decency here.

--Just the facts

Anonymous said...

I'm just saying you should let people advocate for themselves - because you cannot possibly be in a position to advocate for those for whom you know next to nothing about. And when you think you're trying to be "their advocate", you really stand out as arrogant know nothings. It IS indeed ironic that APP parents would whine against "testing" for other kids - when clearly their kids have benefitted from testing. Testing got them into their programs, testing proved something for them, and they have many tests once they are in their program. But strange that testing would be so taboo for other people. I think it disingenuous, perhaps not intentionally so. Why not let those working with disadvantaged students (not the APP crowd) and the people themselves articulate and advocate for their own needs? And if it turns out that lots of testing and KIPP style teaching works for them, (or doesn't work) wouldn't they themselves be the ones to care the most about that?

Also expected - the comments about tone etc. When you're up on a high horse, you don't really like somebody else to point it out.

parent observer

Anonymous said...

OK Charlie, since you asked about why I was commenting on test scores. Here is the quote I was responding to:

Seems like there is heavy focus on test scores (are they teaching to the test?)

Gee. People are using data on poor people and testing their theories on "what works" in the classroom. Just like they do (or did) for your kid. Oh the horrors.

As to whether I support MAP prequel for APP qualification, asked by Maureen. Given that the program is supposed to serve the top 1% - I don't think weeding out those who are clearly not performing in the top 15% so unreasonable. I'm not thrilled with the MAP itself, perhaps there is something better. I don't support segregated learning except for those who truly can not have their needs met in a regular classroom. So - some kids in APP is good - an entire racially based program for 5 or 10% is too much. Look at Washington - a school completely based on segregation. And general ed definitely suffers mightily because of it.

parent observer

Anonymous said...

@P.O.: I have to totally disagree with you. You are telling people who are able and willing to advocate for the needs of others to instead say, "Screw you! Your problems are your own, so advocate for yourselves." That's absurd.

Reading between your lines, I completely understand your point about the paternalistic, perhaps condescending, sometimes insulting, presumptive "conventional wisdom" that can lead to "solutions" that don't address actual problems and needs, or that people with particular needs never asked for. I'm surprised you haven't yet said "thanks for nothing" but you're in that vein.

There's a long history in this district of people hedonistically prescribing what they think other groups need to succeed, which repeatedly fall flat, typically because nobody thought to ask a particular community or group what it wanted or needed first. Instead, ideas, programs, and initiatives were given to some groups like a pox-filled blanket, with the notion that "this will be good for you." If you're tired of that, and carry the "thanks for nothing; people are better off doing for themselves," attitude, I get it. But I don't get, and totally disagree with the notion that people should just buzz off and let people fend for themselves.

I believe the best solution is to ask groups what they want to see happen in their schools, then rally around what the particular group or school decides it wants and needs to succeed. This has been a glaring omission from district policy for decades.

Instead of sitting around hand-wringing about the "what to do about Aki/Rainier Beach, etc." followed by one top-down, mis-fit solution after another, we might do well instead to first consult and listen to the community itself, respond to their requests, and rally support behind what the particular community asks for. I believe every school community will always be in the best position to determine what it needs to succeed, rather than trying another pre-packaged idea from Denver, DC, or wherever the last Ed Reform conference was. Just because something works in one school, doesn't mean it's certain to work in another.

Regarding testing, your comments are over-broad and you're comparing apples and oranges. Admissions/qualifying testing is not the same as taking too many standardized tests throughout the year, which is a growing problem.

All we are saying is that too much testing detracts from real learning and creativity, and hordes of excellent teachers back this up. To be clear, I'm not against standardized testing, or even the MAP, so long as they are used as diagnostic tools. I'm against doing it three times per year, in addition to other standardized tests, and teachers having to take 6 or more weeks out of the year to focus on the tests, because of the high-stakes associated with them.

That's not the same "testing" as given daily in the Mercer story, which we used to call a "quiz" and amount to little more than in-class homework to see if the kids were paying attention, and gained the understanding of the subject matter that the teacher was aiming for.

Big Ed Reform is big money, and Wall Street Hedge Fund managers are deep into the Charter School & Privatization game, which has led to cheating scandals and ultimately kids being hurt, dreams destroyed, and lives disrupted for years. Thus, serious reservations and concerns are warranted.

Telling people to fend for themselves is not going to cut it when competing with billionaire profiteers who want to make a buck off them.

No, I'm not saying all charters are bad, or that all testing is bad. But I'm saying that people "fending for themselves" is not going to accomplish Jack squat.

While I recognize and share your concerns about condescension and paternalism, I will err in favor of people who care versus those who don't, every day of the week. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I don't support segregated learning except for those who truly can not have their needs met in a regular classroom. So - some kids in APP is good - an entire racially based program for 5 or 10% is too much. Look at Washington - a school completely based on segregation. And general ed definitely suffers mightily because of it.

P.O. How is that not exactly the type of scapegoating and rhetoric employed by the Nazi propagandists to demonize the Jews in the late 1930's? Ignore every other issue that causes general ed "suffering," like hunger, poverty, poor attendance, or how less than 50% of gen ed parents show up to parent teacher conferences, and instead blame it all on those evil, conniving APP segregationists! And your "final solution" is to destroy what you don't like, and have it your way instead.

You may not like segregated classrooms, but they didn't arise from thin air. They arose because the mixed grouping didn't work.

You don't have to like things as they are, but it gets no uglier than demonizing those you disagree with as oppressors, segregationists, or any other degrading label you toss around so freely.

Anonymous said...

And if it turns out that lots of testing and KIPP style teaching works for them, (or doesn't work) wouldn't they themselves be the ones to care the most about that?

The real problem with this whole approach is who, exactly, is "them."

Under the NSAP, the southend schools should be socio-economically mixed—at least that's the intent. I've been saying this on this blog for years. Whom do we serve? How do we serve a very diverse group of kids (as both RBHS and Aki and most of the elementaries should be)?

I definitely would not want my child, who had some form of formal schooling since the age of 6 months (Parent/Infant class at SCCC, co-op preschool, Montessori preschool) spend her time in a teach to the test, extended hours, etc. KIPP-type school. She didn't need the extra intervention—though some kids in the neighborhood probably do.

Since the District wants people to attend their neighborhood schools, they must find a way to serve EVERYONE in the school. The result so far has been to siphon kids off via advanced learning programs all the way to APP. Many people push to get their children into those ranks because it might be the only way to keep them out of a class where many children are working at below grade—leaving their child bored at best and frustrated or disliking school at worst. Extra worksheets/homework don't cut it.

Solvay Girl

dan dempsey said...

Solvay Girl,

Speaking of what DOES NOT work .... try the Strategic Plan.

Here is my testimony for tonight's school board meeting. I just signed up.

=====
My friend Sudhakar born in India and graduate of the World Famous Indian Institute of Technology ... and with a PhD from Case Western Reserve. He is now living in Vancouver, WA.
.... says....
---

After watching billions being wasted on ineffective practices, I am of the opinion that .... .......

The so called "innovations" are being tried because the true solution (as defined by what is working in other nations) is way too hard to implement in this country. The entrenched practices of how teachers get trained, hired, and treated will be the last thing to go, after we try every "innovation" in the book.

Who knows? Some of them may even work! We won't know until we try. The fact is that we are not desperate enough as a country (yes, I believe things can and will get worse before they get better) to build a groundswell of support that will convince even the most timid politician to advocate for real change, go against the wishes of some of their base of supporters, and lead!

The sad truth is, even if we magically implement ((internationally successful practices)) it will be at least a generation before we see the effects, just as it took a generation for us to see the effects of poor education.

---------

Take a LOOK at the destruction brought by the continuing NONSENSE pushed by OSPI and the SPS Central Administration .... all the while "talking about" achievement GAPS...... and continually ignoring what was known to work elsewhere.

If we cannot turn this Seattle situation around..... do not look for it to happen elsewhere.

Apparently the USA is trapped in a downward destructive cycle of faulty thinking about education.

Seattle made a big step toward correction by tossing out Maier and Sundquist ..... but there is a really long way to go.

====

As I ended my testimony ....

Make this Seattle's only year with TFA .... End this fiasco ... by acting upon the truth rather than spending on legal services to defend a lie.

=====

Likely spending on lies will continue.... because that is what the Strategic Plan is .... a big unproductive lie.

-- Dan

Linh-Co said...

@ Disgusted

"The district is giving our middle school math teachers push-back for using supplemental materials.

Time for a superintendent search.
Write the board."

What school do you teach at?

Lori said...

Parent observer, I really don't get your point because "testing" isn't one monolithic thing. You wrote, "It IS indeed ironic that APP parents would whine against "testing" for other kids - when clearly their kids have benefitted from testing. Testing got them into their programs, testing proved something for them, and they have many tests once they are in their program. But strange that testing would be so taboo for other people."

The testing that gets kids into APP is cognitive testing, administered privately or in a group setting. It's often done just once and certainly no more than once a year. Regular posters on this blog have never tried to limit access to that sort of testing.

The testing that folks do complain about are the nominal ability tests, such as MAP, and WASL or whatever it's called now. When people say they are concerned about "teaching to the test," it's these tests they have in mind, not the CogAT cognitive testing.

You've been comparing apples to oranges. I can't speak for all APP families, but I don't like "teaching to the test" for anyone, nor do I like ability testing multiple times per year for anyone. It's not an "us" versus "them" thing as you're trying to imply. I think you're simply conflating different kinds of tests.

mirmac1 said...

go green,

Based on my relationships with certain higher-up key insiders at JSCEE, It would seem Enfield is definitely about top-down leadership. That is why you see senior administrators like Cathy Thompson and Noel Treat playing third fiddle. Which is a shame because I believe both could or SHOULD exert themselves.

mirmac1 said...

go green,

Based on my relationships with certain higher-up key insiders at JSCEE, It would seem Enfield is definitely about top-down leadership. That is why you see senior administrators like Cathy Thompson and Noel Treat playing third fiddle. Which is a shame because I believe both could or SHOULD exert themselves.

dw said...

Reposting from anonymous at 10:36am, since it was unsigned, and because P.O. needs to read the 2nd paragraph a few times and at least attempt to digest it.

Anonymous said...
I don't support segregated learning except for those who truly can not have their needs met in a regular classroom. So - some kids in APP is good - an entire racially based program for 5 or 10% is too much. Look at Washington - a school completely based on segregation. And general ed definitely suffers mightily because of it.

P.O. How is that not exactly the type of scapegoating and rhetoric employed by the Nazi propagandists to demonize the Jews in the late 1930's? Ignore every other issue that causes general ed "suffering," like hunger, poverty, poor attendance, or how less than 50% of gen ed parents show up to parent teacher conferences, and instead blame it all on those evil, conniving APP segregationists! And your "final solution" is to destroy what you don't like, and have it your way instead.

You may not like segregated classrooms, but they didn't arise from thin air. They arose because the mixed grouping didn't work.

You don't have to like things as they are, but it gets no uglier than demonizing those you disagree with as oppressors, segregationists, or any other degrading label you toss around so freely.