Saturday, June 01, 2013

Definitions

At today's School Board Retreat a sheet with definitions was part of the packet. Some of the definitions may surprise you.


Academic Assurances provide students with equitable access to services, including general education, special education, English language learners, and state-defined highly capable education.
This is interesting because now you are only assured of what the law mandates. We used to have more ambitious assurances.

Cultural Competence is the ability to understand and respect values, attitudes, beliefs, and traditions that differ across cultures, and to consider and respond appropriately and effectively to these differences in planning, implementing and evaluating education.
This is interesting because I had never seen a definition of it before. This one is pretty good, but I don't think the District can mandate respect.

Disproportionality in education is the irregular representation of racial and ethnic student groups in suspensions and expulsions, special education, advanced learning programs and related education services overall, which is the result of inappropriate identification.
This is interesting is a couple ways. First, it pointedly excludes economic factors and applies exclusively to racial and ethnic ones. Second, it kind of contradicts cultural competence since it denies any role that culture differences may have in discipline or identification for advanced learning when we know that they have a role.

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) is an equitable access framework defined as the practice of providing high-quality instruction and interventions matched to student need, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals, and applying student response data to important educational decisions. Strong core instruction is the foundation, including embedded strategies to enhance core instruction for students with disabilities, English language learners, and advanced learners. The purpose of the interventions is to accelerate learning for students performing both far below and far above grade level standards.
This is interesting for two reasons as well. First, it is a clear statement that the District's perspective on advanced learning is as a manifestation of MTSS. Second, MTSS IS the equitable access framework that they were supposed to present.

Opportunity Gaps are disparities in access to present and future educational, career and life opportunities among specific student populations. Unless students have equitable access to educational opportunities in school, and receive the supports they need to succeed, they will fall behind, and will face limited access to opportunities in the future.
While this definition puts the right emphasis on the critical nature of the gap and the need for support, it suggests that the gap affects only groups of students and not individual students.

Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS) are a set allocation rules intended to ensure all Seattle Public Schools get the essential administrative and support staff funding required to operate effectively and serve the needs of students in an equitable manner. The WSS are intended to ensure that every school receives the basic administrative and support staff that is necessary to operate. Weighting factors, such as school enrollment, Special Education enrollment, and Free/Reduced Lunch percentages, are used to adjust the staffing allocations of a school to accommodate differing needs.
So if WSS is necessary and is for EVERY school, why are five schools not funded this way?

5 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Here’s a corrected version of the definition of WSS:


Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS) are a set allocation rules intended to ensure all Seattle Public Schools - except for five of them - get the essential administrative and support staff funding required to operate effectively and serve the needs of students not at one of those five schools in an equitable manner. The WSS are intended to ensure that every school - except for five of them - receives the basic administrative and support staff that is necessary to operate. Weighting factors, such as school enrollment, Special Education enrollment, and Free/Reduced Lunch percentages, are used to adjust the staffing allocations of a school to accommodate differing needs. When budgeting for the remaining five schools we just wing it without making any effort to be equitable.

Charlie Mas said...

Budgets are policy documents. When the District adopts an inequitable budget they are making inequity their policy.

That might be alright if they didn't talk so much about equity. I would prefer that they talk less about it and do more about it.

Focus said...

This is an awful lot of time spent on things that have little to do with improving academic outcomes for students.

Unfortunately, it is things like this that make me think the charter proponents have a point. Where is the focus on increasing measurable academic performance of students? Why isn't the primary goal to see gains in MSP/HSPE/EOC scores?

Shouldn't equity naturally fall out of a focus on academic performance? What does equity mean other than every child in our public schools doing well academically?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Focus, that's an excellent question and one I might pose to some staff/Board directors.

But the question is - what is part of academics? If you have solid basics in reading/math with advanced courses/intervention/support at every school, is that equity?

What about access to specialty programs? To arts? Foreign language?

If it's not defined, then we don't really know. And maybe it's not defined because then they would have to deliver.

Tami said...

Which 5 schools aren't funded with WSS? How are they funded. One problem that I see with WSS is that for the IB schools, there are administrative requirements for the program that aren't covered by WSS. THat's 3 high schools that need funding to cover the program. Ingraham estimates that it needs $150k+ to cover next year's IB needs that are outside the classroom.