But what will this optional pathway be like? Can it be self-contained? If not, then what? And what does this proposal mean for service delivery for APP elsewhere in the District? What, in fact, is the District's intent around student identification and service delivery for advanced learning after MTSS has been implemented - or, to be more precise, after the District claims that MTSS has been implemented?
This is all pure speculation. There is simply no way to know before the fact, but we can look ahead and we can make some deductions. We do have some facts:
- The District is committed to an alternative 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle.
- There are not enough APP-eligible students in West Seattle form a full cohort for the self-contained model.
- The District is committed to implementing MTSS.
- The District is committed to convening a Task Force to recommend changes to student identification process and standards for advanced learning.
- The District is committed to convening a Task Force to recommend changes to the service delivery models for advanced learning.
- MTSS comes with a structure for identifying advanced learners.
- MTSS comes with a structure for providing service for advanced learners.
Okay. Let the wild and irresponsible speculation begin!
I don't claim to be a journalist. I don't because I have too much respect for the ideals of journalism and I have no intention of meeting those standards. Journalists should never indulge in exactly this sort of speculation, and I revel in it.
Here's what I project:
- The District could implement the optional 1-8 APP pathway in West Seattle in 2014, but they won't. They will defer it until 2015 to allow for the development of a service delivery model.
- The District will, eventually, hire a manager for Advanced Learning. This might not happen until February, but it will happen. The unspent salary dollars in the advanced learning budget will not be retained and carried forward in the budget for next year.
- The District will, eventually, convene the long-promised Task Forces for student identification and service delivery models. They won't do it until after they hire the manager, so don't hold your breath.
- District-level officials will talk a lot about implementing MTSS. Do not confuse this with working hard to implement MTSS. They will overstate their success.
- While MTSS will be presumed to be the law of the land inside the JSCEE, the implementation in the schools will be spotty at best. It will be non-existent in most places. There will be some documentation that will paper over the absence of any real implementation. This will be the way with all District efforts to change what happens in classrooms and schools so long as principals are granted broad authority with little accountability. Think of how well the District became a Standards Based Learning System under Joseph Olchefske in 2001 (when they declared this conversion complete) or how they achieved Curricular Alignment under Maria Goodloe-Johnson in 2009. Dr. Goodloe-Johnson also declared the Southeast Education Initiative a success and claimed to have implemented an Accountability System. There is no delusion that they cannot maintain.
- The myth of MTSS will dominate the work of the Task Forces. MTSS doesn't have to exist in reality to guide this work, only in the minds of district level staff who acknowledge it as the current party line. George Orwell would be distraught - vindicated, but distraught.
- The student identification task force will deliver a recommendation that works through the MTSS model and ends up identifying students who are high-performing rather than highly capable. Joseph Olchefske, if he knew, would be delighted. It is worth noting that this student identification process will save hundreds of thousands of dollars now spent on testing. That money will become available for spending on service delivery.
- The service delivery task force will deliver a recommendation that works through the MTSS model as well. It will require every school to develop a Tier II solution. These solutions will be chosen off a limited menu of district-approved service delivery models and will essentially create an ALO at every school - elementary, middle, and high school - and will essentially eliminate Spectrum. There will be a menu of Tier III service delivery models as well. These models will essentially replace APP. The question remains how many Tier III programs will be created and where they will appear.
- It is likely that the Tier III service delivery model will be driven by the operational decisions that the District is making now. If they started with a blank sheet then I suspect that the District would place a Tier III advanced learning program at an elementary school in every middle school service area and at every middle and high school. They are not, however, working with a blank sheet, so they will follow the tracks getting laid down right now with two elementary and two middle school sites in the north-end, one elementary and one middle school site in the south-end and an optional program site in West Seattle.
- The service delivery model task force will not only create a menu of models for Tier II, they will identify a menu of service delivery models for Tier III. This menu will include the self-contained structure at the designated 1-8 APP sites, it will allow for a non-self-contained model for 1-8 in West Seattle, and it will allow for a solution for K at every school (as now required by the state law).
- I believe that the service delivery model task force will create a menu of models for 9-12 and the District will require every high school to implement one of them. This will mean APP at every high school and the end of APP high school cohorts as we know them. Among the models will be a concentration of AP classes (like Garfield) and IBX (like Ingraham). Look for IBX at Ingraham, Sealth, and Rainier Beach, and a constellation of AP classes everywhere else.
- STEM at Cleveland and NOVA will be the first high schools (in addition to Garfield and Ingraham) to be acknowledged as having Tier II and Tier III MTSS programs, both intervention and advanced. Other option schools will be be initially exempt from all of this. They will be expected to provide advanced learning options as MTSS is rolled out to them.
- If five of the twelve predictions listed above prove accurate that would be a .416 batting average. I could be proud of that. I don't expect to bat 1.000 and I don't think I should be held to that standard.
That's what I foresee. What do you foresee?