Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Advanced Learning Taskforce Redux

From Shauna Heath:

We have had several questions regarding the AL Task Force. I have included information about members and member selection below and provided more detail about the entire task force in the attached draft charter. The draft charter will be brought before the Task Force to finalize at the meeting on Oct. 23, 2013.

Our Taskforce Members

Baker Harvey, Bruce; Bennett, Erinn P; Bower, Stephanie; Boy, Ronald D; Campbell, Carri J; Clemons, Noelle; Daniels, Roger; Geoghagan, Rina; Heath, Shauna L; Herman, Gail; Hertzog, Nancy; Hochwalt, Nisha; Horrigan, Meg; Horwich, Lisa; Huff, Sumiko ; Libros, Tracy; Martin, Stephen B; Ruiz, Bernardo; Schweickhart, Vicky; Simon, Brenda; Skjei, Terri; Triandofilou, Katherine; Vasquez, Kathleen; Watters, Cindy J; Whitworth, Kim; Williams, Sharmila Naidu

Member Selection
Because this is a task force and not an advisory committee we invited members. The invites went to all members of the Advanced Learning Advisory Committee, parents of highly capable and advanced learning students and community based organizations such as Rainer Scholars that are active with highly capable students. Additionally, we requested representation from teachers and principals in schools that have both APP and Spectrum programs. There was intentionality in representing the diversity of the district both racially and regionally. The list of invitations was developed in conjunction with principals who support APP services in their buildings. 


Most of the "taskforce" is district staff (several were on the previous taskforce).  One member is a member of FACMAC and was also on the last AL Taskforce.  That would be Gail Herman.  Stephanie Bower was also on the last AL Taskforce.

The "invites" went to specially picked parents so no surprise there.  

Draft charte*
It appears at some point there will be "facilitated discussions" with stakeholders (but maybe you need an "invite" for that as well.  According to the charter, they could adopt changes to use as soon as next school year.  It also mentioned "potential changes which comply with State Mandates" - don't know what that means.  Is the district out of compliance with state mandates?

The meetings (there has been one) are on Thursdays from 10-11:30 am in room 2700.  Well, that's convenient.  

On the topic of taskforce versus advisory committee, they say that's why they could "invite"members and not seek applications.  This is a brilliantly written policy that will allow the Superintendent to rename almost anything.  As Charlie put it, "Can he evade the policy on discipline by renaming it suspensions?"

Oddly, the Friday Report mentioned TWO taskforces.  I'll have ask about that.

Update:  here's a link to a memo that State Superintendent Randy Dorn wrote earlier this year to all superintendents, principals and district PR professionals.  To note:

The 2013–14 school year will be a transition year for all districts to develop a plan for serving highly
capable students in Grades K–12. Beginning with the 2014–15 school year, all districts are required to provide highly capable programs and services for students in Grades K–12.
In the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) under Chapter 28A.185 RCW, the Legislature
determined that “for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education.” 


* The district has NO link to this charter so I'll put the whole thing here.  Once again, we have work going on that parents and the public CANNOT access.  


Taskforce on Qualifications of Advanced Learning and Highly Capable Students (TQALHCS)
Facilitator/Consultant: Barbara Grant
-->

Our Taskforce Members

Baker Harvey, Bruce; Bennett, Erinn P; Bower, Stephanie; Boy, Ronald D; Campbell, Carri J; Clemons, Noelle; Daniels, Roger; Geoghagan, Rina; Heath, Shauna L; Herman, Gail; Hertzog, Nancy; Hochwalt, Nisha; Horrigan, Meg; Horwich, Lisa; Huff, Sumiko ; Libros, Tracy; Martin, Stephen B; Ruiz, Bernardo; Schweickhart, Vicky; Simon, Brenda; Skjei, Terri; Triandofilou, Katherine; Vasquez, Kathleen; Watters, Cindy J; Whitworth, Kim; Williams, Sharmila Naidu

 

Our Commitment/Taskforce Purpose:                

The task of this team/project is to review the systems and processes for qualifying students for Highly Capable services and Advanced Learning programs in Seattle Public Schools. The committee will:

By forming a joint taskforce and engaging in open dialogue, we will learn and grow as an organization and ultimately work toward a shared approach of qualifying for Highly Capable services and Advanced Learning programs that best benefits students.

Taskforce Goals/Deliverables:

·    Engage stakeholders in facilitated discussions to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the current qualification systems and processes.
·    Explore potential alternatives to our current achievement criteria (MAP) and our cognitive assessment (CoGat).
·    Make recommendations to the Superintendent (by December, 2013) regarding potential changes (which comply with State Mandates) for adoption during either the 2013-14 or 2014-15 school years.

Scope of Work and Expectations of Members

The scope of work for this taskforce is to understand the new WAC for qualification of Highly Capable and Advanced Learning Students and to answer the question, What are the systems and processes that we must put in place District-wide to ensure equitable access, opportunity, and support for every child who would need and benefit from highly capable services and programs?  Recommendations about our qualification systems and processes will be made to the Superintendent.   It is outside the scope of work of this taskforce to consider the service delivery model and/or systems and processes related to the delivery model.   Below is the list of expectations (or ground rules) involved in this taskforce:
Team Expectations & Meeting Norms
Confidentiality and communication decisions need to be followed.
Meetings start and end on time.
Everyone participates - one person talks at a time.
All ideas and comments are valid - respectful "debate."
Listen with an open mind - listen first as an advocate for the other person's idea.
Meetings will have a clear purpose, outcomes, and agenda.
Everyone has equal status during the meeting session.
Attend all meetings if at all possible - if you miss a session, support the decision made in your absence.
People don't have to agree BUT - Be clear about what you are committing to - speak up if you can't commit and say why you can't.
Defer to the facilitator or agenda if the group is stuck - use a parking lot.
Do the pre-work/post-work assigned so the meeting time is productive.
No hidden agendas - no lectures.
Advocate from your own personal experience & POV and listen to other perspectives.
Assume positive intent.
Provide guidance regarding organizational and implementation “speed bumps” and recommendations for moving through them.
Agreement to support the final decision of the group – even if it wasn’t the one you personally like best.
Provide informal communication to others in the organization about the project, the benefits of the project and organizational impacts of the project.
Recommendations should be based on research and objective data and presented in a fact-based manner. 
Support and Advocacy – mainly of an informal nature (such as communicating about it at association / department meetings, at agreed-upon times.)
This is important work which we take seriously AND it's okay to have fun along the way too. 

Taskforce Timeline and Deliverables (at a high-level)

October 10, 23 & 29
November 5 & 19
December 3 & 10
Form the Taskforce;
The implication of the new WAC on processes and systems for qualification. 
Review current demographic data and evaluate the demographics of who we are qualifying and how that impacts the diversity of the services and programs
Offer options for alternative qualifications.
Discussion of the question; revision and requests for next steps.
Discuss strengths and limitations of MAP and CoGat 7.
Make recommendations for qualifying students.
Discuss and adopt Charter.
Alternative systems and processes for qualification.

Dec.  Final recommendations for Superintendent; Discuss and finalize recommendations.

Regular Meeting Schedule, Time & Place
Six taskforce meetings  are scheduled on Thursdays from 10-11:30 am (shown on calendars below. ) A couple of additional meetings may be necessary in order to achieve our goals by the required deadline and will be determined as the work progresses.  All meetings will be held at the Central Office in Conference Room 2700.


Member Selection

Because this is a task force and not an advisory committee we invited members.  The invites went to all members of the Advanced Learning Advisory Committee, parents of highly capable and advanced learning students and community based organizations such as Rainer Scholars that are active with highly capable students.  Additionally, we requested representation from teachers and principals in schools that have both APP and Spectrum programs.  There was intentionality in representing the diversity of the district both racially and regionally.  The list of invitations was developed in conjunction with principals who support APP services in their buildings. 

 

Role and Typical Expectations of each role during this Taskforce


Role
Typical Expectations
Identified Person(s)
Taskforce Lead(s) - Assists team in development of charter, and ensures the team accomplishes the goals and objectives in alignment with the organization’s values, and ensuring the taskforce goals are attained.
·  Schedules & attends team meetings.
·  Communicates with team members, stakeholders, team sponsor and other key relationships as to the results the team is achieving.
·  Oversees the entire project to ensure the team’s mission is attained.
·  Manages relationships with outsiders, including removing obstacles for the team.
·  Maintains documentation of action items and their completion.
·  Utilizes the skills of the team members as effectively as possible.
·  Does real work along with the team.
Stephen Martin and Shauna Heath
Project Sponsor & Exec. Sponsor - The Team Sponsor is the person(s) who ultimately decides whether a team is to be created or not.
·  Asks for a team to be formed.
·  Sets parameters for the purpose of the team and the work they should accomplish.
·  Provides resources (time, money, etc.) for the accomplishment of the work.
·  Checks in with Team Leader to assess progress and direction.
·  Makes final decision to go/no-go on results created by team.
Assistant Superintendent Michael Tolley
Facilitator - There may be overlap in this role with the Project Lead and/or it sometimes is the same person filling both roles. Facilitation is the design and management of structures & processes that help a group do its work and minimize the common problems people have working together.  The focus is on group dialogue, who needs to be involved, what needs to be accomplished, and maintaining momentum. 
·  Prepares agendas & facilitates team meetings.
·  Clarifies the group charter
·  Publishes agendas and disseminates information
·  Manages group discussion, team dynamics, and decision-making.
·  Maintains documentation of action items and their completion.
·  Utilizes the skills of the team members as effectively as possible.
·  Results of group work communicated to members, sponsors, and stakeholders
·  Some general project management to ensure next steps are carried out
Barbara Grant
SME-Subject Matter Expert - A subject matter expert (SME) is a person who is an expert in a particular area or topic. An expert in a particular field who contributes or verifies the accuracy of specific information needed by the project team.
·  May or may not be an active member of the team but is a go-to person or group for factual information, advice, input, or perspective.
·  May influence decisions or outcomes but often does NOT have a vote or say in the final outcome.
·  Shares their perspective, opinion, and objective information openly with the team for their edification and discussion.
·  Expresses what they think or feel based on their expertise and gives suggestions.
Stephen Martin, Shauna Heath,
Central Office Staff
OSPI
Team Member - Individuals who have specific tasks that they must perform in order for the team’s work to be accomplished.  They may provide research, consulting, technical and interpersonal task work for any given team.  Team members have specific knowledge, skills, or abilities that will accomplish specific tasks as outlined by the team or team leader.  
·  Attends team meetings on time and with assigned work completed.
·  May collect input/feedback from other stakeholders.
·  Works collaboratively with other team members and staff to accomplish work.
·  Contributes to the overall mission, outcomes, and success measures of the team through development of the charter and completion of work.
See list of members

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

No ALO parents or principals, right? Nice.

--APP in ALO

Anonymous said...

Well I'm pleased that the released the names of the members. A secret committee really stuck in my craw. I am not as invested in the membership, and if they are trying for racial, economic, regional diversity as well including teachers I not terribly frustrated.

I think parents should be included on the committee, but I consider the stakeholder pool of advanced learning to be much broader than the current pool of parents of children involved in the system.

zb

Anonymous said...

The first task force is looking at identification, and the other is looking at program models and delivery.

fyi

Lynn said...

Melissa,

There is a post on the APP blog (dated 9/27) about changes in the law. We will have to make changes to our highly capable program nex fall. I would love to hear how you think it will play out for high school.

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

I don't have the energy to get outraged over another task force. When the district starts honoring any of the decisions they make I'll pay more attention. Ultimately, can anyone point out where a task force / committee of volunteers has materially affected district policy recently?

Ben

Melissa Westbrook said...

There are some principals in there.

Lynn, if you could give me a link to these changes, I'd be glad to read them.

And there you have it, Ben.

Anonymous said...

http://discussapp.blogspot.com/2013/09/change-in-state-law.html

for the APP state law change link at the blog

zb

Anonymous said...

You know, I consider myself pretty well-informed, and yet, I'm constantly learning things about the system that I don't know.

The discussion at the other blog concerns identification and services post 8th grade. I'm guessing the current scheme of 8th grade ID w/ IBX program access would satisfy the law in part, but it doesn't address those who might be identified 9-10 grade, since the IBX program is a sequence.

zb

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks to ZB; I did an update so everyone can see the link to the new state changes.

Anonymous said...

With the language of the new law, is it really necessary for students to actually be id'd in the upper grades? It seems like the district might be able to say "we have a plan for id'ing highly capable students grades K-8, and for serving them in grades 1-8 (APP) and 9-12 (IBX and AP classes)." That could be considered a plan for id'ing and serving kids K-12, couldn't it?

I'm just wondering if changes can really be expected, or if SPS is likely to say they already comply with these requirements...

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

"All tests and other evaluation materials used in the assessment shall have been validated for the specific purpose for which they are used and shall accurately reflect whatever factors the tests purport to measure."

Does this mean they can't use the MAP for APP eligibility starting next year???

HIMSmom

Lynn said...

HIMSmom,

The AL office and the OSPI Highly Capable office have confirmed that the WACs require identification K-12.

No one had been able to find a district in the state that does this yet - so who know what APP will look like next year? I think it might have an affect on High School enrollment choices in the future.

Lynn said...

Melissa,

Can you fix the draft charter link?

Anonymous said...

IMHO the one principal who should be on any APP related Task Force is Julie B from TGM.
I wonder why isn't she there...
- Curious

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lynn. That's interesting. I just reviewed the WAC and don't see that anywhere. Services, yes. ID, no. Curious.

The WAC authorized OSPI to develop regulations on this issue, though, so perhaps those are done and would provide that clarification? Do you happen to know if the regs are available? I wasn't able to find them.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Waetag.com
Washington Ass. Of Educators of the Talented and Gifted

Read the events column article by acting AL director Martin to see what may be coming


GW

Lynn said...

HIMSmom,

OSPI

Charlie Mas said...

That document, sent to the Board claims that all members of the Advanced Learning Advisory Committee were invited to participate in the Task Force.

That isn't true. I was a member of the Advisory Committee and I was not invited to join the task force.

Also, the superintendent is using task forces to evade the requirements of the policy for advisory committees. Task forces are just advisory committees under a different name. They fulfill the exact same function.

Even if one believe that they are different, should there not be any policy that governs them? Or should the policy on advisory committees be repealed?

Charlie Mas said...

You will also notice that the Task Force work is not informed by any policy or guidance from the Board.

It appears that the Board has no input to offer on advanced learning and has no interest in writing an advanced learning policy.

Anonymous said...

Charlie:
Looking at the names I think they meant that they sent out invitations to the members of the current APP Advisory Committee (and not to the Advanced Learning Committee you were on).
I guess some of them accepted the invitation, like Bruce Baker-Harvey, Stephanie Bower, Gail Herman, Noelle Clemons, Vicki Schweickart. This could be actually good for the APP parents (not so much for the Spectrum/ALO group), but I feel problematic to not have any APP teacher/principal there with a long APP history.
- Curious

Anonymous said...

Charlie again (sorry for the double post but I saw your second comment only after I finished mine):
I wonder why you think that the Board should write an advanced learning policy. I thought that they only supervise the District, so I think the District should write one finally...
- Curious

Anonymous said...

Stephen Martin was president of WAETAG and has several articles that can be found on their website. Perhaps he is going to be the new director. He seems like a straight up guy a real advocate for gifted learners and he can express himself well on paper. Has anyone ever met him or heard him speak?

GW

Anonymous said...

Thanks for you patience, Lynn, and I'm sorry to be dense, but can you please point me to where in the WAC it says they need to identify highly capable kids in those upper grades? I'm still missing it, after looking through the WAC, the OSPI slideshow, etc. I see numerous references to serving kids K-12, but nothing specific to grade of identification.

HIMSmom

(And yes, I finally caught on that the WAC and the regs are one and the same. Doh!)

Melissa Westbrook said...

GW, I have and I think he is VERY bright and cares. But no one in upper management has ever given the Advanced Learning Director/Manager much power and without power - either to direct change or be master of the department - he will be another leader who has his hands tied.

He could be really good if they would let him. I don't believe Tolley and Heath will release the slowly-tighten iron grip they are putting on programs.

Lynn said...

HIMSmom,

i agree that it's hard to tell from the documents, so I asked several people. My questions were forwarded to Stephen Martin. Here is part of his response:

The question of testing into highly capable services in grades 9-12 is one that has not been addressed before. None of the districts I contacted have a plan in place, and OSPI has no substantive guidance to offer, beyond acknowledging that the WACs call for identification and services K-12. As you know, the programs offered to advanced students (AP and IB) are currently open to all students who wish to register. We will be working with OSPI and districts across the state to figure out how best to meet the new requirements.

In addition, at the end of the Webinar on that OSPI page, there was a question and answer period that I believe addressed it

Finally, there are the HCP Technical Working Group Recommendations

Lynn said...

Oops. I meant to add that the identification from K-12 issue can be found on page 11 of the recommendations.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to hearing what comes out of this task force. I remain optimistic. A couple of things I hope this task force will look at:

ID & entry
*Consider entry into HCP for students who's strong in one area, i.e. Verbal or quantitative. Their needs are not being well met in non AL settings. As part of that, need to investigate furthur if this a learning disability issue such as dyslexia. Or ELL student who has not yet reach academic fluency. Consider other means of testing and evaluation besides MAP and CogAT in such cases.

*consider ID-ing students with potential and aptitude and bringing them in EARLY into the program so they can develop their abilities and parlay that into achievement.

*more PD to help staff understand what to look out for especially in populations which are under served and easy to miss. (i.e. the bright, quick to pick up an idea or concept, curious students who show potential, but spend much of their time in the hallway or in the office/resource room because of behavioral issues.) They may be students with undiagnosed issues.

Educational outreach (a booklet, PDF to refer to) for parents with updated HCP content and research.

Lots more, but a wish list for this task force to start with. Last, but not least, a curriculum guide.

-a parent

Lynn said...

Task force documents:

Agenda

Minutes

Lynn said...

One more - discussion in Curriculum and Instruction Committee:

Task Force

dw said...

Does anyone else see a really serious problem with the order of events here?

First, let's split APP into 3 or 4 or 5 different pathways, because it's so darn huge.

Then six months later: oh look, our task force has recommended to clamp back down on the entry criteria, so we expect the numbers to actually get smaller and smaller for the next few years. You're not left with 3 or 4 or 5 viable cohorts? Whoops, sorry about that!

Seriously folks, APP cannot be allowed to be split N-ways right now, especially before big programmatic decisions about identification are in play.

Charlie Mas said...

Actually, I think you can expect them to greatly expand APP.

The entire focus of the identification task force is to add students, not remove any.

Melissa Westbrook said...

DW, what did the Talking Heads say, "Stop Making Sense?"

dw said...

Stop Making Sense Haha, yeah Mel, thanks for the laugh. But I am really worried about it, and I wish more people were paying attention to this!

Charlie said: Actually, I think you can expect them to greatly expand APP.

The entire focus of the identification task force is to add students, not remove any.


Charlie, I think you may be off target this time. None of us are SPS mind readers, but there has been a lot of talk recently from the administration about

1) Distinguishing between high achievers and gifted
2) The understanding that SPS is only required (funded) to serve the top 2.3%

Together, it "smells" to me like there will be a push to change the identification process to attempt to distinguish/separate those kids, and then to only fund programs that serve gifted, according to the new measures, while attempting to serve the rest in their neighborhood schools with differentiation. Not to give them any ideas, but it wouldn't surprise me if they killed the "APP" label and gave the new program a different name.

I don't particularly like this, but my tea leaves are sort of lining up that way.