Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday News

KING-5 did a report on our growing district.  (And, if you hadn't heard, Seattle is apparently the fastest growing big city in the country.  It is the 21st biggest city in the country.)  KING reported that the district expects to have 60,000 students by 2020.  That's just five-and-a-half years away. 

In a very sad story from The Charlotte Observer, a charter school in Charlotte, NC, is closing immediately for financial reasons and now the 300+ students have to find somewhere else to finish the school year.

What makes this story doubly sad is that state officials knew this charter was off-track financially almost from the start of the school year.   North Carolina charter supporters pushed to get their charter cap lifted and this was one of the first of 23 schools opened that year. 

The state Office of Charter Schools sent staff to inspect the school in March. The team reported concerns with the instruction and the support for students with disabilities, said Director Joel Medley.

Bill Anderson of MeckEd, a nonprofit advocacy group that works closely with CMS, said the StudentFirst collapse shows the need for better oversight and the hazards of a rush to authorize more schools. 

“I think we should all be concerned as more charter schools come online,” he said. “At the end of the day, is this what’s best for the children?” 

More dress code news, this time for France.  Made me smile.   You go, boys.

Well, you can't accuse them of skirting the issue; last Friday, to protest sexism, male students in the western French city of Nantes turned up to school in skirts.

Hundreds of boys across 27 schools in the city took part in the "Lift the Skirt" campaign, which was thought up by the students and backed by the education ministry. Students who didn't feel like baring their legs showed support by wearing stickers that read, "I am fighting against sexism, are you?" The initiative was born to "take action to promote awareness and change perceptions," amid a "feeling of daily discrimination" against female students. 

The campaign follows a report from France's education ministry, published last summer, which found that teachers treat boys "in a preferential manner while remaining convinced they are being totally fair," paying less academic attention to girls and assigning them caretaking roles in class.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/04/03/4814539/studentfirst-charter-school-to.html#.U4DDZsdKv-n#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/04/03/4814539/studentfirst-charter-school-to.html#.U4DDZsdKv-n#storylink=cpy

10 comments:

Lynn said...

I read this article about the report on preferential treatment of boys in French schools. It also discussed the differing educational outcomes for boys and girls and included this surprising fact:

Despite this supposed bias, girls perform much better than boys, with more than half reaching the end of their school education without having to re-sit a year, compared to only 40 per cent of French boys.

Do you think more children in Seattle schools should repeat grades so that they have more time to pick up the skills required for academic success. Would summer school be an effective intervention?

Melissa Westbrook said...

So a couple of things.

The question of a student so behind he/she should repeat a grade is EXACTLY the reason for data tracking. Catch and intervene early.

On summer school, there is summer school - thru the F&E levy, otherwise there would be virtually none - but only in certain locations.

Also, there is the issue of drop-off of skills during summer for some students. In other parts of the country, different districts have tried to seek funding to be able to give review courses so students come back to school ready.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe "resit" means repeat a year. It means to retake the test. It may be only one of three or four tests given each year to move to the next level.
Marie

Anonymous said...

I do not know if it has changed, but in my day (back when dinos were still roaming), there was a huge test at the end of each grade that covered everything taught all year. Students must pass this test to advance to next grade. If you don't pass, you have to repeat the grade.

CCA

Lynn said...

The study I found reported that 36% of 15 year olds in France had repeated a year at least once.

Charlie Mas said...

The whole idea of non-promotion vs. social promotion has been debated into a circle.

There are those who say that holding a student back a year doensn't help. Of course, promoting the student doesn't help either. There needs to be a third way.

As Melissa pointed out, that third way is to quickly identify students who are struggling and to get them the support they need to reach grade level.


That sounds great, but it requires a number of resources to identify the students and a whole lot of resources to bring them up to grade level. That's not to say that it can't be done, but it usually takes a heroic effort by a number of people - teachers, administrators, other education professionals and paraprofessionals.

MTSS is supposed to support this effort and make it easier to accomplish and repeat.

I have been hearing about MTSS for a couple years now, and I hear that there are pilot projects. I also hear that the Board has made its implementation one of their priorities and the Superintendent has made its implementation a central element of the Strategic Plan. MTSS is supposed to be the solution for advanced learning and special education. It is, apparently, the silver bullet that will cure all our woes, assure differentiated instruction, assure equitable access to programs and services, and assure high quality instruction all across the district.

In other words, it sounds like the latest snake oil and it must be fake. MTSS is following exactly the same pattern as "Standards-based Learning System", "Differentiated Instruction", and a couple other comprehensive packages that promised to revolutionize the district, were planned for years, but never implemented and then never spoken of again.

Will it be the same for MTSS? In two years will we all be expected to politely never mention it? Will the all new senior staff who are here then deny all responsibility for it?

Anonymous said...

Wow, 35%? I did not know it was that high. We studied night & day to pass the year-end comprehensive tests. It was a VERY embarrassing deal to flunk & have to repeat.

Although if the statistics you saw is for the Bréve (end of 9th grade test), the passing rate for that test is much lower as it is a HUGE test, more difficult. Kids who can't pass it usually go on to vocational school for 10th grade (where they will get a baccalauréat professionnel & go to work instead of a baccalauréat général for those headed to university).

CCA

Anonymous said...

Brevet!

Clearly the autocorrect gremlins thought I was talking about espressos

CCC

Anonymous said...

CCA
Sigh!

dan dempsey said...

Look at Florida for a way that works. Florida stopped promoting 3rd graders who could not read proficiently to grade 4. The results have been significantly positive. Each year the number of 3rd graders not promoted has declined as schools and perhaps parents are doing a better job of teaching students to read. The positive effects are evident not just in grade 4 but so far all the way through middle school. Jay Greene's blog has covered this success at length.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.