Saturday, May 17, 2014

Seattle Schools Odds and Ends

I actually have a pretty busy Saturday (and hey, I see sunshine so I want to take advantage of that as well) but I wanted to put up a few items for your viewing.

One item is from Mirmac 1 - the Seattle Schools photo archive. I had never seen this archive (but I have been to the archives) and it's fun viewing. 

The second item is from next Wednesday's School Board meeting agenda.  There is the transfer of $550K from the BEX IV contingency fund to build a K-8 within the Wilson-Pacific middle school.  This is kind of amazing and surely cannot be the total.  (The item does say it will cost $135k extra for the playground.)  But the auditorium would cost $12M and the changes to the middle school to include specific types of rooms for the K-8 is only $550K.  Interesting.

The third item is also from the Board meeting agenda for the K-5 Math Materials adoption.  This one is very long and staff is not recommending the adoption of two math plans.  I didn't have time to read it carefully but I think there is something in there that would change what schools that are using other math materials can do.  If you read it and understand what staff is saying, let us know.

I also note that replacement of the elevator at JA is about $300K which is coming out of BEX IV.  I'm confused as to why BEX IV would be the source of the funding but that isn't really explained.

Consultant report for the City on Pre-K for all.   Again, I barely went through the opening section but it does recommend a "taskforce" with SPS to find room in Seattle schools that might currently be available or where there might be in the future.


Voting NO said...

The City is trying to sell the pre-K deal as a $58M levy fee. However, documents program will cost $600M over 9 years.

There are many embedded costs to Seattle Public Schools. The word "embedded" means one can not accurately assess costs.

The city already has a program. Why reinvent the wheel?

Full day K is not fully funded, nor is 6 periods of high school.

This looks like a bureaucratic nightmare and I am voting NO.

Hmmm said...

The Wa. State Supreme Court has ordered the state to fund education. There is a push in the legislature NOT to fund education until there are "reforms".

The city's proposed pre-k is very intertwined with Seattle Public Schools that I can't help but to wonder--are we seeing the ground work being layed out for pre-k thru 12 system?

I understand there is a big picture on the table. I've also heard Reuven Carlyle say there needs to be a "grand deal" made before education is funded. What is this "grand deal?"

mirmac1 said...

What? Reuven wants to "deal" with the WA Supreme Court? Methinks someone is daft.

syd said...

The city should buy houses near parks and schools for the preschool programs. Add small bathrooms and child size sinks, fences, furniture.

There are a number of these around town already to use as models.

Interlake is one.

I think there are about 50 kids there (not sure exactly). You could use $20 million for 20 buildings (buying plus refitting) and serve 1000 kids (back of the envelope math).

Or you could lease, but I think that is stupid.

One thing that is not going to happen is squeezing them into SPS buildings. They don't need to spend any money exploring that option.

StringCheese said...

From what I can tell after reading the documents, SPS staff is pushing to reject all waivers for alternate curriculum in the name of "equity".

"It is important to have all teachers using consistent instructional materials for equity purposes and to better align supports across the district."

This is a gem -- they justify not weighing community input more heavily because they set up the community input poorly! We can't trust these numbers (i.e. parents and teachers want MiF) because we didn't really try to get adequate community input. Rich. Here is the quote:

"Due to the fact that feedback provided was not random, a sampling frame was not established, and those submitting input self-selected, this feedback is not considered a reflective sample of the overall SPS community. In conclusion, future adoptions will hopefully recruit, target, and collect data from a more representative sample, especially if community input is to be significantly weighted or factored into a final recommendation."

Oh, so NEXT TIME you'll do it right... in seven years...

Anonymous said...

I attended a february MAC meeting, and took detailed notes. I distinctly recall the discussion of what the community input form would look like. I think it was Adam Dyksert who suggested asking on the form for a regional identifier of the respondent. In retrospect, that may have been part of a plan to discredit the input later.

Joan NE

Furthermore, there were several members of the MAC who had, in advance of that meeting, made some effort to find multiple public library locations for displaying materials, so that the materials would be accessible to people after evenings and weekends, across the city.

I recall Eric Caldwell bringing this up at the MAC meeting I attended. He thanked the members for their efforts, and indicated that the decision about how many/what sites for display belonged to the MAC. Nevertheless he basically told the MAC to back off. It appeared to be a turf issue. He wanted the MAC to let the staff make all these decisions about display.

I was troubled at the time that the MAC did not challenge him, since he made clear at that meeting the staff's intention for display was very limited: Five school buildings and one public library. The minimum # of display sites in board policy was five. So they just barely exceeded the minimum requirements.

At last Monday's C&I meeting, Eric admitted to the the inadequacy of the extent of display. He admitted that the display plan resulted in contributed to the non-representativeness of the community input sample.

Well, that's no surprise. I think it was intentional. I have no doubt that they did not expect community input to favor their preference, so they derailed it by design.

Director Peters response to Eric and staff, was "Well this data is the best data we have on community preference. This data is better than no data."

The staff wrote the draft BAR. I am disappointed that the directors at C&I are letting this recommendation to disregard community input stay in the BAR.

Anonymous said...

After reading the BAR, which I find to be somewhat incoherent in critical sections,

I realize that our situation is this. Board Policy requires that the material adoption committee give strong consideration to community input (C-I).

This implies that having a valid sampling of C-I is a necessary condition for a valid adoption process.

Staff is trying to have their cake and eat it too. If the C-I is not valid - as they assert, then the whole process is invalidated. The board will be violating their only policy if they approve any K-5 math program without having C-I given due consideration.

One remedy is to re-open the materials viewing/communtiy input in multiple libraries across the city.

If this results in a few weeks' delay of math materials arriving in classrooms, so be it.

The alternative is to start over, and delay adoption for a year.

Other problems with this adoption:

1. MAC was not provided any scientific data to help them evaluation curricula. In the BAR, staff gives specious excuses for not having provided any such data.

2. The MAC was supposed to prepare the list of minimum materials/services for a purchase proposal. The Staff never provided opportunity for MAC to do this. We still don't have the itemization that explains the cost numbers provided in Attachment 18.

3. The MAC never wrote up a rationale explaining why they felt the community's pick could be overruled.

4. No pilot study was conducted. I have looked at a couple other district's adoptions: It appears that pilot studies of strong candidates are typically a part of an adoption process. In the BAR, staff gave weak defense of failure to do any pilot study.

Joan NE

Anonymous said...

Policy 2185 sounds fantastic!!! It will ensure that all Seattle Schools have equitable access to PE. It seems a little too good to be true though, so I worry it'll never be enforced. It was written in response to federal policy, the Healthy Hungry Kids Act of 2010. It states all SPS PE programs will:

Be taught by teachers who are certificated in Physical Education;

Meet or exceed state Physical Education standards; (WA state law is currently 100 minutes per week, recess won't count)

Use a Board-adopted curricula;

Include strong oversight at the school and district level;

Conduct ongoing assessments of the program,teachers and students to assure the positive impact of the program

So that's having PE 2/3 times per week for each student. It says the fiscal impact is $2,000,000, but it's not currently in the budget even though it says they will implement the policy immediately.

Too bad they didn't add something to the policy stating each school must have a gym. I know Queen Anne is still using a portable for PE.


Anonymous said...

I trust Sue Peters to show her leadership skills, and provide guidance to her colleagues as to why it only makes sense to adopt a "suite of textual materials" to our large and diverse fleet of schools. One size can't possible fit all. Common sense.

The huey about "too much cost" is the staff at their absolute worst. How dare they. All the BS from their lips about equity, and yet, it is schools with high F&RL populations who won't have any choice, because the waiver process doesn't come with funding, so they will be trapped.

Some might like EnVision. Good for them. But remember, THE ardent refrain for Tolley and Heath, "Common Core will save us all!!!!". So, since MIF and EnVision are both CCSS aligned, all children will have their needs met if either one of these texts is used, so we will have the precious, all important interbuilding, pan-district alignment that is needed.

Look at the results from other districts. So if Director Carr says we can't afford to adopt both, let's ask her how can we not afford to adopt both. The BOARD, afterall, were the ones who directed staff to be mindful to avoid a text-heavy text book, because that disadvantages ELL and other learners, like dyslexic children.

The public favored the MIF.

Other districts using MIF are soaring, and the costs aren't prohibitive. Maybe MIF costs more because it is sooooo much more better, and the publishers know it, so they charge accordingly.

Stop with the excuses, start with the rational decision making.

Adopt both. Don't leave behind poor child in poor schools, don't hold them hostage.

And, adopt a new head of T&L and C&I. It is downright shamefull, this manipulation of facts and info to suit their wants. Unprofessional, uncaring, and damaging. No trust can be placed into any thing those two do. They are so convinced they are so right, they won't listen to others, and they generate a long BAR that is very manipulated.

Harium ALWAYS said a suite of materials would be best. That is so obvious. It also is a perfect compromise: there is clear standardization throught the District with just 2 texts, but, 2 allows for each community to optimize, and because both are CCSS aligned, ALL children will be aligned to standards, regardless of what building they are in.

If this Board can't get this right, there is absolutely nothing they will ever get right.

Hoping common sense will prevail.

-MIF + EnVision

StringCheese said...

Has the district ever timed a curriculum adoption with enough time after the recommendation for genuine discourse and possible changes to be made? They time it so that they have the convenient excuse that if they don't move ahead NOW, then the world will explode. A timeline clearly designed to make changes seemingly impossible.

StringCheese said...

One more thought on the "equity" statements from the math docs... If inequity occurred when schools with well-funded PTAs were able to purchase alternate curricula that were superior to EDM, then the district should have no problems at all with allowing schools with alternate curricula to continue. After all, if enVision is the shiznizzle, then no one would want to leave their neighborhood school for a school with an alternate math curriculum. Indeed, the well-funded schools with Singapore would be paying for a sub-par curriculum. Right? To think otherwise is to admit that perhaps MiF/Singapore is a superior program.

Also, a question to anyone out there who was on the MAC, did the committee look at the MiF that will be shipped for fall (which is said to be more faithfully aligned to CCSS) or the MiF currently available for the 2013-14 school year? Seems to me that a failure to review the materials that would actually be sent to schools in September invalidates the entire procedure.

Anonymous said...

Math adoption: 2 words:

False urgency.

Our children have endured the crap 'investigation' circular diffuse then confuse garbage for how many years??? Then, just when we can at finally, long last, get Singapore for all, the district says no way, we gotta do this NOW, and it's got to be Envision?

Wow, is it me, or could they just say "pick a finger", if you know what I mean. And now it's inequitable for some lucky schools to get by with an escape hatch (eg, the waiver? North Beach, Mercer, Schmitz Park, I'm looking at you!)?

Do these folks hate children? Sheese.

And you know, given our districts churn, not one of them will be here when it is appearant that this program doesn't close the achievement gaps for vulnerable students. But hey, we all will be, unless we've left too for Bellevue or Highline or Shoreline.


Ted Nutting said...

I attended part of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting last Monday, and I was thrilled with the statements made and questions asked by Directors Peters, Patu, Peaslee, and McLaren. We elected them to (among other things) bring us good math, and they are doing their best to do just that.

I teach math at Ballard High, and for years I (and many others) have been working to bring our district away from its use of inquiry-based math. I have used primarily "explicit instruction" (sometimes called "direct instruction") myself, avoiding as much as I could district-approved materials that lean (sometimes more than "lean") toward inquiry-based instruction. The success of my students (and those of other students in the area where inquiry-based math is avoided) has validated our efforts.

Last year the school board approved a new policy regarding adoption of instructional materials. It requires (among other things) that community input be considered and that adoption be based on benchmarking from similar districts and other sources.

It looks to me like community input (which strongly favored adoption of Math in Focus – and Jump Math on the first go-round) wasn't seriously considered. I guess the adoption committee looked at it and then gave it little weight. I submitted comments for the first part of the process; apparently they were hardly considered at all. I submitted statements again for the final selection, where I agreed with most submittors, but to no avail.

Benchmarking wasn't used in any formal way. The School Board Briefing/Proposed Action Report gives all sorts of excuses for this. But we all know that there is all sorts of data that explicit instruction works: North Beach, Schmitz Park, Mercer Middle School, Franklin High School, Gildo Rey School in the Auburn District, my own instruction at Ballard. The committee has avoided seriously considering compelling data available locally, even though the Board clearly wanted them to do it.

Surely the administration knows what kind of math materials the School Board wants. After all, Marty McLaren, chair of the C&I committee, sued the district (before her election to the Board) over the fuzzy math high school materials it adopted. Board candidates have told me that, as they campaigned around the city, math was a major issue, and that the large majority of comments they received agreed with the positions they were running on.

It appears to me that members of the Math Adoption Committee were selected to provide a recommendation that the administration wanted but the board didn't. I'll admit that I'm biased. I'm fed up with having large numbers of students in high school who can't do basic arithmetic (times tables, and often even addition tables, simplifying, adding, and multiplying fractions, etc.), and I want improvement! I applied for the committee, but I wasn't selected. I suspect that the administration specifically did not want me (or others like me) on the committee.

They did, though, appoint Sabrina Kovacs-Storlie to the committee, and I am grateful for her courage in submitting her minority report. I agree with her, particularly regarding the unseemly emphasis put on CCSS alignment, the failure to use data, and the final selection.

I agree that EnVision is better than what we have now, but the selection could have been much better. I think that the four Directors who proposed a dual adoption have an excellent idea, and I support it. Starting the adoption process over would leave Everyday Math in place for another year, and that's a terrible idea. Giving schools a choice is reasonable; I hope that many will choose Math in Focus. That will give us a chance to compare results as the years go by.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone speak to the stmts. made @ Director McLaren's last community meeting from Schmitz Park parents that the Singapore Math publisher was not sent and RFP? And, that they were in near constant communication w/ SPS during that time? (Different publisher than MIF). Recall that Schmitz Park's PTSA paid $30k per year for Singapore for 4? Years before the district picked up cost last year. And, that WS K-5 Stem evaluated math curricula in deep detail before landing on Singapore, yet no one asked them for their seemingly impressive research? Largest and most passionate Director McLaren mtg. I've attended.

Would love to hear RFP/ Singapore explanation. Did that come up in the C & I work session? Don't see it in the BAR.