Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Who Was Using What Math (and how did Principals feel about the Math Adoption)?

I'm not sure this information will answer all questions, but I did put in a public disclosure request from SPS on the issue of what schools had been using enVision.  Here's the feedback I received on June 23rd.  (It is not complete as they are still trying to see if there were any MOU/agreements with the company.)

Graham Hill – no records located. According to principal Laurie Morrison, Graham Hill did not pay any money for their materials or for professional development, although staff did attend two professional development trainings at South Shore for enVision.

Hazelwood K-8
– no records located. According to principal Debbie Nelson, enVision was used only this last year. They received the materials free from an enVision representative and wanted to try it out, given that a new curriculum adoption was around the corner. They did not do any professional development.


Queen Anne – no records located. According to principal David Elliott, enVision was implemented only for the 3rd grade after they received the materials for free from an enVision representative. They only used parts of the enVision curriculum sporadically over the last year and a half.

Lafayette – no records located.

I was also sent the principal survey which I uploaded to Scribed. Total respondents, I believe, is around 36 (but the responses page only shows 25 responses).  The Board requested the survey and it was written by the math department and vetted through a Board member.

This survey was sent out May 14, 2014 by Anna Box, head of math, at the request of the C&I Committee.  Some of the phrasing in the e-mail to principals asking them to take the survey was interesting:

The School Board is expected to approve enVision, which was the adoption committee choice, as the primary adoption.  However, the Board may vote to also make Math in Focus available to schools that want it. 
There were three questions plus room for comments.

 - Do you currently know whether your school would have a preference between enVision and the alternate (Math in Focus)?
- If so, what would the preference be?
- If you had the ability to choose and could delay a year before adopting one of the two choices in order to you and your BLT to make a more informed choice for your school, would you choose to do so?
- Comments
  • Two-thirds of principals said their school had a known preference between enVision and Math in Focus and the other one-third did not.  
  • Eighty percent that said they did have a known preference said enVision.  
  • Nearly 20% of principals said they would delay, if they had a choice, making a math adoption.
There were several comments (I found the one about the reading curriculum interesting):

To model a commitment to unity, decisiveness, and integrity of the.process, DO NOT offer a choice. We need one curriculum, shared language, common PD. Choice suggests waffling. Provide a choice in Tier 2 materials only.

We should not make a dual adoption. It's too difficult on students who transfer to other schools to have to adjust to different curricula. The Board should follow the recommendation of the committee, or they should not waste time in the future.

EDM was poorly aligned to our WA state standards and is poorly aligned with CCSS. At this time, our teachers are having to create units to address grade level standards, using a variety of resources; this requires a lot of time and they are not getting extra compensation. It is ridiculous to expect teachers to be great teachers AND curriculum developers at the same time. Teachers are expecting a new math curriculum and it is unacceptable to make them wait because the Board cannot come to consensus.

I didn't realize we had this option. I would like to know more about Math in Focus before making this type of decison. Can it be that we are able to choose between the two this year and recieve it for next year? I don't want to wait another year for a new math curriculum but want my staff to be able to choose.

My comments include having one SPS curriculum starting 2014-15 school year. Please.
It is important that we not deviate from the planned adoption. This inconsistency only leads to further fragmentation within the district, inequity, distrust and the perpetual cycle of SPS makes a decision and the minute someone does not agree, we begin to change. If we are being held accountable, please provide the tools that we need to be successful. For example, we currently have an adopted Reading curriculum that is not aligned to Common Core and the supplemental curriculum (Reader and Writers) will cost school money that they do not have to implement. Please do not model this adoption after the non-existent common core aligned Reading Curriculum.

I would strongly recommend a curriculum more aligned to the common core standards. Math in Focus (the older version) is outdated, however, the new 2015 version is better aligned. It would be worth waiting a year until the state math curriculum recommendations are known. The state always use the state assessement (SBAC) as a guideline for selecting the most appropriate curriculum and criteria the aligns with state test. Other excellent "open sources" are NYC Engage and North Carolina Dept of Instruction. Envision has alot of gaps in relation to the CCSS which we cannot afford to have if we want to sufficiently prepare our students districtwide.

We have had a waiver to use Math in Focus this past year, and we have found it to be very effective for kids, especially in a language immersion school where the graphics/pictorial nature of the text supports students learning in a second language, whether they are native English speakers or students who qualified for ELL and waived services. We have found it to be rigorous and it regularly engages students in higher level thinking/Webb's Depth of Knowledge/Cognitive Rigor (moves students to level 3 and 4, "strategic thinking/reasoning" and "extended thinking"). The PD we received from the vendor was effective, and the dialogue around curriculum materials at our school has been much more focused on Common Core State Standards than when we used EDM. By the way, question #3 above is a little confusing. I would like the opportunity to have our staff choose, but I don't feel the need to wait a full year.
Thank you very much for doing this survey I appreciate the chance to share my views and the views of my staff.

If Math in Focus is going to be a choice, please let us know ASAP since we would need to translate materials. I think if we had samples to choose from we could make a choice pretty quickly.

It would be very helpful if sample materials were provided for staff to look at and discuss with colleagues in order to make an informed decision.

There there was a document for additional comments and this one struck me:

I have worked in several Seattle schools, and in each one, a different math curriculum has been used. There has been no consistency or commonality. A dual adoption will absolutely perpetuate this issue.
Please do NOT consider a dual adoption. Please do NOT allow wavers. Please follow the recommendation of the curriculum committee. 

Teachers will not be willing to give their input or cooperation in the future if they know they will ignored or over-ruled. 

I will gently say on that last point that everyone - principals, staff, teachers and/or parents - can be overruled at any given time.  That's the governance of the district.

Just an FYI….if schools that opt for Math in Focus get 8 days of PD for math instruction, I will be asking for the same for schools using enVision. 8 full days of focused math PD is going to give those schools a huge advantage over those of us using enVision. I suspect the 8 days of MIF will be about strengthening overall math instruction. All schools should then be offered that same level of support. 

Michael Tolley also provided me with this information on who had what waivers.  Again, Charlie is right; why was there no back and forth with the Board on the point that some schools just went off script on their own?

 SCHOOL
WAIVER
DATES
Graham Hill
2012 (1st-5th)-Current
McGilvra
2012/2013 (mid-year)-Current
Thurgood Marshall
Current (2012)
2012-Current
Montlake
Current (2013)
2012-Current
Fairmont
Current, but will withdraw for MiF (2014)
Leschi
2012/2013 (mid-year)-Current
Highland Park
2013-Current supplemental resource
Lafayette
2012 (some classrooms beginning in October); 2013 all but 4 classrooms-Current
Southshore
2012-Current
Hazelwolf
2013-Current
Madrona
2012-3rd grade assessments for pullout interventions, progress monitoring (not sure if they are still using this resource)

16 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

I notice that only three schools have a waiver. One of them is Fairmount Park, which hasn't opened yet, so there are only two schools that actually have a waiver. And Fairmount Park apparently is withdrawing theirs.

So ten schools using enVision and only two of them with waivers.

This is the culture of lawlessness. How could this information come forward and no one question it? Especially with all of the talk about how all of the schools should be using the same materials. For all of the talk about that it is, clearly, not a priority or even an issue.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And Charlie, as we found out, Kim Whitworth, who is the highest paid Executive Director in the district, had to ask principals what they were using.

I'm not sure anyone really has a grasp of what is being taught and how.

Anonymous said...

So there are schools using whatever materials a vendor drops on them for free? OK then. They just made the case for bypassing fidelity of implementation.

Westside

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thanks for finding out about this.

Westside

Divamom said...

Debbie Nelson is principal of Hazel Wolf K-8 (used to be Jane Addams K-8)...

Anonymous said...

Didn't the Envision switch at McGilvra come about through PTA funding?

wondering

mirmac1 said...

Given the whole incident with McGraw-Hill earlier this year, there should be strict rules against salespeople approaching building staff and offering freebies. No wonder EDs don't know WTH is going on. Envision's infiltration of SPS, starting some years ago, sounds like an old-fashioned payola scheme.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh yes. Let's not forget that the Education Directors had no idea about any of this.

Someone remind me - what do they do for a living?

Anonymous said...

Fairmont and Thurgood are both Julie Bridenbach, principal. So, essentially only one principle followed the procedure. Why have a procedure if no one follows it? Is it too complex, restrictive, or are their no consequences at sps for ignoring procedure.

Silly waiver

StringCheese said...

What is missing from the list of official waivers (but mentioned many times on this blog) is K-5 STEM. STEM has an official waiver for Singapore that is valid until 2016.

Interesting to note, the waiver was supposed to be in place for when the school opened its doors in 2012 and Cathy Thompson swore up and down that it was all in place. Lo and behold, when we asked to receive the EDM consumables money that was not being spent and using it to supplement our Singapore, all of a sudden they couldn't find our waiver anywhere. However, it was finally processed (18 months later). It is dated for 2013-2016.

StringCheese said...

However, with MIF, the Singapore waiver is unnecessary. Perhaps this is why it is not on the list?

Anonymous said...

I can't figure out whether I am more dismayed by the failure of schools to follow the waiver policy (not a huge fan of the substance or implementation of that policy, but it exists for a legitimate reason)
or whether I am mainly just thrilled that so many kids managed to escape from the ball and chain of EDM, never mind how it happened. I am entertaining images of Fred and George Weasley making their final escape from Hogswarts -- complete with fireworks and the cheers of the unfortunates left behind.

Jan

Greeny said...

Isn't the list you cited provided by Michael Tolly, only showing schools using enVision? I'm pretty sure at least Schmitz Park, STEM, Alki and another north-end school have had waivers, and sure at least one if not all of those principals followed the process. Why is the math curriculum in place by school such a mystery TO THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR CURRICULUM and ADMINISTRATION? If Michael Tolley doesn't have a list, and an Executive Director has to call around, you can bet there are no math curriculum/performance reports in use. Which also explains, to me, the surprise revelation during this math adoption process, that 1) 11 schools have already been using enVision, and 2) yet not one point was made by the gung-ho enVision administration during the math adoption fiasco (and, I pointedly DON'T include the Board in that description of behavior)that used any facts or data at all about the results thus far of these 11 schools. I still smell a stinky fish within administration walls, and really wish a good investigative reporter would get in and ferret it out.

Greeny said...

Isn't the list you cited provided by Michael Tolly, only showing schools using enVision? I'm pretty sure at least Schmitz Park, STEM, Alki and another north-end school have had waivers, and sure at least one if not all of those principals followed the process. Why is the math curriculum in place by school such a mystery TO THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR CURRICULUM and ADMINISTRATION? If Michael Tolley doesn't have a list, and an Executive Director has to call around, you can bet there are no math curriculum/performance reports in use. Which also explains, to me, the surprise revelation during this math adoption process, that 1) 11 schools have already been using enVision, and 2) yet not one point was made by the gung-ho enVision administration during the math adoption fiasco (and, I pointedly DON'T include the Board in that description of behavior)that used any facts or data at all about the results thus far of these 11 schools. I still smell a stinky fish within administration walls, and really wish a good investigative reporter would get in and ferret it out.

dan dempsey said...

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data
-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

Buehler ?? Buehler ??
Tolley ?? Tolley ??

Leadership remains misguided and defective. --- Banda should leave but a lot more need to leave or at least get a clue.

Greeny said...

They should have been fired for their disgraceful, flagrant, jaw-dropping keystone cops insubordination flying in the face of the math adoption Board vote/decision. Banda should have been the first to go - the Board should have fired his as&(#. Maybe he saw it coming, beating a fast retreat out of Dodge before his performance (ha - garfield rape #2, after warning rape #1 in 2008, Special Ed, Advanced Learning testing mess this year and programatic problems ongoing, only 1 (!?!) of 23 objectives met, MAC hamstrung by his own chiefs run amok, etc. ad naseum). Good thing he's just an overpaid school exec, and not an overpaid sports type moving into freeagency....Seattle Times would have us all paying up to keep him!