This is such a large issue that I’ll write two parts to this thread. One, what this Work Session going to be discussing and two, the theory behind these ideas. The work session is three hours long for two topics (the other is the Board self-evaluation.) But it would appear the bulk of the Work Session is for the first topic. The Powerpoint is quite long and, sadly, is so chockfull of ed jargon on race and equity that you can’t quite make out what will truly be happening. And that’s a pity because this is work that is needed.
Missing – and shockingly so – is what lessons this district has learned from past efforts. One is the African-American Academy which was created for African-American children in the district, with planning and direction by mostly African-American educators and leaders. I know there is a whole story in there why this school failed with many reasons. But the district did try and, in the end, failed. Is there nothing they can learn from that painful and lengthy experiment that they might bring to bear here? Not a mention.
Also, missing from this large and overarching initiative? Costs. Not a word about what it will all cost or where the money will come from.
Here’s the goal for all of this:
To transform the Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behavior of every adult and educator in order to recognize the brilliance and genius of every single child in Seattle Public Schools.I think the intent is great but I'm not fond of the phrasing. The first part of the sentence is a transformation that I don’t think ANY entity can make happen. It’s not because “adults and educators” don’t want to learn better ways to learn about their students and support them, but changing attitudes, beliefs and behavior all rolled up into one is a heavy lift.
Second, it’s probably just me but I don’t believe every child is brilliant and a genius (even my own.) I think every single child has the ability to learn and that we seek out the best ways to maximize that learning. I think every child has gifts to share (my version of brilliance) but I think aspirational language can sometimes get in the way of action. It’s like giving every kid a gold star. At some point, they will understand that you are giving everyone a gold star so what does it really mean?
The presentation goes on to say:
The biggest shifts will not come from “changing” our students; rather, they must evolve from the transformation of our teaching practices, leadership practices and organizational practices.Again, that’s a HUGE sea change for an entire system.
One item that jumped out at me - on page 12 – the district says that “strong differentiated core instruction” is “foundational.” Also in this category are “school-wide behavioral expectations identified, taught, re-taught, and reinforced.”
As well, here’s other good news:
Expands intervention and supports to students below, at and/or above benchmarks.
This may be where a revamping of Advanced Learning comes into play.
Under this umbrella of MTSS-B are:
- targeted universalism,
- best practices for African-American males,
- school racial equity teams,
- cultural proficiency,
- CIPs and community engagement.
“Signature Strategies” include: Positive Beliefs, Positive Relationships and Positive Learning.
I get a bit confused when they start the charts and graphs in page 18. The graph on page 18 shows teacher survey results from what they are calling “high growth” schools versus “low-growth” schools. Clearly, there appear to be things happening at high-growth schools – given their test scores – that may not be happening at low-growth schools. Some of that could seem a principal issue. And nowhere do they account for income which I would guess is a concern at many schools.
Page 20 is interesting and confusing. It’s a Comparison of Discipline Data. It looks from Sept-Jan. 2014-2015 to Sept-Jan 2015-2016, “all discipline incidents” dropped across all categories of elementary, middle and high school. It is especially dramatic in middle schools from 1124 to 707. At the bottom is “out of school time” (which I’m going to assume means suspensions) for African-American students and they give a percentage for that group from the total (without actually giving a total which is not so helpful.)
Page 22 talks about “Hattie” and that is a reference to John Hattie. http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/
John Hattie developed a way of ranking various influences in different meta-analyses according to their effect sizes. In his ground-breaking study “Visible Learning” he ranked those influences which are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects on student achievement.The page says that “classroom management is fifth” but from the “Visible Learning” page, it appears to be sixth.
Page 34 has a list of the current equity team school sites. It’s unclear to me whether the ones in 2014-2015 are still going and the ones listed for 2015-2016 are added to that list.
Page 35 lists dates and times for Race & Equity Institutes on different issues surrounding the subject but I am unclear who might be able to attend these.
What I think I understand about this initiative (whose name I am unsure of except, “MTSS-B.”):
By the end of October, they will finalize plans and start to enact them to improve academic outcomes for African-American males and other students of color. These strategies, and the lessons learning, “will be applied to support the learning of each and every student, as needed.
The Central office will need a program manager to “collect and use district-level and school specific behavior data and reports” and a program manager “to develop behavioral Health Services Delivery Model.” It is unclear if it’s one or two managers.
Somehow pre-K is part of this, I assume, in schools that have pre-K. This is on page 29.
The African-American Think Tank is developing a 5-year “action plan,” says
- establish an African-American Males Scholars department,
- implement “cultural (sic) responsive professional development” for AA males
- streamline efforts to eliminate opportunity gaps and break down silos,
- intentional collaboration between proposed AAMS dept and other departments/schools.
I can’t support a whole department for this effort. The district has a Race and Equity department that can have this initiative as part of its mission.
Page 39 has a number of items but I’m not sure what it all means or how it will be implemented. One of them “equity onboarding” for all new employees will add another amount of time/cost to HR.
Pages 41-43 are schools with CSIPs but I’m not sure how they picked what schools to put here, but probably those with higher African-American student populations. I was surprised to see South Shore Prek-8 is below district average in four out of six testable levels in Reading. The numbers included there are not good.