Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

Not that it's really a surprise but this story from The Guardian is making news:
Allowing students to use computers and the internet in classrooms substantially harms their results, a study has found.

The paper published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students barred from using laptops or digital devices in lectures and seminars did better in their exams than those allowed to use computers and access the internet.

The researchers suggested that removing laptops and iPads from classes was the equivalent of improving the quality of teaching.
The study was undergrads so it's not clear if the results would be the same for K-12 students.

What would help kids do better in math and English?  Apparently it's philosophy.  From Quartz:

Nine- and 10-year-old children in England who participated in a philosophy class once a week over the course of a year significantly boosted their math and literacy skills, with disadvantaged students showing the most significant gains, according to a large and well-designed study (pdf).

More than 3,000 kids in 48 schools across England participated in weekly discussions about concepts such as truth, justice, friendship, and knowledge, with time carved out for silent reflection, question making, question airing, and building on one another’s thoughts and ideas.
In a move you don't see often, Tacoma Superintendent Carla Santorno and her Board have fired their facilities manager over his lack of notification to the district about lead levels in some Tacoma schools.

From the Washington Post, kids at one elementary school found their desks and chairs replaced by half-ball seats.
Kinesthetics requires using space differently from traditional classrooms. One elementary school in Kentucky, for example, replaced desks with sofas and little tables. A California school brought in stand-up desks only, with no chairs. Many schools are experimenting with replacing chairs with yoga balls.
This week marks the start of the fall campaign season for Washington state seats.  Over on the eastside, things are heating up in a race between two ed reformers,  Senator Mark Mullet and Rep. Chad Magendanz who is challenging Mullet for his seat.  From The Issaquah Press:
More than 10 percent of Mullet’s cash contributions this election cycle are from proponents of charter schools. Mullet and Magendanz were co-sponsors of a bill to salvage the state’s charter-school law after it was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 2015.

The vast majority of both Mullet’s and Magendanz’s largest contributions have come from multinational corporations, political action committees and special interest groups.

It’s a different scenario in the district’s House races, where four of the five candidates for the two seats have relied to this point mostly on personal donations. 
 It's hard to decide who would be worse in the legislature - Mullet or Magendanz - but Magendanz is arrogant and unyielding so I'd go with Mullet.

What's on your mind?

102 comments:

Lynn said...

I've been reading the responses to discussion questions at community meetings of the International Schools/Dual Language Immersion Task Force. (Here's a link)

A few notes:

Families at West Seattle Elementary want a Somali immersion program in their school. (Is it likely that the district could find six qualified teachers?)

Families at Beacon Hill and Mercer want an immersion pathway for high school and they definitely want it at Franklin High School. (Not interested in IB at Rainier Beach.)

A parent at JSIS who moved twice to guarantee her son a spot in the Japanese program believes And if something needs to be given up to strengthen pathways for language immersion, then I think it's HCC or APP or whatever the acronym is now for the highest levels of learning. Also If the Alliance for Education can swoop in and save Rainier Beach's IB program, then I have to wonder who else can we partner with to keep language immersion programs more sustainable? Is the Alliance for Education interested in language immersion too? What are the chances that Seattle's Families and Education Levy can help? And One thing is for sure -- PTSAs for at least some of these schools are still stepping up to fill in some gaps, ESPECIALLY if they feel confident about the future of language immersion. Some of us at my discussion table last night even said we would be happy to share some of the PTSA funds to help other language immersion schools who might not have a PTSA or as much PTSA fundraising power. Count me in on that!

JSIS and McDonald parents don't want to lose staff when attrition reduces enrollment in their intermediate grades.

ws said...

Schmitz Park Elementary is having a child care crisis.
Current aftercare holds almost 100 kids. There are an additional 56 on the waitlist for this year. Next year the school is moving to a new building. Projected enrollment is 700 kids (school is only built for 650) and childcare spaces are being reduced to 60 slots. With the addition of the bell time changes (school will be ending at 2:05pm next year) many families are left without any safe options. The middle and high schools get out later than Schmitz so even teenage caregivers is out of the question.

For a city that touts itself as family friendly, the convergence of SPS and city reducing safe and quality childcare is counter intuitive.

Anonymous said...

...kids at one elementary school found their desks and chairs replaced by half-ball seats.

Reminds me of the time my child returned to school one Monday and found their desks and chairs had simply been removed (not a one person job, so parents helped in the endeavor). They were supposed to sit on the floor. My child liked having the personal space that a desk provided, not to mention the basic functions that a desk and chair served. I am imagining, however, the fun they would have had with movable ball seats, much to the teacher's distraction.

-a parent

Charlie Mas said...

The Friday Memo released this week reads like one of Melissa's posts on "This Week in Seattle Public Schools". Dr. Nyland covers the waterfront with a memo about everything from the status of the Carol Burton case to art prizes won by NOVA students.

Anonymous said...

...And if something needs to be given up to strengthen pathways for language immersion, then I think it's HCC or APP or whatever the acronym is now for the highest levels of learning.

"Language immersion" is not considered part of "basic education," as defined by the state, but "highly capable" is.

I am continually amazed by SPS - they create, or allow the creation of, educational programs without any future thought about means to sustain them, beyond parental contributions. IB and language immersion have similar funding issues.

-watching

Anonymous said...

Yoga balls are often used as seats for kids with ADHD. It helps them concentrate. Several teachers at Seattle Waldorf used them for extra fidgety kids.

HP

Lynn said...

He really does cover a lot of ground.

Notes from the Friday Memo

On Garfield:

We have had settlement and return to work offers with Carol’s attorneys for two weeks. We received a counteroffer today. We may be moving closer to a mutual settlement regarding placement and future field trips.

On High School:

24 Credit Task Force is recommending high schools schedules (for 17-18) that include three trimesters of five period days. This would allow students to earn up to 30 credits. Currently students have the opportunity to earn only 24 credits – which is now the state requirement. Which also mean a potential drop in graduation rates even as we do better at preparing students for the future. This task force recommendation has a cost of $2-$5M – which is not a surprise – but also a great concern as we head into the 17-18 year with SO FAR no relief for McCleary or the Levy Cliff.

On Lowell:

Lowell has passionate educators committed to families and building trusting relationships with students. They have a dual focus with a large special needs student population, including medical fragile and homeless, and serve as part of the HCC pathway. They are learning how to provide deeper learning experiences for their HCC students – more than acceleration into the next grade level.

On NOVA:

Co-Teaching: With about 25% of the students having IEPs, they work hard at differentiating every classroom and doing that through co-teaching of several classes. And they insist on high standards for all students – without dumbing down the curriculum. They also work hard to insure that every student is known and welcomed. Special ed students are welcome everywhere and any student is welcome in the special education quiet centers.

On Lafayette:

Race and Equity – they have had a team at the district training and have been working to build readiness in their building. The school has changed dramatically; they have one of the largest boundaries in the district and now take in students from what used to be the neighborhood for Pathways. They have become 30% F&R and 35% of color. They are planning their first ever cultural night. They have moved to “flexible grouping” to replace the racial disparity in their Spectrum classes and will implement “walk to math” next year with fluid and flexible groupings.

On Staff Changes:

Staff Changes: – I have been asked about staff turnover. Each story differs as to why people are moving to other districts or positions. Our district offers challenges because of size, culture, and complexity. No other district in our state has the same governance structure. No other district in the state has as much independent, school based decision making. No other district in the state has the level of public engagement over many issues. No other district in the state has the same level of expectation of specialized programs that should be offered. These and other unique characteristics make Seattle a wonderful place for educating students and a challenge for those who work here. Whether those challenges contribute to staff turnover is a matter of individual case.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting little item on that Memo from the Supe's report

SEA:Met with us to discuss their concerns about the number of teachers and staff on
administrative leave.We agreed that the backlog of investigations is creating hardships
on staff as well as budget.We shared some of the steps we are taking to reduce that
backlog.

hmmmm...

reader47

Anonymous said...

From the notes pasted above from Nyland's Friday memo, is Lowell part of the HCC pathway? I thought that was long-gone. Also, Nyland spelled Capitol Hill wrong....(in the full version I read online.)
NEmom

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Ok - this one is a bit troubling...From the tech services report on the Friday Memo

SPED COMPUTER STOLEN
: Another computer belonging to a SPED School Psychologist assigned to Eckstein Middle School and Queen Anne Elementary School was stolen from the individual’s car on Friday, May 6th.
From our investigation, this laptop contained significant sensitive information.
DoTS is working closely with SPED, Legal and Communications to
address the situation. The computer is equipped with our CompuTrace Service, so if the computer is connected to the Internet in the future, all of the data stored on it will be wiped.
DoTS is also pursuing several additional ways to help secure and protect information, in the likelihood of future laptop losses. These include:

Working with SPED to assure that all sensitive information used by their Psychologists is stored on One-Drive (in the secure cloud) rather than on the laptop.

Providing Awareness Training to all SPED Psychologists and others with laptops containing sensitive information

Encrypting all data on all District Laptops

Implementing “Two-Factor” authentication for laptops so that access can only be gained if the user has both something they know (such as a password or PIN), and something they have (such as a keycard, fingerprint or even facial recognition).
Since many of the SPED Psychologist laptops are old and do not have modernWiFi capabilities, DoTS is recommending that we utilize a small portion of the BTA IV Bridge Funding that has been requested, to immediately replace these old laptops so that we can easily implement the services noted above, to help secure sensitive data. This is fully funded in BTA IV.


These are pretty simple and standard security practices that are being suggested - it's kind of scary that they are just now being suggested for implementation...yikes!

reader47

Anonymous said...

Per SPS guidance, school assignment wait list is supposed to have the bulk of moves made by the end of May. I haven't seen any movement at all on my wait list number yet. Has anyone seen any movement?

Should I be calling someone to check on this? My child is an incoming K and I haven't gone through this process before.

CP

Anonymous said...

How about instructing staff to not leave a laptop in the car?!

-sigh

Maureen said...

How do three trimesters of five period days work for AP and IB classes? I guess all AP classes would have to be held in the 1st and 2nd trimesters and then the third trimester would have to be packed with electives? But what does that mean for the teachers' schedules? Can all of the material be covered in two trimesters? And what about things like Roosevelt's Drama program? Can students who take AP classes still be involved in electives that span the year?

That said, AP looks easy compared to IB. Again, all IB classes that require testing (so all SLs and all 2nd year HLs) would have to be taught during the first two trimesters. But students would have to retain the material, with no teacher reviews for two months. And since you need to take five IB classes your junior year to get the diploma, you would have no chance at all for an elective that year until third semester, and then your whole schedule would be electives since no IB class could be taught third trimester. Maybe the first year of HL classes could be taught during Q2 and Q3? But that means that IB teachers would be overbooked in Q2 and underbooked the other Qs. I just don't see how schedules work out for students or teachers with this plan. (I guess if the current schedule actually had room for a significant number of random electives - like creative writing or French Literature, then it could work, but that is not the case.)

Did people on the taskforce explicitly address AP and IB schedules and electives like orchestra and drama?

Anonymous said...

"24 Credit Task Force is recommending high schools schedules (for 17-18) that include three trimesters of five period days. This would allow students to earn up to 30 credits."

Is there any further info on how this works? On the surface it seems ok (and seems like it might be able to help the capacity issues, as of course most students won't take 30 credits), but after more thought it seem odd. Why 30 credits? With 4 years of high school, shouldn't the total number of credits available be a number that is divisible by 4? I'm thinking this means a longer school day as well, as going from 6 classes to 5 would not to make up for the instructional time that is lost by being reduced from a semester to a trimester. How do the credits work? Would classes that currently take a full year only take two trimesters?

Mom of 4

Melissa Westbrook said...

"SPED COMPUTER STOLEN"

Were parents told? What about the student data on that computer?

I'm not understanding this:

"Since many of the SPED Psychologist laptops are old and do not have modernWiFi capabilities, DoTS is recommending that we utilize a small portion of the BTA IV Bridge Funding that has been requested, to immediately replace these old laptops so that we can easily implement the services noted above, to help secure sensitive data. This is fully funded in BTA IV."

One, why hasn't the district bought up-to-date laptops for this important work? Two, nothing irritates me more than staff saying something new can be funded out of a BTA or BEX fund. The number of things that they like to say are "covered" by these levies is pretty funny. Someday, I'm going to do a comprehensive check of what was promised to voters versus what the money really got spent on.

Anonymous said...

Ok, should have looked this up first. 30 credits is 3 trimesters x 5 classes x 0.5 credits per class = 7.5 credits max per year. There seem to be a lot of high schools around the country already on this schedule. Eugene OR for one: http://www.4j.lane.edu/instruction/secondary/hsschedule/faq/

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

Trimesters sound like actual quarters. There must be other high schools that have trimesters. How do they handle IB and AP?

HP

Anonymous said...

Lynn wrote about a request for a language immersion program from Somali families.

Do most Somali students in Seattle speak Maxaa? (There are other languages.) Here's something about a program being started in Portland: http://www.opb.org/news/article/portland-somali-language-program-somalia-education-maxaa-maay/

LisaG

Lynn said...

The high schools I found with this schedule were AP rather than IB. Most classes were two trimesters long while AP classes are scheduled for three trimesters. How many classes is an IB Diploma candidate required to take in their senior year?

Anonymous said...

IB diploma candidates could be taking 4 or 5 IB classes their junior and senior years, plus the 7th period TOK class. They need to take 3 one-year SL classes (two of which can be taken junior year) and 3 two-year HL classes. The IB exams are taken in May, on a schedule set by the IBO. With SPS starting classes later than other school districts around the US, they already have less time to prepare for the IB and AP exams.

So....school start times are changing, SPS could potentially switch to a new trimester schedule, and students will soon be transitioning to a new high school?

chaos

Anonymous said...

Wasn't West Seattle High School on a trimester schedule for literally decades?

Or is my memory failing me?

northwesterner

Lynn said...

So the IB Diploma would require ten full year courses in the junior and senior years? Junior - 3 HL and 2 SL and Senior 3 HL, 1 SL and TOK? This leaves no room for non-IB electives.

I wonder if the task force looked at that.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that our waitlist hasn't budged at all, except being bumped down one spot. May 31st is coming fast, and according to an enrollment staff I spoke with today, no positions will be offered after May 31st.

- Frustrated as usual

Lynn said...

I am not excited about students having math or a world language for only two trimesters a year.

Anonymous said...

I too thought it interesting that there was no indication that parents of kids possibly impacted by the laptop theft had been notified. I'd like to assume they have been, BUT, this being SPS, have little confidence that's the case. There's some pretty lax security protocols going on here. Seems so counter intuitive in a city swimming in high tech.

reader47

Anonymous said...

If you look at some sample 3x5 schedules, they can cover three years of world language (or math, or...) in two years:

Year 1: Spanish 1A, 1B, 2A
Year 2: Spanish 2B, 3A, 3B

Year 1: Algebra 1A, 1B, Geometry 1A
Year 2: Geometry 1B, Algebra 2 1A, 1B

This change seems like it would be a hard sell.

-wary

Anonymous said...

Re: international high school, SE families aren't uninterested in Rainier Beach. They just want an international HS named in the SE as they were promised when they enrolled their children in the program. In theory it could be RBHS, but as it stands now that would involve a boundary change.

Regardless of which HS becomes part of the pathway, the district is way off the timeline. The HS will need time, $$$, and buy-in from staff to prepare. It is a two-year process that the district has not yet funded. The first cohort is currently in 7th grade.

--citizen electron

Anonymous said...

Somali immersion program...you are kidding, I hope. I think all this non-sense will come to an end this November.

End PC

Anonymous said...

I agree, End PC, that there would not be much interest for non-Somali students to learn the Somali language as a primary learning language. And for Somali families, I personally think that most of the parents would prefer that their children learn to excel in English. Just a guess. I know my friends from Eritrea/Ethiopia speak their language in the family and in their community, but they don't want their children to not be fluent in English. They want their children to be able to do something other than the options that have been available to them as adult immigrants who don't speak English fluently. That is why they are so excited when their kindergarten teacher is excited about their child learning to read and working hard. My personal experience.
NEmom

Anonymous said...

The 5 period 3 trimester schedule will be a disaster. Who thought this up?
Seattle parent

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Re: the JSIS parent who'd like immersion to be prioritized over HCC, I don't think HCC costs any more than any other program. Classes are large. HCC has been moved, divided, etc. to make things work logistically for our growing school district. I do not know why someone would think of ending one thing in order to give more money to another. A: immersion schools need two instructors. I know immersion schools have had huge fundraising needs because of that. B: Where would the HCC kids go if their reference schools are full? Just a thought...
NEmom

Anonymous said...

College admissions officers want to see that you've taken 4 years of this, 4 years of that... How does that work with 3X5 schedules? Is it ok to have your core classes for only 2/3 of the year, or will you be penalized? If you need to take full-year courses--or if you want to take AP or IB classes that run year-long, you're going to end up using more of your available credits in some areas. Will you have enough room to get it all in? While the current schedule allows equal access to rigorous classes and electives, a system that requires AP/IB classes to eat up more of your available "free" credits seems like it will disproportionately hurt kids taking challenging schedules.

DoingTheMath

Anonymous said...

Is it too late to submit survey responses? I had no idea such major schedule adjustments were part of the conversation. According to the district schedule, they were supposed to come out with a final recommendation last month.

https://www.seattleschools.org/families_communities/committees/graduation_requirement/

-argh

Anonymous said...

Never mind. Some districts keep their AP classes at two trimesters in most cases, so maybe it would not be a big problem?

DoingTheMath

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Doing the math,
What does the teacher do the 3rd Trimester after the 2 trimester AP class. Do they not teach? How does this work? Chaos?

Seattle parent

Maureen said...

Re Somali language immersion: I actually think it was problematic to offer Spanish AND Japanese AND Mandarin. JSIS and McDonald families are having to lobby to keep upper grade teachers because they lose students over time and have trouble replacing them with students fluent enough in the language. The new small class size rules for K-3 will make that worse.

If each school only offered one language this problem would largely go away (so, say Japanese at JSIS and Spanish at McDonald.) I was at a meeting where a JSIS parent said that could not be done, because it is important that the schools be "International" not just Immersion. Sigh. (Note that the two immersion schools share a border and are now supposedly both "Option" schools.)

Limiting the number of languages District wide (I would vote for Spanish and Mandarin) would make it much easier to share resources and create a pool of trained teachers and IAs. Adding Somali seems....quixotic? (We are talking curriculum immersion, not ELL services.)

TechyMom said...

http://richmondstandard.com/2016/05/wccusd-nearly-85-percent-of-class-of-2015-earns-diploma/

Interesting article about schedule changes. Kennedy High in Richmond CA is a very tough school. Glad to see this high graduation rate.

Jet City mom said...

Quarters/ trimesters work very well.
My kids had 6 block classes a week.
one class, usually math was held for an hour at a time, but other courses each had a turn at a two hour block each week.

Lynn said...

DoingtheMath - where did you find schools that scheduled AP courses for two trimesters instead of three? I couldn't find one school that did it that way.

Seattle parent - a teacher might teach four sections of 10th grade English A (1st half of the course) the first trimester, two sections each of A and B the second trimester and four sections of B the third trimester. AP classes seem to be scheduled for the entire year.

Jet City Mom - the task force isn't recommending a six period schedule though - just five.

Anonymous said...

Why is SPS awarding contracts to Patu's family members ? Urban Family


Money Matters

Anonymous said...

http://www.mtsd.k12.wi.us/cms_files/resources/Trimester%20FAQ%20Final%202.pdf

(see the link for Seaholm High School in MI)

-googling

Anonymous said...

Re: Somali immersion. I attended that meeting at Sealth and the large group of Somali parents there seemed quite clear on what they wanted. They have been impressed with the Spanish program there, which so far has served heritage speakers of Spanish. (The first group of Spanish immersion students from Concord has not yet reached high school.) Since participating in classes taught in Spanish, some of those students have experienced dramatic improvements in their achievement in classes taught in English. We saw some impressive writing samples from those students. The Somali parents want their students to experience the same benefit. Some of them clearly had themselves had a good English education, and all of them were apparently aware of the research showing the dramatic improvements in English learning that can happen in dual-immersion settings. I agree that Somali may not be a popular choice of second language among monolingual English speakers, but it is reasonable for any parent to advocate for whatever they believe will best serve their student.

Irene

Anonymous said...

What is SPS doing for students currently when they fail a class and need credit retrieval?
What's working for students now?
What are other districts in Washington State doing to help students meet the new credit requirements?

-??

Anonymous said...

--??

I can answer that one... The kids can now go to Summer School they have started that again after a couple of years of not.

They can take the extra credit courses that are in some schools (Franklin is one) that has an online program that is set up for whatever credits they need.. it is through Edgenuity whom contracts throughout the district for "online" learning.

They can go to Middle College sites or Interagency to do just that - online learning - with an "advisory" class that is about Social Justice to meet that component of well "social justice" whatever that is

or they stay at the school they are at and enroll for a semester to earn them.. you don't see that much but it is possible.

And that is also the role of the Cascade Homeschool partnership and the kid can again go online do the "course" and of course the district will sign off.

- Hope that helps

Charlie Mas said...

I think the District needs to be clear about the purpose and goals of language immersion. Then we can reach a determination of whether or not a language with few speakers globally, such as Somali or Esperanto, would be a good choice for the program.

The reasonable high school for the SE language immersion path would be Franklin. There is no natural association between language immersion and IB. I think we all need to remember that language immersion and international school are not synonymous either.

So that brings up another question: what are the purpose and goals of international schools?

Charlie Mas said...

It is worth noting that HCC has little impact on the language immersion pathway. They only compete for space at Hamilton and nowhere else. It would be easy for the District to replace HIMS as an HCC middle school with Robert Eaglestaff and JAMS.

Likewise HCC has no impact on the funding for language immersion since HCC classes, unlike language immersion, don't cost the district any more than general education classes.

The comment made by the JSIS parent was simply uninformed and should be ignored.

Anonymous said...

@Hope that helps.

Last I heard, Cascade Parent Partnership serves only grades K-8. They took away the high school-level instruction offerings several years ago.

-North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Money Matters, Director Patu's family may get contracts if they are offering a service the district wants. She wouldn't be involved knowing the ethics of the office plus her own public disclosure notice that she, along with all the directors filed earlier this year, which says nothing about her being involved in any family company.)

If you know differently, then say so.

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

I found the same one that "googling" above mentioned, as well as a couple others. I'm sure there are more. But it begs the question--how would SPS do it???

Dallastown Area HS in PA has 2-trimester-long AP classes, although on further inspection this is a new thing for them this coming year.

San Luis Obispo HS. AP classes are 2 trimesters, but many music classes are three trimesters. Some non-AP math classes are also year-long.

DoingTheMath

Anonymous said...

- North End mom

I know they did but they may be able to help with credit acquirement, that is what the charters are doing so it is worth asking.

- Hope that helps

Anonymous said...

OSPI has a digital learning department. Their website has info re: approved online providers for all sorts of classes--for credit recovery, electives, AP classes, summer options, etc.

http://digitallearning.k12.wa.us/

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in what, exactly, is going on at Lowell. My kids will be zoned for Lowell when they reach K. In the last year or two they made a big deal about how Lowell will be a Spectrum school, but then I've heard nothing since (and of course the Spectrum program is an endangered species anyway). I think they switched principals as well. The last times I examined the Lowell website - which admittedly was probably in the fall/winter - the site still hadn't been updated from the last school year, no mention of who the new principal was, what was going on with programs, etc. But anyway, Spectrum isn't considered part of the HCC pathway, right...?

-Fishing4 Info

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fishing4, I hate to tell you but Spectrum is being slowly, quietly done away with in its current form (mostly self-contained.) The district is allowing schools to either include Gen Ed students (probably nominated by teachers) in a mostly Spectrum-identified kids or spread Spectrum-IDed kids throughout Gen Ed classrooms.

It's a hodge-podge of a program and no one at JSCEE will address any questions in any real way.

Very disappointing especially since directors seem willing to stand up for other programs/services.

At the very least, it should be made clear to parents what is happening.

Anonymous said...

Right. HCC pathway schools are for students with the Highly Capable designation. HCC students have guaranteed spots in those pathway schools. There isn't an Advanced Learning (aka "Spectrum") pathway, but in some cases a school has both programs in the building. I suspect Nyland misspoke and really meant AL at Lowell?

2HC

Anonymous said...

Right, so then what the heck is the Supt. on about in his Friday memo?

-Fishing 4Info

Anonymous said...

Ah, I seem to have cross-posted with 2HC. It's most likely he just misspoke, but it's still weird; by all indications Spectrum at Lowell (and everywhere) is just dying a slow death, unaddressed, so why bring it up now as something they're trying to improve?

-Fishing 4Info

Anonymous said...

@ Fishing, maybe because the official party line is that Spectrum is alive and well?

For example, this was in the recent responses to questions asked at the Highly Capable oversight work session:

Q: What is the reference to “misinformation disseminated throughout the community” referenced in Slide 32?

A: Slide 32 is specifically in reference to multiple blog posts and emails sent either directly to us or to us via Teaching and Learning leadership, School Board members, Ombudsman, or parent groups with which we meet. This information can be inaccurate or misleading. For example, an issue we have had to address multiple times is the claim that “they [AL and district] have done away with Spectrum.” This is simply false. Schools are moving away from a self-contained model, but the Spectrum program very much exists.

I wonder how exactly the district defines "the Spectrum program."

HF

Anonymous said...

Lowell has an enrollment of around 300. Is it being considered for Cascadia overflow when the new building opens?

-who knows

Anonymous said...

Every building with any amount of space inside the hot zone (for lack of a better term) is being considered for Cascadia overflow, so I don't see why Lowell would be any different. That said, I have an easier time believing Nyland gets his AL mixed up with his HCC than I do believing SPS has figured out the capacity issue yet (or that they would let their secret solution slip out).

2HC

Anonymous said...

From the SPS International Schools page: "Seattle's International Schools provide students with linguistic skills, higher-order thinking skills, and a global perspective that will help them to contribute to, and succeed in, a 21st century world." http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=14798

If we look at this from a purely scientific standpoint and take equity issues out of the equation, the first two items in the mission, linguistic skills and higher-order thinking, are not benefits to native speakers in a language immersion program. Learning in a second language uses completely different areas of the brain compared to learning in a native language. It's *second* language immersion that provides the benefits that SPS attributes to the program. A native speaker of Spanish would get those benefits by going to a school where they learn in English.

As for whether IB should be a logical progression from an immersion program, I agree with Charlie there's no natural association. The diploma is simply recognized by an international governing body and doesn't necessarily further global perspective, unless it's used as a stepping stone to international higher ed.

-language educator

Anonymous said...

@ language educator,

Yes, but the SPS immersion model is only part-day immersion. The idea is that students get half the day in the second language. For native English speakers, the "immersion"language provides it. For ELLs, the English portion of the day does (and the portion of the day in their native language allows them to make easier progress in that area, rather than struggle with language issues all day).

But really, why are "linguistic skills" and "higher-order thinking skills" specific to international schools in the first place, and not the goal of ALL our schools? And having been a part of two "international schools" in SPS, I haven't really seen the "global perspective" piece come through any more than an any other non-international school. I find the SPS International Schools page lacking in substance, but maybe as a language educator you can explain what I'm missing in that diagram that lays out the vision, and how it's substantively any different than non-int'l ed.

EE

Anonymous said...

Which Friday memo are people referring to that has the info re: Lowell, the 24-credit task force, etc.? I don't see it on the Friday memos page. There are Deputy Supe memos but no Supe memos, and they don't cover the laundry list of issues noted above.

Missing Something

Anonymous said...

May 15 memo on the school board page
NEmom

Anonymous said...

May 13 is Friday
sorry--NEmom

Charlie Mas said...

Friday memos can have a lot of different parts. There is the base memo from the superintendent, which is always there, memos from various deputy superintendents, and attachments.

Dr. Nyland's piece is the base memo which can be viewed by clicking on the the hyperlink with the date.

Melissa Westbrook said...

On the subject of school focus, the Operations committee is to take up an extension of the lease for Center School at Seattle Center. It's about $1M for 5 years. (They break this out to about $17K per month. It does include custodial fees and utility costs.) What is baffling is the "lease analysis which makes it look like the per month cost is much lower. The new lease is not part of the documentation.

The district notes they had a 15-year lease with the City which expires on June 30,2016 BUT they don't say how much they paid on that lease. Not good. They do say they asked for a reduction in rent but it was denied.

The original contract (which is attached) says they paid $85,050 for the first year with the rate going up every year per the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U). That price didn't include operating expenses.

And here's the description they have for the school:

"Since 2001,The Center School's rigorous, college-prep, academic curriculum (sic) has attracted positive attention. Located in the Center House, the school utilizes resources in the heart of Seattle's cultural, civic and arts communities. There is an effort to extend learning beyond the classroom walls by using professional venues for drama classes, creating partnerships with local artists, and involving ourselves in the city. A focus on social justice issues also provides opportunities for students to have an impact on the world outside the schoolhouse."

There's some irony there. They want the Board to sign off on the lease agreement for a school that appears to be losing its arts focus next year and that the district fought with a teacher about on social justice teaching.

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/committees/Operations/2015-16/20160519_Agenda.pdf

Ms206 said...

No, most Somalis speak Somali. I used to work with a lot of Somali/Somali-American people. One of my really good friends is Somali. There are dialects, the most prominent being from the southern part of Somalia, the northern part of the country, and from the area around the capital, Mogadishu. I am not sure if the dialects have specific names.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying EE. I'm actually happy to learn they do it that way, because having native speakers in an immersion program adds authenticity to the communication. So on the Somali program question others have brought up, it wouldn't be outside the stated vision of the program unless there is lack of interest from native English speakers -- there has to be balance; otherwise it's an ELL program, something altogether different.

@EE I also agree that at the middle and high school levels in Seattle there doesn't appear to be a substantive difference between gen ed and international ed, other than making sure the appropriate level classes are offered. Suggesting in that diagram that it's more than a pathway in MS & HS is a bit disingenuous on the part of SPS. That said, I hope families in the program at the upper grades will chime in here if there is more to it than that.

But the elementary program, immersion, IS substantively different from gen-ed. An immersion environment makes all communication in the target language authentic, so it's closer to the way we learn our first languages. Authentic communication in the target language is far more effective than 50 minutes of French class every day. Language immersion offers cognitive benefits beyond just learning the target language; this is where the "higher order thinking" comes in.

FWIW, the blue section in that diagram is a very oversimplified representation of this Global Competence matrix: http://sites.asiasociety.org/education/globalcompetence/.

-language educator

Lynn said...

Here's a link to the 24-Credit Task Force Recommendations Report.

Ms206 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The 24-Credit Task Force recommends a 3x5 schedule, as well as an advisory period, at all high schools. The 3x5 schedule is being proposed as a means of increasing flexibility and course options, but limiting the school day to 5 periods may very well restrict flexibility and options for those wanting access to advanced coursework (AP and IB), and possibly prevent IB diploma attainment. There does not seem to be even a cursory analysis of impacts for AP and IB classes as part of putting forth the recommendation.

-very wary

Anonymous said...

Frustrated as Usual -

My child was offered a spot at my preferred school! Hopefully, your wl position moves as well.

CP

Anonymous said...

Is there a link on the website to get to the waitlist? I can't seem to find one. I can find the waitlist reports if I search for it but I can't find a link from the Admissions page or anywhere that takes you to the latest report run. Has anyone seen a link?

HP

NE parent said...

It's at the bottom of the registration page, where it says waitlist information:
http://www.seattleschools.org/admissions/registration

Anonymous said...

So far none of the advanced learning/spectrum waitlists have moved this year. Is this the strategy of getting rid of it? My kid is already enrolled in the school so the only difference would be to walk to math. So it's not about headcounts and capacity.

Frustrated as usual

Anonymous said...

Thank you NE Parent!

HP

Charlie Mas said...

@Frustrated as Usual, the idea of a finite number of Spectrum seats is rooted in the time when Spectrum was a self-contained program. Elementary schools would have a Spectrum class at each grade level and once the class was full, that was it. Likewise, middle schools would have a Spectrum class or two and, again, once they were full that was it. Oddly, some schools would set their Spectrum capacity at less than a class. I clearly remember a year when Denny said that they only had 12 Spectrum seats at each grade level.

Today, when Spectrum classes are not self-contained, the whole idea of a finite number of seats has no legitimate rationale. At the middle school level, every Spectrum-eligible student is supposed to be enrolled in the program. At the elementary school level, the district's refusal to set aside seats for Spectrum students creates an inequity since the program is only available to students living in the attendance area for the Spectrum site. Out of area students can't get into the program because there are no seats in the school for out of area students. When the New Student Assignment plan was designed, it was supposed to make provision for programs within the schools. For example, a 400-seat school would have space for 100 Spectrum students and 300 seats available to neighborhood kids. The attendance area would be sized so that it captured only 300 students instead of 400. The District forgot that when drawing attendance areas so that there isn't any room for Spectrum students unless they live in the Spectrum school's attendance area.

Of course that doesn't begin to explain why the school has to limit Spectrum seats when the classes are not self-contained. That makes no sense at all.

Frustrated as usual said...

But they aren't even assigning kids to the program that are already at that school. My son is in K, qualified for advanced learning, and was waitlisted at his current school.
I understand that as a neighborhood school it is tricky to predict enrollment, but May 31st is the last day to be assigned to a program.

Anonymous said...

One of my kids has an outdoor field trip coming up in June, and the school sent home with each child the "authorization for medications to be taken at school" form, telling us that for our kids to be allowed to put on sunscreen (even self-applied) requires a doctor's signature. This is completely ridiculous, of course, but apparently is the practice at several schools. I understand getting the parent's signature, in case of allergies, etc., but requiring a signature from a doctor seems like overkill, and a process that actually will put students at risk because kids will end up being forbidden to use sunscreen if their parents did not get a doctor to sign the form (which I suspect happens a lot - when the form came home it did not have the sunscreen instructions attached, so I just recycled it as my daughter does not take medication). This seems to be a new requirement this year, as I never have to sign anything other than a permission slip in the past. I did look it up on line, and it sounds like the Tacoma school district dropped a similar policy a few years ago after a student's sunscreen was confiscated, and she wound up so badly sunburned that her parents took to her to the hospital. That is an extreme case, obviously, but you'd think that the administration would try to make it easier to keep kids safe & healthy, rather than throwing up completely unreasonable roadblocks.

Link to the form (clearly intended for actual medications - what is the "diagnosis" or "dosage" for sunscreen?):
"http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/Migration/Admissions/medauth1.pdf)

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

Is there current work being done on HCC pathways? I just noticed this in Nyland's last Friday memo:

Community/Partnership Meetings:
- PTSA – I met with the General Counsel PTSA Board today…. Flip Herndon joined us to talk about the Task Force and work being done in regard to wait lists, attendance boundaries (Cedar Park and HCC pathways).

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Mom of 4,
It is not extreme for some people to get very burned in a short period of time, especially when having fun with friends in the wind where you might not feel the burn take place.
NEmom

Anonymous said...

The child in Tacoma is a child of an acquaintance of mine. The kid has a form of albinism that makes the child very susceptible to the sun. The kid had been coated up with sunscreen in the morning before school but the kid was not allowed to reapply sunscreen and was severely burned. It was an all day field day in the sun event.

HP

Charlie Mas said...

@HIMSmom, that doesn't necessarily mean that there is any work being done on HCC pathways, only that they were discussed. It's almost impossible to discuss attendance boundaries without referencing HCC pathways.

Anonymous said...

Count me in with those concerned by the proposed trimester system. Critical problems with 3x5:
>6-9 month gaps between core classes (for ex: geometry Fall/Winter of year one; Algebra II Winter/Spring of year two)
>Increases homework, as more material needs to be covered per day and timelines are squeezed. Does not decrease homework as suggested.
>College prep schedule fills all available slots; 4-year pathway must be planned out before freshman year and makes scheduling very tight
>Leaves very little wiggle room for a student in a year-long music program
>Puts IB and AP students at a disadvantage compared to their peers in other districts; task force admits there may be issues with feasibility of IB (p 15 of the report)
>The district relies on IB as a capacity management tool. If this goes away as an option, neighborhood schools will be increasingly over capacity.
>Concerns about teachers (advisory) taking on counselors' responsibilities.

No 3x5

Anonymous said...

Add to the list -

>lack of continuity, as there is no guarantee the 1st trimester of a class will be taught by the same teacher as the second (or third) trimester

-very wary

Anonymous said...

Having seen various forms of this kind of scheduling in other districts, I wouldn't be surprised if schools with the IB program stick with regular scheduling, or maybe just the kids in the actual program do. Which I'm sure wouldn't stir up any problems :P

-Fishing 4Info

Anonymous said...

@ Fishing 4Info, the task force recommendations also say this:

While these are important considerations, the Task Force ultimately felt that providing all students with the same credit -bearing opportunities, as well as consistency from school to school and equitable access to districtwide programs, outweighed the need for autonomy. However, the Task Force retains it as an option for consideration if the 3x5 schedule is not accepted or deemed feasible.

This schedule recommendation would mean that schools would be able to choose their own daily schedules, provided:
 Schools offer at least 27 credits
 The schedule includes an advisory
 The schedule fits with the semester calendar
 Schools increase credit-earning opportunities for (at least) ninth grade
 Schools increase school-based extended learning opportunities

DoingTheMath

Watching said...

As per usual, our children are being used as subjects of human experiments. Has anyone checked into curriculum to assure students get full course content??

Anonymous said...

Watching, with the proposed 70 minute classes, they are saying instructional hours per credit would only be cut by 10. On the surface that seems doable. But they would be cutting instructional DAYS by 60 days per credit. That is significant. It means 60 fewer lessons. There would be more time in the classroom to practice after each lesson. But teachers would have 60 fewer opportunities to teach the material. I don't see how it could be the same course content.

Now that I think about it, if I was a teacher, I'd be dreading having to come up with all new lesson plans and course organization.

No 3x5

Watching said...

Thanks, 3x5. I'm getting the feeling that the process hasn't been fully fleshed out. I don't blame the distrit. They are just trying to meet another state mandate.

I hope the board sends another message to Olympia. It is time for Olympia to stop foisting unfunded mandates on our schools and children.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting the feeling that the process hasn't been fully fleshed out. I don't blame the distri[c]t.

If parents can look at the 3x5 option and quickly see it would be problematic for many reasons, how did it even get to the recommendation phase? I could understand listing it as an option that was considered, but for reasons x, y, and z they rejected, but they put it forth as a recommendation. Then again, it's a Task Force recommendation. We know even sound recommendations may get ignored...

-very wary

Anonymous said...

What are other school districts doing? Do they have something already that works?

HP

Lynn said...

Adding a seventh period for students who have failed a class would solve the problem. It would be much less disruptive than changing the schedule for every school in the district.

Maureen said...

I agree with Lynn re seventh period. I have also heard that at least some teachers and parents of kids who are struggling say it sends a bad message to create a system that assumes kids need to be given the opening to fail six classes. I.e., that failing is the expectation for some kids.

Anonymous said...

Adding an an optional 7th period might also make scheduling easier, and it would give you an opportunity to get an extra class one term if for some reason (e.g., overcrowding) the school couldn't give you a full schedule one term.

DoingTheMath

Anonymous said...

Could the district fund it? The Task Force discounted a 7 period option, but in their schedule comparison, the rough cost estimate was not too different from the system wide change to a 3x5 schedule. Would the 7th period occur as "zero" period? Given capacity issues, the district may be forced to add a flex period/zero period.
Next year, high schools will start at 8:45. A zero period class could be held from 7:50 to 8:40. Starting 2017-18, 20 min will be added to the instructional day. HS start times could move back to 8:25, with a zero period at 7:30. Breakfast service would need to be extended, adding another cost.

Maureen said...

Would this (3x5 in HS) have any impact on the District calendar? Would K-8 have to change their schedules to line up breaks and transportation?

It occurs to me that Q2 would probably start just before the Winter break, so no real teaching and learning (for a Q2-Q3 class at least) could be done until after that.

Anonymous said...

I also support a zero period or a 7th period. The task force's opposition to it was a rather brief and oversimplified "too many transitions" and "increased course load does not support the values of in-depth learning, personalization, and social-emotional well-being (increased stress of homework, more courses, etc…)." We've demonstrated that the second half of that list (the in-depth learning etc) applies to 3x5 as well. And the first concern "too many transitions" is of little consequence compared to the serious problems with 3x5. Further, a zero period, as a make-up period, makes both of those concerns go away for the majority of students.

Here's what unsigned anonymous said about this above, in case the post is removed:
"Could the district fund it? The Task Force discounted a 7 period option, but in their schedule comparison, the rough cost estimate was not too different from the system wide change to a 3x5 schedule. Would the 7th period occur as "zero" period? Given capacity issues, the district may be forced to add a flex period/zero period.
Next year, high schools will start at 8:45. A zero period class could be held from 7:50 to 8:40. Starting 2017-18, 20 min will be added to the instructional day. HS start times could move back to 8:25, with a zero period at 7:30. Breakfast service would need to be extended, adding another cost."

No 3x5

Anonymous said...

I agree. The task force's opposition to the 7-period-day was weak.

Too many transitions? That's one extra transition per day, but likely only for some students. And it's FEWER transitions over the course of the year, since you'd take 12-14 classes as opposed to 15.

In-depth learning? A longer period may allow more in-depth learning in class on any one day, but the shorter term will get in the way of in-depth learning, as will the overall decreased number of minutes allotted to each class.

Personalization? I'm not sure exactly what exactly they were looking for, but with 15 classes per year instead of 12-14, you'd have MORE teachers to deal with, and less time with each. Plus, you'd be much more likely to have discontinuity between the the first part of a course and the second part.

Increased homework? Under a 7-period day, most students could still just have a 6-period schedule, so homework wouldn't change for most. But the idea that a 3x5 schedule reduces homework doesn't make sense. You may only have 5 classes, but since you have to move through the material much more quickly, you need to do MORE homework on a daily basis--more reading, more practice problems, more writing, etc. And think about it: if you're taking 15 classes per year instead of 12 or 14, why would you have less homework?

The whole idea that a 7-period day represents an "increased course load" over a 3x5 schedule seems flat-out wrong to me. On a daily basis, it's correct. But over the course of a year, 15 classes is MORE than 12 or 14.

DoingTheMath