Sunday, June 05, 2016

Seattle Public Schools This Week

The district is still doing its website survey so weigh in if you, like many of us, find it less-than-useful.

I gave Roosevelt my younger son's graduation gown so that another student could use it.  But I do have a black gown and a navy blue gown if anyone wants them or knows a kid who can't afford one. (sss.westbrook@gmail.com.)

Wednesday, June 8th
 Board Work Session on 24 Credits for high school graduation, Budget and Communications at JSCEE from 4:30-7:45 pm.  Agenda    (24 Credits comes first in the document, from pages 2-89, Communications starts at page 90 -(and I go by the Word numbering, not the different section numbering.) There is no documentation yet for the Budget portion of the Work Session.  This seems like a lot to cram into one single Work Session.

Let's start with the 24 Credits section which is at the start of the agenda and has the recommendations from the Taskforce.

I see something that sends off warning bells to me.  That the "use of an online high school and beyond platform that allows for robust and comprehensive career and college planning."

Why don't I like this?  Well, for one it explains away why there are no career and college counselors - that know our region/state and what is offered here.  What's pretty funny is that on page 13 it says "in high school, HSBP should be overseen by counselors, through an advisory period."  That's great but how to do it? Reading on I see the "advisory" period would be "credit-bearing." 

As well, there are generally four academic counselors in any given high school.  How can four people take this on?  Most of the big high schools find their counselors spending a lot of time on scheduling. They say "reduce the ratio from 1:400 to 1:250."  Sounds good; is SPS hiring new counselors?  (And, where in our overcrowded buildings to put them and this work?"  The documentation says, "teachers and counselors should be supported to effectively lead advisory."  Yes, of course, they should but will they be? Is this in the CBA?

 Two, I am going to be writing up an extensive thread on "personalized learning" and see this as SPS' first toe in the water.

Another rec is "adopting a five-period day, trimester schedules, otherwise known as a 3x5 schedule."  They do say the next step should be a feasibility study.

One more toe into online learning - Extended Learning.  "run digital credit-retrieval courses during the school day, supported by a classroom teacher."  And, create a committee to look into more of this.  Also, "systematize the earning of high school credit at the middle school level so that middle school students across the district have the same opportunity to earn high school credit."  I wasn't aware of two things - that "systematize" was a word and that the idea here wasn't already in place.

Hey, look at that more CTE.  Good idea.  I hope they have the money for all they want to do.
 

Communications (starting on page 90)

Really glad to see Carri Campbell at the top of the org chart; she's smart and knows the district.

Of interest on Wednesday night is a Town Hall event - Protecting Yourself and Your Privacy in the Digital Age - A Call to Action

Come early for a community resource fair (starting at 5:00pm) for networking, learning more about the issues at hand, and contributing to the conversation via an interactive discussion board.
After the mainstage forum, at 7:30pm, producer Scilla Andreen will hold a discussion in the Town Hall Pub about her documentary, Screenagers.
Panelists:

Thursday, June 9th
Board Audit&Finance Committee meeting at Board conference room from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda not yet available.

Saturday, June 11th
Community meeting with Director Sue Peters at the Queen Anne Library from 11 am to 12:45 pm.

Community meeting with Director Leslie Harris at High Point Library from 3-4:30 pm

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hale has mentors for the students. Every teacher has around 30 kids whom they mentor. The group are all from the same year and can choose to stay together all 4 years which my kid's group decided to do. The mentor class is twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:35 to 11 AM. They fill out their class schedule for the next year, work on college and beyond stuff, and do some bonding events like making pancakes in the class room. My kid talked to their academic counselor very little. The counselor had little time for anything but scheduling.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks, HP. So the district has a school with experience doing this and Hale could explain to others how it is done.

Anonymous said...

You started this post by noting that you gave Roosevelt your younger son's gown so another student could wear it. Do you know of other high schools that do this? We're graduating our second child this year, and once again are appalled at just how much money it costs (different school, so we had to buy a different color gown). If each high school were to collect gowns after graduation from anyone who wanted to donate them, in just a couple of years they'd have a full supply to save students from the high cost of a polyester tent they'll only wear once.

My older son proposed to his high school that students be given the option of wearing dress clothes to graduation and donating the cost of their gown to the school's scholarship fund. He was told it would detract from the solemnity of the day.

Pity we can't find a way to make graduation a low cost event for families.

Nearly Done with SPS

Anonymous said...

I was told that schools can not ask for donations of used graduation gowns because of contracts with the sales company. Not sure if that is true. However, we have given our used gowns to the counseling office for future students of need. I know that our current high school provides used gowns for some students. I think parents could organize a gown hand off from grads to junior parent group too.

I imagine that if students graduate in dress clothes, the expense could be higher for students who have to buy a suit or dress.

HS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I tried to give the one I had for Hale back but they said it was probably a different dye lot and refused it.

I don't know if other schools do this like Roosevelt but I was certainly glad to help some other students. I agree; the cost is pretty high and I'm sure for a low-income family it is worse.

I know Garfield is having an issue over the colors being used this year versus what was tradition but I don't know if that got settled.

Lynn said...

I wondered about the contract too. Can you buy the cap separately?

Collecting gowns would be a great service project for a junior at each school.

Anonymous said...

Garfield got settled because there was an ordering timeline. The issue has differences of opinon, since you can't have it both the old way--white on girls, purple on boys; and the new ways--choice; or another new way, all one color--purple. So you can't make everyone happy.
GHSmom

Lynn said...

Garfield students could choose between purple and white this year - the first time colors weren't assigned based on gender. The change was made because students believe it's not right to segregate based on gender and out of sensitivity to students whose gender identity is fluid or something they're not willing to declare so publicly. The current senior class leadership has recommended that next year's seniors choose one color for the entire class.

There was some conflict about the change. Shedrick Johnson, president of the Black Student Union was quoted in the student paper saying “People made it seem like we should have catered to the minority. That’s not fair because others are the majority.”

Maureen said...

I brought up the idea of a gown lending program at Ingraham and was told that there was no where to store them (having students run this off campus might help.) Another issue is that it costs almost as much to buy a cap and tassel as it does a gown and many students like to keep those. (That pricing is, of course, ridiculous -- it is unclear to me how the vendor is chosen, is that a school/ASB decision or does the District do it on behalf of all of the schools?)

Maureen said...

Re the 5x3 schedule. I know this sounds ridiculous (it is), but does anyone know if SPS could just keep our current 6x2 schedule and make each class worth 1.50 credits? I honestly can't see the difference (5x3 does not magically create more class time.) I guess the problem is that it would make each individual class failure more of an issue, not less (as 3x5 does.)

So, ok, how about this? They already give midsemester grades. So, switch to a 6x4, with each class worth (I think) 0.75. The class schedule remains exactly the same, but kids can get half credit if they only fail half the class. It would be a pain for teachers because midsemester grades would have to be more meaningful, but would have to be easier than reworking every single work plan for all of their classes. (I would add a zero period for kids who are struggling, but SPS doesn't seem to be willing to spend any money on anything that practical.)

Watching said...

I was upset to learn that the cost of purchasing graduation cap and gown was $50. That is a lot of money and certainly a lot of money for one-time use.

One school offers an Advisory Period. It is intended to help students with social issues. Recently, a charter school boasted the fact that they offered an Advisory Period. They acted as if they were offering something unheard-of in public school.

Anonymous said...

Another SPS meeting this week:

Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee meeting, 6:30 - 8:00 pm, Garfield High School Library.

NOTE: The agenda will include Flip Herndon talking capacity issues and the Highly Capable Cohort. I wonder if this is a long-term vision type discussion, or immediate crisis management...

HF

Melissa Westbrook said...

HF, what day is that?

SPS Mom said...

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th.

NESeattleMom said...

Tuesday, June 7, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
HCC advisory meeting

Ramona H said...

Hi Melissa, on the 24 credit task force recommendations, the high school and beyond planning tool is not in place of counselors. It is in addition to. We also asked for a counselor increase. And the state also increased funding specifically for hs counselors. So that aligns. The online access is a planning tool for parents and students to engage. They also help counselors, I believe. They are actually quite common (esp in private schools), and SPS budgeted for one earlier, but the company they chose defaulted. The tool is something counselors have been seeking. They are especially useful for kids in CTE and who are designing specialized pathways. They help kids explore career ideas, etc, and can be used in an advisory class. Empowering kids and giving parents access to help support career or college readiness is important to transitions beyond hs. That was the driving consideration.

Ramona H said...

Also, we didn't go into personalized learning, but there was concern expressed about equitable access to online learning for credit retrieval. Upshot from task force was online was something that really needed it's own exploration. But, if schools were going to continue to use it for credit retrieval (and some are) it needed to be equitable and staff oversight had to happen... in a sense, "pathways" and hs beyond planning is personalized learning in the sense that they are founded on the idea that kids interests should drive their education and that staff shouldn't dictate what classes they can access. Some families are really suspicious of tracking. And history supports their concern.... but there was no conversation about turning education over to online, tech-supported personalized learning. At least not on this task force.

Ramona H said...

And on advisory periods, there were various ideas. My take was that was something the high schools wanted opportunity to explore with their staffs.

Ramona H said...

This is an example of what the 24 credit task force was looking at with advisory. Some high schools have something in place, others zilch. Done well, advisory has really positive results. But staff has to buy in and help figure out what it looks like.

Ramona H said...

I think Cleveland has something as well.

Ramona H said...

Legally, it is up to each district to decide what a credit is. So, I guess they could try to say 1 semester of math equaled a year. But colleges may not buy it and may not consider it met. Where the task force was coming from was how to make sure kids could BOTH take core classes needed for graduation (and to prepare for college/career, etc) AND still work in electives or take sequenced pathways, like say the video program at Ballard. The point was to make room for things like art and music, or coding, or whatever ... so, for instance, 2 classes of ELA, then an elective in the next trimester. Another option is a modified bloc sked where kids take 7 or 8 classes at a time, but they alternate days. Cleveland has a modified 8 bloc. Hale has a modified 6. Issue there is the blocs meet for longer periods (up to 90 minutes). A lot of teachers don't like this. There is a lot of PD involved for staff in making these skeds work well. And they are more expensive. (Hale has a longer day, for instance, and different agreements with staff) Ultimately more on the hs committee and task force preferred the 5x3, but using blocs is definitely an option to consider. ...

Ramona H said...

Advisory is not unheard of, but also not currently accessible to all or even most SPS high achool students. Done well, they can really support kids. One reason why both high school committee (a standing group) and the 24-credit task force is recommending SPS adopt them for all hs students.

Ramona H said...

I just want to note also that in year 1 of the task force we had a number of counselors involved, and their perspectives on engaging and supporting kids really influenced us. This year we had more hs teachers involved. They really went to bat for a schedule that offered all kids access to electives and pathways while not overwhelming them. A tri sked gives kids struggling in math an option of a math lab to bolster them ... and still be able to take electives. Giving kids more opportunities to earn electives means failing a course doesn't derail them. Kids who struggle often cannot accommodate out of school learning (jobs, for instance) so creating a schedule that gives them plenty of leeway, during the regular day, is important. Cleveland grads are most equipped to meet state requirements (based on credits earned and courses taken). I think Ballard came in last. Not to knock Ballard. It's a wonderful school. But the old straight 6 periods is very limiting.

Ramona H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ramona H said...

Advisory is not unheard of, but also not currently accessible to all or even most SPS high achool students. Done well, they can really support kids. One reason why both high school committee (a standing group) and the 24-credit task force is recommending SPS adopt them for all hs students.

Ramona H said...

Legally, it is up to each district to decide what a credit is. So, I guess they could try to say 1 semester of math equaled a year. But colleges may not buy it and may not consider it met. Where the task force was coming from was how to make sure kids could BOTH take core classes needed for graduation (and to prepare for college/career, etc) AND still work in electives or take sequenced pathways, like say the video program at Ballard. The point was to make room for things like art and music, or coding, or whatever ... so, for instance, 2 classes of ELA, then an elective in the next trimester. Another option is a modified bloc sked where kids take 7 or 8 classes at a time, but they alternate days. Cleveland has a modified 8 bloc. Hale has a modified 6. Issue there is the blocs meet for longer periods (up to 90 minutes). A lot of teachers don't like this. There is a lot of PD involved for staff in making these skeds work well. And they are more expensive. (Hale has a longer day, for instance, and different agreements with staff) Ultimately more on the hs committee and task force preferred the 5x3, but using blocs is definitely an option to consider. ...

Anonymous said...

Hale has late start on Tuesdays to allow teachers to collaborate and plan their classes. Most kids like the block classes with different schedules on different days. The same thing day after day is boring. Most college classes are for 2 or 3 days a week.

Perhaps if teachers don't like Hale's or Cleveland's setup, each school could figure out how they want to meet the 24 credit threshold instead of forcing the trimesters on all schools. I am very thankful that we will be out of SPS before this hits.

HP