Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

Remember that story in the Times a week ago about how Councilman Tim Burgess thinks the district is "evil" because all of the Level 1 elementary schools are in the south-end (with neither he nor the Times truly acknowledging all the reasons that may be?)  Well, somebody felt like this less-than-a story article needed more play and now they added a map of what level schools are where.

Almost like someone picked up the phone and said, "This needs more attention - put in a graphic and get it back in the cue of local stories."  Almost like someone needs to get the drumbeat up about pre-K and getting more space in SPS.

Interesting series from KCTS about portables.

In 2003, Spokane Public Schools launched a four-phase, 25-year long range plan that vowed to keep a flat local tax rate. It required patience — some schools wouldn’t benefit from passed bonds for decades.

It was a steady-as-she-goes plan, said Mark Anderson, the district’s assistant superintendent. That was appealing for voters, he said.

A nearly stagnant student population has been an advantage for Spokane. Spokane Public Schools’ latest demographic reports show growth is now on the horizon. New requirements for all-day kindergarten and smaller overall class sizes — by many other measures welcomed mandates — are creating the need for more space throughout the state’s public schools.
 Very troubling story from KOMO-TV " 'Our system is broken' - More King county kids being arrested for violent crimes." Big issue? Ready access to guns.
From the slayings inside the jungle homeless encampment in January; to the killing of Decatur High School sophomore in February; to the death of teenage girl in Burien earlier this month, the majority of the murders being investigated in King County this year have allegedly been allegedly been committed by children.

"Never have we seen this many homicide cases in such a short period of time involving juveniles." said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, during an interview last week.  King County Superior Court Chief Juvenile Court Judge J. Wesley Saint Clair calls the surge in youth gun violence "a crisis."

Satterberg points out that all of the victims in the killings were shot with stolen guns and that all of the suspects - eight boys and one girl - were no strangers to the juvenile justice system.
"They don't think about consequences, they get angry and they respond to that physiological feeling of anger. These are all reasons you don't want kids carrying guns," Satterberg said.
What's on your mind?


Watching said...

We all know that Mayor Ed Murray wants more control of Seattle Public Schools. He has a history of drafting legislation to appoint school board members, and has more recently suggested governance changes.

Mayor Ed Murray has a history of being a hot head. He created a plan to deal with homelessness. Sally Bagshaw was about to offer a resolution and alternate plan to deal with the issue and Murray made quite a threat:

"After Mayor Ed Murray unveiled a plan to clear the homeless encampment under the I-5 freeway known as the Jungle, the mayor issued a threat to City Council Member Sally Bagshaw if she proposed an alternative approach with a stronger focus on connecting the homeless to social services: "I will stop all cleanups throughout the city and pull police off


I'm glad this story came to light and called attention to the manner in which Murray operates. Any thought of him having more control over our schools must be thwarted.

Watching said...

Another quote from above article:

"The implication was clear: If Bagshaw moved forward with a competing plan, police would pull back under the mayor’s orders, and the council member would take the blame for resultant crimes.

When Bagshaw did not respond to some the mayor’s texts, Murray tried to encourage her to call him by claiming he's never yelled at her before."

Anonymous said...

allegedly been allegedly been


Melissa Westbrook said...

Those texts are certainly interesting and telling. It's hard to miss his meaning about 'pulling back on policing." Again, one person in charge of a school district (while running a city) is not a good thing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just listened to Josh Feit of Publicola on KUOW explaining this story. His take is that Murray may be a hothead but he gets stuff done. But he also pointed out that it may be hard on Murray's staff because this is the second communications person he's lost (among other staffers.)

Murray has certainly gotten things "done." As for how well the outcomes, that truly remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

Bellevue just got clobbered by with athletic violation penalities. Lesson for SPS. The administrators at Garfield, Sealth and RBHS have looked the other way in the past in the same way Bellevue High School did. No doubt it's happened at other schools. Keep it clean from here on out. Unseemly and unethical are no way for school athletics to operate.


Eric B said...

I'd love to have Ramona Hattendorf come back and tell us what the thinking was on the 24-credit task force recommendations. I had a few specific questions in that thread; I can repost them if you like.

Charlie Mas said...

The 24 credit graduation requirement only makes sense in the context of a seven-period day for high school students.

Watching said...

There was another council member that had concerns with Mayor Ed Murray:

"Council Member Lisa Herbold says Murray made a similar threat during an in-person conversation about encampment sweeps in her office in late January or early February. At the time, Herbold was hearing from advocates who believed the city wasn't following its own rules for how to clear encampments. So, she brought up the issue in council meetings and met with Murray.

"I said I want a harm reduction approach," Herbold says, "and what that means to me is focusing on areas that are imminent public safety threats and [having] more transparency into the process. But the reaction I got was... these were not appropriate questions to be asking."

I only bring this-up because Murray is holding closed door meetings that involve our education system.

He is a bully and will stop at nothing- to get what he wants.

LMM said...

do you have more info "I only bring this-up because Murray is holding closed door meetings that involve our education system"

Thank you,

Anonymous said...

Why are you so dismissive of The article on "the gap"?

What points that are made in the article are wrong?

I haven't read the book Burgess has given to all the council members, but the research seems sound. We have terrible support for pre-K in this country and Seattle is trying to set the standard. When the three peer countries, Australia, Canada and the UK see the gap being reduced by early interventions, it seems obvious that we are moving in the right direction. Ya, taking space from before and after school care programs is a problem, but getting poor kids into pre-K can't wait, we're talking about children's futures.

If these were kids we all knew, which I'm guessing for most of us reading they are not, we'd be on board. But, and I'm one of them, we don't have kids next door who need this city pre-K or they will end up dropping out or not attending college or worse. The inequality in our city is only growing and as the article states, education is the best leveler.


Melissa Westbrook said...

ST, I'm dismissive because none of it is "new" news. The Times has reported on this before sans Tim Burgess' comments. That it gets cued back up, now with a graphic, after a week is very odd for the news business.

Seattle has not set the standard for pre-k; that would be Boston. I have no problem with pre-K but I support birth-five services more (and I'll have a thread on what King County's Best Starts levy is going to do.) As well, I'm not for taking space from schools for K-12 work and we are near the point where nearly all space will have to be for that work.

Your last paragraph seems to indicate that if you don't like the City's program, you're heartless. Not true.

Jan said...

ST: I disagree with what you say (or imply) in two respects:

First, you state "Ya, taking space from before and after school care programs is a problem, but getting poor kids into pre-K can't wait, we're talking about children's futures."

If I understand you correctly, I disagree on two points -- (1) you seem to imply that this is an either / or situation -- we either have before / after school care -- or we have preschool. This is not the case. There are LOTS of spaces other than public school buildings (many of which might actually be BETTER learning environments for 3 and 4 year olds) where the city could buy or rent space for preschools. They they choose not to -- and instead lean on overused schools for this space is unreasonable and inappropriate. The city is either being too lazy to look for different and better spaces -- or it is being disingenuous, and has an ulterior motive in trying to insert its programs and rules into the school system. (2) you seem to imply that before / after school care is a luxury. It is not. It is an absolute necessity to single parents and to many families with two working parents -- particularly the kids not "next door" for whom you profess admirable concern. Far better to site preschools in alternative locations than for parents to have to figure out the logistics (and cost) of trying to get small elementary school kids to and from before- and after-school care situations safely. Why no one on the City council or the School Board, or in Nyland's administration, will call the City on its pigheadedness here, I do not understand.

Jan said...

Second -- whether pre-school has long term beneficial effects depends hugely upon whether it is developmentally appropriate or not. Many of the new "universal preschool" schemes being cooked up these days envision highly academic preschools, rather than play-based, developmentally appropriate ones. While these produce short term gains in children, available research suggests that the effects may fade by late elementary school, and that children who have been through overly academic preschools may actually fare worse (academically) thereafter than their peers who were playing in water tables, and sandboxes, and dress up corners.

I have heard lots of "high quality" puffery tossed out in relation to the City's preschool classrooms (in fact, I am not sure that the ST is capable of typing the word "preschool" in relation to the City's efforts without reflexively typing the words "high quality" in front of it), but I have never heard anyone actually describe and talk knowledgeably about the curriculum, the developmental philosophy, or the learning theories behind the City's approach to preschool. The fact that it is considered "experimental" concerns me -- though of course, it could be experimental in ways that are great. Does anyone know?

If these kids are (hopefully they are not) being "primed" in an academic preschool environment to be able in 2 years to hit the common core K and first grade standards -- we are setting them up for failure -- very expensive failure -- and robbing them of their childhoods at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Not all the preK ideas are bad, OR take any space: https://tinytrees.org/how/

net game

Watching said...


Ed Murray, Education Summit and closed door meetings:


Anonymous said...

Today Seattle home owners started receiving their tax escrow shortage notices, mine went up over $1000.00 this means I will no longer be able to support any PTA fund raisers or pay for any extracurricular activities for my students.

The $1000 will come out of my families disposable income which is low to begin with. I imagine eating out will be greatly curtailed along with the few other little indulgences we have.

-- Levi poor

Ramona H said...

Hi Eric B,
Sorry ... offline. Still need to review. I will write up what I can, speaking for myself only, and send along.

Ramona H said...

So one benefit of 5 periods, tri, is staff have lower case loads, per quarter (tri is actually a quarter system, minus 4th/summer). That was one big consideration for the group. We weren't looking at additional add ons, we were first looking at what do kids need to succeed, and one key benefit was ability to build relationships with adults.

So we looked at alternative scheduling that supported kids, esp those struggling in traditional schedules.

The task force never explicitly said no to 7 periods, but it wasn't prefered by anyone and the high school committee was particularly concerned about too much stress on kids already struggling with 6 classes.

In our preliminary cost estimates, 7 periods is also more expensive.

Anonymous said...

@Ramona - If staff have lower case loads, you need more staff, plus rooms to hold them. That's a problem with the current capacity crunch. As far as "less stress," trying to learn the course material, but now with 33% fewer days of class (and 20% less class time), is going to be even more stressful - for Algebra 1 and AP Calculus students alike.

Building relationships with adults? How will that happen if students have one trimester of a class with Teacher A and another trimester of the class with Teacher B (a possible scenario with a 3x5 schedule).

-bad idea

Anonymous said...

@ Ramona, the idea that the 3x5 schedule would promote more meaningful relationship building between teachers and students seems to be wishful thinking. True, teachers will only have about 120 students per term instead of 150, but that means they'll have MORE students to deal with over the course of the year--360 instead of 300. That's less time to devote to each one. The actual discrepancy is probably even greater than that, since under the 3x5 plan students are less likely to end up with the same teacher for A and B terms of a class.

On top of that, relationship building takes TIME. Not time as in an extra ten minutes a day, but time as in the unfolding of time over weeks and weeks. It's hard to believe that a rushed 60-day term will somehow promote the development of trust and understanding between teachers and students better than a more leisurely 90-day term. Not only does it seem more challenging to build relationships so quickly, there's also less incentive--on both sides--since the terms are so short and you know you'll be moving on soon.

I just don't see how having 60 classes over the course of four years (instead of 48 classes) will promote deeper relationships, when in reality it will be spreading things even thinner.


Anonymous said...

@Jan -

The Seattle Preschool Program allows providers to choose between 2 curricula - HighScope or Creative Curriculum. Both are play-based and research-based, not academic-focused.


- beo

Ramona H said...

Hi anonymous/bad idea

There has been no analysis done on capacity load in regards to the 3x5 or any other potential schedule. (One reason the task force said more vetting needs to be done so we can see what the issues would be and what it would take to resolve them.)

The principal at West Seattle estimated she would need 1-2 additional staff per 1000 students; she did not seem to think that would be a problem capacity-wise. She also felt lost instructional time was minimal. (There are variances already in the schedule -- early release, time lost in passing periods, etc -- and the state added 80 hours of instructional time.) But WS is just 1 school. I don't think there is any basis for a blanket statement one way or the other about capacity without a review. Not to say your view won't prevail, just saying no review yet to support it.

Some schools that have implemented the 3x5 elsewhere have AP classes take all 3 tri's - so regular ELA would be 2 tri's; AP English could be 3 tri's. This would allow the kids who want to take AP to do so, but let those who want to work in more CTE/arts/world language/etc to pursue those pathways. It gives kids flexibility. They still get the core classes they need for minimal 2- or 4-year college entrance, AND they can choose to pursue a personal pathway. (For what it's worth, the kids at WS that the principal surveyed loved the idea of 3x5.)

Also, keep in mind kids are still in school, still learning during that last tri - they just aren't forced into the status quo classes all year long. Both staff and student potentially have opportunity to pursue creative classes that help kids approach learning with a bigger lense. And it really opens to door to more a of project-based learning approach with longer class periods. (just not the 90-minute blocs that seem to put off some staff, and aren't ideal for all learners).

Anonymous said...

beo: Thanks for the links. I look forward to finding out more about the two program choices Seattle has made -- and am really happy that both are play-based.

And -- to net game: the outdoor preschools (including Tiny Trees) sound SO interesting. Makes me wish I still had a preschooler to enroll in one. The kids who will get that much time outdoors, in sunshine (and cloudy weather) getting to explore nature are lucky kids indeed!


Anonymous said...


Happy to share some info! I only know a bit about HighScope because my child is in a HighScope preschool (which he loves) but I've heard good things about Creative Curriculum too from friends whose children are in preschools using it. But keep in mind I'm not an early learning professional so I can only speak to my experience :-)

Totally agree about Tiny Trees! It's a great model, and should keep costs low for families since they don't need to deal with rent/occupancy.


Lynn said...

The principal at West Seattle is known to believe that "too many" rigorous classes aren't good for kids. Her recommendation doesn't surprise me at all.

The 3X5 schedule is the worst idea - everyone loses. Kids who are struggling in regular classes get less instructional time in those subjects - likely leading to more failures. Kids who want to take many AP or IB classes must choose to take less art or music or world language than is currently possible. How can anything that reduces opportunities to learn be an improvement?

This change would make learning opportunities in our high schools inferior to every surrounding district. Our students would have to choose between AP Chemistry and jazz band, between IB literature and theatre when students in other districts can take both.

The district is going to have to invest the money necessary to give failing students a longer seven period school day - and hire more teachers so they can have adequate time for planning and collaboration within the school day.

Anonymous said...

@ Ramona,

The 3x5 schedule with AP/IB courses taking a full year would absolutely limit access to rigorous classes and a good college prep background. Music would likely have similar issues. The type of schedule that many students take now--with 8-10 AP classes over the course of high school and 4 years of music and 3 years of a foreign language would no longer be possible. This seems like a step back, not forward...all in the name of increase college and career readiness?

Re: your comment that kids are still in school, still learning during that last tri, were you suggesting that all the "core" classes would occur during terms 1 and 2, and that creative classes would happen term 3? If so, that seems like a capacity and master schedule nightmare. What does the ELA teacher teach 3rd semester? And how is there enough space for everyone to do them during terms 1-2 if teachers are only teaching 4 instead of 5 sections?


Confused Dad said...

Ramona - thank you for taking the time to answer some questions and to provide some of the rationale behind the task force recommendation of 3x5 schedules.

My son will be a senior during the 2017-2018 school year. When planning his junior classes for next year, he looked ahead to what he would need to take to be competitive for college admission during his senior year. He is planning on taking AP English (full year), AP Government (full year), AP Calculus (full year), Physics (full year), CIHS French 3 (full year), and Chamber Orchestra (full year - his amazing 4th year in the music program, which he loves). Could you please explain how he would be able to have this schedule with a 3x5 plan? I legitimately can't figure out how it would work. You mentioned that the 3x5 provides more flexibility, but it seems like it would hurt my son. Thanks in advance for your help.

Confused Dad

Confused Dad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ramona.

She [West Seattle Principal] also felt lost instructional time was minimal.

Such a significant change needs to be based on more than feelings. The amount of lost instructional time would be significant - with a 3x5 schedule, about 30 hours of actual class time would lost per year long course. That's like missing 7 weeks worth of 50 minute classes. Suggesting that AP classes could simply be three trimesters negates the so called flexibility of this plan, and actually limits the ability of students to even maintain their current 24 credit plan.

Also, keep in mind kids are still in school, still learning during that last tri - they just aren't forced into the status quo classes all year long.

Two solid trimesters of "status quo" classes, without the opportunity to take band, drama, art, or any other "creative" class sounds like an emotionally crushing experience. And "forced" to take classes? What would be forced on many students under a 3x5 schedule would be an overload on academic classes in the first two trimesters, with an imposed reduction in time to cover the material adequately. They are then supposed to be happy with the third trimester, taking a mish mash of single trimester non-academic classes, after they have been denied the opportunity to take a year of band, orchestra, drama, choir, etc.?

I am truly struggling to understand how this plan passed an initial consideration. The course load for Confused Dad's child is a typical schedule for a college bound student, yet would not be possible with a 3x5 schedule. Why would a suggestion be put forth that prevents significant numbers of students from maintaining their current 4 year plan?

-bad idea

Melissa Westbrook said...

BEO, the City's pre-k program was absolutely advertised as a 6-hour academic day." Maybe play is part of that but it was stated as being academic.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Loyal Heights rebuild-there will be a rally Friday morning at the school to protest the mega sizing plans.

NB parent

Watching said...

Confused Dad makes a good point. How will limiting AP classes impact college admissions??

Ramona H said...

re comments on 5x3 and building relationships...

So 1. accommodate advisory periods with mentor adult relationships
2. Accommodate teacher office hours in the school day
3. Make individual class periods longer, so teacher-student time is less fragmented
4. Embed time for support (study halls) or remediation into the day

Other schedules can also accommodate these elements. The 5x3 just lets kids and staff focus on less during a particular trimester.

At any one time, staff covers 4 -- not 5 -- classes, giving them a fewer papers to grade during the trimester, etc. Overall, yes, same number of kids in the building. But staff works with fewer at a time.

These were the advantages seen and discussed by the group - which included high school staff.

(Also - I went back into that earlier post of the 24 credit recommendations. I think I answered the questions and offered what context I could. ... Somewhere someone said something about we didn't request money or say schools needed more. The task force recommended changes that would entail an ongoing increase of $5.5 million for Seattle high schools.)

Ramona H said...

re: schedules

This seemed to offer the most variety of schedules, so you can compare "blocs" vs 5x3. etc


There are some with AP on there. I didn't see any with more than 2 AP classes at a time.

From Eugene (which is reviewing its trimester schedule):

This archived page also references Eugene's schedules. Some of their AP classes are 2 trimesters, some 3. http://www-old.4j.lane.edu/secondaryeducation/highschoolschedulefaq

IB is mentioned, but not in detail. There is reference to zero hour. A nice FAQ:

Interestingly some Michigan districts moved to 5x3 to allow more electives, but are considering swapping back to semesters to accommodate state standardized testing.

From what I can gather, what schedules look like really vary from school to school.

Anonymous said...

Ramona, where to begin? You added the following to a previous post (my comments added):

Some shared goals:

Make schedules work for kids. Give them flexibility to take the classes they are interested in, without having to sacrifice courses they need for ongoing study or that colleges and employers require...

The 3x5 schedule would not allow current college bound students to take the core classes they have planned, nor would they have the time or flexibility to take classes they are interested in, be it band, choir, drama, etc. Who is going to march in the band at football games, when they can only schedule band for one trimester in spring??

Keep credits equitable. It was upsetting that some kids had access to more credits and support than others.

Is that because some schools already have unique schedules, such as Nathan Hale? Unfortunately, a 3x5 schedule at all schools is not equitable either. Same reason as above.

...I should also add year one of the task force had several counselors involved. They really helped us think in terms of creating a system that worked for all kids, not just subsets.

Aack. That's the problem with the 3x5. It does not work for all kids! Same reason as above.

Also, time is picked up by cutting out passing periods.

Wait, what??

On the task force, we focused on the longer individual periods teachers had with students

The 3x5 schedule is only going to extend classes by maybe 10 minutes, and with an added advisory, not even that. The school day is 6 1/2 hours, including lunch. The mythical 70 minute classes of a 3x5 schedule can only happen in the absence of an advisory (which is going to happen when?) and passing periods. [insert expletive]...do the math.

Increasing the number of classes kids can take each year from 12 to 15 increases the number of electives they can take.

The number of classes only increases in theory. It only works if classes can be staggered (1st and 3rd trimester, or 2nd and 3rd trimester, etc.). With AP and IB classes, this is not possible. You also can't do 2 trimesters of a single elective all in one trimester (which is where students would have the extra blocks of time when core classes must be taken in 1st and 2nd trimester).

I could go on and on...bottom line is you can't get something for nothing, as the 3x5 seems to be promising. The math just doesn't work out. If the school day is a fixed amount of time, moving to a 3x5 schedule would reduce the instructional hours for each course. Students are getting less, not more. For each one credit class, a 3x5 schedule would provide the same total amount of instructional time as a 7 period (40 minutes each), 2 trimester schedule, BOTH of which chop 30 hours of actual instructional time per credit as compared to a 2x6 schedule.

-bad idea

Anonymous said...

Ramona, are you aware that Eugene, your cited example, may be moving away from the 3x5 schedule?



If you look at school websites of the other Task Force referenced 3x5 districts, you will find some have optional zero periods (giving them what is effectively a 6 period day). So...not comparable. If a zero period is needed to make a 3x5 schedule work, is it a truly an improvement over the current 2x6 schedule?

-bad idea

kellie said...

West Seattle and Rainier Beach are the only two high schools not struggling with capacity issues. An opinion from WSHS is not a data point for the other seven high schools that have desperately over loaded master schedules and are dealing with portable placements.

Anonymous said...

Why not look at Nathan Hale's schedule? They already require 23.5 credits for graduation. They already have Mentoring time and Reflective Scholarship (period of time to get help in classes). They already use a block schedule on some days. Students like having different classes on different days. Makes it more like college and less boring.

Why not look at something that is already working at a high school? The biggest complaint about Hale has been the lack of AP classes, not the scheduling.

Hale also offers homework help Mon-Thurs after school. The teachers offer study sessions after school before finals.


Anonymous said...

You bring up a good point about Michigan considering moving back to semesters to accommodate state testing. Since state testing would fall in trimester 3, any classes scheduled for trimester 3 would have disproportionately fewer classes than those scheduled over trimesters 1 and 2.

My understanding is that some Michigan schools moved to a 3x5 schedule due to budgetary issues. If Eugene is considering moving away from a 3x5 schedule, as are some of the Michigan schools, what does that tell you?

-bad idea

Anonymous said...

Why not look at something that is already working at a high school?

It seems like that would be a good place to start. The challenge is that different schools offer different programs. A schedule that works for one school may not work with another school's offerings. If all schools offered the same range of courses, a uniform high school schedule might make more sense. Is that what is wanted? Is it even possible?

Whatever the proposal, it should not come at the cost of reducing the current offerings for students. The 3x5 recommendation seems based on too much magical thinking and may hurt more students than it helps.

-bad idea

Anonymous said...

What concerns me about these discussions is the lack of discussion on what's happening in the classroom now. When my child doesn't have proper texts for classes, or can't take material home to read, I think all this messing around with schedules is pretty silly. When my child doesn't have proper equipment in their science labs, would a slightly longer class period improve the situation? No. Academics. Where is the focus on improving the academics?


24 Credits said...

It is important to note that the state has provided $5M per year to pay for 24 credits, which, for the most part, will pay for the state's mandate.

Counselor rations will decrease from 1:400- 1:250 students. Decreasing counselor:student ratios is a step in the right direction. Adding extra counselors will cost the district $1.9M. which is a worthwhile expenditure.

24 credit option will allow students to take additional classes such as auto-mechanics, wood-shop etc. It appears we might be looking at creating career and technical paths, which, in my mind is a good thing.

Struggling students get discouraged because class offerings center around remediation and getting them to pass required classes. Offering enjoyable classes, in my mind, is a good thing.

Some believe that by creating 7 classes, students will experience stress due to juggling more classes. As is, we're seeing more and more students experience stress.

Longer blocks of time supports deeper learning, critical thinking and project based learning.

I'm confused as to what 24 credits will mean to AP classes and academies. I do worry that teachers have additional work to compensate changes, and required content won't be covered.

I worry about AP offerings and the manner in which college entrance is impacted.

Anonymous said...

Longer blocks of time supports deeper learning, critical thinking and project based learning.

Time. With a 3x5, you're robbing Peter to pay Paul. A class period might be somewhat longer (maybe 10 minutes) than in a 2x6 schedule, but it comes at a great cost of fewer class days and less instructional time overall. Suppose a class needs 120 hours to cover the absolute bare minimum in content, and a teacher plans another 30 hours of project based activities to support that learning. That's actually doable within the current 2x6 schedule. In a 3x5 schedule, all the time would be devoted to covering the bare minimum - there would be no time left over to cover the added project based activities. How did Garfield create a project based AP Government class (which is supposed to make AP accessible to all students)? They took what was typically a one semester class and made it a two semester class. This talk about longer classes supporting deeper learning is pie in the sky thinking, because without lengthening the school day, the longer classes are only possible by having fewer classes.

-simple math

Anonymous said...

@ Ramona H, re: your follow-up comments on 5x3 and building relationships...

Yes, advisory periods with mentor adults are possible with other schedules. These are not a feature unique to, or dependent upon, 3x5.

You suggested accommodating teacher office hours during the school day. During the school day? Aren't they busy teaching then or doing prep? And aren't students in class?

Your argument that the 5x3 schedule lets kids and staff focus on less during a particular trimester doesn't pencil out. Yes, kids may be able to focus on only 5 subjects instead of 6, BUT they will have a lot more work to do in each of those subjects. If there's x amount of work involved in covering a subject, when you significantly reduce the number of in-class minutes available for instruction and significantly reduce the number of evenings/weekends over which homework can be spread, that means more to be covered each day. If you previously read 3 novels in a 90-day English class, that's one per 30 days. If you have to read those 3 over 60 days instead, that's one every 20 days. If you wrote essays on each, you have less time to work on those, too. Assuming the same amount of work is required, you have to do more of it each day.

The same goes for teachers. While you said "at any one time, staff covers 4 -- not 5 -- classes, giving them a fewer papers to grade during the trimester," that grading time is also condensed. For example, if each of their students writes 3 papers per term, that's 360 papers per term to grade under 3x5, or 450 per term under the current schedule. But since the length of the term is so much shorter, the 3x5 schedule would mean grading 6 papers per day (360/60), vs. only 5 per day under the current schedule (450/90).

Now, this is all assumes classes will be significantly the same, covering comparable amounts of material and requiring comparable levels of student practice. If the idea is that classes will be instead turned into "lite" versions of the current offerings, then the task force's assumption of decreased workloads might be accurate. But what a shame that would be...


Ramona H said...

Anonymous ... re: Nathan Hale sked,
Yes we looked at their schedule. It's interesting and personally I really like the focus on health that it accommodates. But as implemented, it doesn't accommodate more classes of student choice, just more support for their approach to health and advisory/reading periods.

Their schedule has a modified bloc, squeezing in 7 periods in 9th grade (maybe 10th, too. Don't have it in front of me and it's been a while.) It reverts to the straight 6 in later years. They also have a longer day, so more class time than other schools. That longer day would have to be negotiated and would come at a higher cost. This schedule is definitely a contender, though, and has its fans.

It's front loaded, though, and personally I'd like to see kids have more flexibility in their junior and senior years. It doesn't particularly accommodate CTE, and that was also a consideration of the task force. They also seemed to rely on online credit retrieval, something that personally I worry about.

I would prefer labs to support kids before they fail (ie, take algebra, if struggle take a lab, then continue with algebra. This supports students with a variety of learning needs. They can go 1-2 done and move on. They can slow it down, if needed.)

An option might be creating a modified 6 period bloc across grades 9-12; that would also offer kids more options for electives. So would trimesters of 6 classes each. Class periods wouldn't be as long as a 3x5, and you would be cramming in more courses in the same amount of time, so it wouldn't alleviate some of the concerns expressed on this blog.

Staff would also lose the longer prep time, and their case load would pile up.

In this scenario, the allure of the 3x5 for me was the longer class period (a little more project focused), which also translates to a longer prep time for staff. I also liked only having teachers handle 4 classes at a time. I want to de-stress their lives. I think it will carry over to better relationships with students.

Also, I like giving kids the option of taking courses that aren't just intensive ELA, math, science and social studies. In the schedules I looked at, I saw things like ELA in first and third trimester with an elective in between. I like giving kids the options to take the "interesting classes" that help them put the core into context and express themselves creatively.

Or, giving them the option of speeding through the core early on, and then pursue a focused pathway.

The heavy loaded core AP schedule is one option; personally, I'd like to see something that allows more electives. Kids are spending the SAME amount of time learning, they are just potentially learning a wider variety of things, without having to juggle as much homework at any one time.

Why not take 9th Lit 1, photo composition, then 9th Lit 2? Or US Govt 1, statistics, US Govt 2?

After years of listening to kids testify down in Olympia, my takeaway is that the AP-laden schedule is stressful for a lot and boring to many. Teen after teen plead: give us options; we like taking creative classes where we can apply what we learn, not just absorb facts.

I think kids who really do prefer the AP approach could make it work, but they might be limited to 3 AP courses a year, because of logistics around pre-determined testing times. A lot kids in college work on a quarter system (usually skipping the summer/4th, so in fact a trimester), often taking 5 classes at a time. So this is not such a crazy scenario.

No learning time is lost; time is applied differently.

And yes, I saw that Eugene is reviewing the 5x3. So good timing in that we can see what folks there liked and didn't and apply it to what we end up offering here.

Anonymous said...

Ramona how does study skill class fit into this? It seems like a net increase in time spent in special ed instead of gen ed, 1/5th of your education, instead of 1/6th. Year long study skills class is required by most high schools for SM1 in order to meet the minutes/week in ieps. I think this will require many more special ed teachers if ratios are maintained per current contract. Is that paid for in the increased cost?

-sped parent

Anonymous said...

My kid took college credit classes and college prep classes at Hale. She still ended up with plenty of time for electives. The language class was the biggest barrier as it prevented her from taking some of the electives she wanted and ended up TA'ing multiple times which ended up being basically a study hall. Or she took PE again.


Confused Dad said...

Hi Ramona - I'm not quite sure you've actually addressed the specific question I had about my son's planned senior year schedule (which will include his 3rd year of a language and music). Is that going to be possible with a 3x5 schedule?

Anonymous said...

Lots of handwringing going on here over the 3x5 schedule.

All of it is based on assumptions about which classes will be mapped from a year long, two semester course to either a two-trimester course or three-trimester, year long course.

Because we don't know, there's a lot of speculation.

If we look towards the university system, however, we can glean some insights. Out west, many public universities are on a quarter system, with three quarters for the academic year, and students take 3-4 classes per quarter. Everyone else is on a semester, where students take 5-6 classes per semester.

Its important to note that subjects like music, foreign language, and the sciences typically map from a two-semester year long sequence to a three-quarter year long sequence. English, political science, mathematics and sometimes history will map from with each course covered in a semester to covered in a quarter. Almost universally, Calc I is differential calculus, Calc II is integral calc, and Calc 3 is sequences and series, regardless of whether the school goes by semesters or quarters.

This means that some schools with outlier courses like Garfield's year-long AP American Gov't (which, if credit is granted, almost always maps to a single semester/quarter intro course at college... that class at the high school level is designed to be a semester long so....) will have to make some tough decisions.

I'm of the opinion, however, that Ramona is overly optimistic of the number of choice classes most students will be able to take, and most of the commenters here are overly pessimistic on what a disaster this would be if implemented. Presuming the district does a decent job thinking through these issues and "getting it right" (that may be an unrealistic expectation, btw) the truth will lie somewhere in between.


Anonymous said...

I think the answer is in an Onion video.


"The idea is there...we're halfway there...feasibility deals with implementation...I'm not involved with that."

Eric B said...

Ramona, I feel like you are trying to have it both ways. You're saying we can't do block scheduling like Hale does because of cost while ignoring substantial increases in cost due to the 3x5 schedule. The added numbers from 24 Credits doesn't help the analysis any.

You've said a couple of times that the 3x5 system results in lower student loads per teacher. OK, so class size stays constant at 30/class and teachers cover 120 students per term instead of 150. The number of students is constant, so you need more FTE teachers. Ingraham currently has around 80 FTE teachers. Under your assumptions, this goes up to about 100 (+25%), at a cost of ~$2M/year. By contrast, a 30-minute advisory period would add around 8% if one assumed the same "hourly rate" for teachers. I don't know how much longer the day at Hale is, but I assume it's not a 25% increase. To sum up, you can't discount one option because of cost while ignoring major (although not fully documented) costs of the preferred option. At least not in a fair selection process.

Going back to 24 Credits' numbers, the state gives us $5M for 24 credits, of which $1.9M is dedicated to counselors (yay!). This leaves $3.1M for the rest of the district, or 3 FTE teachers per comprehensive high school. So either class sizes go up negating the entire premise of the 3x5 schedule or it's yet another unfunded mandate from the state or we won't really get that many counselor slots. None of those sound very good.

Anonymous said...

Students in college quarter systems do not usually take 5 classes per quarter. They also put in many more hours studying outside of class time than high school students. At least the engineering students I know do. I don't think we can compare them.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

I took 5-6 classes per quarter (15-18 credits) in college, but a class would typically meet MWF for an hour, or TH for 1.5 hours. Labs would meet once per week for maybe 2-3 hrs. I'd agree with HS parent - really not comparable. Much more work was done outside of class.

Seattle Times' Education Lab has an interesting student piece on project based learning at Cleveland:



24 Credits said...

"Going back to 24 Credits' numbers, the state gives us $5M for 24 credits, of which $1.9M is dedicated to counselors (yay!). This leaves $3.1M for the rest of the district"

The state has provided $5M, but costs related to counselors are $1.9M above state allocation.

Anonymous said...

Obviously parent and HS parent missed the point I was trying to make.

I understand that college students operating on the quarter system are typically not taking 5 classes per term. I've been there, done that. That does not mean that understanding how colleges are able to divide content between a series of classes taken year long on semesters versus quarters is irrelevant to the discussion.

In fact, I believe it is very instructive, and relevant to the discussion.

The problem we've had with this discussion so far is the assumptions many have made about how long each class will be on a trimester system at high school.

Example "My kid takes band, AP Calc, AP American Gov't, AP Chemistry, AP English Comp, and Spanish III. Those are all year long classes, today. Therefore, on a trimester system, my kid will have to drop one of the series of classes, because these will all be taught in a three trimester sequence.'

I disagree with that conclusion. Some of these classes, even though they are AP, are not so full content that they need to be taken in a year long sequence (given the increased class time under the 3x5 schedule). At a university on semesters, English Comp is a two semester sequence, on quarters typically a two quarter sequence. Can they get all the material in if it is taught in two trimesters? Same story with calculus. On the other hand, a year of Chem on semesters in college is a year of Chem in quarters (presumably driven by the minimum number of labs that need to be performed). I'd assume that would be a three trimester long sequence.

If you run through this exercise for all the classes, taking a close look at the curriculum, I would expect you'd find many of the year long classes could fit in a two trimester schedule, while others would continue to be year long (music is an obvious one). Thus my original conclusion that there would be less flexibility than Ramona expects, but more than what Lynn calculated in a previous thread.

P.S. - I'm aware of the issues with AP testing in May and the difficulty of a two trimester AP class with the second trimester of the course being trimester 3. Thus, the content would need to be completed before the exam, cutting about a month of lectures out of the classroom. That issue may be insurmountable.


Anonymous said...

Having been in both semester (undergrad) and quarter (graduate school) systems, I greatly prefer the semester system. You are always behind in the quarter system and tests count for so much more of your grade.

My oldest is on a semester system and you have to take 15 credits a semester to get all the credits you need for graduation. Taking between 12-18 credits costs the same. You have to have at least 12 credits to be considered full time. Not sure what the breakdown is for the quarter system.

Also, how does this all play into to Running Start? Does it help or hurt? If we go to quarters, will we go to the schedule of one quarter before Christmas and two after?


Anonymous said...

HP - This is off-topic, but FWIW I made three stops on my journey to my B.A. and two were quarters, one was semesters. I vastly preferred quarters. Get in, work really hard, and get out. Semesters seemed to drag on forever ... by the time cumulative final came around my notes from the first couple weeks might as well have been in Greek because it'd been so long since that material was covered.

On topic - right now the district's semesters do not match up with the quarter system used with the region's Community Colleges. Switching to a 3x5 won't make things worse, as they don't sequence now.


Anonymous said...

@ Ramona,

Yes, this scenario translates to a longer prep time for staff, but doesn't is also translate to a lot more work to do in that prep time, since the term is so much shorter? After all, if x is the amount of work a teacher needs to do for a class (e.g. grading papers and exams), 150x /90 days = 1.67x per day, but 120x /60 days = 2x per day, right? Shortening the term by 1/3 increases workload MORE than would be offset by decreasing student load by 20%.

Clearly you're not a fan of AP classes. It's a shame that the task force doesn't seem to have taken the needs of highly capable students into consideration.

Kids are spending the SAME amount of time learning, they are just potentially learning a wider variety of things, without having to juggle as much homework at any one time.
You keep saying those words... The only way that a 3x5 schedule translates into less homework is if classes are watered down versions of the current offerings. I addressed this above, but here's another way of thinking about it. If you take 15 classes per year, instead of the current 12, that's an increase of 25%. If classes are comparable now and then, that should mean 25% more material covered, 25% more homework done, etc. Even keeping homework levels the same as now would mean that classes would need to cover less. To see an actual reduction in homework, they'd need to cover a lot less.

After years of listening to kids testify down in Olympia, my takeaway is that the AP-laden schedule is stressful for a lot and boring to many. Teen after teen plead: give us options; we like taking creative classes where we can apply what we learn, not just absorb facts
Nobody is forcing AP-laden schedules on kids. So is this an SPS policy decision to move away from AP classes? As far as I understand, the district is mandated to serve identified highly capable students, and in high school SPS does this via AP classes. Just because you or students who testify often find them boring or stressful does not mean that others don't find them engaging and necessary. Have you looked at the course catalog for Garfield--the APP/HCC pathway school--to see just how many AP offerings there are? There's great demand.

A lot kids in college work on a quarter system (usually skipping the summer/4th, so in fact a trimester), often taking 5 classes at a time. So this is not such a crazy scenario.
I'm not sure what you're getting at. College and high school requirements are not analogous. Colleges don't tell kids they need to take 4 years of English and three years of SS and three years of science and 2-3 years of math and 2-3 years of foreign language and 2 years of health and year of CTE and 2 years of fine arts. College breadth requirements are much more minimal, and students have much more flexibility.

No learning time is lost; time is applied differently.

If you're talking about any particular class, that's just not true. 60 days of 70 min/day = 4200 minutes in a particular trimester-based class, whereas 90 days of 55 min/day = 4950 minutes. Under that scenario the 3x5 schedule means 15% less instructional time, and 33% less home-based learning time. And that's using that overly optimistic (and seemingly not actually feasible, since it doesn't allow for passing periods) figure of 70 minutes per class. A more reasonable figure of 65 minutes per class means only 3900 minutes of instruction, 21% less than now.

So I take it you're talking about overall learning time, not learning time in a specific class. In which case you are essentially saying the focus will be on BREADTH, NOT DEPTH. Is that accurate? Few minutes devoted to any particular class, but you can take more classes. Lite beer, less filling!


Anonymous said...

@ northwesterner, I don't think that's always how year-long college courses work out on quarter vs semester systems. I was on the semester system, and calculus was 2 semesters. My son is on the quarter system, and it's 3 quarters. A year, in each case.

While there *may* be room to shorten some AP courses to 2 trimesters, reducing them from 180 days to 120 is a big jump. They'll need to cover the material 50% faster in order to get through it all. That hardly seems likely to help alleviate all that AP-related stress Ramona is so worried about.

Also note that AP exams start in early May. With how late the SPS school calendar runs, that would be more like 6 weeks of lost instruction in a third-trimester AP class. That's most of the trimester! So if 3-trimester AP classes aren't realistic, and if 2-trimester AP classes are too rushed and intensive, what do we do?


Anonymous said...

northwesterner said, Some of these classes, even though they are AP, are not so full content that they need to be taken in a year long sequence (given the increased class time under the 3x5 schedule).

There WOULD NOT be increased class time under a 3x5 schedule (yes, I'm shouting). Class periods are slightly longer, but there are fewer of them for a given course. Switching from a 2x6 schedule to a 3x5 schedule would be equivalent to chopping over 7 weeks from a given class. A 3x5 schedule is taking time from each course in order to create more periods.

Let’s do the math:

Consider a 2x6 schedule – two semesters of 6 periods, 50 minutes each (the other time is passing period). The actual time spent in class each day is 300 minutes (6x50). Assume that same instructional time is available with a 3x5 schedule – 300 minutes. Calculating the actual time spent per course in a 2x6 semester schedule: 180 days x 50 minutes = 9000 minutes.

With a 3x5 schedule, and 300 minutes of instructional time, each class would be 60 minutes long (300/5). The “longer” classes meet for only 120 days. Calculating the actual time spent per course in a 3x5 schedule: 120 days x 60 minutes = 7200 minutes.

Actual class time per course in a 2x6 schedule: 9000 minutes (150 hours)
Actual class time per course in a 3x5 schedule: 7200 minutes (120 hours)

Wow! 30 fewer hours per course when switching from a 2x6 schedule to a 3x5 schedule. That’s like losing over 7 weeks of 50 minute classes. That’s huge. Ask a teacher if they could cover the same course content as now with 7 fewer weeks of classes. Whether it's Algebra 1 or AP Calculus, that's simply a lot of lost instructional time. Talk about stressful.

-simple math

Lynn said...

Let's look at a slightly less messed up district - Bellevue. Bellevue has required 23.5 credits for the classes of 2015 through 2018 to graduate. I looked at Newport High School - they're changing their start time next year and will have a school day with seven 50 minute periods from 8:30 to 3:30 three days a week and two block days - one of these days is an early release at 1:10. There is an optional daily zero period from 7:05 to 7:55, followed by a tutorial from 7:55 to 8:25. Students taking skills center classes are eligible for an optional 8th period class.

Freshman and sophomores are required to take seven classes while juniors and seniors must take at least six.

So, longer school days with tutorials available before school and optional zero and 8th periods is working there. No limitations on the availability of AP classes and plenty of room to take electives too.

kellie said...

The problem with wishful thinking is the intixication.

Double your money, no risk
Lose weight, no exercise

A 3x5 schedule is magical thinking. More credits, less homework, smaller teacher case loads, less stress. There is always a catch.

No 3x5 said...

The fundamental flaw with 3x5 is that it simply does not work with a College Prep pathway. In 2014, 62% of Seattle high school graduates went on to a 4-year college or university. (http://erdcdata.wa.gov/hsfb.aspx).

This is 62% of SPS high school students who wouldn't be able to take year-long electives (music, world language) because their schedules are front-loaded with academic courses Fall and Winter. And 62% of SPS high school students who would be less competitive to college admission boards because every Spring their schedules are filled with "light" classes.

Let's look at Confused Dad's sample schedule, one that is not uncommon for these 62% of kids preparing to go to 4-year college. After taking AP English, AP Government, AP Calculus, & Physics in Fall & Winter to accommodate Spring AP & required state testing, Spring senior year might look like this:
1. French 2B (at 1 trimester a year, this is as far as you can go. So much for the 3 years of foreign language colleges recommend)
2. Visual art
3. Theater
4. PE
5. Intermediate orchestra (because getting to the level of "Chamber" with 1 trimester per year instead of 3 would be impossible)

Not that these aren't valuable educational experiences. They absolutely are! But NOT when they are the only classes in a day for 60 days straight. Two trimesters of solid academics followed by one trimester of zero academics is severely lacking in balance and sense.

If the plan is to reduce the number of AP classes Seattle students can take, so that academic courses can be staggered Fall & Spring, well, that hurts too.
1. It makes Seattle graduates less competitive to colleges;
2. It leads to lower scores on required state tests, because these would be administered in the spring, before coursework was completed;
3. It does not constitute a "basic education" for highly capable students;
4. It removes a proven, successful tool in reducing the opportunity gap.

mirmac1 said...

3x5 would mean my incoming IB student could still take physics and Band. No room in the schedule otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, did you catch that Confused Dad's hypothetical schedule only allowed for one trimester of orchestra? Even if you could "fit" the classes into a hypothetical 3x5 schedule for a given year, the classes would not be year long and would cover only a fraction of what a current 2 semester class covers. An SL level IB course requires 150+ hours of classroom time, but a 3x5 schedule has at most 120 hours of actual classroom time for a 2 trimester course. If you add in assemblies, state testing, early releases, etc., there is even less classroom time.

-magical thinking

Anonymous said...

No matter how you look at it, squeezing more classes (30 credits' worth vs. 24) into the same amount of time means less will be covered in each class. The proposed schedule effectively turns all classes into "lite" versions of what they are now. The graduation rate might increase if classes cover less material and you can fail one out of every five classes, but I don't see how kids will be any more "college and career ready" under this plan. Probably less so.

The exception to "lite" classes would be any that remain yearlong (1.5 credits). However, those classes then take up disproportionately more of a student's schedule. AP/IB students, in particular, would be inequitably impacted by such a move if those classes were made longer than others.