Saturday, December 03, 2016

2017-2018 Student Assignment Plan

Or, as more commonly referred to, the SAP.

Background
The district created a new Student Assignment Plan in 2009 that was approved by the Board.  It was a big change, primarily because the district went from a choice plan to a neighborhood plan.  I know that many of you don't like this form of SAP but, at the time, many parents were clamoring for a neighborhood plan because of the assurance of knowing what school their child would be assigned to.  The interesting thing I wonder about is that under the choice plan, 90% of people received their first choice.  That's a pretty good percentage but was that their desired choice or just the best choice they felt they could make in terms of knowing where their child would be?  I haven't heard any numbers on the choice within the neighborhood plan.

Then, with the explosive growth in the district, the plan had to be tweeted and so there was a Transition Plan.  What is confusing to me is that the district is still in a growth mode plus opening new schools even after school year 2017-2018.  Why they would not continue having a Transition Plan until all those new schools are open is a mystery.


The Meeting 
 I attended the SAP community meeting on Thursday night at Ingraham. It was very much per the district's distinct manner of holding such a forum - a bare-bones presentation followed by community questions, the majority of which received no answers.  

No real answers is the MO for the district so most of the time, you leave these things with even more questions and maybe just one new piece of information.

Head of Enrollment, Ashley Davies, lead the meeting.  Flip Herndon was in attendance as were a few JSCEE staffers and Board Director, Jill Geary.  There were about 10 parents and me.  Here is the link to the presentation.

On a personal note, I will admit I arrived at this meeting feeling more than a little irritated because of what I had learned both from my own research and from others'.  I spoke out much more forcefully than I generally do.  

Issues
- What was presented were just the changes.  Ms. Davies said there were no other changes to the SAP beyond these.What I wish staff had done is to present the changes but put up at the website, the complete SAP with redlined changed.  It would make it much easier to understand the plan in totality.

- But what also wasn't presented but turns out to be VERY important is the BAR (Board Action Report) that will be presented to the Board next week at the Board meeting.  Eden Mack of SCPTA found this:
“The Student Assignment Plan, as approved by the School Board in 2009, continues to serve as important reference tool, containing fundamental definitions and Plan development principles. The provisions of the attached document, the Student Assignment Plan for 2017-18, will prevail in the case of any conflicts with previously approved Plans, boundaries, and/or GeoZones.” (highlight mine)
I read this out loud at the meeting and there was dead silence.   

Kind of clever, no?  Because you'd think that any "conflicts" would be ironed out between what has already been approved and these new changes. 

It seems to me that would seem to put a lot of work on the Board to check if there are conflicts and see how the SAP would resolve them.

- Despite the fact that there will be a new high school coming online in just a couple of years, there is no mention of high schools in the changes.  I pointed out that for anyone reading the SAP, this might be confusing when those changes came and yet the SAP did not acknowledge that.  Page 1 has such a list but does not note this coming (and potentially huge) change.

I pointed this out at the meeting and there was no response.

-  Nearly every single place where Spectrum is noted in this document, it is redlined out.  Instead the phrase "Advanced Learner" is used. 

I pointed this out and said that I believed that Spectrum has been systematically dismantled.  I called that dishonest and duplicitous.  An Advanced Learning staffer who I did not recognized said that principals had been the ones to make the choice to change Spectrum at their schools.

That really irritated me because it is one more point in a long line of issues that somehow are now the purview of principals.  (I had someone at JSCEE try to tell me that principals have always been allowed to make school-based decisions.  That is just not true and I am the wrong person to try to gaslight.  I've been around way to long.)

I turned to Director Geary and said, "Please hear this issue. Principals across the district are making decisions that parents are questioning.  Please ask the Superintendent to make clear what falls under district mandates and then, what decisions can principals make on their own."  (I'm not sure that Director Geary appreciated me doing that but this is about the third meeting I have attended where a parent expressed confusion over what decisions principals can make.)

To say that a principal can fundamentally change a district program on his/her own is just baffling.  And, they can do it without notice or real discussion.  That is exactly what happened to Spectrum in most cases.

My main point is that if the district is allowing changes to happen, then they have to be clear and honest with parents about it.  Because if you go to the website, you'd think Spectrum was a going thing which it is not.  Again, dishonest.   I have to wonder when that (quiet) change will be made to the website so that parents can't claim they read one thing at the website, signed up for Spectrum only to find it completely different than advertised at the website.

What is somewhat funny is that ALO is still there even though, it too, has no real definition and, like many other decisions, is whatever principals chose to make of it.

- I also questioned the issue of Special Education and the notation on page 8 - Students who receive all other intensive special education services are assigned individually based on student needs, and may also apply for assignment to another school offering the same services through School Choice.

The bottom of page 11 says:

Changes not connected to the Open Enrollment process are adjusted as needed. If warranted by student needs, intensive special education services may be added at other times and locations.
 
I asked, "What is the definition of "intensive" and why isn't it included?  Ms. Davies said, yes, they would be working with Special Education staff on that and she pointed out that this was a special interest of Director Geary.

That's fine except staff is presenting this document to parents now.  Why wasn't that work already done?

It feels very much like staff uses language that they don't clear define and that may be by design so that they can later change it.

- I did see another interesting term under the "Montessori" designation on page 10. 

Leschi offers a blended (contemporary and Montessori) program to all students.

I'm guessing that "contemporary" means Gen Ed as I have never heard that term before.

That section also has this interesting phrasing:

After waitlists have been dissolved, program changes within the same school will be at the principal discretion.

Wait, what? Parents sign up for a program at a school and after school starts, the principal can change the program?

- International Schools seems to now have two sections; international schools and "International Schools with Dual Language Immersion."  

I note that they are no longer going to link JSIS and McDonald to B.F. Day.

- Feeder schools.  One good point that Eden Mack made was that page 16, which has a chart of feeder schools, doesn't clearly state that Option Schools are feeder schools.  Even if enrolling in them is different than your area school, K-5 and K-8 Option Schools are feeder schools to middle and high schools.  

Q&A
One parent asked about the number of classrooms being made available for Licton Springs K-8.  She said that there doesn't even seem to be enough for nine grade levels and certainly not room to grow.  She said there would be fewer classrooms at RESMS than currently are in use at Lincoln. (Meaning LS would never grow larger than 150 students which makes for an expensive school, for one thing.)

The parent asked what she was missing.

Ms Davies said yes, she was correct on the number of classrooms.

I interjected and said that what Ms. Davies was not saying is that, originally, there WERE more classrooms to be allotted to LS at RESMS.  When and how that change happened has never been explained and yet, it will have a dramatic impact on LS.

What this points to me to is that staff doesn't really want to support LS and is likely hoping to be able to point to low enrollment/high cost as a reason to close it, once and for all. 

Another issue was around the number of elementaries that will experience splits at the middle school level.  Ms. Davis replied that there would be more updates on that issue but did not say when.  Ms. Davies did say it was important to note that not all kids at all elementaries are those who live in the attendance area.

Eden Mack asked about numbers for RESMS and Ms. Davies said the Gen Ed number was 666. She said there were about 296 HCC students.  The total capacity of RESMS is 850.

What this question brought up for many parents there are the lack of clear numbers.  I know from emails that many parents are trying to suss out the numbers and have been unable to get clear information. 

One parent raised the issue of her child being at HCC at Hamilton and then possibly having to move in 8th grade.  (I did not know Hamilton had 1200 students; they must be packed to the gills.)

Another parent stated that they had liked Spectrum and believed if it was gone that many more students would attempt to get into HCC. 

Important Dates
Feb. 6, 2017 - Choice Forms available.  That means you can get those forms a week before they are due and start filling them out.

Feb. 13 - Open Enrollment begins

Feb. 24th - Open Enrollment ends

April 17 - You can look up assignments online.

42 comments:

Carol Simmons said...

Thank you Melissa,

Yes, you are correct in your observations. And thank you to the parent who raised the concern/question/observation about the number of classrooms dedicated to Licton Springs students at REMS.

It appears at this point that Licton Springs School (which comprises the Native program emphasis ) does not have sufficient room at REMS.....................and that the District did not, once again, keep its promise.

The District may well allow Licton Springs/Native emphasis School to fail as they have done in the past with Alternative Schools and Programs that support Native Education Schools and Programs. They can cap enrollment and may not honor promises and previous Boards agreements.

We brought in new Board Directors to meet the needs of underserved students and a Superintendent who supported Native Education We brought in a new Superintendent who we believed to be honest and sincerely committed to honoring all promises, eliminate disproportionality and provide educational options for all students.
...........
What is happening now?

Steve said...

Melissa, could you explain what you mean when you say "I note that they are no longer going to link JSIS and McDonald to B.F. Day."? What has been the link?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what's happening with the idea of Licton Springs potentially moving to Cedar Park? At CP what I've heard from others is that there's a sense that we could work with any of the possibilities for option schools including Licton Springs, but it would be really nice to know so we could have some certainty and start planning. When I checked the CP website it looks like a community meeting has been set 12/15 but that was the first I heard of it. And I don't know if that's to tell us Licton Springs will be coming, anyone from that community know? It sure would be nice if the district would do a great job communicating with-- and collaborating with-- families.

CP wondering

Melissa Westbrook said...

Steve, the link for B.F. Day was that if a student in the JSIS or McDonald attendance area did not want dual language or a student came into those attendance areas after kindergarten, they were assigned to B.F. Day.

Rick Burke said...

@CP Wondering:

The 12/15 meeting schedule was just set - sorry it took so long to get something queued up. There will be more info, including translated invites, sent out next week. From my perspective, this meeting is to get feedback on the range of opportunities created by opening Cedar Park as an option school. Licton Springs moving to CP is ONE option which has been identified, and is in discussion with the Licton Springs community.

The current Board-approved plan is Cedar Park opening in fall 2017 as an Option School and Licton Springs moving to the Robert Eagle Staff building. Any changes from either of those directives will require Board amendments, which would need to be incorporated into the Student Assignment Transition Plan being introduced on Wed and voted on in January.

Feedback enthusiastically welcome.

-Rick

Sigh said...

"After waitlists have been dissolved, program changes within the same school will be at the principal discretion.

Wait, what? Parents sign up for a program at a school and after school starts, the principal can change the program? "

Wow.

Megan Hazen said...

Some notes:

Yes, 'Contemporary' is the 'contemporary pedagogical approach' that most schools use, and differentiates it from 'Montessori' which uses the Montessori pedagogy. The other Montessori school in the district - Daniel Bagley - has separate Contemporary and Montessori tracks.

Grateful Parent said...

Thank you so much for attending, asking questions, and writing this up! (Thanks also to Eden Mack for all her work) You guys rock!

--A grateful parent who's tried almost everything the public schools have to offer (and my kid's only in 6th grade!)
We tried the assigned ALO school, the Spectrum school, an option school, and finally HCC

Megan Hazen said...

Note on REMS/LS:

Regarding moving the Licton Springs k-8 to Cedar Park: This is not an acceptable solution given the important of the Licton Springs to the Native cultures in this area. The k-8 was established to, in part, support native heritage education. Part of the discussion in the design of the new campus in Licton Springs was that space would be made to support heritage programs. The right thing to do is to make space for the Licton Springs k-8 on the campus.

Interestingly, the number of seats has long been established and is not currently in much contention. 150 seats may be about correct for the school at this time, and, in fact is a few more students than the school is serving this year. However, the 7 allotted classrooms can not serve 9 grades. It seems like folly to not plan for allowing around 10 classrooms with the accompanying modest growth in school size.

This issues is tied into the middle school realignment, and the questions about precisely what the predicted numbers are and where those numbers are coming from. There are five feeder elementary schools to Robert Eagle Staff, in addition to the HCC cohort. It would seem that the district currently estimates approximately 300 students coming from those 5 feeder schools, but without access to the actual numbers* it is impossible to judge who accurate or consistent those numbers are likely to be. (The sense, I think, is that 300 is too small an estimate. --- Off the cuff, if i take the 2014/15 numbers for Daniel Bagley, that is 427 students - 3 grades of that would be somewhere on the order of 200 students, which implies 200 students from Daniel Bagley to REMS alone.)

* We would like to see some real data, please.

So, the conclusion seems to be - if the estimate of 660 students is accurate, that is well below the 850 seat capacity, so why doesn't the district allot more classrooms to the k-8 and encourage the school to develop and thrive?
Better yet, why doesn't the district hedge its bets, assign more students to Whitman, and plan ahead for the expansion of the k-8? There has been some noise that Whitman would like to retain more students, and that some of the parents currently in the Whitman area (Greenwood elementary in particular) would prefer to stay at Whitman. This seems like an easy solution to support all the students in the north end.

Megan Hazen said...

Notes: Advanced Learning -

There is no question that 1. Spectrum has been completely disabled, and 2. This has resulted in increased use of the HCC services, and 3. ALO will never become useful unless the district can specify what it means to provide ALO services.

There are issues with the AL programs as they are, the biggest one being that HCC is not doing a great job serving a diversity of students. However, HCC is a successful program from most other vantage points - it serves a large number of students for a much lower cost than they could be adequately served in a general education classroom. The program should be supported, and the identification process should be improved so that the program is more equitably available to all qualified students.

Another concern about the HCC program is skyrocketing enrollment. However, families currently have no other option than to send their qualified child to HCC. With no functional Spectrum programs there is not an alternative for children who would like to be at their neighborhood school, or who would like to be academically challenged but focus on another skill, such as an artistic or athletic talent.

The policy of declaring that ALO exists but allowing individuals principals to decide 'how' they support it has largely resulted in schools with no ALO support at all, because it is difficult to differentiate without additional resources. Schools that do offer some ALO support often are unpredictable in terms of what they offer and how they identify or manage their qualified students. For example, declaring that individuals teachers will differentiate (with no funds for training or program development) results in a yearly roulette regarding how well that year's teacher can accommodate your child's needs. Even the minimum 'different worksheet' requires more effort on the part of the school, and it is likely to be one of the first things to drop when things get hectic.

The problem really does come down to, first, the difficulty of providing AL services in a general classroom, particularly with no additional funding and with large class sizes. And, second, as Ms. Westbrook pointed out, the fact that no district level definition of the program exists. There should be some basic outline of expected services, how they are delivered, and how children are identified for them. Principals should be expected to comply with these outlines, and not given the option of reducing or altering them.

From my personal viewpoint, it seems obvious that if there is the will to modify the way AL services are provided in Seattle, the first step should be to define some basic ALO services that all schools provide. Providing schools with real Spectrum (or similar) programs would provide a way to serve students who wish to stay in a neighborhood school for any reason, or who are academically capable but not HCC qualified. This can be done concurrently with improved identification processes to better support currently under-served populations.
The wrong solution is to continue to dismantle all the current AL solutions with no replacement in sight.

Anonymous said...

I believe the 666 is for the neighborhood kids, hen there's an ADDITIONAL 296 HCC kids that would be reassigned to REMS. That's about 100 over capacity, which is probably why they'll consider grandfathering Whitman students and/or all 8th graders. That's just a temporary solution, though, so my guess is they're hoping to move Licton Springs out, sooner or later.

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

DisAPPointed: District staff are *saying* the 296 are already counted within the 666. So they need to explain, or revise, the remaining 370. As you suggest, grandfathering does nothing to solve the problem of assignment imbalance. It would only camouflage a failure to get the balance right starting in 2017.

Fireside

Anonymous said...

A new, more rigorous pull out and "walk to" plan with associated curriculum needs to be standardized for math at every neighborhood school from 3rd grade up, at a minimum. Option schools should be open to everyone, with transportation offered in an affordable geozone. HCC should be in heterogeneous schools with cohort classes in math, science, LA for elementary students per research best practices. The caveat for this final recommendation is to NOT plop HCC into a high poverty school as a way to manipulate test score data. People driving this strategy need to be forced out of the SPS system.

Fix AL

Melissa Westbrook said...

So thank you to all for these great comments/ideas. Please send them onto the Board as this plan will be presented to the Board this week for introduction.

I was told by one director that AL cannot be revised without community input, blah, blah and that takes time. But while that "time" cannot be found, AL is being systemically changed.

I'll have more to say on this with a 10,000 foot overview of the district that I am planning to write. I am seeing signs that staff is making moves under cover of "crisis" and school-based decison-making that neither the Board nor parents are explicitly being told about.

Anonymous said...

I support the Licton Springs K-8 program, and always have. I would love to see the program rebound back to its former enrollment of 270-ish students. In my opinion, this could be possible if it is given a stable location and is able to avoid closure treats. A co-housed option program held to under 150 students will always be under threat of closure, due to both the high cost/pupil and the threat of being squeeze out by both the guaranteed feeder and HCC assignments at RESMS. Prospective K-8 parents are looking for long-term educational continuity for their children, and would likely avoid the program for these reasons.

It is my understanding that comprehensive middle schools function best, from a master schedule point of view, in enrollment sets of 150-160 (based upon 6 periods, with each teacher having 5 teaching periods of 30 -32 students per class). The space set aside for Licton Springs was probably based upon the space requirements that are needed to serve one set of 150-160 students within a comprehensive middle school building (6 home rooms, plus additional lab/support spaces). If SPS was to set aside more space for Licton Springs, the next functional increment would be to set aside a chunk of space about twice as big as the current set-aside (300-320 students). That would allow for a comprehensive middle school population at RESMS of about 680 students (without portables). This is a much smaller middle school than that which was approved for the site, and the School Board needs to engage in an informed discussion (with access to the relevant data) as to whether or not this is a feasible scenario for the long term.

Summit K-12 was offered space in the Rainier Beach building, which they declined, as they preferred relocation to a more central location. The Summit program was then closed. I understand the strong Native American ties to the Licton Springs area, but I am concerned that the Cedar Park offer may be the only viable option for the survival of the Licton Springs K-8 program.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

I think it is time to stop running Native Americans through revolving doors. Wonder if Licton Springs K-8 is more valuable? Trying to ascertain if sense of entitlement prefers keeping Licton Springs K-8 or if it is truly more valuable compared to Native program.

still open-minded

Anonymous said...

Is there a link to the proposed SAP?

Lynn said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/16-17agendas/12_07_2016/I08_20161207_Action_Report_Student_Assignment_Plan_packet.pdf

Anonymous said...

Rick,

THANK YOU!

CP wondering

Megan Hazen said...

North-end-mom:

I think that is an interesting viewpoint on why the class room allocation for LS is what it is. I have yet to hear the district or any board member suggest that this is actually the reason, but it sounds plausible. I wish, if it is what is going on, they would tell us about it because it would change the thought process on how to address the issue.

Of course, they claim that current numbers for the middle school are going to be around that 680 level anyway, so it should still be possible to serve the K-8 in the promised space.

Anonymous: I think it is time to stop running Native Americans through revolving doors. Wonder if Licton Springs K-8 is more valuable? Trying to ascertain if sense of entitlement prefers keeping Licton Springs K-8 or if it is truly more valuable compared to Native program.

I don't really understand what you are asking. Can you clarify?

Megan Hazen said...

Fix AL: A new, more rigorous pull out and "walk to" plan with associated curriculum needs to be standardized for math at every neighborhood school from 3rd grade up, at a minimum.

Yeah, this, but 3rd grade is too late. I know too many kids who ran out of appropriate work by the end of kindergarten. Walk to Math seems like a fairly easy and adjustable program to run, and I can think of no reason you wouldn't run it from K or 1 on-wards.

Readers workshop is supposed to be self-norming anyway, but schools should be required to provide books at a 'just-right' level to everyone. For some kids this will mean extra work - sending them to a library or bringing in extra books for just a small number of students. However, this is another minimum level of serving AL needs.


HCC should be in heterogeneous schools with cohort classes in math, science, LA for elementary students per research best practices.

Well, the cohort school is the way this becomes more affordable, since a cohort needs more students than qualify in any given grade at any give school (per those best practices). Spectrum used to provide this kind of service for some level, with some consolidation of the cohort to a smaller number of schools. (Brings us back to 're-institute Spectrum'.)

Anonymous said...

If I were a potential Licton Springs student or parent, I'd be wondering how to best ensure the survival of my school. Would charter law help? All the big money is on charters.

If the law was revised to streamline charters for teacher-led and under-served students, then why not LS? I'd wonder because you can see the pattern. SPS loves to kill schools. They set up their targets to fail. See Summit and AS #1. Discourage enrollment. Add a deadbeat principal who knows nothing about the student population. Make sure enrollment services puts in a bad word because parents, they need to plan. With a documented history of stealing money from Native American students, one would think SPS would roll over on command if a dedicated group decided to keep their school and grow it, with big money and a big lawyer. Charter don't have to be corporate computer camps.

Make SPS pay.

Westside

Robert Cruickshank said...

The situation with Licton Springs is very troubling. It reminds me a lot of what the district did to Middle College - which was another program specializing in racial justice and equity.

At some point, the racist behavior of SPS senior staff - their attacks on Middle College and Licton Springs, to name just a few of many incidents - needs to be explicitly named, called out, and ended.

Lynn said...

It would take a couple of years to start a charter school to replace Licton Springs and an affordable location would have to be found.

Anonymous said...

What are you saying Robert, we should have a school or two teaching "racial justice and equity" and have all the rest neglecting them?

And all the Native kids should be the ones most encouraged to attend?

octo

Mona said...

I was walking by Lincoln the other week and saw a disturbing sight. A staff member brought some kids, about 9 years old and she didn't engage them or even supervise as some pushing starting. It was a small group of a dozen kids, probably LS kids as there was more than one koc(figure it out). Hate to see that stuff, maybe a sub, she had a clipboard so maybe she didn't know the kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Certainly, a charter could take over Licton Springs (if the district abandons it) but it's not exactly the type that most charters like. And, as Lynn, points out, it is a difficult thing to find and fund a location.

Well, Mona, I'm going to assume you are an adult. You could have gone up and asked.

Don't Let Principals Decide Everything said...

I don't understand how the district can leave it up to principals to decide ***if*** they will provide any advanced learning to students who need it. This essentially means writing off up to 1/3 of the class and just admitting that they don't deserve to learn anything at school.

Our principal swore that walk-to-math was a bad idea because it made kids feel like they have different levels of math ability. DUH! Kids DO have different levels of math ability. All humans have different levels of ability. Duh. Duh Duh. This anti-tracking fad is just driving that point home in a MASSIVE way to the not-so-bright kids.

Principals shouldn't be allowed to just decide not to educate any kid who's ahead of low-middle. That is morally wrong. All children deserve to learn. Principals need to deal with the reality that kids do have differing levels of ability. It would be great if the board could provide the district with some guidance on this point ASAP.

My kid spent kindergarten math in the bathroom trying to get wet paper towels to stick to the ceiling with his homeless buddy. And that was the best possible use of his time. He already knew kindergarten math, but he had no idea how to get the paper towels to stick to the ceiling. Way to go, principal!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Reposting for Anonymous: no anonymous comments. Next time, give yourself a name, please.

"The detracking as described by Burris is about offering an accelerated curriculum for all students, which requires more resources and supports than offering multiple pathways. The changes in Burris' district required a multi-year phase in and staff to rework curriculum and provide academic support to students. National Honor Society students were required to provide peer tutoring as part of their community service. Some schools have gotten grants for detracking efforts, but could not maintain the classes without the additional funds. Who believes SPS is up to the task of providing the supports needed to make a detracking effort successful for all students?"

Anonymous said...

Melissa, JSIS and McDonald haven't been linked to BF Day for some time now. The last 3-4 years, at least. They both(!)feed into Green Lake Elementary for students in those zones who don't get into the schools at K, or who move into the area late, or for whom language immersion just doesn't work. This is one of the reasons that Green Lake is now hugely oversubscribed itself - it has to take all those kids, and there are many! It's a big issue in general and also one of the reasons the Green Lake elem community has been working to try and get the district to change some of the southern boundaries of its area. Green Lake can't continue to shoulder that enrollment, and BF Day is under-enrolled, making some kind of swap of boundaries on that side of the area reasonable.

GLES Alum

Lynn said...

They are not even trying to make the effort successful for all students. As long as advanced students continue to pass the state math and reading tests, they'll declare that these students experienced no negative effects from the changes.

Anonymous said...

Who believes Seattle is up to the task of detracking? Our elementary teachers KNOW Seattle is not up for the task, Middle School teachers have mixed opinions, and it appears some high school teachers think we should continue to track/separate by ability and many in South Seattle want to push their opinions on the entire District at every level.

The fact that the front lines elementary teachers know we don't have the resources or the will to make this happen right now means the most to me--I trust their advice and opinions the most.

Ask teachers

Anonymous said...

Any evidence of what the SEA plans to do with this survey on detracking? "Ask teachers" comment above suggests elementary teachers have responded against detracking. Anyone know results of SEA survey? Anything?

Thank you, Melissa, for getting us your 10,000-foot analysis ASAP. Some information in the SPS vacuum would be most appreciated.

Concerned SPS parent

Anonymous said...

@concerned SPS parent--my comments were purely speculative based on conversations I've had with elementary and middle school teachers. I actually worry that the group behind the survey will only display feedback results in a manner that suits their objectives.

Ask teachers

Melissa Westbrook said...

GLES, I only put that in there because staff noted it as a change. If it happened earlier, then it was quietly done because I'm unclear why it would be noted as a change if it were not.

Yes, Ask teachers, there does seem to be a small but determined group of teachers seeking this change.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and have never received this survey. I question whether it passed muster and our leadership is even doing it.

I'm not for any radical steps about HCC-- but something is definitely wrong with a program where over 3300 students were found eligible but only 34 of them black students. Doesnot pass the sniff test. It would seem to me that wise HCC strategists should quickly begin to brainstorm ways to support greater diversity in the program, or it will fail (perhaps even in a court).

Differentiation is doable and I'm always mystified when teachers or parents talk sbout it being a challenge to achieve. It's all in choosing work that has a component that is open-ended and student-focused. This can be accomplished in all content areas.

Teacher V

Anonymous said...

@ Teacher V, that's all well and good that you say differentiation is doable, but many of us have experience that suggests while it may be doable in theory, it's rarely done in practice. That's why we left our neighborhood schools. Teachers didn't want to differentiate and suggested we leave. Or teachers tried to differentiate but were unsuccessful. There are also many stories of kids exhibiting behavioral problems, mental health issues, social isolation, etc. because they are so out of sync with typically developing peers. Even the best teacher doesn't make up for feeling like a freak on the inside. If you are truly able to meet the academic and social needs of all types of students in your classroom, more power to you--but in that case you are an exceptional teachers. Many of your peers will readily acknowledge that given class sizes and resource constraints and the range of diverse needs, they just can't do it. Apparently you are

superhuman

Melissa Westbrook said...

Superhuman, you don't have to be snide.

I believe it is possible to differentiate but teachers need PD and supports especially with larger class sizes.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, that's exactly what I said: it's possible to differentiate, but without the supports it's not feasible. Apologies if my comment came off as snide, as it was not meant to be. It was intended to acknowledge the very real challenges of trying to differentiate, especially when we're talking about HC students. Teachers can't work at two speeds simultaneously, but the "faster pace" appropriate to HC students isn't appropriate for most--so HC students end up bored with a lesson that moves too slowly. Some level of differentiation is certainly possible, but differentiation sufficient to address the whole range of students, up to and including those working several years above and several years below grade level? I'm not convinced.

Reposting for anon:

Anonymous said...
It's all in choosing work that has a component that is open-ended and student-focused. This can be accomplished in all content areas.

This is just adding more work on the student, not necessarily more challenge. You can't just add some writing assignments to Physics class, for example, and call it honors. Honors level science should require higher level math, move at a quicker pace, and actually be harder. More advanced math requires the teaching of more advanced concepts. The idea that you can just add on some open ended projects and call it good is what makes many skeptical of differentiation. What does honors level work look like? @Superhuman is just being realistic.

12/6/16, 6:16 PM


superhuman

Melissa Westbrook said...

Superhuman,sounds like we are on the same page about differentiation. I don't believe it can be done well with larger class sizes and few supports. I think teachers are human and will teach to the middle-low.