Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tuesday Open Thread

I see the Superintendent supported the National Day of Racial Healing last week.  What's odd is that his press release/tweet about it was put out yesterday.  I also note from SPS twitter that Eckstein had a lockdown last Friday for about 25 minutes - Staff followed procedure in response to a student behavioral situation. All are safe and classes continue.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 25th, is another kindergarten enrollment day at Rainier Beach Community Center from 6:45 pm to 8:45 pm.

The Washington State House passed a measure yesterday to prevent the levy cliff until 2019.  A couple of Republicans crossed the aisle to pass the bill.  The Senate has yet to even get it out of committee but I think the pressure is on to get it to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Hale's basketball team is #1 in the nation and the Times examines how that team came to be. 

Oh look, the White House website is now no longer available in Spanish or has info for disabled readers.  On the other end of the political spectrum, a Saturday Night Live writer was suspended for a tweet about Trump's youngest son (who is a minor.)  Note to all: underaged children of elected officials are off-limits.  Always.

Mississippi has sued Google, claiming they violate student privacy.   From ABC News:
In a news conference Tuesday, Hood said Google is breaking Mississippi consumer protection law by selling ads using data from services it provides to schools.

"They're building a profile so they can advertise to them," Hood said. "They expressly stated in writing that they would not do that."

The suit says Google could be fined up to $10,000 for each of its student accounts in Mississippi. With half the state's school districts using Google's email, calendar and other online services, that amount could top $1 billion.

Hood sent a letter to local school superintendents Friday asking them to preserve evidence to help with the lawsuit. He's advising parents to consult their local school systems.
The Seattle Public Library Foundation announces the Stimson Bullitt Civic Courage Scholarship Competition.
The competition asks students to write an essay about an individual or group of individuals from Washington state who have demonstrated civic courage on an issue of importance to the community at great personal, political or professional risk.

Essay submissions will be open from January 1 – March 15 and should be submitted here. Please make sure to fully read the eligibility and rules and judging criteria before submitting your essay.

1st Place: $5,000 scholarship
2nd Place: Two $2,500 scholarships
What's on your mind?


Lynn said...

The board will be having a work session on the budget tomorrow and I expect they'll be prioritizing which spending cuts are reversed if the $30M levy cliff is delayed.

Here's what I think they should do:

$16.6 M to eliminate cuts to the WSS
$3.8 M to restore the fall enrollment reserve and funding to reduce school splits
$2.3 M to move to a two tier bell schedule

This leaves $7.3M for curriculum adoptions and to restore central office spending. Central admin would howl about this but what were they expecting when they signed the SEA contract promising money we don't have?

The other thing they should be considering is moving John Rogers into the Cedar Park building. We received state funds to renovate Cedar Park for use as an interim site and that's what it's suitable for. This would allow replacement of John Rogers in BEX V (or with another state grant) and allow plenty of time to plan for a successful option school opening at Cedar Park when the John Rogers students move out.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, or signed for COLAs for everyone at JSCEE when they didn't have that money (and that came after the SEA raises.)

Agreed on John Rogers.

Anonymous said...

Lynn--I agree. It is really difficult to call around to neighboring districts asking for sympoand support when some of our budget woes are self inflicted due to bad planning.

Call anyway

Lynn said...

I'm thinking about the implementation of the 24 credit graduation requirement too. It's hard to take in just how poorly this has been handled. The district was given a two year extension of time to plan for the changes which will affect current 8th grade students. We still don't have a plan. The idea they're likely to suggest (five period trimesters) is just awful for both struggling students and successful students.

We need a plan for providing two years of world language classes to every student. Because we have a shortage of language teachers every year, schools will have to replace sections of third and fourth year classes with first and second year sections. We cannot become a district that limits learning in this way.

We need a plan for kids (at Garfield for example) who are required to take reading and math support and COE biology courses. A freshman enrolled in both reading and math support classes has just used half of their allowable electives for their four years of high school. Support classes must be offered outside of the regular school day.

We need a plan that provides every high school student with opportunities for credit retrieval and to receive credit for online classes. The availability of these opportunities must not continue to be a site-based decision. We need a plan for summer school course offerings.

NESeattleMom said...

SPS schools should go to a seven period day in high school. Say no to 3 x 5. That is impossible.

seattle citizen said...

3x5 is LIKELY coming TO SPS high schools - three trimesters of five periods each, where core classes would lose seat time (I think about 20% less seat time per core class) AND, possibly, be divided into Fall and Spring trimesters, with Winter in some other class in between the two core sections. So a student will, perhaps, take LA9A first trimester, then Art second trimester, then LA9B third trimester, perhaps with a different teacher.

Anonymous said...

Would a 7 period day mean that teachers teach 5 and have two planning periods or that they teach 6 classes and have one planning period (and likely a pay raise?) This would need to be addressed in the contract negotiation this year, yes? Or maybe one period they could teach/loosely supervise something like study hall, that kids would then have time to take?


Anonymous said...

There's no $$ for 7 periods. Forget it.

Seen It

NESeattleMom said...

Seen It, I understand what you are saying. I hope they just stick with the 6 period day then. 3 x 5 will ruin high school.

seattle citizen said...

A longer day with seven periods would require FTE - what, about 16% more to cover that extra period. So yes, there would be two options: hire more FTE to teach while teachers get extra prep period (wouldn't that be glorious!) or, more likely, renegotiate with teachers, either ask them to work more for a little extra pay or make them work more for nothing.
As is the case now, it is cheaper for the district to pay overages in classrooms than pay for more FTE - by contract, HS gen-ed teachers get paid a little bit extra for anything over 150 per day. It's cheaper to pay that than hire another teacher:
let's say a teacher has about 15 kids overage, at 165 - they get about $4,000. This is three kids per section. If there were ten teachers all teaching three over, that's 30 extra kids. Pay the teachers $40,000, or pay for a whole 'nother teacher for $80,000. Hmmm.....hmmm....
They pay the overages. Teachers "gain," oh, 5% more in pay, students lose because teachers just can't do much more in crowded classrooms. A false economy.
My belief is that in a seven period scenario the district will want to pay existing teachers slightly more to do 20% more work rather than hire more FTE. There isn't a chance they are giving the teachers a 20% raise (an extra period's worth,) nor will they want to spend the money to buy 16% more FTE to cover an additional class for 1500 students.
Expect contract negotiations with the district wanting to pay teachers, oh, 8-10% more, if that.
IF the state pays for that extra period, giving more money to the district, otherwise.....

Anonymous said...

The day doesn't need to be longer to have 7 periods--just make each class about 5 min shorter, then add those extra 20 minutes we're already adding. The big impact on teachers would be that the might have 6 classes instead of five. It seems like we could mitigate that in multiple ways, such as by paying them more if they opt for six full periods, or making the classes a little smaller (so they have the same total number of kids). Not every student would need or want 7 periods, so it would provide some flexibility.

The proposed 3x5 schedule is a disaster. @SeattleCitizen, you say it's likely coming, but how on earth can it actually WORK? AP classes and IB programs are a particular problem. There are many others, as was discussed when the initial recommendation came out.


Anonymous said...


International High School board member Sophia Dossin said Wednesday that the schedule makes it difficult for many students to just enroll in the classes they need to graduate....“Students who loaded their schedules with the hard classes are now having to pay out of pocket to take online classes because there’s not enough time or periods to get those things done,” Dossin said.


Too bad it's too late for my kid, who had to suffer through this screwball 3x5 system for the past three years, along with the incredibly idiotic CPM math curriculum, which teaches "working in groups" rather than math.

Can we not learn from the mistakes of others?

SPS insanity

Anonymous said...

How many credits were previously required in order to graduate from high school in the SPS system?

- Curious

seattle citizen said...

Yes, HF, I suppose one could take five minutes from each class, plus the extra twenty. That would do it. Teachers would then have six sections instead of five, which might be a similar amount of instructional time but would still be, potentially, an increase of 20% in the number of students they have, which impacts workload to a slight or significant degree, depending on the subject taught.

In that scenario, teachers would teach 6x45 = 4.5 hours instead of 5x50 = 4.17 hours and their workload would increase.

But I favor this schedule because, as you note, it provides flexibility to students, allows for additional electives, and avoids the wonky split core classes and significantly shortened seat time of the 3x5.

Lynn said...

21 are currently required by the district. Some schools require more. (That is insane.)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, at Director Burke's first meeting about Lincoln, Hale's principal, Jill Hudson, said that they already require more credits than the state asks for and that it is easy for a school to organize. So easy, peasy, according to her.

Anonymous said...

Hale requires 23.5.


Anonymous said...

From the weekly



Anonymous said...

Hale also doesn't offer many AP or IB classes. They also have a lot of non-class time built into their schedule. I'm sure it's easier to require more credits if you award more credits for less work and don't provide as much variety, but I'm not sure that's the model that will work best for all high schools. I don't believe Hale has a reputation as an academic powerhouse.


Anonymous said...

@ SeattleCitizen, are you sure the time difference is as great as you suggest? With the 20 minutes added next year, teachers' days are going to be longer than the 5x50 alread, aren't they? Do we know how the 20 minutes will be used? If it goes to class time, the net effect---in terms of teaching minutes--won't be that different. Basically it would be the difference between a prep period of, say, 53 minutes (if they increase each class by a few min) vs one of only 45 min.


Anonymous said...

I knew about the 3x5 proposal and that it seemed to be the direction SPS was going to go, but then radio silence. Doesn't it seem that if SPS is going to adopt 3x5 for next fall, the high schools would already be revamping their master schedules for next year? The District can't make this decision in June. When are they going to make it? It almost seems too late to make something happen for next fall, doesn't it? (And I'm not getting at the issue of whether people should know in advance so they can go private if they can afford it and want to make that choice. I'm talking about the practicality of coming up with a new master schedule in time for registering students for their fall classes.) I would love to hear the thoughts of others who are more in-the-know about creation of a master schedule. Thanks.

-8th grade parent

Lynn said...

They're not making schedule changes until the following year.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's the thing about "ethnic studies" - it becomes one more item to add to a long list of things that need to be in the school day.

How about just teaching history - the entire history - what came before, how this country came about, what happened (good and bad) during that creation and all the things (good and bad done by all kinds of people.)

That way no mucky-mucks at headquarters can whine about time or curriculum - there's plenty of curriculum out there. Just integrate it all into "history" and get it done.

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are changing the year after because they yanked all the money devoted to the change over from the budget this coming year because of the shortfall. The requirement for this year's 8th graders does not change, though. That means freshmen who have academic trouble will already behind the 8ball. And there will have to be extra district money and time dedicated to credit retrieval for those kids from the get-go. Then we will also have kids who didn't geta strong freshman schedule also under pressure. The faculty committee charged with examining the schedule redo recommended the 3x5 schedule so good luck getting that reconsidered with needing to dive into logistics as soon as next year's school is rolling. There was a long string on this subject on this blog a few months ago.

Seen It

Anonymous said...

How does 3x5 work for IB classes? How does it work for AP classes?

@ Seen It, what is this faculty committee you mentioned? Is it the group that came up with the initial recommendation (you know, the recommendation that they straight up noted they didn't know was even feasible for AP/IB)? Or is this a different group, charged with evaluating the other group's recommendation? If the latter, where can we get our hands on their additional analysis.


Lynn said...

It's the high school steering commitee. The minutes of some of their meetings are available on the bottom right side of this page: http://www.seattleschools.org/families_communities/committees/graduation_requirement/

Anonymous said...

#1 .. USA school teachers are very short on planning time when compared with teachers in high performing nations.

#2 .. Given the above is moving to a 7 period day with only one plan period a good idea?

#3 .. At one time West Seattle HS used a 4 period day of 85 minute periods. Fife HS used 90 minute periods in a 4 period day.

#4 .. Vachon HS used a 5 period day on Trimesters for many years.


The 3x5 idea I find very appealing. Class time can be scheduled based on content needing to be covered. Cool electives could be one trimester. That first Algebra Class can be 3 trimesters. Geometry needs only 2 trimesters. Frosh English could be 3 trimesters. AP Calculus could be 3 trimesters.

Some schools currently have students double dipping to learn enough math freshman year to learn algebra.

A 90 day semester at 50 min = 4500 minutes (for each class)

A 60 day trimester at 75 minutes = 4500 minutes

A 60 day trimester at 70 minutes = 4200 minutes (7% less than 4500)

7 x 50 minutes = 350 minutes per day

5 x 75 minutes = 375 minutes per day

5 x 70 minutes = 350 minutes per day

The 5 x 70 minute schedule
means a 2 trimester class has 7% less class time than a 2 semester class

Using 3 (70 min) trimesters instead of 2 (50 min) semesters adds 3600 minutes of additional class time.
12600 min to 9000 min

What exactly are we attempting to do with a school schedule?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Ratio of Plan time to Instruction time

7 period day at 50 min with one period plan
50/300 = 16.7%

5 period day at 70 min with one period plan
70/280 = 25%

A current day with teaching 5 periods at 55 min = 275 min
A current day with teaching 5 periods at 50 min = 250 min
Teaching 4 periods at 70 min = 280 min

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

For comparison to other states, when I went to school (LI, NY) we had 8 periods. My cousin's kid's at Southside (Rockville Center) have 9 periods and take the IB program. http://www.edline.net/files/_TeLA7_/61db4b43c2b61dc63745a49013852ec4/Bell_Schedule_2016-17.pdf

Anonymous said...

Oregon is hating their 3x5 schedule. Hale has mentorship built right into their schedule that helps the kids plan out their schedules and plan for after high school. My kid used the time to plan out getting the coursework needed to get into 4 year colleges. Hale may not be the academic powerhouse some of the other high schools are, but every single one of my kid's friends made it into one of their top five colleges: UW, WSU, UO, OSU, UBC, University of San Diego, Chapman, American University, etc. One of the friends scored a perfect ACT score. I agree that Hale needs more AP offerings.


Anonymous said...

Here is what my high school looked like at a college prep private school on semesters and requiring 26 credits to graduate:

Normal Schedule
8:00-8:10 a.m. • Homeroom
8:10-9:35 a.m. • First Class
9:35-9:55 a.m. • Activity Period
9:55-11:20 a.m. • Second Class
11:20 a.m.-1:15 p.m. • Third Class
(11:20-11:50 • 1st Lunch)
(12:45-1:15 • 2nd Lunch)
1:15-2:40 p.m. • Fourth Class

Students take 6 to 7 credits every year. Classes don't necessarily meet everyday.


Anonymous said...

The SPS school day is from 8:45 - 3:15. After passing periods and 30 minutes for lunch, you are working with around 300 minutes of instructional time per day.

300 min = 6 periods x 50 minutes

For a traditional 2x6 schedule: Total instructional time per year, per course = 180 days x 50 min = 9000 min

For a 3x5 schedule (assuming a traditional course is now squeezed into 2 trimesters of 60 days each, and slightly longer periods of at most 60 min): Total instructional time per year, per course = 120 days x 60 min = 7200 min

By changing to a 3x5 schedule, a course needs to cover the same content with a 20% reduction in total class time. They loose the equivalent of (36) 50 min class periods, or over 7 weeks of class time. How is that possible? If students are struggling to cover the content with the existing 2 semester schedule, how is reducing the total contact time going to improve outcomes? The idea that students are somehow going to go more in depth with each class is laughable.

More magical thinking from SPS. It's hard to believe it was recommended without working out the basic math.

A schedule with 6 periods a day MWF, then 3 extended periods T and Th (periods 1, 3, and 5 on one day and periods 2, 4, and 6 on another, for example), could provide more flexibility without chipping away at class time.

It is very unclear what is going on with start/end times and scheduling for next year. There are 3 possible changes: 1) A 20 min extension to the day, 2) early release days every Wed, and 3) maybe a 3x5 schedule. When will schools and parents know what is what?

-No 3x5!

Anonymous said...

Dan, what you are not taking into consideration with your back of the envelope calculations is that students typically take 6 year long courses, 5 of which are core courses for a college prep pathway - 1) Math, 2) Science, 3) LA, 4) SS, 5) World Language, and 6) elective (music, art, computer science, drama, etc.). Some state colleges have a (1) credit art requirement.

With a 3x5 schedule and the suggestion that some classes could be 3 trimesters, what happens to the elective? No band? No art? There would be no time left for a 6th class - a 6th class that is needed to get 24 credits: 4 years x 6 credits per year.

-No 3x5!

Anonymous said...

What school choice looks like in NC:


It's a network of bare bones, low cost private schools that look like charters. Classes are large, facilities don't include lunch rooms, sports fields or large auditoriums, and unlike charters, they can exclude high needs students. Is this similar to what Lakeside is creating with a new campus in south Seattle?

-a reader

Anonymous said...

When is the state Senate due to vote on the House bill lifting the levy cliff for this year? Or when would it need to offer its own version? Bottom line, assuming the Senate will delay action as long as possible, when is the last date we could see the Senate take action? Assuming it is close to the end of the session, won't this force all state districts to issue layoff notices even if the levy cliff is eventually dealt with?


Anonymous said...

@ Dan,

Your numbers are a little off. The current six-period day allows for 55-minute periods, so that's 450 more minutes per semester than you said.

A 90 day semester at 55 min = 4950 minutes (for each class)

Comparing this to the 60 day trimester at 70 min = 4200 minutes, it's 750 fewer minutes--15% less time, not 7% less.

Let's think about HW for a minute, too. If you need to cover the same amount of material in significantly fewer days, you'll need to assign more homework each night, right? You can't just work that into class time, since you're already losing 450 instructional minutes. If a class typically reads a novel each 30 days, they'll need to expedite and read it in 20 instead. If you have kids write a paper each month, you'll need to have them write one every 20 days instead. And so on. Or, you reduce the workload to accommodate the decrease in instructional time and term length--in other words, reduce the course content and rigor to reflect the new schedule.

When you put like the above, it sounds bad, right? And you'd probably argue that no, that's not necessary--core academic classes that require a year's worth of material and assignments can take 3 trimesters instead. True. But that is also kind of an acknowledgement that those "other" courses--those that don't still require a year--will be reduced in content/rigor. Otherwise they'd need more time. Unless, of course, you think they have too much time right now, and that kids are currently spending too much time in them...

The 3x5 schedule is inequitable, disproportionately punishing students who want to take a strong college prep schedule. So much for promoting college readiness. A strong college prep schedule will include many year-long classes in core academic areas: math, science, english, and history. In addition, it will also include at least three full years of foreign language, and likely music.

It's not reasonable to expect AP classes, for example, to be covered in the greatly reduced timeframe, so that means AP classes would be three trimesters. Music classes, also, are typically year-long. Let's say a student takes this:

Science: 1 yr of pre-AP (2 trimesters) and 3 yrs of AP science = 11 classes
English: 2yrs of pre-AP and 2 yrs AP = 10 classes
Math: 1 yr pre-AP (2 trimesters), 3 yrs of AP = 11 classes
SS/History: 1 yr pre-AP (2 trimesters) and 3 yrs of AP History/US Govt = 11 classes
Orchestra: 4 full years = 12 classes
Foreign language: 2 yrs of pre-AP, 1 yr of AP = 7 classes
Health and Fitness: 4 classes
Career and Technical Ed: 2 classes

That's a total of...68 classes. Oops, the 3x5 only allows 60! And that's only if they can manage to get a full schedule every term, which is highly unlikely given how things have been.

So how could the student above fit in their classes? The Health and CTE are required by the state, so they need to cut elsewhere. It's not reasonable to expect students to give up their instrument, so the only real option is to drop AP classes in favor of shorter, less rigorous GE versions that can be done in 2 trimesters. But that's not really reasonable either, is it?

I just don't see how this works for kids on an AP, college prep path---which, we hope, is more and more kids. Can you better explain how this works???

Think of it one other way. A couple "plusses" of the 3x5 schedule as noted in the task force report were that it (1) increases the number/variety of classes kids can take; and (2) it decreases homework loads. If that's true, it has to decrease the amount of work kids do in each class. You can take more, but you do and cover less in each of them.


Anonymous said...

Not only would the number of classes not fit in a 3x5 schedule over the course of 4 years, but they couldn't be scheduled in a way that allows for an elective. A student taking 5 AP courses would need to take those courses in the 1st and 2nd trimesters (and maybe 3rd). If taken in 1st and 2nd trimester, the work load and pace would be unmanageable, and the only time left for an elective would be in trimester 3. How does a student take a year long elective like music in a single trimester? They can't just take 3 periods of music in a single trimester. And what a grind.

The workload does not decrease, and the number of classes that can be taken is reduced because of the increased schedule limitations. The schedule only works when classes are staggered - some 1st and 3rd semester, some 2nd and 3rd semester, some 1st and 2nd semester, etc. The staggered schedule creates more challenges. Would different teachers teach each trimester? Would students remember material if they had a trimester gap in the course? Where is the continuity?

I am still baffled this got out of committee as a recommendation.

-No 3x5!

RLF said...

The basic premise in all of this is a big problem. Human learning is not a banking activity, but it seems like it from this discussion.

dan dempsey said...

The basic premise in all of this is a big problem.

No 3x5 wrote:

"I am still baffled this got out of committee as a recommendation."

Most anything can come out of an SPS committee.

RLF wrote:

" Human learning is not a banking activity, but it seems like it from this discussion."

Yup .. for many in this discussion ... Vashon HS must have completely mis-educated youth for many years.

Look at what a teacher in Singapore does here, during 37 work hours per week and
teaching less than 50% of the time.


"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data"

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

It is written that in Singapore 20% of the national budget goes to education.

I wonder if US spends a similar amount?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

7 period day with one plan => 14.3% of time for planning (1/7)

7 period day with two planning periods => 28.7% of time for planning (2/7)


How does one create an amazing educational environmemt?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

@Dan Dempsey, clearly more teaching planning time would be good for teachers. It would probably be good for kids, too, if it didn't come with a lot of other sacrifices....like not being able to fit all your required classes in. The way I see it, while more planning time would be NICE to have, providing all students with good college prep classes is ESSENTIAL. I'm happy to have more of my tax dollars go toward teacher planning time if it means my students can get the good college prep classes they want and graduate on time, but not if it means they'll get less time in class or will need to forego electives to do so.

PS - Many parents have provided "relevant data" (e.g., scheduling examples) on why doing it as you suggested doesn't work well. I'm looking forward to seeing how you "intelligently apply" that information in your next response, as opposed to just providing more information on funding levels and planning time percentages.

I assume you're being sarcastic re: Vashon HS, but I did see an article on their change from 3x5 to 2x6 that said: "School district officials say there have been concerns and complaints about the trimester system at VHS for years. Many core classes are only assigned for two of three terms in a year, creating gaps in instruction that some say can be problematic, especially in skills-based classes." Yup. Sounds like 3x5 was problematic! It also sounds like they don't offer as much in the way of AP classes--only 40% participated, vs. 65% at Garfield.


Anonymous said...

If the 3x5 schedule was an improvement over the traditional 2x6 schedule, you'd think more schools would be adopting it...but they aren't, with good reason.

common sense