Friday, May 04, 2018

Friday Open Thread

I note this new documentary, The Test and the Art of Thinking, on SAT/ACT testing; looks good. 

Community meeting with Director Burke on Saturday at Fremont Library from 3:30-5:30 pm.

Oh look, the district is having yet another Advanced Learning Taskforce.  My advice? Don't bother.  The charge is hugely overarching and they are going to take a year for the work.  Complete nonsense.

I was on one of these taskforces (along with Charlie).  They only allowed us to discuss HCC when the original charge had been HCC, Spectrum and ALOs.  The district ignored most of what we put forth and it was a complete waste of my time.  I can only imagine now - when HCC has somehow become such a flash point - who will sign up for the work.  I think I can say right now that district staff will shape the membership to suit the outcomes they want.

Of note from the Trend, the newsletter of the UW College of Engineering newsletter; they will be doubling the number of computer science degrees from 300-600.

Also, UW's Direct to College (DTC) freshman admission process expects to have over 700 students in their cohort.

Prior to arriving on campus, sutdents will be paired with an engineering adviser and peer mentor to help guide them through their first year.  

As well, attendance at their Engineering Discovery Days in April saw them hosting over 10,000 elementary, middle and high school students on campus. 

Heads up for the Washington Women in the Trades Job Fair at Seattle Center on May 11th. 
Exhibitors include apprenticeship programs, governmental agencies, colleges, vocational training and corporations. Among many others, past participants have included King County, Gary Merlino Construction Company, Inc., the Boeing Company, and the Seattle Fire Department. Training programs include apprenticeships with the Sprinkler Fitters, Carpenters, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Pipefitters and Electricians. There were over 80 exhibitors in 2017.

Some of the exhibits are outdoors. There's the inimitable Seattle City Light climbing pole, Seattle DOT's shovel test and King County Facilities' build project. Each provides a hands-on dynamic experience while learning about opportunities in the construction trades.
They encourage schools to send students and have some bus transportation dollars for that effort.

From, the Civil Rights Data Collection report, wide-ranging education access and equity data collected from our nation's public schools.  It's a huge amount of information if you like a deep dive.

The CRDC includes data about:
  • Enrollment Demographics
  • Preschool
  • Math & Science Courses
  • Advanced Placement
  • SAT & ACT
  • Discipline
  • School Expenditures
  • Teacher Experience
New data items for 2015-16 CRDC include:

  • Math and science classes taught by certified teachers
  • Enrollment in Algebra I in Grade 7 and Geometry in Grade 8
  • Offenses
  • Pre-K discipline
  • Days missed due to suspensions
  • Transfers to alternate schools
What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

Can someone out there update us on where high schools have landed in the number of periods they'll be offering next year? I've lost my place on the evolution of the discussion. Thank you.


Seattle Citizen said...

EdVoter - still up in the air, mainly due to contractual considerations.

High school teachers are supposed to teach no more than 30 per class or 150 per day. If a schedule is, for instance a 4x4 (eight periods, alternating 1-4, 5-8 days) then a teacher would likely be given six sections (classes) out of eight, but that would likely put them at 180 students, which the union would not support. Nor should they.

So staffing considerations must be put to rest before scheduling considerations are finalized. The union contract is expected to be completed by late August. A strike is a possibility.

Other options under consideration are credit-bearing advisory (same issue as above, if teacher is expected to provide curriculum, structure, or what have you) or zero-periods, before 1st, to make, in effect, a seven-period day. A teacher might then teach zero-five, and their school day would end a period earlier than others. But this only addresses capacity, overcrowding, not FTE.

Anonymous said...

How can they create schedules in time for school if the contract is not completed until late August.


Seattle Citizen said...

The issue really is for the following year, when the district wants 32 credits. But now schools are wrestling with how to accommodate the state's new 24 credit requirement, which impacts this year's 9th graders (class of 2021.) THAT is the current push. But some of the same factors apply as schools come up with proposals regarding how to meet that need. Seven periods, so a student can take more credit? Credit retrieval? Online learning?
My understanding is that schools are approaching this in different ways.

The contract negotiations, though, will determine future plans regarding how to meet the 32 credit mandate (which is SPS's, not the state's, which just requires students to have 24.)

ConcernedSPSParent said...

32 credits is a crazy number, but I guess this is what happens without leadership at the top - I hope the new Superintendent nips it in the bud. As to the Taskforce it is a real shame the district does not use these appropriately - It's a complete waste of effort if the district ignores any ideas that they did not come up with.

Test Question said...

The testing documentary looks great. I wonder when it will come to Seattle?

Here's a 1995 (very long) Atlantic article on the history of ETS and the SAT test:
This quote was really eye opening: About two thirds of the college students who took the test, in those days of minimally selective admissions, scored at or above the cutting score of 70 and so were deferred from the draft. In 1951 there was no interest, inside or outside ETS, in what would today be the main question about the test results -- score differences between ethnic groups -- and no women took the test. To ETS executives what leaped out from the results was the substantial regional differences in the pass rates: 73 percent of college students in New England made a 70 or above, but only 42 percent in the Deep South did. The other main finding was that education majors scored far below students in every other field of study.

There are probably lots of things that IQ isn't related to.

But two interesting things that it is related to are the rate at which a child's brain cortex develops and longevity.

One thing IQ has been shown in a study of more than 65,000 men and women to predict is longevity. In this study, researchers controlled for the socioeconomic status of the children and the differences in mortality remained. And the increased risk of dying earlier from many different causes was not just about low versus high IQ scores. The slight benefit to longevity from higher intelligence seems to increase all the way up the intelligence scale, so that "very smart people live longer than smart people, who live longer than averagely intelligent people, and so on."

Anonymous said...

Giving credit for advisory doesn't do much to support the 24-credit requirement, as the 24-credit requirement requires that those credits fall into certain categories (e.g., 4 ELA, 3 math, 3 SS, etc.). Credits for advisory might up the total number of credits a student receives, but if they don't count toward any of the 24 required credits they are essentially pointless credits. (The advisory class may or may not be valuable itself, but the credits for it don't seem to be useful.)


Former Souper said...

Contract negotiations have begun. There is plenty of time for the district and SEA to come together. I will NOT support another strike. Get the job done.

Test Question said...

Apparently the midwest gets by far the highest SAT scores in the nation now, but probably because only the most competitive students there apparently take it.

Washington comes out looking pretty good on the NAEP (Go, Washington!).

Unknown said...

I have talked to teachers about this amplify online science curriculum and it sounds terrible. What a way to dumb down our classrooms. I understand that it may be a good replacement for a bad teacher but I just dont believe there are that many bad teachers out there. My soms have had some really fantastic teachers and I certainly dont want them replaced by a mindless computer program. No thanks. I will take my chances with the real teacher. My youngest starts 6th grade mext year. Is there any way I can avoid him getting an Amplify science class?

What can I do to help stop this train wreck? Sorry for the overly dramatic language but this feels very important.

Phinney mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Phinney Mom, tell the Board. Tell your friends to tell the Board. Tell them you want real teaching and learning and that's not it.

There is room for technology but when it takes over large parts of teaching, beware.

Michael Rice said...

As a high school math teacher, the only schedule I will feel good about is a 7 period day (with no advisory) with 50 minute periods where we teach 5 periods a day. That will give the students what they need in terms of credits and if they need to make up a class, they will have room in their schedule to take that class.

I know that this schedule is not being discussed as a possible option. There is a modified block (7 periods 3 days a week and blocks on 2 days a week) with an advisory. There also is some discussion about doing the 8 period (4 periods one day and the other 4 periods the other day, we teach 3 of the period each day), that is a total non starter.

After having a year of advisory (and doing almost all of them), I do not understand the purpose of advisory. The best advisory period we had all year was when I went off script and share some demographic information about Ingraham and the Ingraham IB program. We had a great discussion and the students (AP Statistics) had some good observations and questions. But the rest of the year has been kind of a lost 25 minutes.

This is not meant to be a shot at the administrators at Ingraham who have been responsible for advisory. I know they have received little guidance and support and have to basically make it up as they were going along.

The bell schedule should be a local issue and each school should do what works best for the school, given some basic parameters like start time and end time.

I am not optimistic that there will be a good ending for this.

Anonymous said...

Come contract negotiations, I hope teachers will hold firm on the 150 student load. The bell schedule proposals only work if teachers take on more students. The district is asking staff to do more with no additional pay, while students would get less contact time course.


Anonymous said...

@ Michael Rice, that's what I thought sounded like the best bet, too. If you're going to add in another period--which probably makes sense given the core 24 requirements--scrap the advisory period and add a 7th period. That extra class per day won't result in markedly shorter periods since we increased the length of the school day.

The folks at JSCEE who are pushing their various preferred schedule options are pretty obvious about doing so in the way they list pros and cons associated with the various options. I think the 7-period schedule had as a con that it would be harder for kids with executive function issues, whereas the alternating day approach (or, more accurately, some days alternating, some days not) was supposedly going to be easier for those kids. Really? It's easier so stay on top of things when your schedule it chaotic instead of predictable or easy to remember? Somehow I doubt it. And those options where some classes are longer and every other day while others are shorter and daily? Egad.

A 7-class-plus-advisory schedule means even less time in classes. Many teachers have trouble getting through all the material as it is. Either make it 7 classes without advisory, or keep things as they are and provide additional opportunities for credit recovery for those who need them. In addition to summer and before- or after-school classes and online classes, maybe they could get CTE credit for jobs, and get support ($, tutoring, transportation) for taking college classes (which provide more/faster credits).

There has to be a better way.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why SPS can't stay with a 6 class schedule and still have students meet the 24 credit requirement. My daughter is a senior and will be graduating with 24 credits. It seems like the only issue is if kids fail a class - in which case, why not offer summer school? Or after school options to recover credits. I don't understand why the class schedule for all kids has to be completely rearranged for the small number of kids who fail classes. And for the kids who are failing classes, I'm not sure how giving them either more classes to take and/or meaningless "advisory" classes will help them. It seems like they need more tutoring and after school/summer help - adding more class periods isn't going to improve their academic achievement.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Jane, the district stopped paying for summer school a long time ago. The summer school offered now is paid for by the Families and Education levy and I believe is is mostly remedial for middle/high school. Not sure if it has credit recovery.

But you are right on what they needed - more tutoring, less advising.

Eric B said...

Many of the advisory periods at Garfield are effectively study halls. Students appreciate this, but it would have to change a lot to be something I'd be comfortable with it giving course credit.

Anonymous said...

@ Eric B, I think some schools give some credit for it now. It's fairly meaningless credit, though, since it doesn't fit into any of the required 24-credit categories.

How does a 7- or 8-period day help kids who failed a semester or year of English to make up that credit? They need a full year of it each year, for 4 credits. If they fail English 9 do they then take both English 9 and English 10 in 10th grade? That sounds like a recipe for disaster, to "double up" on their most challenging class. It seems like they'd really need (or benefit from) a summer class.

@ Melissa, the district may have stopped paying for summer school a long time ago, but that doesn't mean they can't restart. There will be tremendous additional costs associated with adding additional periods to the day. Summer school may be cheaper.

Core 24

Melissa Westbrook said...

Core 24, oh, I agree. The district should have a robust summer school program. But they don't.

Anonymous said...

I agree that a combination of summer school and zero period classes is the best solution. If that’s not going to happen, why not simply anticipate that some students will take more than four years to graduate from high school. The state funds their education until they reach 21 if they don’t yet have enough credits to graduate.

The current plan to give the same amount of credit for less time in class is dishonest. Kids who fail classes need more time to learn, not more credits on their transcripts.

Fairmount Parent

Seattle Citizen said...

I, too, agree with summer school (and other credit retrieval opportunities - inhouse is preferable, but online if necessary) and zero period. But it costs money. Zero period costs hiring extra FTE; summer school costs asking existing teachers to work for their hourly for five weeks or so; online costs...well, contracted fees for that.

Write the District and the state!

BL said...

SPS already offers credit retrieval over the summer at Roosevelt and South Lake for up to two classes (or one credit total).
They also offer .5 CTE credit for summer classes offered at most High Schools.

Anonymous said...

Block classes with alternating schedules is more like college. Many kids find the 7 classes a day, same schedule day after day, monotonous and boring. Plus there is more time spent moving from class to class and less in the classroom.


Anonymous said...

If high schools move to blocked classes with alternating schedules, won't that prevent students from participating in Running Start (if they are still taking classes at their high school)? My daughter is a senior who this year took Spanish at her high school and then took math, physics and English through Running Start. It was a great combination. I'd love for my younger kid to also have the option of taking some Running Start classes when he's in high school - but I'm wondering if that will no longer be an option (unless he drops all high school classes).


Anonymous said...

Block classes with alternating schedules is like most colleges on a semester schedule but not like most colleges on a quarter schedule.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

Yes, alternating schedules are likely to mess up Running Start participation, especially with the Wednesday oddity that throws things off, since many college classes are MWF or TTH. Plus, longer classes means harder to miss a little.

Doesn't OSPI also offer a bunch of online classes for credit retrieval, too?

With summer options, online options (SPS Policy 2024, Procedures 2024SP), and RS options, is lack of credit recovery options really what's preventing some kids from graduating?

core 24

Anonymous said...

My kid is on quarters at UO and definitely has block classes. Classes aren't every single day . One class is worth 4 credits and is two hours on Monday and Wednesday. Every college is different. My oldest kid goes to a semester school and the school avoids scheduling classes on Wednesdays to allow for either a lab day or internships.

You can do Running Start and block classes. Kids at Hale do both.


Anonymous said...

Running Start classes run the gamut from every day to MWF to M-Thu, or one evening a week. Courses with lab work can meet 4x per week with some days meeting for 2 or 3 hours. It's challenging to balance RS and high school schedules because you don't know the HS schedule when you register for Fall RS, and you don't know Winter or Spring RS offerings until the HS schedule is already fixed. Hybrid classes that meet one night a week and require some online work provide the most flexibility, but aren't ideal.

Most RS classes are blocked in the mornings 8-12 or evenings starting at 6, allowing for HS classes in the afternoon. A RS student can generally take 5th and 6th period HS classes without worrying about class conflicts, though the early release Weds kind of screwed things up. Bus transportation back and forth can limit options (still irked that SPS didn't create a HS campus at Wilson Pacific, when it's walking distance to North Seattle College).

RS parent

Anonymous said...

From the Capitol Hill blog, a man high on crack was arrested this morning inside Stevens elementary...


Jet City mom said...

Yesterday, there was a shooting at a children’s track meet in West Seattle.

The victim died.