Sunday, September 16, 2007

First Sign of District Direction from Carla/Maria

On the News and Calendar page of the SPS website there was a headline - West Seattle High School to Move to a Six-Period Schedule Format - and this link to a letter from Carla Santorno.

In it, she outlines how WSHS is the only comprehensive high school with the 4-period format, how the review went, data used and that she has come to the decision that WSHS will go to a 6-period schedule for 2008-2009. Her reasoning is about academic achievement, availability of course offerings, system alignment within the district and mobility (interesting data: examining the high school classes between 2001-2007, excluding alternative schools, finds that about 10% of students will attend more than 1 high school. This might have some implications for the student assignment plan.).

She then writes about strategies in helping the switch work smoothly.

I wrote about this issue previously and once again, I am surprised that it has occurred (it was a parent generated complaint). Her reasoning seems pretty rational in terms of the benefits to students AND the direction the District wishes to go.


Anonymous said...

For a little clarification, as parents at WSHS, we would like to give credit and thanks to the School Board and to the District for both initiating the reviews of the 4-period day and finally for making the right academic decision for what is best for all the students.

The 4-period day review was started actually early in 2006, by a School Board member asking for an outside review, resulting in the EdAdvocates Audit. This was followed by approx.seven months of review by the Student Learning Committee of the School Board, including a second report by the internal REA, and ending with a SLC directive, which recommended to either "Provide some shorter periods within the 4-period day... OR Return to a 6-period day with blocked classes or alternating days."
It was at this point, after the SLC directive had been issued, that a broad base of WSHS parents and community came together to support a change in the schedule. Five months was then spent in WSHS Steering Committee meetings (under the direction of the district)to try to address the academic concerns of the School Board, the SPS District and the community.

Once again, we want to thank the District for making the difficult, but educationally necessary decision, to support what is best academically for all of our students.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the six-period day will solve everything at West Seattle...

...after the three years lost to the vicious damage done to staff morale (and the resultant staff turnover)and to reorganizing the school into the time-tested, decades-old old traditional schedule are complete. Some times you gotta break some eggs.

It really is too bad the ignorant and anti-child teachers at WSHS spent so long opposing this great step forward. What were they thinking? Fools. It is shocking that the district let them damage children for so long. Good riddance to those recalcitrant twits who have worked to build the four-period day.

Shorter periods are God's great gift to quality education! Look how well six periods serve each and every school in SPS!

Also, district standardization is a goal so beautiful that no one should be allowed to question the ability of our grand bureaucracy to make decisions that suit all high schools equally perfectly. One size truly does fit all!

West Seattle will soon become as good as every other mixed lower and middle class six-period-day school in the district. I can hardly wait. I'm sure test scores will rocket from painfully average to wonderfully average.

The schedule was the only thing holding WSHS back (or maybe forward).

Anonymous said...

West Seattle was once a great high school and will be again. With the remodeled building and lots of great neighborhood kids and their parents, the school will be a sought after school within a few years.

My child went to a 4 period day at Ingraham several years ago. I know it doesn't work, especially if you are in orchestra or band and want to take a foreign language as well.

With a six period day, the school will be competitive again.

Go Indians. Whoops!

Charlie Mas said...

The six-period day is no panacea, no one ever said that it was. Neither is the four-period day the solution for everything. No one ever said that it was.

The data indicates that neither the four-period day nor the six-period day creates a significant impact on academic achievement for students working to reach Standards. There is plenty of evidence, however, that the four-period day inhibits students' access to advanced classes. There is plenty of evidence that shows that the four-period day creates gaps and delays in math classes. There is plenty of evidence that shows that the four-period day inhibits students' access to a variety of electives. The four-period day also limits the opportunity to catch-up for students who fall behind.

The four-period day offers some benefits for some students. On the whole, however, it is not the best course for the broad spectrum of students. Perhaps advocates of the four-period day will work to create an alternative high school which uses it.

Passion about the benefits of a teaching technique is supportive, beneficial, informative, persuasive, and interesting. Sneering is none of those things.

Straw man arguments are transparently feeble. Whining, pouty sarcasm is childish. They are both simply an embarassment. No wonder those who use them typically remain anonymous.

supporter said...

I'm sorry 'Anonymous' is so bitter. It is an exception. I see a WSHS community who is pulling together and taking ownership of their school. I see parents from Lafayette and Madison who are hopeful to enroll their kids at the new WSHS.
I'm thankful for the teachers that tried a new schedule and I'm thankful for the leaders who said it's time to move on.
The school board and district have been data gathering for nearly two years. Read Ms. Santorno's letter on-line and you will see clear and overwhelming evidence FOR the six period day.
It is time to quit spitting venom and circulating petitions. It is time to work together. It's time for teachers to provide leadership for the students and to quit pressuring them onto lists.

Dan Dempsey said...

As someone who taught at West Seattle last year and is very impressed with their teaching staff. Let me put forth the following well researched opinions.

1) the data through WASL 2007 is strongly in favor of West Seattle as an effective school with a 4-period day.
email me and I'll send it.

2) Project learning is difficult to do. West Seattle is one of the few schools with a very diverse population to do it well. It took years to get to this point but Santorno is more than willing to throw that away.

3) Santorno made different promises to different groups. The WSHS 4-period day fulfilled what she told them to do to retain the 4-period day.

4) The school district likes to place the blame for inadequacies any place but where it often belongs. To attribute WSHS problems to only the four-period day is lunacy. Misguided imposed math, The Susan Durse regime, harassment rather than support.

5) WSHS Hispanic students have no writing achievement GAP in WASL writing as they passed at a differential 1.8% higher than SPS white students.

6) WSHS Black students recorded WASL scores in all three area Reading, Writing, and Math that were higher than the WA State rates for Black Students. The SPS Black students scored lower than the state averages for Blacks in all three areas.

I find it interesting that many readers say this move to six-periods was the right decision.

WSHS had the highest highest daily attendance rate of the 10 SPS comprehensive high schools.

In a school district that is interminably saying "we are concerned about the achievement gap" and "we use data driven decision making".

I see neither of those things happening. I see folks congratulating the district on this excellent well reasoned decision. At least this explains why we have had a pretty much constant achievement gap for 35+ years, if this passes for a well reasoned decision.

Sure looks like Dr. Quintard Taylor of UW history is right on the mark with his comment about seeing nothing on the horizon to narrow the achievement gap in the next 20 years. The remark about WSHS moving to Six-periods as well reasoned sure looks like no change ever for that gap.

Now that Ms. Santorno and Dr. G-J have this well reasoned decision behind them as well as the math adoptions they can get on to the new student assignment plan. Lets see if they can pull this one off without a partial re-segregation of Seattle. Given their 0 for two track record for students of color
in decision making thus far. We may be looking at 0 for three.

It is now September 21 and the SPS have 15 open teaching positions in Mathematics. One is at WSHS. Keep bullying instead of listening and making more ignorant decisions that disrespect the teachers who have worked years to bring about the above accomplishments. Hey maybe next year it can be 20 in math and lots in other areas also..


Dan Dempsey said...

I posted this at the PI so I thought I would put it up here also. I sure would like anonymous number 1 to sign with a name.

"Initiating the reviews .... making the right academic decision"

Glad you did not say: "looking at the relevant data and making an intelligent decision".

Here is my take on this curent damaging fiasco again lead by the uninformed:

I have yet to see Ms. Santorno ever look at the research and carefully evaluate it before reaching the decision. She certainly did not do so here either.

The current SPS trend is to make a decision and then go fishing for supportive research. Witness the Everyday Math adoption. The positive results were so hard to come by that even the data from the Green Lake pilot school needed to be hidden. Largely cherry-picked data was presented to fool the board and the public.

I've run the research from West Seattle results from WASL 2007 results and compared them to the SPS grade 10 district results. I'll send you the sheets if you contact me at:

Here is what I found in regard to comparison results on 2007 WASL looking at Reading, Writing, and Math for Black, Hispanic, and Low Income Students. That is 9 separate comparisons and the score is West Seattle 8 the district 1

I thought SPS was concerned about the achievement gap. Clearly I am wrong on that also. For West Seattle Black Students WASL results were above the State average for Blacks in Reading, Writing, and Math. On the other hand Black Students in SPS were below the State average in all three areas.

Hispanics – There is no achievement GAP in writing at WSHS as West Seattle Hispanic students score above the District average for White Students. Hey Ms. Santorno stop saying “data driven decisions” and “concerned about the achievement gap”. I can find no evidence of Ms. Santorno doing either one when important decisions are made.

When including All Students, White Students, and also looking at the 5-year differential improvements from WASL Spring 2002 to Spring 2007, the results are:
West Seattle 23 to District 6 with one tie.

No once again Ms. Santorno behaves more like a Bully than a competent leader who uses educational research to reach a conclusion.

The damage that educational administrators do will live on long after they leave the district. Unfortunately the current product from years of effort on the part of a dedicated faculty to produce effective project based learning, which is difficult to do, will not be recreated after Ms. Santorno destroys this. The WSHS success is due to multiple factors such as students seeing only 4 teachers, teachers seeing only 3 groups of students. Those who argue for a modified 6 period schedule with some block periods have little understanding of the mechanics that create West Seattle success – this can hardly be a surprise because they even argue that West Seattle is not successful.

No this is just another case of the Bully beating up the little guy. Decision making by we have more power than you – ha ha!!!

If you want any truth you must dig it up yourself - anything these days from either SPS or OSPI is suspect. I would have loved to use something other than WASL but that is all we have these days.

The data is so overwhelmingly in favor of West Seattle's four period day - Ms. Santorno should present her inconclusive data if she does not like mine. I am waiting.

Given the district's response this last week, I would say they have no data worth presenting (again just like the math adoption).

I made a 3' x 9' Spreadsheet banner and displayed it outside the WSHS Theater on Tuesday when Ms. Santorno spoke there at 6:30 PM.

On Wednesday at the School Board meeting where I was the third speaker, the rules were changed no posters allowed. When I protested that they were fundamental to my presentation and I had not been given adequate warning of this. I was granted the right to have my posters up until after my testimony. Another Catch 22 was then unleashed - no tape may be used. When I protested that I had painters tape not masking tape, I was told no not good enough.

That’s odd as in most SPS schools teachers are advised to use painters tape.

Watch Linh-Co Nguyen’s testimony SPS videographers will not even show the posters on her easel that she repeatedly points to during her presentation.

Looks like in SPS at JSCEE the Divine Right of Kings is going strong as the rights of individuals to express themselves at school board meetings is gone. Hey, the board always ignores everyone unless they have a major demonstration, or violence, or a lawsuit so Mr. Dempsey what is your point.

My point is I thought that the pendulum might eventually swing; yes I am still naively hoping.

Again you can get the data from:



Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

– The Highly Qualified Math and Science teacher that the SPS will not hire even though they have 15 Math teaching positions that are unfilled as of September 21, 2007. I applied for two positions and it is apparent that the political activity I engage in has left me unemployable with SPS. Here I thought that the No Child Left Behind law required a High Qualified teacher in each position. I Guess those 15 vacant positions I qualify for must not be covered by NCLB. One of those is at West Seattle where Ms. Santorno is so concerned about the math program.

Anonymous said...

Dan, you are right in many respects. I may not agree with you in all of your positions, but you have valid points to make especially about WSHS and their data. The actions are more political than thoughtful. They demonstrate muscle rather than grace and integrity and they dysinfranchise the students, teachers, and families who were never allowed a voice because six parents seemed to have the only voices the district was willing to listen to since it supported Santorno, Corker, and Dr. G-J's misconceptions.

The teachers did in fact need Professional development and training on how to work in a four-period day, but so many of those who do not understand education confuse instruction with schedule. The schedule change will not fix the instructional issues. Anyway, I am hopeful that you are right...the regime that is in place now is not a very humane one and maybe another change will occur soon to save the district from more pain and calamity.

Dan Dempsey said...

Dear Anonymous,
(above; not anonymous #1)

As I see what happens in many districts with contract buyouts. I can only say I am throughly not in favor of buyouts.

I am in favor of terminating the employment of individuals with cause, who are rogues when it comes to either policies or the law.

The toleration of Mr. Manhas's administrations actions was unconscionable. He should have been removed long ago.

It is beginning to look as though much of the current admin should be headed out the door. The question is who has the courage to open the door.



(Civil malfeasance should not be rewarded with a buyout)

Anonymous said...

To clarify a few items:

This was a SMALL (under 20) group of parents who pressed the district on the four period day issue and finally got them to break. A majority (over 80%) of staff, parents, and students at WSHS do NOT want to change to a 6 period day. By doing so, the school will lose teachers, need more textbooks and students will have less chances to take electives. When asked, Ms. Santorno "does not know the details of how much this will cost, how much enrollment will decrease, how many teachers will lose their jobs or even how many teachers might need to be hired". Basically it is a big unknown. Would it make sense for the district to determine these items BEFORE making such a decision? It will cost the district well over $100,000 to make this change when when are already in deficit. Is this really the best, well thought out decision based on what 12 middle to upper class white parents want?

Dan Dempsey said...


You said in your original posting:
Her reasoning seems pretty rational in terms of the benefits to students AND the direction the District wishes to go.

It is definitely time that you contacted me for the data, if you still believe the above statement.


Anonymous said...

Almost any point of view can be proved with "data" it seems. How about this? The district announced at the WSHS meeting on 9/18 that over 450 students failed a math class last year (out of less than 1300 total). What about the fact reported in the West Seattle Herald last spring that 20% of the 9th grade class was failing core classes? Or, from the OSPI website that only 49% of all WSHS 10th graders last year "met all 3" on the WASL, whereas the district average was 57%? Finally, according to the district's REA report, only 20% of West Seattle families chose WSHS because of the 4-period day, whereas over 80% chose it beacuse of it's location?
How is personalization possible when classes are allowed to expand to over 40 students, whereas there's a maximum of 32 students allowed in all other Seattle high school classes? Smaller classes in the 6-period day are better for both the students and the teachers, and more time in the classroom for each class in a 6-period day is clearly a benefit for all also.
It's time for a change, and the West Seattle neighborhood is ready for it!