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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weighted Staffing Standards

I have reviewed the material available on the Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS). It provides standardized "core" staffing for all schools. It provides additional staffing for large schools. It is also supposed to provide additional resources for schools with disabled, bilingual, and FRE students. What I don't see, however, is targeted class size reduction. I don't see anything in the WSS that specifically and directly addresses the academic achievement gap. Where is the additional staffing to reduce class sizes for students working below grade level? Where is there ANYTHING in this budget allocation plan that will help close the academic achievement gap? Shouldn't the District's budget be driven by the District's academic priorities? And isn't the District's number one academic priority to close the academic achievement gap? So shouldn't this spending plan be driven by that priority? So why don't I see it? There is absolutely no reference to the gap at all anywhere in the discussion of the WSS.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Enquiring minds want to know - and hope to hear answers to those questions and more at the board work session tonight (Weds) 4-6.

(Word to the wise - treat district meetings the way you do flight information and check the website before you head down to the Stanford Center!)

Anonymous said...

What do you suggest that they do? Have money follow poor WASL scores? Send extra money to low performing schools with big minority populations? If you were running things, how would you earmark money for the achievement gap? Start collecting some other data?

Sending extra money to schools with large populations of disabled, English language learners, special ed, and free/reduced lunch students makes sense to me. The free/reduced lunch number is widely regarded as a great predictor of school performance.

Charlie Mas said...

Yes.

I suggest that the District develop a systematic response for students working below grade level.

I suggest that this systematic response be designed to bring these specific students up to Standards as quickly as possible.

This response - any response - is going to cost money, and I want to see that money included in the Weighted Staffing Standards. If it isn't, then all of the talk about closing the gap, and all of the talk about using the budget to address academic priorities, and all of the talk about employing effective practices is just that: talk.

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Is there new information about the WSS on the district website? I have only been able to find the most general information. I heard that principals would be given analyses specific to their schools, but it did not seem to happen at the budget meeting on Monday.

Anonymous said...

There is some info. (Q&A)about the WSS on the SPS website- a hidden section called "Issues":
from Home page go to News & Calendar, then to News, then Issues.

Anonymous said...

What are schools using Title I and Lap money for?

How about the NCLB mandatory interventions, like federally funded tutoring?

What, specifically, besides reduced class size were you suggesting Charlie??

Dan Dempsey said...

Pay attention:
There is little money for class size reductions it is all going into administration not teaching positions.

Ignore promotion / non-promotion policies D43, D44, D45, D46. Never name necessary skills, socially promote almost everyone. Then unskilled students arrive at HS and can't perform so they can't pass 10th WASL. So the SPS plan results in spending 3.1 million on Pathways at the HS level which serves very few students at great expense. Still no naming of the necessary skills - easier to appropriate money than think about actually enforcing existing policy. Who cares about regular class sizes? It is a question of priorities and the answer is no one in a decision making capacity.

Instead make ridiculous k-8 math adoptions that do not work for those "children of color". Why because SPS never even looked at any data during the Everyday math adoption that involved students of color. I submitted it but they ignored it. Even the data from the Green Lake pilot school was lousy they never presented that either.

Spend 4.2 million on math and literacy coaches for teachers. Strange in a state that requires almost constant professional development to keep a teaching certificate.

Blow 2.5 million on Everyday Math. Budget 2 million for a high school adoption in 07-08.

These folks have misappropriated the equivalent of between 100 and 200 teachers worth of money on nonsense for 2007-2008.

Class size reduction? is that supposed to be a priority?

A QUALITY MATH CURRICULUM IN SUPPORT OF EFFECTIVE TEACHING FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

by WILLIAM HOOK, WAYNE BISHOP AND JOHN HOOK

Educational Studies in Mathematics (2007) 65: 125–148
DOI: 10.1007/s10649-006-9050-4 _C Springer 2006

• (1) The number of topics for each grade (U.S. states had far too many topics, particularly in the lower grades; what the authors call “not focused”).

• (2) The degree of repetition of topics (U.S. curriculum was highly repetitive; topics were introduced too early, taught with too little depth, and were endlessly repeated).

• (3) Logical order of topics (topics in U.S. were not presented in a logical,
step-by-step order, termed by the authors as “not coherent”).

• (4) Level of topics (topics were not very demanding, especially in middle
school years).

The consensus curriculum of the six leading nations was labeled a “quality” curriculum, and the less successful consensus curriculum of the U.S. states was labeled “inadequate”. The clear implication is that if a poor performing school, state or country would switch to a quality curriculum, performance would improve.


All of the above points were repeatedly brought up in public testimony and materials submitted to the school board as well as to senior level administrators in the months prior to as well as during the formal adoption proceedings for the Everyday Math adoption. SBE consultant Ms. Linda Plattner’s report of August 30th, 2007 provides further support for Hook et al. positions. The overwhelming data in Hook’s report should have been enough to convince the SPS board and SPS administration not to adopt EM.

Instead SPS Directors chose to ignore all of the relevant data submitted that EM was an extremely poor adoption, instead preferring to believe testimony and data submitted by SPS administrators that specifically hid the many deficiencies of EM. Look at “A textbook case of textbook adoption" by Barry Garelick. Although it covers WA DC in June 2005, it will provide you with some background as to how SPS was led into this ethnically discriminatory adoption in May 2007.

http://www.thirdeducationgroup.org/
Review/Essays/v2n6.htm

Contrary to heeding the recommendations of Hook et al. the SPS Directors chose not to switch to a quality curriculum, and improve performance, instead choosing to spend large sums of money that directed resources away from smaller class sizes. The SPS May 30th 2007 formal adoption of Everyday math stands in direct opposition to all four of the quality curriculum recommendations outlined above by Hook. Of course the May 30th board meeting was not televised or videoed so you have no access to it. Open and transparent??

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dempsey, you are all doom and gloom.

Why would you think that a test that is appropriate for a white child is not appropriate for a minority child? Doesn't that sound a bit elitist and racist to you? As a person of color, I have to say that I a utterly insulted. I hope my child never hears any of this ranting, because it is the mentality that has hurt minorities for decades.

And as far as spending money on math and literacy coaches, all I can say is...it's about time. We need strong math curriculum, and well versed, trained teachers to administer it. If coaches will improve our teachers skills, then bring them on!

I'm not sure yet, about how I feel about Everyday Math, but I am sure about how I felt about the previous curriculum. It stunk! I am hopefully optimistic that SPS did do it's research and found Everyday Math to be an improvement. Why would SPS want, after all, their students to continue under-performing? It certainly doesn't look good on them. I have to assume that they believe this curriculum is stronger and will be more successful.

Why would SPS administrators "hide" the deficiencies in Everyday Math curricula? What do you think their motive is? Why do you think they would knowingly sabotage the SPS students? Why must one buy what Hook claims to be?

Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous at 5:34 asked a number of excellent questions which deserve response.

What are schools using Title I and LAP money for?

We don't know. The schools do not need to account for how they spend compensatory education dollars. They did, at one time, have to account more closely for Title I money but Seattle Public Schools is piloting a five year Flex Funding plan with the federal government in which they focus more on outcomes and less on specific expenditures.

This compensatory education money is often in the six-figure range for schools in low-income communities. It is the equal if not in excess of what a middle-class or even an affluent PTA can raise for a school. You can find the numbers by school in the District's budget Blue Book.



How about the NCLB mandatory interventions, like federally funded tutoring?

I don't know that I have EVER seen any sort of accounting for this. I don't know how well schools are informing families of their access to paid tutors. Do they get a letter like the one advising them of their right to switch to another school?

What, specifically, besides reduced class size were you suggesting Charlie??

I envision a program for students working below Standards. Any student who does not meet the Standards for their grade by the end of the year doesn't get promoted, but doesn't get held back either. Instead, they are routed into a special program designed to quickly bring them up to Standards and return them to their general education classes. This program would be intensive, extended, and enriched.

Intensive in that the students would be in small classes and would be working hard on an accelerated curriculum.

Extended in that they would work for extended periods on the core subjects - 90 minutes each on reading, writing, math and science. Extended also in that they would have an extended school day. They would arrive early for breakfast (to make sure they get one), and they would stay late doing either homework (to make sure they have a structured, supervised, supported and secure space to do it) or for enrichment. There could also be an extended week including Saturdays and an extended year, starting early and running into the summer if necessary.

It is key that the program also be enriched. Studies show that a signficant source of the academic achievement gap is a result of economics. Students from low income homes don't have access to the same sort of enriching experiences as affluent students. So the program would use a couple afternoons a week or the Saturday for field trips to plays, museums, concerts, factories, and libraries or for music, art, dance, and drama at the school. It can't be all work or the program will seem too much like a punishment.

There are two more critical elements: how students enter and exit the program.

They enter the program when they are working below Standards. That determination can be made at the end of the year, at the beginning of the year, or at any point during the year. At the end of the year it would be driven by their progress report evaluation. Get anything but a 3 or a 4 and you're enrolled. During the school year it would likely require participation by the school SIT team. Students of any grade level K-12 could go into the program.

A student would come out of the program just as soon as the student is working at Standards. Everyone, the school, the student, and the student's family should be working towards that and to make that happen just as soon as possible.

While this would be powerful for the students in the program, take a moment and consider what it will do for the other students. Imagine a general education classroom where every student in the class is working at or beyond Standards. Imagine what could happen academically in that classroom. Imagine the high expectations the teacher could set and maintain. Imagine how well that teacher could support work beyond Standards. Imagine the reduction in behavior issues when all of the students in the class are ready and able to do the work and find it challenging.

That's what I'm suggesting. It's more than targeted class size reduction. It's fulfilling the promise of closing the academic achievement gap by getting every student working at Standards. We get every student working at Standards by identifying those who are not and accelerating their education until they are. It doesn't have to be any trickier than that.

We have Spectrum for students who are working beyond Standards, what do we have for students who are working below Standards? Shouldn't they have a systematically different academic experience than the general education classroom. Particularly when you consider that the general education experience has already failed them?

Promoting students who aren't working at Standards doesn't work. It doesn't serve anyone well. We do need to enforce our promotion/non-promotion policies. But I don't know that holding the student back works all that well either. We need a third way.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting Charlie-

I know in Shoreline when my son chose his classes this year, he could choose a regular ed class or honors class, UNLESS, he was below standard last year in which case he would automatically be assigned to a remedial ed classroom. It made so much sense to me. Why doesn't Seattle offer something similar??? It's not rocket science.

In answer to Charlies questions about the NCLB mandatory tutoring. It is alive and well in Seattle! I work for one of the SES tutoring providers, and can tell you that each school in step 2 or higher holds a tutoring fair in which all parents are invited and encouraged to sign up their students for federally funded (free to students) tutoring. It's high quality tutoring too, with 1:1 in home or 1:5 classroom groups, with accredited tutors.

Anonymous said...

PS the remedial ed classrooms at Shoreline are meant only to house students until they are up to standard at which point they are mainstreamed back into regular ed classrooms. The down side is the regular ed classrooms tend to grow in size over the year, and some are as large as 33 or 34 kids in a class. The good side is every classroom has a group of like achieving students so instruction can be highly focused to their achievement ability.

Anonymous said...

Sounds more like: "Ship 'em off to special ed, especially the blacks and hispanics. Where, thank God, my kid won't have to see 'em! And no qualified teachers will be needed either!"

SPS already does this, and it works great doesn't it!

Charlie Mas said...

Heres the difference for those who are having trouble making the distiction.

One is a temporary diversion program designed to accelerate the students' education, get them working at Standards, and return them to a general education class. In this model, the student is selected based on their academic performance and the goal is for them to meet the same Standards as all other students. The diversion program accelerates their education and is temporary - intended to last only for a matter of weeks or months. The students, once working at Standards, can fully participate in the general education classes without special accomodations.

Special Ed students are selected based upon a disability - mental, physical, or emotional. An individualized education plan is written for them, which sets the academic standards they are expected to meet. Their education is not accelerated and their participation is long-term. Their inclusion in general education classes requires accomodations.

Dan Dempsey said...

Not a conspiracy theorist said... Mr. Dempsey, you are all doom and gloom. Why would you think that a test that is appropriate for a white child is not appropriate for a minority child? ...

Dan says: Did you read Garelick's paper on DC math adoption?

Sorry if you think I said that. However there are math tests that do not measure math skills very well because they are so reading dependent. The WASL is one of these and it has an effect on ELL students in that they score lower on WASL than on ITBS etc.
I think the WASL math is inappropriate for anyone if we are trying to measure high school 10th grade math skills.

Doesn't that sound a bit elitist and racist to you? As a person of color, I have to say that I a utterly insulted. I hope my child never hears any of this ranting, because it is the mentality that has hurt minorities for decades.

Dan says: I agree the term achievement gap for children of color is extremely poor and repugnant. It is pervasive in the literature and also the language used in SPS. It should be termed as Disadvantaged learners whether by poverty, educational level of the home, social structure of the home etc. I entirely agree that color has nothing to do with this - except in many cases because of institutional racism and other factors we find that children of color are often at greater disadvantage than others in the population.

My very good friend Dr. Richard Napier who happens to be an African American has several black children who are black but are in no way disadvantaged. No Richard's kids are very advantaged.
email me if you'd like to contact Richard he has great thoughts on this topic.

If I have not answered this to your satisfaction, could you be more specific? -

I do not think color has anything to do with it. I think poverty and education level of parents as well as home setting has a great impact

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And as far as spending money on math and literacy coaches, all I can say is...it's about time. We need strong math curriculum, and well versed, trained teachers to administer it. If coaches will improve our teachers skills, then bring them on!
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Dan says: this state requires enormous ongoing professional development. This math curriculum is as defective as the one it replaced.

You are one of a minority that wants more dollars expended on administrative positions so we will have larger class sizes. This state is currently number 47 in class size. I think more teachers are needed and if better curricula are selected then coaches will not be needed. These are teaching professionals. A much better plan might be math specialists teaching above grade 2. This is done by most high performing countries. This allows the math teacher to specialize on the teaching of math in grades 3,4,5 thus if training is needed it is given to a smaller number of teachers and those teachers have the time to concentrate on it.

As to why I would listen to Dr. William Hook that is pretty simple. He is a co-author of one of the most significant research studies done on elementary mathematics in the last decade.

In 1998 California revised the Cal. Math Standards. Most school districts decided to use new materials as the state provided financial assistance. LA and San Diego decided to continue with their reform materials usage. Both Everyday math and Connected Math Project were both common in those two districts. LAUSD and San Diego have combined enrollments of around 1 million students.

Hook selected districts with similar demographics like Sacramento and compared the Achievement of students over a six year period. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of NOT doing what LAUSD and San Diego were doing.

On April 6, 2007 the Rocky Mountain News Reported on the Middle School Math disaster in Denver. A city system that Ms. Santorno came from that also uses Everyday Math and Connected math Project.
---------------------

I'm not sure yet, about how I feel about Everyday Math, but I am sure about how I felt about the previous curriculum. It stunk! I am hopefully optimistic that SPS did do it's research and found Everyday Math to be an improvement. Why would SPS want, after all, their students to continue under-performing? It certainly doesn't look good on them. I have to assume that they believe this curriculum is stronger and will be more successful.

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Dan says: Find out what the experts in SPS math have for qualifications. Ms. Santorno admits to none for math and yet she drove the adoption. I've been asking for months about Ms. Rosalind Wise's qualifications: deree in what? certified to teach math ? NCLB highly qualified in math ? Highest level of math taught successfully?

I have zero for answers.
All I've seen so far are seemingly unqualified people playing follow the leader. The motivation is to use the most aligned textbook with WA State Grade level Expectations. Which we have now spent $2.5 million on not counting coaches etc.

These are the same standards that broght us the state-wide math disaster. The same standards that have just been found greatly defective by the $150,000 consultant's report to the State board of Education.



Why would SPS administrators "hide" the deficiencies in Everyday Math curricula? What do you think their motive is? Why do you think they would knowingly sabotage the SPS students?

Because they listen to salesmen and don't take time to actually read research rather than summaries.

Why must one buy what Hook claims to be?

That is easy as 90% of Ed research is close to worthless from strictly scientific standards for research.

Hook's research has gone through the peer-review process and been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Contrast that with the McGraw Hill Everyday Math rep. not allowing me to examine his book of research he was using to influence Ms. Santorno et al.

There is a lot of research that shows exactly what the researcher needs to show to get the next NSF grant for research. There is the 90+% that will not stand up to peer-review.

You need to understand that in large districts most of those at the top got there by playing politics and following the correct leader. As I've said before 95+% of large urban school districts rarely make any significance academic progress. There is a reason for that.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. That is not happening here. These administrators have little knowledge of Project Follow Through, which is essential to make progress in a large urban district.

I guess it is just easier to proclaim that mandates be followed than do research and think.

email me for West Seattle data and the move to Six-day period. There is another example of lunacy.

It may be a great astute political decision to advance someones career - but it is a disaster for students.

As to motivations for actions in Seattle of administrators and School Board directors - I have none.

Looking at the ever expanding achievement gap in math in spite of Ms. Wise's glowing descriptions at school board meetings, I've been trying to figure out why the school board directors continue to trust the decisions of their hired experts rather than actually reading research submitted to them. The hired experts refuse to even comment on anything that is submitted.

Ms. Santorno and Ms. Wise gave no reasons for adopting everyday math that will stand up to scutiny.

I am not a doom and gloom guy. There is a definite path to improvement. These folks just choose not to follow it.

But it is pretty gloomy when these folks will not repond to either reseach or questions. Now at the Sept 19 School Board meeting they would not allow me to post my spreadsheet on the wall. I had painter tape but that wasn't good enough for them. The new rules went into play after Ms. Santorno's crew looked at the spreadsheet the previous night when I posted it at West Seattle. They may talk about data driven but they will not allow the real data to be seen.

email me for the real data that SPS admin do not want you to see.

dempsey_dan@yahoo.com

Is there any thing else that you would like me to explain the reasons behind my thinking.

Sorry you view this as ranting but when the people responsible for decision making make those decisions irresponsibly it deserves a response. Sorry if my response did not fit well with you.

Dan

Try looking at what Boston is doing or Oceanside CA. The massive thrust of one size fits all that is so popular in Seattle and Bellevue does not work.