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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Update on High School credit

I contacted Rosalind Wise by phone today and we spoke about high school credit for middle school students who take Integrated I math classes.

It turns out that, although hundreds of middle school students take advanced math classes called "Integrated I" or "Integrated II", the District regards these as high school classes and did not include them in the Spring 2006 middle school math adoption. We can question that decision, but we can't change it. These classes were based on high school courses adopted thirteen years ago, at the time of the last high school math adoption, but they have evolved from those roots in a number of different directions without re-calibration. The Integrated I class was also altered and adapted to work with the CMP2 texts. The classes are all a little different at each school. Therefore, for perfectly understandable and legitimate reasons, the District does not have confident knowledge about what is taught in those classes.

I now understand that there is a significant amount of variation in the math classes in the high schools. They use a number of different curricula (Core plus, IMP, etc.) and each school uses their curriculum in their own way. As with the Integrated I and Integrated II classes in the middle schools, the high school courses have evolved from their roots in a number of different directions without re-calibration. Therefore the District has no definitive answer as to what is being taught in those classes, either.

Consequently, it is unusually difficult for the District to determine to what extent the Integrated I class a student took last year is similar or equivalent to an Integrated I class offered in a high school.

The District is about to embark on a high school math curriculum adoption. When it is complete, within a couple years, the District will know what is taught in the high schools and what is taught in the advanced classes in the middle schools and they WILL be aligned.

During the current transition period, just at this moment, it is deceptively tricky for the District to determine whether the Integrated I class at Washington Middle School last year was similar or equivalent to a high school course taught last year. The District will soon be able to say that these courses are, in fact, equivalent, and say it with authority. For now, however, the question requires a surprising amount of research and consideration.

To their great credit, Ms Wise and Ms Santorno did not elect to pronounce the classes similar just to move the request off their desks and avoid the work the question would require. I admire that choice. Particularly when it would not be difficult to find a high school class with at least 80% overlap with the middle school class.

Since I have no wish to divert the time and attention of the District staff with an effort of such narrow interest and temporary application, I withdrew my request for high school credit for my daughter for the Integrated I class she took last year. I don't know if anyone else has requested similar credit, but I don't believe it to be the case. With my request withdrawn, I hope that the staff will be allowed to drop this task and take up efforts of broader interest and more lasting relevance.

Presuming my daughter successfully completes Mr. Pounder's Integrated II class this year, I will request credit for her for that class. I understand that Integrated II presents a clearer case. World Language and Mr. Schmitz's Washington State History courses will be additional questions for other departments. Ms Santorno may want to get those department heads started on that research now.

The Student Learning Committee did not meet last week. They are scheduled to meet again on October 23. No agenda has been posted yet. The SLC still needs to amend Policy D46.01 to strike out the language there which prohibits high school credit for middle school students. That will align the District's policies with the current state law, RCW 28A.230.090.

I am grateful to Ms Wise for the time she spent with me on the phone. She was candid and forthright. She was clear in her explanation of the difficulties posed by my request. She acknowledged the legitimacy of my request and my consternation at the delay in response. By withdrawing the request, I believe I have returned her time to her with dividends.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't resist commenting.

I see the results of this disaster everyday, in front of me.

They're going to take a few more years of dinking around ...?

Should I tell my 14 year olds that headquarters is blaming ospi and ospi is blaming the legislature and no one is responsible for their negligible math skills?

Oh, nevermind! They're 14, they haven't a clue what they don't know and they haven't a clue about what they'll never have access to!

Problem Solved!

anon at 4:18

Anonymous said...

A very informative, gracious post Charlie - a pleasure to read.

Thank you -

Anonymous said...

I think this just stinks. The district doesn't have their act together, and allows such a loose definition of what an integrated I class is, that our children suffer the consequences and do not earn the credit they are due. Doesn't this irritate you?? I think it is just another example of Seattle's inadequate leadership. Why would they allow this??

In Shoreline it is cut and dry, as it should be.

MS language counts as a HS language credit.

Integrated I and II counts as HS credit.

Cut and dry.

I have little confidence in this district anymore. And even less patience for their follies.

Anonymous said...

Why must Seattle always be compared to Shoreline? Just because they are neighboring districts, doesn't mean that they should be compared. Seattle is a large, urban district with 18 high schools (if you count all programs like Middle College and Interagency.) Shoreline has 2 high schools. The funny thing is that even with only 2 high schools, Shoreline has not standardized its math curriculum. One school uses Integrated Math and the other uses IMP. So, Integrated 1 at Shorewood is not the same as Integrated 1 at Shorecrest. Personally, I think this is a positive thing as it give students and parents more choices. Yet, we expect Seattle with 18 schools to magically snap its fingers and align the math curriculum in all of its schools when the last textbook adoption was more than 10 years ago.

Kudos to Ms. Wise for her honesty (even if it's not what people want to hear) and kudos to Charlie for his informative and non-judgemental post. Now, let's put some pressure on the board and people downtown to adopt a math curriculum for the high schools. Now. This year. It is long overdue.

Anonymous said...

Seattle being a "large urban district" does not excuse them from their responsibilities. Having 18 schools instead of 2, does not excuse them either.

Don't let the size of the district excuse their lack of leadership and vision.

Anonymous said...

Integrated Math 1, 2 and 3 appear on their HS transcripts. They do not get credit and the grade doesn't factor into the GPA. It sits on the bottom of the transcript in a list.

Kids need 20 credits in WA to graduate which is 5 classes per year for 4 years. Accelerated students or those in other districts who have a longer fuller day will earn more credits.

FYI, they have been "aligning" to the standards for years in Seattle. They bought CMP and IMP years ago before any adoption ever occurred. It was a done deal before any committees met. CMP has been around for at least 4 years, right? What a formal adoption allows is for millions of dollars to be spent on the new editions. The reason we haven't seen administrators in the schools from what was called Curriculum and Instruction or Rosalind from the math dept, is because they were "busy aligning to the standards."

Anonymous said...

What is the difference between CMP and IMP?

Does anyone know?

Is one superior, or more traditional?

Anonymous said...

CMP was adopted through the full adoption process in 2001. Normally, switching to a new edition of an already adopted text does not require going through the full adoption process, but because the adoption process started two years ago was attempting to have a K-12 adoption, CMP was reviewed again along with several other texts and selected again. The 8th grade CMP material is certainly equivalent to the current Integrated 1 adopted text which is hardly in use as each high school has done its own thing.

Good for you, Charlie, for letting go of this. Your daughter doesn't really need it as high school credit since I'm sure she will be taking many higher level courses when she heads to high school next year.

Anonymous said...

I understand why Charlie gave up, and it is commendable, but unlike most posters, I think he should have stuck with it, and assured that his daughter get the credit that SHE EARNED.

Someone has to stand up to the district and hold them accountable. Charlie has been doing that. Unfortunately, he has had to take the brunt of many posters calling him selfish and "wasting the districts time".

I totally disagree.

My child goes to Shoreline so I am not worried on a personal level, rather it is a concern of mine for all of the children in Seattle who work for, and then don't get, their credit. Unfortunate for them I guess.

Charlie Mas said...

When I believed that it would be a simple matter to confirm that the middle school class was similar or equivalent to the high school class, I was ready to request the credit and to be insistent that they decide promptly.

When I learned that it would, in fact, be a significant project for them, I had to put the best interests of the community ahead of my family's narrow self interests.

I'm not happy that the District couldn't answer this question easily, and Ms Wise was not proud to acknowledge it.

What tipped the scales for me was Ms Wise's candor and integrity and that I was convinced that they were working towards a better situation, one in which the district had a handle on the middle school and high school math.

Anonymous said...

"Consequently, it is unusually difficult for the District to determine to what extent the Integrated I class a student took last year is similar or equivalent to an Integrated I class offered in a high school."

Then WHY DO KIDS GET PLACEMENT INTO THE NEXT CLASS? The whole business still makes no sense to me.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:03 here again.

Charlie, commendably says "I had to put the best interests of the community ahead of my family's narrow self interests."

I respectfully disagree, Charlie. In my opinion this was not serving your family's narrow self interest. But rather, this would have set a president for all of the other students in Seattle. Students who earn, and deserve, their credit.

Well, hopefully Ms. Wise will follow through on her word and work hard and swiftly to align curriculum so that credit will be given when earned.

Charlie Mas said...

The difference between the narrow self-interest and the community interest is strictly temporary. Next year, if they don't have their act together, a broader interest would be served. This year, when I am the only person in the whole district requesting the credit, and when it would mean a whole big project just to answer that request, and when the work product from that project would not have future application (since the new high school math adoption would make it unnecessary), then I think it falls on the self-interest side of the line.

Again, I'm not pleased and Ms Wise is not proud of the fact that they don't already know the answer to the question. I will be pleased and she will be proud next year when they WILL know the answer to the question and the answer will be "Yes".

Anonymous said...

The problem is broader---the Seattle Public Schools are using second-rate math curricula, because these have been foisted on the schools by OSPI, Terry Bergeson. See http://www.pacificpublishingcompany.com/site/tab1.cfm?newsid=18973899&BRD=855&PAG=461&dept_id=520814&rfi=6