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Showing posts from March, 2008

Get Top-Notch Help on that College Essay

I received this notice today and thought I'd pass it on. “The Cutting Edge College Application Essay: What Makes Admissions Officers Take a Second Look” . .. will be presented by Naren Murthy of College Match on Tuesday, April 8th from 6 p.m. to 7:00 p.m . at 1700 Seventh Avenue, 21 st Floor, Seattle, WA 98101 (One block west from Pacific Place Mall). Naren is an internationally recognized writing tutor and graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop . Naren will demonstrate the proven techniques that will result in a memorable, pertinent application essay that puts your student’s application ahead of the pack! There is no fee to attend this event. Seating for this event is limited; to reserve a place, please email david@ collegematchus.com or call (206) 799-4986 for more information.

The Letter's in the Mail

Hopping over to Denise Gonzalez-Walker's PI blog, I see that last Friday the district sent out assignment letters. Boy, I'll bet there's a lot of people rifling through their mail today. Here's some other info: "Waiting List Information Waiting List Moves Will Begin May 1. If your child has been placed on a waiting list, the waiting list school is included in the letter. Waiting lists are maintained until October 31. To find out your child's place on the waiting list, call our Automated Student Information Line at 252-0212. You will need the child's birth date and the student ID# from the assignment letter." (Also, only new to the district students can take open spots after the waitlists are dissolved so even if a spot were to open up, it's not available to previously enrolled students. This is what I was told by Tracy Libros in Enrollment.) Speaking from the high school perspective, this year is certai

Southeast Initiative a Largely Unfunded Plan?

This article about the SE Initiative was in this morning's Times. Will this district ever, ever learn not to make promises they don't know how to keep? (You'll note, I didn't say promises they don't intend to keep; they do that as well but this one went off half-baked as Charlie has noted several times.) Basically, the district has gone beyond what I knew about the SE Initiative. I knew there were to be additional resources driven to those schools; more AP for the high schools, more yellow-bus service, beefing up the curriculum. But it turns out that there were other promises like bonuses to teachers who teach at those schools. From the article: "Some members of the board are rethinking the Southeast Initiative, the district's much-lauded effort to improve three underperforming South End schools: Aki Kurose Middle School and Rainier Beach and Cleveland high schools. The School Board launched the initiative last year with $250,000 and a three-year

From "Our Children", the National PTA Magazine

I got my copy of Our Children in the mail the other day (they send it to PTA leaders but I'm sure anyone can get one). They have many good articles and there was a lengthy one about the WA State PTA's efforts to pass Simple Majority. But there were a couple of article that sort of cancelled each other out and made me wonder about what is happening at other schools. The first article was about a PTA in an elementary school in Portland. The article was about how 96% of the school's parent base and entire staff are communicating online via a free, private social networking platform. So all communication - the PTA directory, back-to-school packets, newsletters - is all online. (It's a little unclear but I assume hardcopies are available. However, their weekly newsletter is only available online.) Also, there are online discussions about school improvement, curriculum, etc. with parents and teachers. So my first point is the issue of going all e-mail/online for comm

Ingraham Neighbors Angry Over Lost of Tree Grove

As part of the $22M upgrade at Ingraham (as part of BEX III), the district plans to fell 80 mature trees. Here's the story in today's PI. The twist is not just that the neighbors are unhappy but the district wanting to do it runs counter to state and city goals for tree cover. From the article: "Last year, Mayor Greg Nickels released the Urban Forest Management Plan, which aims to increase tree cover from 18 percent to 30 percent in 30 years. An Emerald City Task Force was convened and in December released its tree-saving recommendations. Now the city is reviewing and updating its tree regulations, which offer weak protections. Trees are valued for providing habitat to birds and other animals, controlling stormwater runoff, helping fight climate change and cleaning the air. But while city leaders say they want to save trees, those critical of the Ingraham plan wonder if Seattle Public Schools missed that message. David Tucker, district spokesman, said they'd

Queen Anne Gym Is Sold (and hey, look at that snow!)

(Is it snowing in your neighborhood? In Ravenna, it has been since about 12:30 and is now starting to stick to landscaped areas but not the ground. It's pretty but it's also spring.) This article appeared in today's Times, noting the sale of Queen Anne Gym. From the article: "Seattle Public Schools has struck a deal to sell the Queen Anne gym to the same developer that converted the old Queen Anne High School into condominiums, but this time it appears the district got a better deal.Lorig Associates will buy the 1.1-acre site for $7.5 million, assuming the School Board approves the details this spring. " "The Assessor's Office values the Queen Anne gym and property at $4.8 million." Yes, the district did do better this time but it has never explained or held accountable the person(s) who signed off on the first Queen Anne High deal. To wit: "Under a 1986 contract between the district and Lorig, the district was to end up with only 12 p

Oh to Be Colin Farrell

Here's a good one: "Gov. Christine Gregoire has agreed to toss out the math section of the 10th-grade WASL, after years of low pass rates and debate over whether it's the best way to gauge students' abilities. Gregoire signed a bill Wednesday that will phase out that part of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning by 2014. Students instead will take two math tests at the end of classes often taken by freshmen and sophomores, such as Algebra I and Geometry I." from the Seattle Times on Thursday, March 27th. Can anyone at OSPI or the Legislature make up their minds? Why not just enact it now? Why create new exams? If you passed Integrated 1 and 2, you're done. I can't believe my son is going to sit through 4 days of an exam that is, as of yesterday, going to be phased out. The rationale? "One advantage: Students will be tested right after they finish a class, rather than all at once on one exam. "Math seems a pretty steep hill to c

The Alliance Wants Results (or So It Would Seem)

The Times had this article today about the Alliance wanting to focus on helping low-income students. This is a fairly short article without a lot of fleshing out but it is striking for what it says...twice. From the article (italics mine): "But the alliance struggled with a poor relationship with the previous School Board and began to lose members of its board who believed there should be more accountability to make sure donations were accomplishing goals. With a new School Board, new superintendent and a host of new initiatives in the works, D'Amelio said it's a good time for the alliance to rethink its philanthropic work and impose a bigger focus on results ." And it's fine if donors ask, "Where's the beef?" It sounds a lot like the City wanting more results from the Family levy and changing how the money is given out. I would think if the district is doing the SE Initiative and the Alliance is going to put more resources towards these eff

Public Hearings that are neither

Part of the infamous "Seattle Process" are public hearings that are neither. That is to say that they are not public and they are not heard. The public hearings regarding the district's sale of property provide some classic examples. The District is selling five properties. That has been determined. Of course, there hasn't been any open discussion about it and only the smallest announcements of it. The District is legally required, when selling property, to conduct public hearings. And they have to make the required legal notices about the public hearings. They do not, however, have to make any larger or broader announcements, and so they don't. As a result, not too many people know about them, so they aren't all that public, are they? And if you actually follow the instructions on how to sign up to speak, and you actually show up at the event, you will be allowed to speak. Of course it doesn't matter what you say. They are going to move forward with th

Calendar Review

Looking at the calendar, I see a few things coming up. Next week is Spring Break. Then there's WASL April 14-May 2 (good grief! but high school is only the 15-18). Then the first week in May is Teacher Appreciation Week (Does your PTA do something? Do you feel appreciative?). If you roll up all the time between now and the end of the school year, you get a little less than 8 full weeks. Oh and also, the Alliance for Education is having a breakfast. Here are the details. "We hope you will join us at the Alliance for Education's 6th Annual Community Breakfast on Wednesday, May 14, at the Seattle Westin. Featuring Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will update the community on her strategic vision for Seattle Public Schools And Presenting The 2008 Recipient of the Th

The Times Speak Out about TAF

The Times had a not-so-subtle editorial today about Trish Millines Dziko who started TAF (Technology Access Foundation). I'm thinking they want the new administrative team at district headquarters to pay attention. I like Trish and I give her credit for her realization that TAF's handling of possible co-location with Rainier Beach didn't go well (not that it was all TAF's fault; it surely wasn't and there's plenty of blame to go around). But she's a bright woman who charges ahead (even after getting pretty much ignored on her second attempt to work with SPS) and she opened a TAF Academy in Federal Way. (FYI, TAF is hiring teachers.)

From the PI

A couple of education related items in the PI this morning. First, an editorial cartoon by David Horsey about the WASL. Then, an op-ed by Richard W. Clark, a senior associate of the Institute for Educational Inquiry about uniformity in schools. His points may be all good and well but for a couple of issues. One, if we are going to a boundary-driven assignment plan, parents do have a right to expect equity (not necessarily uniformity) so that if they are largely restricted to one school or area, they will find the same kinds of programs (especially popular ones) as other areas. Two, this district needs a correction from the mega site-based management of the past but it also needs to be careful not to overcorrect.

Board Meeting of March 26, 2008

There are some items on the agenda for the Board meeting of March 26 that strike my curiosity. 1. Action Item #1, The Facilities Master Plan is already obsolete to the extent that it includes out-of-date information about the Southeast Initiative. As we all know, the accountability elements of that effort were not executed as described in the Board-adopted framework. It is negligent at best and disingenuous at worst to knowingly include obsolete information in a newly adopted document. 2. Action Item #1, The Facilities Master Plan does not include among the Challenges Ahead, beginning on page 86, the challenge of conducting adequate community engagement. Nowhere in the document is there any reference to community engagement whatsoever. Is that intentional and meaningful? Hasn't the Board and the staff learned about the downside of inadequate community engagement from the Denny-Sealth project? 3. Action Items #5, #6, #9, #10, and #11. The District needs to seriously consider

Teens and Alcohol Speech by State Attorney General

From the Region Six PTSA newletter: According to the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey of 2004: 8% of 8th graders, 15% of 10th graders and 18% of 12th grades had been drunk or high in school are least once that year. 6th graders; 1998 51.4% reported using alcohol 2004 that dropped to 30.3 8th graders; 1998 Alcohol 68.9% 2004 42.0% 10th graders;1998 84.1% alcohol 2004 60.4% 12th graders; 1998 83.0% alcohol 2004 72.6 State Attorney, Rob McKenna, will speak at Shorecrest High School on Tuesday April 8, 2008 at 7PM in the Shorecrest theater, on the issue: "Teens and Alcohol, and the Liabilities Parents Face." He will allow time for questions and answers. He has children of his own, and is an engaging speaker. As you may know already, the Washington State Attorney General's office has been working to decrease the number of students drinking alcohol. For many students, the problem starts at the middle school level and many parents are not even aware their c

Sign Up to Speak at School Board Meeting

For all the Garfield High School students, parents and others wanting to speak during the public testimony section of the School Board meeting on Wednesday at 6 pm at the Stanford Center, sign up starts this morning . "Members of the public who wish to address the board may sign up by e-mailing the School Board Office or by calling (206) 252-0040, beginning Monday, March 24 , at 8:00am . The public testimony list will be posted at the end of the day Tuesday, March 25th." If you haven't given public testimony before at a School Board meeting, you should read the Rules for Public Testimony on the website handout to help you prepare to speak. On the Board Meeting agenda for this week, the action items are mostly facilities-related. As Charlie has frequently pointed out, this School Board spends way too much time on property management. The first two items are the adoption of the Facilities Master Plan and a revision to the Board procedure for sales and rentals of closed

Garfield Technology Academy Program Cut

I received disturbing news from a blog reader, Karin Youngberg, that the Garfield Technology Academy Program has been "canceled effective immediately." First, read a little about the Garfield Technology Academy: Garfield High students reach out to Ghana (Seattle PI) Garfield Technology Academy site Then, read a little about Kjell-Jon Rye, the technology teacher who founded and leads this very popular program: Hallelujah to Seattle's citizen heros (Seattle Times) And finally, read what a GTA board member wrote in an e-mail today: "It has just come to my attention by email from a Garfield School employee that GTA has been canceled effective immediately from Garfield High School. This notice went out to all of the teachers at a staff meeting held by Ted Howard. The reason given that the school cannot have a program run within the school that is operated by an outside non-profit organization (paraphrased). It saddens me to have to disclose this to our group. Please u

Recruiting Additional Blog Contributors

When I started this blog, my goal was to get parents talking together and working together across schools. And that's happened because of the great people who joined the blog. Charlie and Melissa have been the most active contributors by far, and I respect and value their contributions greatly, in addition to liking them both as people. Of course, the other blog contributors, Michael Rice, Andrew Kwatinetz, and Johnny Calcagno, have also been welcome voices on this blog, along with the commenters. The more voices, the better. I value the work of all the district's education advocates --- CPPS, CEASE, Chris Jackins, Von Paul Patu, Roscoe Bass, Don Alexander, and many others. That doesn't mean I always agree with them, but I believe everybody who is motivated to work to improve Seattle Schools for all children has an important voice that should be heard and something to contribute. I joined CPPS because the Board and volunteer staff members share my vision and passion for

Next stage of student assignment plan approaching

As we near the end of March and the start of April we approach the next stage in the timeline for the new Student Assignment Plan, I noted the order of the next stage of activity. April – June 2008 * Continue revisions as needed * Review of revised proposal by internal stakeholders and ongoing community engagement * Introduction of new student assignment plan recommendation at School Board meeting (May) * Public engagement prior to Board action * School Board action on recommended student assignment plan (June) I see that the public engagement comes AFTER the introduction of the new student assignment plan recommendation at a School Board meeting in May. That would normally give the public just two weeks or so (the time between the introduction of an action item and the Board vote on the action item) to comment on the new plan. Moreover, the public "engagement" is on a written plan with a number of intricate and inter-related parts. It would be difficult, if not impos

What's up with CPPS?

I couldn't help noticing that there is very little activity on the CPPS Yahoo! Group other than a weekly update from a national source which may be automated. Likewise, the CPPS website doesn't have any upcoming events - and hasn't for some time - doesn't have any "In the News" items since October 24, and hasn't had a blog entry since announcing the blog in October or November. What's going on with Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle? Is it continuing to be active? Is it fading away? CPPS was, to a significant extent, a product of the Closures and Consolidations process, but those hazards have passed. I think they were participating sponsors of some of the School Board candidate events, but what are they doing now? Where were they on Denny-Sealth? What are they doing around the Strategic Plan? What are they doing in support of accountability? What are they doing about the Southeast Initiative? the end of 10th grade AP European Hist

Protecting All Teenagers

I had pondered whether to blog about the news that 1 in 4 teenaged girls between 14-19 has a sexually transmitted disease. It should take everyone's breath away and cause sorrow to us all. To wit: "In the first study of its kind, researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found at least one in 4 teenage American girls has a sexually transmitted disease. The most common one is a virus that can cause cervical cancer, and the second most common can cause infertility. Nearly half the black teens in the study had at least one sexually transmitted infection, versus 20 percent among both whites and Mexican-American teens." "Blame is most often placed on inadequate sex education, from parents and from schools focusing too much on abstinence-only programs. Add to that a young person’s sense of being invulnerable." That last should also say "parents believing it is someone else's child". I say that because in working with th

New Hires for the District

This blurb appeared in today's Times. "The Seattle School District has made two high-profile hires to help put in place major initiatives recommended by a recent study. Carol Rava Treat will leave her job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help with its strategic plan. She oversaw grant making in CA and TX in the education division. She will lead the district's efforts to develop community partnerships. The district expects to work on its strategic plan in the spring. Sherri Bealkowski , a recently retired Microsoft manager, will help the district improve its use of technology, including replacing an outdated computer that controls student assignment. McKinsey & Co., an international consultant, has completed recommendations to the school district. Most pertain to guiding the district informing its strategic plan. The consultant study also recommended an overhaul of the district's information-technology department." Doing a Google check, Ms. R

Weighted Staffing Standards Continued

(revised to include the day of the Finance Committee meeting -- Thursday) There's been interesting discussion about the Weighted Staffing Standards and their impact on school budgets and staffing on this blog, in some CPPS e-mail strings, and with parents and teachers around the city. I also got responses from Carla Santorno, Steve Sundquist and Sherry Carr to my e-mail raising concerns about how the Weighted Staffing Standards is playing out, and the rumor that there were attempts at silencing parents with concerns about the process (which, happily, turned out to be false, see Weighted Staffing Standards: The Reality ). Sherry Carr made a good suggestion to encourage people to attend the Finance Committee meeting this week at which school budgets will be discussed. Attend the Finance Committee at the Stanford Center, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm on Thursday to listen to the discussion among Board and staff members about school budgets.

Transportation Costs

A thread got started elsewhere on transportation costs because there seems to be a lot of unknowns about them. I had access to numbers when I was on the Closure and Consolidation committee and I'll try to go find them (down in the garage...in a box...somewhere). However, I did find a few things of interest. (I am putting dates in bold so that you will note that none of this information - even if still valid - came from a present-day source.) This is an article that appeared in the Seattle Times written in 2004 that gives some background but I don't know if these numbers are still valid (they likely are since not much as changed in transportation/assignment except that a couple of alternatives were made regional instead of all-city draws). An article from the PI dated 2006 about transportation costs. A pdf by district staff from student assignment discussions in 2005 . This one is interesting because it has a chart showing alternative school assignments (but doesn

Math Update

This article appeared in today's Times. It is about a math panel appointed by President Bush. This article says so much of what has been said about what is needed. From the article: "Schools could improve students' sluggish math scores by hammering home the basics, such as addition and multiplication, and then increasing the focus on fractions and geometry, a presidential panel recommended Thursday." This is key because when you talk relevance to kids about math you can say, "Are you ever planning to cook? Do home repair? Shop? Balance your checkbook? You'll need decimals, fractions and multiplication." When you talk rigor you need these basics because: "Because success in algebra is linked to higher graduation rates and college enrollment, the panel focused on improving areas that form the foundation for algebra. Average U.S. math scores on a variety of tests drop around middle school, when algebra coursework typically begins. That trend

Memorial Stadium; Ah the Truth Comes Out (Updated)

Update 3-15: this article appeared in today's PI about the presentation about Seattle Center and Memorial Stadium to the Board by the Seattle Center director. From the article: "The unveiling this week of a $676 million proposal to overhaul Seattle Center was met by ambivalence from the Seattle School Board, which holds the deed to Memorial Stadium, the venerable facility that would be replaced by an outdoor amphitheater and sports field under the proposed redesign." Who uses it? "The stadium has served as the home field for many of the district's high schools over the past six decades. The district's 4A schools -- Ballard, Franklin, Garfield and Roosevelt -- are the primary tenants (Cleveland, which is 3A, also uses the facility). District reaction: "Ron English, the district's general counsel and property manager, said the board had yet to reach a decision about the redesign. He said Nellams' proposal was vague and short on specifics. En

Weighted Staffing Standards: The Reality

During a recent interview in the Pathfinder Compass newsletter ( February 25th issue , page 4), when asked about the impact of the new Weighted Staffing Standards and how schools who were going to lose staff would be supported, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said “First of all, I don’t know any school that’s losing significant staff. We have principals that work with instructional directors… There’s an opportunity to request a waiver or ask for mitigation funds… it’s really just the first step in the transition to a new system.” And information on the district website, including a PowerPoint presentation of the features of the new funding system, delivers the message that the Weighted Staffing Standards change "Furthers equitable access to educational resources" and "Provides basic foundation for academic success for all students." But those messages differ from the reality I’m hearing about at several schools, including Pathfinder. From what I have heard, the Education Dir

An Observation

Hello Since we are in full WASL Mode, I want to share something that happened to me during my first year as a teacher. This was the 2005 – 2006 school year. I had decided that I was not going to make much of a big deal out of the math WASL. I figured that the people who chose the curriculum had used the EALR’s and the GLE’s as a guide when picking the curriculum. I was coming to education from over 20 years in the financial world and just assumed that when you have a template that explains what the expectations are, you would go over and above to make sure you filled as many of expectations as you can. In the business world, when you don’t do this, you have to answer for it to your supervisor and it is likely that you will lose your job if you don’t. Imagine then when I met the person who is in charge of math for the whole district early in my first year at a RB staff meeting. I asked her about how the math curriculum was chosen and how much analysis was done to see h

City Presentation to Board on Memorial Stadium

Looking at the Board calendar, I see that someone in the City is coming to give a presentation to the Board on Memorial Stadium at 4 p.m on Wednesday (before the Board meeting at 6). I'm assuming this is just a general "here's what we have, here's what we could do, we need input". The Seattle Times also had a front page article on the entire Seattle Center on Sunday complete with a "draw your own Seattle Center" blueprint. Both the Center House (which houses the Center School) and Memorial Stadium are key issues for SPS. While I have heard plenty of talk around Memorial Stadium, I haven't heard a peep about what might happen to Center School. I've asked Board Directors in the past and they just shrug so it makes me wonder if the District is pushing to keep Center School there or what.

AP Post Generates Some Debate

So my post on the Roosevelt AP course for all sophomores generated some debate. I wanted to link the excellent debate on AP that was in the Washington Post that Dorothy had noted. (I haven't seen a real debate in forever so this was great just in and of itself but the questions raised - on both sides - were good.) Some of Dorothy's questions about Roosevelt and the AP Human Geography being offered in the sophomore year made me think of a larger issue. Should parents have any role in the course of academics at their school or in their district? My experience is that schools might have a meeting or two to explain what they are doing but have no real intention of soliciting parents' input or ideas. We had some lively meetings at Hale when they were starting to initiate the switch from separate AP/Honors classes. ( Okay, take out lively and put in tense.) The teachers clearly knew that parents were unhappy but really didn't care. This was a decision that had

Homeschooling a Right?

An interesting topic on today's Conversation on KUOW at 1 p.m. Is Home Schooling a Right? A court has ruled California parents don't have a Constitutional right to home school their kids. What could this mean for kids home schooled in Washington State? The National Center for Education Statistics estimates more than a million children are home schooled in the United States. And that number increases each year. We'll learn about the kids who are home schooled in Washington State. And we'll find out why parents choose to home school their children. We'll also hear from you. Do you home school; or were you home schooled as a child? Are you considering home schooling? Give us a call with your thoughts and experiences.

Open Thread (With a Few Thoughts)

Congrats to Rainier Beach on their basketball state championship win last night. We hadn't done an open thread in awhile so what's on your mind? One thing I had been pondering and I wonder what others think; who should decide how PTA money raised for a school should be spent? Should it matter whether it's an elementary, middle or high school? How is it handled at your school? And I'm talking about the big money (not the money to fund the little things like mini-grants to teachers, hospitality at PTSA meetings, etc.) raised through auctions and big fund raisers. Does your school hand the administration a check and say, "Use this as you see fit because you know the budget challenges?" or does your PTA ask for a list and then the parents vote? Or does the PTA let the administration know, based on what the feedback from parents/students is, that the PTA has decided to fund item X whether or not that's what the administration really wants?

Good Luck Rainier Beach in the State Basketball Championship Game Tonight!

Rainier Beach is playing for the state championship tonight. Good for them and good luck to them!

All Sophomores at Roosevelt to Take an AP class

This article was in the Times about Roosevelt's move to have all sophomores taking the same AP class. I'm writing on it because the article wasn't as clear as it should have been and because it perhaps may be the wave of the future (if it works) for other high schools. Roosevelt's Social Studies/LA are blocked together. However, the curriculum did not align and there was wide variation in what was presented. In an effort to align the curriculum throughout the sophomore class and present more rigor, it was decided to have AP Human Geography and LA. Here is the description of AP Human Geography from the College Board: "The purpose is to introduce students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use and alteration of the Earth's surface. Students employ spatial concepts and landscape analysis to examine human social organization and its environmental consequences. They also learn about the tools and methods t

Where's the Accountability?

I know that I have written about this before, but I just have to keep on writing about it. When the Board approved the Southeast Initiative as part of the Framework for the new Student Assignment Plan, accountability formed a significant element of the approved program. That accountability element required the District to establish a rigorous accountability process with school-specific goals in the areas of enrollment growth, first choice for assignment, increased academic achievement, student and teacher climate survey results, and attendance. Each school was to have goals for 2010 and benchmarks for each of the three intervening years. These goals were supposed to be in place by September of 2007, yet they were not. It is now March. Yet the 2010 goals and the annual benchmarks for the Southeast Initiative still have not been set! I am deeply troubled by the gap between the District's talk about accountability and the District's action on accountability. This is not the o

Best of Luck to All High School Staffs on Monday

Sadly, unbelievably, the first day of WASL testing for 10th graders (and all others taking the test; juniors/seniors who still need to pass portions and freshman going for it) is Monday. And Monday is the first school day after Daylight Savings on Sunday when we move the clocks forward one hour. This is going to be very difficult getting these kids up an hour earlier than their bodies think it is AND having them take a major test. Not trying to make a big deal out of it but if you have a teenager, you know what I'm talking about. In addition, at least 5 of the high schools I checked are telling students who aren't taking the WASL to stay home for the first 2 hours (that would be most juniors and freshman but at Roosevelt, seniors will be presenting or working on their senior projects - it's unclear to me what seniors at other schools are doing). So for all those students, that's losing 2 hours a day for 8 days (for WASL testing in March and April). Two whole scho

It's All About the Money

I was not surprised - at all - to learn that the Legislature is cutting back on the number of questions (most of them open-ended) on the WASL. This was outlined in an article in the PI. And why? Because of the costs of grading those open-ended questions (it has to be done by humans). The changes in WASL questions bill is ESHB 3166. The cost of the WASL, per pupil, is estimated at between $52 and $72 depending on grade level. It has always been unbelievable to me that we would need to spend that much and I guess it finally dawned on the Legislature that they could assess kids for less money and maybe put that money back into the classroom. From the article: "The Legislature budgeted $22 million to administer the statewide test in 2009, but testing companies now estimate the cost could increase by $15 to $25 million when a new contract begins this fall. Reducing the number of open-ended questions would cut the cost of grading and administering the test by about $10 mil

Student Learning Committee meets today

Today is the first meeting of the new Student Learning Committee. The SLC is different under this Board than it was with the previous Board. First, instead of having three board directors as members of the committee, it is a committee of the whole. In other words, every Board Director is a member of this committee. Second, instead of meeting twice a month, the new SLC is scheduled to meet quarterly. That's right - only three or four times a year. That's why the committee is only just now having its first meeting. The next one will be in June. Here is the agenda for this afternoon's marathon session. You will notice they will update one policy. Think of all the policies they will have to update in the wake of the curriculum audit. I can't imagine they will take 20 minutes for each of them. They will discuss the High School Math Adoption for 30 minutes. That's not much time. They will get an update on High School Reform (whatever that is) for 45 minutes. You migh

Musically Speaking, Puget Sound Rules

Great music news from a Times' article this afternoon: "One-third of the 15 high-school jazz bands selected as finalists for this year's Essentially Ellington competition in New York are from the Seattle area. The five schools are South Whidbey High School, from Langley; Mountlake Terrace High School; Shorewood High School, from Shoreline; and Seattle's Garfield High School and Roosevelt High School. Also, Mountlake Terrace High School's Kelsey Van Dalfsen won first place in the Essentially Ellington student-essay context." Eckstein Middle School and Roosevelt also dominated the awards at the Lionel Hampton Competition in Idaho over mid-winter break. So many parents, students and especially the dedicated directors of these programs, specifically Clarence Acox from Garfield and Scott Brown at Roosevelt deserve a cheer for their hard work. (The only cloud on the horizon would be if the new assignment plan will make it difficult for these music directors

Rainer Beach

I was going to post about Rainer Beach; here's a link to the Times' story. The story had some interesting history that I hadn't known: "In the 1980s, Rainier Beach was home to the district's gifted program, Horizon. Enrollment topped 1,000 students. But desegregation efforts in the late 1980s began to drain enrollment. The district capped the number of minority students that could attend Rainier Beach, resulting in a 200-student waiting list of kids who weren't allowed to attend. They opted into North End schools, but North End students didn't come south. The school's arts program shrank, and then the district moved the gifted program. (The Horizon program was the first generation Spectrum program and, apparently, had been available in high schools which I hadn't known.) "We went to School Board meetings fighting for them," said Michelle Jacobsen, a longtime teacher. "You had a perception that the school was losing students becau

A Little Love for Rainier Beach

Hello I case you missed it. This was on the front page of the Seattle Times on March 3rd. http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=rainierbeach24m&date=20080303&query=rainier+beach We were very pleased by the article, but please don't think that we are by any means satisfied. Having the highest percentage of African-American students meeting the WASL math standard is nice, until you realize that the great majority of students still don't meet the standard. We are very excited about the programs that are coming to RB next year. We are adding the College Board EXCELerator program to our school. Here is a link: http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/about/news_info/excelerator.pdf

Facilities Master Plan 2020

So, I was reading the draft of the Facilities Master Plan today - and, yes, I do have a sense of just how sick that is - and I found a number of elements that were worthy of comment. First, unlike the FMP 2010, this version does reflect - or at least give a nod to - some effort to actually plan things. There isn't any actual PLAN in the Facilities Master Plan, but there are references to elements of planning. For example, the document lists some Guiding Principles for facilities planning. There are some facility guidelines. There are clear statements about facilities working in support of academics rather than academics adapting to the facilities. On page 10, there is a clear statement of their strategy to transform Seattle Public School facilities from their existing condition to state-of-the art facilities is through school-by-school renovation and replacement projects. If it sometimes appears that they are not interested in doing a bit here and a bit there, that's because