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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Assignment Plan/Math Adoption Meeting Today

Charlie and I (and a handful of others, about 20) attended this morning's district meeting. There were plenty of staff including interpreters. (I was really glad that one determined Latina mom sat at our table and had the interpreter telling her everything. Her concerns were quite revealing.)

(Charlie, Leslie, anyone else that was there; help me if I get anything wrong.)

I don't have a lot to say about the math adoption except that a recommendation has been made to use the Key Curriculum Press' Discovery books. The Math Manager, Anna Maria de la Fuente, did note that one study had said it was not a good series but that other math experts had said it was fine. I asked and she said it was used in the Lake Washington and Everett School districts. There is a Board work session on it March 25th, with introduction at the Board meeting on april 8th and approval/or not by the Board on April 22nd.

I do have quite a bit to say about the new Assignment Plan. Here is a link to the outline given to the Board. In reading through these recommendations/issues that start the outline, keep this quote in mind:

"These recommendations will not be fully in place when assignment plan changes are made. However, neither needs to delay progress on the other."

(Charlie calls this kind of thing "aspirational goals" that the district would like to, in good faith get done, but won't.)

I'll start with some quotes from Tracy Libros, the head of the Enrollment Office that everyone should keep in mind.
  • "Nothing is a done deal." There is quite a bit to get frothy at the mouth about and we need to keep watch over this plan as the process goes on but I believe Tracy on this one.
  • "Everyone will start out with an assignment." This is a key piece of the new plan. There will be assignment areas with feeder patterns from those areas and every single person, based on their address, will know where they will be assigned. (Naturally, you can go and enroll at another school if you don't want your assignment but that's how it starts off.)
  • "Some K-8s will be part of assignments for elementary." I didn't get to ask but I would assume this means regular ed K-8s and not alternatives.
Those are actual quotes. So here are the (very) rough outlines of the plan. (Note: this will be somewhat confusing because of the nomenclature. If you have ideas, TELL Tracy.)
  • As above, everyone will have an assignment. The clusters go away and are replaced by middle school attendance areas. This is because all the middle schools will have a feeder pattern from elementaries assigned to them. So this is a KEY point: your elementary assignment will flow from what middle school your address assigns you to. And, in turn, your high school assignment comes from what middle schools flow into it as well. Your predictibility/guarantee is based on the address you use (and I suspect they will really enforce these address rules to prevent cheating).
  • Every middle school attendance area will also be a service area, meaning, services will be available in all these services areas. The idea is to not send kids into regions far from home just for services. Not every school can support every special need but there will be one school in your service area that will fill special needs.
  • There will be three kinds of schools: Attendance area, Optional and Safety Net. The first is your regular neighborhood school, the second covers alt/non-traditional and Safety Net are those schools/programs that are for at-risk students. (Enrollment did make a big - and good - point about how hard it had been for at-risk students to access these programs and the idea now is earlier intervention with case management for each student.)
  • The tiebreakers will be simplified (and not as listed in the outline). For elementary and middle they would be sibling and lottery. You don't need distance because of the Attendance Area - you are either in that area or not. However, it does get tricky in high school because they throw in a yet-undefined "socio-economic" tiebreaker for diversity right after sib and attendance area tiebreakers. Important point here: that means they will draw the attendance areas around high schools SMALLER than the capacity of the high school to allow these outside assignments. It also means that when they draw the lines, if they could include, for example, more diversity by drawing the line to the east rather than the west, the line will likely go east. So when we eventually get to a map with lines and you are wondering how they picked some of them for high school, it might be for economic diversity. (We wondered aloud why this tiebreaker would only be for high school.)
Okay so what's unclear/unknown/troubling:
  • under this plan, APP middle school students get directed to Garfield OR they can choose the high school in their assignment area. This also applies to middle school students with an IEP. You could look at this and say, "Wait a minute. That means they get two choices where others get only one." The answer was that the district could ask those families to declare a school before they enroll so that the district knows how many seats they are looking at for students not in these programs.
  • I didn't get to ask but currently, students in Special Ed/bilingual get assigned separately from the General Ed population. I don't know if that would hold true for this plan but it's a question mark.
  • The plan says that "all" elementaries would have ALOs available which made me (and Charlie) laugh because we wonder how that would be enforced. The outline also says that the district, when using K-8s as assignment area schools, will decide which of those may have Spectrum in them so that each assignment area has a Spectrum program.
  • There had been previous discussion of "Open Choice" seats to allow students to access any high school they wanted (for any reason; program, safety, friends, whatever). There had been discussion that these would be "set-aside" seats of some unknown number. Now, it seems there would be these seats but they would come AFTER the tiebreakers of sib, assignment area and economic. How many seats that would be is really an unknown.
Personally, I feel very concerned over the Open Choice seats as I feel it unfair to not have a certain number of seats truly "open" for students to access high schools. What if IB programs get full at Sealth and Ingraham? It seems there should be at least an application method for these programs. What about the speciality programs/features like the radio program at Hale, biotech at Ballard, etc.? What about CTE programs that vary from school to school?

And, of course, there is the question of whether there is equity at the high schools (or will be) by the time this assignment plan begins. The Latina mom I referenced said her worry was violence at school and that her son just plain didn't want to be there because of that and, as Charlie put it, anti-academic peer pressure. I absolutely agree that if you don't have a large and solid core of kids who are working hard academically, it drains the school and makes it harder for those who do want to succeed academically.

So, your homework:
  • nomenclature - what would you call some of these things?
  • tiebreakers - what do you think?
  • what is missing or needed?
Timeline (according to the outline):
  • Draft policy by April 8th
  • Board approval by April 22nd
  • High School maps by April 29th
  • more public meetings May 5, 7,9
I know what you're thinking and I agree. This is too fast, too underdeveloped and, most obviously, where are maps for elementary/middle. Well, if you refer back to the Work Session posting, staff had asked if the Board might vote for an overall plan with only the high school part fully-fleshed out. De Bell said he would be uncomfortable with this. (NO KIDDING!) The Board cannot and should not vote if they do not have a fully-fleshed out plan. This is Job 1 for the Board for their parents constituents and they cannot ignore that. I do not know why the plan isn't ready but it is clear to me that it is not. Fine, let's keep talking but no voting until we have an entire plan. No piecemeal plans, no "trust us" plan - we want an entire Assignment Plan.

75 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

First thing: if you have an idea, a comment, or a complaint about Assignment, get it to Tracy Libros.

She is listening and she is actively modifying the plan in response to input.

With her, your input does matter.

I am pushing very hard to make sure that when the District thinks about equitable access to high quality programs in high schools they think about CTE as well as AP and IB. Right now, access to CTE programs is a greater source of inequitible access than AP or IB. And it doesn't look like other people are even thinking about it.

The presentation on math was strictly informational - there was no discussion, no solicitation of input. There was time for that, and that time has passed.

I tired to speak to Carol Rava-Treat about the District's unfulfilled commitments to community engagement and transparency as they were written into the Plan, but she wasn't listening. She had this idea of what I wanted - I'm not sure what that was - and wasn't listening to what I was actually asking her.

She thought I was there to play gotcha, but I was just trying to get some simple questions answered.

The short answer appears to be that the District has all of the documents that the Plan says they would share with the public, but they don't think it's a good idea to share those documents with the public because they don't think that the public would understand them. So although the Plan commits them to sharing the documents - as it plainly does - they have decided not to. They are choosing to break that commitment and they would really prefer if I would stop going on about it. They would like to quietly break those commitments without public comment about it. In fact, there is a whole list of commitments that they would like to quietly break without public discussion of them and my talking about it is just sand in their bathing suit.

Or something like that.

It is at moments like this that I wish we had a Board member who would ask them about their commitments to transparency and their commitment to make documents public. But there is no Board member who wants to actually oversee the progress of the Strategic Plan or possibly question the progress they are making on it.

SE Mom said...

Wow, the current plan for high school enrollment is really anxiety producing. Open choice seats AFTER tie breakers?!

My kid will start high school the year this new assignment plan is to take place. I was thinking that IB at Sealth could really be a positive plan for our SE family.

When I attended a district assigment plan meeting this fall I spoke directly with Tracy Libros, and she related that she thought there could be a lottery or some sort of other entry to programs like IB. Sealth IB should be accessible to families outside of West Seattle. Otherwise, there is clearly a lack of academic rigor available for those of us whose reference schools are Rainier, Franklin or Cleveland.

Our other choice would likely be Garfield - that seems now like an even unliklier option.

I am actually feeling really, really angry about all of this.

What is the best way to give feedback to Tracy - in person at an assignment plan meeting? Written letter? both?

TwinMom2003 said...

Was there any mention of how they might engage the "economic-diversity" tie breaker? Will they require a pay-stub, W2, only if you apply for an out of assignment area high school? Will everyone that enrolls in SPS have to provide this info.?

I have also read on a local moms group that Portland uses economic diversity as a tie-breaker. Does anyone know how it works in Portland? Has it been challenged in the courts in Portland?

kellie said...

Economic Tie Breaker typically means Free and Reduced Lunch. You supply proof of income, when they verify your FRL status.

TwinMom2003 said...

Thanks Kellie - that makes sense.

Personally, unless the economic tiebreaker has already faced the court test I wish they would drop it. Neon lawsuit seems to be flashing from this one.

Instead, I wish they would focus the energy and monies they might spend defending this tie-breaker in court, on truly having excellent high schools in all areas of the city.

I'll share that with Tracy as well as expressing my appreciation for a caveat I read in the Board presentation. Parents applying for open choice would have the option of keeping their children together -- either they all get into the same school for an open choice application, or not at all.

Sue said...

Let me make sure I have this right - am I reading correctly that the plan will be voted on and finalized before the maps are available? Please tell me I am readig this wrong.
If so this is very troubling. They will shrink and change assignment areas drastically AFTER they have board approval - thereby effectively cutting off all parent/stakeholder comment and concern.

Please tell me I am reading this wrong.

SP said...

Charlie says, "I am pushing very hard to make sure that when the District thinks about equitable access to high quality programs in high schools they think about CTE as well as AP and IB. Right now, access to CTE programs is a greater source of inequitible access than AP or IB."

Charlie- I disagree with you on this point. Just take a look at the new enrollment guide and compare high school programs. Under the CTE section, Cleveland offers the lowest with 3 (a very small school with only 706 students), and West Seattle High School offers the most with 8 different types of classes listed (and 1,199 students). The average school CTE offering is just over 5 classes. Not a whole lot of difference when you also consider the size of the schools.

Now look at the AP/IB page. Ingraham has the most with 28 different IB offerings (with 1,052 students), Sealth comes in next with 18 IB classes (and only 887 students), the bigger schools Garfield/Ballard/Roosevelt have between 11 and 16 different AP classes for approx. 1,650 students. At the far end of the spectrum is West Seattle High School with just 5 AP classes listed (and 1,199 students).

If you just look at the 2 West Seattle schools, the comparison is alarming- A ratio of IB/AP classes to students at Sealth is 1:49, whereas it is at 1:240 at WSHS.

Where is the "equitable access to high quality programs" in West Seattle for college bound students? With very limited "open choice" around the corner, this is of great concern to many parents.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Keepin' On, based on this meeting and what was said at the work session (as reported by Beth) about staff asking for the Board to vote on a plan with only high school specifics, then, if you go by the dates in the outline, yes. From Beth's reporting:

"District is asking Board to vote on overall policy but only details for high school assignment. DeBell says he and others are not comfortable with this since this type of a decision-making process could have the Board voting for things with unknown implications."

No complete plan has been presented with maps, not to the Board nor the public.

Tick tock, the clock is going and if they want to have this in place by next fall (when the final Enrollment guides go to the printer), then something has to give. What that is I don't know but again, I cannot believe the Board would vote without a complete plan that the public has had some time (a couple of weeks?) to look at.

It's not about money right now; it's about right-sizing this district and giving predictability and equity to families. They need to get it right.

seattle citizen said...

"The plan says that 'all' elementaries would have ALOs available which made me (and Charlie) laugh because we wonder how that would be enforced.

1) Does it say that "all" elementaries would have developmental resources/classes/programs available also? If not, why not?

2)As to having these ALOs (or Spectrum, etc...or developmental...) in each elementary, I think it's possible, and also probably. My feeling is the the District means what it says about increasing the opportunity for advanced work. (I can hope, and ask for, increased opportunity also at the developmental level, and also for increased intergration, where approriate and under the tenets of Least Restrictive Environment, of the various IEP students into mainstream classrooms.

seattle citizen said...

TwinMom003,
You seem to have an aversion to an economic tiebreaker:
"Personally, unless the economic tiebreaker has already faced the court test I wish they would drop it. Neon lawsuit seems to be flashing from this one."

Why do you think such a lawsuit against such a tiebreaker would win? Do you think it's not a good idea, or do you think it might not win, but someone would sue anyway...

I haven't fully thought through economic tiebreakers: do you have some insight or opinion that would help? On the face of it, it seems like a good idea, and I can't, off hand, think why it wouldn't be legal (and/or right).

anonymous said...

Why would a student of lower socio-economic status have priority assignment to a school over someone of moderate or higher socio-economic status? What does your income level have to do with your priority/rank for school choice? If it is to diversify the schools then would it only apply to schools that need more diversity? Low income housing is located all over the city, it's not concentrated in any one area so why wouldn't those families receive the same assignment priority as anyone else? And why would the socio-economic tie breaker only apply for HS assignment? I'm not being snarky, I really don't understand???

seattle citizen said...

CTE section
Cleveland: 3 - 706 students
West Seattle: 8 1,199 students)
Average school CTE offering: 5

AP/IB
Ingraham: 28 - 1,052 students
Sealth: 18 - 887 students
Garfield/Ballard/Roosevelt:
11 - 16 approx. 1,650 students
West Seattle: 5 AP - 1,199 students

What's alarming to me is that the smallest number of AP/IB just a little smaller than the largest number of CTE: 5

The average number of classes per school, given numbers above:
CTE - 6
AP/IB - 15

Given the huge number of jobs available that require not a college degree but technical or other certification, I wonder if a 1/3 ratio is appropriate.

Maybe so. Maybe the advanced coursework can couple with CTE...

Hmm.

I also wonder if numbers are available on developmental ("remedial") classes available...I'm sure this could be teased out of various catalogs on varoios school websites, but is the information gathered and published like it is, in the enrollment guide? (I'll check, unless someone has quicker access to the guide than I do, and has some numbers handy...)

My point (as usual!) is that I would like to see developmental classes seen as a similar sort of asset as are advanced classes. Lots of attention, lately, on advanced; perhaps a bit more on developmental would be in order.

TwinMom2003 said...

Seattle Citizen,

The economic tiebreaker just seems like an odd toss in to me. When I first heard it, it stuck me that the district was trying a different approach to integration, which was struck down in the courts.

I don't understand how economic diversity in a school equates to an excellent education?

My concern is if there is a lawsuit it will divert focus and monies from the very goal of delivering an excellent education in all corners of the district.

I admit I'm not very adept or intelligent in the arena of politics so I'm probably missing the point of what the district is trying to do. Personally, I would like to live in West Seattle and have a beautiful view of Puget Sound. I don't know what the economics are of the families that live in that area, but I do know that they are thin on excellent schools there.

I think education is the great equalizer. I wish the district would focus on that and get it right, and not try to branch out into other areas like social engineering. That is the vibe I get from the economic tiebreaker.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, you ask "What does your income level have to do with your priority/rank for school choice?"

If you are poor, you can't afford to move to the wealthier neighborhoods, so you don't have choice. If you are wealthier, you can move anywhere in the city you'd like, thus you're able to choose. What does this have to do with priority/rank? The district might see fit to try and achieve a balanced student population, so all economic classes are served equitably.

WV has changed it's name to "Flonagut"....It is evidently the offspring of Vonnegut and...who?

The way I visualize the city in my head, low-income areas ARE clustered. Sure, they're are little groupings everywhere, almost (small buildings and the like, isolated, that the city has purchased or is otherwise set aside from the general real estate values in the surrounding neighborhood, but, very generally speaking, there ARE large clusters of low come houseing in some parts of the city, and not in others.

Someone more organized than me can certainly find a demographic breakout, but I can think of some areas that have very large populations of low income, while others do not:
Lots of low income:
Highpoint, White Center, South Park, East Beacon (n+s}, CD; most of Rainier Valley south of Jackon, north of Henderson, east of, say, 22nd S, and west of, oh, 40th S;
Lake City north of 100th, south of 145th,east of 20th NE,west of 35th;
University District (some of it)Haller Lake...and maybe a couple of other areas with high density low income.
NOT many low income:
North Capital Hill; North West Seattle; Queen Anne Hill; most of Ballard; Crown Hill; Broadview; Wallingford; Laurelhurst; Wedgewood, Mapleleaf (up to, say, 95th); Greenlake (with an exception near I-5; two large apartments)...
The high schools I'd imagine would get few FRL students would be:
Ballard, Roosevelt; West Seattle, and, of course, half of Garfield. Hale would also be half/half.

The other schools would be over 50%FRL lunch each, I'd bet.

So, no, FRL students aren't evenly scattered around the city. Yet.

WV has changed it's name to "Flonagut"....It is evidently the offspring of Vonnegut and...who?

anonymous said...

My house in North Seattle cost no more than the equivalent houses we looked at in the Central District. Just for curiosity I took a look at apartments for rent on Craigslist and did notice much difference in rental prices between North Seattle, the Central District, West Seattle, Magnolia, Mount Baker, Columbia City, and Capitol Hill.

So why do you suppose low income people are grouped together in certain parts of the city?

I live in North Seattle and there are low income and mixed income housing all around me. Should the low income children get priority into Roosevelt solely because they are low income, while my child that lives in the same neighborhood may not get in?

That just doesn't set well with me???

anonymous said...

Excuse me, in my above post I meant to say "Just for curiosity I took a look at apartments for rent on Craigslist and did ****NOT**** notice much difference in rental prices"

AutismMom said...

Personally, unless the economic tiebreaker has already faced the court test I wish they would drop it. Neon lawsuit seems to be flashing from this one.

Huh??? Why in the world would using SES even be a questionable practice? Sure, you might not like it... it might not favor you. But, the court practically told them that was acceptable and preferable in the last lawsuit. The Magnolia parents bringing the suit weren't happy with that part of the decision. The district still has a mandate to do something about the achievement gap. They would never be able to do anything if they aren't allowed to in some way identify and service those needing the service. The problem they had was that they couldn't use race alone as a tiebreaker, especially since the schools had a huge amount of racial diversity, at least at the high school level.

AutismMom said...

Sheesh. To put it in perspective. Why should FRL students get free or reduced lunch either? I mean, I have to pay for my lunch... why not them? If the benefit happens to be something everyone actually values, and might actually make a significant difference, then nobody wants to provide the benefit to FRL students. A peanut butter sandwich? No problem.

Megan Mc said...

According to the FRAMEWORK FOR REVISED STUDENT ASSIGNMENT PLAN:
5. Clusters that combine several reference areas would be modified to:
• Add the flexibility of staggered school opening and closing times as an additional choice element for families, with transportation provided within the cluster. This has an additional benefit of saving on transportation costs.

Excuse me? Did they just say that the staggered times have the additional benefit of saving on transportation costs? I realize that the framework was approved in June 2007 but what changed in the next year to eliminate the savings? I emailed the board asking them how the district could report such conflicting statements. I wish I would have noticed it before the board vote last week.

Either the enrollment people made the above statement without consulting transportation or transportation is lying to the board about the cost savings of standardizing bell times.

TwinMom2003 said...

My kids wear hand me downs. We don't shop at Neiman Marcus.

Put peanut butter with whole wheat and you have a whole protein - that does equate to better concentration and a better ability to learn.

How does the district playing some grand mix master and making sure the same economic diversity exists in each school equate to a better education? If this a proven so be it - if it is an experiment, I don't understand.

If it has already been through a court test and passed, so be it. That was the question. I guess I don't speak Seattle english.

I guess better to spend the pb and j money on lawsuits than something of actual substance?

SolvayGirl said...

So...if I live in South Seattle because I like my house, neighborhood, proximity to Seward Park, Columbia CIty, Renton, etc. and I am middle class...my child can go to Rainier Beach, but if I am poor my child can go to Roosevelt?

The DIstrict needs to create equitable schools all over. The idea that they will ship people around to create equity is absurd.

Every school in this city should have equitable offerings and rigor. Exceptional programs (music, drama, engineering, etc.) should have slots that exceptional out-of-cluster kids have to test and/or audition into. Until that happens Seattle will continue to lose families with the means to go elsewhere who have the misfortune of living in the wrong zipcode.

anonymous said...

I guess I just don't feel that it is very fair to screw the middle class yet again. The affluent families can afford to buy a home across the street from Roosevelt or whatever school they want to get into. Now low income people will have a preference to get into whatever school they want to get into.

My family is middle class. We don't qualify for free lunch, but we don't even get close to being able to buy a home in an affluent neighborhood to get into a good school. We shop at Value Village, The discount grocer store, and Craigslist for bargains. We don't go out to eat, and we don't get to buy our kids Xbox 360s. We are lucky enough to have health care, reliable transportation and a stable job, but don't have a dime left over to save.

Why do the "low income" families that live around the corner from us get a free pass into Roosevelt or any other school that they, and the affluent, get what want, while my middle class kids get the scraps?

It sucks to be middle class in America.

BTW I'm just using Roosevelt as an example...exchange it with any popular school.

TwinMom2003 said...

So to be controversial yet again by using a religious term -- Amen, SolvayGirl1972 and Adhoc.

Charlie Mas said...

There are two IB schools in the District - only two - Ingraham and Chief Sealth. They are the extreme ends of the District but they are both currently under-enrolled so any student in the district can get into them. That's equitable access. If you want it you can have it. You may have to travel for it but you can have it.

There are some schools with many more AP classes than other schools, but nearly every school offers the most popular AP classes. The District has mandated a set of AP classes that every school must offer and that list is likely to expand.

If, however, your child wants to enroll in the Biotech Academy CTE course of study they can only get it at Ballard and nowhere else. Good luck getting into Ballard unless you live near it. There are other CTE courses that are unique, such as the radio CTE available only at Hale. It's not that easy to see in the Enrollment Guide because the Enrollment Guide doesn't show the Academies.

Josh Hayes said...

I agree that SPS should have equally great schools -- or at least equally adequate schools -- everywhere in the district. It's just irrational to expect that to happen -- it has never, ever, been true, and why the hell should we expect that it will be true any time in the future?

The whole point of busing was to make it clear that a system of quasi-private neighborhood schools can't fly when other people - you know: them - might arrive on a school bus and disrupt that system. The whole point, you see, was to make that fear work as a motivator, to get people to work to provide at least adequate schools everywhere (the unspoken words being, "so you can keep your quasi-private school to yourselves").

Using SES as an assignment factor, something the Supes practically begged districts to do (since there's no constitutionally protected SES class: no lawsuit on this matter would make it out of a lawyer's office), seems intended to keep that pressure on. Will it work? Will it encourage people to work to make all of the schools more successful? Or will it just drive away the parents who can afford to flee?

Hell if I know. I've been arguing for years that if we're going to try to socially-engineer our schools, we can't use race as a criterion, and shouldn't: we should be using SES. I guess my chickens are coming home to roost. That'll teach me to argue!

Beth Bakeman said...

Mel,

The reason there are no middle and elementary schools maps is because they are going to postpone the middle and elementary school changes by a year.

High schools are going first (2010).

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said that the time for math input has passed. Consider this:
http://mathunderground.blogspot.com/2009/03/mathematicians-and-math-in-school.html

Ms. de la Fuente said there is a difference in the evaluations done on Discovering Algebra etc. She is absolutely correct on that. Dr George Bright with a PhD. in education not math who was hired by Terry Bergeson to push her programs found the "Discovering Series" sound. Dr James King of the UW who spent years trying to push IMP into Seattle and spent lots of NSF funding at Cleveland and still created a debacle (check Cleveland's Math WASL scores here for the two years of IMP

year ... Cleveland....Dist .... State
2004-05 23.2% . 40.8% . 47.5%
2005-06 21.1% . 55.7% . 51.0%
2006-07 17.9%. 50.2% . 50.4%
2007-08 12.2% . 50.4% . 49.6%

That would be the same Dr. King who has published a book through Key Curriculum Press. He finds the Discovering Series from Key Curriculum press sound. So what?
(This is a clear conflict of interest is it not?)

That would be the same UW that influenced OSPI and Seattle to adopt the extremely weak math materials of the last decade. Yes UW helped push Everyday Math into Bethel School District at the same time Seattle adopted EDM. Ms. Santorno knows very little about math and yet she unilaterally pushed EDM into Seattle. When TERC/Investigations was meeting resistance in Bethel and Seattle both districts switched their push from TERC to EDM (with UW guidance I believe).

The difference of opinion is that the State Board of Education contracted with Strategic Teaching and ST paid for an analysis by the Head of the Johns Hopkins University math department W. Stephen Wilson and independently another PhD. mathematician who has had a lot of experience in math education from California Dr. Harel.

Unfortunately our SPS Math Program director was too busy to attend the Strategic Teaching Analysis of high school math materials in Renton. In fact there was no one there from the SPS. So the SPS math program manager with the BA in English and Masters in Education says that there is a difference of opinion.

There has also been a difference of opinion in whether the SPS is following the State Math standards in grades k-5 this year. Clearly anyone following what has happened this year will notice that the Everyday Math pacing guide is being followed which ignores large portions of the WA state Math Grade level expectations.

Ms. de la Fuente tells us that the Immediate Actions specified on pg 17 of the Strategic Plan are being followed.

You be the judge:
Immediate Actions

• Math: A Math Project Team will develop an implementation plan and timeline for action during summer 2008. Alignment of the elementary and middle school instructional materials to the new State Performance Expectations will be completed this summer.

This happened just like Singapore Math has been implemented as a supplement and been in use since fall 2007.

Does the School Board actually believe any of this?

I guess it is just very convenient to hold no one accountable.

Did the Strategic Plan Update include any of this?
------------------------
The SPS in math is currently way off track from State Math Standards, the National Math Advisory Panel recommendations, as well as Seattle Transition Math Project plans in how to reduce the number of SPS grads needing math remediation when entering local colleges.
----------------------
If there had been no state math standards, no NMAP, no Seattle TMP what would be different about SPS math?
The Answer is absolutely nothing ... because all of this direction has been ignored by the SPS.

Yes I believe that Ms. de la Fuente is a PhD. candidate at the UW. I thought follow the leader was fun when I was 5 years old. If our leader is UW College of Education or UW math help, I suggest we look for a new direction for SPS math. That is my difference of opinion.

To Improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data.
Is anyone looking for improvement?

anonymous said...

Yes, Charlie, most schools do offer the most popular AP classes, but that does not mean all schools are equal or the same. Not even close. Cleveland offers the same popular AP courses that Ballard offers, but Cleveland is low performing, unpopular, and under enrolled. The school is primarily low income, it is not very diverse ethnically, and they have gang issues. Who wants that? Anyone on this blog have your kids enrolled at Cleveland? Anyone considering it? I doubt it.

As for IB, it is accessible for all right now, only because the schools are not popular yet. The program is still very new to SPS, and it serves only a specific type of demographic - highly motivated students, who are willing to give up after school jobs and sports (per the IB admissions director at Ingraham). However, if the IB program ever does get popular, will it still be accessible to all? Or will it be another Roosevelt type situation?

Personally I think all CTE programs, or unique programs like IB, should be offered via all city lottery. I could deal with not getting in because my number was not drawn in the lottery. But I can't deal with my child not getting in because he is not low income, or affluent.

SE Mom said...

What happens to the enrollment at Sealth when the new plan rolls out?
Yes, it is under enrolled now, but that could really change.

You'd think the district would want to support IB at Sealth -this is only the second year of the program there. One of the great things about IB is that there is no academic selection process - any kid can take some IB classes or complete the whole program.

If entry to Sealth comes after automatic assignment and a list of tie breakers, how does that support growth of the IB program?
How does that encourage application outside of West Seattle to the IB program? How will families know they are welcome and encouraged to apply?
How do we know there will still be open seats for kids who are excited about completing the entire IB program?

The Sealth IB program is clearly the most academically rigorous high school choice in SE and SW Seattle. It's good there are more AP classes at the other SE high schools but those schools are not up to par and won't be for several more years.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc,I doubt very much that rents are "similar" around the city: would I pay the same rent for an apartment in an unattractive neighborhood as I would in an attractive one? Let's use environmental factors as a for-instance: South Park is known to be highly toxic in many ways: Groundwater contamination, Duwamish Superfund, air contamination from nearby industry...Why would a person who knows about such things pay the same rent there as they would on Queen Anne? They obviously wouldn't.

To get a relatively accurate view of where poverty resides, use the number of actual low-income units: city, state, federal (section 8)...THESE are the true corners of poverty. As I said, I haven't found that document (I think I have one somewhere) but just picturing the city, we can guess where the big low-income projects are:
High Point, Yesler terrace, Holly Park, a few scattered buildings in Lake City...These have (had: half of these are now redeveloped into mixed low income and market rate, suffering the loss of some low income units...) these have many, many poor people in them.

There might be a few low-income units added in Magnolia, if some of the rather vocal Magnolians allow such a terrible thing to be built on Fort Lawton property...But are there any High Points in Magnolia?

seattle citizen said...

Using this map of Seattle Housing Authority sites
http://www.seattlehousing.org/housing/public/locations/

we find that north of Bell Tower in downtown there are 1469 low-income units.
Bell Tower, and south, there are 2327 units, NOT INCLUDING the many low-income units in New Holly, High Point and Rainier Vista (I would guess about 200 units each; these are HUGE complexes...anyone seen them? They're quite an innovative idea, tho' they did lose some low income housing in the creation of these developments). New Holly students' nearest HS is Franklin; Rainier, obviously, RB; and High Point, Sealth

Using these rough numbers, there are twice as many low income units south of downtown as there are north of downtown.

beansa said...

Here is a link to a report of how poverty is actually distributed throughout Seattle (by neighborhood). It's far from an even distribution. And as far as rents on Craigslist being equal - low income untis are rarely advertised that way. You get those apartments through Seattle Housing Authority or through various non-profit agencies around town. They ALL have long waiting lists so there's never a reason to advertise.

The reason why SES tiebreaker is "fair" is because it is meant to level the playing field. Kids living in poverty are living with all the attendant issues that poverty brings. Even if you are middle (or lower-middle) class without much money to spare, you have a lot more stability than someone who has no idea where their next meal is coming from or is one paycheck away from homelessness. Add that stress to the stress of living in unsafe neigborhoods and going to gang infested schools...the SES tiebreaker hardly seems like and "unfair advantage" when you look at the whole picture.

What's really unfair is that affluent people can live wherever they want and get into their school of choice. I would love to see a limit on the number high-income families per school. Spread them and their resources out a little. Of course, that will never happen because they wouldn't stand for it.

This is only going to get worse as the property values in neighborhoods with good schools go through the roof. This is the hard thing about equity. When there isn't enough resources to go around, some people are going to have to give up something to make things fair. And no one ever seems to want to do that.

beansa said...

Sorry for the double comment, but just to put things into perspective - if FRL is used to determine SES for the tiebreaker:

The upper income limit for Reduced lunch for a family of 4 is:

$39,220

For Free lunch for family of 4:

$27,560

The Median income for a family of 4in Seattle is:

$76,875 (according to SHA)

beansa said...

Here's that link to the report of income-by-neighborhood (it's a very detailed breakdown) that I forgot to include in my earlier comment. Whoops.

http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cms/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/dpds_007846.pdf

seattle citizen said...

And, beansa, 42% of students are on FRL.

Hmmm, this seems to tell us that, in order to get to the median income of 76,000, there must be some relatively small group making much more, if 42% make less than 39,000...

There's a whole lotta wealth in this city, but almost half the population is "poor."

yikes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good eye, Megan.

Ad Hoc, have you seen the houses south from Roosevelt? (I am joking as they are all slum houses from our neighborhood slumlords whom we are fighting against so they don't erect an upwards of 8+ story building across from RHS.)

Beth, I understand what you are saying but the Assignment plan should be one piece and not piecemeal. It absolutely doesn't make sense as they want a feeder pattern. How do you create an assignment plan with a feeder pattern if you don't know what schools feed into it? You can project and do it in the abstract but, to me, that is folly.

The previous tiebreaker using race only applied for integration positive situations. They had some formula for a ratio of white to minority. It worked both ways as white students who wanted to attend Franklin got in (when Franklin was popular and overenrolled in the early '90s) on the tiebreaker.

I would suspect that is how the economic tiebreaker would work. Maybe someone could ask the district how many families used the race tiebreaker when it existed and that might give us some kind of projection of numbers we might be talking about.

My sense is, from meeting after meeting, is that many parents send their high school students far away for safety more than academic reasons. The school they get into is safe? Good academics? A bonus. I could be wrong but parent after parent mentions safety before academics. That may be where the tipping point is, not how many AP classes a school has.

anonymous said...

"There's a whole lotta wealth in this city, but almost half the population is "poor.""

NO Seattle Citizen "almost half of the population" is not poor. Almost half of the SPS population is poor. That's because SPS is so dysfunctional that it runs people with the means out by the droves. Those families seek private school with tuition in the $20,000+ range per year, home school, or move to the burbs. Seattle has one of the highest private school and home school populations in the nation. And, I wish we could study how many families move to the burbs for better schools. I bet it would be shocking.

The "poor" is what SPS is left with, it is not representative of our city.

In fact we are actually considered one of the more affluent cities in the nation.

AutismMom said...

What's really unfair is that affluent people can live wherever they want and get into their school of choice.

Look, there are poor to average areas in every part of the city. You want to go to Roosevelt that badly? Simple, buy a dump across the street. Better yet, rent one. You're in! Oh yeah, you'll have to live in the dump. You can't have all, you have to make tradeoffs, but you do get to make your choice.


This is only going to get worse as the property values in neighborhoods with good schools go through the roof.
Have you woken up and smelled the coffee lately? Housing prices going the roof? They aren't going up. The problem is prices going through the floor! They aren't going up for a long time. Demographics isn't in the kid-rearing age. Schools have some influence, but just not that much.

And as to the poor, middle class getting "screwed again". The middle class has choices, they might not like them, but they have them. The thing that makes bad schools bad, is the KIDS who attend. Everybody loves to moan about "fixing the bad schools". To fix them, you've got to spread the pockets of poverty around... stir the pot, somehow. You can't keep huge ghetto's of poverty contained and expect "quality" there. It isn't SPS that is completely at fault for wealthy people wanting to leave... wealthy people can afford educations that are not and will not be available at public schools. If you want a class of 15, with no really poor kids.... you simply can't be guaranteed that in public school.

Unknown said...

Ad Hoc at 12:36,

So True: That's because SPS is so dysfunctional that it runs people with the means out by the droves.

Check the UW Center for Educational Leadership.

A close examination of newsletters etc. will reveal a goal of equal educational outcomes. I have no problem with equal opportunity but when this translates into equal outcomes Nonsense is being pushed upon us all.

The SPS math program would run anyone interested in Mathematical excellence for their child out of this district. The fact that "Discovering" and "College Prep Math" were two of Seattle's three High School Math finalists shows how little attention is paid to content in the SPS.

Research E.D. Hirsch and the core knowledge movement. It seems that the SPS in many ways pushes the core ignorance movement when it comes to academic content. As noted by Ad Hoc: Those with other options leave in droves.

seattle citizen said...

Ad hoc, you're right, many leave the district, send their children outside the district, or private school.

I fear this will continue if the district uses anything but a pure neighborhood model: any attempt at "bringing students in from elsewhere" might be seen as "my kid's school quality will diminish" and more students will be removed from the public schools, along with their supportive parents.

I have no answer. I wish ALL students (and their parents) would stay and fight, but as we know, many will not: their child's education is the most important and they'll bail out to get a good one.

I understand the impulse, I'm just saddened by it.

Sue said...

I just wish for once, we could hear some honesty from this district. The "Economic Diversity" tiebreaker is simply a way for them to avoid, once again, having to do anything about low performing schools in the city. It also eliminates responsibility and ownership of their schools for the neighborhoods, the city, the board and the mayor. Once again, nothing is changing . We will have parents who can leave, leave. We will have under performing schools, and no way to improve them, because we will let people leave.(and in all honesty, if my choice was Rainier Beach or Roosevelt, heck yes I would choose Roseevelt)

I don't know what the answer is, but replacing the forced busing of the 70s and 80s with "economic busing" does not seem to be to be the answer - it just seems to perpetuate the problem of under performing schools.

I thought the goal of the new assignment plan was to keep families at their neighborhood schools. How wrong I was!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Keep in mind, this isn't a done deal. Tell the Board you don't see the use in any economic tiebreaker and it waters down any "neighborhood" plan.

I'd prefer a lottery/Open Choice seats to an economic tiebreaker. I think it's the fairest way while still allowing people a chance at a different school.

I still think if they could solve the safety issues more parents would be willing to step up to making their own schools better.

old salt said...

I am surprised by the direction of the new assignment plan. Perhaps I just misunderstood the goals from the beginning.

I thought one of the goals of the plan was to decrease transportation spending by moving fewer kids, having more kids attend school closer to their homes. The message that I got initially was that the district would like to limit choice & have more kids attend neighborhood schools. I expected to see geographic cohorts moving through elementary, middle & high school together to a greater extent than we currently see.

I was surprised to hear that transportation issues have been completely removed from consideration in the assignment plan. That means that attendance area lines will be drawn without consideration of transportation issues. So you may live blocks from one school but be assigned to an attendance area school further away. Whether boundaries increase or decrease the number of kids bussed will not be considered in drawing the lines.

In fact I could find nothing in the guiding principles or goals that prioritized geographic coherence.

One problem with this is how the guiding principle of fostering diversity can play out if there is no geographic or transportation goal to balance it.

The guiding principle of “fostering diversity” will play a role in drawing attendance area boundaries. So with no consideration of transportation, walk zones, or geography, attendance areas could be gerrymandered into fantastic shapes. In fact there is nothing in the power point that supposed the attendance areas are even contiguous. The plan as currently written could describe the old days of bussing where the parts of the attendance area for one school was scattered around the city to promote diversity. I don’t believe the intention is to totally disrespect geography, but it is written that way. Is that an oversight?

Another surprise is that middle school attendance area is not a tie breaker for elementary assignment. So after sibling tie breaker, there is attendance area. That is the school of your automatic assignment. (Presumably in your neighborhood, but that is not mentioned in the documentation.) Followed by cohort, which Tracy mentioned did not apply to elementary school, even though it was on the slide. Next is lottery.

By having lottery follow attendance area in elementary assignments & having elementary cohorts as a tie breaker for middle school, it looks like more kids could be traveling further to school under this plan, than under the current system. So my assumptions about the new plan were all wrong.

And, Melissa, I do not see in the power point that high school attendance areas will relate to middle school attendance area. The taxonomy slide describes combining groups of elementary attendance areas to make a middle school area. But there is no mention of combining middle schools attendance areas to make a high school attendance area.

zb said...

"I fear this will continue if the district uses anything but a pure neighborhood model: any attempt at "bringing students in from elsewhere" might be seen as "my kid's school quality will diminish" and more students will be removed from the public schools, along with their supportive parents."

I would have actually been more likely to keep my kid in my neighborhood school if it had more diversity (instead of being 3% FRL). As it is, my neighborhood schools only very marginally more diverse than a private school, and, at least in the private school, I don't feel like I am enjoying the benefit of "pseudo-private neighborhood" school at the taxpayer's expense.

zb said...

PS: I also think that the boundaries should be drawn after the assignment plan is made (for all the districts). The assignment plans should be based on geographical determinations (and, yes, I would also like to see them used to decrease the concentration of poverty in specific schools). There should be no "stakeholders" demanding access to specific schools when the boundaries are drawn.

Maureen said...

I also think that the boundaries should be drawn after the assignment plan is made ....

Hmmm, sort of like John Rawls' "Veil of Ignorance..." ZB are you a political theorist?!

Charlie Mas said...

beansa wrote: "What's really unfair is that affluent people can live wherever they want and get into their school of choice. I would love to see a limit on the number high-income families per school. Spread them and their resources out a little. Of course, that will never happen because they wouldn't stand for it.
"

First, I don't think it is unfair that people are able to their money as they like. I don't see anything unfair about that at all. If they want to spend it to buy a home in a specific neighborhood, they should be allowed to do so. There are federal equal housing laws that protect their right to do so.

Perhaps for beansa the unfairness is deeper and is rooted in the fact that some people have more money than others. Well, suppose they worked for it. Suppose they provided good value for it. Suppose they diligently saved it. In any case, that is not an inequity that the school district should resolve.

Second, high-income families or high involvement families or any other sort of family are not a resource for the District to reallocate at their pleasure. On the contrary. Families are not a resource to the District; the District is a resource to families.

And why should they stand for it?

seattle citizen said...

"...high-income families or high involvement families or any other sort of family are not a resource for the District to reallocate at their pleasure. On the contrary. Families are not a resource to the District; the District is a resource to families. And why should they stand for it?"

But the money that fmailies bring to schools IS a resource, if the district allows conditions where it can provide for needs itself. If an optimal school needs this extra FTE, or a new playground, then, well, that's what it needs. If outside money is used, then that's a resource the district relies on.

Maybe it relies on it too much; maybe it easier to take outside money then do the work necessary to get schools publicly funded to where they should be.

Maybe I'm wrong, but back in the day didn't PTSA fundraising go towards extras, like dances or class trips, etc? Is buying necessary FTE a new thing for the PTSA?

That said, I understand that the district is the parents' resource. They paid for it, and they should get quality. If not, why SHOULD they stand for it? Options for not standing for it: pay more out of pocket into your neighborhood school; pay more out of pocket into all district schools; lobby state for necessary funds; lobby district for necessary programs and organization; leave the district.

Many choices, but "standing for it" shouldn't be one of them. Many have to, for a variety or reasons. What about them?

dan dempsey said...

WOW!!!! The math adoption has been moved up to the same timeline.

Introduction on April 8 and Action on April 22.

Looks like the Admin is trying to fly the math adoption under the radar.

Also looks like Anna Maria has failed to account for the Mathematical review that Dr Jack Lee of the UW sent her (March 4). That makes Johns Hopkins Math Department Head Dr Steven Wilson, Dr Guershon Harel of San Diego, and Dr Lee all PhD. mathematicians finding serious problems with the Discovering Series.

Are we going to watch the SPS directors flush some more millions down the math toilet following the administrations recommendations?

Odd that the SPS had no representatives present at the SBE Math Advisory Panel meeting in Renton that discussed High School textbooks.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dan, the head of the math area, Anna Maria DID bring up, front and center, that there were experts who did not support the math series being recommended. But then she went on to say there were math experts who did. So that settled that (as if people of good faith would naturally disagree and there you go). I didn't really buy it but when Charlie and I tried to ask questions we kept getting rebuffed so I pretty much gave up.

anonymous said...

Mr. Dan Dempsey, I enjoy your posts immensely, both here and at the MathUnderground.
Thank you for helping us stay informed.

Does anyone know whether the committee has issued final recommendation for Advanced materials, Pre-Calculus and AP Courses?

According to SPS website that was supposed to happen March 17 but I can't find the report.

Thank you.

ds said...

I just sent an email to Ms. de la Fuente about my concerns about the Key Press series. In addition to expressing my concerns I also asked that she do the following:

1) Provide rationale to the public: On your website, you should present a summary of the findings of the textbook adoption committee for each of the three textbook finalists PLUS Holt; I understand that Holt did not make the finalist list but that the State Board of Education report rated it the most mathematically sound of the four textbooks it found to be reasonably aligned with WA state standards. The public deserves to know what pros and cons you saw in each of these textbook series.

2) Make a legitimate effort to engage the public: Before the final decision is made, it is imperative that you HIGHLY PUBLICIZE a meeting for the public to attend about this curriculum. This probably means scheduling another meeting in addition to the ones that have already been set up. Simply making an announcement on the district website is NOT ENOUGH! Contact all schools (elementary, middle, high) and ask them to publish (via newsletters) a short article that you provide. In addition to announcing the meeting time(s), this article should indicate that the district is switching to an Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II model; that your committee has recommended the Key Press Discovering series; and that this is an investigations/reform-based set of texts. The article should also include a link to your pros and cons summary and indicate that although there are some people who recommend the series (indicate who), the State Board of Education report found this series to be mathematically unsound. Yes, people will be outraged to see this, but it is your responsibility to inform them of this. If you do not tell people now, before the final decision has been made, finding out about it after the money has been spent will only serve to enrage and alienate the public even further. If you are concerned about how the public will react to this information, perhaps this means that the committee needs to reconsider its recommendations.

reader said...

High-income families or high involvement families or any other sort of family are not a resource for the District to reallocate at their pleasure. On the contrary. Families are not a resource to the District; the District is a resource to families.

And why should they stand for it?


This is pretty simple-minded analysis. The fact is, the district is resource for people who can't do better for themselves or for those who do not wish to better for themselves... as with any other governmental service. As taxpayers we are obligated to get the most for taxes, which does NOT include giving every wealthy or middle class person the absolute best or maximumizing educational opportunity. That would not be cost-effective, nor would it have a good return on investment. We have public-housing for some people. We have free-lunches for some people. We medicaid for some people. Those are also "public" services. And those services also should not be the absolute best the country has to offer. EG. No filet-mignon. There's no reason education should be any different.

On the other hand, it does not benefit the tax payer or anyone else, to provide ghetto-style education which fails to lift people out a chain of governmental dependency. Poverty-segregating education is not a good use of taxes either. The best use of our educational resources is provide a decent education, which many middle and wealthy families will find adequate, along with education to the poor and dependent to lift them out of poverty and dependency. An economic-status tiebreaker serves to accomplish exactly that. Families wishing exclusive education should by all means seek it. This saves the taxpayer that luxury tax. As the national demographics shift, there is already a diminishing appetite for luxurious education... even if it is something many value.

So why should they stand for it? They shouldn't... watch the door!

dan dempsey said...

The idea of having a public forum where Anna Maria explains the Central Admin's rationale for selecting Discovering is a great idea.

I wrote Steve Sundquist asking what the rationale for Discovering is?
Steve promptly and courteously responded that he did not know but the Board Work session on HS math was coming and he should know more then.

The rationale I find is this:
Lake Washington SD adopted TERC/Investigations 10 years ago, followed by Connected Math 6 years ago, followed by Discovering Algebra etc. 4 years ago.

When district kids do not know much from Connected Math you follow that with Discovering at the High School level. Do Seattle families have the math tutoring dollars that LWSD families have? Perhaps Ms. de la Fuente should research that for us.

The Good News is that Dr Jack Lee found lots to like about Prentice Hall.
PH was not reviewed by Strategic Teaching .. Jack found it better than Holt in some ways. It looks like Prentice Hall is a winner.

My opinion thus far is it looks like the district is trying hard to arrive at a predetermined outcome. When Ms. de la Fuente has Jack Lee's report and has access to Strategic Teaching reviews by both Wilson and Harel and chooses to look at a review by George Bright (PhD. in Education not math), Terry Bergeson hired George to push her math agenda and chooses a review by Dr James King, who has published through Key Curriculum Press, then Dr King finds the Key Curriculum Press books mathematically sound. What more is there to say other than this deck is stacked.

The reason for the stacking is because there is going to be a lot of work to do if "Discovering" is NOT adopted. The schools will need to teach arithmetic algorithms rather than leaving it for College remediation classes after the students graduate. 9th grade math classes will not be able to have all students start in Algebra, there will be lots of interventions needed.

There is that intervention word again .... it can be found in the yet to be discussed promotion / non-promotion policies of the SPS.

Big changes will be needed if PH is approved for HS .. then the SPS will need a k-8 math program to prepare kids for high school math.

Easier to stack the deck than go through all that.

---------
... and if PH is adopted, then Ms. Santorno's pushing of Everyday Math will look even worse.

dan dempsey said...

Advanced Math recommendations:
Stats - I have no idea

Pre-Calc and Calculus from Key Curriculum Press both books are by Paul Forester.

Interesting in that Larson's Calculus text has been used at Ballard with great success. But then why continue with success when you can change?

ds said...

I received a timely reply from Ms. de la Fuente. In addition to inviting me to attend the two work sessions this week ("Emerald City Outreach on Rainier Avenue S., (6:30 – 8:30 PM) and one is on Thursday at Ballard High School (6:30 – 8:30 PM)"), here are selected highlights from her reply:

"I will be presenting the recommendations of the committee to a School Board Work Session on Wednesday. There I will present the rationale for the committee’s selection of finalists, as well as the rationale for their final recommendation. After that meeting, I will work with the Communications department to update our website to reflect this information, and will include FAQs regarding the report you referenced.{Strategic Teaching}"

"The committee identifed the materials that best fit the criteria {WA state standards}, which were approved last fall by the Instructional Materials Committee, as required by board policy. College Prep Math, Key Curriculum Press, and Prentice Hall were the series that the committee moved forward for comprehensive consideration, after their initial screening and meetings. Their final screening and meeting resulted in the decision that the Key Curriculum Press series would best meet the needs of the district as a whole, and best fit the criteria identified. "

"The committee chose to refrain from a focus on reform vs. traditional, instead focusing on the criteria attached"

Note that this last comment references a document that has been posted on the district website for awhile... http://www.seattleschools.org/area/math/math-adoption/comprehensivescreeningcriteria.pdf

The problem with these criteria is that they are very much biased toward a reform approach (the word "algorithm" does not appear once in the 30+ criteria that they lay out). My favorite criteria is, "Students are given the opportunity to develop their
own understanding of the mathematics."

Don't get me wrong, investigations, exploration, group work, etc. can all have their place, but students using a math textbook that does not clearly state fundamental concepts cannot be expected to succeed at the same level as those using a text that clearly lays out a solid foundation.

dan dempsey said...

The SPS has little idea of the nature of mathematics. It is necessary that a text be mathematically sound. If you have an opportunity to read Dr Jack Lee's review of College Prep Math, you will realize that this committee has little regard for mathematical thought. CPM is a joke. Discovering Series has other major problems. Does it come as a surprise that an adoption led by a math program manager with a degree in English missed this? The process that produced this "Discovery" recommendation is very similar to the process that produced IMP ... that produced both TERC/Investigations and Everyday Math as well as Connected Math. Read through the criteria as recommended by DS. Algorithms ... Algorithms ... Ms. de la Fuente has avoided algorithms for grades k-5 this year while claiming that the WA Standards are being followed.

The SPS math direction is pointless and confused. This is becoming like someone reading a teleprompter. "We follow the standards" but golly they do not even know the standards ... just the EDM pacing plan.

Clearly no reading of the National Math Advisory Panel recommendations. At one time Ms. de la Fuente was part of the Seattle Transition Math Project that was attempting to improve the mathematical preparation of high school students for college math after graduation. She seems totally ignorant of the TMP direction with this "Discovering Series" recommendation.

anonymous said...

OK, so I'm no math expert, and I admit that I have been extremely disappointed in SPS math thus far. However, when I look at the members of the math adoption committee headed by Ms. Delafuentes, they seem to be an impressive group made up of over 21 high school mathematics teachers, and many other highly qualified members. They have collectively decided that the Discovery Series is the best choice of HS material for SPS. I'm not saying that I think the Discover Series is the best choice, I'm just saying it's an impressive group, and it's hard to believe that they have all drank the koolaid. Any insight?

Members of the core committee (Grades 9 – 11)

Butler, Kelly Garfield High School Mathematics Teacher

Carney, Diane Family/community Representative, College Access Now Instructor/Trainer

Cartales, Alayne Ballard High School Mathematics Teacher

Co, Jocelyn Cleveland High School Mathematics Teacher

Day, Sheana Rainier Beach High School Mathematics Teacher

Ellis, Mark TOPS K – 8 Mathematics Teacher

Guillory, Elizabeth Rainier Beach High School Administrator

Heliotis, Jim Special Education Consulting Teacher

Holland, Chris Roosevelt High School Mathematics Teacher

Isaman, Margaux Roosevelt High School Mathematics Teacher

Koppe, John Family/community Representative, Architect

Matheis, Amber Chief Sealth High School Mathematics Department Chair

McCluskey, Faith Chief Sealth High School Mathematics Teacher

Muñoz, Delfino ELL Instructional Assistant, Proyecto Saber

Nguyen, Huong West Seattle High School Mathematics Teacher

Nguyen, Ngan Franklin High School Mathematics Teacher

Reisner, Fritzie Advanced Learning Consulting Teacher

Sjong, Peggy Ingraham High School Mathematics Department Chair


Advanced Committee (Pre-Calculus, AP Calculus, AP Statistics)

Abraham, Susan West Seattle High School Mathematics Teacher

Bower, Debbie Ballard High School Mathematics Teacher

Christensen, Royce Roosevelt High School Mathematics Department Chair

Cornelius, Terry Cleveland High School Mathematics Department Chair

Derseh Assegid Chief Sealth High School Mathematics Teacher

Farmer, Elissa Garfield High School Mathematics Teacher

Landreville, Mark Roosevelt High School Mathematics and Science Teacher

Nomura, Jeffrey Garfield High School Mathematics Teacher

Nutting, Ted Ballard High School Mathematics Teacher

O’Leary, Robbin Family/community Representative, SPU Mathematics/ Math Education Professor

dan dempsey said...

The process is designed to put as many Kool aide drinkers as possible on the Core-Committee. The UW courtesy of NSF funding dollars drives the reform band wagon. Again look at Cleveland High Math scores for the Last 2 years to see what the UW guidance and NSF dollars can produce. {Hard to do any worse}.

There is an established infrastructure to continue with the pathetic materials that produced this current situation. Texas Instruments certainly drives some of this.

Do not forget the herd instinct. Everyone followed Bergeson's lead because she was the boss. Does anyone in this group have the courage to cross Ms. Santorno's established direction?

NMAP says there are hardly any proven best practices in math. The district offers lots of best practices math development classes where they dispense I guess snake-oil looking at the SPS failure to improve in math. What we know is that clear example based instruction is advised. I've been a part of UW PD^3 professional development. This is what produced the Cleveland High disaster.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. I have yet to see an SPS adoption committee that can intelligently apply relevant data to produce an improvement.

Here is hoping that someday the School Board will figure this out.

UW led the switch from TERC/Investigations to EDM for Bethel and Seattle adoptions.

The UW pushes reform math because it is a big grant source for the university. There is very little money for UW in pushing what actually works.

Check the price of Singapore math books vs. Everyday Math.

Clear example based instruction = Prentice Hall

NOT "Discovering"

ds said...

Yes, this group appears to be qualified. If, however, they used the "Comprehensive Screening Tool" referenced in my previous post, Discovery IS probably the "best" choice, at least in terms of meeting those criteria. But questions of mathematical soundness and straight-forward presentation are lacking in the criteria that the committee used.

For sample chapters of Discovering, please see http://www.keypress.com/x6472.xml and follow the links to Sample chapters for each of the 3 texts.

dan dempsey said...

More insight...

Given the possibility of winding up with College Prep Math some may have settled for Discovering.... when in fact the best choice is Prentice Hall. It is an adoption committee group dynamic thing.

I used a CPM book that had been through multiple printings that still had an incorrect definition of Quartile ... who writes this stuff? ... do the proof readers know any math?

dan dempsey said...

DS has it nailed...
the criteria are not set up to produce the most effective math series.

Then sure enough the best series is not selected. Just like the criteria determined.

Maureen said...

I don't know the process that was used in choosing the committee, but I do know that Jack Lee was not selected for the committee. "I know Jack, Jack is a friend of mine...." Well ok, an aquaintance at least. He is a UW math professor (not an Ed professor) he has two HS age kids who have gone through SPS (one went straight from 8th grade to UW)he taught HS math and he designed the after school math program at TOPS. He would have been a perfect choice for the committee (he wasn't even on record as being against reform math--he had published very balanced views on the subject). So why didn't he make the committee? Who was selected in his stead?

dan dempsey said...

Well Maureen ...
Who was selected in his stead?
It was not a person with anywhere near the knowledge of math that Jack has.

If you check the make up of the core committee there is no one there with the knowledge of math that Jack possesses.

This is a perfect example of "flawed" process. In the interests of greater diversity exclude persons with the highly specialized knowledge that could greatly improve the process.

The folks who actually know lots of mathematics (engineers etc.) have very little if any input into math selections. This defect was very apparent at the EDM adoption (unfortunately the testimony was not recorded in fact the entire board meeting was not recorded) and is even more apparent in the makeup of the HS Core math committee. The UW and the NSF have produced and pushed materials that have produced abysmal results in Seattle. The PD^3 project run through the UW that focused on WSHS, Cleveland and Garfield became a drive to push Interactive Math Program materials into Seattle High Schools. WSHS declined to have a PD^3 sponsored project when Dr James King of UW made it apparent that he would only allow IMP and rejected an informal proposal from WSHS to do intervention of incoming students with Singapore Math materials. Cleveland scores were an absolute disaster despite UW assistance in a variety of ways. Oddly enough the Central Admin was still pushing an IMP adoption as this disaster was in progress (Spring 2008).

When the Board rejected IMP, MG-J said that the process was just fine and it was politically derailed. IMP finished at the bottom of the OSPI Standards alignment for high school materials.

The distributive property:
a(b+c) = ab + ac
is at best a 7th grade topic.
IMP leaves it until grade 10.

Interactive Math Program was the selection of the Central Admin for years and the school board kept rejecting it.

The SPS Central Admin rejects guidance from those who actually use mathematics professionally. Instead they continue to favor those who created the ongoing SPS math chaos. The selection of Ms. de la Fuente with a BA in English, a masters in Education, and a PhD education candidate at the UW to be Math Program Manager following an equally mathematically unprepared Math Program Manager Rosalind Wise is fairly clear evidence that the SPS prefers ideology to results.

It is bizarre given NMAP, Seattle TMP direction and the WA Math Standards that the SPS is still using the following definition to guide math curriculum and instruction:

Mathematics is the language and science of patterns and connections. Learning and doing mathematics are active processes in which students construct meaning through exploration and inquiry of challenging problems.


Next Question:
Where are those PSAT results? The Test was given in November.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. Where is the data?

I would think those results came to the district in January. So where are they?

Charlie Mas said...

I spoke with Ms delaFuente at the Saturday morning meeting. I told her how the "discovery" method of teaching math has left my children without mathematical competency, and, worse, with a distaste for math and a low opinion of their mathematical ability.

It's a story that I'm sure she has heard over and over again.

She told the folks at the meeting that the Discovering... series was chosen largely because it would support a broad spectrum of instructional styles from traditional (which she called Direct Instruction) to reformed.

I asked her if fidelity of implementation would require teachers to use a specific pedagogy and she said that it would not. She said that teachers who wanted to provide direction instruction would be free to do so and that the Discovering... series would support that teaching style.

anonymous said...

Three Roosevelt HS math teachers were also on this committee. Roosevelt HS has a long history of shunning "reform math" in favor of a more traditional approach. They have been very successful thus far, and the district has allowed them some freedom. If Ms. Delafuente was trying to stack the deck with koolaid drinking reform math proponents, why would she choose three teachers from a school that has historically advocated and fought for traditional math??

Don't get me wrong, I am so tired of "reform math" I could scream, but I think facts should be presented fairly, and the fact is there were three RHS teachers on the committee.

Melissa, Dorothy, any insight? Have you spoken with any of these teachers? What do they have to say about the process, and the outcome? What do they think of the Discovery series?

ds said...

In response to Charlie's comment about Ms. de la Fuente's claim, Discovering can't possibly provide a solid option for direct instruction when there are about 3 pages of direct instructional text (out of 58) in the online sample chapter in the Algebra I book and about 4 pages (out of 52) in the sample chapter in the Geometry book. The other pages include many example problems and questions (which in itself isn't a bad thing), but these examples are rarely followed up with knowledge-consolidating statements (e.g., "So, as you can see...").

Dorothy Neville said...

I've gotten feedback from one member of the committee, although I can't say who. This person was not thrilled with the selection, but thinks it will work, as long as the teacher can add value (by reducing the amount of time exploring and increasing the amount of time practicing and solidifying skills). I would also disagree that the group was stacked or incompetent. There's some great people in that group who have a lot of knowledge and experience. The person I spoke to took the whole thing very seriously.

My thoughts? Well, I am disappointed. Adhoc spoke with a RHS math teacher who assured her that they would make whatever was chosen work --- because they are competent teachers. (my paraphrasing, not hers.) It's an imperfect tool. But high school teachers are more fluent in their field and can make better use of an imperfect tool than an elementary teacher can. That's the biggest tragedy for math ed.

So having an imperfect tool isn't the end of the world, but it is still not good. It means the students won't have a strong text to refer to at home and it means that a teacher less capable, less experienced, less energetic (for a number of reasons, teachers have personal lives and issues) will find themselves relying more on the imperfect tool than more experienced, capable teachers.

And new teachers (especially graduates from UW School of Ed)would have to somehow realize that it *is* an imperfect tool. I would hope that they would learn that from their peer teachers. I hope so.

The group did have some strong teachers and users of mathematics. I suspect that Discovering was chosen due to the process and "alignment" more than because most thought it was a great text. Too bad.

ds said...

The district appears to be very concerned about reducing the achievement gap, but choosing a text like this seems to move in the opposite direction. Kids whose families have enough time, money, and/or education/knowledge to supplement and fill in the gaps at home will end up doing ok. Kids who don't will really struggle unless they have excellent teachers and support at school. Of course, there are many teachers who will be able to make the Discovering work, but why not provide another safety net in the form of a clearly written text?

I don't get it.

dan dempsey said...

To summarize:
1. Inadequate definition of math
2. Defective selection criteria

= another defective math adoption (if "Discovering" is purchased).

k-12 instructional materials that do not support the State math Standards. Materials that ignore clear definitions and example based instruction.

Read the National Math Advisory Panel report to get an idea what should be happening.

dan dempsey said...

ds does not get it.

Me neither.

The district has expanded the math achievement gap over the last 10 years on a fairly consistent annual basis. So the SPS keeps following the same plan while continuing to say they are concerned about the achievement gap.

USA worst PISA math scores of all English speaking countries. In regard to developed industrial countries the USA managed to beat Italy and that was about it. So the SPS chooses to continue this on going national disaster. I do not get it.

Finland uses differentiated instruction and has the highest PISA math scores. But Finland has grade level expectations and actively remediates those who are having difficulty meeting those expectations. The SPS has Math Grade level expectations also. They are posted on the SPS website and ignored.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Charlie,

You wrote:

She told the folks at the meeting that the Discovering... series was chosen largely because it would support a broad spectrum of instructional styles from traditional (which she called Direct Instruction) to reformed.

I asked her if fidelity of implementation would require teachers to use a specific pedagogy and she said that it would not. She said that teachers who wanted to provide direction instruction would be free to do so and that the Discovering... series would support that teaching style.


Remember all the promises that the district makes when something is proposed. Then think about the follow through. The district has an impressive record of non-fulfillment.

So given the "fidelity of implementation" to EDM. Why believe that "Discovering" will be much different given the track record? Remember Ms. de la Fuente stated that the Strategic Plan's Immediate actions listed on pg 17 have been put in place. No, No, I think it will take a lot more than promises. Fool us 10 times but on the 11th time we shall be skeptical.

It is insane to put any faith in the SPS Central Leadership as far as math goes. Just look at the grade 5 posted Grade level math performance expectations and then observe the "Fidelity" to the Everyday Math grade 5 pacing plan.
Algorithms, Algorithms, what standard Algorithms ??

Remember Ms. Sasntorno's words on May 16, 2007: if the state math standards change we can easily adapt to meet those standards with Everyday Math. OK so if it is so easy, why has it not happened?

dan dempsey said...

Charlie said:
She told the folks at the meeting that the Discovering... series was chosen largely because it would support a broad spectrum of instructional styles from traditional (which she called Direct Instruction) to reformed.


What Ms. de la Fuente says is simply NOT true.

To be optimally effective for most students a book needs Clear Examples and clear definitions.
The "Discovering Series" can not be used for example based instruction as it contains so few examples.

I would classify Ms. de la Fuente's statement as Spin.
Can she support it with the text?

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