Tuesday, April 28, 2009

High School Language Arts Materials Adoption Committee

Seattle Public Schools will adopt an aligned curriculum for Language Arts classes 9-12. Students in any one grade in Language Arts classes throughout the District can expect the same high expectations and the same high quality materials. An aligned curriculum will allow Seattle Public Schools to provide targeted support for teachers and schools. A common set of expectations across the District will allow us to better focus our professional development offerings.

All SPS instructional materials will be designed to meet cultural relevance and accessibility standards, and will incorporate methods for teaching all students, including those with Special Education, English Language Learner, Advanced Learning needs.

The instructional materials adoption process for high school will be completed by August of 2009.

If you have any questions about the adoption process, please contact Kathleen Vasquez, High School Language Arts Adoption Coordinator. Getting questions answered early in the process will help us stay accountable and transparent as we move through the year, and help ensure that our students have new, aligned Language Arts materials in September of 2009.

For Community Member Representatives for Language Arts Adoption

In order to select instructional materials for Language Arts courses 9-12, an adoption committee must be formed. The committee will be made up of Language Arts/English teachers from Seattle Public Schools. We understand that family and community members can provide valuable insight and perspective regarding the materials the committee considers; therefore, we invite family/community representatives with experience in teaching English Language Arts at the high school or college/university level to apply. Two people will be appointed to the committee. Committee members will be notified by email, if possible, or by telephone, no later than May 4, 2009.

Who should apply?
We are seeking family/community members with experience in the teaching of high school Language Arts or in the teaching of college English and also with a wide range of skills, knowledge, experience, and working style. Our team will reflect diversity in race/ethnicity, gender, school/student population representation, and perspectives.

Time commitment will be approximately 50 hours between May 1 and July 30.

We expect to hold five day-time meetings (8:00 AM – 3:00 PM).
Tentative meeting dates are: May12, May 19, June 9, June 23rd, June 24th and July 14th.

What are the responsibilities of adoption committee members?

The adoption committee:
* Develops Selection Criteria, before any materials are reviewed for adoption consideration. The Selection Criteria will satisfy both the State and District requirements of the subject and grade ranges for the adoption and the Criteria for Evaluating Textual Materials for Cultural Relevancy and Anti-bias. Only after the Selection Criteria are approved by the Instructional Materials Committee are the publishers’ submissions considered and reviewed.

* Solicits feedback from all interested parties. Materials will be displayed, or be made available, in accordance with the established communication strategy. Reviews responses from administrators, educators, parents, families and community members.

* Recommends instructional materials for a District-wide adoption after taking into consideration input from all interested parties.

If you are interested in serving on this committee, please complete the application and E-mail or fax to Kathleen Vasquez by May 1, 2009.

Kathleen Vasquez
High School Instructional Literacy Coach and
Language Arts Materials Adoption Coordinator
Seattle Public Schools
W: 206.252.0234
FAX: 206.252.0179


hschinske said...

Aligned curriculum in high school English classes doesn't make sense to me ... at least not all the way through high school. Shouldn't there be some room for electives by 11th and 12th grade? And what about AP English?

(note: word verification is "litsat" -- literature SAT? literature satisfaction? who sat on the literature?

Helen Schinske

anonymous said...

Oh, dear, more standardization.

I sure hope they do a better job choosing HS LA materials than they did with MS LA materials (Writers Workshop) and math materials (EDM, CMP, and Discovering).

And what will happen to Hale who has been successfully using the Jane Schaffer writing curriculum?

anonymous said...

Just talked to Kathleen Vasquez. She says the "standardization" will only effect core LA classes for grades 9-12, it won't affect electives.

Also, it will not have a writing component, so schools like Hale can still use the Jane Schaffer method to teach writing.

The materials adoption will include core reading text, novels, poetry. The aim is to have implement THIS FALL!

dan dempsey said...

Hey Adhoc,
I thought the plan was to spend less so that fewer classroom teachers would be cut because of Finances. This purchase is planned for next fall.... really?
The HS Math adoption was stated to be $1.2 million that is around 10+ classroom teachers, of course with all those promises that Anna-Maria made it looks like a lot more. How much will that training, so needed for the parents to help the kids because the books are so poor the parents do not know how to help, cost?
I just point out that when times are tough ... the district needs to think about how best to work with limited resources. The district spent money on Everyday Math like no tomorrow..... I wonder how much EDM consumables will cost in 2009-2010?

hschinske said...

If you're taking a "core" English class in eleventh or twelfth grade, how do you also take an elective? I think of electives as being one's English course for the term -- not as something going head-to-head with music, art, foreign language, computer science, gym ...

Helen Schinske

Jet City mom said...

Academic rigor in there anywhere?

How can you teach high school English without a writing component?
How the heck are students going to pick up the skills to write papers for their other classes/ college applications, if they don't teach through writing?

anonymous said...

From what I understood from Kathleen Vasquez, the LA classes will teach writing, but the writing won't be part of the "standardization" The writing portion of an LA class will still have some autonomy. Buy..... Kathleen kept preceding her statements with "as of now" and "as far as I know", so who knows what the future holds.

Dorothy Neville said...

Heads up. On a previous thread regarding HS LA adoption, some anonymous person mentioned SpringBoard -- with some disdain, IIRC.

Anyway, Ms Vasquez spoke at a RHS PTSA meeting shortly afterward and I noticed that --- while the name SpringBoard never came up --- several times she referred to the LA "Standards" of the College Board. I asked why refer to a set of standards created by a for profit company and not by some other source, like our state board of ed? She suggested I look at them, they are superior.

seattle citizen said...

Here are the LA graduation requirements (classes needed):
Language Arts 9A, 9B, 10A, 10B, 11A

That would be 2.5 credits; students need 3.0 credits total. Here is additional info about other LA classes:

English/Language Arts includes but is not limited to reading, creative writing,
literature, speech, and drama.

As I understand the aligned curriculum, it would only be applicable in the core classes (up through 11A). Electives, such as Creative Writing, would not be impacted.

Writing: Kathleen Vasquez is well-respected around the district. Very knowledgable, well able to navigate the stormy waters between meeting a variety of needs and also working within district and state parameters. Me personally, I'd put utmost faith in her ability to oversee English curriculum planning.

seattle citizen said...

I believe the common curriculum is a step forward. While I understand concerns about funding, I believe that the District's drive towards data gathering, assisting students at various levels (at-level, behind, advanced) will be served by having everyone all on the same page in some regards. My hope is that some commonalities extend back to middle school, so students can be identified there, as they start to experience more difficulties.

Of course, teachers all unique, and have their own ways. So are students. As Ms. Vasquez indicates, there is room in this for classroom diversity.

One would hope that the texts they select, and the progressions through skills, are appropriate.

The committee working on this is composed of many fine LA teachers; one hopes they find consensus on good ideas.

Charlie Mas said...

With each passing day, my daughter's choice of NOVA is looking better and better.

She wanted to escape the factory school and did.

hschinske said...

Okay, so you'd have a year and a half for electives. Not as bad as I'd feared, but any student who feels s/he must take AP English gets exactly *one* chance to pick an English class in their whole school career. I don't think that's very reasonable, and it's certainly not much of a preparation for college.

Helen Schinske

ParentofThree said...

So is NOVA exempt from the math and upcoming LA adoption? What do they use currently for math?

anonymous said...

I understand why Charlie thinks his daughters choice to attend NOVA was a wise one. For the same reasons my son chose Hale for next year. Though Hale is not an official alternative school, they do have a very strong philosophy, and follow the guiding principals set forth by the Coalition of Essential schools. They work hard to form an inclusive community, and NOT put kids in a box. I am worried about how all of this standardization will affect Hale, and other unique schools.

seattle citizen said...

Many here have heard my impassioned pleas against standardization. If I had my druthers, all educators would know instinctually what students need to learn, when, and how (and be able to adjust to different pacing for different students)
But they don't.
Research continues to evolve on what students "need" to know and when. High-stakes testing continues to...devolve?
While of course I oppose direct instruction in a regular LA class, a scripted 50 minute session without critical thinking going on, I am in favor of some common curricular elements and strategies.

Students get exposed to a variety of ways of teaching and learning, some good, some bad. Year-to-year, they are confronted with (or blessedly exposed to, depending on the amount and your perspective) a variety of styles, often with contradictory language or methodologies.

I believe some commonality is valid and valuable: scope and sequence might be more closely adhered to, so students don't miss some things and get too much of others (again, this COULD be positive, but many see it as not: for instance, I think it would be great to study Romeo and Juliet twice, but many students see this as boring and many parents/guardians complain).
Common strategies (if they are good ones) allow educators to use similar techniques and language, so a student moving from grade to grade knows what went before and why, and what's next. It's part of a continuum.

Assessments, both formative and summative, can share some language and structure, be comparable, so educators can look at scores from two years ago and understand where a student is at today.

That, and I think the "aligned" part of the curriculum will leave a lot of latitude for other things to be going on in a classroom.

Dorothy Neville said...

Seattle Citizen, your optimism is manifest.

Charlie Mas said...

At NOVA there are options available for math. Yes, students can take the traditional classes: Intermediate Algebra, Trigonometry, Advanced Algebra, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus (those are the classes that they taught last year and teach now, not starting next year), but they can also take classes that follow the school's project-based pedagogy. This semester my daughter's math class is called "Infinity and Logic".

Here's a link to last year's schedule.

No matter what classes they take, NOVA students still need to meet the state-mandated Standards and grade level expectations just like any others. So NOVA students still have to acquire the same set of knowledge and skills as every other student in Washington State, they just aren't required - at all - to take the District-mandated classes or use the District-mandated materials.

That's what it means to be alternative.

NOVA students also do a lot of Running Start classes. My daughter wants to take a Running Start class next year, but she can't unless she has ten credits. Although this is her first year of high school she may be able to get them. She may fall short and only get eight. It would really help if she could get some credit for the high school classes she took in middle school.

Despite the non-standard classwork - or perhaps because of it - NOVA students consistently deliver strong results on the SAT and their WASL pass rates are about the district average. I suppose they would lose some of that autonomy if the performance weren't there, but the performance is there.

I know that I talk NOVA up quite a bit, but I need to be very clear. NOVA isn't for everyone. It has a distinctive culture and community spirit. I don't know if most students could be happy and successful there. Some former students, however, swear that NOVA saved their lives.

If you choose NOVA, it should be at least as much because you want what that school has as it is because you want to avoid what other schools have.

Megan Mc said...


I really hope that alternative schools are allowed to continue to offer alternatives. AS#1 has lost its autonomy because of restructuring but the other alternative schools should be able to argue against using district curriculum. Nova is in a little bit different position because of the alternative credits rule at the state level. I wish we had such a thing for K-8.

seattle citizen said...

The CAO told members of the District-initiated Alternative Committee, at the end of its run when it delivered the checklist of Alternative identifiers, that schools could have "earned autonomy." Schools that showed through assessment that they were successful would have more latitude (can't argue with success, eh?)
The issue might be: what IS success? Is it WASL? SAT? College entrance?
That the District is allowing NOVA latitude suggests that because they are successful (using all of the above as indicators) they are given some freedom in curricular choices.
The problem with this might be: Schools that have NOT demonstrated success (alternatives, perhaps, that deal with a wider demographic than does NOVA, or for other reasons) can't use alternative methodologies to try and reach success. As Charlie indicates, NOVA has been very "successful" with alternative pedagogy; if a school isn't "successful," it won't be allowed to experiment with these alternatives and might have to stick with District-mandated, aligned curricula.
Hmm, a catch-22: "You can't be alternative because you're not successful enough to try alternatives so you can't be alternative because you're not successful enough to try alternatives so..."

As WV says, it's a like a big, frozen muckl hanging from the muddy eaves, waiting to spear some innocent passerby....

anonymous said...

Standardized test scores (WASL, SAT, etc) can determine "success" in multiple ways. A school that has "high" pass rates is indeed considered successful. But so is a school that has lower pass rates that are increasing. Demographics should not affect or hinder the latter. If a school only had a 20% math WASL pass rate in 2007, but had a 22% math WASL pass rate in 2008 that school would be considered "successful" too.

anonymous said...

So, I guess I should clarify...my idea of success is a school that effectively teaches the required EALR's and GLE's, and is performing at a high level, or, is performing at a lower level but is continually improving and making progress.

How to quantify that is debatable.

dan dempsey said...

In 2006-2007 Kathleen Vasquez taught a reading apprenticeship class for teachers. I was one of several math teachers there. This lady really knows her stuff and how to get it across. I would be inclined to think many of her ideas are spot on.

Charlie Mas said...

Actually, a gain in WASL pass rate from 20% to 22% is, statistically speaking, no gain at all since the 2% variance is within the margin for error for the assessment.

These margins of error for WASL pass rates can be quite big - in excess of 20% or more. For example, at T T Minor - just to choose a school at random - in 2005-2006, the target to make AYP on the 4th grade reading WASL was 64.2%. Only 50% of T T Minor 4th graders passed, BUT the margin or error was calculated at 25.4% so, after the school was given the full benefit of that margin, it was regarded as if 75.4% of students had passed the test and the school was credited with having met AYP in that category that year.

So an improvement from 20% passing to 22% passing should not count as improvement at all since it falls within the margin of error for the test. This is the test that was touted as so valid by the very state agency that calculated the margin of error.

The OSPI doesn't disclose the data quite so transparently anymore, but in 2007-2008 they report that 59.4% of 4th graders at T T Minor passed the reading WASL and that was good enough for the school to meet AYP when the standard was set at 76.1%. Thanks to that margin of error, once again.

anonymous said...

Totally off topic, but didn't know where else to post.

I just received a call from Seattle Schools advising that there is a suspicious case of flu at Madrona K-8 that may be Swine Flu. According to SPS, schools will be open, but they are urging families to take preventive precautions.

dj said...

Adhoc, guess what I was just coming here to talk about? An automated phone call at 9:40 certainly got my attention.

I live across the park from Madrona (my kids don't go to the school). I haven't heard anything about this outside of that phone call.

anonymous said...

Just saw a breaking news flash on TV, 6 suspected Swine Flu cases in King County, three of which are in Seattle.

Lee said...

I have a few questions about the aligned curriculum. I teach at a school that has developed our Language Arts curriculum to align with our other disciplines. Classes are blocked in grade levels 9 and 10, and teachers meet during our Late Start to continually refine this alignment. In the 10th grade each unit has an essential question and Social Studies, Science and LA have designed interrelated content-connected curriculum around this question. This collaboration and interdisciplinary alignment is the crux of our reform and we have been working on it for years. Another piece of our reform is our inclusion model and we deliver an AP curriculum to ALL our LA students in the 11th and 12th grade. (It is not an elective)
This, too, has been a grass roots development over the years and we went through the process of submitting our Language Arts AP curriculum in 11th and 12th grade to the College Board and it was approved as a valid AP designated course.
Our programs are widely recognized as successful (data is available) and we have worked very hard and continue to do so to make our inclusion successful and our cross-curricular alignment tight.

My question is -- when a school has hit upon something that is working, why "fix" it? How would changing our LA curriculum to align with a district wide LA curriculum improve upon what we have been developing for years? How could a district wide LA curriculum still keep intact
our successful programs of cross-curricular alignment, and our College Board approved AP curriculum, which we deliver in an inclusion model?

anonymous said...

Lee, please send your comments, anonymously if need be, to Kathleen Vasquez, the LA adoption committee (when it is formed), MGJ, and the entire school board. They need to hear from educators as well as parents. We chose Hale, in part, for the very things that you pointed out. We think that asking the "essential question" adds layers and relevance to learning, we love the 11th, 12th grade AP LA for ALL students, and we like the Jane Schaffer writing model. Hale does great work. Hale gets great WASL, and SAT scores. And, they are getting these scores educating a very diverse group of students in an inclusive model. Why mess with something that works????? Hopefully there will be waivers or compromises for schools that are performing well.

Rose M said...

There were great aligned & differentiated math programs in some schools too. Some had been developed over years using Gates money for training & collaboration. They are mostly gone. So far the district has been willing to sacrifice excellence where it already exists, in order to implement common texts.

seattle citizen said...

My optimism about SOME alignment comes from observation of redundancy: of texts (read R+J twice...), of strategies (learn five-paragraph three times...), of projects (inteview elders four times)...AND from MISSING elements: LA10 might assume that student learned citation in LA9; student might not have.
Using the standards has always been advocated, and these provide scaffolding. But oftentimes they are not used, and I think the idea is to provide a stronger foundation of skills, skills that follow logically, without missing steps or repeating them.

As I said before, I don't believe there is an intention to curtail much of the independent work being done, but only to provide som common expectations, strategies and assessment tools.

Me, personally, I'm a huge advocate of interdisciplinary curricula and other less common enterprises. The problem, as I see it, is that if schools are all over the map in how they educate, then there is ample opportunity for missing pieces and repetitive experience. The repetition isn't so bad; I've read Paradise Lost twice because my professor in college had read it five times, and wanted yet another read, assisted by upper-level literature students. Of course one can go deeper and deeper with repeated readings...But if the repetition is not planned or systematic, students might merely be coasting through those re-reads.

My recommendation is to give some common curriculum a chance. Educators might use it as a chance to make sure they are aligned with those who come before and those who come after, while still maintaining unique coursework. They might also work with the District to see how interdisciplinary work, and other methodoligies, can be aligned with what's taught before and after.

And by all means use SOME common assessments, so 10LA teachers can look back and see what their student knew in 7th grade...

anonymous said...

"The problem, as I see it, is that if schools are all over the map in how they educate, then there is ample opportunity for missing pieces and repetitive experience."

I'm not a teacher so I don't quite understand this statement. I thought the GLE's and EALR's were a teachers map. I thought teachers were expected to teach the GLE's and EALR's.

Or are you thinking it would be good to align/mandate exactly what texts are read, and in what grade they are read, what projects kids do, and in what grades they do them? I'm fine with a 10th grade class being expected to read and analyze a classic novel, but not crazy about a mandate that every 10th grade class must read Lord Of The Flies in the spring.

"My optimism about SOME alignment comes from observation of redundancy: of texts (read R+J twice...), of strategies (learn five-paragraph three times...), of projects (interview elders four times)...AND from MISSING elements: LA10 might assume that student learned citation in LA9; student might not have."

Here is another reason we like Hale... the teachers spend a lot of time communicating and collaborating with their departments and grade level teams. From what I understand, at Hale, the 10th grade teachers know exactly what the 9th grade teachers taught, read, etc. In fact on the tour all I heard was "in 9th grade all of our students read ____, and in 10th grade all of students paricipate in the Harlem renaissance project, and in 11th grade all of our students read____ and do ___. It all seemed very coordinated and thouroughly planned.

Lee, are you a teacher at Hale? Can you add any insight? Is there a lot of repetition between grades or do teachers communicate effectively and not repeat material? And, is Hale unique, or is this how most comprehensive high schools work?

Charlie Mas said...

Is the District pulling in two different directions at once? They are driving towards standardized materials and curriculum across all schools. They are also driving towards aligned and connected curricula across disciplines. How are these two contradictory? Why couldn't this lead to more consistent inter-connections between what is taught in Math, LA, and SS at all schools across the District?

Let's remember, please, that the curriculum - the catalog of knowledge and skills that teachers are supposed to teach and students are supposed to learn - isn't changing. It is set by the State Standards and Grade Level Expectations. Moreover, the District doesn't dictate pedagogy (or so they claim). The only thing being standardized with this effort is the materials.

Surely the teachers can teach the curriculum with the District-mandated materials. Surely any interdisciplinary coordination will continue to be possible - won't it? The LA class can still reflect and connect with the SS class, can't it? Presuming, of course, that the materials selected for LA are compatible with the SS curriculum. And why would the District choose any materials that were not compatible with the SS curriculum since they want more inter-disciplinary integration?

It should even be possible at Roosevelt, where the students in grade 10 are taking a one-semester AP class stretched across two semesters and supplemented to meet the State Standards.

Here's my question: Why align the high school materials? The reason we usually hear is to facilitate coaching and professional development for the teachers. But aren't all of our high school teachers supposed to be "highly qualified"? And if the teachers are highly qualified, then how much coaching - that is material specific - do they really need?

seattle citizen said...

You write that the reason you hear "most often" for aligned curriculum is to facilitate coaching and PD. Really? I always thought the reason was to have some commonality, some shared strats and assessments...Who do you hear from that says it's about coaching?
I agree that teachers are suppposed to be "highly qualified," so one would hope that there is no need (or little) for coaching in specific texts...
Adhoc, two questions:
1) What about a student who comes to Hale in, say, their sophmore year from Garfield? How much repetition or missed work will that student suffer through because Garfield does things differently?
2) There ARE GLEs and EALRs: are they used? They're SUPPOSED to be, as I wrote earlier, but are they? Are Hale teachers planning their scope and sequence around these standards? One would hope, but I think the idea might be to give a little more structure to this, even if it's just using texts as the aligned framework.
3) What's wrong with every tenth-grade class reading Lord of the Flies (I'd prefer Pincher Martin)? Not saying it's good or bad, but why would you think it's bad?

seattle citizen said...

oops, that was three questions. This is why I don't comment on the Math adoption!
I don't know what to make of WV's ormorads...Maybe it's trying to tell us we better find better school funding formulas; it's either that ormorads on tests, worksheets and in texts!

Dorothy Neville said...

"An aligned curriculum will allow Seattle Public Schools to provide targeted support for teachers and schools. A common set of expectations across the District will allow us to better focus our professional development offerings."

Seattle Citizen, it's right up there in the first paragraph. The same wording is a bullet point in all the math common text/curriculum adoption as well.

Dorothy Neville said...

Yes, you would think that a common set of expectations (which could be useful to make professional development useful) could be obtained with a loose set of guidelines for materials. It would be nice to have each 9th grade read maybe one of three Shakespeare comedies (from a list) and in 10 grade one of three tragedies (from a list) or something so that there's plenty of choice, but still not going to have some kids repeat texts. Would allow middle school then to choose some texts that would be compatible with high school texts but not repeat them.

The problem then is some teachers will still teach well, delving into theme and character development, pulling in the history of Greek theater and how that influenced WS, others will give a more cursory approach of the plot and lower expectations of depth. At the RHS presentation, KV said it was all about increased expectation and rigor. She's seene some teachers with lower SES populations reading "The House on Mango Street" while down the street in a class with higher SES kids, they are tackling Toni Morrison. Sure, I get that. But as an experienced and trained Junior Great Books facilitator and an experienced and trained art museum exhibition guide -- using inquiry based methods -- I know that it's all about the teacher and how the teacher helps the class understand and discuss the text. Cisneros' novel may be a much lower reading level, but has lots of meaning available to be extracted and discussed. And one can do a terrible job of accessing meaning from Morrison.

The frustration I heard among the RHS LA teachers is that they don't know what the district has in mind. A flexible set of materials with key rigorous common elements or a lock-step curriculum. The WA high school LA GLEs are not very helpful.

anonymous said...

"What about a student who comes to Hale in, say, their sophmore year from Garfield? How much repetition or missed work will that student suffer through because Garfield does things differently?"

Look we can have lock step schools all teaching the same thing, on the same page, at the same time, and then the Garfield to Hale transfer student will not have to worry about any repetition whatsoever. But is that really what we want? For me, personally, that would not be appealing. Nor would it be for my children.

That said I could deal with a bit of uniformity, as Dorothy suggests...all 9th graders read a Shakespeare comedy, and all 10th graders read a Shakespeare tragedy (that way the texts couldn't overlap). But I very much value a teachers ability to have some flexibility, to add creativity, passion, spontaneity, or just be able to seize the moment and teach an unplanned lesson that might be relevant. That can't happen if the class has to be on page 148 of Lord of the flies on October 7th, in case Johnny transfers in to the school on October 8th.

seattle citizen said...

Adhoc, we're in agreement about the lockstep, and I also like Dorothy's idea of comedy in 9th, tragedy in 10th (does this fit the trajectory of teen angest? I'm not sure).

I, too, value some flexibility, when a teacher can go with the flow. But what if they are so flexible, so with the flow, that the stuff that should be taught just isn't? We can argue 'til the cows come home about how great unplanned and deep discussion or activity is wonderful and illuminating, but how do we make sure what needs to get taught gets taught?

You yourself have argued that the WASL is the only thing we have to assess "success"; if teachers are going every which way, how then do you measure success?

How do you make sure that what your student needs to know is being taught? Maybe we have a choice: a somewhat aligned curriculum that allows felxibility while teaching the basics, OR a WASL: teach what you want as long as students, overall, are getting the WASL stuff?

seattle citizen said...

So: Question (two):
What do people want in an aligned LA curriculum?

What do they not want?


WV is inaccurate in attempting to spell inaccurate:
maybe some new sort of texting-speech?

anonymous said...

"I, too, value some flexibility, when a teacher can go with the flow. But what if they are so flexible, so with the flow, that the stuff that should be taught just isn't?"

Then that teacher should be dealt with. Isn't it a principals job to oversee that his/her staff is doing their job?

Again, I'm certainly OK with a bit of uniformity and consistency. I'm just nervous about the lock step approach we have seen the district embrace with EDM and it's pacing guides.

seattle citizen said...

How does a principal know if a teacher is teaching what should be taught?

anonymous said...

I'm not an educator, perhaps the teachers reading can comment on how a principal would know that a teacher is doing his/her job. I know at my sons school the principal is always in the halls, and frequently sits in on classes. I also know that every single correspondence any teacher makes with a parent is CC'd to the principal. I would imaging these are some of the ways that a principal might plug into whats going on in classrooms.

My mother in law was a public school teacher and she said all of the teachers knew who the "bad" teachers were. She said it was very clear. And I know as a parent we all know the teachers to avoid. So, why wouldn't a principal know?

I would also imaging that students of a teacher that was not efficiently doing his/her job would receive lower standardized test scores and/or show lower than average improvement, etc.

Of course there are good principals that are doing a great job, and there are not so good principals who keep getting shuffled around, and a few that even get fired.

So as the line in the Bob Marley song goes "who's body guarding the body guard"?

seattle citizen said...

Sitting in helps; commication helps; other teachers knowing who the "bad teachers" are helps...but I guess my question gets more to the "necessary" GLEs and EALRs. Even good teachers might not teach them all, or the agreed-upon set. Even good teachers might not be "aligned" with the scope and sequence. Adhoc, you "very much value a teachers ability to have some flexibility, to add creativity, passion, spontaneity, or just be able to seize the moment and teach an unplanned lesson that might be relevant..." but if a teacher does this often, they might leave the track of agreed-upon skills that need to be taught. This is why teachers often rush to catch up in, say, a textbook when they find themselves in May only two-thirds of the way through.
Yes, the standardized tests might catch this (perhaps: if they are correlated to each student as the student moves through grades; otherwise, they would not show an unsuccessful teacher, as the student may have come in lacking skills to begin with).

What I'm suggesting is that alignment (or more intentional alignment) might provide a fail-safe: if the poor teacher is not caught, the student is a least still getting something that follows a track, and that other (future) teachers can assume the student was taught.

As it stands, there is SOME expectation of what skills were taught before, but it seems haphazard. I'm not suggesting that direct instruction and scripted plans become the norm, I'm only suggesting that the framework become more apparent and hold more authority.
That, and my pet dream: assessment methodologies shared across district that regularly add easily accessible data about where a student is at, so future educators can have a more complete picture. The WASL ain't that test.
The whole promotion piece would also fit into this discussion: Are students promoted without necessary skills?