Saturday, August 22, 2009

Curriculum & Instruction Policy Meeting

I'm going to try to dash off a few highlights from this meeting (and hoping to get to the Board meeting later).

Directors Chow, Martin-Morris and Carr were there, with Harium chairing the meeting. There were at least 8 staff there. The agenda included
  • grading policy for giving credit to middle school students for high school courses
  • curriculum alignment - delivery of a white paper
  • textbook adoption and materials
  • anaphylaxis policy (which I previously reported on so will skip here)
  • math intervention; what was done over summer and plan for this year (I left so I missed this part
The discussion did not stay in this order so I may skip around a bit.

Dr. Enfield (our new CAO) started by saying that it had been a good day for principals with training on the integrated service delivery model for Special Ed and bilingual students. There was no fleshing out of this issue so I don't know what was done.

Then Harium talked about fewer minutes with more Action items. Less of what he termed "he said, she said". This troubles me because I find that in reading minutes it's a lot of "this subject got brought up, there was discussion and we voted to keep (not keep) it." Minutes are there to actually tell you how you did get from point A to point B. (As a PTSA co-president, I'm writing my own narrative to pass on so people do know more than what is in the minutes albeit from my POV.)

Also, there was some discussion of their last meeting and how they (1) didn't have a scribe and (2) it might have been audio recorded. I think this issue needs to be pressed to the Directors on behalf of the public. If they have a public committee meeting, someone has to be taking official notes and/or it is recorded (either audio or video). Otherwise, it goes on record as "on this date there was this committee meeting". The end. That is totally useless to the public unless Charlie or I (or Dorothy) happen to show up and take notes and then report it here. Frankly, I'm not sure we should be the "official" record but if that's the best there is out there, okay.

They talked about the high school credit for middle school students. There were numerous handouts including a School Board Action report (dated August 17, 2009), revised draft of the SB policy (now numbered at C15.00), Grading recommendation table, and results of meetings to discuss details of the proposed grading policy changes. Frankly, it was a flurry of paper that even got the Directors confused. Charlie/Dorothy, help me out here. I have it as (1) implementing this new policy is a technology challenge and (2) it will be ready for Fall 2010.

The Executive Committee will sign off on it Sept. 10, it will be introduced at the Board meeting Sept. 16th and action on it taken at the Board meeting on Oct. 7th.

There was a bit of discussion about how this might fit in with the Core 24 idea from the state.

High School Curriculum Alignment

Kathleen Vasquez and Cathy (?) Thompson delivered this to the Committee. First statement:
"Curriculum alignment is not standardization or curriculum or daily lesson plans."

Pause here - great, I just discovered that I lost 2 pages of notes right here. Okay, so looking at this "white paper" I see that there are several key sentences to let you know about. (Charlie/Dorothy could you please fill in any discussion you remember here? I'm sorry about the gap in my notes.)
  • Under Why is this Necessary? "One could argue that students currently are subjected to a lottery of sorts, in which the quality of their academic experience is, in part, attributed to the accident of scheduling. As a result, some students have the regrettable experience of learning the same content in courses that are designed to participate in a sequence."
  • Core high school courses in Math, LA, Science, Social Studies and World Languages will align to: (1) common state or national content standards that prepare student for college level work (2) essential content knowledge and skills necessary to being successful in the next course in the sequence and/or college and work (3) textual materials and supporting instructional documents selected and/or designed by SPS.
  • It states that there will be alignment across the middle school curriculum to high school
  • Developing Common Course Assessments
  • Providing Professional Development - from this section - "Teachers will receive training in the new standards and adopted materials so that they can effectively teach to the aligned curriculum, measure student progress and performance, and differentiate instruction to adjust teaching to meet the needs of all students including Special Ed, Bilingual and Advanced Learning." And then, I guess, they'll walk on water.
My notes reflect a discussion around the math adoption. It is clear that the Directors did not like how the public discussion went and have some philosophical differences in how to handle the input. Sherry said she did not ever again want to be pitted against a committee versus the public. She said more input had been needed before the adoption (yes, I know it begs the question of why she voted yes). She said they needed to give more people the opportunity to influence and be heard.

Cheryl disagreed and said input is good but the adoption of textbooks is a very specific topic and that the Board should listen to the adoption committee. She said everyone has had an education so they feel they should be able to give input but is it input that they can use?

Harium said the key word is "influence". Sherry said she felt it could help shape the design but not choose the design. Cheryl said what would input mean to a committee and at what level could it be used. Dr. Enfield said her last district said, "Having a say doesn't always mean getting your way." Harium, "Well, but people want to know how you got there (to the decision)." One staffer I did not recognize said something to the effect that the Board didn't just need to know what you want but why you care about this position. Is it based on your educational experience? Research?

Sherry said they want to "inform, consult and involve" the public in these decisions.

I would just say that it was interesting hearing the different Directors trying to suss out how to use public input. It is clear that this needs to be a discussion for the entire Board (and they are going on their retreat soon so maybe that's a good time). I also felt that the discussion around the curriculum alignment had a bit of posturing that felt like a smackdown to those high schools opposing the LA alignment.

Also I caught up with these consultants (yes, more consultants - our district loves 'em) who are going to work with rolling out this alignment. They are from a group called Education First Consulting. The one person whose name I got is Susan Pimentel. They were hired in June and started work in July.


Syd said...

2010 for implementing a policy that allows middle school students to receive credit for HS classes they have already taken? Is it retroactive?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Syd, I didn't hear that said but I do not believe it will be retroactive. Charlie?

SE Mom said...

To clarify: If my kid takes high school algebra as an 8th grader next year, she will NOT receive credit for that class when she starts high school in fall 2010?

Although...she will not have to repeat Algebra I if she gets a written recommendation from her
8th grade math teacher?

Unknown said...

SE Mom, if you are talking about 2009-10, no, your daughter will not get hs credit unless she is taking Algebra 1 at a high school.

In 2010-11, if the board passes the policy changes, middle school students who are taking Algebra 1 at a middle school who are being tought by a teacher with high school math certification and the class is 150 hours can get hs credit if they want.

SE Mom said...

Sorry for my lack of understanding of the subject at hand: Is it possible to skip a 9th grade requirement due to classes taken in middle school, even if high school credit is not given? Ie, starting high school with Geometry or skipping 9th grade science (with teacher recommendation).

dan dempsey said...

Curriculum and Instruction ??????
Pardon me but all this edu-bable has produced an ongoing math disaster. In 2007 Ms. Santorno assured us that her plan would eliminate achievement gaps in five years and she quoted 2006 scores at the time.

Well the SPS bought her stuff, used her plan, spent big bucks on coaching and professional development. The result is that even with an increase in class time to 75 minutes per day, increasing percentages of fourth graders score at level 1 (the clueless level).

Blacks up from 39.2% to 48.1%
Hispanics up from 28.5% to 38.9%
Whites up from 5.9% to 7.5%
Limited Engl up from 45.3% to 50.9%
Low Income up from 33.0% to 38.2%

It is really hard to imagine worse results.

In regard to Grade 4 math WASL 2006 to 2009 achievement Gaps based on passing rates for every non-white demographic group are worse.

Here are Gap points worse followed by percent change of point Gap divided by original gap.

Black 5.1 pt : 11.41%
Hispanic 4.4 pt : 12.09%
LimEngl 8.9 pt : 18.39%
Low Income 5.8 pt : 15.80%
Asian/PacIsl 5.1 pt : 52.58%
American Indian 3.5% : 12.24%

These results are pathetic and point squarely on administrative incompetence.

There is no accountability for anything in the is district, when administrative accountability is involved.

What a joke on Aug 19:
Director Maier asked how the new HS adoption would be evaluated to tell how it was working. What a pointless waste of time. The elementary school math adoption is a total flop. It did nothing that it was supposed to do. Yet all there is to look forward to is more of the same.

Why would we expect anything different at the High School level.
Spend, spend, spend, trying to make the unworkable work. Great plan ... when if ever can we stop?

Seattle chose to ignore Project Follow Through’s recommendation for Direct Instruction at k-3. For those PFT students in the direct instruction group there was a doubled high school graduation rate.
Seattle chooses to ignore John Hattie’s effect sizes in “Visible Learning”, preferring Inquiry, which is half as effective as Direct Instruction and Problem Based Learning that is one fourth as effective as problem solving. There is no empirical data that shows Differentiated Instruction is effective. NMAP specifically recommends against the Everyday Math type of spiraling. Mastery learning is effective the EDM spiral is not.

Seattle ignores the NMAP final report’s recommendation for “Explicit Instruction” for students struggling to learn mathematics. There is a continuing preference for the unproven “Differentiated Instruction” and marginally effective practices over proven successful practices and instructional materials.

Kirshener, Sweller, and Clark explained why the Seattle approach does not work and yet, despite mountains of evidence, Seattle continues to waste time, resources, and children lives because the Seattle math decision-makers have the power to do so. There is no rational reason for continuing this direction.

dan dempsey said...

And does Susan Enfield plan to continue with the Santorno way?

Ananda said...

Yes. Middle schoolers who take Alegbra 1 in 8th grade right now can start in Geometry in high school. The only thing different is that if this passes, they may get high school credit for having taken Alegbra 1 in middle school. It also means the grade will be part of the high school transcript, so that is why is is an option. If you don't want a C from 8th grade following your child in high school, you won't have to have it if you don't ask for the credit.

dan dempsey said...

If a child got a C in eighth grade algebra, it would be advisable to retake Algebra in grade 9.

dan dempsey said...

If you look at what Education First Consultants read ....
It is clear they do not read much of value on Math.

Why were these folks hired???
Because a grant paid for them...
Again because of donor dollars ..control slips away.

What about the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit?

When uncertain or in doubt run in circles scream and shout. If the SPS central admin does not like a report like Phi Delta Kappa ... just call it finished and move on to another consultant.

Is the Central Admin unable to make decisions other than which of the many consultants to follow?

Stu said...

Melissa, Dan, Charlie, etc . . .

Is there somewhere I can see specific district numbers about personnel? For example, I know the district has approximately 46000 students. But how many teachers and teacher's assistants are there? How many administrators?

Just curious,


Dorothy Neville said...

I was most struck by the alignment discussion. Struck? I mean, appalled and hard to keep quiet.

Here's the backstory as far as I know/remember. Correct me where I am wrong, please.

The staff decided to align high school LA curriculum. They thought this was a peachy idea and they had funding from an outside source to pay for books. They determined that such alignment would mean common texts with very limited deviation from said texts. For all four high school years. Regardless that only three years of HS LA are required for graduation. Regardless that the state only provides Standards and GLEs for 9th/10th grade.

As there are no State or local Curriculum guides for 11th and 12th grade, and disregarding the fact that the state curriculum standards for 9th and 10th grade are skills based, not content based, the staff figured that they should choose a curriculum -- meaning the detailed content of each and every course. Because there isn't a mandated one. And of course it would be wonderful to have one. So they chose a curriculum guide -- one written by a For Profit educational testing corporation.

Well, that's where things supposedly hit the fan, right? Because they did all this work without board knowledge, oversight and approval. And Adopting CURRICULUM is a Board thing, not a staff thing.

I did not attend the C&I meeting where that supposedly blew up (May? June?). I just heard that it did. So...

That led to this past week's meeting. To get everyone on the same page, the staff created and presented a DRAFT White Paper on High School Curriculum Alignment. And our new CAO gave a little introduction where she said that there's confusion over the definition of Curriculum. She considers curriculum to be the overarching everything. Content, texts, assessments, you name it.

They passed out this new Draft White paper at the meeting, which means that the board members had no time to read and digest it before discussion. Then the conversation went on as if the accepted curriculum guide (and detailed content mandates) previously chosen by staff without input from board, were fine and dandy.

This draft white paper clearly says:

"All SPS core high school courses in Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and World Languages will align to common state or national content standards that prepare students for college level work."

Why doesn't the board stop and say Whoa! We haven't yet agreed on standards and we haven't yet agreed on how to limit content. I thought the whole discussion after that of how to do community engagement was jumping the gun. The nuts and bolts of What should constitute curriculum alignment ought to take place before discussing how to have community engagement of the details (ie, what specific books to choose.)

I thought that should have been the discussion. What is the board's role in oversight of curriculum policy?

wseadawg said...

Education First Consulting is more Gates Foundation Alumni, combined with public affairs folks, & Rick Perry's former Sec of Ed in Texas.

Another Reform-oriented group pushign the Business Roundtable's agenda. Big surprise.

dan dempsey said...


Among the duties of the School Board is found curriculum.

Read THIS.

from part e:
(e) Establish final curriculum standards consistent with law and rules of the superintendent of public instruction, relevant to the particular needs of district students or the unusual characteristics of the district, and ensuring a quality education for each student in the district;

After the recent HS math instructional materials adoption, Director DeBell noted that the School Directors needed to give the administration some guidance before the selection process begins rather than just be resigned to an up or down decision at the end.

Section f is quite interesting:
(f) Evaluate teaching materials, including text books, teaching aids, handouts, or other printed material, in public hearing upon complaint by parents, guardians or custodians of students who consider dissemination of such material to students objectionable.

A public hearing on the Everyday Math materials is needed.

Seattle used mostly TERC/Investigations (a poor program) prior to EDM. The percentage of students scoring at level 1 (the clueless level on math testing) increased in the last two years from already unacceptable levels.

EDM gets the credit for the last two.

year : 2006 :2007 : 2008 : 2009
White:5.9%: 7.9%: 9.3% : 7.5%
Hispanic: 28.5%: 33.6%: 40.4%: 38.9%
Low Inco: 33.0%: 36.0%: 40.0%: 38.2%
Black: 39.2% : 40.5% : 44.4% : 48.1%
Lim Engl: 45.3%: 52.2%: 58.0%: 50.9%

From 2006 to 2009 the Math Level 1 increases are:
White = 1.6%
Low Income 5.2%
Limited English 5.6%
Black 8.9%
Hispanic 10.4%

There has been no admission by the Math Program Manager or the Chief Academic Officer that there is a problem with EDM.

Big expenditures for professional development and coaching coupled with greatly increased instructional time which produced the above results indicate instructional materials that are objectionable to students.

So ... How about a public hearing?
In the words of MG-J "Everyone held accountable".

The most school districts are looking to abandon the weapons of math destruction adopted because of Bergeson administration's push to do so .... BUT not Seattle ... why not?

Have you noticed how in Ms. de la Fuente's presentations about high school very little is said about serving the low achievers struggling to learn math?

The district is 180 degrees off of the NMAP final report recommendations for struggling learners.

A public hearing is needed, who wishes to organize a complaint?
Then on to other areas.

Sahila said...

Dan - am still working on the complaint campaign.... happy to have your help....

Charlie Mas said...

The policy does not specifically say whether or not students can get credit for classes they took before 2010-2011, including 2009-2010. It doesn't say they can and it doesn't say they can't.

I will be re-submitting my petition for credit for my daughter, both under the current Policy - which I do not believe prohibits the granting of credit - and under the new Policy when adopted. She took Integrated I as a seventh grader in 2006-2007.

The Policy only sets three requirements: that the class be beyond the 8th grade standards, that the class include at least 150 hours of instruction, and that the teacher be certified and qualified to teach at the high school level.

The Policy does not set any other requirements. There may, however, be administrative procedures that set other requirements, but I believe that additional requirements would be illegal. The law is pretty clear in saying that the District must award the credit if the student meets the legal requirements. The law does not appear to allow the District to create additional ones.

All District Policies are effective immediately upon adoption. If the Board adopts this Policy in October, as they are scheduled to do, families can petition for the credit immediately. There is no reason that the policy would not apply only to classes taken in 2010-2011 and later.

In the end, it is up to the Board to decide. They can decide whatever they want.

Maureen said...

Charlie, is the 150 hour requirement a problem? I can't find the required hours of instruction for middle school courses on the OSPI site, but the middle school day is slightly shorter than the high school day. If the Algebra course taught to 8th graders is five minutes shorter per day they could end up being 15 hours short even if they cover the same material.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Maureen,

The 150 hours comes from the definition of a credit
at least 150 hours of planned instruction =
50 minute periods for 180 days minimum.

In reality, with all the half day early releases there is no way that 50 minute periods actually = 150 hours but that slides by.

55 minute perods is more like it if you really wanted 150 hours.

The State was giving out waivers for 4 period days of 85 min or 90 min blocks. There 85 x 90 days = 127.5 hours for a credit.

The four period day schools required more credits for graduation. With 32 possible credits most required at least 29 to graduate.

It should be noted that 6 period at 50 min = 300 min/day
55 min = 330 min/day

While 4 periods at
(prior to last year)
85 min = 340 min/day at West Seattle
90 min = 360 min/day at Fife HS
Remember the move to 6 period day controversy at WSHS in 2006-2007 and MG-J forcing WSHS to move from 4 to 6 periods. That actually reduced student contact with instructors.

Just one more reason to question the MG-J move to more uniformity as being a positive for kids. For a total joke Santorno painted this move as needed for Math. Right Seattle Central Admin knowing something about math instruction. {Zero evidence of that in the last 10 years}.

With this move to 6 periods in 2008-2009 West Seattle WASL pass rate on Math WASL declined last year but to be fair so did the WASL math pass rate for every High School in Seattle [except Cleveland that went up from their UW assisted world class low of 12% in 2008]

dan dempsey said...

Fife is moving to 6 periods this year.
7:40 AM start of day
2:30 PM end of day
with all periods at 58 min
(except period 2 at 60 min)

(58 min x 6) + 2 = 350 minutes per day

Computation for a credit
of 58 min x 180 days = 174 hours

Maureen said...

Thanks for the hours explanation Dan.