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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

School Board Meeting Highlights

I realized that I never got around to talking about last Wednesday's SB meeting. These are just highlights and bits and pieces.
  • one speaker pointed out that there was carry-over money from Title 1 that should have gone to Summit and Cooper (but now they are closed). Staff later tried to say that it couldn't have been used anyway but it seemed a lame excuse to me.
  • a couple of speakers (one a teacher) about the need for teacher evaluation. The teacher said teachers themselves should be involved because "teachers know what makes a good teacher."
  • A woman named Christine Chew from College Access Now spoke about their program which mentors high school students through the college application process. It was great to hear about this successful program in our schools (currently at Garfield and Franklin and hoping to expand to WSHS this year). Sixty students in the program applied for college; all got in. That's a 100% success rate. Director Chow mentioned the program later and was very enthused about it. Great idea, great program.
  • Two parents from TOPS talked up the planned alternative schools audit in October. They said little had been explained about the goals and how the district would use the results. They also said they knew The Council of Great City Schools had been tapped to perform the audit and they wanted to know why.
  • Charlie again pressed them on the quarterly updates of the Strategic Plan and the lack thereof.
  • a speaker against the Ingraham renovation pointed out that the information in the latest report it to be outdated and that the author of the report hadn't even visited the school. Hard to believe but this group has done its homework in the past. The district, in a report later in the evening showed that the project had shrunk somewhat (I guess to save trees) . However, if they can shrink the project, they could then move it to the more obvious area to the north of the school. The latest ruling from the Hearing Examiner is to come in October. I believe this project is now at least 6 weeks behind.
The two largest areas of discussion I made notes on were the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) report by two of our Broadie staffers, Brad Bernatek and Jessica de Barros. I should try to get the Powerpoint on this thing because, although I was madly taking notes, I think I missed a few things.
  • 76 schools participating, 5 will be provided with mobile computers as a pilot
  • the remaining 11 schools will come online in 2010 (doing the math - hey, we're under 90 schools now)
  • each school will have a MAP team of 5-8 staff including the principal (I'm sure the principals are excited). Each team will receive training on using MAP which they then will go back to school and train their teachers
  • the district hire 4 data coaches with grant funding
  • by this time next year, teachers will have MAP data to help them
  • a MAP letter will be sent to families in September and outreach will be done to let parents know it will be part of the parent-teacher conferences (obviously only in elementary)
  • they mentioned needing to "motivate" students to do their best and they will hold conferences with students about MAP scores and goals
  • "discontinuing district requirement for PSAT in 9th grade" Huh? I was not aware there was any requirement and, to the best of my knowledge, last year was the first year 9th graders had taken it in a broad based way (via the Boeing grant). We STILL have no data from that experience.
  • (Update from discussion on MAP:
    The district will be discontinuing the district DRA requirement in grades K and 1, discontinuing the Edusoft math benchmark assessments in elementary and middle school, and discontinuing the PSAT in 9th grade.)
Harium asked about the info being on The Source? The answer was not in this school year, training teachers comes first. Harium voiced some concerns parents might have "I can't help if I don't know." and wanting to know where a student is on the continum. Brad B. said it hadn't been done before so they don't know when this might happen. Harium said he was not "quite satisfied" with that answer. Bless him for his openness. He didn't belabor the point but made it and moved on.

Harium also asked about high school. Brad said the MAP would be used in 9th grade and the 10th graders take the WASL. He said it is such an undertaking that they decided to pull back on the 9th grade PSAT. So what is the district's feeling about 9th/10th graders taking the PSAT? I thought it was put forward as a great idea but now we have another idea so it's out the window?

The other item of interest is a federal grant for Qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCB). This was an action item to allow the district to apply for the funds. From the website:

The Qualified School Construction Bond (QSCB) program is a new program recently approved as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Bill). The QSCB program allows a school district to borrow interest free The Stimulus Bill included a total of $22 Billion of QSCB authority (i.e. principal amount of a QSCB loan) to be allocated among the States in 2009 and 2010 to finance the construction of a public school facility.

The basics of the program are as follows:

  • QSCB authority is allocated from the Federal Government to each State
  • The State accepts applications for the desired amount of QSCB authority from school districts
  • The school district receives authority to issue the QSCB from the State
  • A bank lends the funds to the school district
  • The school district pays back only the principal
  • The bank receives an annual Federal Tax Credit in lieu of the school district paying interest
Overall, it sounds good and boy, could we use the money to do the overload of maintenance (even with BTA III money, there's would still be about $200M-150M to do depending on the levy amount). They would have bonds issued in Dec. 2009. They figure the interest would net the district between $7-17M.

10 comments:

wseadawg said...

Bernatek seems like a good guy with a heavy workload and facing alot of uncertainties in implementing "computerization" of the classroom.

While I support the use of technology to enhance and quicken the pace of student learning, what I hear from Bernatek and others concerns me greatly. For all the talk of "real time feedback," etc., this seems like a huge undertaking, and a distraction from learning that should already be taking place.

I also believe that Gates, et al., and other "reformers" ultimately see the computer as a virtual stand-in for teachers today, who in turn will become mere "curriculum delivery devices" or "educational coaches" focusing on children becoming "competent" in ever-narrowing curricula, versus truly educated.

What nobody is talking about is how quickly computer-related anything becomes obselete, and therefore, how and why we should not be banking our hopes on closing the achievement gap and getting all our kids into college through using the latest computerized gimmicks.

Has anyone paid attention to the latest researching on multi-tasking, and how constant-contact via seven different forms of communications is killing productivity in the workplace? And that "short attention spans" are not something to be embraced and accepted as the way things are, but are in fact a deficiency problem that needs to be addressed?

Overreliance on technology as the be-all-and-end-all for our kids future is a constant and chronic money-wasting, hope-crushing problem.

To his credit, Bernatek has at times been quite candid about some of the limitations. I just wish I knew whether he was speaking from the heart, or trying to manage or lower expectations for political purposes. At this point, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

WenD said...

I understand that implementing new systems takes time, some trial and error, but how can SPS move forward without any disclosure of PSAT results, obtained with grant monies no less? Don't they have an obligation to students and Boeing to release the results? Maybe I missed a thread on this; sorry if I did. A few months ago, I recall reading that the results hadn't been released.

Also, if someone can help me get up to speed, can you tell me more about MAP? Does it replace other testing or is new?

dan dempsey said...

PSAT is looking like a Deja Vu of the Phi Delta Kappa curriculum audit.

At least with the audit we got to see the 300+ page report before the district totally ignored it.

There has been little if any testing to connect with national reality since the IOWA tests were abandon by WA in 2005.

The PSAT results would be a connection to reality BUT not to be found.

Here is the guy that Anna Maria said is in charge:

Robert C Vaughan
rcvaughan@seattleschools.org

I write but as yet NO data.

Perhaps our school directors, who are Boeing employees, could explain why Boeing gives the district money to be used this way.

So my guess is these PSAT results were so bad the SPS is just NOT going to do this any more. We are too busy with evaluations that may be formative and sumative that there is simply no time for any testing connected to a national comparison.

Hey the PSAT was given in the FALL of 2008 and the High Schools had results in house by February 2009....do you suppose that RC Vaughn is NOT going to release the results.

Maureen said...

Why is Bob Vaughn in charge of the PSAT data if they aren't going to use it to identify new kids for APP? Maybe I don't understand his job--is he 'in charge' of AP and IB courses too or just "APP." (if so, what does it mean to be 'in charge' of them?)

I guess it's not surprising that nothing has been done with the data if he is in charge--he must have a tremendous workload given the APP splits and new curriculum.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa,
From what I've heard of MAP, these three points you make need correction and/or clarification:

"•by this time next year, teachers will have MAP data to help them"

In fact, some results fomr MAP will be immediately available to teachers, and then, once tests are uploaded from the District server (or school's?) to the NWEA organization's computers, further enhanced results will be available in 24-48 hours. So results will be available to educators not after a year, but within days.

The result, "RIT" scores (Rasch unIT scores) place a student on a continum overall in math and reading, then are also broken down into strands (i.e. Lit Comp) so a teacher can see a chart showing which students are behind in LC, and by how much, which are "at level," and which are above level.

Pretty handy tool. IF students take the test seriously as a methjod for them to show their best selves so educators can help them where they're at.

Of course, some students will just punch keys...hence:

"•they mentioned needing to "motivate" students to do their best and they will hold conferences with students about MAP scores and goals"

The conference part seems idealistic: For instance, HS LA teacher; 125 students; five minutes each = 10.5 hours of conference....when was this going to happen? My feeling is that students will be presented information about MAP in groups, perhaps using the Powerpoint available to assist with this task, and educators will plead, beg, bribe for best efforts on these tests.
My guess is that 10 percent will blow it off unless there is mediation done to avoid this.

Still, that leaves ninety percent of students giving their best...And as this system is adaptive (student is given a question - does well, gets harder question. Not so well? Easier question...) it has the potential of giving very valuable feedback IF it is augmented by other classroom assessments that correlate levels in various strands...

Overall, a potentially useful assesssment, and one that is immediately usable, is the same across schools, and uses data to present a snapshot of a student's levels that COULD be very helpful, if correlated and if differentiation follows the various levels thus exposed. (Of course, even without differentiation, MAP might give educators a mean, a way to see where MOST students are at, level-wise, and teach above that level...hopefully, differentiation would accompany this to get the "outliers" - ack, there's and over-used term! - but that's a whole 'nother expectation, with its accompnaying demands on teacher time and training.

GHUG said...

Isn't the PSAT used to qualify for the national merit scholarships? If so, shouldn't all the kids take it? Not all kids have parents who are savvy about college (applying and getting scholarships). Universal testing would help children who need help with the process.

seattle citizen said...

GHUG, this is, verbatim, the info on PSATs from the District's website (seattleschools.org > Academics, then click on the link on the list)

Note that it is a year old. It still indicates the Fall, 2008 PSAT.

But it does have some info regarding PSAT, Nat'l Merit etc. And from Mr. Dempseys' post on the other thread, we learn that Dr. G-J's memo indicated that the PSAT will still be offered to 10s and 11s.

seattle citizen said...

oops, I forgot to paste in the info from SPS website!
Here 'tis:
October 2, 2008


Dear Parent/Guardian:

With our new strategic plan, we have envisioned a school system where all students achieve at high levels and leave high school prepared for college, career, and life. On October 15th, we will make a major move to advance these dreams by providing the Preliminary SAT exam (PSAT/NMSQT®) for ALL our students in grades 9, 10, and 11. The College Board’s PSAT/NMSQT® is a powerful tool that we can use to improve WASL results, to broaden participation in AP and IB courses, and to raise the higher education aspirations of all our students and families. We are also able to provide this exam and all associated college counseling tools at NO COST because of the generosity of a local corporate sponsor.

All of our high schools will offer the test on Wednesday, October 15, 2008. The purpose of the test is to give all students an opportunity to experience taking a college readiness test and to identify students who might benefit from advanced coursework. Even if your child has not yet decided to attend college, I urge you to make sure he or she participates.

By taking the PSAT/NMSQT® your child will have access to resources that will help prepare him/her for the future:

a list of careers and potential college majors based on the preferences indicated on the PSAT/NMSQT®;
access to MyRoad™, the College Board's interactive college and career planning website;
MY COLLEGE QUICK START™, a personalized, interactive planning program based on the individual student’s test results;
an online score report, including projected SAT® score ranges, state percentiles, and the ability to sort answer explanations by difficulty and question type;
a customized SAT® study plan including a review of results, SAT® practice questions, and personalized skill improvement ideas.
Please note that 9th and 10th graders are not eligible for the National Merit Qualifying Scholarships. Only 11th grade students may be identified as National Merit Scholars based on the PSAT/NMSQT®.

Your student’s Score Report for the PSAT/NMSQT® will arrive at school in January for distribution.

Sincerely,


Dr. Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D.
Superintendent

WV denies time: rather than moment, it suggests noment!

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