Board Meeting Agenda Items

The School Board has a meeting this Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. The agenda is quite full. Among the items:
  • approval of the NTN contract for STEM for $800,000. As has been widely discussed here, there are some troubling aspects of this contract with the bottom line being that it might not be the best and most cost-effective way to set up STEM at Cleveland. The Board has pushed back a lot and now we will see if they stand by their objections or not. From the agenda item: "The funding source for this project will be a combination of Learning Assistance Program (LAP), Building Excellence (BEX), and Cleveland High School budget dollars. Federal and private grant opportunities are also being pursued. " Which BEX and how much from each source? It's this kind of vagueness that always comes back to bite the Board.
  • High school LA arts adoption.
  • The 2010-2011 schedule is being introduced on Wednesday night.September 8th will be the first day of school and June 21 (!) the last day of school for 2010-2011.
  • Interesting. A "Performance Management" policy is being introduced that may have the answer to the question, "What is earned autonomy?" To wit:
    • "The school performance framework will use school performance data to group and segment schools based on both absolute performance and growth measures. It will also include a set of actions the District will take with schools based on their performance segment and need. In general, schools that are high performing on multiple dimensions will be given greater autonomy in specific areas. Schools that are making solid growth and meeting their annual performance targets will receive the targeted support to continue on their trajectory. And schools that are not meeting their annual performance targets will receive prescriptive guidance from the district. The two ends of this performance spectrum are described below."

    • Schools that are high performing on both the absolute and growth dimensions and have no significant achievement gaps between high poverty and low poverty students will have ‘earned autonomy’ for the following decisions: academic and social-emotional programs and interventions; selection of professional development; C-SIP goals and planning; and budget flexibility for discretionary spending.
    • Schools that have three years of low growth and sustain low absolute performance will be subject to one or more of the following actions taken by the Superintendent:
    1. Change school leadership
    2. Change school staff'
    3. Direct instructional strategies and professional development
    4. Change curricular materials and or programs
    5. Conduct regular accountability reviews throughout the year with the principal, CAO,
    and Instructional Directors
  • Close and/or reconstitute the school
Regardless of academic achievement, all schools and programs are expected to use approved district materials and curriculum, including assessments.


Charlie Mas said…
Schools are expected to use approved district materials and curriculum, including assessments, sure, but HOW are they expected to use them? Can they use the district-adopted textbooks as doorstops, paperweights and seat boosters? How much are they expected to use them? What are the consequences if they don't use them? What assessments are they supposed to use? The MAP assessments? The end of course exams? Other summative assessments? What are the consequences if they don't use them?

It is unenforcable and unenforced.
dan dempsey said…
WOW,, let us not make the NTN STEM all about finances and in so doing miss how incredibly bad and ridiculous the results are at the NTN schools.

Whenever a question is asked about NTN academic achievement that requires relevant data rather than "Happy Talk" there is never an answer.

How can any board member vote for a proposal when the Superintendent will not answer questions.

Here is my Board member's guide to making decisions that will not land the district in King County Superior Court.
Ananda said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ananda said…
Dan, interesting point is that as far as I know, no one has ever won a school board appeal in King County Superior Court. I just saw that the District won the case about school closures last week. Maybe the district just has good lawyers, but it doesn't seem to be the way to effect decision making.
dan dempsey said…
Performance Management....

Sure looks like PM needs more central administrative staff to get the job done. Nope $1000 per student dedicated to the Central office will likely not be enough we better bump that up..... OK so class sizes may go up a bit as we RIF some more teachers.... we all know that class size is not important.

"and have no significant achievement gaps between high poverty and low poverty students will have ‘earned autonomy’ for the following decisions:"

What is considered an achievement gap of significance?

Holy Streaming actions Batman this nonsense is flowing past so fast who has time to inspect it?

Well at least this assures us that few if any schools will earn autonomy. Thus we can continue with the same highly discriminatory math program and pacing guide applied to almost every school. That way we can use performance management to get rid of teachers who fail to make improvements using our pathetic instructional materials and pacing (guess they just don't have enough class parents sending their kids to Kumon and Sylvan.... yup they are certainly ineffective teachers and need guidance from the wizards from Above). Luckily "The Broad" foundation will continue their rescue efforts and break the incompetent and destructive SEA union and provide us with charter schools.

Great that we have a school board moving us in this direction so efficiently. I feel so much better. How about you?
dan dempsey said…
Ananda ... we shall see on Feb 12.

Thanks for the update.

You make a good point there seems to be no way to bring decision making based on a rational approach to academic improvement to Seattle schools.

Watch the next big dollar flushing happen on Feb. 3.

An acquaintance of MGJ, Monica Martinez is the President of New Technology Network Foundation ... that is the only reason I've found for throwing the dollars away in that direction this week.

Be sure and read the Guide if you haven't done so.

Also note TEAM McLaren is the first to advance violation of article IX of the state constitution as a reason to over turn a school board adoption decision. New ground so you never know.

The "NEWS" lawsuit decision should be out soon on school funding and it is also based on the state constitution so TEAM McLaren may be on the money.
dan dempsey said…
:"it might not be the best and most cost-effective way to set up STEM at Cleveland."

Yes But it is:

best for Knowledge Works which has refused the requests by the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau to answer the 20 questions that makes the BBB believe they are a transparent non-profit. Oh my where does each penny of that $800,000 go?

It seems that NTN while a non-profit assumes that status under the KW umbrella as I am thus far unable to find anything on NTN filing as a non-profit.
wseadawg said…
Any Admnistrator or Board member who supports holding our teachers accountable for Discovery Math instruction and student performance is morally corrupt, unscrupulous, and treasonous.

This is THE test to determine whether the fix is in to ruin our schools and turn them over to private interests.

The anti-Discovery math comments on Harium's blog were at least 95% negative. It might have been even higher, percentage-wise.

Who in their right mind believes this Board is competently and honestly representing their communities versus appeasing and caving in to hostile, destructive interests?

It's plain as day, and Dan has laid it out perfectly in his last post. The FIX IS IN.
Central Mom said…
Just to clarify...the current board did not OK the adopted math series. That was the last board. And on staff, the last CAO.

What happens from here, of course, will rest on the votes of the current members. And on staff, the current CAO.
wseadawg said…
The current Board failed to change direction and stop the expansion of the new math. To say they did not vote for it is not true. They voted to expand inquiry based math instead of returning to Singapore Math. Sundquist and others took cover from the fact that the previous Board had initially voted to go down this track, but that was based on promises to supplement and complement with Singapore instruction that was never done. That's why DeBell abstained.

So, yes, this Board did vote for Discovery math, to the tune of 25 million and a commitment of at least 3 more years to this nonsense, based mostly on the rationale that RBHS had books that were falling apart, etc., etc.

They could have and should have voted "no" but didn't.
dan dempsey said…
To recap on "Discovering adoption"
No one abstained.

Chow = yes because I always go with admin and those on the stacked committee would be crushed if we dissed their pick. I mean who would ever sign up for one of these committees ever again if we did our job and actually based our decision on evidence instead of just rubber-stamping like always.

Carr = I love the personal lesson my daughter and I got. This will work for us.

Peter M = Hey It has an Algebra Book & a Geometry Book good enough for me.

Sundquist = I really read and reread the NMAP report and to prove it I will read these two ambiguous statements that the district provided on this 12 page action memo in front of me.

There are your quite uniformed 4 yes votes ...
DeBell = No .. Reform math is a noble experiment but it has failed and is now dragged onward by the faithful. We need a different direction.

Bass = They told me that "Discovering" aligns well with our k-8 program. That is the reason I am against it.

Harium = I looked at the books and I just don't get it.

New Tech Network is more of the same Reform math agenda. Most of the NTN schools math scores are unbelievably low. The school that Martin-Morris and Sundquist went to has had declining scores for general academics for the last four years. This is going to be one interesting vote.
I can hardly wait for the accompanying reasons.

Superior Court judges just love those reasons.......during appeals of board decisions.

Will we be hearing this?

I am voting for the $800,000 contract even though the Administration did zero research and just parroted the vendor's stilted advertising promotional materials because I have a hunch this might work. Even though at the two most recent work sessions on STEM, MGJ and Mr. Tolley were unable to answer well over 50% of our questions, which were often repeats of the same questions asked previously and they still had no answers... well I just have a hunch I am voting YES.
dan dempsey said…
The 2009 board voted to spend more than $300,000 on supplemental materials for EDM..... That is the kind of spending I would call for Everyday Math.
dan dempsey said…

Try this, from a very knowledgeable friend in Georgia

KW is KnowledgeWorks that acquired NTN in 2008.

ARRA had already been passed in July 2009 so KW knew Race to the Top (RttT) was coming.

If you read the Ohio State Board minutes from November (remember KW is Ohio Based) that brag that RttT will be good for KW's business model since they have developed a school turnaround model that "uses 318 steps to provide a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of schools and rubrics to decide the appropriate school transformation option".

KW then lists Early College and STEM that they already had before ARRA and New Tech that they had just acquired. They get fees from implementing any of their types of schools and they all sound like strong academics on their face.

I have read the RttT regs and final comments and they are alarmingly not about increasing achievement. Almost 1/3 of the pages are the turnaround model. Now that detail makes sense. In fact the RttT comments regularly rejected giving requirements or preferences for effective practices and specifically refuse to malign well known bad ideas.

Historically there really is something called crony capitalism and I think that's what is going on here. Groups knew what would be in ARRA and the federal budget and they are positioning themselves for those funds. Students aren't the focus. They are merely conduits to the funds.

In virtually everything I read the same phrase comes up - "college, career, and civic ready" . There will be one common standard for all. If you read the powerpoint the model dovetails perfectly with NCTM. Not to mention the lighter standard on teachers in that classroom. There are so many wonderful and dedicated teachers in the US but the AFT and NEA are not about high standards. They are about true believers. Together they give enormous sums to political campaigns.

NTN and KW point out that insiders have positioned themselves to make fortunes off of this unprecedented increased fed spending on education. It adds a fascinating and illuminating piece to the puzzle.
gavroche said…
dan dempsey said...

NTN and KW point out that insiders have positioned themselves to make fortunes off of this unprecedented increased fed spending on education.

This is what many of us have been suspecting. Where did you get this info from, Dan?
dan dempsey said…

Info from a very knowledgeable friend in Georgia who is an attorney and looks at how schools make decisions that often directly or indirectly adversely effect educationally disadvantaged students. Her research like mine is trying to figure out why schools are repeatedly making horrendous decisions.

It seems there is a lot of money to be made off of populations of poorly educated students by those who know how to work the system. See KW and NTN ... they are school restructuring outfits.

write to me at

and I'll communicate a bit more.
dan dempsey said…
Such an achievement is rare. Fewer than half of the schools in the New Tech Network have become Demonstration Sites.

Martinez commended the schools on their honor.

“These schools will play a key role in the development of the New Tech Network because we will use them to help national, state and local schools and school districts experience what engaged learning looks like, how teaching can be re-imagined, and how technology facilitates both of these,” Martinez said. “Seeing New Tech sites up close can help them understand the power of the model, so they, too, can think about doing this where they live.

Unlike students in traditional high schools, where most teachers lecture and use textbooks as a teaching approach, teachers in New Tech high schools design rigorous, real-world projects tied to state and district standards and customize them to their location and the interests of students. The result: students who are deeply engaged in learning and develop important skills such as critical thinking and collaboration.

Unfortunately nothing is said about attaining any content knowledge. The EOC tests reveal hardly any knowledge of mathematics content.

This does not seem to worry anyone as long as the kids are engaged.

This sizzle has no steak.

Do the members of the school board care? Check the reasons and the voting on Wednesday.
Charlie Mas said…
It appears that the Board Policies that require students to meet the standards and performance expectations of each grade before advancing to the next grade will be repealed. The policy requiring interventions for students who are working below grade level will be repealed. In their place will be much weaker and ambiguous language.

I'm really troubled by this.
Chris S. said…
Dan, so Cleveland will be our first "turnaround school." And it will succeed by replacing the students?
dan dempsey said…

Exactly correct I have little doubt that the vast majority of successful turn-arounds involve replacing the students.

To do otherwise takes real thought, effort, and intelligence.

#1 an admission that some materials and practices actually do result in greatly improved performance.

#2 some practices and materials are near worthless and should not be used.

Neither of the above 2 are turn-around requirements else based on NTN math results they would not qualify for restructuring. But there are no such standards. The requirement is only change. Districts are free to throw their money away in any irrational direction they chose.

Getting parents involved can bring about some improvement as some charter schools have shown...BUT when they are still screwing up #1 and #2 the improvement is less than spectacular.

See the Accelerated school's in LAUSD and their Wallace Annenberg High School.
Now if you do get #1 and #2 correct and get parent involvement the spectacular can happen. Bright Star Schools in LAUSD. But they focus on preparation for and presentation of an Authentic Algebra class.

Few places do that in math... I mean that was the major message of NMAP's "Foundations for Success" but apparently all Seattle school directors that voted for "Discovering" and/or the "$300,000+ in EDM consumables. Either won't read the document or have such poor reading comprehension or biases that they just do not get it.

Most preposterous was Sundquist blathering on about having poured over the NMAP document, then reading two innocuous quotations from NMAP that TEAM MGJ provided in the 12 page action item report. As justification that "Discovering" Aligns with NMAP recommendations so I vote YES.

Tonight will we have Steve telling us about examining the data of NTN student performance and then voting for the NTN $800,000 proposal?

I'll bet Steve is examining the data right now.

Oh how I hope I am wrong.

dan dempsey said…
I am proud to announce that Paul Dunham will be the lead off hitter in the big game on Wednesday. The Pledge of Allegiance is scheduled for 6 PM.

Paul will be leading the TEAM known as the Rationals.....

against the TEAM MGJ Irrationals ...

Just like in real math the irrationals contain no rationals. These are discrete sets er.. teams.

These are disjoint non-intersecting sets er I mean teams.

Note that batter number 6, Meg Diaz, is a real power hitter and MGJ may argue that she was acquired by the rationals after the trade deadline. Diaz can present a persuasive claim that she has always been rational and can produce supportive documentation of that claim.

Can MGJ demonstrate much other than irrational decision-making?

NO ... Diaz is clearly on the correct team.

Should MGJ not like that she can appeal in Superior Court.

The Line Up is:

IV. Public Testimony

1. (Roosevelt High School Student)
2. Paul Dunham NTN Contract - STEM
3. Ted Nutting NTN Contract - STEM
4. Ricki Malone NTN Contract - STEM
5. Eric Blumhagen NTN Contract - STEM
6. Meg Diaz NTN Contract - STEM
7. Chris Jackins SOWA Contract
8. Dan Dempsey NTN Contract - STEM
9. Robert Femiano NTN Contract - STEM
Lynne Cohee said…
Interesting item added just yesterday to the LA Adoption action item on the board agenda. It's titled "Validating Courses for College Readiness" and looks to be a written process by which high schools could substitute alternative courses/course content. It's the highlighted link at the very end of the action item report. Seems aimed at addressing concerns of alternative schools and those who want to keep the RHS LA Options program. Does anyone know anything about how this document was developed?
wseadawg said…
SC & Dan: I stand corrected in part. It was the EDM consumables, I believe, that DeBell abstained on after lecturing Carla Santorno about the district, once again, failing to live up to it's promises of Singapore supplementation.
dan dempsey said…

Thanks for the clarification I had forgotten the specifics of the Consumables voting.

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