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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Siblings and the SAP

Okay, so I have watched about 2 hours of the Board meeting (and boy do I feel for those parents who came to hear about the Transition Plan). At about the 2 hour mark, they got to the Transition Plan. But I stopped watching (my brain was tired and full) so I'll watch it and report back tomorrow.

However, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson said something important about the Plan previous to the actual discussion. Many speakers this evening were parents who were unhappy about lack of any real assurance about whether their children would be together in one school under the Transition Plan. What Dr. G-J said, was this (and I paraphrase but I listened to it twice):

If all the measures they have put in place to have the entering kindergartener at the older sibling's school don't work, then the district will assure parents that the older sibling will be at the entry sibling's attendance area school assignment.

Okay so that means two things.

One - all siblings will be kept together (at least an entering kindergartener and older sibling) at some school.

Two - if number one is true, then all the reopening schools have to open at K-5 which is something that has been in flux. But if what Dr. G-J says is true, then those schools would have to all open at K-5 to accommodate that promise because the older sibling could be any grade 1-5.

More to follow.

54 comments:

Central Mom said...

Not on the sib topic, but I was there for part of the mtg. and BOY did the Board push back hard on details for STEM. They didn't attack the merit of the idea, but Dir. DeBell summarized by saying the Board was both "enthusiastic and skeptical". Four issues...1) The new expenditures to successfully launch the program given the $40 mil plus projected budget shortfall in the coming year. 2) Whether other schools will see their program monies repurposed for STEM use. 3) Whether this will provide significant advancement for students participating. 3) Whether teachers now in place are up to the rigors of the specialized instruction.

Central Mom said...

Uh, that last point was clearly to be labeled 4 not 3. Guess I'd best not weigh in on the math curriculum debate.

kellie said...

The decision that Sandpoint and McDonald will open with a full K-5 configuration is official (or at least as official as anything is). That was confirmed at community meetings in December.

Unknown said...

On the siblings front, Tracy Libros walked back MGJ's statement a little bit, back to what is in the transition plan. As I understand it, the system will work as follows:

1. SPS will try to put the incoming sibling (IS) in the same school as the older sibling (OS). If that doesn't work, there are two approaches:

A. If the IS applied to ONLY the OS's school and the family's assignment area school, the OS and the IS will be assigned to the assignment area school.

B. If the IS applied to several schools in addition to the OS's school, both siblings will be assigned to one of the schools in the middle school service area, preferably one of the schools the IS applied to or the assignment area school.

Both A and B only happen if the parents specifically request. This gives parents an interesting and perhaps difficult choice. If they want the OS's school, but would be happy with their assignment area school, then they would go with A. If they don't like their assignment area school and choose B, they're rolling the dice a little with the assignment--they may get a school they want in the service area, or they may get one they never even applied for.

This is from my memory, and I didn't get enough sleep last night because I stayed to the bitter end of the transportation issue. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I did notice the pushback on STEM, particularly on the cost and how staff chose their STEM contractor (NTN). It sounds like NTN is a high-end provider (great, if we can afford it), and it's not clear to me if there were other options that would have provided less to SPS at a lower cost. Presumably, the difference in what was provided would be made up by SPS staff. Carr in particular wanted to know how much was from outside and Cleveland funding sources, and how much was pulled away from other programs. DeBell wanted to know how SPS would make sure we had teachers who could be effective in the STEM program.

ParentofThree said...

"pushback on STEM"

Isn't is a little late for "pushback" since 1) The board voted for the STEM program. 2) CHS is now a Option school.3)They have promoted the 2010 STEM program to families.

Sounds like Jane Addams all over again.

Seriously. This is out of control.

lendlees said...

Around 9:45 pm there was a pretty heated discussion about the fact that there wouldn't be any assurance to families about the transition plan, and that things would be in flux until the district had enough 'data' to model.

Having only 500 responses to the 9300 surveys sent out is causing the district to cry 'we don't have enough data' to model the transition plan properly. Sherry got pretty livid about it.

It does amaze me that they couldn't get information about incoming siblings. Whatever happened to asking for sibling information in the first day packet we all get every year ? Easy to do and there's the data to model a transition plan.

If you didn't watch that far, it's an interesting discussion that is showing the board is really listening to the parents right now.

Meg said...

SPSMom- I don't think it is too late for pushback on STEM. I went back and looked over some of the stuff - when the new SAP was voted for in June, Cleveland was an attendance area high school. It wasn't until the boundary maps were voted in that Cleveland became an option high school. If the change to option school was made that late, it's really not too late for decisive pushback. Is it late? Sure. But there is an existing program at Cleveland that can carry on if STEM is tabled for a year or two.

Central Mom said...

Here's another thing I noticed about the mtg...I 2nd Lendlees that the board is really engaged in listening to the parents. Their questions show it. And they as a body are much bolder in their asking staff "why" and for backup data than in the recent past.

The board a few years ago was bold...but also dysfunctional as an operating body and also often ascerbic and antagonistic to staff. This board is way more polished in dealing w/ staff and the public...and also appears more savvy.

And also..MGJ has been taking "charm and approachability" lessons. She's never going to be mistaken for a warm personality, but something's changed here. Possibly in direct correlation to the board getting bolder. Will it all matter in the end to parents? Hold on. (P.S. Another tip to MGJ...now that you don't text through the mtgs. anymore, and you are actually watching the public testifiers, could you also stop chomping on your gum while the public talks. It's tacky.)

Oh, and Susan Enfield appears a step up in both professionalism, knowledge and in persona than her predecessor. In this time of turmoil perhaps some small positive steps forward downtown.

dj said...

Can I ask a question about sibs that reading the transition plan and the related threads hasn't enabled me to answer?

If you have a kid in a special program (APP, Spectrum, etc.), is that child treated differently for the purposes of trying to consolidate kids (I'm really thinking about elementary schools, but I suppose the question could be asked for middle and high schools as well)? I'm assuming that the answer to that question is "yes" (and don't care that much from a personal perspective, since all of my kids will be four years apart in school), but I'm curious. At the time that the district split the APP program, one of the things we were told was that splitting the program would let us consolidate APP kids and their sibs at one school, but the SAP as far as I can tell doesn't make any provision for that whatsoever, since there are only a handful of APP students for whom the APP site is also their attendance-area school.

Lori said...

"Having only 500 responses to the 9300 surveys sent out is causing the district to cry 'we don't have enough data' to model the transition plan properly"

We pretty much predicted problems with that survey on this blog a few weeks ago. They sent the survey to families with at least one child who will be attending their non-reference school next year, but they asked families to send the survey back ONLY IF they have a younger sibling entering K in 2010! It astounds me that they didn't ask about siblings entering in later years or about families with no additional siblings. What a wasted effort.

So of course they don't have enough data for reliable modeling. They needed to ask ALL families to return the survey, whether they have an incoming sibling or not. You have to know the survey response rate to know how complete your results are and whether you can do any sort of reliable modeling or imputation of missing data.

Maybe 500 is the correct number of siblings entering in K. Unfortunately, there isn't any way to know based on how they handled the surveys.

Of course, what about data collected locally? Our school's staff feel fairly confident that they know the number of potentially split families for next year, and they appear to be prepared to enroll all of them. It might mean turning at least one more "specialty" room into a homeroom (eg, art room becomes a K class; art teacher rotates to the children instead of vice versa). Heck, the transition plan itself even says that they may ask office staff to work out of an RV on the parking lot for a few years to create new classrooms for the "surge."

I feel pretty certain that the vast majority of siblings are going to be accommodated at the older sibling's school if all of this holds true. Families may have to wait a few weeks after their initial assignment letter for confirmation, but I do think they are going to make it happen.

ParentofThree said...

"But there is an existing program at Cleveland that can carry on if STEM is tabled for a year or two."

Yes there is a program at CHS, which parents must choose since they can't assign anybody to the school. 49 students put CHS as a first choice school this year, 88 student were assgined. (I don't know if that figure includes the 49) In any case, for 2010 they cannot assign one student to the school. If there is no STEM, I don't see why more than 50 families would choose the school, which makes it grossly under-enrolled. This could potentially mean that some other nearby highschools are over-enrolled versus being put on a waitlist. My understanding is that everybody gets a seat at their assigned school. Is this correct?

In any case, I really think that this is another example of the board voting on a proposal without first having all the information. Had the board known there was a million dollar price tag associated with turning CHS into an Option school with the STEM program I believe the school would still be a neighborhood high school.

SE Mom said...

The district would be hard pressed to revert Cleveland back to a neighborhood school because of the low enrollment there and at Rainier Beach. It would be another year of underenrollment at two comprehensive high schools that are fairly close to each other. At least with the STEM program they can say the low enrollment would be due to the start up of a new program.

My personal reaction is one of anger and dismay for the pushback for STEM - talk about jerking around the students who are already at Cleveland. STEM was voted in and the board should have been asking all these questions much, much earlier.

Dorothy Neville said...

The thing about the sibling data, they didn't really try to get it. At the work session last month, when the Transition plan was introduced, Tracy made it clear that they weren't going to use ANY modeling or assumptions or estimating, they would not know anything concrete until the end of open enrollment. Period. And she refused to speculate without that official data. Several board members were floored. It was completely unexpected. They were expecting at least some data and modeling to guide the transition plan. And as many here have stated, there are ways they could have gotten better estimates. Harium was incredulous. Professionally he does modeling all the time. At least one other board member (DeBell?) also seemed extremely not pleased.

SE Mom said...

OK, sorry for the ongoing OT:

Wondering about enrollment at Rainier Beach for next year. Will families accept the assignment to RB or will there be alot of activity for choice seats at other schools? I still have a hard time thinking that RB will be fully enrolled next year. So, are RB families looking at STEM as an alternative? Wonder if families from RB are aware of STEM because of the poor marketing by the district. Will Franklin end up with a waitlist?

Maureen said...

Does anyone know if staff is dealing with the fact that loads of people might just not preregister their kindergarteners at all? Under the new SAP, everyone in entry grades has a guaranteed seat at a school even if they just show up on the first day of school, right? So if you are happy with that assignment, and you are busy or just not very clued in, why would you even bother to fill out the paperwork? How does SPS even know a kid exists until they walk in the door?

Am I missing something?

Phernie said...

If the district could grandfather siblings, wouldn't they just appease families and guarantee it right now? They could have said it months ago, and all of the rallying and letter-writing and parent ranting going on at board member's coffee hours would have disappeared.

In my cynical way (and I hope I'm proved wrong), I think it's because they KNOW it will be a problem at some schools and they can't do it. They cannot accommodate all families in this situation.

For the most over enrolled schools, perhaps they can accept 75% of siblings, by lottery. Maybe it'll just be 5 kids at one school, 2 or 3 at others, that won't be able to accompany their older brother/sister.

I think this makes terrible precedent for future boundary "tweaks" and creates much uncertainty for families in the future.

For some families, it may be acceptable for the older child to leave his/her school and accompany the younger sibling to the new attendance school. For others, this is not acceptable and the district shouldn't feel like they've appeased families by offering this.

And, Maureen, I think you're quite right. There's no incentive for families within an attendance area to do early registration, since they are guaranteed a spot. Indeed, a family could move to the area over the summer and get a seat, right?

From the transition plan:

Students new to the district at any grade will start with an assignment to their attendance area school. New students eligible to enroll during Open Enrollment may also apply for any school during Open Enrollment.

All students may also apply for any school with space available after Open Enrollment through September 30. After September 30, assignments for new students are to their attendance area school only.

Dorothy Neville said...

on the STEM At Cleveland topic. Several other interesting things. I was also impressed with the questions and comments the board members had.

Metrics of success: Still vague, Susan said Brian B was still working on them. Carr pointed out that it looks like they wouldn't be comparing apples to apples anyway. STEM would be attracting kids that were already successful, so increased scores at the school could not be attributed to the program. The metrics don't look like you could say that STEM helps kids who weren't already successful. Susan enthusiastically agreed and said that's why they needed anecdotal evidence as well! Hearing stories of kids who didn't think they were college bound and STEM helped them. (???wtf???)

Another IMPORTANT note if you are considering STEM for your child. Maier asked about the ongoing costs of the extended day. Enfield replied that the extended day was NOT permanent. That eventually, (perhaps when all the elementary and middle schools are perfect???) it wouldn't be needed and would go away.

Also, I can't do the math here. The cost estimate for extended day (seven or eight periods?) was based on taking current salaries and multiplying them by 1.2 (unless I heard wrong.) Full time now means teaching five periods and being on site for the 6th period. What are the expectations for teaching an extended day? How does 1.2 work out?

Central Mom said...

More on STEM by way of the budget...

In the CFO's report, Kennedy described the coming year as "a cliff" in terms of lack of funding. Something is going to have to give, so advocates, begin your input NOW on priorities. We can't have no teacher cuts AND no comp high school closed AND STEM as envisioned AND promises kept for resources for programs already in place AND launching the new schools with specialized programs like language immersion. No way.

I *think* the top priority for the Board is keeping teachers in the classrooms. So project from there. My best guess is that, for one thing, none of the new schools other than QA will be getting specialized programs. Don't like it? Get organized and loud.

And INSIST on organized ways the public can give input into the budget shortfall, starting now. I sent a "I'm flabbergasted" note to the board after hearing at the Dec. workshop that there was no plan for public engagement on the budget...just principals working with individual school communities on cuts. That's way too late in the game and way too fractured for the public to give testimony. Suddenly, as of yesterday, there are 2 mtgs (north/south) that will be scheduled on the topic. But personally, I don't think this is enough of a public engagement plan.

lendlees said...

dj-

From what I could see in my brief TV watching last night my guess is that APP siblings might have a seat assignment at the older sib's school since APP kids are classified as "special ed" and there are no other options for them, but Spectrum kids are SOL.

Steve Sundquist made a big point of asking staff to add Spectrum at Arbor Heights to specifically deal with this issue (no room at Lafayette for any sibs). I think he mentioned that parents will have to pull their child out of Spectrum if they want the kids to stay together.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong...

I want to bring up another issue re: Option Schools. Tracy indicated that they will allow Eastlake kids to go to TOPS if they want, because under next year's plan, they would be guaranteed a space there due to geographic zone.

But what about families who live super close to any other Option school...do they get the same treatment? Since next year they would be all but guaranteed a seat under geographic zone.

Unknown said...

Per blumhagn's comment at 8:06 a.m. today...

Looks like the enrollment forms for K in 2010-11 have the same content as in previous years. There is still mention of "clusters" and it continues to provide the opportunity to list 10 schools (with the suggestion of listing at least 3). But given what you say (and other, similar, things I've heard elsewhere) we need to be very careful about how we complete the form if we want our younger (K) sibling into the same, "non-neighborhood" school as the older sibling.

I was heartened a couple months ago when someone on this blog made a comment about the 2010 entry kids not being affected by the plan because SPS wouldn't have time to change and print the new forms. But I guess SPS feels they've found a good solution - just change the dates and keep the content as is. Never mind that they'll elicit confusion and/or potentially enraged parents when they find out - after it's too late - that they should have completed the form differently than the district instructed.
The actual forms seem to be a major issue - but I don't see/hear any discussion on it. Hopefully it's just me, and this is not another thing that SPS got wrong in this whole SAP "transition" plan.

Maureen said...

I'm just listening to the Board meeting online now and one thing popped out at me re STEM:

At 116.3 Enfield says that the choice of NTN model "predates her"-- they were chosen last spring! So if I'm interpreting correctly, this STEM thing has been in the works longer than we have been told.

Michael Rice said...

Hello

I am on the RB Building Leadership Team. One of our jobs is the Master Schedule. We are being instructed by the district to put together a Master Schedule for 650 students.

Does this mean we are still underenrolled? Yes, but it is a long way from the 350 we had a few years ago.

Luz Villasana said...

The current admission form can be found at http://www.seattleschools.org/area/eso/earlyreg.html
It has been updated, and it includes a space to list siblings.
Blumhagn must be looking at last year's admission info.

sixwrens said...

looks like they changed the form during the process. we registered early, but the form (dated Sept 2009) did not contain any sibling info, which worried me.

seattle citizen said...

Dorothy,
Regarding extended day teacher cost. I would look at it this way, in terms of using 1.2 FTE:

1.0 FTE for a HS teacher is 7.5 hours

adding 0.2 FTE means adding 1.5 hours (I don't know if that means, legally or contractually, they have to use part of that for an extra 15 minute break or whatever)

1.5 hours is enough for one class plus a bit, or almost one blocked class. It's not enough for two classes. But maybe they could have just SOME teachers teaching 8 classes, some teaching 7, some teaching regular 6?

Unknown said...

To amplify the answer to dj's question, under the current program, a sibling of a Spectrum child is out of luck--the choices if the younger sib can't get into the older's school is to go to separate schools or pull the older out of Spectrum. However, one of the Board members (maybe Sundquist?) did ask about that specific issue, comparing it to the guarantee that sibs of special ed students have to go to the same school as the older sib.

I'd expect an amendment on the plan to put in an exception to the system for Spectrum similar to the one for special ed. It'd probably also be a good idea to push it along with an email campaign to the Board.

Eric

TechyMom said...

They could also be hiring some new teachers to fill out the extra hours, with staggered schedules (not teaching first or last period). Can I hope for some new teachers with strong math and science content knowledge?

Sue said...

The Spectrum/sibling issue definitely creates problems at schools with Spectrum programs that are also located in crowded parts of town. If you grandfather the incoming kindergarden siblings of spectrum students into the school, how can you also guarantee the spot to the neighborhood child? What happens if you have 10 siblings one year? Why do Spectrum siblings get priority over attendance area students and regular ed students who already have siblings at the school. Who gets the priority? Then what happens if that younger sibling does NOT qualify for spectrum? Do you send them back to their neighborhood school?

This is a can of worms I think they would be best off not to open.

Dorothy Neville said...

Oh Techymom, what a hopeful idea! Did you happen to watch the STEM discussion? They are looking at retaining the Current Cleveland teachers. The principal is discussing with each of them individually whether they think it might be a good fit for them, ultimately though it is the teacher's decision to sign on for the extra PD and longer day and work. Contrast this to TAF and how they worked HARD choosing teachers.

And the teachers at Cleveland who decide this is not for them? Super-seniority status to find another position in SPS.

Lori said...

Don't forget that all elementary schools have been mandated to have a formal ALO (advanced learning opportunity) program by this fall. There will be no *need* to attend another nearby school for Spectrum in the very near future, or so goes the district's thinking.

If all schools offer advanced learning opportunities, then your current Spectrum student can be accommodated at your reference school, if that's where they have room to keep your children together. It seems to me like this has been flying a bit under the radar, but I wonder if the long-range plan is to do away with programs like Spectrum and APP and just have every student attend their local school with the claim that children of all abilities can have their needs met? It would save a lot of money if the district didn't have to do gifted testing each fall and bus children to certain non-local schools based on test results.

monkeypuzzled said...

Blumhagn and lendlees, there is no exception being made for sibs of special ed students. They are not being given priority. It's hard to believe that the option we're being given to keep our family together is to take my older daughter out of her very successful inclusion program--but there you are.

Maureen said...

monkeypuzzled, I'm pretty sure that isn't your only option--Tracy Libros has proposed this change to the SAP:

–If an older sibling of an incoming Kindergarten student is assigned to a non-attendance area school for special education services (that are not available at the attendance area school),then the incoming Kindergarten student will be assigned to the older sibling’s school at the request of the family (if not assigned during Open Enrollment with sibling tiebreaker).

(From slide 6 at SAP Implementation Presentation from last night's Board Meeting.

It's pretty clear that this doesn't apply to Spectrum kids, I'm not sure about APP, sometimes they get classified as special ed, but more often not. Does anyone else know for sure?

monkeypuzzled said...

Interesting, Maureen--I hadn't seen that yet. The response I've gotten from the district is that the services my daughter receives would follow her to her attendance area school, if we wanted to move her in order to keep the kids together.

The catch in the wording of the change Libros is proposing might be "special education services that are not available at the attendance area school." Under the new ICS model, *all* schools theoretically offer services for all but the more profoundly affected and also medically fragile students. The reality is a bit different of course. But that's a longer issue to discuss.

Still, I feel more hopeful reading that--it gives some leverage for discussing this w/the district.

TechyMom said...

I'm pretty sure there won't be room for all north end APP sibs at Lowell, at least in K-1 next year. There is room in the higher grades. And, since they're out of cluster, they wouldn't get transportation. I do expect some kids from the Stevens attendance area who are in the Lowell walk zone and have APP sibs to end up there, but I doubt it's more than 4 or 5.

TM only has one class per grade in the ALO, and no room for more, so probably also won't be able to accomdate many APP sibs from outside the attendance area.

seattle citizen said...

Dorothy and Techymom,
Your comments seem to echo Director Martin Morris: will they hire new teachers for STEM? His (and yours, seemingly) indicate that you don't feel the current Cleveland staff is "up to snuff"

I think CAO Enfield fielded M-M's "concern" very well: there are many teachers at Cleveland, and those who might not be a good fit are talking it out with the principal, and some are leaving. But even of these, most are fine teachers, and they DESERVE superseniority.

Most teachers are fine teachers who can easily adapt to the new program. Teachers adapt to new programs all the time - all teachers are adapting to about five new initiatives this year alone.

Have some faith in the fine educators at Cleveland - they'll be fine.

seattleparent said...

i never got such a survey-- i was waiting for one. i wonder if others didn't get one? that is a very low response rate.

TechyMom said...

I'm sure they're very good teachers. But do they have strong science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds? Do any of them hold PhD's in these fields? Have any of them worked in scientific industry? Written software for a living? Designed a bridge, created a new drug, done original research into mathematics? Do they hold pattents? Would they be qualfied to teach math or science at a community college or university? I don't think every teacher at the school needs to have those skills, and many of the existing teachers are likely to be a good fit and do well there, but it sure would be nice to hire a few teachers who do have those skills.

That's no insult to the Cleveland staff. Not everyone is a content expert in any field, and these technical fields require years and years of study, along with particular aptitudes.

Joan NE said...

I stayed for the board meeting last night, and learned a few things.

1. Transportation presented data last night in such a way as to give the impression that the district wil save a lot by having a 1-yr transition plan ("NSAP[1]") instead of having a 5-yr transition plan ("NSAP[5]").

If data presented last night is put in appropriate context, one realizes the following:

Choosing NSAP[1] over NSAP[5] will save an average of $800,000 per year over the next five years

Cost of implementing NSAP[5] is inconsequential compared to the size of the District's operating budget: $550 Million this year.

This is, of course, not how the District presented the data.

It was Kay who seemed to see first that the data as presented was overblowing the significance of the savings of choosing shorter duration for the transition plan.

2. A solution for Sibling Grandfathering?

I learned last night it is technically infeasible for the District to add the sibling grandfathering rule that parents want into the "old system." The reasoning I heard from Tracy Libros was very convincing.

I learned that, under the old system, some of the enrollment forms are processed manually. You wil see why this may be significant for sibling grandfathering in a moment.

Tracy testified that the District has 17 idiosyncratic enrollment tiebreaker rules. I am not sure, but I think that it is these tiebreakers that result in some forms having to be processed manually. Thus, under the old system, some percentage of the student assignments are handled manually. The Salmon Bay preference for Thornton Creek students is an example of a tiebreaker that is processed manually.

This information leads me to the question of whether sibling grandfathering could be implemented manually.

Of course, it will be expensive, since the # of enrollment forms that must be manually processed will greatly increase over what has been typical.

How much is too much to pay for sibling grandfathering? If we can afford $50 Million on the BTA levy for Maria's Mistake, can't we afford even as much as several million to hire a big crew to get the manual work done within the necessary time frame?

3. The NSAP proposes to suspend the 20% geographic set-aside for TOPS, just for the one-year transition. When asked by about this by Kay S-B, Tracy Libros was not able to give reason why the district wants to suspend the rule.

3. Harium asked if feasible for NSAP to provide for Thornton Creek students to have Salmon Bay option. Tracy said there is no technical obstacle. She said typically only about half-a-dozen kids are affected by this. (does this sound right?)

4. The NSAP proposal has the effect that those students who don't have an alt school in their tranportation zone can chose an alt school, but can get yellow bus service. Harium was asked at his late nov. coffee hour to advocate for getting equitable access to alternatives, so I was listening for a question on this. He did not bring this up at the board meeting.

Dorothy Neville said...

Seattle Citizen. It wasn't just Harium that raised an eyebrow over that news. I believe that was part of DeBell's skepticism as well, but I can't recall for sure.

I have no idea what sort of teachers are at Cleveland. But this is a brand new thing that will require a different skill set and a lot of technological agility for the teachers. It is very different from what they've been doing.

Now Cleveland doesn't have a reputation currently for academic success. In fact, their 11th grade PSAT scores from 2008 are almost the lowest of the district.
(Critical Reading 33.3, Math 37.5, Writing 34.3) Like Charlie points out, the teachers could still be wonderful and doing wonderful things with these kids. We don't have enough data to tell. But teachers dedicated to working with this population and successful with this population are not necessarily the same teachers that would be successful with STEM.

Maybe some of the best will decide that they can't work an extended day for family or personal reasons. So there ought to be flexibility with that, keeping or recruiting good teachers who might only be there 6 periods.

seattle citizen said...

Point taken, Techymom, and perhaps I misread and misheard the tone.

That said, how many PhDs are teaching Language Arts? How many LA teachers are qualified to teach in college?

I guess my point is that teachers are not, generally, PhDs. Yes, the expectation would be that they are masters in their fields, perhaps with even some real-world experience, but most of the teachers I know are masters of flexibility who can teach just about anything.

And remember that they aren't teaching to the PhD level, they are teaching to the high school level.

It would be very nice if all teachers in Seattle were PhDs, but this is hard to accomplish. I understand your point about this being a very specific kind of school, and we hope that the teachers have that very specific kind of knowledge, but what does this say about other schools and programs? How can we get highly trained (and salaried....a PhD is rather expensive to obtain and those with them often do other things...) specialists in every conceivable position, particularly if teaching demands that teachers adapt to new needs and demands almost yearly?

Dorothy Neville said...

SC, the district does not say that kids get an "advanced" study of LA, so there's not as much need for advanced teachers. However, getting an "advanced" and rigorous course in engineering is going to require interactions with real engineers.

zb said...

"It would be very nice if all teachers in Seattle were PhDs, but this is hard to accomplish."

No, it most certainly would not be particularly good if all the teachers in Seattle were Ph.Ds. Getting a Ph.D is a pretty esoteric activity requiring specialized focus in a particular content area. People who have one are not particularly well suited to teach in a high school classroom.

"Would they be qualfied to teach math or science at a community college or university?"

We often assume that Ph.D's are qualified to do this -- but they're often not. Frankly, they're most often not. They learn on the job, and some acquire teaching experience along with the reserach required for the Ph.D. Others are naturally talented in teaching. But, we let Ph.D's who fall in none of these groups teach any way, because we value or respect their esoteric knowledge, and because we want them to teach others to learn to acquire that knowledge.

That does not, emphatically, make them good high school teachers. The skill sets required for doing original scientific research (or building bridges) is quite different from the skill set required to communicate that information to others. It'd be fabulous if we could find people who can do both, but, honestly, those people walk on water. Most muddle at one or the other. For bridge builders, we're will to take muddly communicators who know their stuff. They wouldn't be good teachers.

TechyMom said...

Of course not everyone with those skills is a good teacher, just like not every good teacher has those skills. There is a set of people who are good at both, and it would be nice to recruit a few. There are also a fair number of unemployed technical people out in the world right now, and some of them may be good at teaching (with appropriate training, of course).

Just as it's not always possible to turn an engineer into a teacher, it's not always possible to turn a teacher into a teacher of engineering (or any other specialized field).

It would be nice if this new technical school had a community of teachers that included both those who are stronger at teaching than technology and those who are stronger at technology than teaching.

And, there are two ways to increase hours by 20%: Increase the hours of your existing employees or add new employees (or some combination). Hiring a couple of really strong technical people to compliment the teaching staff is one thing that could be done. Personally, I think the combination would make the school stronger. Again, that's no more an insult to teachers than it is to engineers and mathematicians.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The way I took the STEM teacher discussion was that the teachers at Cleveland determine their own career path. I think they should get first preference if they stay, do the development and are committed to the program. However, the district should be opening this up, now, to any and all teachers. We want the most committed teachers on-board and to nameby-pamby around while Cleveland teachers decide is wrong. (There was no definite date given for when Cleveland teachers have to state their preference.)

One board director told me about grave doubts because of the teachers. This director stated that the BioTech program at Ballard started with professionals in the industry, not teachers and the director felt like that's why it was successful. Suffice to say, this director is worried.

As well, I concur with the pushback on STEM from the Board. I;ll write a separate thread on it.

Dorothy Neville said...

The thing is, money for STEM is a big issue. Sure, there are other ways to staff the school and the extended day. But I spect that simply making current staff all 1.2 employees is by far the cheapest. Keeping some at 1.0 and hiring extra part time staff will cost more. Even if, and here I agree with Techymom, it might make much more sense for the success of the program.

Plus, aren't they simply purchasing a canned curriculum from NTN? So, why not just use the canned curriculum scripted with fidelity of implementation? You don't need experts for that. (that's a snark, in case anyone missed it.)

SP said...

Dorothy,
Are the 2008 PSAT's available for each of the schools online yet? What was the C&I presentation covering at the last meeting?
Thanks-

seattle citizen said...

Hmm, I agree with Techymom that using the extra FTE to hire "specialists" would be good, but also understand Dorothy saying it would cost more...But some teachers will no doubt leave Cleveland, and then that FTE, combined with 1.2 funding, should allow at least, say, five or six FTE to be hired who could be more knowledgeable about the specific subject matter.

If there's the money for ANY of this...ach.

Dorothy Neville said...

SeattleParent, I haven't a clue when or if the PSAT scores are up on line. I got them in paper format. Brad passed them out and said he wanted them out as soon as possible due to public records request. However, they are kinda confusing and they don't clearly specify the norming assumptions. He was clearly worried that the data was going to lead to some outcry. I told him that some of that could be alleviated by at least making the information, especially norming information, more clear. So am I the reason for the delay? God knows. I have no power, so don't look at me.

Joan NE said...

Lori said...

"Having only 500 responses to the 9300 surveys sent out is causing the district to cry 'we don't have enough data' to model the transition plan properly"

Would it make sense to do another survey, but do it properly? Ask all the necessary questions. Advertise better, ask principals to encourage the families in their school to respond?. Ask principals to complete a survey as to what they know about incoming sibs in their school community?...

On a different issue:

From Melissa's and other's reports on NSAP, it sounds like these families are District's pawns:

a) having an older sib (OS) who wants to stay at a non-attendance area elementary school
b) also having an incoming sib(IS), and that they want to place in the ES's current elementary school.

Do I understand correctly that the NSAP gives the District freedom to use these families to fill up undesirable/unpopular schools within the transportation service area of the family's assigned Middle School?

Do I understand that such families (and there are many, aren't there)have to choose between being a pawn, or destabilizing the OS's social/academic life?

Joan NE said...

Seattle Cit- you gave this paraphrase of Dr. Enfield: "Most teachers are fine teachers who can easily adapt to the new program. Teachers adapt to new programs all the time - all teachers are adapting to about five new initiatives this year alone." [a reference to teachers at Clevelend]

I guess my school nurse friend's impression is wrong. She is a sub, and has worked at many schools. Her impression is that teachers everywhere are under a lot of stress.

I wonder what these five initiatives are. Does anyone know? MAP must be one of the five.

spedvocate said...


The catch in the wording of the change Libros is proposing might be "special education services that are not available at the attendance area school." Under the new ICS model, *all* schools theoretically offer services for all but the more profoundly affected and also medically fragile students. The reality is a bit different of course. But that's a longer issue to discuss.


Very interesting MonkeyP. Not really true about ALL services being available under ICS. First off... ICS isn't really everywhere, and it's a big huge secret where it really is. And secondly, there really aren't any services in ICS since it's just the resource room. See? Fooled you. Technically, the district has always claimed that "inclusion" programs are really the same as "self-contained". Amazingly, according to union rules they ARE the same and get the exact same staffing. (ridiculous of course. we all know inclusion isn't the same as self-contained) Therefore, you're only in an inclusion program if you need it (and, in fact, can't be served anywhere else.) Technically, they would argue that inclusion isn't the same as ICS. After all, inclusion has people working there.. ICS doesn't.

Tracey Libros has long denied any special assignment needs of families with special ed kids.. for years now. Kids at McGilvra were booted out when they graduated, even if their needs could have been met there.. because.. well, you were soooooooooo lucky to ever to have been placed somewhere so elite, and after K, you should expect much worse service as a punishment. That is, BK graduates of McGilvra were routinely assigned to Madrona instead just moving into McGilvra's first grade. The current situation is to keep all the kids at McGilvra, regardless of need, even if they wish to leave, and then... not serve them, because they removed all the staff except the one resource room teacher.

But that is all a digression. If those are indeed the new special ed rules. Great. Your younger Monkey, can attend your inclusion kid's school.

seattle citizen said...

Iniatives currently being enacted:

1) MAP
2) Common Curriculum (some places, more coming)
3) Mainstreaming ELL and SpEd
4) Differentiation (not much yet, but one of MAP's purposes, in addition to targeting intervention, is differentiation based on RiT scores)
5) RtI - Response to Intervention; "triage" of intervention for behavior and other issues, might include academic, as per MAP RIT scores
6) SAP - changing demographics
7) Changing evaluation procedures

Other changes, not necessarily programatic, but impacting building educators:
* Loss of Career Offices
* Loss of lunch room staff (loss of any adult in a building is a loss for students that someone must make up for)
* Loss/transition of many staff after last year's RIF - building dynamic changes
* Loss/transition of Principals and APs as they are shifted around district
* Loss of smaller class sizes
* Loss of class funding = loss of "special" and "elective" programs (contraction to core)
* loss of benefits stability: One-year (only) CBA contract, due for renegotiation this spring
* loss of deep and meaningful pedagogy to mere grouped standardized test results

monkeypuzzled said...

Spedvocate--you're absolutely right about ICS--I was parroting the line that has been given me by the district when I was trying to investigate--to quote Amy Briggs: "Next year all schools will be offering ICS services."--??

So hopefully it looks like all is well in terms of my kids staying together ... I'm just nervous bec technically my kindergartener is ICS not inclusion ... she just happens to attend a school that has an existing inclusion program, which means that she is getting services quite a bit more robust than some of the ICS parents I've heard from elsewhere. What happens to the inclusion program when the kids who are in it now graduate out? Are they just going to let it wither away, like the state under end-stage Marxism?

Totally OT, I apologize.

spedvocate said...

Yes, if you go to a school where ICS is really the old inclusion program, then well... it might be good. But even then, it's totally sucked for a lot of kids. Take North Beach.... they suspended the incoming disabled ICS Kindergartener, said he was a "criminal" and that he should NOT be there. Well now, there's an inclusion program right down the hall at North Beach, perfectly able to handle those criminal kindergarteners, but sorry, no service will be available to the criminals in ICS. If they just suspend them, maybe they will go away. Take Montlake... they stuck the incoming ICS kid in the resource room, but then cut the single resource room staff to half time. No other support staff either. Well, what's he supposed to do the other half of the time? There's an inclusion program right down the hall at Montlake. Resource room teacher didn't want to lose more kids though, afraid her caseload would drop even more, and then maybe they'd put her to quarter time.

Sure you're smart to worry about what happens to the inclusion teacher after most of the older kids graduate. She'll need to somehow get herself to 22:1. One common tactic is to "identify" general ed kids into the program, to maintain numbers... and staff.