Every School a Quality School

I'm just going to post an email I received from Fionnuala O'Sullivan of South East Seattle for Excellent Education because it requires no introduction or explanation from me.

Ms Carr and your fellow Board Members:

With all due respect... but is that alarm bells I hear ringing?

As a reminder, here is the question that we at SES4EE (South East Seattle for Excellent Education) have posed to Supt Goodloe Johnson, CAO Dr Enfield, School Board members since Jan 20th, 2010

-please define a "Quality" school and the accompanying objective measurements of that definition as per the Strategic Plan Vision 2008 which states as a goal that

2. Every school is a high quality school

Here is the response emailed to us on Feb 28th by Sherry Carr, School Board Member:

"I have spoken with Dr. Enfield on this topic. In response to the meetings that you have had with her previously, she and her team are developing the definition of a quality school. Those materials will be available within the coming week."

And so, just to clarify:
The District has been working on implementing this part of the Strategic Plan since 2008 WITHOUT A DEFINITION AND WITHOUT ANY ACCOMPANYING MEASUREMENT.

How have you been doing this?

I ask that you meet with SE community members for a frank discussion as to how you see the NSAP playing out in SE Seattle.

I hope you will take the time to listen and understand why we continue to push for clear, comprehensive plans as to how each school in SE Seattle is/will be improved.
We expect every child to be offered an excellent education in SE Seattle Public Schools.

We expect the Superintendent, Chief Academic Officer and School Board Members to be accountable to every child in Seattle, including SE Seattle.


Fionnuala O'Sullivan


dan dempsey said…
The Student Assignment Plan is modeled on the premise that every school will be a quality school.

ummmmmm..... looks like

Separate and unequal will be coming.
dan dempsey said…
Nice work Fionnuala,

No doubt TEAM MGJ is really thrilled with the questions and observations coming from those folks with interesting Irish first names.


dan dempsey said…
Off Task=


In Irish mythology, Fionnuala or Fionnghuala, Finnguala or Fionnuala McCoy(from 'fionn ghualainn' or fair-shouldered) was the daughter of Lir of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

In the legend of the Children of Lir, she was changed into a swan and cursed by her stepmother, Aoife, to wander the lakes and rivers of Ireland, with her brothers Fiachra, Conn and Aodh, for 900 years until saved by the marriage of Lairgren, son of Colman, son of Cobthach, and Deoch, daughter of Finghin, which union broke the curse.

'The Song of Fionnuala', with lyrics by Thomas Moore[2] speaks of her wanderings.

The name is anglicized as Fenella. The shortened version Nuala is commonly used a first name in contemporary Ireland.
seattle said…
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SolvayGirl said…
Thanks for posting this Charlie. I was hoping it would make its way to this blog.
ParentofThree said…
Wow, Every school a quality school.
But nobody knows what that means?
ARB said…
Two relevant articles:



(hope links work)

Good letter!
GreyWatch said…
Fionnuala was PTA president back when we started at Beacon. She is a delight. Glad to see she is still shaking things up.
ARB said…
Anyone know which 3 Seattle schools are on the list? Are they in the SE?

Seattle Times

Federal government offers grants to overhaul 'worst' schools

By Linda Shaw

Seattle Times education reporter

Marysville Superintendent Larry Nyland says Tulalip Elementary doesn't deserve to be on a new list of Washington state's lowest-performing schools.

In his view, the school progressed tremendously in the past few years — just not in ways that the federal government measures.

Still, Nyland intends to apply for a share of $50 million in federal grants available to his school and some four dozen others in Washington that are on that list, including three in Seattle.

It's just too much money to pass up, he said.

"Although we might have some angst about the process, we ... want to do well by the kids, and the grant can help us do that."

The grants are part of a $3.5 billion national effort, announced last summer, to overhaul schools judged to be among the lowest 5 percent in terms of student achievement. On Monday, President Obama announced that he wants to add another $900 million to the program.

Schools can receive anywhere from $50,000 to $2 million a year for three years, provided they agree to one of four types of major overhauls, which range from closing the school to introducing a new instructional program and new methods for evaluating and rewarding teachers.

The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has not yet publicly released the names of the schools on Washington's list, saying it's still awaiting final approval from the feds.

In the meantime, eligible districts must apply for a grant by Friday, and the state plans to announce the winners on March 26.

While some school districts have publicly acknowledged they have schools on the list, others have not. Seattle will say it has three schools but won't yet confirm which ones.

What's known so far: Along with the three Seattle schools and Tulalip Elementary, the list includes two middle schools in the Highline School District (Cascade and Chinook), four middle schools in Tacoma and one in Longview.
dan dempsey said…
I was an SBE math panelist along with Larry Nyland.

I have a friend who spent lots of time at Tulalip. The school deserves to be on the list.
dan dempsey said…
Tulalip WASL scores:

Grade Level

Reading Math Writing Science
3rd Grade
21.2% : 24.2% : XX : XX

4th Grade
52.8% : 25.0% : 42.4% : XX

5th Grade
35.5% : 9.1% : XX : 3.1%

Check the Graphs HERE

I believe Marysville uses Everyday Math ... but may have switched this year.
hschinske said…
Y'know, I've always had a beef with the expression "quality" as an adjective. It never says WHAT quality. High quality is assumed, right? But it could be low quality ...

Helen Schinske
SolvayGirl said…
Always the editor Helen; I like that!
WOW, impressive letter. And, for those who followed Ms. O'Sullivan's link [http://ses4ee.wordpress.com] an even more impressive community movement.
h2o girl said…
Aurora -
The three Seattle schools are Cleveland High and Hawthorne and West Seattle elementaries.

West Seattle said…
The three seattle schools have been named.

Cleveland HS, WS Elem and Hawthorne Elem.

Interesting article.

ParentofThree said…
I thought Cleveland would pop up on that list. This NTN contract is making more sense as it probably somehow helps to qualify the school for the $$$. (Privately operated, tightly controlled maybe?)

To bad only high performing students will benefit. Would have rather seen RBHS on the list.
ArchStanton said…
Wow, Every school a quality school.
But nobody knows what that means?

They should talk to this guy
Stu said…
To bad only high performing students will benefit.

Well, to qualify for the money, you don't have to help the kids. You just have to help the building.

dan dempsey said…
Arch, very nice on the Pirsig connection to Quality.

The Metaphysics of Quality originated with Pirsig's college studies as a chemistry student. However, he dropped out after concluding that the ultimate answers to life were not to be found in science.

Of course NOT, because everyone knows they will be found in MGJ's Performance Management system.

I am #7 on the testimony list speaking on information handling ...

I will be wearing a Blue Piece with White Lettering from this Spring's Arch Stanton Collection. Bold yet not over-stated.

I express my sincere appreciation to the designer.
dan dempsey said…
Stu said: too bad only the high performing will benefit.......

Don't bet on it. Minimally guided instruction only works well in situations where the participant is highly skilled in what is to be undertaken. It will not benefit anyone near as well as better instructional practices would.

Good luck with Calculus because if it is all project based it is likely to be a struggle and little may be learned by most attendees.
Joan NE said…
I predict that the District will define a QUALITY school as one that is successful at getting test scores to go up every year, through the means of narrowed, test-centric teaching and learning.

This definition would be consistent with the high stakes testing policy that MGJ is asking the board to approve on March 17. She calls it a performance management policy (PMP).

When the superintendent makes a proposal to the board, the proposal takes the form of a "School Board Action Report" (SBAR).

In the case of this PMP proposal, where SBAR calls for a statement on best practices, the superintendent responds, merely, "N/A." Where the SBAR form asks for information on community engagement, the answer is that there has been none.

The best scientific research literature synthesis I have seen on high stakes testing (i.e., the BOTA letter-report) makes VERY CLEAR that the year-over-year-growth in test scores in a district with a HIGH STAKES TESTING policy, proves nothing more than that the scores have grown.

In other words, it proves NOTHING whatsoever about whether there has been genuine academically growth.

If the community just sits back and lets the district define quality, I GUARANTEE it will NOT be a formula that is going to be genuinely beneficial for children, especially for at-risk students. There are many, many reasons why I say this with such confidence.

The Board, the Superintendent, and other District staff must know of the BOTA report, because I have told them about it (I cite the BOTA report in emails to District staff on Feb 22, and Feb 23. I notified the school board of the BOTA letter last fall).

The fact the Superintendent does not mention the BOTA report on her PMP proposal on Feb.3 suggests that either staff is unfamiliar with the most relevent peer-reveiwed research on this topic, or is disregarding it.

Either way, it makes the District look incompetent or worse.

Please write to the board, and urge the Board to reject the PMP proposal, and instead to adopt a policy that prohibits high stakes testing in SPS.

Please CC joan@mathascent.org, since to have knowledge of how many such letters go to the board is useful for advocating against the PMP.

The following is link to an excellent eight-page article that explains what is "high stakes testing"

Charlie Mas said…
This is just another chapter in the continuing story of talking about accountability without ever having to actually be accountable or take any real action.

The District has been spouting that slogan about "Every school a quality school" for years without investing any meaning into it. They have been able to defer meaning by talking about the wonderful future when they will have accountability thanks to a school performance framework and taking almost three years to develop that framework. Now that they are actually expected to deliver the framework - and they pop out something that looks like it was sketched out in an afternoon and not notably different from the mock-up they showed three years ago - you might think that they will have to take some sort of action in pursuit of the slogan. Ha!

Only now, when they are called upon to actually take steps, they will defer the action as they struggle for a definition for the slogan. This will be another multi-year delay. The goal here is to continue to defer the deadline for any real action through timelines filled with action plans that have a lot of non-action verbs. They will be developing, defining, planning, continuing, drafting, and writing implementation plans for years before they will ever have to take any actual action.

By then, they hope for a change in regime or a change in direction, or a new school reform fad that will allow them to completely drop this effort - long before any real action is due. Barring that, they will simply set the whole project down and quietly walk away from it.
southmom said…
I have a question: my child is mandatorily assigned to Aki Kurose. Aki is and has been in step 5 of NCLB for a couple years, and therefore we can request a transfer to another school.

So, what is the logic in that? How exactly does that work?
seattle said…
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seattle said…
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seattle said…
Southmom, last year when a student was assigned to a NCLB failing school, their family received a letter from the district offering them a transfer to a "passing" school. The letter listed several school choices and the family was asked to rank the schools in order of their preference. Though the district allowed families to list their school preference they made no guarantee of which school the child would actually be assigned to. The child could be assigned to any school on that list. Families had to make sure that every school on the list would be a better fit for their child than the school they were opting out of.

To add salt to the wound the district can assign your child to any "passing" school regardless of location, or proximity to your home, as long as they provide transportation.

Last year many SE students assigned to AKI wound up assigned to Jane Addams in the far north part of Seattle. Though they received "transportation" it came in the form of a metro bus pass. As you can imagine a metro pass was not acceptable to families in the SE who were asked to send their 11 year old 6th graders on two metro buses (with a transfer downtown) at 7AM to get to school by 8AM, and then do it all over again to get home.

Using the NCLB opt out option is a crap shoot. You might win, you might lose. If your OK with that, go for it.

Of course you should participate in open enrollment before you rely on the NCLB transfer option. Open enrollment is going on now through March 31st - you can apply for as many schools as you like and rank them in the order of your preference. Assignment letters will go out in May. If you like the school you get, great! If not you can still utilize the NCLB transfer option, as the district doesn't offer that option until mid August (the district has to wait for all WASL scores to be in to determine which schools are passing and which are failing before they can do anything).
Patrick said…
Charlie, yes, that's what management fads are for: going on to something else just in time to avoid accountability for the failure of the previous management fad.

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