Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Education Directors

There are five education directors who have all been laid off. The elimination of their positions are part of the reduction of central administration staff and expenses. Please, dry your eyes. Their jobs will be slightly re-defined and brought back. It is disingenuous of the Superintendent to claim that the jobs were cut in the first place.

Right now the five Education Director positions include one for high schools, one for middle schools and K-8s, and three for elementaries. My understanding is that when the jobs come back they will be re-organized geographically instead. So there will be an Education Director for West Seattle, for the south-end, for the Central Region, and two for the north-end. The divisions are likely to be along the lines of the old middle school regions.

Personally, I think this is a stupid idea. How can we believe that there is parity across the District if the people responsible for it are regionalized? Will you believe that the north-end schools and the south-end schools offer similar academic opportunities if they don't share administrators? In addition, the issues of high schools are sufficiently different from those of middle schools and elementary schools that specialization is called for. Right now there is one person to turn to for high school credit or high school graduation issues. To whom will they turn in future?

What other changes should there be in the Education Director's job?

How can the Education Directors be made more accountable? How can the Education Directors be given more authority to hold the principals accountable? What duties should the Education Directors have?

I would like to see the Education Directors have heightened responsibility to confirm that the curricular alignment work is getting done, to confirm that the Special Education Inclusion effort is being done right, to confirm the quality and effectiveness of advanced learning programs. I mention these because these are three things that are not happening now. Frankly, the failure of the current Education Directors to hold principals accountable for these three things is grounds enough to fire the lot of them and not re-hire them.

A lot of the talk about teacher quality ends up being talk about principal quality. These are the folks who are supposed to supervise those principals. These are the folks who are supposed to be getting rid of the ineffective principals and making sure that the principals are getting rid of the ineffective teachers. So if there is an ineffective teacher or an ineffective principal in a school then it is the Education Director who is to blame for that. Again, this alone is grounds enough to fire the lot of them and not re-hire them.



Joan NE said...

"...I would like to see the Education Directors have heightened responsibility to confirm that the curricular alignment work is getting done, ....failure of the current Education Directors to hold principals accountable for these three things is grounds enough to fire the lot of them and not re-hire them...."

Charlie, I wonder if you could point me to another strand where you explain why you are a fan of curriculum alignment (CA)? Or could you explain here?

I will offer two reasons for not liking CA.

It is my understanding that one of the underlying reasons for curriculum alignment (CA) is to make it much easier for so-called "Instructional Leaders" to enforce teaching-to=the-test. This is the perspective I gained from a document on the OSPI website. This does seem to me like a plausible explanation for why CA is so important to corporatist regressive education reformers.

Curriculum alignment after all, means not only uniformity of course offerings and course standards across the district, but also alignment of curriculum with high stakes tests.

I note that in a presentation at the April 7 general legislative session of the School Board, the CAO (Curriculum Alignment Officer Susan Enfield) indicated that this as a priority for 2010-2011: "Non-college ready courses [to be] removed from course catalogue" (c.f. slide 15 of the pdf)

here is the url for the presentation: http://www.seattleschools.org/

Yes this is change. Yes change is needed. But I suggest that CA is not necessesarily overall a constructive form of change.

Have you considered what CA is going to mean as such time as Core24 is implemented? There will be no room of any of the popular electives that are currently being offered at different high schools, unless the school day is extended.

I understand, for example that Garfield HS is a popular, well-developed marine biology course (I don't know if there is more than one course in this program). At a community engagement meeting at Garfield last December, the CAO did not giving an encouraging response when asked if the marine biology elective could continue to count toward the science graduation requirement.

Unless the school day is extended to seven periods, Core24 will leave no capacity for electives that are not curricularly aligned. implemented?

At least, that is my understanding.

What will become of opportunity to study music, art, dance, theater, and academic electives when Core24 is implemented, even if there is a 7-day period?

wsnorth said...
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seattle said...
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Stu said...

People who are looking for fundamental problems in the district can see a great example with this example. Forget the ridiculous "we're firing people" game for a moment, though that IS annoying, and look at what should be seemingly pretty straightforward.

To address equity within the district, and programs/problems school to school, someone should be responsible at each level of education. Restructuring the directors so that it's a regional thing is a perfect example of pitting schools and regions against each other. It's stirring the political divides all over again -- the first time the NE Director fights for something and gets it, you can be sure that the SE Director's going to want it too -- and it's the perfect example of inefficiency.

So simple yet, once again, they've taken a wrong turn.


Charlie - I'm going to try my new "direct" approach on Harium's site to see if I can get a direct response on this . . . again, it seems so clear so I figure I must be missing something, right?

seattle said...


I think there is a big difference between aligned curriculum and standardized curriculum.

What you are describing sounds more like standardized curriculum where as what I think Charlie is advocating for is an aligned curriculum.

Aligned curriculum requires schools to teach the standard grade level expectaions (GLE's) and the EALR's set forth by the state. An aligned curriculum doesn't specify what pedagogy, text, pace, etc. are to be used. I think most Seattle parents expect and support an aligned curriculum.

Standardized curriculum on the other hand goes requires a teacher to teach the GLE's and EALR's in a scripted, and standardized way. It often requires the use of a specific text, standardized materials, movement at a certain pace, and does not allow an freedom of pedagogy, exploration, teaching styles, etc. I don't think many parents in Seattle want or support standardized curriculum.

Charlie Mas said...

Jasper said it well for me.

I've written about this before.

I absolutely endorse curricular alignment. I absolutely believe that the core set of knowledge and skills should be taught to all students in the same grade and subject all across the district. Work that earns a "B" at School A should also earn a "B" at School B.

For me, this curricular alignment is the heart of providing equitable access to academic opportunities all across the District.

Alignment, however, does not require Standardization. It does not require Standardized texts, or Standardized pedagogy, let alone Standardized lessons. It does not require the Standardization or even the alignment of content outside of the core content.

I don't think that curricular alignment even requires all students to take the same courses in high school. So long as the educational goals (the EALRs and the GLEs) are met, then it doesn't matter if the course is called Algebra or if it is called Math for Machinists. I don't care if it's called Holiday on Ice.

Nor does curricular alignment prohibit work beyond the Standards or the incorporation of students' IEPs.

Curricular alignment is a really good thing.

HOWEVER, if Seattle Public Schools shortcuts curricular alignment and tries to use a cheap substitute like Standardization instead (Standardized texts, Standardized pedagogy - called Fidelity of Implementation, or even Standardized lessons), I will fight it.

Common assessments are okay, so long as they aren't material specific. Can't we assess how well students understand allegory without requiring that they all read Moby Dick? We can certainly assess students' facility with the Pythagorean theorem without making them all get exactly the same lesson.

Professional Development is good, so long as it isn't material specific - I don't see why it should be anyway. That just strikes me as limiting. Teachers should learn "how to teach multiplying binomials", not "how to teach Investigation Eight" or "how to teach Page 115". In fact, I'm not convinced the professional development should even be as specific as "how to teach the FOIL method of multiplying binomials".

SPS mom said...
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Teachermom said...

Well, I am not sure that reorganizing the directors geographically is such a terrible idea. It would help with alignment between feeder schools, and deeper knowledge of the needs of specific communities. I am not sure it would make a difference with regards to parity, as long as we had strong directors in all of the positions who were responsive to the needs of their community.

I am not a huge fan of M G-J, but I do think that she has fired some bad apples downtown, and am hoping that is the goal of eliminating the positions and then re-hiring for the newly defined ones. Firing without truly "firing", and opening the district up to lawsuits.

seattle said...
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seattle said...

"Unless the school day is extended to seven periods, Core24 will leave no capacity for electives that are not curricularly aligned. implemented?"

I don't understand what you mean by this Joan? We currently have a 6 period day in high school. All students choose two electives per semester so even if a Marine Biology class did not count as a science credit, a student could still take it as an elective.

And why would Core 24 extend the school day? Most college bound students in SPS are already self selecting a Core 24 schedule without the district imposing it on them. My child is and his day is not extended. All core 24 does is require kids to take classes that will allow them to meet the minimum requirements to get into a 4 year college. This may cause students to have less flexibility in their schedules and fewer electives in 11th and 12th grades but it would not lengthen their school day at all.

SPS mom said...
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seattle said...

Thanks SPS mom! Where are they on Harium's blog? I'm not finding them.

Joan NE said...

I am afraid I don't have time to continue this conversation tonight...I probably won't be able to the clarify my points about C-A and answer the Q about Core24 until tomorrow.

I will only say this for now. When the District uses the term "curriculum alignment" I think they mean what Charlie and Jasper are calling "standardization."

Again, I suggest looking within wwW.seattleschools.org website, using "curriculum alignment" as a search term, in order to try to ascertain what the District means when they use this term.

dan dempsey said...

You must be kidding:
"opening the district up to lawsuits."

Look at the way the Board and the Superintendent make decisions.

When I tried to find a lawyer in early March to bring action against SPS, most of the referrals I followed had to bow out when the interested attorneys to which I spoke found out their firms represented the SPS. I was trying only Seattle legal firms. Freimund, Jackson, & Tardif of Olympia are also representing the SPS currently.

Read the Wash. Constitution article IX this district is a lawsuit magnet.

Look at the Special Ed laws in particular IDEA ... MG-J's special education changes = lawsuit magnet.

The problem is that only in Federal Court are the legal expenses of the winner paid by a losing school district.

Currently there is essentially ZERO enforcement of Wash. Const. article IX.
I hope to change that in the next legislative session by making losing school districts responsible for legal fees up to $20,000 when the district loses an article IX related legal action.

That appears to be the only way to get MG-J and the four directors to make decisions and plans that respect the constitutional rights of students and families.

Charlie Mas said...

There are many more lawyers who will take a wrongful termination case than will take up an appeal of a School Board decision.

I have had a number of discussions with Kathy Vasquez about curricular alignment. She's the person in charge of it in the JSCEE and she gets it. She knows the difference - at least well enough to say the right things about it.

Unfortunately, there are two things working against students and the chances of true curricular alignment:

1) The huge disconnect between the district's headquarters and the schools. Usually this is a good thing as the District headquarters are usually trying to do something bad and the schools are able to ignore their edicts. This time, however, the edict is good but the schools are getting it wrong. Then, in an effort to simplify the message, the headquartes re-states it badly and, unfortunately, the simplified message is getting through.

2. Curricular Alignment is hard to confirm. Standardization is easy to confirm. Managers are busy/lazy. Result: lazy managers impose Standardization instead of curricular alignment. Bad principals who don't know or what to know what is happening in their classrooms want to be able to poke their head into the room, confirm that the teacher is on page 53 on November 24th, make a check mark on their clipboard and move on in twenty seconds.

As for CORE24, the students who are already university-bound will be largely unaffected. You know, your kids. Think now of how it will impact the students who are NOT university-bound. Think how it will impact the students who are barely able to meet the current graduation requirements. Think about how it will impact students who sometimes fail classes. Six classes a semester times four years equals 24 possible credits. The schedule has to be completely full - solid - for all four years. Students who fail even one class will have to make it up either with an extended day or during the summer. It will impose a discouraging obstacle to a number of these students. About half of them are already dropping out. And why should we impose CORE24? Because people who went to university don't see other post-secondary education opportunities as valid. Talk about your cultural biases.

seattle said...
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seattle said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

I think most people don't know what Ed Directors do so what this change means is a mystery. I suspect that most of these same people will be rehired.

On one side, having them know all the schools in one region might be helpful. On the other side, having a middle school director would make asking for resources a more fair proposition than you might see with regional directors.

I think I would need to see the newly revised job description before I say much. I do agree with much of what Charlie said. There needs to be someone watching over principals and their duties and holding them accountable and reporting back to the CAO.

I know from some interaction with principals that they sometimes love their Ed Director and others feel ignored.

seattle said...
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seattle said...

I am not advocating for Core 24 at all. In fact I don't see any reason to mandate it when currently any student can self select a Core24 schedule on their own.

But I do like to keep the facts straight.

Core24 does not require a 7 period day as was posted earlier in this thread.

In addition it was posted that Core24 leaves no room in a students schedule for electives and the arts, when in fact it increases the current SPS arts requirement from 2 years to 3 years.

It is true that meeting Core24 requirements leaves no room for failed classes to be made up. A student would have to make up a failed class in summer school.

And I 100% agree that a mandated Core24 would be a huge obstacle for many struggling and even mediocre students and as a result would cause a higher drop out rate.

Charlie Mas said...

CORE24 is supposed to come with all kinds of supports - including the opportunity for an extended day, credit for classes taken in middle school, credit for alternative courses of study, and support for struggling students. If things run as they usually do, we will see the mandates, but not the supports or funding.

CORE24 is also supposed to have versions that lead to university, to community college, and to career, but they are really all geared to university admission. This is intentional and acknowledged.

Joan NE said...

Charlie, I think you did a good job answering the question about Core24. There is more that can be said against Core24, but I save this - and the Q @ extended day - for a separate posting.

I want to focus on the question of what the District means when they talk about C-A (curriculum alignment) as a priority.

Look at the math curriculum situation. Charlie, do you feel that the C-A that we are experiencing in Math is in the best interests of children? To disallow schools to use a superior curriculum instead of the District's Aligned Curriculum in Math does harm to children. To disallow remedial math in high school is a disservice to children who come to 9th grade ill-prepared for algebra.

The District has erred in math, and won't admit it. Why should we trust the district to make wise choices in other curriculum?

This is my sense of what Curriculum Alignment means:

--District mandated course textbooks/materials/literature selections/etc.; [Note 1]

---Core24 [Note 2]

--Course credit conditioned on scores on District assessments in every core curriculum course [Note 3]

--using principals and instructional coaches/mentors to moniter teachers for fidelity to course pacing guides

--a variety of forms of pressure on teachers to coerce them to "teach- to-the-[state and district standardized] test"

--curriculum that emphasizes memorization over critical thinking skills

--diminished quality of honors courses, advanced placement courses, and the highly-gifted self-contained programs.

--artificial means for "closing the achievement gap", such as focusing on "bubble-kids" and "bringing down the top"

--heavy emphasis on school and district "score cards" in which parents are encouraged to view their children's success, and teacher and school quality through the lens of individual and aggregate standardized test score growth.

Does not my description of C-A match up with what people are seeing in the priorities being expressed in numerous ways by District Leadership?

Note 1: Remember the literature alignment that the District tried to force onto NOVA, one of Seattle's best high schools? Thank goodness the District backed down on that. To force NOVA to conform to Literature Alignment is to breaking what is working.

Note 2. The State's Achievement Gap Committee is opposed to Core24, and their reasoning makes emminent sense. For many students, it is electives that make kids want to go to school everday...take those away, and we can expect higher drop out rates. Core24 means many popular and building-unique courses are being eliminated - most probably the Marine Biology course(s) at Garfield high schools will not longer be allowed as satisfying a graduation science credit requirement, and probably it is going to be eliminated from the 2010-11 Garfield HS course catalogue.

Note 3: I heard the Chief Academic Officer announce at a C-A community engagement meeting last December, that this is the District's intent.

Joan NE said...

I am not able to check this blog again until tomorrow,...so please understand if any Q's and comments directed toward me go unanswered for some 24 hours..

Chris S. said...

Joan, Charlie has posted in the past about the difference between alignment and standardization, and pointed out that district staff either doesn't understand teh distinction, or intentionally obfuscates the distinction.

I agree with Charlie that CA by his definition is not bad, but I agree with you that it's unlikely that CA by Charlie's definition is a goal of this administration. So while CA may not be bad, the "CA" being spewed by this district should be regarded with strong suspicion.

And, I don't know much about this, but I have seen the statement "SPS has 6 period days" generate some debate. Like maybe not all schools have 6-credit-earning-period days? Didn't WSea High try to implement a true 6 period day?

Chris S. said...

And since this thread is about education directors, could someone chime in about what a good one is like? From experience?

Joan NE said...

Chris - I also agree that Charlie's definition of C-A is a constructive definition.

I fear that when Charlie advocates for the Board pressing the Sup., the Sup pressing the ED's, and the ED's pressing the principals to more quickly implement and then enforce the C-A called for in the strategic plan, he is unknowingly advocating for something different to his benign, constructive definition of C-A.

I have kids in two different elementary schools. The staffs of both schools sought a waiver to EDM. One wanted Singapore MAth, one wanted to go back to TERC. The SPM waiver was denied and the teachers are trying to make the best of curriculum they know is poor.

The staff at the other school has gotten what strikes me as a "don't ask/don't tell" kind of permission to go back to TERC, which, in my opinion, is even worse than EDM. Judging from the teacher's weekly messages and the homework, it appears to me that her teacher is teaching below standard.

This compound experience is a clear example that to me illustrates a) that having, and then enforcing minimum tandards is constructive, and b) the downside of mandated curricula: Sometimes the District errs in its choice.

seattle said...

Joan I see where you are going in that the district may very well try to turn curriculum alignment (CA) into Curriculum standardization (CS), and I think your example of the district mandating all schools to use specific texts such as Discovering and Everyday Math, and materials such as Writers Workshop show that this is a path this district is willing to take.

But instead of not advocating for CA because we are scared the district will turn it into CS, shouldn't we stand firm and continue to advocate for CA implemented responsibly? Don't we owe that to the students of this district?

And what is the alternative if we don't advocate for CA? No district wide or state wide standards? No GLE's or EALR's? Each school and each teacher doing their own thing? Teaching whatever they see fit whenever they want to? I don't think that would go over well with most parents.

Charlie Mas said...

Whether parents would like it or not, it would be irresponsible for the District to allow it (as they have for the past ten years).

The District's role in HR, Finance, Transportation and Facilities is clear. The District's role in academics, however, is less cut and dried.

I would like to see the District play a Quality Assurance role. The District's duty is to confirm that the schools are doing what they are supposed to be doing (at a minimum) and to take corrective action when the schools fail to fulfill their requirements.

In this role, the District would not intervene in successful programs developed by individual schools, but would step in and provide guidance and support at schools that were not proving successful. The District would make that determination through a number of assessments.

The District would check to confirm that all students were taught - at a minimum - the GLEs and EALRs, the core content that students are expected to learn. The District should also check to confirm that students working beyond Standards are getting appropriate challenge and that students working below Standards are getting appropriate support. The District should also assume a compliance role with regard to students with IEPs and bilingual education.

So long as a school is meeting the expectations by teaching the curriculum, challenging advanced learners, supporting struggling learners, and complying with the law with regard to Special Education and bilingual education, then the District should not poke its nose into the function of that school. That's earned autonomy. The District shouldn't be sending them any "help" that they don't ask for, including mandated materials, mandated instructional strategies, data coaches, or any other camp followers.

And the person who is responsible for this school review is the Education Director.

seattle citizen said...

Jasper raises an interesting point about alignment. While it is true that there are two "kinds" being discussed, apparently interchangably, Jasper says that parents wouldn't put up with there being NO "standards" such as EALRs or their subset, GLEs....
Really? There was no such thing as EALRs until the mid to late 1990s. For a century, parents have gladly sent their children off to school trusting that board, the principal and the teachers had figured out what to teach.
This varied across districts, of course - different ethos and beliefs influenced what was taught. It also varied as to how WELL it was taught. But the idea of a standard curriculum (skills and knowledge) across an entire state (and soon across and entire nation) would have seemed absurd. Certainly, districts adopted texts from companies that provided them (First Readers, etc, up through McDougal-Littel American History, etc) but districts decided what should be taught, gave that message to principals, who gave it to teachers.
State standards? A new thing, so why would teachers be up in arms if these "standards" aren't adhered to? Is it because they've been convinced to abandon trust in their boards, principals and teachers and instead place it in standardized tests? Have these state tests (standards-based) replaced common sense and flexibility? Have parent and guardians really become convinced that state (and soon federal) standards are the be-all and end-all of education?

Because of this possibility, WV has become very subued

seattle citizen said...

oops, this should read "State standards? A new thing, so why would PARENTS be up in arms if these "standards" aren't adhered to?

Charlie Mas said...

Central control is good and desirable when local control is suspect or lacks the resources necessary for the task.

In every other case, local control is best.

So allow the teacher to do as the teacher sees fit so long as the teacher is up to the job. If not, the principal should provide support or intervene as necessary.

Allow the school to do as it sees fit so long as the school is up to the job. If not, the district should provide support or intervene as necessary.

Allow the district to do as it sees fit so long as the district is up to the job. If not, the state should provide support or intervene as necessary.

Allow the state to do as it sees fit so long as the state is up to the job. If not, the feds should provide support or intervene as necessary.

There should be clear, well-defined criteria, metrics, assessments, and benchmarks for each measure of being "up to the job". There should be a clear set of supports/interventions that are provided. There should be clear measures of the improvement expected from the introduction of the interventions/supports.

There is no reason that things cannot operate on this professional, open, and transparent basis. I honestly believe that everyone would be better served and happier if things were done this way. Instead, we have vague measures, politically driven decisions, failure to supervise, and inappropriate and unwarranted interventions. It's an organizational nightmare because they lack any set of basic organizational principles. They don't even know if the Education Directors should have their responsibility divided by grade level or by geography.

Snoop said...

"Curricular Alignment is hard to confirm. Standardization is easy to confirm. Managers are busy/lazy."

Standardization isn't really a bad thing is it? Surely, since we're splitting hairs, a standardized curriculum is also internally aligned at a minimum, and should be aligned to state standards. If the materials are good, why wouldn't we want the same ones in every school? Seems like a no-brainer. And yes, a standardized curriculum is easier to administer. Why would that be a bad thing either? Ease of administration is a positive. Difference for it's own sake, isn't really something great, is it? Why would we want 50 different schools, using 50 different texts... just because they all possibly could be "aligned to standard". The use of standardized curriculum, by itself, doesn't require that teachers are limited to teaching to the test. NCLB will mean that teachers are doing a lot of teaching to the test... no matter what materials they choose.

We now hear "local control best". Really? I don't know that I buy that as an axiom. We've got so little accountability and the absence of any method of measuring quality... that standardization is probably a good approximation. If the district can't measure 1 parameter of quality... how are they going to measure 50 different flavors? And furthermore, with principals moving every couple years.. standardization seems like the way to go.

Charlie Mas said...

Standardization is great for mass produced identical objects with interchangable parts, but not so good for human beings.

Teaching - and learning - are human endeavors that require creativity, innovation, and improvisation. They don't come scripted and they don't come on a timetable and they don't come in one-size-fits-all.

Standardization is the death of teaching and learning - except for those for whom the Standard was designed.

And yes, local control does require central quality assurance - which has been missing from Seattle Public Schools.

Snoop said...

Standardization isn't really all that radical. Bellevue has standard curriculum. Nor does it have to be scripted, or completely lacking in improvisation. The idea that different curriculum reach different populations is also wrong. Is EDM really aimed at a completely different population than Saxon or Singapore? No. You may prefer one over the other, but selecting one isn't really the issue. The notion of "earned autonomy" is realistically impractical, and a waste of money. Not only is central quality assurance evidently impossible.. so is any semblance of principal quality or even continuity. Given those holes in the "local control" plan of operation, standardization would seem a requirement.

seattle citizen said...

Snoop, standardization is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

You write that "We've got so little accountability and the absence of any method of measuring quality... that standardization is probably a good approximation. If the district can't measure 1 parameter of quality... how are they going to measure 50 different flavors? And furthermore, with principals moving every couple years.. standardization seems like the way to go.

Sooo...if managers are not, as you claim, measuring "quality" NOW, why would they measure it under some common text, standardized test metric?

And, of course, common text and standardized tests does not meet the full range of either student need or teacher "quality"

Unless you define quality as the ability to mouth the minute's script and prepare students for The Test.

seattle citizen said...

And, Snoop, if principals continue to move every couple of years, who would be monitoring this adherence to standardization?

Fix existing problems rather than redesign the whole system to try and work around them.

This is the main problem with standardization: It sees struggling kids (the "problem") and rather than address their needs it says, "fix the teaching." This is a work-around that leaves the problem to fester, while concurrently debasing and devaluing important aspects of teaching that aren't standardized.

Snoop said...

Given the huge mobility in the district, of both students and staff (mostly, principals), wouldn't some continuity be welcome? And if we were to define and measure "quality", wouldn't it be a lot easier to measure given one curriculum instead of just any old thing some teacher wants to do? It just takes one needless variable out of the equation so that the more important things can be in focus.

I mean... if we all think GLE's and EALRs are all so wonderful, then why not curriculum. If you oppose standardization, then you should also oppose GLE's. If every teacher is own her own... then why have standards or expectations. Those are equally problematic.

seattle citizen said...

Snoop, I don't oppose having an expected set of skills and knowledge that we expect educators to try and teach students. I do oppose taking away the flexibility of educators to teach towards these skills and knowledges in ways that reflect THEIR skills and knowledge, their understanding of best practice, and their highly unique group of students.

I guess what I was trying to point out before is that if you fix the problem of principals moving around, and hold prinicpals accountable for monitoring what teachers are doing, then you don't have to do the "standards-based assessments" (high stakes for teachers and students alike, I might add) that are monitored by someone sitting in front of a computer screen downtown. If you do NOT fix the problem of principals, then there is no fix for accountability anyway: if principals can't run the schools, then who will? Microsoft Windows?

SPS mom said...
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seattle said...

"if you fix the problem of principals moving around, and hold prinicpals accountable for monitoring what teachers are doing, then you don't have to do the "standards-based assessments"

How exactly would we be able to tell if the principal was monitoring the teachers? How would we determine how well their students were learning and progressing if we couldn't assess or test those students? How exactly would we or could we hold the principal accountable? What tools could we use?

While I don't support high stakes testing, I have no problem at all with standards-based testing...and yes you can have one without the other. Standardized tests have been around for many years (I tooke them over 20 years ago) and they were never problematic until they became high stakes.

Snoop said...

Sure you can have standardized tests without standardized curriculum... but why would you? If the standard is good, and there's an adopted way to get to them, why not do it across the board? When we were kids we had standardized curricula too. All the schools bought the same books. Nobody cried about it. We also have standardized certification for teachers. We don't just let anybody get up and teach.

Nothing is perfect. If it were, we wouldn't need standardized tests, GLEs, EALRs, text-books, certified teachers etc. We also wouldn't need diplomas or graduation at all. We'd all just learn at school from somebody good... until we could demonstrably fly on our own. But since we are far from perfect, and there's nobody to monitor quality... we have to settle for some things that are less than perfect. Standardized curriculum beats teachers just teaching whatever they feel is best. I basically oppose high-stakes testing also... but it sort of goes with having standards. You can't really have a tool... like the WASL... and then NOT make it high stakes. If it wasn't high stakes, then nobody would really bother doing it... or doing it to their highest ability. And if nobody bothered with it, then why bother with writing up the GLEs that it measures?