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Friday, May 14, 2010

Go To This Meeting

On Monday, May 17, the Board's Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee will meet from 4:30 to 6:00.

Here's the agenda:
a. Graduation Requirements
- When/how to bring to committee of the whole
b. Update on STEM at Cleveland
- Alternative Learning Experience process
c. Performance management/Waiver Process
- Establish guiding principles
- Set timeline for work between now & September
d. Alternative Schools Evaluation/Review
- Who/when
e. Policy E 04.00 - Community Schools

There's something here for almost everyone.

Graduation Requirements
Will the District move towards CORE24? How smart is that? How are we going to get kids to earn 24 credits when we can't get 30% of them to earn 20 credits? How can we provide students with the classes needed for them to get 24 credits? Is it even a good idea for every high school graduate to have the credits needed to gain entry to a four-year university? Why is that seen as the only legitimate goal? Will the District standardize the graduation requirements for all high schools?

Update on STEM at Cleveland
How can there be an update already? It's odd that the bullet point under this item is "Alternative Learning Experience". I was not aware that STEM students would be earning credits through the ALE rules. Is it only for their internships?

Performance management/Waiver Process
Ah! Will we finally get some transparent rules, criteria, metrics, assessments, and benchmarks for the waiver process? Why are some schools allowed waivers and others are not? What can be waived and what can't? If Curricular Alignment does not require standardized materials, then why can't schools use non-standard materials? Why can't alternative schools get waivers more easily? Where is the earned autonomy? Is the Cake a Lie?

Alternative Schools Evaluation/Review
The District has made a lot of decisions about alternative schools without the benefit of any data from an alternative school review. When will this mythical review actually occur? Will the District defer any more decisions about alternative schools until it is done?

Policy E 04.00 - Community Schools
See? If you're the Alliance for Education you can get your pet topic discussed within a month. If you're just ordinary citizens, student families and voters you can go sit in the corner and hold your breath.

7 comments:

Michael Rice said...

Mr. Mas writes: Will the District standardize the graduation requirements for all high schools?

I did not know that the graduation requirements were not the same for all the high schools. Can someone list what the requirements are for all the schools, so we can see the differences?

seattle citizen said...

Graduation Policy

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/policies/c/C15.02.pdf
First section:

(note last paragraph on waivers for schools wishing to diverge)
"Credit Requirements
Students must have a minimum of 20 requirements in order to graduate. The State requires 19 credits; the District requires one additional credit, for the total of 20. The credit requirement breakdown is included in the Graduation Requirements Bulletin. While students are required to have 20 credits to graduate, students are urged to examine their post-high school plans, and to take the appropriate credits that will allow them to achieve their postgraduate goals. Additionally, students are encouraged to gain proficiency in many areas of the curriculum.
Individual schools may wish to require additional credits for graduation; to do so,the school must receive a written waiver from the Director of High Schools and theChief Academic Officer.
.

Charlie Mas said...

To find the graduation requirements for each high school, I suggest that you visit each school's web site. Nathan Hale tops the list by requiring 23.5 credits.

Even the requirements that appear the same, such as a culminating project, the high school plus plan, or the service learning, have different expectations and requirements among the schools.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And that's why I don't like the senior project - it gets done differently at every school with varying degrees of expectation. I feel that if we have some students struggling just to graduate, putting a somewhat useless and tedious senior project in there really doesn't help. This isn't to say there isn't a value but it seems like project and presentation based work could be part of the class experience and not on top of it.

IB and Honor Society require more community service and, with IB, you can't start until your junior year.

SP said...

Melissa,
The senior project is part of the state requirements for graduation, as well as the 4 year-plus plan. I agree that it is inconsistantly followed. Community service is a district requirement (60 hrs).

As for the Core 24, the Burke group did a report several years ago for the WA Dept of Education (it's online) which was largely ignored. It concluded that raising the grad credits to 24 would not change anything as far as "college readiness" and might even lower the bar as to the rigor of those extra core credits. They had lots of data from all the state high schools to show what we already know- college bound kids take the extra core classes to be able to go to college. Rocket science- not.

Seattle was among the lowest districts to require so few credits to graduate- most are at the 22 credit level, which still gives some wiggle room for struggling students.

Definitely, I found the Seattle School Board's discussion of the Core 24 to also be a joke, suggesting that kids could start in middle school (for even art & electives) to aculuminate high school credits. What's the point? Raise the credit bar and lower the expectations? Colleges want to see rigorous classes taken all through high school, not just in the lower classes, and I think they would laugh at middle school earned credits.

The Board even suggested that kids who speak another language at home be "given" the 2 high school credits for world languages, without any type of testing or formal classroom instruction. My kid has always spoken his dad's language with him at home, but that does not mean he can write it, read it and congugate a verb properly. But he can instantly earn 2 high school credits? Wow--and then I read that UW wants to recognize high school credits in world language for their own world language requirement, to cut costs. Double wow---

Charlie Mas said...

Seattle Parent wrote: "The Board even suggested that kids who speak another language at home be "given" the 2 high school credits for world languages, without any type of testing or formal classroom instruction"

My kids speak English at home; can they get two years' credit for English?

SP said...

Charlie,
I went back & found my meeting notes from the CORE 24 presentation by Mary Jean Ryan (BOE chair) for the Seattle Board-

Every other word Ryan used seemed to be "flexibility" or "flexible provisions" or "fair amount of felxibility." The examples she gave for gaining these flexible credits were : In middle school, art classes, world language, advanced math, plus sports all could earn HS credits. "Native language speakers" would automatically be given two credits, and "2-for-1" credit classes would be given in high school for many CTE classes (ie 1 for a lab science credit, plus 1 for the CTE credit). She said they just needed more time to "unpack the details" in order to find more credit opportunities.

So, by the time a kid graduates from middle school they will be almost ready for Running Start! Why bother with high schools any more with the CORE 24?

Charlie, you'll love this-
The only doubtful Seattle Board member voicing any concerns was Mary Bass, with a tongue in cheek question, "Don't you think native English speakers should be given 2 credits for English also?"