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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Superintendent Survey Ends Tomorrow/Call For Stories

(Update, Saturday, the 8th. The CPPS Superintendent survey is open until midnight tonight.)

Just to let you know, there have been roughly 500 CPPS Superintendent surveys taken since last week. Of those, 270 had comments.

The last day to take the survey is tomorrow so if you haven't, here's your chance (or let a friend know). While it is not scientific, I think the results will be of interest to the Board.

Also, Matt Halverson at Seattle Metropolitan magazine is doing a story on the new SAP. He is interested in hearing from anyone thinking about and/or looking to move in order to get to a different school. He is trying to find out if this talk about moving to be near a school is an urban rumor or a reality.

If you are such a person (or know one), contact him at:

mhalverson@sagacitymedia.com or 206-957-2234 x133

30 comments:

reader said...

I encourage people not to get caught up in this survey. It is ridiculous. Like, get a new Superintendent and all of a sudden we get principals who actually supervise and ed directors who actually hold principals accountable? Customer satisfaction is a bogus way to evaluate impact.

Patrick said...

How would you evaluate the superintendent, Reader?

Charlie Mas said...

Actually, I think that if we got the right person as Superintendent we could, in fact, get principals who actually supervise - or at least get rid of those who don't. And we could get education directors who actually hold principals accountable - or at least get rid of those who don't.

That's what we thought we were getting when someone came to town promising "everyone accountable".

seattle said...
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seattle said...
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seattle said...

So how exactly could the Superintendent effectively hold a principal and their ed director accountable? How could a principal and his/her ed director be assessed? How could they be monitored? What criteria or tools would be used?

I think it all boils down to this: How well are the students in the principal's building doing? How well are they learning and/or progressing?

One way to assess student learning and progress via assessment, or standards based tests.

While I don't support high stakes testing, I don't see standards based tests in and of themselves as problematic. They've been around for a long time - we took them when we were kids. They are an effective way to gather data.

But if standardized tests are used to assess how well the principal and his/her ed director are doing, then doesn't that make them high stakes?

If we are OK with using high stakes testing well then great. But if we aren't OK with high stakes testing and still want to hold teachers, principals, and ed directors accountable then how do we do that? What does it look like? What measures do we use? How do we assess them?

And please folks don't bombard me with why high stakes testing is bad and provide hundeds of links to research on it. I already get it. What I'd really like is your opinions. I'd like to hear how, in the absense of standards based testing, we can hold principals and ed directors accountable.

Thanks.

Charlie Mas said...

The District, from the MAP and the WASL, know which students are working below, at, and beyond Standards.

One thing an Education Director could do would be to check the correlation between WASL and MAP results and student progress reports. What kind of grades are students getting if the assessments show that they are not working at grade level?

An Education Director could, fairly easily, run a query and get a list of students at each school who are working below Standards and ask the principal what is being done for those individual students to accelerate their learning and get them to grade level.

An Education Director could also run a query and get a list of students at each school who are working beyond Standards and ask the principal what is being done for those individual students to challenge them appropriately.

And Education Director could ask the principal to describe the services provided to students with IEPs and review the school's compliance with IDEA.

Then question isn't "How are the students progressing?" The question is "What are you doing to provide an appropriate academic opportunity for these students?"

The Education Director could ask the principal "What do you do to confirm that your teachers are delivering the core content?"

These are open-ended questions that could get a variety of viable answers. Each answer should be followed by another open-ended question: "And how well is that working?" The idea is not to dictate what action the principal or the teachers take, but to confirm that they are taking effective action.

This doesn't push the accountability onto the students and it doesn't require Standardization. It is just the Education Directors doing their job.

Sahila said...

From Michingan University Professor Yong Zhao:

http://zhao.educ.msu.edu/2010/04/22/a-pretense-of-science-and-objectivity-data-and-race-to-the-top/

"If the RTT reviewing process—an elaborate apparatus developed by a data-driven Secretary of Education and Department of Education to evaluate efforts by 40 states that involved governors, state legislators, state school boards, superintendents(commissioners), school administrators, business partners, and teacher unions for their chances to receive many billions of dollars—can be so flawed, how much faith can we really have in the data that will be collected about students, used to determine their learning process, to evaluate their teachers and principals, and judge their schools?

Even if we could collect “good data” about students, there are still some questions we must ask:

1. What is the cost, both financial and human, of all this data collection? Can the money for buying/developing/administering tests be used for truly educational activities? Can teachers and students better spend their time on actual teaching and learning rather than reporting and studying for tests?
2. What are the implications of collecting so much data about individual student, from kindergarten to college or even post-graduate level? When we are so concerned about the misuse of health data, should we also consider about academic and school behavior data of our children?
3. Will data-driven instruction truly work? This seems a very mechanical and arrogant—as if we knew exactly how children learn and develop and could prescribe their course of development as well as their purpose for life. But we know children are living organisms, with intentions, agency, emotions, interest, dreams, and hopes. They cannot and should not be deemed needing intervention just because they did do well to meet the prescribed “grade-level” expectations."


I have said quite a few times on this blog that I am not interested in terms such as 'meeting grade level expectations'...

I resonate with Professor Zhao's last sentence... children are organic beings and 'growth' or development is not a linear process... sometimes my son goes full steam ahead intellectually and other times his focus and energy is allocated to social or physical growth... I dont care how far and fast he moves along the continuum, as long as he's moving and as long as he has a teacher who knows, undertstands and supports his needs and process... isnt that what we do with kids with autism or other differences?

Why cant we do that with 'normal' kids? Why not celebrate their individual journeys instead of devaluing that in one child or overvaluing that in another by measuring their 'performance' against an artificial standard/scale that has very little to do with organic life...

seattle citizen said...

Citizens vote for the Board - get rid of the $100,000 campaign contribututions that SOME Board directors get (which makes them "accountable" to the foundations and corporations that give them this money)
Educate the public about Board Directors and responsibilities. THEY hold the Supt accountable to policy THEY design.
Supt, thus responsible to Board, holds CAO and Ed Directors responsible for implememting Policy.
Policy includes regular classroom assessment to inform instruction.

CAO/Ed Directors hold Principals accountable by monitoring their work in the buildings: Are Principals regularly evaluating educators? Are principals instructional leaders? There are all sorts of metrics that can checked and evaluated.

Principals evaluate educators: What does their syllabus look like? What are their unit plans? What does their instruction look like?

Of course, Jasper, you know that I don't support student performance being used for any of this evaluation - it is impossible to account for the many variables, both inside a school and out: How do we know Johnny's increase in reading ability is attributable to the Language Arts teacher? How do we know Teddy's falt-line Reading scores are attributed to Language Arts teacher and not to the death of his mother?

Chris S. said...

Reader, if you want to cut the superintendent some slack, you can certainly take the survey and give her good marks. It's not a biased survey.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Chris has that right. I urge people to take the survey and give her marks based on what YOU think. If you think she's doing a good job, say so.

Reader, this is not about liking Dr. Goodloe-Johnson. I'll bet very few of us have had a real conversation with her.

But part of her job IS interacting with parents. She NEEDS the support of parents who (1) enroll their children in SPS (2) support their schools (increasingly) with PTSA dollars and (3) let elected officials know how they feel about her leadership and the direction of the district.

The fact that under her leadership the rate of private school enrollment stays steady even in a bad economy should say something.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, I'm curious: why does the Supt need the citizens? I'm not sure I follow. Yes, she SHOULD be listening and acting on citizen input, but does she really NEED us? If she has her own personal agenda, her own personal drives, what does she NEED us for? What impact could we have on her life or agenda?

seattle said...

I like your ideas Charlie! Use the data from standardized tests (MAP and WASL) not to monitor student growth and learning, but to identify student needs.

Once we determine student needs then the assessment would be to assure that principals are taking the appropriate action (intervention, accelleration, special ed services) to meet those students needs!

SolvayGirl said...

How to evaluate a principal?
Principals are rated by their teachers on an annual basis. That data could be taken into consideration. Parents should be surveyed on a regular basis; that could be taken into account.
Complaints/raves with the District should be logged and kept in a principal's file.
Principals who move from school to school, take leave constantly, etc. should be red flagged—no brainer.
Problems with principals is in the top 5 of why we're in private school now.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, Jasper, tests can be used as formative tools to...inform instruction. There are numerous cautions: they need to be "triangulated" with other information, such as classwork, observations, etc. Typically, educators are doing this sort of formative assessment regularly already: "What do my students need?" Standardized tests might be used to make this available in a larger sphere (school; district) but there are MORE cautions: The bigger the system gets, the further away from reality it gets - students become mere numbers on the graph, which doesn't meet their needs at all unless it is tempered with specific knowledge frm other sources that inform decisions about the child. The biggest caveat is that these systems can be used for tracking: they already are, in the case of the WASL/HSPE - students are put into groups by race, income etc, and these groups are tracked, services decided, based not on individual need but on groups. A dangerous game, and one that perpetuates racist and classist institutional craptitude.

seattle said...

SC, you've shot down Charlie's ideas about how data (WASL/MAP) could more effectively be used.

Would you care to give your opinion on what else might work?

You started going there with this:

"CAO/Ed Directors hold Principals accountable by monitoring their work in the buildings: Are Principals regularly evaluating educators? Are principals instructional leaders?"

This is great in theory, but how exactly does an ed director monitor and measure a principals work in the building? How does he measure a principals effectiveness without any data (WASL/MAP)?

Then you wrote: "Principals evaluate educators: What does their syllabus look like? What are their unit plans? What does their instruction look like?"

Thanks for giving some specific measures here - that's what I was looking for, and I like them. But again I ask....how does the principal know that those measures are working in the classroom, for all students, sans data data (wasl/map)? How does the ed director know?.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Super needs citizens because:

- that's who votes in the levies. That said, Seattle voters are pretty generous and parents are loathe to vote against them.
- the private school rate. SPS should be making the effort to get some of those people back and those parents are the types who are used to some degree of respect. That could be a big feather in her cap if that rate changed but apparently it's not a concern of hers.
- the Board, the City Council, the Mayor, elected officials. They hear an earful about the lack of communication from the district and the inability for the district to listen to parents. Her job does not exist in a vaccum.
- PTSA. Increasingly, PTSAs are funding maintenance, jobs as well as enrichment/enhancements at their schools. Dr. G-J can certainly operate on the premise that parents will always do this but she may need parents' support someday for some initiative. Not a good idea to alienate your customer base.

I have a feeling that the Broad Superintendent Charm School Academy that parents were not on the list of topics.

seattle citizen said...

Jasper, how does the principal know what's working in the classroom using standardized tests? How does she/he know ALL the factors influencing a student?

There is such thing as qualitative measurement - people use this all the time. It doesn't have to be about numbers (which are often imprecise and/or inaccurate)

I didn't shoot down Charlie's proposed use of WASL/MAP - I merely added necessary cautions. There are problems with these devices that need to be addressed and accounted for. Furthermore, they only measure (if they do) a small portion of what is taught over the twelve year school career of a child - you'll note, as said before, they don't measure art, civics, history, shop, music...or the individualized attention and care the teacher gave our Teddy in the Supt's story. How do you measure THAT?

Lastly, it would be well and good to use useful assessment tools to inform instruction, but we all know that is not the main purpose. The main purpose is to evaluate educators, principals, etc so as to assign them some rank of "quality."

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, the Supt doesn't need levies - the purpose of the reforms is to get state dollars into the hands of market operators.

The supt doesn't need students to come back from privates - the purpose of reform is to privatize teh education of the poor and middle class. In that view, who cares if the wealthier or savvier parent/guardians choose private schools? The intent is to "reform" the education for those who have not the means to escape the reforms.

The Board was purchased with half a million dollars of reform money. This ensures that they turn deaf ears to their constituents. The media supports reform. The city is likewise in the pocket of industry, so will go along with the reforms.

As PTSAs diminish financially (wealthier parents/guardians go private) their relatively small contributions to the huge public tax pot being used for public edcuation will further diminish. Again, the goal is to not worry about the upper end, but to privatize the lower end. The poor, the disenfranchised...these rely on tax dollars and the goal is to reroute those tax dollars into ed management companies and foundations.

seattle citizen said...

I'm sorry if that last post sounded cynical and conspiratorial. Maybe it's over the top. But I worry. Many signs point that way, and without input from the citizenry, or acknoweldgement of that input from board and admin, one is left to wonder, particularly with the very, very big bucks being poured into some of these reforms by outside interests, and the apparent adherrance to these outside agendas by public officials (and the slapdash, shoddy efforts at manipulating public opinion such as those two crappy surveys and the Times' continuing support of all things RTTT, even in the face of reasoned opposition....

Sahila said...

SC - I dont think it sounded cynical or conspiratorial...

The facts are there, the actions are there... there is a clear track leading back many years to a handful of people/organisations that have put this education 'reform' train in motion...

The Broad Foundation itself, in its 2009 Annual Report, says its been working on this for more than a decade...

Would you expect a native tracker who finds a cougar's paw prints on a trail to deny that a cougar is/has been in the area?

People can choose whether or not they want to deny the existence of the cougar or not... that will not change the fact that the cougar exists, and presents a danger it would be foolish to ignore...

I see no difference here... the facts, data, evidence, actions are there for all to see... whether they want to see, choose to see, then decide what they want to do/not do with that information is up to them...

Charlie Mas said...

seattle citizen wrote: "I didn't shoot down Charlie's proposed use of WASL/MAP - I merely added necessary cautions. " and I totally agree.

The education director comes to the principal with the list of individual student names and the principal is free to respond by saying that the assessment was not representative of the student's work in this case, or this case, or this case. That's certainly one of the viable answers.

That's why we can't allow the test to dictate the response, but only to serve as a clue that a response may be needed.

By asking open-ended questions the education director allows for a meaningful response beyond a check mark on a form on the clipboard.

And, in fact, one of the possible responses is that the student simply isn't developmentally ready to meet some grade level Standards. To say that the student's progress isn't linear is a legitimate response. There's nothing wrong with a student working below grade level per se, but there there is definitely something wrong with neglecting the student working below grade level. The education director's job is to ask the question, not to dictate the answer.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Seattle Citizen, here's the thing. Bill Gates and Eli Broad are going to have to pull the last shreds of public education out of my cold dead hands before I'll give up.

They think parents/community don't matter? We have to continue to show them we do.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, I know you will fight for Seattle's public schools and students to your last dying breath, and I really, really appreciate it.
Thank you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I wrote to district communications for a comment on this issue, asking why this story, why not seek out an SPS story and why no PowerPoint presentation on the good work from our teaching corps?

The reply:

"Telling a moving story about how teachers make a difference in student lives is one of many ways the Superintendent and other district leaders show how much we appreciate our teachers. You can view the powerpoint from the gold star called Teacher Appreciation or visit: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/sup/Teacher_Appreciation_2010.pdf

Glad you’re reading School Beat – there are so many fabulous stories to share about our students, staff, and families. And did you see the front page of the Seattle Times today? http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011802587_ellington07.html

Isn’t it great to see our students and teachers celebrated!"

Yes and it would have been nice if the Superintendent had done this herself when given the opportunity.

Renee said...

hahahaha Melissa I LOVED the comment that you got from the office - "telling this story is a way we show appreciation for teachers?" Yes, how many of us teachers actually KNEW she was presenting?

How about she gives us something real - not an email written by staffers. I would even love something like - we're buying all of you a ream of paper, or a card that was signed or a gift certificate somewhere, or a dinner or anything more than a FAKE story at the Board meeting that teachers are too busy with students to attend. My principal at least knows about it - with a great breakfast, some chocolate, and a Starbucks Card.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to take the CPPS survey but it is not going to be in any way accurate and because of that it will be difficult for the board members to take it seriously. You can answer the survey question more than once, as I did.

If parents, students and staff have comments or concerns that they want heard, I would suggest contacting your school board director and letting them know what you think.

The more people who speak to their directors, e-mail them or call them, the more they will understand that the issues are the same for many of us.

Anonymous said...

The survey is interesting to take but doesn't have any statistical significance. I was able to take it twice. For that reason, I don't think that the school board members will be able to seriously consider it during their evaluation period.

The best way for your voice to be heard is to communicate your thoughts to your school board directors.

Seattle Ed said...

Even though the survey is interesting to take, there is no statistical significance to it.

I was able to take the test twice.

The most effective way to express your thoughts and concerns is to communicate directly with your school board director and let them know what you think.

The more comments that are made in a particular category, the more the directors will take heed of the issues that are brought to them.

Unknown said...

The survey is out. The Superintendent has a teensy-weensy political problem. And the School Board, who haven't called her out on ANYthing that I know of, have a little problem, too.

http://www.cppsofseattle.org/News/May10/supt-surveyMay2010.pdf