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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Open Thread Friday

So much to read, so much to research and so much to write. Thank goodness for Open Thread Friday. But a few tidbits to throw out:
  • Board Community Meetings on Saturday
DeBell - 9-11 am - Caffe Appassionato - 4001 21st Ave W (next to Fisherman's Terminal)

Martin-Morris - 9:30-11:30 - Diva Espresso, 8014 Lake City Way/corner of 80th

Sundquist - 11 am - 12:30 p.m. - SW Library - 9010 35th Ave SW

  • I'm definitely going to have to make a list and cross-reference all these new education groups. But I did see where Carol Rava Treat went ( she was formerly in the district as a "strategic" director) . Turns out that the Gates Foundation (big surprise) and Viacom have created another program, this one called Get Schooled (so urban!). It's a national program to get young people to graduate from high school and college, etc. It looks like a 5-year program. (One of my favorite of their goals from their press page "mobilizing influentials.") Ms. Treat is their new director of strategy and operations.

  • There's yet another Times' op-ed about teachers getting evaluated by the Superintendent. Interestingly, the Times didn't bother to show up at the press conference yesterday touting the new teachers contract. I guess they were too busy writing her op-ed for her.

  • The need for better education from quotes by Christine O'Donnell, Tea Party candidate. “Everything that he is saying is un-factual" Neither OED or Merriam's list unfactual as a word. "I wanted to make this race about the issue: how we're going to get back jobs in Delaware, how we're going to defend the homeland of our security." Let us know how that works out.

87 comments:

wsnorth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Two lines stand out in the superintendent's editorial.

I am redoubling my efforts to listen to teachers and families as we work hand in hand to ensure all students thrive...

My gratitude to our city's teachers and to the community that supports them is profound...

Gee, that must have been a ghost-written editorial, because those words sure don't match up with the district's actions the day before.

Perhaps some smart folks here can take the time to go to the comment section of the superintendent's guest column and tell "the rest of the story".

Perhaps point people to PubliCola...
just so we can make it easy for District neophytes to get the full picture...

Sign me "Disgusted with the District"

dan dempsey said...

I submitted an Op-Ed to the Times about 9 days ago and never heard a word back from the Times other than the immediate ... if we have interest we will contact you.

dan dempsey said...

My Oh My ... a bit of research on Cleveland Bell times got my mind running.

Just Checked those Cleveland bell times.

Four 85 minute periods per day
and 20 two-hour early release days.

Not to mention any one hour releases. Just think about instructional time lost.

Funny how MGJ refused to allow West Seattle to continue with a Four Period day with 85 minute periods.

The WSHS big deal was it was hurting kids in math. So let us examine results of the change to the uniform district wide 6 period day forced on WSHS in 2008-2009 (I believe). This authoritarian move did nothing to improve math scores.

Compare last year of 4 period day difference from district math average -1.1 with the two 6 period day years -4.6, & -11.7 This change was largely driven by a small group of white parents.

Lets check those math scores for White students:
Compare last year of 4 period day difference from district White Students' math average -7.2 : with the two 6 period day years -21.5, & -29.9

This is typical of the Central Admin:
(1) Identify a supposed problem.
(2)Have no idea of its cause or even if it is real.
(3)Make a change, which makes things worse.

Yes sounds just like the Southeast Education Initiative in some ways.

Check those WSHS Math scores HERE for all.

Here for White students.

Note WSHS kids took same 4 classes each day. Cleveland uses A - B scheduling.

Does anyone know if math is an everyday class taught on both days A & B for the full year?

Eric M said...

"Quality teaching trumps all other factors."

I have never seen morale so low in SPS.

In quality teachers.

The train had some problems before, and often provided lousy service. But the Broad Foundation came in and yelled,"FIRE!"

Then they lit a fire on the tracks, and the train derailed.

And here we are.

Charlie Mas said...

Does no one find it a bit disrespectful that these three Board directors schedule their community meetings on Yom Kippur?

Maybe I'm just delicate.

ParentofThree said...

I noticed that also, Yom Kippur. I do not think it was intentional, but does show a lack of awareness on behalf of these directors.

ARB said...

i agree charlie

Dorothy Neville said...

I wrote a post explaining one LA teacher's thoughts on the recent HS LA textbook adoption. Please go read.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dan, I was going to write a thread on the high school late start days but maybe I'll just post info here.

It started because a reader commented on high school students riding regular buses and why couldn't bell times change if there were fewer yellow buses. (The answer is even there are fewer, it makes it so the school has to start earlier.)

So I was checking bell times. There are 2 places where Cleveland's start time is given and both are different are different! Also, their website has a link for "partnerships" but nothing is there. Did the school open with no visible partners? I would have thought something would be in place (and maybe it is but no one has updated the website).

Anyway, I was checking high school late starts/2-hr early releases. Hey, if you want autonomy for high schools, here's the one place you might find it.

First, I couldn't even find this info at 4 of the high schools. If the district wants to allow every school to design their website the way they want, fine. BUT all schools should have one page with the same basic information like a calendar for the year.

From what I can find, here's how it breaks down:

Most high schools have about 14-20 early release days. This includes the 5 district early release days. Cleveland is on the high end with 20.

Sealth currently only has the district 5 early release days but they told me they might be having a few more. (For the past two years, they also have taken a day off to have parent-teacher conferences which is very unusual. Good for them.)

Some high schools have both early release AND late start. For example, Roosevelt has 7 late arrival days and 9 early release days for a total of 16. The late start days start at 10 am (my son used to love these days). Roosevelt does them back-to-back with the early dismissal days so they have a late start day followed by an early release day.

The absolute king of this is Hale. They have a whopping 32 days with either late start or early release. That's a lot of professional development/collaboration.

What I'd like to hear from the district is how much teachers get out of these days and/or do schools with more of them tend to do better?

owlhouse said...

Race to Nowhere film screening-
note new date-
Tuesday, 10/26
6:30pm @ Nova
novaproject.my-ptsa.org

Again, we'd appreciate help in publicizing this event- school communities, parent lists, advocacy groups, interested professionals, students...

Bird said...

Wow. Do go read Dorothy's post about the LA adoption.

The district paid $750,000 to give the high school LA teachers nothing more than a list of novels?

What the heck?

Could some reminder me who the contractor was on this?

StepJ said...

This year the MAP test is being used to determine eligibility for Spectrum/APP testing.

A score in the 85th percentile is required on the MAP before being allowed to test for advanced programs.

Good luck to all you K parents -- practice having your child use a computer plus be able to read and do addition and subtraction -- by next week!

hschinske said...

The district paid $750,000 to give the high school LA teachers nothing more than a list of novels?

Dang. They should have asked me. I'd have done it for a tenth of the money. Heck, maybe even a hundredth.

Helen Schinske

ParentofThree said...

LA Adoption may be a good thread to start as this is not on parents radar, unless you have a HS student.

another mom said...

I am confused re: family support workers. Are they being removed from the upcoming 2011(?) renewal of the City levy (children and family levy), or have they been
86'd from current funding? If they have been axed from current funding, on who's authority has this happened and why and where is the money being redirected? I thought that the City of Seatttle had oversight responsibility for the children and family levy.I listened to the testimony from last night's board meeting and it was not clear how or why this occurred.

another mom said...

Oops it's friday -the board meeting was wednesday night not last night. Not enough caffeine

dan dempsey said...

Reply received on Cleveland Math.

Hi, Mr. Dempsey—

At Cleveland, math classes meet every day for 85 minutes. There are two exceptions: a Pre-Calculus course that meets every other day for 85 minutes, and a Calculus class taught by a faculty member of South Seattle Community College, which meets four days a week, for 85 minutes each day.

Hope this is helpful to you.

Chris Kinsey

================
Anyone have enrollment numbers for Cleveland?

Anonymous said...

Anyone concerned about the new contracts' lack of support for special ed and ell students and teachers in general education classroom - read the union's new "UNITY" newsletter. How checked out was the union? Basically when questionsed about having even fewer IAs to help for ELL the union response is "yeah it's a problem we'll fix it in 2013".

seattle citizen said...

Anonymous 1:55 I'd heard that these vital staff positions were being messed with over the last year or so as job descriptions changed and staffing levels fell, but I guess I didn't understand how these necessary educators, Special Ed, ELL, and other IA positions were badly impacted under the contract. That is indeed very, very unfortunate for the students they serve and for themselves as valued professionals.
I'm sorry.

It's no defense, but perhaps the union was so busy deflecting the bomb dropped by the supt (SERVE) that they were distracted from this important issue.

"2013"? I hope parent/guardians who read this (and our city and school employees who read this) understand the severity of this situation, the withdrawal of resources from classrooms, and act immediately to rectify this. I hope they call the city, call the district, call the union and tell them that they need to come back to the table immediately.

dan dempsey said...

About the early releases and late starts ......

The Auburn school District does not do these ... at all. They want kids receiving instruction. Told state to supply them with more funding, if teachers need professional development.

Check out Pioneer Elementary in Auburn over the last few years (60% Low Income) switched to Saxon Math 3 years ago. HERE are scores for Hispanics in Grade 5.

Maybe kids need to be in class and receive instruction? Why was the SPS Board so disappointed with annual OSPI test results on Sept 15? Were they expecting something different?

ttln said...

Check out the rate (one/week) in other districts near us. With purposeful guidance (read a strong leader), weekly time helps tremendously. How much time should a real professional get to assess and plan instruction (examine, diagnose, and treat) for students? If differentiation/individuation is ideal, then what do you think it takes to do it well? TIME!
I read comments on this blog about how parents want teachers to read/mark student writing- which takes 20- 45 minutes a paper per kid for me, personally- then I read how when teachers want time to look at their data (aka student work), parents vehemently oppose it. Seat time, seat time, seat time. Make up your mind. Either it should cost extra for time over the work day if it cannot come during the day, or help us save you money by doing it during the contract day. The district/taxpayers cannot afford to pay us for the actual time it takes to do what it is you all are asking us to do.

Jan said...

I agree with ttln. Individualization of any instruction (whether it is differentiated instruction for different learner groups or actual critiquing of written work takes time -- and lots of it. One of the reasons that we used private school through 9th grade for some of my kids was the ability to get "real" writing instruction from teachers (not peers). Obviously, moderation is key -- there needs to be some limits on shortened days, etc., but teachers teach better when they get at least some time to collaborate, prepare, etc.

skipping the test said...

I'm not planning of having my kindergartener take the MAP. I think it is ridiculous. I think the teacher is perfectly capable of assessing my child without the computer's help.

Lori said...

Well, at least we have a new glass art curriculum to look forward to. From the Times today about the decision to move forward with the Chihuly museum at Seattle Center:

Besides the financial benefit to the Chihuly proposal, panel members said they were swayed by a partnership with Seattle Public Schools to incorporate glass art into school curriculum...

Times article here

karyn king said...

@ttln
YES! If an LA teacher has to design curriculum, differentiate instruction (especially for those with special needs) it would probably take at least an extra 10 hours a week, and that doesn't include reading and editing all the writing students need to do in order to become proficient writers. And since the LA and math teachers are the only ones subject to testing as part of their evaluation at this point, why do we insist that they carry a heavier student load than a PE or photography teacher? It seems like the district AND the union are intent on driving out good teachers. LA teachers don't even have textbooks to work from!

kmk33 said...

Another "Well said" for ttln! Additionally, in middle school, we're also teaching, assessing, and planning for reading and social studies.

karyn king said...

Dorothy's post is an eye-opener...Read it.
Three quarters of a million dollars? For what? Wouldn't it have been cheaper to just have parents supply their own kid's "texts" from Half Price Books? I would like to know more.

Jan said...

Karyn: I may be wrong -- but I don't think that the $750,000 bought a single book. I think it was all the fee to the educational consultant to work with the teachers, engage with the community (there actually was some), etc. etc., and ultimately come up with the report. So, plan on that trip to Half Price, because I think buying the books is still out there. -- Dorothy or someone, correct me if I am wrong -- I just don't recall seeing anything in the LA curricular alignment that involved book buying. Of course, SOME of the books on the list are already books that teachers are teaching -- so it isn't like teachers will be starting from scratch.

Sahila said...

Kay Smith Blum told me in a phone conversation a few months ago that the Board was highly disturbed by the Language Arts curriculum alignment work that had been done... almost a million dollars and no books or lesson plans..... nothing useful to teachers at all....

Dorothy Neville said...

The $750K on a consultant paid for the consultant. There was also money spent purchasing novels. I do not know how much. How many novels were delivered to schools for the LA adoption? How much money was spent in total?

I recall something about a grant to pay for books, but I don't recall the details.

However, when you think about the levy, and see that they want almost 6 million dollars for textbooks, what they are really asking for (see the full resolution page 4 for details) is the whole curriculum alignment and coaches to teach the teachers AND textbooks.

A little birdie told me that a recent meeting with HS science teachers ended with tears and threats to quit, because coaches told them that high schools would have to align/standardize their courses, putting electives at risk.

So, will HS science teachers support the levy because they are desperate for new textbooks? Or....

dan dempsey said...

About High School Science ....

Laura Sugden a real science ace at WSHS for years ... teaching a Mesa class (elective) and coaching championship MESA teams regularly. She said good bye two years ago as she had had it with MGJ.

The dictatorial change to 6 periods sent Ms. Sugden a nationally board certified science teacher Bend, Oregon.

peonypower said...

Dorothy-
You were right that science teachers were upset about the alignment- but it is not about electives. I'll address the elective issues at the end of this post.

Last year the district asked teachers to volunteer to work on aligning Integrated Physical science and biology courses. Teachers worked all year on this using the new Washington State science standards (which address 9-12th grade science content) and national standards. The result of this was that teachers across the district recognized that they were 1) already teaching to standard in almost all areas, and 2) that with the new standards some things needed to be added such as units on studying waves in physical science. I saw the course descriptions several times last year, and they were well rounded and reflected what students should be learning in those classes.

Fast forward to June of last year. The district then announced that not only would courses be aligned by content but by grade level. Physical science will be the 9th grade curriculum, and biology will be the 10th grade curriculum.

This decision heavily impacts Garfield (where most freshman take biology) and Ballard where freshman coming it with a high math level could choose biology either in biotech or regular biology classes, and then have an accelerated path in science. Both schools fought and won a reprieve for the 2010-2011 school year. However Ballard's biotech academy is in serious jeopardy (the freshman cohort takes biology) and the district says that next year there will be no exceptions. Now why the district is demanding that students motivated to study as much science as possible in high school be held back is unclear to me.

The electives issues is even more disturbing. The district announced to science department heads that as of next year the only classes that will count as science credit for high school graduation are physical science, biology, chemistry and physics. Oceanography, Astronomy, Genetics, Botany, Environmental Science, Horticulture, etc. will no longer be science courses but electives, and most electives are not supported by the district (as in no books or materials). The insanity of this decision is truly mind boggling. Several of the courses are taught in concert with the University of Washington and students can earn college credit for those courses. So they count as college science credit by not SPS science credit? WHAT?

I sure hope that at the regional director's meet and greets over the next few weeks with the CAO Dr. Susan Enfield and MGJ some parents bring up these issues. I know that I will.

peonypower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

"...However Ballard's biotech academy is in serious jeopardy "

What? The biotech academy is a popular and established program in SPS. Why would they jeopardize it?

Very frustrating to hear.

SP said...

Dan,
You can't have your cake and eat it too! In one breath you rightly point out how much valuable instructional time is lost (ie with Cleveland's new schedule, early releases, etc.) and in the other you are writing about the connection between higher WASL scores and the 4-period day.

First, weren't you the one who wrote (and posted the link on this site) to an article "Why You Should Not Trust WASL Scores"? Why are you always using questionable WASL scores as the bottom line on any subject, when there are so many other indicators on how a school is doing? Please look and compare SAT and AP test scores, remediation and retention rates in 4-year colleges, "D" grades by group [up to 60% in some groups], etc. and you'll find that WSHS comes out about 7th or 8th out of 10 in almost all rankings compared to the other Seattle high schools over the years. There were many indepth reports actually using the same WASL scores you used which concluded that (after adjusting for poverty) WSHS was scoring much lowerer than the majority of Seattle high schools at the time. This hasn't changed.

Second, you did not ask the key point about Cleveland's blocked schedule. As it was announced last spring, for one credit, each class will go only one semester (thus the highly touted "8 credits per year"), unless it's an A/B class every-other-day spread out all year. The math is so simple it's deceptive- if you take more classes (8 instead of 6), of course there will be less time to learn your subjects!

The bottom line for Cleveland's instructional time is the same as WSHS's 4-period day: 85 min. x 90 days (1 semester)= 127.5 hours. Compare that to Garfield & Roosevelt at 165 hours, and far below the 150 hour legal minimum! And this does not even include the 25 early releases & 3 full waiver days (site-based & district!). Simply put, kids with that type of schedule do not have a chance to be with a teacher for nearly as much quality "time on task" compared to their Garfield and Roosevelt friends.

Please open your eyes and look at more indicators when comparing. For example, during the time you were noting, remedial rates for all 4-year colleges:
Seattle District ave. 6.11%
WA state ave. 6.31%
WSHS 9.89%
Schools with a better (lower) remedial rate than WSHS:
Ballard, Franklin, Garfield, Ingraham, Hale, Roosevelt & Center School.
Ave. remedial rate of all of these schools: 4.83%

PS- Would you supply the link again to your article about not trusting WASL scores?

G said...

But what happens to the APP curriculum that has been pushed down to middle school? The 7th grade is now taking Physical Science and the 8th grade is taking Biology. They will come into high school taking Chemistry and Physics, and tnen what? Offered Running Start? I'm afraid that will be the answer. It seems they want to offer advanced courses at all high schools to allow kids to go to their neighborhood schools, yet make it impossible for anyone working even one year, much less two, to do so. More craziness. If this is the case, the APP community needs to fight to keep the cohort together to demand the continuum of classes that will align with the science curriculum being pushed down to middle school.

SP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said...

"Make up your mind. Either it should cost extra for time over the work day if it cannot come during the day, or help us save you money by doing it during the contract day"

ttln, I totally agree with you! My kid goes to Hale and we don't complain about the late start because we see the benefit in his classroom. We are actually thankful for that time.

Confused said...

Another topic for discussion is the new "eligibility screening" for Advanced Learning opportunities.

The website (updated 9/10/10)states that Applicants in grades K‐7 will be screened using Fall 2010 MAP data. Only those students with both reading and math achievement scores at the 85th percentile
or higher will be scheduled for the cognitive testing.


This is new, as in previous years the CogAT was given first, then the achievement testing was done for those that tested in a given eligibility range. This year, the MAP test may become a barrier to further testing. This is a questionable use for the MAP, and I would be up in arms about the the MAP data being used as a barrier to getting further testing (especially for K and 1st graders).

Other discussion has focused on the MAP tests not being available for viewing, like a parent can request for WASL exams. For me, the issue is that the MAP questions vary from student to student. With the ITBS or the CogAT, at least you know all students are being tested on the same material for a given test cycle. There is something inherently unfair about the MAP test being used a barrier when the material being tested is different from student to student.

How does everyone else translate the new info (it's on the District AL website, under Information Packet and Parent/Guardian Form)?

Eric M said...

My speculation: we're seeing the phase 2 work of a long term plan to destroy choice and options in Seattle Public Schools.

Why?

To create a market for niche charter schools.

Think about it. Look at the players. Look at the ringers the Broad Foundation has brought in.

Am I wrong?

Another person said...

Another read of the Advanced Learning testing rules indicates that students that have no achievement data (perhaps they opt-out of the MAP testing) will be administered the CogAT first, then an achievement test would be administered if the CogAT results are within eligibility ranges.

Are the new testing rules going to encourage more students to opt out of MAP testing?

Another person said...

Just a reminder, Fall MAP testing is happening over the next few weeks...

Melissa Westbrook said...

1) "My kid goes to Hale and we don't complain about the late start because we see the benefit in his classroom."

I am glad to hear this; could you expand on it? What do you see coming out of the expanded collaboration time that helps the class?

2) I'm going to have to go over the Advanced Learning stuff this weekend, craft a letter to Bob Vaughn and get a complete skinny. That several people have posted and can't quite discern what will happen is troubling. It shouldn't be that complicated.

Anonymous said...

The Advanced Learning testing info makes it pretty clear that the MAP will be used as a screening barrier for Advanced Learning this year.

Additional tests will not be administered if students do not achieve at least 85% on the Fall MAP test.

It states that students may still be considered for the programs if they score 85 or 86 on the MAP (the cutoff is 87 for Spectrum).

More Confused said...

The point is that many people may be blindsided by the new testing procedures and once they realize that MAP is controlling entry into Spectrum and APP, their child may have already taken the MAP.

The only way to ensure that your nominated student takes the CogAT is to opt-out of MAP testing. So in a backwards way, Advanced Learning is encouraging opting out of the MAP test. Kind of crazy.

ttln said...

seat time is meaningless if it is poorly designed/ill prepared for. i have seen data which shows the breakdown of students w/ ten and more absences during the day by ethnicity (might be on district report card on the wesite, cannot remember). there is an interesting picture of the seat time issue in relationship to achievement data. check it out.
i do teach all 3- la (reading and writing), and ss as well as how to be a better human being. i tell you if offered a choice between overtime or time during the day to do pd or planning, it would be time during the day. teaching takes heart and soul. it is physically and emotionally draining. the extra money is meaningless if i have no life left at the end of the day/school year. the idea of working four days with a partial or entire day for meetings and planning (like nova) was a bright light in the negotiations. instead, i get nailed with stricter accountability w/o any additional time or resources to better my chaces of getting my kids into the 70% growth range. last year two of three classes were at 64%. the one with terrible behavior issues was at 48% (kids w/ good behavior in that class grew less than those w/bad) even after intervention. this year i have less time for prep and more kids(thanx nsap). the new contract doesn't leave me inspired. i don't see breaking into 70% range w/the lead sinkers (extra kids) and bound hands (no time and limited access to needed data points). seeing parents not supportive of providing us time to do the amazing work they want us to do contributes to my disenchantment and feelings of burn out (on day 8 no less). i don't want more money, just time- in a way that respects me and my family.

ttln said...

sorry, absences during the year, not day (two yr-old demanding attn amid various thoughts... life is like harrison bergeron's dad's sometimes)

Rose M said...

I am very concerned about the Special ed & ELL staffing, training & support levels in the new contract. This affects all kids. Where is the promised support for the new model of serving more Special education students in general ed classrooms?

It is difficult to find information about the changes in assignment & services, and how they are playing out.

Anonymous said...

Now that the year has begun and teachers are starting to weigh in here and some other places about the contract I am starting to wonder why they voted for it? It is becoming more and more apparent that this contract was not in the best interests of the teachers and students. In am wondering why the union advised the teachers to vote for this contract. Was it because SERVE was so bad that this contract looked good in comparison? And could it be that was MGJ strategy all along?

Signed,

whyvoteyes?

karyn king said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
karyn king said...

@ whyvoteyes?
Teachers were in a no-win situation. The majority of the public thinks that teaching is an easy job and that they should be glad just to have a job in the middle of the Great Recession. Plus, they have been showered with district and astro-turf propaganda making them believe that "bad teachers" are never fired (though I know of three exited from our school and the district recently).
There were many teachers who voted against the contract, but many who didn't really understand the implications of it all. I think the union wimped out (or worse, Glen Bafia). I don't think we've heard the last about the contract.

Sahila said...

I thought at the time MGJ was throwing in SERVE as a distraction - ...a variation on/extension of the "bait and switch" theme... you know, come in at the very last moment, give them something completely unacceptable to focus on, fight against, then sneak in something that achieves the same end or is worse, and let them think they've agreed to something more benign and have 'won'....

and later on, on reading the fine print and thinking it through, they realise they have in reality lost...

I urged teachers to wait with voting until they had had time to read, digest and see the complexity, but they didnt... and MGJ has what she wanted.... bet she's having a good old chuckle with her broadie toadie mates...

seattle said...

"I am glad to hear this; could you expand on it? What do you see coming out of the expanded collaboration time that helps the class?"

What I see (fairly consistently) is teachers that are not burned out, teachers that are not ill prepared for class, and teachers that are not frenzied.

What I see is true school wide collaboration between teachers and staff, across grade levels, and subjects. The time allows teachers to brain storm, develop common themes, discuss issues with specific children, talk about how to tackle a problem with the curriculum, etc.

What I hear quite often from the teachers is "Thank you, we couldn't do our job nearly as well without this collaboration time". And since I trust these teachers, I believe them when they say that this time is extremely valuable to them.

PurpleWhite said...

@Eric M
I know your comment is WAY up the board, but morale is VERY low. I agree that this is especially true for the quality teacher, especially those of us who are National Board Certified. When the School Board and MGJ congratulated us on being board certified and we saying how wonderful it was I could tell they probably didn't know much about it, and do you really want a teacher that adjust to students needs, looks at data (but NOT the same type of data they are talking about), and doesn't go lock-step robot like with everyone in the District. A Pacing Guide - what happens if you don't match the pacing guide? They say that the standards are the minimum and you can do more than that, but that's NOT what has happened at Roosevelt with their English department.

I hate being treated like a cog in a machine - and guess what - the kids see through it too, and what kind of teacher do you think they prefer? A lock-step teacher or a creative, meeting their needs teacher? I have NEVER felt so much like big-brother is watching you, so disrespected as a professional, and so much like I hurt in my Soul as I have at Alignment meetings and anything having to do with the John Stanford Center. These meetings about how good the Alignment will be Downtown have been miserable - so far I haven't found one teacher that was excited about it, and lots of us are are just torn-up about it...this may drive good teacher out of this district.

Why do they ask for highly qualified teachers, who by the way actually think of things and adjust to students, if they actually want people who just go along with the program. We don't like having bad teachers teach our students -and I acknowledge there are some out there, but testing is NOT the best way to ID them. We all essentially know show they are, and if principals actually had time to do proper evaluations, then maybe we could get rid of them. I am glad we don't have a two tiered system any more - being called just "satisfactory" is somewhat frustrating and insulting to me.

peonypower said...

@whyvoteyes
The majority of teachers in my building voted no on the contract. I spoke vehemently at the meeting against approving the contract and begged my colleagues to also vote no. My colleagues and I worked all summer to research and alert our staff about what was coming in the contract. I think teachers voted yes because they were 1- ready to go back to school and 2 afraid to go on strike with our current leadership. I think the district stalled on the contract as long so that when we did vote there would be almost no time to read or discuss the contract (about 24 hours for a 32 page document.) I suspect that many teachers will regret that they didn't read the contract more carefully and vote no over the next 3 years when the proposed changes go into affect. Teachers want to teach- not play politics.

seattle citizen said...

It's never too late to go back to the table and renegotiate, if school edcuators have the support of the parent/guardians whose children they teach and support all day.

Do teachers have this support? Will the parents/guardians and other citizens, all the taxpayers and thus the bosses, demand excellence from the leaders of the educators? Or will the adults leave it to the educators and the students to make do with the ever-decreasing staffing, supplies, room, time, instructional options, range of assessments, and other critical components of a day's learning?

Choices, choices...That's one of the best lessons the students learn from adults; can adults make the right ones? Playtime is over; it's time to march in the streets to JSCEE.

Patricia said...

I will be having my young child opt out of MAP. Last year, MAP proved to be developmentally inappropriate. MAP is included in assesment for advanced learning etc. I don't want my child inappropriately labeled. I hope more parents decide to do the same.

HayParent said...

John Hay elementary has 2 fifth grades. 1 with 33 students, the other with 35 students. This is a clear violation of union contract maximums. Isn't there anything that can be done? Is there no limit? Don't students have rights to a class size within the limits of the union contract? 28 is one thing, 35 is beyond the pail. Would they put another 20 kids in the classroom? Why not?

Patricia, how do you opt out of the MAP? Can you be sure that the school won't give it to your child? And, where do we find the MAP scores of different schools? Does anybody know these things?

seattle citizen said...

Hey, HayParent,

No worries about class sizes being above contract: If they are above contract, the teacher will get a slight stipend, something like $50 per student per year or something (I'm not sure how much, but I'm serious: it's just a l'il bit and it's the only repercussion for overages. Look at the contract: It says that everyone will "do their best" or words to that effect, to keep classes below limit, but there is no serious consequence. Unless you consider consequences to the teaching and learning consequential...

In answer to your question about MAP: I don't believe there is any access to these scores. Within a building, teachers can see the scores of all students who have taken the MAP (and, perhaps, the MAP averages of their colleagues? Nasty) but cannot see averages of other schools. They CAN see national averages, that is what the student scores are compared to. So "at level" on MAP is an average of all students at that grade taking MAP nationally.

I'm not sure about opting out of MAP, but I don't know why one couldn't. My particular spiritual belief is adamantly against the quantification of childrens' lives.

HayParent said...

So, they could put 68 in a class?And it would cost:
40 (extras) x 50 = $2,000?

What a deal! Stuff as many in a room as possible, and only pay $2,000! Even if it's $2,000 monthly, that's still only $20,000 per year. And, that's a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring another teacher, fully loaded with benefits, and slapping up a portable. Isn't there anything parents can do? The teacher's union sure didn't do us parents any favors signing up for a deal like that!

seattle citizen said...

Hey, hey, hey, HayParent,
(sorry, it's just irresistible!)

Right! Unless they're breaking fire cide or something, I just don't think there's really a limit.

I don't know why the union and the district have bargained to such a place. It's been this way for many years. Usually, there are external pressures to bring classes back down to more "reasonable" sizes (say, 28-30 in MS/HS) and my guess is that usually all parties agree it's bad to go too high so it sort of naturally caps. This year there seem to be a lot of classes (as mentioned on this blog, at any rate) that have a relatively large class size. It will be interesting to see how it all washes out at the October count (10/1) and then in the week or two after. my guess is you'll see a slight drop in class size, but in Hay's case, with just two 5s, and each over max, whaddya do? Find another room/teacher and have three classes of 19? would be nice, but money is gone.

I wish you the best, Hay is a wonderful school and I'm sure all concerned (parents/guardians/staff, etc) will rally to make the best of the situation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Hayparent, yes, it's an unpleasant little secret. The district CAN overfill a classroom IF they pay the teacher more. The teacher, who probably doesn't want a huge class but cannot refuse what the district wants, will get the stipend for the larger class size.

You, the parent, and your student get nothing out of the deal.

I will find out about opting out of MAP. I'm fairly certain you can. As to what it might mean to your child and/or teacher, again, another question to figure out. But, like the former WASL, you do not have to participate.

seattle citizen said...

Hmmm, I wonder what would happen to MAP ratings as teacher evaluatory tools if a significant number of students didn't take it?

Heck, even ONE student not taking it would render t he evaluatory capability of the test even ore dubious than it already is: No one would know if that student's score would have raised or lowered the teacher's average score, so the score, as presented, would become hazier. If TWO students didn't take it, why, they'd think both students were having too much fun or something...if THREE students, THREE, didn't take it....my friends, that would be a revolution.

seattle citizen said...

hmmm, unless it's like the WASL where students who don't take it are factored in as "0"s. Now THAT'S fair.

Josh Hayes said...

Arlo -- ahh, I mean, seattle citizen! -- I would be shocked if opt-outs DIDN'T get a big fat zero averaged into the class- and school-wide scores. The object here is to coerce everyone into playing the game by the rules provided from on high. It's like, oh, an episode from one of the cheesier seasons of Doctor Who, innit?

(And before anyone makes the crack, yes, there ARE degrees of cheesiness in DW.)

Charlie Mas said...

There has been a significant change in Spectrum and it has happened without any Board review and without any community engagement.

For the past few years Spectrum in grades 1 and 2 was for students with strong cognitive ability without regard to their academic achievement. This was an effort to get more of the less privileged students into the program. The District didn't want to exclude them based on their lack of exposure to educational opportunity.

By using MAP as a barrier to Spectrum in the primary grades, the District has ended that program without any notice or discussion.

Here is the eligibility process (as of 9/13/2010).

Also, you will note that the District now requires students to be academically advanced in both reading and math for middle school Spectrum. For the past few years it had been either/or. A student could qualify and participate in one, the other, or both. Now it is only both.

These changes are significant as they represent restricted access to Spectrum.

curious said...

you can opt out of the MAP. you simply write to your principle and request it. it doesn't do anything bad, apparently, to school funding or the teacher or anything. i asked.

curious said...

principal

curious said...

although i was asking about one student, not many.
(apologies for multiple posts-- the last thought just occurred to me)

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, that's a lot of reading and a lot of hoops to jump through to get into Advanced Learning programs. I need to talk to Bob Vaughn.

seattle citizen said...

Curious,

You asked the principal if your student or the teacher would be impacted by you opting your student out of MAP, and principal said "no."

I wouldn't believe it. Not that the principal is lying, but maybe principal meant, "not impacted by ME" or something.

One immediate impact on the student, as detailed by Charlie a few comments earlier, is that Spectrum and APP are now contingent on MAP test scores for placement. What happens if a student HAS no MAP scores? Call me cynical, but this seems to be a way to justify and secure the use of MAP.

And I'm not so sure the principal would know if a "0" in MAP would be added to a teacher's class average if student doesn't test...I don't know this, and since ALL the teachers who voted on a contract that was not explicit about how MAP would be used, I'd say they don't know, either, nor, most likely, does the principal. MAP, its use in the classroom and as an evaluatory tool, seems to be a work in...progress?

curious said...

Well, my question was this: I am not sure if I want my child (grade k) to take the MAP. One thing that would make me reconsider, though, is if this would have a negative impact on the community (school, teacher, funding, etc). Principal said she was hesitant about having k kids take the MAP at first too but it seemed fine, but that no, it was okay to opt-out, but I would have to write her.
But yes, I didn't ask about spectrum, etc.

Another reader said...

The AL info states that those without MAP scores (they're assuming private school students, but wouldn't this also include those opting out?) will be administered the CogAT first, then math and achievement testing.

With no MAP scores, the achievement testing may be the Woodcock-Johnson for K-1 and the ITBS for 2-7.

If you don't opt-out, your K-1 child could be tested 3 times: MAP, CogAT, then Woodcock-Johnson. If you opt-out, then testing would be at most twice: CogAT, then the Woodcock-Johnson.

What's the incentive to have them take the MAP?

Charlie Mas said...

It's easy to be confused about STEM because the story keeps changing.

First they say that the school will have an extended day for all students, then they say that the extended day is just for struggling students, then they say it is also for music and world language classes, then they say it is for all students again.

First they say that STEM won't be an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) and the kids will have to get 150 hours of instruction for each credit as the state law requires. Then the District said that STEM will be an ALE and the students will be exempt from the requirement of 150 hours of planned instruction. But if STEM is an ALE then the school needs to comply with Policy C04.00 which requires a number of things that I don't think STEM is doing, such as "Every student enrolled in an Alternative Learning Experience program shall have a written student learning plan designed to meet the student's individual educational needs." and "A description of the timelines and methods for evaluating student progress toward the learning goals and performance objectives specified in the learning plan." and "Each student's educational progress shall be reviewed at least once per month.".

It's not that easy to be an ALE. It doesn't require LESS documentation, it requires MORE.

I think it's funny how the District bounces back and forth between saying that "seat time" doesn't matter when they offer less than 150 hours of instruction and then touting the extended day or week or year that they have implemented at some "struggling" school. In STEM they have both. They brag about the extended day at the same time and in the same place that they dismiss "seat time". It is a remarkable achievement in cognitive dissonance.

Charlie Mas said...

Oh! Regarding the contract for $750,000 for the consultant for curricular alignment. It only buys the consultant's services. The consultant was going to help generate the book list and they were also supposed to go through the entire high school course catalog and delete the courses that don't contribute to "college-readiness".

I hope that you will also remember that this is the contract that the Board approved on June 17, 2009 after they all took turns saying that they didn't know what it was for. Go to this video and jump to 59:00 to hear the embarassing failure.

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the link to the board meeting where they approved the 750k, Charlie.

(I cued up a couple minutes before the 59:00 start of the alignment action item, and the board was just voting on something else. Six "ayes," and one "abstain" from Mary Bass. Whatever one thinks of Mary Bass, at very least she had the independence to not vote "yes" on everything put in front of her...)

I was especially dismayed to hear from two different board directors that, hey, they're having a workshop on this issue sometime soon, and they're concerned. Maier indicates this confusion (why the workshop AFTER the vote) first, then Sundquist also expresses surprise that the workshop, where they'll "really be able to dig into this," is AFTER the vote, he doesn't want to "get ourselves caught, having approved something I just am not sure I understand the full implications of yet..."
Director Martin-Morris also appears confused about what this money is being spent on.

I hope they learned more later at the workshop, so they understood what they were voting on before the workshop...

ttln said...

Busting out an 85% on MAP is more common among the data I have seen then the number of students identified for Spectrum (middle school level). Rather than a barrier to advanced course work, our building has used it as a tool for students to better gain access to such classes formerly restricted to those with good grades and teacher recommendation (highly subjective, both, and equally as inaccurate with kids who got As not meeting standard on the WASL/MSP in advanced math because they were "nice kids" and those not so nice with bad grades and passing WASL/MSP scores in the "slower paced," grade level classes). If you have a building that puts what is BEST FOR KIDS in the center of their data analysis, use, and decision making, then MAP can be a good thing for kids typically left out of the CogNt. However, it is mostly good for math.
LA is a different matter due to the complications of the writing piece of the discipline. Just because they read well and pop a 98th percentile doesn't mean they can write at grade level or articulate any substantive ideas (with supporting evidence) about that which they have read. Again, if the teacher has any sort of understanding of the data, kids, and the complex cognitive structures of the reading and writing tasks, they can use the data to help as they individuate instruction (readers/writers workshop allows for this to be possible- as long as the teacher knows how to use it and isn't a "but this is what I was told to do by my coach, anything else is not allowed" kind of teacher of the model).
MAP is meant to help us teach kids where they are at, not as an evaluation of how well we teach. When used appropriately (read triangulated with other data points), it can really get kids what they need. As a measure of how well I did my job- when a kid in my class can sit in my room and do little if any work all year and cheat on the work he does do and make a 28 point leap- it just isn't accurate.
Whatever with skipping the test, admin will use the data they can get. If kids whose parents are as involved as you all are, are the only students who don't take it (we know unequivocally that PARENT involvement is the key to student success), then the only data left to measure us with are those whose parents don't know or don't care to opt out. Thanks but no thanks. I do appreciate the thought, though. Your support is duly noted.

curious said...

I appreciate your opinion and will investigate further if having my kindergartener opt out will be harmful. as i said, the one thing that would make me think twice would be if it would harm the wider community (funding, teachers, the school, etc.). the principal didn't think so. the two teachers i have spoken with at the school didn't think so (and in fact encouraged it). But i will continue to investigate. I am especially interested in how teacher evaluations are (eventually) done-- simple scores, or growth? I must say that I usually appreciate the polite tone that opinions are given on this blog. I think most of us here support students and teachers. I certainly learn a lot from reading this blog and all the comments.

Dorothy Neville said...

Dear Curious, thank you for investigating, because I do not think anyone currently knows. As many folks learn from experience, one can get a lot of wrong information from staff, not because they are being duplicitous, but because things are complicated and communication internally is as bad as communication to the public is.

This question about opting out came up on this blog over the summer, when the SERVE proposal was first announced. From my cursory reading of the contract and other materials, I suspect that this has not been determined yet. One of the many frustrating things about the whole planned evaluation system -- so much TBD.

If you can find out more, please let us know. And if you do get an answer, get it in writing! ;)

curious said...

ugh-- appreciate the usually polite way people express opinions. something like that. sleepy.

curious said...

i will. my concern is that answers will be slow or never from sps on these issues. though i have had success in the past with getting answers to weird questions from a couple of board members, so i will try there. sometimes they push things along. if there ARE answers...

SP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SP said...

re: Cleveland's ALE status
Did the Board ever vote an action item to declare that Cleveland is an ALE school, operating under strict ALE rules (WAC 392-121-182- five pages long)? Both the SPS and Cleveland's websites state that the STEM program at Cleveland is an ALE.

All the classes ( STEM & non-STEM) are running with the new Cleveland bell schedule:
7 hours school day with 8 classes squeezed in, still means considerably less classroom time overall (blocked classes are only 85 minutes compared to Grafield's 110 minutes!). Is that why SPS is calling it an ALE school, because it wouldn't be able to have that schedule as a standard school? What about the other half of the school that is not STEM, and thus not ALE?

Charlie Mas said...

I think all of Cleveland is an ALE now, including the College Readiness Academy, as they call grades 11 and 12.

The state law that authorizes Alternative Learning Experiences requires the District to annually approve the written plan for such programs. The Board approved the plans for The NOVA Project, Homeschool Resource Center and Middle College on March 17, 2010 for the 2009-2010 school year.

The Board will have to approve the plan for STEM sometime this year.

It seems odd to me that the written plans for ALEs aren't approved until the school year is nearly complete.

SP said...

Thanks Charlie for the info.
So it looks like as of the March 3, 2010 PowerPoint on ALE's to the Board, that Cleveland was not at that time an ALE.
So, how did the school become an ALE or did it just suddenly materialize without any review or process? Just 2 months later (on Cleveland's academy selection form, marked "updated 05/13/10") there's a section titled "Alternative Learning Experience" describing the ALE at Cleveland, and asks for a parent/guardian signature to acknowledge that "you have received
notification that Cleveland has been designated as an Alternative Learning Experience School."

Also, I find it very interesting that neither the PowerPoint nor the Action item mentions that the WAC also requires that these reports are to be filed annually also to OSPI.

hschinske said...

Bird posted this on another thread:

I did find out from Enfield that the bit about scoring 85% on the MAP was intended to broaden the number of kids taking the CogAT, not narrow it.

They're sending out letters to anyone scoring over 85%, encouraging them to do CogAT. Enfield said, if your kid doesn't meet that MAP threshold you can still request testing.

She admitted that the website was confusing and said they'd fix it.

That was worth the effort of attendance for me, as so far no one from the district has answered my email about the topic.