Critically important discussion about intervention

This is critically important.

This is the most important and most urgent crisis in Seattle Public Schools.

This is also indicative of the deep flaws in the District.

This conversation is from the School Board meeting of 11/3/2010. It occurred during the discussion of an introduction item, the update and revision of some enrollment policies. The conversation begins with Director Smith-Blum expressing her concern about the inadequacies of the interventions available in our middle and high schools for students working far below grade level. I would encourage you to watch the video of the conversation from the start, but I offer here a transcript of it starting at 54:40 of Part 3 of the meeting:
Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Susan Enfield: Director Smith-Blum and I did have the opportunity to have a conversation about this and actually I think that many of the issues that Dr. Smith-Blum raises are legitimate, but I think that they’re really separate from this actual policy question that the Board is grappling with. I think with respect to students who come to us at any level of the system not at grade level it is our obligation as a school system to serve them in their assigned school. Director Smith-Blum is right in pointing out that we do not have the systematic intervention structures in place that we want to have. We’re moving in that direction and we will. It’s not where it is right now. And we do need to provide better supports to teachers so that when students do come in who are really struggling, that they have the tools, the time necessary, to meet their needs. I don’t know, and I haven’t found this out yet, I apologize, the feasibility of actually screening students when they come into the system. How that would work, whether we would have the capacity for it, etc. So that I just don’t have an answer for yet. But I think that the issue of making sure that our schools are equipped to meet the needs of the students who are struggling is a legitimate one. I’m just not sure that this policy – that a student assignment policy – is the one to address it. So it might be marrying two things that are somewhat separate. But I might be misinterpreting that.

Director Kay Smith-Blum: But isn’t it correct that we do assess English Language Learners who are obviously English Language Learners at the point of enrollment?

CAO Enfield: In our S.B.O.C. [Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center], yes. Absolutely.

Dir. Smith-Blum: So if we created that system, why wouldn’t we be able to create a system for other students who are coming from outside our system?

CAO Enfield: I don’t know because I just don’t have the data for what that would require. I can’t say.

Board President Michael DeBell: So, we have a policy that was represented as more or less a cleaning up our policies. But I think we have an issue here that is looking for a home. And your assertion is that it may not be this policy.

CAO Enfield: I guess I’m – forgive me because I’m not incredibly familiar with the policy – I’m not sure it’s a policy issue. I think that it’s a fundamental job, core mission, issue of what we do as a school system. So I don’t think it’s a policy issue; it’s a practice issue for us. What are we doing to make sure that we’re serving the needs of students in all of our schools? And I don’t know if the superintendent would like to weigh in.

Pres. DeBell: Okay

Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson: I just want to add that it’s not an enrollment issue at all. It’s the core work of public education. And assessing every student and placing them according to ability sounds like tracking and discrimination and we’ve moved light years away from that unless I don’t understand what I’m hearing. So assessing students is a part of the teaching and learning cycle, and students come into public school system assigned to a grade level. And absolutely we serve students who may have special needs, through IEPs which are a very legal process in the same way we serve students who speak a second language. We also have an obligation to help close the gap and Susan spoke to this. That we need to take it to scale. It’s the same conversation that we had about college readiness and raising graduation requirements . The concrete example we saw - I think San Diego - was that parallel to that you have to put in supports for kids. So this is really an academic issue. It’s not at all an enrollment issue unless, of course, I’m not understanding the context.

CAO Enfield: I should offer, too, that when we look at a systemic solution we’ve talked about Response to Intervention or a multi-tiered system of support. And that’s what we’re working on developing right now and looking for some outside funding to create that really systematic mechanism to make sure that we’re identifying where kids are and what they need in order to grow. So, we’re actively working on that at every level of the system.
The key to this discussion lies in two clearly stated facts about Seattle Public Schools:

1) Providing struggling students with needed interventions is a fundamental job, a core mission, of what we should do as a school system. Both the CAO and the superintendent clearly and affirmatively stated this.

2) Seattle Public Schools doesn't do it. They have a plan for doing it, but rather than devoting any budget to the effort, they are seeking outside funding for it.

This is a core mission of the District, it is deadly critical work, but we're not going to do it unless we get outside funding to pay for it.

That is totally messed up.

Bizarrely, no member of the Board - other than Director Smith-Blum - heard this contradiction or appeared, in any way, to be concerned about it.


mirmac1 said…
I think you will find that much of the new and improved policies that go through the consent agenda are not as benign as they might appear. They have served to cement more power under the Superintendent, and we see what that's gotten us.
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said…
Are you sure that our schools are not offering any intervention or support for struggling students? Maybe there is no intervention/support policy at the district level, I couldn't say, but at the school level I see many opportunities for struggling kids to get help.

Look at any high school course catalogue and you will see an array of support, or catch up classes. That's in addition to homework clubs, tutors provided by the schools, etc.

Both schools my kids attend have many different options for support.

And I just saw this on the Hamilton school report (as I was looking for something else).

"We offer math improvement classes, an after‐school Math Academy, and test‐taking camps during school breaks for students who need extra help. We use a program called “I Can Learn” to help strengthen basic math skills. We hold math content nights to help engage students and families in our math program
and to share strategies to help students succeed."
ParentofThree said…
"And assessing every student and placing them according to ability sounds like tracking and discrimination."

Isn't that EXACTLY what SPS did with the middle school math placement program this year.

Now that we know it was discrimination maybe we ought to sue.
peonypower said…
My high-school lost a counselor this year, lost the career center, lost the funding for the tutoring program, and lost most of the bilingual instructional I.A.s. Support for struggling students is spotty.

Just watching the comments from Enfield killed me, never, ever have I heard her answer a direct question about an important issue. Never. RTI is not important to the district or they would have funded it- put it into the levy money- something. The fact that they are looking for outside funding says that none of the levy dollars will go to this important work.

I wonder if she will talk about science alignment- which is a fiasco.
Tosca said…
I would add, Charlie, that Kay Smith-Blum emphatically repeated today at her meeting that no student in the district should be without the proper interventions and supports. I don't think she (KSB) is going to let this one go - and more power to her!
dan dempsey said…
Let me make this clear:

LEADERSHIP involves prioritization of action and resources.

It is clear that this core mission of the school district of providing effective interventions for struggling students is NOT important ... for not only are ZERO funds aimed at it.... but look at where the private funds are going ......

Private funding will be going to TfA ... TEAM MGJ hopes to have more funds go to NTN STEM at Cleveland.

The Superintendent and CAO are not leaders. Central Administrators yes they are ... but leaders no they are NOT.

Look at the comparisons of change of scores I posted on the Math Underground. The District's instructional materials are defective and the pedagogical thrust is defective. ... and now the solution for students is TfA.

Check the data ... TfA is a total sham. MGJ has her hand out for any money the "powerful care to provide" with whatever strings are attached. How successful has she been at implementing things that actually work for kids? Check the data ... read the goals of the Strategic Plan ... listen to Harium talk about visions ... so far we have only one real potential leader KS-B.

See my posting about the Class C felony called "Forgery" under MW's recent TfA posting.

TfA is a completely ridiculous exercise, an enormous diversion away from the ongoing failures, another MGJ experiment based on ZERO applicable data and research.

Like the three-year Cleveland high math disaster ... here comes another experiment for low income and minority kids.

Hopefully TfA will not be totally unmonitored like the three year school-wide Cleveland HS math disaster.
mirmac1 said…

Recall this paper written by the District's MAP expert


In it she says MAP would work for math placement. So you see, if a human does it, it's discriminatory. If a test that was designed to inform instruction, is used rather to assess and place a student by ability, that's totally OKAY!
Jet City mom said…
Are you sure that our schools are not offering any intervention or support for struggling students?

Im sure they are- on a school to school basis.
My daughter who never received lower than a B in math & who had attended SPS since 3rd grade, was found to be 1 & 1/2 grades below grade level when entering high school- by the high schools assessment process.

The school ( Garfield) had a program created by inhouse staff to help my daughter and others catch up especially in English and Math- this class was taken along side their other classes.
Of course the district canceled this class & I do not expect they put anything else in it's place @ Garfield or anywhere else. ( because of the hard work by teachers & my daughter- along with many of her friends- they were able to catch up in math by jr yr & she took Chem, Physics & precalc and graduated with honors)

Peonypower- I agree that Enfield is a master of deflection- but I am always distracted by trying to figure out what the heck she does to her hair.
The First Arnold said…
Dr Enfield:

"And that’s what we’re working on developing right now and looking for some outside funding to create that really systematic "

$12.5M TIF, $9M Federal dollars and $48M from Levy dollars- and the district is looking for private dollars for these kids?????

Can we use district dollars for the kids and save private dollars for controversial initiatives?

Get ready folks, we will be seeing cuts to the classroom. But, Strategic Initiatives will live on.

Many transient students are below grade level. Enrollment feels like a good time to catch them.
Disgusted in Seattle said…
At Broadview Thomson if Elementary kids are not on the RTI list, in bilingual or special ed, their only interventions are what individual classroom teachers provide WITH NO FUNDING FROM THE DISTRICT.
Anonymous said…
Reposted from another thread ---

Re Blum-Smith meeting today, I thought her priorities were bogus:

1. After a lengthy session on TFA she said "I'm on the fence".

2. A couple of parents of kids with disabilities tried to engage her on the negligence of the staffing ratios for integrated comprehensive services (ICS) model. After them about 10 people raised hands to comment but they were cut off. Only three comments were allowed on this important topic. Why?

3. Blum-Smith wanted to spend the bulk of her meeting on the Garfield athletics situation.

It's easy to draw from this that Blum-Smith really doesn't know what she is doing or where she should be putting her priorities. A SpEd parent said it's not about the budget, it's about what you value. But Blum-Smith said really it's about the budget. I guess she thinks it is the way of the world that in a large urban school district only 9% of kids with disabilities are passing state tests when over 70% are qualified to do so. How far out of the norm we are in this District is not evidently something that Blum-Smith is tracking.

Fed up sped parent
Anonymous said…
Every time I see the Dr's GL-J & Enf*** I feel that I've morphed into Harrison Ford's character in Blade Runner: (don't know much about them personally but...) their professional personas look & act like replicants!

ken berry
Anonymous said…
I am tired of screaming for reading interventions for kids who could only get by in class by doing 'group work' or beg to work with a friend BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T F'N READ. Their low scores on the WASL brought the money in, but no interventions were available for reading- only math. Eventually, we got eight to ten seats per semester- FOR UP TO180 STUDENTS WHO NEEDED IT. Come on. Now I get evaluated on the performce of students who only have me and mad skills for getting around actually doing the reading work I give them. Do you know how innovative a teacher has to be to get kids like this to actually 'grow'? And do it with the handicap the district knowingly imposes? Teach For America with your hands tied and no materials, pd, or help. If they come, they should get the same limited access to what they need to do the heroic work we do.
We're looking for outside funding... The kids who need it drive it. "Hold back for tutoring" isn't that what she said she was doing with it? Doesn't anyone track the stories we are told by the admin? Or is this a skill only good teachers have (track the b.s. so we can hold kids accountable)?
-over it.
dan dempsey said…

Broadview-Thompson and the ICS Special Education topics came up above.

I just ran B-T data last night. I was concerned about B-T as it has an interesting mix of kids and I find the MGJ plan particularly unsuited for them. Remember the Meg Diaz analysis of the funneling of the carry over dollars from 31 schools to Cleveland STEM. B-T is one of the 31 schools.

In addition MGJ's ignoring of Project Follow Through results and choosing the least effective models and neglecting the most effective model for the teaching of educationally disadvantaged learners k-3 is particularly devastating to B-T.

Maybe the "Supe" and CAO ought to spend $45.00 and buy John Hattie's Visible learning and find out what actually works to improve student learning as the results below confirm my belief the "duo" are close to clueless on proven strategies that work.
The "duo" prefers to chase TfA instead of fixing the real problems, some of which are of their own creation. (By the way who is B-T's principal and what kind of job does he/she think he/she is doing?)

TfA is supposedly about helping low income and SpEd kids. So check out how B-T is doing. In change of scores from 2009 to 2010.

Here is the comparison of B-T change vs. the district change and the state change.

3rd Grade Reading ALL
... .:. school : district : state
change -7.40% : 0.20% : 0.70%
B-T versus Diff. :-7.60% : -8.10%

3rd Grade Reading LOW INCOME
... .:. school : district : state
change -3.30% : -0.10% : 0.90%
B-T versus Diff. :-3.20% : -4.20%

3rd Grade Math All
... .:. school : district : state
change -32.60% : -2.70% : -4.50%
B-T versus Diff. :-29.90% : -28.10%

3rd Grade Math Low Income
... .:. school : district : state
change -43.80% : -3.00% : -3.50%
B-T versus Diff. :-40.80% : -40.30%


4th Grade Reading ALL
... .:. school : district : state
change -11.20% : -6.90% : -6.40%
B-T versus Diff. :-4.30% : -4.80%

4th Grade Reading LOW INCOME
... .:. school : district : state
change -14.10% : -10.00% : -8.00%
B-T versus Diff. :-4.10% : -6.10%

4th Grade Math All
... .:. school : district : state
change -19.00% : 2.10% .:. 1.40%
B-T versus Diff. :-21.10% : -20.40%

4th Grade Math Low Income
... .:. school : district : state
change -24.40% : 3.70% .:. 2.70%
B-T versus Diff. :-28.10% : -27.10%
4th Grade Writing All
... .:. school : district : state
change -20.60% : -4.90% .:. 0.70%
B-T versus Diff. :-15.70% : -21.30%

4th Grade Writing Low Income
... .:. school : district : state
change -26.30% : -4.60% .:. 1.30%
B-T versus Diff. :-21.70% : -27.60%

So how is MGJ's Writer's Workshop plan going at B-T? (REALLY POORLY)

7th Grade Writing All
... .:. school : district : state
change -34.30% : -4.00% .:. 0.50%
B-T versus Diff. :-30.30% : -34.80%

7th Grade Writing Low Income
... .:. school : district : state
change -34.30% : -3.50% .:. 0.90%
B-T versus Diff. :-30.80% : -35.20%

I should caution that when working with smaller populations scores often have big swings. B-T is around 55% Low income and 2009 might have been a good year and 2010 a down year.
5th grade score changes were much better than grades 3 and 4
but grades 6 and 7 were very poor.

District Special Education Score change comparisons:
You can find the comparison of the District Special Education student score change and the state score change HERE.
dan dempsey said…
If I were a School Director in Seattle, I would be very worried about a lawsuit for large damages involving the disparate impact of the Seattle Schools programs on Special Education students and say Black students or American Indian students or Low-Income students.

This lawsuit would be for the costs of remediating students for the negative impact of the SPS programs on their learning. Add up the dollars for collegiate remedial classes and tutoring for the dropouts and graduates of the SPS who experienced the SPS malpractice over the last decade. Cah-ching!

Check out the Everyday Math situation. I provided the SPS with the data in Spring 2007 showing the likely disparate impact of adopting EDM. In Spring 2009 Marty and I and many others told the SPS Directors of the likely disparate impact of the High School Discovering Math adoption. Then the District lost an appeal Feb 4, 2010 but decided to reject the judge's advice to reconsider using all the evidence and continued Discovering for a second year.

Now the District plans to put inexperienced teachers into Low Income Schools when there is ABSOLUTELY ZERO data of TfA ever producing a positive impact in a situation like Seattle's. This is not rural Mississippi nor is it Urban-inner city NYC nor is it Urban-inner city LA. This is Seattle.

Some group may easily be able to find an attorney as this lawsuit will not be over “please remake a decision using all the evidence”. This decision will be for millions.

Bring on those TfA newbies ... Class of 2007... and see if anyone wants to legally rumble for really high stakes.

The District illegally sold Queen Anne HS and nothing happened. The District has continued with their pointless no results math program. The legal bill for opposing crappy math is NOW at about $17,000 and there is no money to be won and the district will not even reconsider a decision using all the evidence, when ordered to by a Judge.

Sure looks like the "Supe's Math Decision to appeal Spector's ruling" was deciding to continue a k-12 math program that produces a disparate impact for yet another year. These Directors may need a multi-million dollar legal action to get their heads on straight.

Really NO Community engagement by the District and putting inexperienced teachers into only low-income classrooms, what will they think of next? Calling All Lawyers time to step up.

In other News:

Recall Sufficiency hearing should be on Thursday Nov 18 for the four directors elected in 2007.
dan dempsey said…
Dear -over it.,

You make excellent points. What is being done about anything?

I saw a nice increase in math scores at the middle school level. Granted these scores have been particularly low for several years, so an improvment might be a return to a slightly more reasonable level.

None the less it would be good to look into how middle schools that improved this last year did it. As the district as a whole improved at this middle level in math, it was not just replacing students with better students at a certain school like say Hamilton.

"-over it" makes the same point I've attempted to make for years ==> That being when things are going terribly wrong in k-4 the chance of fixing things later is very unlikely. Note if a kid cannot read fluently ... where is the intervention plan? "Oh we are seeking outside funding for our core work and we just do not have it yet."

Perfect description of MGJ's total disconnect from the core work of her job .... that being the effective efficient education of students.

MGJ is apparently too busy tampering with evidence to get her pet projects approved to look at the data or the situation students and families find themselves in in the SPS.

Peace be with you "-over it" keep up the effort and stay faithful to education in spite of the current failing District leaders.

-- Dan
Disgusted in Seattle said…
Thank you Dan for the info. You are correct 2009 was the one year BT was not a Title I school and looking at test scores the fifth grade has not suffered as much except in the area of Science. If one compares the scores of the spring 2009 fifth graders and the spring 2010 6th graders (a number of the same students) the scores of those students tested is tragic!!!

Ever since the school became a K8 especially the last two years and this year where the focus has been on the failing Middle school the elementary students and their education have suffered.

With these numbers and the districts report card grading BT a level 2 elementary. Why was the principal not in the building on Friday? Why was he golfing?
Charlie Mas said…
perspective asked: "Are you sure that our schools are not offering any intervention or support for struggling students?"

Let me be clear. It's not that some schools aren't offering any intervention or support. No one wrote or said that.

Here's what Director Smith-Blum was saying: There is no systemic support for students working FAR below grade level in our middle and high schools. Remember - there is no high school math class before Algegra. We have Read Right and Read 180 for students who are a few years back, but nothing for students who lack the reading skills for those programs.

Here is what I'm saying: students who are working below grade level, from kindergarten to 12th grade, are passed along from year to year without being brought up to grade level. They fall further and further behind, they become less and less engaged, and they become more and more of a behavior problem. We have a moral and professional duty to provide these kids with the interventions they need to support their accelerated climb to grade level and we are failing horribly in that duty. In fact, at the District level, we aren't even trying.

Even if you believe that the interventions should come at the school level rather than the District level, there is no one at the District level ensuring the use of those interventions.

Here's the story: the District and the schools are supposed to move at the grade level pace. Anyone who can keep up does so. Anyone who struggles and falls back is on their own. Now, some schools and some teachers used to slow the pace to accomodate the stragglers, but the curricular alignment effort is determined to end that practice.

This would be ruthlessly Darwinian if it were for the fact that a large number of kids come into the system a year or two behind. They were never on the pace to start with.

That's what the "school ranking map" shows. It shows that Seattle Public Schools is totally ineffective at providing any kind of support for students who don't come into the system with all of the middle class advantages. It shows that Seattle Public Schools is totally unprepared to deal with any student who isn't working at grade level. Unfortunately, that's a large number of our students.

The map shows that Seattle Public Schools is totally unprepared to perform its core function for about half of the kids in the system.

And this conversation shows that the District leadership knows that, and that they aren't doing a damn thing about it.
Disgusted in Seattle said…
While there was no grade for Broadview's middle school, surely it would have been a level 1 (someone must not have wanted that to be known) or even a level 0. It is a failing middle school for various reasons. Throwing dollars at it, which is happening, in addition to weak, inexperienced building leadership is impacting the whole school. Good teachers are now talking about leaving the school because they don't want to be in a school that gets taken over or in one where NO ONE at the district level seems to care what is going on. What will happen then?

The PTA whom is made up mostly of Spectrum (white) parents don't seem to see an issue because ofmthe classes their students are in. However EVERYONE in the community of Broadview should care as the poor school because of poor leadership will eventually affect the community.

Oh and the teachers and school nurse are great.
Tim said…
"Look at any high school course catalogue and you will see an array of support, or catch up classes. That's in addition to homework clubs, tutors provided by the schools, etc."

Yep. That's the problem. Each school has some "array" of supports. Every year in my school, new debate ensues as to what curriculum from a box, or vendor software can we offer kids that will "address" their needs. Incredibly well intentioned folk who don't have the time to actually re-design the curriculum of the school. Of course, why should they? Day-to-day teaching is clearly more than a full time job - asking them (and the overworked principal) to redesign a school is ridiculuos. Many of them jump at the chance, but have to squeeze in the efforts between their regular work, so the job is half done. And then next year it is revisited, new software, new boxes of curriculum to explore...with no money except for the PTSA...
District leadership, good curriculum, proper training and time...what a waste of resources we have now, asking each building to choose it's own plan for success/intervention/digging out of the hole.
I just don't get it really. It's not like we are new at this education game, even if you look at our "changing" populations, good schools are still what they have always been - well staffed, well designed, and well funded.
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said…
"Even if you believe that the interventions should come at the school level rather than the District level, there is no one at the District level ensuring the use of those interventions."

How do we know this? How do we know that schools haven't been asked to create and use their own interventions? How do we know they have not been asked to report back to the district what interventions they are using, and how effective they are? I'm not saying they have, but do we know that they haven't? I certainly can't say whether intervention is used at every school, or how effective it is if used, but I can say that at the four schools my kids have attended over the years, intervention has not only been available, and effective, but it has been pushed on kids who need it (probably in an effort to keep test scores up).

My son got a 2 on the math wasl in 4th grade, and it was like a tornado hit us. Within a week of receiving the scores we were called into a meeting with the teacher and principal where they discussed all kinds of strategies to get him "up to speed". He was assigned to the after school math club (group tutoring) 3 days a week, and he had a tutor (offered by, and paid for by the school) come and pull him out of class once a week to work with him one on one for the entire year. He got a 4 on the math wasl the following year, and he is currently in honors math (1 year ahead) in middle school, probably at least in part due to the swift intervention he received in 4th grade.

I just checked his middle schools "school report" to see what they offered in the way of interventions and found this:

specifically, teachers are
collaboratively writing common formative assessments to students and using the information to provide timely student interventions. Also, teachers, counselors and administrators are reviewing grades every quarter to identify students who need strong interventions, and placing them in a cohort classroom together.
Students who struggle with certain concepts are placed in homework centers and connected with tutors from the Community Learning Center. We are using student surveys and discipline reports to track healthy, pro‐social behaviors. The Student
Intervention Team works with students, families, and teachers on individuals plan for improvement for struggling students.

And as far as high school only offering Alg1/Geo/Alg2 I don't think this is always true. At my sons high school students can take (with permission) the following class, for all three years if need be, with full math credit each year.

Course: General math
Course content includes, but is not limited to, basic math skills, consumer math, and beginning algebra. Placement is provided for students whose math skills have been assessed at lower than those needed to successfully complete Integrated Math I, or if progress in Integrated Math I was not sufficient.

I'm not saying we don't need to improve intervention, or that it shouldn't be offered in a more systematic, standardized, way across the board. I'm just saying that there are interventions in place currently, and we should acknowledge that they are there, and evaluate how they are working.

By the way all 4 schools my kids have been in were and are high performing, middle class, schools. I'd be interested in hearing from parents of kids in struggling or low income schools, if there are as many, more, or less, intervention options being employed in those schools.
seattle said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle said…
Here is another thought. You have to be receptive to intervention to benefit from it, don't you?

When my kids teacher told us he got a 2 on the WASL, and his teacher told us he had struggled in class the previous year, we were concerned.

1) We were more than receptive to receiving any and all assistance for him that we could.

2) For us that meant giving our son tons of support, encouragement, and even incentives (bribes), to get him to give up three afternoons of play each week, to go to math club.

3) We had to be willing (and able) to pick him up from school after math club 3 days a week because there is no bus at 4PM

4) It meant that we had to deal with resistance from our son on a regular basis, and continually reassure him that the help he was getting from the private tutoring outweighed the embarrassment he was dealing with from being pulled out of class.

5)We had to sit down and help him with homework every day, which meant at least a half hour of our day devoted to assisting him.

We were thankful for the opportunity to get our son help, but it took a lot of work on our part - and it took a lot of work and willingness on my sons part.

What happens to kids and families that are not receptive to intervention? Kids that don't have the family support, encouragement, and structure at home? Kids that are not willing to give up 3 afternoons a week for math club? Kids who don't want to deal with the embarrassment of being pulled out of class, or being placed in a remedial/catch up class? I wonder how many schools offer intervention, but have families and students that are not receptive to receiving it, and don't take advantage of it? And what do you do in those cases?

These are all pieces of the intervention puzzle that should be explored.
Syd said…
"Blum-Smith wanted to spend the bulk of her meeting on the Garfield athletics situation. "

That's not fair.

I went to speak about the proposed splitting of APP at the HS level. That subject got about 15 minutes at the end of a meeting that went 45 minutes over. I did not get to speak. Sure, I would have liked to talk about it more, but there was a lot to talk about. In addition to Special Ed ratios, the topics included a lengthy discussion of the future of AS1, Garfield sports, and Read Write at Garfield (which does address kids who can't read at all - not just a few grade levels behind).

Kay seemed very invested in addressing the needs of kids with special needs including physical disabilities but also homeless and kids from LGB families.

It was great, and I will certainly go again. She actually engages and answers questions. It is nothing like the full board meetings.
Syd said…
I wish the board member for my neighborhood (SE Seattle) would have these meetings.
ParentofThree said…
My comment about MAPS as an assessment/placement tool was somewhat tongue in cheek. Individual schools access and group students all the time, and MGJ knows it.
KSB was only suggesting that SPS considers assessing students as they walk in the door and place them where they will get the most help/support. If that means needing to go to another school where interventions are in place (and working) then maybe that is a hard decision we need to make.

MGJ does not like that idea, not one bit, so she responded by giving KSB a smack down, that almost called the director a racist. (MGJ has perfected walking up to the line, but never quiet crossing it.)

If one of my employees treated me like that in a public forum, you can bet your last dollar that employee would be meeting with me behind closed door.

And this is not the first time MGJ has attempted to put KSB in her proper place. I do hope the director takes control of the situation.

As far as Enfield saying they need private funds to support what MGJ says is their core work, I have no words to respond to that other than I had no idea it has gotten this bad.
Anonymous said…
Right Syd. It's pretty easy to push the wheelchair down the hallway. That's what the folks who are "interested in physical disabilities" always claim is their specialty. Smith-Blum's perspective on disabilities is limited to her kid's Lowell perspective where special ed was traditionally viewed as a charity experience for APP kids. They can go learn compassion from the disabled kids down the hall. "It's so nice that everyone benefits, right?" or "Those kids are really sweet." First of all that's an incredibly limited view point and really doesn't apply to the vast majority of special ed. Secondly, she seems to think it's all about cost. It really isn't.

sped parent
Dorothy Neville said…
How many people know that SPS has special dispensation from the FEDS to pool their Fed grant money and reassign it as they see fit? There's a state flexibility program, but WA is not one of the 12(?) states that participate in that. Local Flex offers districts in other states a way to get that flexibility. We are the only such district with this flex distinction.

I just stumbled across this and do not fully understand yet. Meg, it doesn't appear that Title I is included, so your objections to SPS Title I still stand (I think). The use is still limited to supplementing, not supplanting funds, so that still stands. We should have a chat with the auditors, perhaps?

The Local-Flex demonstration program is supposed to be a five year deal. SPS got it in 2003, but then failed to make AYP during the five years and had to fess up and request a waiver, which evidently was approved. We have the deal through August 2011. At that time all sorts of wonderful improvements are to have happened, graduation rates up, unexcused absences down and the gap gone. No, wait, in rereading the document linked below, we don't have goals as of 2011, we have goals as of 2013. So how in the world can we evaluate meeting goals before the end of the program?

See this report from SPS that I found cached via google, although the link on the SPS website was broken. (So that's why it is a google document instead of an SPS link.)

Other than Uxolo mentioning this program in comments last Spring, I don't think this has gotten much discussion. I think it is important to daylight and to discuss in light of the School Report Cards and this discussion of effective interventions and promises. How can a district ask for special flexibility with its grant money saying that it would be oh so wonderful use of their money to increase achievement and reduce the gap and then have Enfield say they are looking for private funds to provide intervention services?

Rest assured I am asking Open Records for a copy of their application. Meanwhile, see page 38 of the application. Wide dissemination of the terms of the agreement? Annual detailed report, good fiscal controls...
Syd said…
That's not a fair characterization of the meeting. I have no idea what other incidences are informing your opinion of Kay's position, but during the meeting she specifically said the ratios of instructors/students was not adequate and needed immediate attention.
Do I believe that she will be able to change this all by herself - nope. She is not all powerful ,but she did say it is a priority for herself.
Syd said…
Here is what I heard from all those parents at the meeting: each and every one was talking about their community, and their community was not defined by neighborhoods. Instead the definition seemed to be more about common interests.
"Are you sure that our schools are not offering any intervention or support for struggling students?"

And that's precisely why I always give more credit at the school level than the district level.

We don't have a intervention plan? They don't know how to assess new students? Well, I think most teachers could get it figured out in a couple of weeks but frankly, it would probably help the teachers if the district had a plan.

Perspective, what tutors and homework clubs? I know very few high school that have either that are offered by the district. Could you tell what high schools you are referencing?

"How do we know that schools haven't been asked to create and use their own interventions?"

C'mon. don't you think if this was so Dr. Enfield would have said it?

It is so frustrating to be sitting in the audience and hear this and wonder what the Board doesn't hear.

Betty Patu does have community meetings and we have advertised them here.
seattle said…
"Perspective, what tutors and homework clubs? I know very few high school that have either that are offered by the district. Could you tell what high schools you are referencing? "

The intervention that I spoke about was in 4th grade, so it wasn't high school. It was at Bryant elementary school.

The middle school that I took the excerpt from the "school report" was Eckstein, where my kid is now.

As for high school, my older kid goes to Hale. His counselor offered him a "free" tutor assigned by the school this year due to him getting some low grades in core classes. Not sure where the funding comes from for that and I haven't seen it advertised anywhere. You can call Hale's counseling office if you want more info on that. Hale also has homework help center, open to all students, staffed by teachers and volunteer tutors, 2 hours a day (after school), 4 days a week. That is paid for by annual campaign fundraising. No thanks to the district for the Hale homework help center.
Anonymous said…
Freshmen at my north-end school who enter after failing to pass the 8th grade MSP, who score below grade level on the MAP and who are struggling in their classes by the end of the first quarter have no access to remedial (LAP) class until AFTER they have failed the HSPE at the end of their sophomore year! Does that make any sense?
If all schools must offer AP, shouldn't they all offer remedial math and reading classes for entering students? Making them wait for two years before they are eligible for LAP services at some schools surely has an impact on dropout and graduation rates.
-frustrated in the northend2
SP said…
MGJ said, "...assessing every student and placing them according to ability sounds like tracking and discrimination..."

So, higher or appropriate level math classes, 3rd year Spanish, honors classes, AP & IB, Spectrum & APP classes, etc. really are discrimination?.....
Disgusted yet hopeful in Seattle said…
Assessing and placing students where they are ability wise is only tracking if they are permanently put into a program without movement if they are or aren't (in the case of spectrum and APP) making it. It is a rarity that students who are placed in spectrum are EVER removed from it if they aren't making the grade. Which seems just as unfair as students who excel but can't pass "the spectrum test" not having access to those classes.

While APP is it's own unique thing, for some students being placed into a Spectrum class has been done because of parental pressure by principals and teachers even though a child didn't actually "qualify". The discriminatory part is most of those placements are done for 'active parents' and for lack of a better way to say it done for non-minorities.

Another hole in MGJ's theory is the fact that a number of elementary schools have Reading and/or Math exchanges, which is definitely ability grouping students, where smaller classes/groups are created for students that are struggling. But where there is flexible grouping meaning students are regularly assessed and when gains are made moved to another group to meet their needs.

But again this is not a solution that the District has designed or implemented, but teachers themselves. Oh and I wonder how effective that will work with those non-experienced TFA 'best & brightest'?
Look at any high school course catalogue and you will see an array of support, or catch up classes. That's in addition to homework clubs, tutors provided by the schools, etc.

Perspective, you wrote this and then said, oh I was talking about 4th grade. Based on what you wrote, you can see my confusion as you wrote "any high school catalogue".

"It is a rarity that students who are placed in spectrum are EVER removed from it if they aren't making the grade."

"While APP is it's own unique thing, for some students being placed into a Spectrum class has been done because of parental pressure by principals and teachers even though a child didn't actually "qualify"."

Disgusted, you based these statements on what data?
Disgusted said…

I believe the data regarding the removing of non-qualified spectrum students is available at the school level, if administrators are willing to release it. It seems to be a touchy issue however.
SP said…
OK- take Spectrum & APP out of the mix ("test in & stay in" mostly), still please explain how self-selected honors & AP classes, or appropriate advanced math classes, world language classes at 3 or 4 different levels,or IB classes with specific pre-requisites can possibly fall within the "discrimination" category? If so, we'd better pull all of these class offerings out of Seattle schools, MGJ- before next year!?
Charlie Mas said…
I would say that the best evidence that Seattle Public Schools does not offer effective interventions that accelerate students to working at grade level are the large number of students who are not working at grade level.
seattle said…
So Charlie, how does SPS reach the kids [and families] that don't seek or accept the intervention and support? Since intervention and support exists in many [most?] of our high schools, and help is there for those who seek it, I have to wonder why we still have such low pass rates, and high drop out rates?

For instance, Hale offers both remedial math and LA classes for struggling students. They also have a homework help center, staffed by teachers and volunteer tutors, open to all students, for two hours a day, 4 days a week. And they offer free one on one tutoring for struggling students. Yet, 34% of Hale students still fail the math WASL, and 12% of Hale students drop out.

What else could Hale do? What would work? What should the district do?
Disgusted, again, ave you seen this data about Specturm student removal? I don't need to see it myself but I want to know if you have. And your statement about non-qualified Spectrum students? I don't care if it's your opinion but don't state it as fact if you can't point to data.

Perspective, what is it that you don't get about what Charlie is stating? The district has no direct intervention program and you want schools to just figure it out for themselves? That's the district's job. You keep talking about what Hale does (sounds great) but that is not true for every high school. Just because one high school does it, doesn't mean it's happening district-wide and again, it should be.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
Melissa, more and more, you respond to posters with snarky and rude remarks like "what don't you get"? Are you intentionally trying to shut conversations down? Or do you just get frustrated when people don't agree with you, or see things your way?

You wrote "The district has no direct intervention program and you want schools to just figure it out for themselves"? I never said any such thing. Did you miss this part of my post: "I'm not saying we don't need to improve intervention, or that it shouldn't be offered in a more systematic, standardized, way across the board. "

What don't YOU get Melissa?

Charlie said that our district does not offer intervention for struggling students, and I said that at the four schools my kids attended intervention was offered. Is it ideal that each school has to offer their own intervention? And fund it themselves? of course not. But that does not diminish the fact that the intervention does exist.

I don't claim to know what all schools offer - that's why I asked people with kids in low income, and struggling schools what their schools offered? I know low income schools get a large sum of compensatory dollars, and they can use that for intervention - whether they do that or not, I don't know. Do you know Melissa? Have you researched what every school offers in the way of intervention? If so, please list it here. I'd love to know. I did some quick research this morning and was surprised to find that south end schools offered quite a bit.

I'd also like to know how much, and what type of intervention would be most effective? As I said, despite my kids middle class high school offering pretty decent intervention and support, there are still plenty of kids that fail, and drop out. Before we implore the district to embark on a more systemic way of offering intervention, we should have a conversation about what works, don't you think?

Chill out Melissa. Seriously.
Perspective, I'm not being snarky. I am asking you about what you write. You wrote:

"Are you sure that our schools are not offering any intervention or support for struggling students? Maybe there is no intervention/support policy at the district level, I couldn't say, but at the school level I see many opportunities for struggling kids to get help."

Charlie didn't say anything about schools not offering supports. This discussion is about our DISTRICT not having a program in place district-wide to help schools support students. That Dr. Enfield did not state that schools have supports (on their own) is troubling. That is what I am pointing out.

You still don't explain why YOU mentioned high schools having supports in their catalogues. I DO my research and you can't seem to explain if how you know what you state you know.

I think it is you who is getting upset. I just want to know what you are basing your statements on. If someone challenges what YOU wrote, then just answer the question. You can even say "I misspoke." I do it all the time.
seattle said…
I gave you specific examples of how all four of my kids schools offer intervention (the only four schools by the way that I ever said that I know for sure offer intervention). I did not misspeak. I think you did, in saying that most schools don't offer intervention. I turn it back to you Melissa. Back your statement up.

Do your research, show that most schools DO NOT offer any intervention, and post your findings. Then we can talk about who misspoke.
seattle said…
Just read on the Roosevelt website that they offer Algebra improvement and Geometry improvement- remedial classes, as well as a a homework help center Monday through Thursday from 2:35P-3:50, with tutors, for general help, and math help.

Were you not aware of this Melissa? You wrote in your earlier post: "Perspective, what tutors and homework clubs? I know very few high school that have either"
Kathy said…

Support varies throughout the district.

Schools are funded via Weighted Staffing Standards (WSS) Formula. WSS allowed for core staffing needs i.e. student:teacher ratios, counselors, librarians, math specialists, reading specialists etc.

Over the past 3 years, $10M dollars have been cut to WSS Formula (related to state cuts). As a result, principals do not have adequate discresionary dollars for all core staff such as nurses, counselors, specialists etc. Principals have had to make difficult funding decisions based on school need. For example, a school with high medically fragile population, might hire a full time nurse over a math spcialist. A different principal might decide to fund a counselor or librarian.

Other sources of revenue such as FRL, LAP, Title I & PTA.

K-8 are difficult schools to fund..just due to nature of need. I wonder about allocation of dollars towards elementary vs ms support. Broadview Thompson funds staff for K-8. Yet. some students head to Whitman. So,the district might be putting in many dollars into a school that lacks mass, yet has to fund ms and elem. needs.

I suspect you may have had a school with a strong PTA.

Our middle school has one thousand students. Although we have poverty, the numbers don't constitute Title I funding. We have 55% of students below standard (math and reading). Our principal needed to make decisions regarding nurses, counselors etc. and we do not have specialists for these kids.

Many suffering students fall into the transient populations. As you can imagine, it is difficult to set up a program..only to have them move during the course of the year.

Deficits can be severe in middle and high school Testing at time of admission & instuctional support would be a wonderful way to help these students, but not all schools have interventions in place for these kids i.e. Garfield

I hope you become involved in the budget process. $3.5 M have been put back into the WSS. Yet, high schools need more support. I encourage you to write to the board asking for WSS funding be restored and maintained.

So, that's my long and short version.
Kathy said…

One more sad point.

Some of our middle and high school students are reading at 3rd and 4th grade levels. Additionally, they do not know their basic bath facts.

Students are aware of their inabilities. I've seen them become embarrassed. Some kids attempt to hide this and appear angry, disengaged etc.

While after school clubs are wonderful, I wonder how many student would seek this out. Particularily, if they are embarrassed.

I'd love to see more for them during the school day. It doesn't feel optional.
Anonymous said…
Perspective is making an excellent point. There's this holy than thou attitude. "Oh that big bad district not intervening. Tsk. Tsk. Look at all those failing kids that's my evidence of lack of intervention." That ridiculous. That's no evidence at all. Perspective is simply pointing out that even when tons and tons of intervention is available: people still fail. He asks: "What more could Hale be doing?" Indeed. What more? It isn't really a simple problem, and there aren't really good working models of how to do it effectively. If it was really simple, it would have been done somewhere.

Another Parent
dan dempsey said…
The major problem with remediating students far far below grade level in high school..... is not much was done earlier in k-8 that proved to be effective.

If that is because nothing was done, it means starting at perhaps grade 3 or 4 skill level and attempting to bring a student up to a high school proficiency level. ... Good Luck with that.

The district's negligence in socially promoting students instead of offering effective efficient interventions is an enormous factor in this problem.

Given the Superintendent's views on tracking and discrimination it appears she thinks all students should be taught at the same level using the adopted materials, with crafty differentiated instruction strategies.

So let extend that to band. Anyone plan to teach the same material to a band class that has highly advanced students, advanced students, average students, below average students, and beginning students?

Look at the test scores on OSPI testing. The changes from 2009 to 2010 are an embarrassment and yet we are supposed to believe that the strategic plan is on track.

It could hardly be clearer that there is no organized plan for interventions. That can likely be extended to there is no reasonable organized plan to teach mathematics effectively. The sort of organized plan to teach writing through writer's workshop is a disaster.

If proven instructional strategies and proven materials were used daily in classrooms there would be many fewer students in need of interventions and remediation. I wonder if proven strategies and materials will ever be allowed to be used given with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's thought processes.


Meanwhile the SBE approved Core - 24, to make students college ready.

Who are they kidding? Take what little money is out there and put it into more required courses.

That will assure us that little will be spent on needed interventions and remediation at k-6 .... good luck with a meaningful 24 credits for the unprepared arriving at high school.

I think the same of the SB 6696 possible adoption of common core standards ... spend lots of money so that the Feds can order all WA schools around as there will be ZIP for local control.

This is more flat out bureaucratic insanity NOT planned by teachers or parents for the good of children. A Tip O' the Hat to the Obama/Duncan Education Oligarchy.

just sayin' we need to end the Shakedown.

Shakedown: The Current Conspiracy against the American Public School Parent, Student, and Teacher.

The legislature by the terms of SB 6696 can still reject the common core standards in January. Of course that will likely upset the career edu-crats at OSPI and the SBE.
seattle said…
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seattle said…
On November 20th, Eckstein will launch Saturday School, a new intervention program for students who have four or more missing assignments and a grade of D or E in a class. Teachers will refer students to Saturday School and counselors will call the student's home to let families know that the student is expected to attend from 8:30 - 11:30 am. Students who successfully turn in all missing work by Thursday afternoon after being referred to Saturday School will be excused from attending. The purpose of this intervention is to encourage students to take responsibility for their work and to give them additional time and support if they are stuggling to complete it.
Charlie Mas said…
While I certainly agree that it is good that Hale and Eckstein have interventions available for those students who choose to use them, the large number of students working below grade level, particularly in low-income communities, is ample evidence that something more needs to be done.

First, interventions need to be provided in all grades, K-12. There are a large number of students who do not get access to interventions until they have failed the 10th grade WASL. That's FAR too late.

Second, providing early and effective interventions is a District-level issue. As both the superintendent and the chief academic officer said, it is the responsibility of the system to provide this response. What is the role of the central administration in a school district? Aside from the administrative and operational duties, the district's responsibility on academics is mostly a quality assurance role. The District should monitor, oversee, and support the quality of the academic opportunities provided in our schools. They have not done this for years, but, under the current administration they are taking up this role. I thank and congratulate Dr. Goodloe-Johnson for that intention. Unfortunately she's going about it very badly. Instead of curricular alignment we're just getting standardization. Instead of increased oversight of instruction we're getting centrally scripted lessons. But that's another problem and I don't want to digress. One of the ways that the District has a duty to step in and dictate to schools is to compel them to provide some sort of effective interventions for students working below grade level. Something more than giving the teachers more coaching. Something real for the students.

Part of the reason that the district has to do it is because the schools simply are not funded to provide it. While LAP money from the state is intended for exactly this purpose, the LAP money is not spent in an effective or targeted way and there is esssentially no oversight of how the LAP money is spent. That's a District level failure.

The District has the MAP data. They are supposed to use it by asking the principal: "It appears from the data that you have 16 students in the second grade who are working below grade level. What are you doing to accelerate the learning of these specific students so they are back up to grade level as soon as possible? What support do you need from me to help?" The principal can then respond by saying, "Actually, only 14 of those students are really working behind, two of them are not accurately represented by the assessment. For the fourteen we are... [fill in the blank with an effective intervention]. We expect to have ten of them working at grade level by the end of the year, but four of them are so far back that it will take longer. You could help by providing us with funding for .2 FTE to offer after-school support for these kids and others."

That would be a meaningful conversation between an Education Director and a principal. It would also be indicative of a principal who had a similar conversation with the second grade teachers.

That should be the conversations that are going on. And if these aren't the conversations that they are having then what the hell are they talking about?
Kathy said…
After 2 missing homework assignments, Whitman has asked parents to sign an opt-in slip requiring students to show up for homework make-up sessions.

I think sessions are held during lunch and after school. Nice way to catch some kids. Positive step.
Thank you Charlie for that explanation of why, yes, it is the district's job to have an intervention plan.
seattle said…
How do you know that LAP money isn't being used for the interventions described at Eckstein and Whitman, and other schools?

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