Open Thread Friday

The snow is nearly gone. Time to get moving.

What was this truncated week like at your school?

Bit o' good news. NYC's Mayor Bloomberg wanted to replace Joel Klein with one of Oprah's best friends, Cathie Black. She is former magazine CEO, probably a bright person but knows next to nothing about education. New York law says she has to have some kind of education background and the state education commissioner who would have to give her a waiver won't do it without a CAO to guide her (and he said even then maybe not). What is frightening is that Bloomberg believes he can appoint her without the waiver. Of an 8-person panel put together to help the commissioner, 6 voted no in an advisory vote.


dan dempsey said…
Courtesy of NYC HOLD
about NYC, linked find:

The Real Benchmarks: New York City Student Performance on National Tests

Presented By:
Assemblyman James F. Brennan
October 25, 2010

Imagine if you will what could be accomplished with evidence based decision making, instead of blindly following the others.

It is clearly time for the SPS Board to STOP ignoring facts and

(1) End the No RESULTS Strategic Plan "Excellence for ALL"

(2) Fire the Superintendent with cause.

Note: NYC has NAEP results as, unlike Seattle, NYC takes the Urban NAEP. NYC has NAEP scores as do several other cities but not Seattle. The linked report has the results.

Since NYC is a reform district .... are they worth following?

The Real Benchmarks: New York City Student Performance on National Tests


 Disparities between New York State exams and the NAEP TUDA pointed to the inadequacy of the State tests and prompted officials to rethink State exams

 Performance of NYC students on the NAEP exam indicates that the City’s students started out ahead of many other cities in 2003

 In 4th grade math and 4th grade reading, New York City students preserved their standing relative to other large cities across the nation

In other cases, such as 8th grade math and 8th grade reading, New York City students have not been making gains on par with these other cities

On the NAEP tests there was little or no change on the achievement gap, and in some instances the gap widened

Since the 8th grade is a critical indicator of high school preparation and college readiness, minor gains in 8th grade math and literally no gain in 8th reading indicate New York City students are falling behind other comparable large cities.

WOW!!! NYC sure sounds a lot like Seattle....

It is interesting to note that Chancellor Klein, MGJ, and Michelle Rhee were "Broad" board members, MGJ has expanded the central office unlike either Klein or Rhee (to the best of my knowledge).

NYC, SPS, and WA DC are all Everyday Math users.

-- Dan
ParentofThree said…
Bloomberg got term limits extended so he could be mayor again. Seems like this one will be a no brainer for him to shove on thru.
SolvayGirl said…
It's just part of the whole corporate idea that CEO's, etc. don't have to know anything about the business they are running. That has been the way since the '80s, and I don't see it turning around anytime soon.
another mom said…
KSB responded to my email re: 17% lie. It was one line and said that they need to pay attention to accuracy/transparency. Also, she forwarded to me a copy of the MGJ letter re: how the 17% lie came to be. Whoopee. Not sure how to react, but may send a follow-up to ask exactly how the board will provide oversight to insure accuracy and transparency. No response from any other board members. Sigh. 8-(
Chris S. said…
WHO is the woman at the school board meeting Nov 17, shortly after the break, trying to answer HR questions about TFA and being rescued by Holly Ferguson. She didn't introduce herself. Please tell me she isn't the new chief "talent" officer...
Dorothy Neville said…
Chris. That IS our new chief Talent Officer. Absolutely positively. Simply instills confidence, doesn't it.
owlhouse said…
Get crafty w/ Nova...
Nova Winter Craft Fair
Featuring pre-made and make-n-take crafts
Tuesday, 12/7, 6-8:30p
@Nova- 300 20th Ave E
Everyone welcome!
Admission is free, crafts starting at $1
Join us for cider, good company and Nova's A Cappella choir.

(Yep, 12/7 is also the central region school reports meeting. Our plans for journal/jewelry/button/lantern/cookie/magic wand... making were already in the works, so we're sticking with the Craft Fair. Hoping ya'll will join us.)
Dorothy Neville said…
I just carefully read MGJ's damage control letter and there's a new issue I don't recall anyone pointing out yet.

All the 2008 info says that the calculation was on 3.0 GPA. Yet the letter says that the aggressive metric had "earning a letter grade of “B” or higher in each of their core classes."

And please, don't let Seattle Parent's comment way down the Truthiness thread get lost. She shows that 4 yrs Math and 3 yrs Science are NOT included in the HECB requirements.

Do not forget that Brad admitting missing some CTE classes. And he would have missed Summer Stretch classes as well. So it is more than just an aggressive metric. It was improperly calculated and HE ADMITS THAT. Even if they like the aggressive metric, he should have come clean and recalculated when he realized he undercounted some math classes.
Kathy said…
Dorothy, To what extent was the 17% figure used to obtain funding for CORE 24?
dan dempsey said…

CORE 24 was an SBE driven campaign to increase graduation requirements. (and associated funding)

An entirely different set of educrats was driving that deluded train.

CORE 24 will apply to all Public high schools for graduation.

Budget shortfall? ... did SBE notice that two weeks ago when they approved CORE 24?

Right SBE said it won't cost much. See what the Gov. and the Legislature think about that line of thinking in January.
wseadawg said…

We're right back to "is" depending upon what the definition of "is" is.

The only thing more pathetic than the lies and cover-ups are the Board stooges that will accept them, hook, line and sinker.
Bird said…
What's SBE?
dan dempsey said…
SBE = State Board of Education

ds said…
I am extremely concerned about the implementation of Readers and Writers Workshop (RWW) in SPS middle schools (see discussion between teachers in the Seattle Met thread). I’ve been trying to gather information about RWW since my daughter came home last fall (’09) complaining that she was “not learning anything” and wasn’t receiving enough feedback. The teacher, who has an excellent reputation, provided me with some information and was empathetic with many of my concerns (she, too, seemed to have some concerns about RWW). I supplemented my daughter’s LA education last year and was told by administration that things would improve as teachers became more familiar with the model. I have not noticed any substantial improvement and am seriously considering homeschooling my daughter in language arts this year.

Although I believe the model has a lot of potential, I don’t think it can be effectively implemented in the context of a 50-minute middle school class period.

I was told that RWW classes begin with a 10-15 minute mini-lesson (can be on writing structure, literary elements, grammar, etc), then the kids work on their own to practice concepts from the lesson, and the class closes with a 5 minute wrap-up. During the independent work time, the teacher is supposed to circulate to work with individual students, allowing for “conferencing.” My understanding is that this conferencing is where the bulk of student feedback and differentiation is supposed to occur.

But, again, I am concerned about how this plays out in 50-minute periods. With the mini-lessons and wrap-up along with time to take attendance and settle in, there’s only 30 minutes for independent work and conferencing. This works out to about 5 minutes of conferencing per student per week, but probably more like 4 minutes if time to transition between students is taken into account. Thus, on average, a teacher’s 150ish students each receive only about 2.5 HOURS OF CONFERENCING PER YEAR, assuming that there aren’t disruptions or that no kids need proportionately more conferencing time than others (but, of course, this is not the case). This also assumes that teachers are exceptionally industrious and efficient, but I imagine that there is a lot of variability in these characteristics (both across teachers and within teachers over time…burn out?).

ds said…

In addition to the limited time for conferencing, kids are not covering nearly as much material as would be covered through more traditional models. My daughter and I reviewed her language arts notebooks from last year (6th grade) and found that the amount of material they covered pales in comparison to what my spouse and I remember studying as kids (during ~50 minute periods). Because we’re considering switching to homeschooling language arts through the Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA, an online public school affiliated with K12), I created the following comparison between lessons covered in the 6th grade RWW and WAVA (in parentheses):

* Guided novels (i.e., a group of students reads the same book and discusses it with the teacher): NONE in my daughter’s class (vs. WAVA: 4 novels…or 5 if you count an abridged version of Twelfth Night); kids in RWW independently read a lot of books, but, at least in my daughter’s classes, they aren’t receiving feedback on their understanding of and interpretation of these books

* Short fiction and non-fiction pieces: 12-15 (WAVA: 51)

* Poems read: 5-10 (WAVA: 12)…not bad, but the level of analysis is much more detailed with WAVA

* Vocabulary lessons: 1 (WAVA: 25 Greek and Latin root lessons through WAVA)

* Grammar and convention lessons: 7 (WAVA: 122); 122 lessons is probably overkill, but kids need the basics and, as far as I’ve seen, they’re not getting this through RWW; I was concerned about kids not being prepared for world language instruction and, sure enough, at Curriculum Night my daughter’s Spanish teacher mentioned (unsolicited) that kids are now coming to her lacking sufficient grammatical preparation

* Informal/Short Writing: 20-25 plus about 20 one or two paragraph summaries of current events (WAVA: 100+ short writing assignments, many of which involve literary analysis)

* Longer/Formal Writing: 2 narratives and 1 propaganda/advertisement project (WAVA: 7… a personal narrative, compare and contrast essay, persuasive essay, research report, how-to essay, advertisement, book review)

I don’t think SPS needs to cover as much material as WAVA, but the RWW classes I’ve seen and heard about so far are not even close. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m frustrated about the lack of communication with families about these issues. Many parents I have spoken with don’t know that their child’s school is using RWW, and most have no idea what RWW entails and are floored when they find out how little instruction their kids are receiving.

I’d really like to hear more from middle school LA teachers and other parents who know about how RWW is being implemented. What’s working? What isn’t? Do teachers feel that RWW can be taught effectively with 50 minute periods? Are some schools educating families about what’s going on in the RWW classrooms? Are other schools doing things differently?
Sarah said…
Readers Workshop was implemented without providing adequate teacher training or resource person. Teachers are upset.
dan dempsey said…
Sarah said:

"Teachers are upset."

Is the Board ever upset enough to do anything?
Anonymous said…
my ms classes fill from three to four notebook/year. the record is eleven. we do narrative (2), personal/expository essay (2), history research CBA essay (position on an issue), ballad writing, choice piece, lit. essay, and journalism. presentation skills are explicitly taught, as well as power point that won't kill an audience.
summary is routine comprehension check once they master the difference between summary and paraphrasing.
grammar is irregular verbs, appositives, sub/verb agreement, and much more (some years we even diagram sentences)- with rww as the vehicle. 2.5 hours of conferring is way more than i ever got in middle and hs combined (college, too). - and i was in the 99 percentile cohort in my district. no benefits to be had there.

again, i have some LA "chops" that carry me beyond what the common corps of teachers at rww pd need. my hope is that the rest catch up soon. however, when the others come into my room, they are overwhelmed by the level of work going on.
-pilot teacher
ds said…
Thanks for the insights, pilot teacher. It sounds like you’re accomplishing a lot in your classes, especially with writing, so that’s encouraging to hear. Of course, I also hope “that the rest catch up soon,” but I’m frustrated that my daughter and others in the “pilot” cohorts are continuing to fall behind, especially because it sounds like PD has not been adequate for RW and some parts of WW.

What concerns me most about the 2.5 hours per year of conferencing (or less…my daughter estimated she received less than one hour last year) is that this conferencing time, along with independent reading/writing time, have replaced about 90 hours per year of instruction and guided discussion (30 minutes per day X 180 days).

Folks at the district tried to allay my initial concerns by explaining that RWW instruction occurs in a different format from what I am accustomed to: Writing feedback, student-teacher conversations about independent reading, and individualized vocabulary and grammar instruction occur primarily during conferencing time. It wasn’t until I did the math and figured out how little time was available for conferencing and whole-class mini-lessons that I started to understand why my daughter was so frustrated.
ttln said…
not every day has to be in that format- rw can be a read aloud w/full discussion, book groups w/accountable talk, etc. again, it boils down to teachers willing to do the work and build the foundations for such work to happen vs. those who superficially comply.
seattle said…
grammar is irregular verbs, appositives, sub/verb agreement, and much more (some years we even diagram sentences)

What does "some years" mean Pilot teacher?

Do some kids, some years, learn this, and other kids, other years don't?

I think this might be why some families will back curricular alignment. Families want to make sure that if their kids are supposed to learn how to diagram sentences they will. Consistently, not just some years.
seattle said…
"my ms classes fill from three to four notebook/year.'

You are teaching grammar Pilot teacher? You didn't even capitalize the first letter of your own sentences in this post??????

"again, i have some LA "chops" that carry me beyond what the common corps of teachers at rww pd need."

How about changing your "i" to "I"

And you are responsible for teaching our kids grammar. Worse, you say that you have more "chops" than most LA teachers?

Syd said…
I think the style used in the post was informal and very common. Not capitalizing "i" in this style can be correct. Different styles use different rules. Because I do a lot technical writing, I still use the serial comma (for clarity). I understand this is not common, although it still hurts me to see it dropped in sentences where it would add clarity.

Why say something in a blog post that one would not say in person? Would one really walk up to a teacher, and call her out for capitalization choices, or would one be more likely to ask her why she make that choice?
Anonymous said…
Why not, syd? Melissa likes to call out posters who disagree with her on their spelling and/or grammar. Meanwhile, people on "her side" get a free pass on their mistypes, silly use of quotation marks and more. I think if a teacher is going to talk about his/her skills in teaching LA, the post had better be damn near perfect spelling and grammarwise.

Anonymous said…
"Snark" can go both ways Anonymouse; "grammarwise" is not a word. I hope you're not a teacher. Teachers are NEVER allowed to make a mistake in this town.

Anonymous said…
Believe it or not, I drop normal conventions on purpose. I actually have to try not to be correct- to use text/on line conventions for ww conventions lessons. Since I don't text, IDK the notations, it's 2 hard 4 me to incorporate them into my example pieces.
However, I fear being called out for my lack of caps in my on line posts, like you just did. Thanks for reminding me that I must be perfect or suffer the wrath.
As for 'some years' getting to sentence diagrams, it depends on how much time I have to spend on basic parts of speech. It makes me sad that kids don't know verbs or prepositions and how they function.
seattle said…
So what happens the other years PT? Do those kids just not get the sentence structure lesson? Whose responsibility is it to teach sentence structure? It doesn't seem to play any role in the WW curriculum
Kristen said…
@Pilot Teacher:

Thank you for taking the time to describe how you use rw/ww in your teaching so specifically. That was a kindness to the original poster and to others, who like you, have found the curriculum to be a powerful framework for teaching and learning.
dan dempsey said…
Let us reexamine .....

"It makes me sad that kids don't know verbs or prepositions and how they function.

It should make everyone sad that the District fails to provide effective interventions to a rich appropriate content filled program of instruction at each grade level, instead preferring inadequate programs of instruction complete with the "Social Promotion" option.

Dear PT,

Sincere thanks for taking the time to explain your take on the situation. It seems that teachers operate between 5 rocks and 2 hard places. Thanks for continuing to make the effort in spite of the poor conditions largely produced by Central Admin and the School Board.

-- Dan
dan dempsey said…
Kristin said:

"who like you, have found the curriculum to be a powerful framework for teaching and learning."

So how is it going for the rest?

The MSP results in writing showed a collapse at grades 4 and 7.

Seattle Change minus State change from WASL 2009 to MSP 2010

Writing grade 4
White,AmIndian,Asian/Pac,Black Hispanic, Limited English
-6.20% -9.10% -7.80% -4.20% -0.80% -7.50%

Seattle Change minus State change
Writing grade 7
White,AmIndian,Asian/Pac,Black Hispanic, Limited English
-5.20% -1.10% -3.40% -1.70% -4.90% -14.00%

From the HSPE:

Seattle Change minus State change
Writing grade 10
White,AmIndian,Asian/Pac,Black Hispanic, Limited English
-0.10% 4.00% 0.10% 1.70% -3.50% -4.10%

The average change in writing of the three levels tested for each group is as follows:

-3.83% White,
-2.07% AmIndian,
-1.40% Black,
-3.07% Hispanic,
-8.53% Limited English,


Here is the Change for Special Education Students from 2009 to 2010
Seattle Change minus State change

Grade 4 .: -3.40%
Grade 7 .: -13.30%
Grade 10 : -0.30%


So what is the deal?

Why do Seattle Students in general perform far worse than the State average changes in writing?

Is anyone in District Admin analyzing this, or even commenting on this?
ParentofThree said…
Called that one:

Bloomberg's Pick Gets Waiver to Be New York City Schools Chancellor
h2o girl said…
Parent of Three - Damn. Was hoping that wouldn't happen. Human capital, here we come.
dan dempsey said…
Here is the NY Times on the Cathie Black waiver.

State Grants Waiver for Schools Chancellor
dan dempsey said…
From the New York Daily News

State waiver clears Cathie Black to replace Joel Klein as Mayor Bloomberg's city schools chancellor

Steiner acknowledged Black's resume "does not demonstrate extensive knowledge about the educational issues confronting New York City's public schools."

Still, he said, last week's appointment of Deputy Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky as her "chief academic officer" - a concession Steiner all but demanded from Mayor Bloomberg - would fill those gaps.

"There will be one person in charge," Bloomberg said shortly before the waiver was announced. "Make no mistake about that."

Still, parents are not likely to see a big difference in their children's classrooms.

"Very little will change in most schools," said Pedro Noguera, education professor at New York University. "The mayor's just looking for someone to keep driving the car."

Some 62% of public school parents said in a poll last week they disapproved of Bloomberg's pick, who has almost no background in education or public service and whose two children went to a Connecticut boarding school.
dan dempsey said…
Here is NYS Chancellor Cathie Black's first letter.

She definitely has the blah, blah, blah down.

She is committed to continuing the fine work done by the Mayor, who appointed her. My that is not a surprise.

Dear Colleagues,

I am reaching out to you to introduce myself and thank you for welcoming me to the Department of Education. Now that the State has officially approved the waiver, I am eager to become fully immersed in the exciting work ahead.

The past few weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind for all of us, but like you, I am fully committed to our mission to provide every child in New York City with a high-quality education. That's why I took this job-to build on the unprecedented progress that our public schools have made under the watch of Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and all of you.

You might have heard or read a little about me in the past few weeks, but I would like the opportunity to tell you in my own words who I am and why I am excited about this job.

For four decades I devoted my professional life to blazing trails in the magazine and publishing industry. I got where I am today by working hard, making bold decisions, and listening closely to the strong teams I've had around me. I intend to proceed in the same way during my upcoming tenure at the DOE. I know that this is my most important mission yet, which is why I will need all of you with me over the next three years as we continue to transform the system to put children first.

As you know, I will appoint Shael Polakow-Suransky as Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Achievement Officer. In this new role, Shael will be responsible for the administration and supervision of all instructional initiatives and will serve as my counselor on all matters related to teaching and learning. Shael has more than fifteen years of experience in New York City's public schools in nearly every capacity. I am thrilled that he has agreed to take on this critical position. I also look forward to working closely with Sharon Greenberger as my Chief Operating Officer. Sharon will continue to be responsible for managing operations and will also serve as my key advisor {[as a renown publisher she chose the British spelling for "advisor" rather than the more common American spelling of "adviser"] on critical policy, governance, strategy, and communications issues.

Over the next few weeks, I will be working with Joel, the Deputy Chancellors, and all of you to make sure this is a seamless transition. I am especially excited about getting involved in the innovative work happening throughout the Department and beginning to identify areas for improvement
and new opportunities. I know that I have a lot to learn about the inner workings of the system, but I am also confident that my fresh perspective, combined with your deep experience, will help us rise to the challenge of preparing all NYC public school students for college and careers.

Thank you for your support. I look forward to getting to know you.


Cathie Black

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