Strategic Plan Work Session Notes

Sorry this took so long. As I stated previously, I did not stay for the budget portion of the Work Session so this is only about the Strategic Plan. Here is a link to the presentation.

Betty Patu was not there and so they recorded the meeting (both audio and video) so it should be available somewhere. Michael DeBell stated that this was to listen to the information but not to set any priorities.

What ended up happening was that there were 88 slides to cover and yet for some reason they let the Family Engagement section go on for about 35 minutes. It was interesting info from each of the schools with a FEAT team (Family Engagement Action Team) but I didn't feel it was the right time to present it. So by the time Dr. Goodloe-Johnson got started, she really whipped through the slides. (I've stated in the past that I think the staff presentations are too long and I still believe that is true.)

I stepped out as they went into 2010-2011 Governance Priorities starting on slide 9. I note what others have stated on this blog that when you see an item like "75% of the audit issues have been addressed", the response is how? I know they can't go thru specific items but define addressed. One interesting thing is on Slide 10 where it states that "resources to strengthen internal controls will be included in budget development" and "first governance work session to provide management oversight of the district's business systems is tentatively scheduled for January".

Please notice that the first label for this post is bullshit. And that's because, after 3 years of Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's governance, that she now is interested in how this district runs operationally is just pathetic. Recall that Mr. Kennedy told the Audit and Finance Committee that the district appears to not having been running on a coherent and organized system since 2000-2001. Recall that DeBell asked him if there were one exemplary department the others could look to and Mr. Kennedy said no.

And naturally the question is what resources? From where? And now we're interested in how the district is running?

I also missed the discussion of the SE Initiative starting on slide 14. Tt's a 3-year initiative but somehow there's a 4th year (2010-2011) with over $1m being spent. What? Slide 16 (not numbered) shows "academic outcomes" but read it. I don't see anything to get excited about at all. Slide 17 makes it sound like the SE Initiative was the groundwork for districtwide improvement. I don't recall that ever being said before. They also stated on "Key Reflections" (slide 17, again not numbered) that they didn't make big improvements because so that's why Cleveland became a STEM school and Rainier Beach might get an IB program. (So how do you explain Aki Kurose?) All these reflections are things they should have and could have known BEFORE undertaking the SE Initiative. Slide 19 had this curious reflection, "A comprehensive strategy for human capital development is critical to drive investments in differentiated pay." It references stipends that staff at the 3 schools received without having to go through the SEA. I'm thinking that sentence means that you have to be able to pay teachers who perform better than others.

So I'll just go into an overview of what I heard from here without referencing too many more slides:
  • Michael DeBell expressed worry over Special Ed and asked Marni Campbell for an update soon.
  • Peter Maier, for whatever reason, was quite the bulldog. He seemed confused that this Work Session was not going to have specific information on goals met or progress made. He came back to this again and again. He asked about the milestones shown without reference to progress made. Dr. G-J said those were there just as reminders of what the milestones were. He said that he was looking for whether we are on track or not. He said the purpose of the quarterly reports is to know where we are and where we are going. Dr. G-J said he was looking for more numbers "but I don't have it tonight but I'll get it to you." Good luck with that Peter. Peter hung in there and said he just wanted to know if we are moving along and getting closer to the stated goals. Dr. G-J was somewhat testy in saying "okay".
  • Kay, in looking at the ELL info, said that she noted that they said they have visited about 5 Level 1 and Level 2 schools and there are nearly 25. Will they get to all of them before the end of the school year? MGJ said the priority is Level 1. Kay said so maybe not Level 2 this year? MGJ, I promise to bring it back to you.
  • Slide 28 shows growth of AP/IB courses taken. They met their overall goal and in 4 out of 6 schools but for some reason left out Roosevelt, Ballard, Garfield and Hale.
  • Peter brought up the principal contract (as MGJ skipped over it on Slide 31). He said it was "less than fully implemented" and he didn't see that reflected here. MGJ said no, we didn't meet the target and will bring that next quarter.
  • Sherry Carr said she didn't need to see it tonight but would like to see estimates for 2011-2012 funding resources.
  • Kay asked about why Pay for K wasn't in the summary of Early Learning and MGJ said that was because it wasn't in that category.
  • Slide 38 "Funding for Current Year's Strategic Plan Work" is one I predict will not hold. There's reallocation of Title I/LAP/FRL funds, reallocation of existing resources, and reallocation of existing position. There was no explanation of these funding sources. I can't believe the Board is just going to stand by and allow this to happen without question.
  • Peter came back with wanting to slow down on the Strategic Plan simply because there is less money. He said he wanted to see more specifics about talking about each plan and those elements that directly affect the General Fund. MGJ said there is a timeline later in the presentation. Michael said that his sense from the Executive Committee work is that they have to go thru budget priorities "slowing down or ending" some of the work in the Strategic Plan. (MGJ looked mighty glum here.)
  • Slide 41 is title "Risks and Challenges" and states something I said to the Board previously; there has to be a balance between work plans and the Strategic Plan. But I also said that if it is a choice between a well-run district and the Strategic Plan, I'd choose day-to-day operations.
  • Brad Bernatek gave his presentation on the School Reports and District scorecard. He did speak to the 17% issue and said he had called the elected officials to apologize. (Dr. Goodloe-Johnson apparently made none of the phone calls herself.) Harium asked what the response was and Brad said for those officials who had actively used the figure, it was gratitude for the understanding of the difficult position they had been put in and for the other officials a thank-you for the call. He also mentioned having to make an adjustment for Ballard as their School Report had some inaccurate figures.
  • Peter asked Brad about if the Ballard review would include not just the academy model but other issues like review of transcripts. Brad said if a student takes a foreign language in middle school they should be recognized for that. He said some SAT scores had not been part of the report card as they had not been received.
  • Kay asked Brad about using 5-year graduation rates per Nova. He said they were and there were 4 and 6 year graduation rates in the School Reports. Michael pointed out that the high school counselors were a valuable resources to the district and they need to trust that the district is measuring the same things year over year. Brad point out that MAP is vertically aligned but HPSE isn't. He said it isn't a matter of right and wrong but what you can accurate say about the data.
  • Both Kay and Sherry asked to be fully walked through the Colorado model and the data so they will understand how to explain it to others.
So that's where the Strategic Plan discussion ended. It seems clear that the directors didn't get all the information they were expecting to see (and probably had been promised would be in quarterly reports).

January 12 - staff recommendations on a budget balancing solutions and presentation of a menu of additional options
January 26 - Work Session to review/discuss options on budget
Feb. 11 - guidance on school allocations, central reductions and program eliminations
Mid-March - Board updated on Legislative process and the need for potential budget adjustments

Big stuff. Will it be less money for schools? REAL central administration reductions? Programs eliminated (temporarily or for good)?


seattle citizen said…
Thanks for the lengthy report, Melissa.

You wrote that Brad Bernetek "also mentioned having to make an adjustment for Ballard as their School Report had some inaccurate figures."

I note that Ballard, Roosevelt and other schools still show "0% advanced learners." Guess they didn't get around to changing that yet, nor providing an explantion about this category and how it is figured...

So anyone interested in SPS School Reports can keep on going onto the website, looking up various schools, and learning that none of them (except Garfield) have any advance learners.

That's a heck of a way to attract families: "No advanced learning going on here! Move along!"

Hope they change that figure soon, make it reflect all the students who are challenging themselves and being challenged to go above and beyond.
lassen said…
I worry that the errors on the School Reports are being minimized, swept under the rug. From what I can tell, all high schools must be affected by the same inaccurate criteria used to determine the percentage of students "prepared to enter 4-year college".

Does anyone else think it's odd that The Center School's college-ready numbers tanked in one year? Take a look at their School Report and see what you think. Those are the red flags that should cause data folks to say "This defies logic -- we'd better look closely to see if there might be a problem in the data collection across the board."

The criteria the district used was not accurate: students were deemed ineligible for college if they took their first year of language in a middle school, even though colleges recognize middle school language as the first year; students were deemed ineligible for college if they didn't take three core requirements per year, even though this requirement doesn't even go into effect until Class of 2012.

So, sadly, we may be seeing the same types of errors in these School Reports that we saw in creating the 17% debacle-- And an all-too-familiar reluctance on the part of the district to admit the errors and do a full-scale review and correction of ALL high schools' data.
Eric B said…
One clarification: When Brad Bernatek was talking about vertically aligned curricula, he was explaining why they needed to use the Colorado model for "making gains" rather than a straight-up review of this year's pass rates vs. last year's for each school. His argument is basically that since the state test is of varying difficulty at each grade, they can't use that test to benchmark each school's performance.

That explanation makes no sense to me. If the state test is really that variable, then we need to work with the state to improve it. Worst case, we can explain away bumps and dips in the results via statistical reviews.

I really don't see the need for a ridiculously confusing stat like the Colorado model, at least not without calling it something like "students making gains relative to their peers."
Charlie Mas said…
The Colorado Growth Model measures student academic growth relative to their test score peers. This is a useless and meaningless measure. As such, it is no substitute for an absolute measure of student growth.

We would be better off with nothing than with this misinformation.
Dorothy Neville said…
But Charlie, without the Colorado Growth Model, what will we do to get the teachers to stop being cooperative? Competition is healthy, isn't it? What's not to like about ranking teachers not simply on how well they taught, but on how much better they taught than the teacher next door.
seattle citizen said…
You said it, Dorothy - One of the main purposes of these tests and rankings might not be to help students at all, but to get teachers competing with each other. Why would anyone want them to compete with each other? Because that allows for an oh-so-easy, "you're not competitive, you're gonna be paid less or canned."

I mean, what ELSE is crowed about these days besides HSPE and MAP scores? Nothing else matters, apparently, and these could be the new data point for free market public educators, fired at will and left to compete to get into some other school ("So, how WERE the test scores of previous students? Let's take a look and see if you're competitive before we hire you. And by the way, with how much fidelity did you implement the country's, uh, state's, uh, district's, uh, McGraw Hill, Broad and Microsoft's canned curriculum?")
you all make me laugh. i had never thought about the competition vs. collaboration aspect. but i can see how it does create such an environment.
my experience has been nothing but a culture of competition. but it is one that focues on the more qualitative aspects of teaching- who is the greatest martyr w/the neato lessons that make kids love them forever. but no one wants to look at how their hundreds of unpaid hours and lessons that have all the unicorns and rainbows also produce academic and intellectual results. perhaps this forces the competition to become about substantive learning instead of about personality.
dan dempsey said…
Here is my analysis of the 88 slide power point. I can see the current plan is going nowhere and spends an excessive amount of money to go nowhere.

I have suggestions for adopting an entirely different approach.

Yes I would eliminate a lot of programs and a lot of central administrative positions.
Eric B said…
I agree and disagree with Charlie. The Colorado model is definitely no substitute for an absolute growth statistics, but I think it MAY have a place in a reasonable analysis of student performance.

Say you wanted to compare students at the lower end of the achievement scale at, say, Garfield and Ingraham. The absolute student performance numbers are going to be skewed by the advanced programs, but you could use the Colorado model to see if either school performs significantly better among lower-performing students.

I'm sure you could get there through other measures, but that's one reasonable application of the model. Again, I'm not defending the way it has been used so far.
seattle said…
"Peter Maier, for whatever reason, was quite the bulldog. He seemed confused that this Work Session was not going to have specific information on goals met or progress made. He came back to this again and again. "

Could it be? Could Peter Maier finally be getting frustrated with the BS? Seems like he's been much more vocal lately. Maybe after dealing with the SPS muck for few years he's fed up - and finally starting to do his job!
Dorothy Neville said…
KidsNotLikeTheOthers: Good Point! And I was way too frustrated with that very philosophy of engaging kids with fun things without deeper thought to challenging them academically. But in my case, it was in APP classes. At those testing levels, there's too much noise and the kids are already doing so well; I don't see how this measure will be meaningful to change teacher attitudes. Is that similarly true for high performing high SES schools? I suspect many of them are able to coast on their demographic that mostly does well on standardized testing regardless.

So, for a school with few low performing kids, perhaps only a few per classroom, would this data be useful or meaningful to identify which teachers are doing better with their under achievers? Or will this fall into that stupid Level 4 vs Level 5 metric on achievement gap? Because look at every school that is level 5 and you will find that the ONLY reason there is no gap is that there are not enough students of color taking the exams to show up on the record.

(I was thinking more along the lines of sending donuts to your competitor classrooms right before the MSP or having your class do a fragrant cooking lesson down the hall when your competitor's class is taking the MAP or other such nefarious monkeywrenching of scores.)
Dorothy Neville said…
Seattle, yes, I have been following all the budget sessions this Fall and Peter has definitely stepped up to the plate. He does seem to be finding his voice. I think he is fed up. Finally starting to do his job? Well, a more kind interpretation is that the seattle school board has been so dysfunctional and lax in enforcing policy that there have been no good role models of how to be an effective board member. He's been rah rah for the district for a long time, with ties to SchoolsFirst! and pro-school district advocacy that it was hard for him to separate that from his current role -- which should scrutinize the district more carefully. Perhaps the perfect storm of audit, no-confidence, chaos reigning everywhere, lies from the district and money being so tight has made him wake up.

Certainly we are not seeing the blatant disregard for the role we saw in Harium with his "I don't have to verify, the CAO's word is enough for me."

They are all starting to notice that they are not getting good information from staff. Are they regretful for believing staff too much in the past? Will they have the strength and the power to keep pushing back? We should encourage it as much as possible.
Kathy said…
I remain concerned about level 4 middle schools.

Level 4 designations does NOT represent the number of students working (years) below standard. Nor, will it provide these schools with funding.

North end schools DO have pockets of poverty- these are the kids I'm worried about.

Our north end middle school has approximately 970 students. 30% of these students are not at math standards. Twenty five percent of these students are not meeting LA standards. Put into numbers, we are talking about hundreds and hundreds of students.

I tutor these kids. They are reading at elementary reading levels and DO NOT know basic math facts. I generally give them 2nd and 3rd grade work.

We do not receive Title I funding and we have the LOWEST per pupil funding. Consequently, we do not have tutors, math or reading specialists (.5 reading specialist with LAP funds)

While resources are tight-these kids need to receive support & intervention. Without support and intervention, these kids are doomed to sprial in a downward position.

I'm afraid level 4 designation will take funding away from hundreds of students in need.
dan dempsey said…
Wow!!! I am right on Peter Maier's wave length.

What does Board Work Session mean?

Apparently the Superintendent thinks the Board should watch an 88 slide "con job" presentation. Peter on the other hand thinks work needs to be done.

Peter realizes without current accurate data, what is the point of this quarterly meeting?

Could it be the Directors are on the verge of directing the Superintendent?

"Where's the Beef?" in MGJ's presentation. There is very little in her fluff packed con-job.

Michael DeBell is right on the money about Special Education concerns. The annual results based on year to year change in OSPI annual testing are in the toilet for SpEd and also ELL.

The Supe' presents lots of spin and sizzle to cover for the missing steak.

It seems that without her useless Colorado model, misleading of public officials, failure to submit transcripts of evidence "certified to be correct," evidence tampering, and forgery that she has little to report.

If she does not have the "Numbers" for Peter, how does she use them in making decisions?

Oh right, she makes the decisions first and then goes looking for numbers. All the school directors have been aware of this for some time. Could it be the Directors are actually intending to act like Directors?
seattle citizen said…
"30%...not at math standards. Twenty five...not meeting LA standards....We do not receive Title I funding and we have the LOWEST per pupil funding. Consequently, we do not have tutors, math or reading specialists (.5 reading specialist with LAP funds)...While resources are tight-these kids need to receive support & intervention. Without support and intervention, these kids are doomed to sprial in a downward position."

Amen. This is biggest problem with pedagogy turning "high stakes" standardized and resources being directed at groups of students instead of individual students.

This is the most hurtful aspect of this sort of "reform": Individual students, scattered around the district, are not targeted with support and funding, to support their struggles and their successes; numbers are instead crunched, broad pictures of "failed schools" are painted with just two colors, black and white, with no nuance as is required by nuanced children.

Whole schools are destroyed, student communities scattered to the wind, staff metered, snubbed and fired, because of Categories receiving attention instead of the little human beans sprouting thither and yon, like in your tutorials. (and bless you for those!)
Charlie Mas said…
Eric B. asks:

"Say you wanted to compare students at the lower end of the achievement scale at, say, Garfield and Ingraham. The absolute student performance numbers are going to be skewed by the advanced programs, but you could use the Colorado model to see if either school performs significantly better among lower-performing students."

No, you couldn't. Not unless you could disaggregate the students by test score history and only check the relative progress of some of them.

My solution, however, would allow everyone to do that analysis. If the District published the breakdown of MSP or HSPE scores by Level (1, 2, 3, or 4) as the OSPI does and within each of those groups showed the students' previous MSP or HSPE score by Level, then we could see how many of the students who got Level 1 scores previously were advanced to Level 2 or beyond and how many got Level 1 scores again. A stacked bar chart (like my current avatar) would let us see how many of the students who got Level 1 scores this year had achieved higher scores the previous year. It would also let us see how many of the students who got Level 4 scores last time got them again this time.

The stacked bar would let all people see the disaggregated data - not just the few inside the District.
Charlie Mas said…
I didn't personally witness Director Maier's request for a more comprehensive review. I heard about it from Mel and Dorothy when I arrived.

I don't know why he - and every other Board member - has not been demanding a comprehensive review since the start of these little farces two years ago. Just the same, I would be pleased to learn that he is asking for them now.
dan dempsey said…
Hey folks,

Here is a partial remedy to the current farce.

Peter wanted numbers and Michael wanted data on SpED ... so the above link provides the data on Special Ed presented in a way that it is easy to understand. It shows how pathetic the MGJ plan is for SpED students.
dan dempsey said…
What is abundantly clear is MGJ is spending huge amounts of money on data gathering and zilch on interventions and programs to meet students' academic needs. She had aggressive goals in her strategic plan but in many areas things are NOT rapidly improving they are in reverse.

Thus she fails to compile readable reports and substitutes a model that will always show 66% of students are improving.

In every OSPI annually tested category for SpED students and All students SpEd students performed better in 2006 to 2007 than in 2009 to 2010. Little wonder she provides no readable reports.

The spinner of fairy-tales continues on unchecked by the Board but for how much longer?
dan dempsey said…
"Michael DeBell stated that this was to listen to the information but not to set any priorities."

Ah ... does the Board have any priorities currently?

Rubber stamping the Superintendent's every proposal is the only one in evidence.
Charlie Mas said…
Here's a line from the original post that is starting to catch my eye: "Betty Patu was not there".

I know that there have been an extraordinary number of meetings, but the other Board members are showing up. I think she also missed a C & I Committee meeting.
Maureen said…
"Betty Patu was not there".

Charlie, I don't actually know anything about this, but from evesdropping at C&I and the work session, I believe there are health issues involved.

I wish Ms. Patu and her family the best.
Charlie Mas said…
The presentation discussed on this thread was on December 15. That was 12 days ago. On that day, Mr. Bernatek told the Board that the District staff that they would adjust the language for the student gains measure to be clear that this is a measure of gains relative to students’ academic peers, update and expand the FAQ on the District web site for the school reports, provide additional forms of information as needed to staff, families, and communities to help better understand the data in the school reports, and prepare the community for changes in how they report on advanced learning.

So when, exactly, should we expect these changes? Obviously not yet, but when?

When will the Board learn to ask for timelines to accompany the staff's promises of future action?

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