Meetings This Week, August 15-20, 2011

Curriculum and Instruction meeting from 4-6 p.m.  All the agenda says is "Board policies C and D."  

"C" is Curriculum & Instruction and covers the following: curriculum (world languages, adoption of instructional materials, approval of supplementary instructional materials), instructional resources, instructional programs (online learning), Special Education and Staff Development.

"D" is Students and covers the following: student assignement, student rights and responsibilities and discipline.

I don't know what the meeting will cover but one reader said it may be about online learning.

Work Session: Distribution Services from 4-5:30 p.m.  Should be educational because I know almost nothing about this area.

Public Hearing about the Debt Service Fund (which services our bond debts like BEX and the debt on the Stanford Headquarters).  This is from 5:30-5:45 p.m. and it's short because it's likely to be only me and Chris Jackins testifying.

Board Meeting - 6-9:00 p.m.   The agenda seems short but who knows?  Maybe we'll have a good discussion around TFA.

Operations Committee from 4-6 p.m.
The agenda is a real lollapalooza of items including
  • the capital monthly report, 
  • final acceptance of the Hamilton project,
  • some kind of elevator emergency at Denny/Sealth, 
  • the purchase of ORCA cards, 
  • capital project planning policies, 
  • BEX advisory committee charter and 
  • energy conservation follow-up. 
There are also additional items like a discussion around the world school model for SBOC, date for Nova placement discussion with the Board, Hale Reader Board appeal outcome (they won) and some sort of contract dispute for work at Northgate and Olympic Hills.

The first of the school year community meeting with Director Martin-Morris from 9:30-11:30 am at Diva Espresso on Lake City Way and 80th.

There is also a Parent Summit at Cleveland High from 7:30 am to 1:30 p.m.  All parents are invited to attend and here's the program:

Join the Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators and the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with Seattle Public Schools to learn about current educational initiatives and resources available to you and your students.

Topics covered at this event include: 
  • School Reform
  • Parent and Family Engagement
  • Seattle Public Schools Initiatives
  • The Importance of Social Emotional Skills in Early Learning
  • How to Protect Yourself and others from Civil Rights Violations
  • Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind)
  • Early Learning Education
  • Turn Around Schools
  • Title 1 Supplemental Education Services
Interpreter services will be provided in Spanish, Somali, Chinese, Tagalog, Amharic and Vietnamese
There will be a continental breakfast and snacks but no lunch provided.

I could not get information about what kind of workshops or parent input they will have.   I wish I could be more enthused about this but I always find it odd when you can't get real information about what will happen at any given meeting.  I tried but didn't get much feedback. 


Anonymous said…
On the topic of math curriculum...

Kentucky has piloted Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach and has more schools signing up for this fall.

Some results presented to the Fayette KY school board:

Liberty Elementary recorded a 12 percent gain in African-American third-graders reaching proficiency or distinguished on statewide tests, cutting their achievement gap in half.

Harrison Elementary's African-American fourth-graders showed a 20 percent gain, and Yates Elementary eliminated its third-grade African-American achievement gaps.

Several schools that joined the program this year posted sharp gains on the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test. For example, third-graders at Northern Elementary recorded almost a full year's growth by the middle of this school year.

And they didn't have to cheat!

Read more:

Patrick said…
12 to 20% gains are really amazing just by switching materials. I wonder what they were using before (the linked article doesn't say either).
Anonymous said…
As a related article states, "Teachers have to know some math to teach Singapore."

RosieReader said…
Just to be the devil's advocate, why are you so quick to believe test scores that support your POV? Personally, I remain highly skeptical anytime anyone posts "amazing" gains for anything. As a general rule, life is more incremental than that. One easy tip won't rid you of 40% of your belly fat, no matter how many times they tell you in a banner ad that it will.
Anonymous said…
Right on Rosie, isn't it funny how the "anti-reform" crowd loves to lament test scores as a meaure, and test score keeping, and test score teacher accountability.... until they find some test scores they like, as in, Singapore math scores? If we love math scores so much, we should just all sign up for TFA, because they are dedicated to getting us some good test scores.

seattle citizen said…
"Test scores" are mere numbers, showing only a small part of the success and failure of each student. While trends over time analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using a variety of tools (tests, observations, behaviors, civic engagement, menatl health, physical health, access to enrichments, etc) might well point to areas where a student would benefit from remedial or accelerated studies, or a separate course altogether, "tests" are generally meaningless other than as a snapshot of a given moment in a student's academic life.
"Test scores" might have some reliability IF we know the student takes it with the same degree of motivation every time (and the test measures progression using similar questions) but since we never know what sort of motivation a student has at a given moment, it is impossible to use "test scores" to make certain statements.

Indeed, attributing a "test score" to a student in a high-stakes fashion (graduation requirement, school funding, racially discriminating comparisons, etc) is down-right punative, towards the student who doesn't "meaure up" in the various percentiles, groupings, parameters, and guesstimates the various high-stakes tests use, or to the educators who are likewise slimed by broad application of high-stakes test results to evaluations, programs, schools and public education itself.

I agree with RosieReader that it is wise to be "highly skeptical anytime anyone posts "amazing" gains for anything," including being suspicious of "reform" charters that use these state tests to make grandiose claims to profit off of taxpayer funding and denigrate public schools by using test scores to make assumptions of students based on race and ethnicity.
seattle citizen said…
-reader asks:
"...isn't it funny how the 'anti-reform' crowd loves to lament test scores as a meaure, and test score keeping, and test score teacher accountability.... until they find some test scores they like, as in, Singapore math scores? If we love math scores so much, we should just all sign up for TFA, because they are dedicated to getting us some good test scores."

Many who are anti-"Reform" don't love to use test scores only when the scores suit them. Many anti-"Reform" advocates (those against the usual "Reform" hooey) don't like these tests by themselves at all.

So your absurd claim that "the 'anti-reform" crowd" picks and chooses its tests is ridiculous, as there is no homogenous "crowd" and if there were, many DON'T like these tests in any stand-alone fashion. Your insulting tone does not hide the failure of your attack.
seattle citizen said…
"If we love math scores so much, we should just all sign up for TFA, because they are dedicated to getting us some good test scores"

Yes, many TFAers, due to their training regime (all five weeks of it) are ONLY dedicated to "getting us good test scores" (their training is based on working backward from state test questions to create curriculum, to the apparent exclusion of everything BUT "Math" and "Reading," leaving out even the nuance of those two disciplines) and, furthermore, they can be expected to do this for only a couple of years, until they quit and go to worki for Broad, Gates, Walton, Boeing or one of those foundation's education companies, test makers, or hedge fund operators.
That Passionate Teacher said…
Seattle Citizen brings up a point I hadn't even thought of before:

TFAers "training is based on working backward from state test questions to create curriculum".

The kicker in Washington, however, is that the state test is so highly guarded that we must sign a document acknowledging that we can be fired if we even LOOK at the test while the students are taking it.

How will TFA implement their "work backward from the state test" strategy if they have no access to the state test?
Anonymous said…
I think you got it all wrong SC. I'm not attacking the anti-reformers, I feel largely aligned with it. And yes, it does seem to be a pretty homogeneous group. I'm simply commenting that the back-to-basics math has a lot in common with TFA and the reformers. That is, a focus on test scores which are pretty meaningless. That is the irony. The same people who hate the tests, seem to love them (any of them) when they support one of their ideals: back-to-basics math. You can't really have it both ways.

Mmmm...tests said…
But having it both ways is the good old American way. Always has been. It's no different with the anti-reform crowd or the SOS crowd. Just as Charlie wanted Aki Kurose to close due to all its failing students, until they started doing better and he didn't want to close it anymore.

Thus, tests are bad and scores are unreliable, until they're good and scores are amazing. Shrug.
Testing...Testing... said…
@That Passionate Teacher:

TFA doesn't plan to the "test," they backwards plan from the state standards. The state standards make up the state test. This is a best practice for all teachers, TFA or not, to ensure that students are prepared to move on to the next grade.
seattle citizen said…
What about the state standards that aren't on the test, and what about things that aren't on the state standards?
If TFA ensures their students are prepared to move onto the next grade" by teaching the standards that are tested, what about everything else? I have little faith they are prepared (or willing to stick around to learn) to teach much else but tested standards.
I desire for students to learn much more.
seattle citizen said…
Your comment about how funny it was that you think "anti-reformers" select the test scores that work for them sounds like an attack to me.
I disagree that they are homegenous. Some believe some sort of merit is warranted but don't think state tests are reliable for this. Some think some charters, particularly those brought about from within the community, are worth a shot. Some think that evalutions of edcuators should be expanded somehow. So on some of the "Reform" points there is a variety of opinion. Where "they" do seem united is in their belief that "Reform" as it is currently being the product, literally, of just a few "Reformers" (most with little experience in a classroom) who are driving policy INSTEAD of local school boards. So I do think their is wide-spread agreement that "Reform" is the monster of The Reformers, but there are also, of course, a variety of opinions about actual day-to-day, on the ground, local changes that should be made, reflecting local desire for nuance and individual support for each student.
I'd hazard that many "anti-reformers," then, also often agree that changes to things should be made to assist individual students, and not so much at the national level to assist in the corporate standardization, homogenization, digitation (sp?) and "processing" of whole batches of youth that are called "Black," "White," "poor" and "special ed" merely for reporting purposes.
That Passionate Teacher said…
@ Testing...Testing...

As a teacher, I look at the Standards, the GLEs and the content area, and try to craft lesson plans that covers content while also adressing the standards at an appropriate level for the students at their grade level. That, I believe is the "best practice" to which you refer. It took me a couple of years past my student teaching to get really good at it.

TFA doesn't have the luxury of teaching their corps members how to do that. They have five weeks to teach them how to deconstruct a test and teach to it.

Teaching is part art and part science. You can learn the "science" part of teaching (the theory) fairly quickly, but it takes a lot of practice to pick up the "art".

I predict they run into problems here, where Test Security Mania has gripped the OSPI like nobody's business. All the "science" they know of teaching--deconstructing the test and teaching to it--will fail them because they cannot see the test, and they will have no training or practice in the "art".

Do I want this? Hell no! I want every teacher in every classroom to succeed. That starts with putting fully qualified teachers in every classroom!

WV is "haerendi". Is that some sort of plural of "haerendous"? If so, that's how I feel about putting less than minimally trained recruits in front of students instead of employing fully qualified teachers...
Chris S. said…
Please don't prohibit us from using test scores in our arguments when test scores are the ONLY thing the other side will pay attention to.

Yes, big gains are suspect (small gains even more suspect since tests are not sensitive instruments.) Still, when I see significant gains, sustained over time, supported by other evidence such as increased college enrollment among minorities, or decreased enrollment in remedial courses in college, I will pay attention.

Hasn't happened yet, of course.
Anonymous said…
"Significant gains, sustained over time" - as in Schmitz Park??

And then there's NJ:

-but hey, they're just test scores
Anonymous said…
Full report here:

-but hey, they're just test scores
Sahila said…
TFA workshop fails to inspire:

I thought I knew TFA but....
seattle citizen said…
Thanks for the link, Sahila. I found this part disturbing:
"All TFA's were expected to stick to scripted lessons to prepare students for testing as well as scripts for maintaining control in the classroom. They were to move ahead to polynomials even if the kids couldn't subtract negative numbers.

A favorite classroom management tool "I'm going to count backwards from four and I want you quiet when I get to one" was laughably inadequate with students who are street-smart, having to negotiate bus schedules, gang territory and other hazards just to get to school.

Mentors who worked with TFAers offered engaging alternatives for classroom management that the novices embraced. But when mentors returned to the classroom, the recruits were back to the scripts because 'that is what the TFA management wants.' "

Not only does TFA train only in test-taking and classroom management, but this disturbingly echoes trends prevalent in regular old public schools generally: Standardize, systematize, and script the classroom, but pay lip service to various professional developments that extol individualization. In other words, public schools (or at least their Broad graduate admins) expect teachers to stick to the script and, concurrently, diverge to meet individual need. Seems paradoxical, but there you have it.

No wonder they teach just scripted lessons to the test and classroom namagement: Force-feed a classroom full of students the same pap using the same scripts all day and a teacher will need all the management skills they can muster.
Jan said…
Sahila -- thanks for the link.

Seattle citizen: actually, I think what you write is far worse than what you conclude from it. To wit: "Mentors who worked with TFAers offered engaging alternatives for classroom management that the novices embraced. But when mentors returned to the classroom, the recruits were back to the scripts because 'that is what the TFA management wants.'"

Maybe I am "overreading" this -- in fact -- let me sort of "overstate" the case -- for the purposes of illustration. Who is in charge of the TfA teacher and his/her classroom in the school? The School Board and the principal -- or some nameless/faceless TfA management? If the principal requests different classroom policies, practices, tactics, etc. -- what? Do TfA'ers just do whatever TfA management tells them to do? Or do they follow the requests/directions of the school's principal (and indirectly, those of the Superintendent and the school board)?

Oversimplifying (but only a little) -- if TfA teachers hold themselves accountable to TfA management and NOT school/district management, we may already HAVE at least 2 "charter classrooms" in Seattle Public Schools this year -- they will be at Aki Kurose, and they will be led by teachers accountable to, and led by, TfA Management -- whatever that means.

I wonder if the Aki principal who hired these two knows that maybe he/she does not direct them -- that TfA does?

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools