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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2000 and 3000 Policy Review

The School Board will meet today at 4:00 as a Committee of the Whole for the Curriculum and Instruction Policy Committee to review the Series 2000 and 3000 Policies. The agenda has links to the relevant documents.

You will note that the staff suggests that some of the current policies be retained without changes, some be deleted, some be revised now, and some be revised at a later date during "Phase II". In addition, they also recommend the adoption of some new policies.

The public will have only very limited opportunity to review and comment on these policies. There will be plenty of time to do it - about a month - but, let's face it, you'll have to do it via email and, as we know, emails to the Board get little or no attention. I made multiple comments on the Series 1000 policies before they were adopted and not only did I not detect any effect I didn't get the courtesy of a response. I don't think anyone read what I sent. I certainly don't have any reason to believe it.

Worth noting:
  • a proposed revision to the Highly Capable Student Program policy
  • a proposed revision to the Alternative Learning Experience policy
  • no proposed revisions to the Program Placement policy (despite claims that it cannot be followed)
  • a proposed policy on Multi-Tiered Systems of Support
  • a terribly muddled policy on Program Evaluation and Assessment that bogs down in issues of student assessment instead of program assessment and lacks any definition of "instructional program". Is Spectrum one instructional program or is each school's Spectrum program it's own instructional program? Is ELL one instructional program or dozens of them? What about Special Education?

6 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

This got brought up during the Olympic View debate last night. The format was such that only two candidates answered the question as to why such important policies are being changed without real public notice and outreach for input.

Sherry said there was some kind of "ID"level for engagement on actions that come to the Board. She said that they were giving community and parents a full month to give input on the policies (rather than the usual two weeks between intro/action) but agreed that there probably not enough notice given. She said they had done a lot of outreach around the NSAP.

Kate said there needed to be a "reset" on engagement. She said the website is a good example (I could have kissed her) and that an accessible website (like the award-winning city one) is what the district should be aiming for. She also said the city had a way for people to sign up to a list serv on topics they care about so that when action/meetings/legislation is coming up, they receive notice.

Both of those are good ideas.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thank you for covering this. The board policies are crucial and affect every aspect of daily SPS life. The policies have not been updated for 15 years in many cases. This is huge: I wish there were 120 comments here on the proposed changes. Please everyone read through these.

Check out the Curriculum and Instruction ones!!!

-Keeping posted

Dorothy Neville said...

I was at the Committee of the Whole thing yesterday. Chris Jackins and one other citizen were there (I will let that person reveal themself if they want). I didn't get a chance to speak with Chris, but we shared a couple eye rolls. The third citizen and I did speak and shared our feeling that it was a wasted two hours for all present.

I have been at A&F policy discussions and I have been at Executive committee policy discussions and both have actually been handled professionally and thoughtfully. The proposed draft policies were, for the most part, well written. They looked like policies. They might have had some problems, but the structure was there and the discussions about them were fruitful.

Yesterday? Well look at the four "policies" that were considered necessary to discuss as a whole. On-Line Learning! The board thinks this is a "tremendous opportunity" for students. Can't you just see the invisible exclamation points? This doesn't read like a policy, it reads partly like an advertisement, partly like a procedure. MTSS! Who in their professional judgement would call this a policy? Buzzword de jour plus some procedural stuff. Highly Capable Grant. Is this a comprehensive policy about Advanced learning or just a procedural thing about approving the grant application? The latter does not warrant a policy, especially as the state could change their grant process anytime. ALE. Well, we got dinged in the audit about not having an ALE policy and here you go. A policy that reads more like a description of which schools have ALE status. Tell me, if you were trying to figure out something about ALE would this policy help?

The board members had all the same complaints as I listed above. Therefore, the 15 minutes allotted to each policy were spent trying in a relatively polite way to tell staff that the policy writing stunk. That left almost no time to discuss the board members' philosophy of such things as on-line learning (and the little discussion they did have showed WIDE variance of opinion) or differentiation or providing supports to struggling students. You know --- the things that are supposed to be captured in policy.

This mirrors comments others have made since last March, that Susan, who came from Teaching and Learning, has been relatively successful in booting out top staff in other areas of the district to effect honest change, but in Teaching and Learning, she promoted within with disappointing results.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by the "Board policies" vs "Superintendent procedures." Is the intent to have a Superintendent procedure to match each Board policy, or are some Board policies being superceded by Superintendent procedures?

Will the Superintendent Procedures shift some of the Board's authority directly to the Superintendent? Will public input and Board vote then be bypassed?

-parent

Charlie Mas said...

Board Policy vs Superintendent Procedure reflects the difference between governance and management.

The governance part says that we will do business in a legally compliant, transparent, and consistent way. That's all the policies generally say. They should not be too prescriptive about HOW things are done but should focus on WHAT needs to be done.

The management part says exactly what the process or procedure will be. They should describe how things are done.

Example: We could have a policy that says that the Advanced Learning department must deliver an annual report to the board with performance measures that demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of the programs. The superintendent procedure would list what those performance measures will be.

Example 2: Policy says that the superintendent needs to have a procedure for determining program placements and needs to make that procedure public. This assures that the decisions will be data-based (as opposed to political), transparent (so everyone knows what bar they have to clear), and uniform (so the requirements are the same for everyone). Superintendent procedure will describe that procedure, the determining criteria, and the benchmarks that need to be met.

SP said...

A big difference between Board Policy & the new Superintendent Procedures is that the Board has to approve Policy but does not have to approve any of the new Superintendent Procedures.

Previously, the Board had to approve both Board Policy and the old Board Procedures (now being repealed in place of Superintendent Procedures)- this is a huge difference, with little to no oversight on what the District decides to do and how they do it.