Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Open Thread

I think I may have mentioned this group before but it's worth another look.  The group is the Living Voters guide:

The guide is powered by citizens. It’s a website that helps ordinary voters form and share their opinions with other people, together producing a citizen-written voters’ guide. The guide was created for the 2010 ballot initiatives, but this year, regional and local measures have been added along with additional means for sharing opinions.

“The guide offers citizens an opportunity to hear the voices of other citizens directly, not filtered through campaigns or organizations,” said Alan Borning, a UW professor of computer science and engineering and a co-leader of the project. Borning was joined by Lance Bennett, a UW professor of political science and communication; doctoral students Travis Kriplean, Sheetal Agarwal, Deen Freelon and Jonathan Morgan; and Seattle CityClub Executive Director Diane Douglas.
The guide initially asks voters to indicate their opinion of a particular  initiative  — for example 1183, which would privatize liquor sales — by moving an arrow on a line. Instructions then offer columns of pros and cons, asking voters to move their choices into a center box, and update their stance if it changes. Voters can also write their own pro and con points, and add them to the pool for others to use.

It's kind of cool to see how the voting is trending (at least for this group of people).  Their site also features links to multiple voter guides from groups like the Washington Policy Center, League of Women Voters of Greater Seattle and others.   They also have resources like how the initiative process works, stats and history of WA ballot measures and filing an initiative in WA.

What's on your mind?


cascade said...

Michelle Rhee sighting: jetting to Ohio, charging $35K to speak (discounted from $50K since she was talking to a school audience) and charging $5K for VIP Suite, Town Car driver, first class airfare and more.

I'm sorry, but this is the exclamation point on all that is not just wrong but insufferable with the Reform Crowd.

And, LOL, WV says "brode". For newbies to this blog, look up Broad Foundation. You'll quickly get the joke.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if anyone else has noticed there seems to be two very different ways the term "Walk to Math" is being used.

I am very much in favor of walk to math, where children are grouped by ability and are divided among classrooms and this is what I assumed walk to math referred to.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that several of the incumbents in the CPPS candidate questionnaire say they are for "walk to math", but when reading their statements more closely, it appears that their definition of "walk to math" is that math would be taught by a teacher who excels in teacher math, so a whole class would go to a different classroom for math instruction, but not necessary grouped by ability.

Has anyone else noticed this or am I misinterpreting their words.

Peter Maier said:
I am interested in the expansion of “walk to math” programs, now used at about 13 elementary schools in SPS, whereby students are taught by the teachers with the strongest math teaching skills.

Sherry Carr didn't use the term "walk to math", but described a similar model:
It is unrealistic to expect a K-5 generalist teacher to be excellent at instructing in every content area. I believe the time has come to fully leverage team teaching, allowing teachers to focus on their areas of strength. Teachers could be paired where one focuses on reading, writing, and social studies and the other on math and science. This reduces the number of teachers to be trained in any specialty area by 50%.

And Steve Sundquist wrote:
Additionally, I support more specialization of instruction in elementary school through programs like Walk to Math

Can some of our regular contributors who has talked about walk to math clarify which model of "walk to math" they are supporting? Which is the "usual" interpretation of "walk to math"?

- Let's walk to math

mirmac1 said...

I'm just reposting this once more because it goes to show that, when Lynne Varner or whomever profess to speak for the silent majority, then who are these thousands of people? Their unfiltered comments show strong support and praise for teachers, not so much for administration.

Lots and lots of feedback for the incumbents and their financial backers to be clueless about

Anonymous said...

The two different definitions of "walk to math" are really interesting, I think we should consider utilizing both! Maybe with the use of math specialists that only teach math?

VR parent (where they use the first definition)

Dorothy Neville said...

Here is an explanation of the Walk to Math issue. As requested, (very interesting now that I think about it that this followup with C&I was requested by Peter, not by the chair of C&I. Hint, hint, vote for Michelle) there was a discussion at the June C&I meeting about this.

I attended that meeting and I thought I wrote something up, but didn't see it. Will check my notes later. The upshot is, as the above commenter noted, Walk to Math has no definition and the district and state seem to be moving toward resignation about the level of math competency among elementary school teachers and simply hiring specialists.

Anonymous said...

mirmac, unfortunately, those responses have been pruned. Comments that we submitted--yes, they were critical, but very well informed-- are not present in the pages you have made available.

Thinking about what that means...

mirmac1 said...

Hmmm, presuming no board member bothered to ask for the detailed comments, I doubt it made any diff. Still, it's worth asking Mark Teoh about. I've witnessed him be evasive on survey results and interpretation.

Josh Hayes said...

I'm a math tutor at one of our Seattle public schools. My take on this is that the first idea of "walk to math" is the one that works --

That is, "math class" happens at the same time for everybody in the school, and different teachers teach at different levels, which means that every kid can find a level of math that s/he finds challenging and worthwhile. This is a fabulous idea, but is limited at the top end (i.e. a K-5 school would need someone to teach, say, 6th grade math to handle the 5th graders working a year ahead).

Just sending all the kids to a handful of "math specialists" at various times of day locks every kid into his/her grade level math and ONLY that level. Not useful for kids working either below or above grade level. I say "bah" to that.

Anonymous said...

This isn't directed at anyone here, but probably more at our current board and their views on walk to math, so I should probably follow this post up with a note to each of them.

I am not against math specialists at schools, especially if it's a known weakness with the k-5 teachers. It just seems that when there is so little money to go around, math specialists for every school may not be in the budget. The state is considering eliminating money for transportation, so for some kids, that could mean not even getting to school every day. But of course, if they make it, there would be a math specialist to teach what their regular teacher was hired to teach?

Based on discussions here, many agree teaching to a homogeneous group is less challenging than teaching to a group with very divergent skill levels. It would seem a teacher struggling with the math curriculum a bit would have a better chance of success with a less divergent group of learners.

I completely irks me that the the argument against skills based grouping is that it increases the achievement gap. To hold kids back to lessen the achievement gap is shameful. And for the teachers teaching the kids that are more challenged with math - letting those kids slip further behind is even more shameful. All of these groups have different needs and I don't feel they can be met in widely mixed abilities groups, even by a math specialist.

Instead of focusing on the achievement gap, let's focus, as I think someone has mentioned, on achievement for all - bringing out the best in every child - not holding some back for the benefit of others.

- Let's walk to math

Anonymous said...

When we discussed walking to math at my kid's school, the reason we couldn't do it was not because it would "increase the achievement gap," but that it was "tracking." The principal was not against it, but said many parents didn't like their kid being in the "lowest" class. Kids don't really seem to mind which group they are in, but the parents sure do. Just look at some of the comments posted here when Melissa or Charlie post about APP or Spectrum. Parents don't like it if their kids aren't in the top group. The silliest thing about this is all the kids in any class can tell you which kid who is best at math or who is the best speller. Not tracking doesn't hide anything from the kids, it just protects the parents' fragile egos.

-annoyed with delicate parents

district watcher said...


Totally agree. A few years ago 3 of the teachers at Lowell decided to pool their kids for math and separate them out into 3 groups. The kids walked in groups to the other classrooms for math, and each group got the full attention of the teacher for the entire period. Best possible scenario for the teachers and more importantly for ALL the students.

When it was time for a new unit (roughly several weeks), they would have a pre-assessment of the new material and new groups would be formed. Thus, this was not tracking, since the groupings were flexible. Sure, the top kids mostly stayed in the top group and the "struggling" (this was APP) kids mostly stayed in the lowest group, but any kid was able to move up or down according to their own ability in the given topic.

After a while the plan was abandoned, and the rumors were that it was because some of the parents complained when they discovered that their kids weren't in the top group. Note that no labels were ever attached to the groups, but as you said, the kids know which of their fellow classmates are tops in certain areas. There's no hiding that. And honestly, why should we? Are we that strongly programmed to only celebrate the achievement of struggling students, and not the achievements of top students?

It's possible that the problem may actually be worse in AL programs, but it's everywhere. Parents, you're not helping your kids with this kind of attitude. Help the teachers help your kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think the issue is also about people feeling their child will get tracked in to a certain level of class and never get out.

It would seem walk to math - in whatever form it is - would prevent that because if a child came up in his/her achievement, they move to the next level.

dan dempsey said...

School Board election voting thought from
Peter Finch's character in Network...

I am mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

mirmac1 said...

Hey, I had a question. Did you know that viewing names on the sign-in sheet at JSCEE is a no-no? It's secret (except through PDR, of course). What could they be hiding? Weird.

dan dempsey said...

Ability grouping refers to creating small groups within a classroom such as for reading. Tracking refers to tested students being placed into separate and different curricular tracks or "streams" as they are called in Europe. (Loveless, 1998)

In math it is difficult to have more than two groups in a classroom with one teacher, as instructional time is diluted when three or more groups need to be monitored and instructed.

A flexible grouping of students in a school for math done all at the same time, provides for a reduced number of groups in a classroom (one or two) and produces groups with students likely to be all within the Zone of Proximal Development for the material being presented.

When such a system is in place for at least two years there is evidence of significant increase in student math proficiency ... providing that the tools used for grouping and regrouping are suitable and the instruction is appropriate.

NLM said...

The problem that I've seen with walk to implementation is that there may not be enough low (or high) students to make room for those who need to move up (or down), especially when there are two or three classes in a grade.

Anonymous said...

I've got a lot of friends without kids who know I follow district issues. They're asking my opinion about the school board races. Because I'm lazy, I'd love to find a fairly concise blog post summing up why we should elect the challengers to counter what my friends have read in the Times. Is there anything like that here on SSS? I've poked around but can't find one.

dan dempsey said...

MonkeyPuzzled --

Here is my contribution to election madness =>


dan dempsey said...

I'd love to find a fairly concise blog post summing up why we should elect the challengers to counter what my friends have read in the Times.

Tell your friends to read the comments to each article in the Times online.

dan dempsey said...

The problem that I've seen with walk to implementation is that there may not be enough low (or high) students to make room for those who need to move up (or down), especially when there are two or three classes in a grade.

Your question seems to indicate that the grouping is only done at each grade ... This is not very productive.

The grouping should be done on a school level.

My first year teaching in 1968-69 was in a small school grades 1 thru 8 in rural idaho (note one room of students per grade level (usually 20 - 31 students per grade).

We used a walk to reading with each teacher presenting two levels of reading... All students from grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 were in the grouping and regrouping. It worked very well. This was done after lunch for about one hour.

The idea is to meet the need of each student.

The grouping suggested makes this much more possible than if attempted without this plan.

Anonymous said...

In other news, see what kiddos are reading at Hamilton:

APP blog

NLM said...

Dan, I agree, hence the "schoolwide" cluster grouping model. Unfortunately in SPS, kids are only allowed to go one year up or down outside of APP so if there's no room above or below, the kids are stuck. The gen ed classrooms, so far as I can tell, are not designed to offer math differentiation and teachers are not doing 1/2 or 3/4, etc. It's strictly on grade.

dan dempsey said...

NLM ...

"Unfortunately in SPS, kids are only allowed to go one year up or down outside of APP so if there's no room above or below, the kids are stuck."

Well that above plan would be just super duper if all the kids fell into such an almost one size fits all model.... but they do not.

There is scant proof that either the "Strategic Plan" or the current "differentiated instruction" is producing anything beneficial.

Until the SPS uses practices that fit students' needs, the system is Stuck with Academic Malaise ... so much for an interim-Superintendent who was the Chief Academic Officer.

Anonymous said...

Along with the anti-tracking forces is the stigma that the APP and Spectrum kids get all the best teachers too. If that's what a parent perceives, and a lot do, whether accurate or not, then it's as much a feeling that your kid is not getting his or her best opportunity in school, as it is that your kid is "stuck" in a bad math class forever. And that may happen, so I can actually understand and sympathize with those who favor clustering over self-containment. Unfortunately, I think self-containment is easier to make work, versus the vaunted "differentiation" that teachers are being shouldered with. If it results in winners and losers as far as who gets the "better" teachers and who doesn't, then I see that as a failure of district and principal leadership.

The question should not be "does my kid deserve the best teacher?" But, "is my kid getting the best teacher and curricula for his particular needs?" I often wonder, in these debates, how many parents are really paying close attention to how their kid is actually doing in class, versus getting swallowed up in the black holes of status and rank.

We can dismantle Spectrum, for example, but do we really think that will translate into the average kid getting more and better attention, or learning better? Or does it simply make folks feel better to be rid of the thought or perception that the kids in the other class have it so much better? Does either get to the root of the problem? Has anyone quantified the data, or even attempted to do so, versus making the social equity arguments?

Lack of empiricism is a lasting Hallmark of SPS district policy, with changes often implemented not because they've been shown to work, but in the name of supposed fairness and equity. It seems okay with some if everyone suffers equally, but how does that, in the end, help such a person's kid?

Is the fairness principal worth the cost of perhaps making the problem worse, or causing the suffering of more kids, and not less?

Is that question ever considered? I frequently have to wonder. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Along with the anti-tracking forces is the stigma that the APP and Spectrum kids get all the best teachers too.

APP certainly doesn't have the market on good teachers...what's going on at Hamilton is a good case in point. There have been ongoing issues with some of the teachers (for those that are curious, read the thread on the discussapp.blogspot.com, the referenced article is pretty disturbing)

My guess is that many would say their school has great teachers overall, but there are a few that parents would like to avoid (GenEd, Spectrum, or APP).


Linh-Co said...

I don't know if the incumbents know what is really happening with walk to math. I know Loyal Heights, North Beach, and Schmitz Park are ability grouping. It might differ in other schools.

The incumbents like to pretend that walk to math is having math specialists teaching math. The reality is we don't have enough strong math teachers in the elementary level. The teachers with math endorsements are teaching math at the high school level. By math endorsements I mean someone with at least a bachelor's degree in mathematics NOT the the Mickey Mouse endorsement given through Anna-Maria delaFuente's math course.

dan dempsey said...

Time to check the Agenda for the coming Nov. 2 school board meeting...

Check out Action Item #4 ... It has been lined-out.

4. Renewal of Northwest Evaluation Association Subscription – (C&I) Approval of this item will renew the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) subscription for continued implementation of Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) in the 2011-12 school year.

(Postponed to November 16, 2011 Board meeting at the request of the Board President)

This is the Action that is already way way late ....

Hasn't the 2011-2012 school year already begun?

Haven't some MAP tests already been given?

Could the Board actually say NO?

So why was this Action delayed until Nov 16?

dan dempsey said...

More Odd Stuff happening in a less than timely fashion... an intro/action on Cleveland.
Resolution in support of a waiver to exempt Cleveland High School from the state’s 150-hour per credit requirements.

The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) requires that before a waiver can be authorized, the School Board must approve a resolution in support of the waiver. Cleveland High School is classified as an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE) school because they do not meet the 150-hour requirement.

Each day that we wait to apply will cost $1899.59, so applying quickly is in our best interest.

Traditionally waivers must be submitted by May 1st for the upcoming year.

OSPI told us that they are willing to consider this waiver though it is late, because they recognize that a block schedule cannot meet the 150-hour requirement.
So OSPI will consider this even though it is late ... Did OSPI just figure out that a Block Schedule at Cleveland cannot meet the 150 hour requirement?

It turns out that a 50 minute class if it actually met every day for a 180 day school year would produce exactly 150 hours in class. So the Cleveland plan is Short by 15 minutes per day of meeting the 150 hour goal.

This is exactly the same issue that was used by MGJ to force West Seattle HS to abandon its four period day. WSHS had 4 classes per semester that met everyday for 1 full credit... which produces 127.5 hours per credit... WSHS had a waiver.

Note a 6 period day with 50 minute classes in four years gives kids 24 credits total.... with a total of 150 x 24 = 3600 hours in class

a 4 period day produces 32 credits over 4 years.
127.5 x 32 = 4080 hours in class

I never quite figured out how delivering 480 more hours over 4 years was short changing kids. Somehow MGJ made this shortchanging an issue.

At WSHS we did not say that these 127.5 hours x 2 would effectively deliver two years of math.. which required 150 hours x 2 elsewhere. No Mark Drost the Dept. head knew that 255 did not equal 300...
Instead it was 127.5 x 3 = 382.5 hours to deliver that content. YUP -- WSHS was using 382.5 instead of 300 hours to cover the content ... but somehow it was math that became the straw-man for the change to 6 periods at WSHS.

I think at Cleveland they might be using 85 minutes x 4 to deliver those supposed two years of content... thus 510 hours of class time.

Anyway I am all for the Cleveland waiver ... I just wonder how with the amount of $$$ going into central administration why things do not happen on time... Remember last meeting it was the intro/action of the Superintendent's evaluation instrument. ....

Now we are losing $1900 bucks a day without this waiver.

The NWEA/MAP contract renewal has not been approved by the board ... and is being put off until Nov 16 .... just like the 2011-2012 school year has not yet started.

dan dempsey said...

Following up on Cleveland and the Waiver..

WAC 392-410-117 => .... which offers evidence of student learning which is substantially equivalent to the definition stated in WAC 180-51-050.

WAC 180-51-050 => (b) Satisfactory demonstration by a student of clearly identified competencies established pursuant to a process defined in written district policy.

.... So How is that happening?

Consider end of course testing for Students at Cleveland last year that took Algebra I as 9th graders ....
EoC #1 results for those students ...
meeting standard 53.4%
well below standard 28.4%

So what is the plan for demonstrating
WAC 180-51-050 clearly identified competencies
For all the Cleveland Courses?

Are these competencies clearly identified?

Are these competencies established in a process defined in written district policy?

By the way the application has a number of 137.75 hours.... where did that come from???

Alternating schedule of 180 days equals 90 days and at 85 minutes per class = 127.5 hours of planned instruction.... guess passing time must be getting counted as planned instruction delivered to students to get up to 137.75 hours ... (???)

10.25 hours = 615 minutes

==> 6.83 minutes per day.

Can all these questions about WAC competencies be answered ???

Just another minimal public input one meeting intro/action slam dunk ... I suppose.

OSPI likely does not care about any of these WACs.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan dempsey said...

Anonymous said...
In the WAC, the state counts 50 min hours, meaning that a 50 min class counts as 60 min of instruction. This is to allow for passing time.

For a class that meets one 50 min period a day, for 90 days, it counts as 90 hr of planned instruction, even though it's only 75 hr of actual instruction time.
Anonymous ... Did not leave a Name -- so I reposted comment above

I am really interested in where specifically a WAC states that a 50 minute period may be counted as a 60 minute hour???


Here is a little piece that i did find =>
(1) Grades 1-6. A one-semester course -- i.e., 90 (50 minute) hours of instruction -- or its equivalent in Washington state history and government shall be required in the common schools in grades one through six combined, but not at each grade level.
---- 90 (50 minutes) = 4500 minutes = 75 hours for half a credit ... exactly half of 150 hours

(2) Grades 7-12. A one-semester course -- i.e., 90 (50 minute) hours of instruction -- or its equivalent in Washington state history and government shall be required in the common schools in grades seven through twelve combined, but not at each grade level. Such course shall include a study of the Washington state Constitution and is encouraged to include information on the culture, history, and government of the American Indian people who were the first inhabitants of the state.

--- There it is again -- 90 x 50 min = 75 hours.


Where in the RCW or WAC does this idea that 50 minutes can be counted as 60 minutes come from?

Did the Legislature approve this? Is this some OSPI practice?

Where does this idea come from? and does it have a legal basis?

dan dempsey said...

So walking in the hallway counts as a planned instructional activity ... ???

(a) One hundred fifty hours of planned instructional activities approved by the district; <-- from the WAC

Charlie Mas said...

I don't know if it is in the WAC or not, but I do know that passing time counts as class time for the purposes of meeting the 150 hour minimum.

dan dempsey said...

Let's see ... Nov 2 is around day 40 of the school year ... so $1900 per day x 40 days = $76,000

Any chance someone might have thought of this earlier... like say $76,000 earlier?

district watcher said...

4. Renewal of Northwest Evaluation Association Subscription ...

(Postponed to November 16, 2011 Board meeting at the request of the Board President)

Could the Board actually say NO?

So why was this Action delayed until Nov 16?

Dan, isn't it obvious? Sundquist wants to delay approval until after the election.

Little political games all around us every day.

Anonymous said...

Dan - I believe the 50 minute hour is part of the rules under apportionment/finance...just can't remember where I read it...it's either in the RCW or WAC.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to the 50 minute hour:

WAC 392-121-122

As used in this chapter, "full-time equivalent student" means each enrolled student in the school district as of one of the enrollment count dates for at least the minimum number of hours set forth in subsection (1) of this section, inclusive of class periods and normal class change passing time, but exclusive of noon intermissions: Provided, That each hour counted shall contain at least 50 minutes of instruction or supervised study provided by appropriate instructional staff. The purpose of recognizing "50 minute hours" is to provide flexibility to school districts which utilize block periods of instruction so long as students are ultimately under the jurisdiction of school staff for the equivalent of 60 minute hours: Provided further, That the hours set forth below shall be construed as annual average hours for the purposes of compliance with this chapter.


dan dempsey said...

FYI - excellent Thanks

dan dempsey said...

FYI --

Do you have any ideas on ----

So what is the plan for demonstrating
WAC 180-51-050 clearly identified competencies
For all the Cleveland Courses?

Are these competencies clearly identified?

Are these competencies established in a process defined in written district policy?

dan dempsey said...

$22,500 to find a a new Superintendent for Puyallup


Can we get a group discount .. by asking them to do work for Two Districts?

Anonymous said...

@District Watcher -- Yes, the same thing happened at our school. All the teachers at one grade level did math at the same time and we ability-grouped (with periodic reevaluations.) We got such extreme blowback from (a very small minority of) parents of kids in the "low" group that after two years the principal caved, and we scrapped the program.
-- Teacher Too

Anonymous said...

The district convienently changes the classification of Cleveland whenever the wind changes---Last year it was an ALE so less than 150 instructional hours/credit wouldn't be a problem (yes, let's give kids 8 credits instead of 6 and it doesn't matter if they get less instructional time for each class, we're an ALE!). But I think they didn't realize that the reporting requirements are huge for an ALE (and very minimal for a 150 hour waiver).

Then this May the legislature cut the ALE funding (10%-15% statewide). The district waited until November to get the ball rolling to cancel the ALE status in order to get full funding...

Hence, the need for a waiver from OSPI for less than 150 hours. All of the blog talk about what counts as an instructional hour really doesn't matter because there is NO BOTTOM to the instructional time requirement for a waiver and OSPI has never rejected a waiver because of too few instructional hours and/or no proof of academic improvement (no wonder they voted to get rid of the 150 hour requirement at a state level and give it back to the districts for next year).

BTW- there are different definitions of instructional hours for different requirements, hence the confusion always. The WAC's definition for counting FTE's (ie the 50 minute instructional hour) is just for funding. Then there's the RCW 28A.150.205 definition of instructional hours (including passing time), which according to the definition is to be used only for purposes of counting up the 1,000 instructional hours (total ave. of all K-12 schools in the district).

Neither of these definitions technically apply to the 150 instructional hours per high school credit requirement. Except for Seattle, a huge majority of school districts use WSSDA's model policy definition which specifically excludes passing time. Leave it up to Seattle to use the wrong definition and include ALL time at school except for lunch as "instructional time" for the 150 hours requirement for high school credits!

Food for thought for next spring (phase 2) of policy review, when all districts will be required to define a high school credit, instructional hours, and how to measure it. From a recent State Board of Education/OSPI workgroup about Credit Definitions:

"Generally, if all students are in a classroom with a
teacher guiding the students through an established curriculum (such as Navigation 101) or on
a focused project, then it counts as instructional time. If students are in a classroom that allows
students to self-direct their time (e.g., study hall), then it would not count as instructional time. A
good rule of thumb for what counts as instructional time is to ascertain whether the experience
will appear on the student’s high school transcript. If it’s on the transcript, chances are it
represents instructional time."

Gee, about half of our high schools would not currently qualify for that definition, especially after district & site-based professional development time for early releases is deducted!

--no fan of cuts to instructional time---

Anonymous said...

More food for thought and heads up for Phase 2 policy reviews re: instructional hour definitions, FTE, etc.

From the same State Board workshop mentioned above, in the FAQ's for high school credit definitions (keep in mind they are referring to the "50-minute hour" for FTE purposes):

"Will the change from a time-based definition of credit affect a district’s
apportionment funding?
If a district ends up reducing its instructional time, there could be a reduction in claimable FTEs,
especially as it relates to part time students. For instance, if a student is enrolled in a single
daily scheduled class which is scheduled for 60 minutes, it would be claimed for a 0.20 FTE. If
the time is reduced to 45 minutes then the calculation of FTE generates only a 0.15 FTE.
Districts should work with their business officers to determine any potential impact to district
funding for changes to instructional time."

--no fan of cuts to instructional time---

po3 said...

RE: MAPS contract "So why was this Action delayed until Nov 16?"

Debell is asking some hard and good questions about this test. You can view the 10/19 footage for details. Essentially Debell wants to know the value in testing K and 9th; value in testing 3x year; is this worth taking up 1 day of instruction time? Patu hearing from teachers that they do not have enough computers to run the test, especially in overcrowded highschools and too many valueable resources being used (loss of library access and availability of computers)

Debell clearly wants to pull back on this test. Patu seems to support this.

Maiers biggest concern was if we delay this action how does that impact the test window for the Winter testing.

Great footage to watch!

dan dempsey said...

Here is an html webpage of my rough draft for Cleveland waiver testimony on Nov. 2, 2011.


Corrections or additions appreciated.

dempsey_dan @yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this has been mentioned-

League of Women Voters:
The Role of the Federal Government in Public Education

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
7:00 – 8:30pm
@ Town Hall


district watcher said...

TeacherToo said: Yes, the same thing happened at our school. All the teachers at one grade level did math at the same time and we ability-grouped (with periodic reevaluations.) We got such extreme blowback from (a very small minority of) parents of kids in the "low" group that after two years the principal caved, and we scrapped the program.

This is so sad. As parents, we all want some say in the way the district (and our building) runs. But sometimes it's just wrong to let a few noisy parents dictate policy. How to determine that balance? Tough question.

Looking back on this situation with some hindsight, I see things a bit differently. Things may have been different in your building, but in ours I think the teachers were worried about blowback and they tried to keep things fairly quiet. At least no big announcements or meetings that I remember. They went as far as changing which teacher taught which group of kids with each new unit, so it would be (a bit) less noticeable to the kids which teacher taught the top/bottom kids. Okay, it was probably mostly for the parents, because the kids know, but an effort was made.

But in retrospect, I think it might have been better to try to get buy-in before implementation. First, less parents will get their panties in a bunch over which group their kid is in, because they won't know yet. Evaluate the system before you're biased as a part of it! Later, it will be hard to backtrack on your position after you find out where your kid lands. But secondly, by getting lots of the parents together at the same meetings, it's much harder for a small minority to cause a ruckus, simply because they're outnumbered.

The main thing is, just like with the Cluster Grouping topic, we need to reduce, not enlarge, the range of learners in classrooms, if we want teachers to be more effective. Parents are shooting themselves in the foot when they complain about these types of arrangements.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points, District Watcher, thanks.
-- Teacher Too
WV says, messness

dw said...

Hey, maybe if the last round's parents have moved ahead far enough you could give it another shot! With some slightly modified "parental management" strategies. ;-)

Jan said...

My recollection of why the NWEA contract was delayed is that the Board had asked for some information/analysis from staff -- and didn't think they had gotten it. Since this kind of non-performance never used to bother these guys, this was REALLY REALLY good news -- though it remains to be seen if they have shot their entire "confrontation wad" on the mere tabling of the motion, and will now cave and approve it, regardless of whether any clearer data and analysis are forthcoming.

I wasn't clear from board comments exactly what they wanted and hadn't gotten, but I thought the staff person presenting the analysis was EXTREMELY weak, and had done virtually nothing other than talked to some folks, and used whatever they said to bolster his position for full funding -- K through 9.

Jan said...

Without reviewing the video again -- here were the problems I can recall.

In an attempt to make it sound like they had really analyzed both sides (pro and con) of the issue of K testing, Mr. Teoh (is that right) commented that the inability of kindergarten kids to effectively use the mouse, sit still, etc., possibly made their scores/results less valid than those of the older kids. But there was no accompanying data -- no analysis of how the scores broke down, no attempt to get a sense of whether this was 5% of kids, or 50. Then, he noted how valuable that exact problem made the test -- (1) to give the Kindergarten kids more "practice" before the test truly counted. He then went on to say how great it was, in terms of identifying kids for APP -- but he had just said that the validity of the results was in question -- if so, how does that really help the District to identify kids for 1st grade APP/Spectrum? And that it gave them a good "benchmark" for the first grade -- but again, the same problem. If the test is less valid for K kids, it is less useful (and potentially harmful, if kids are being identified as lower skilled). Nor was there any review of any data regarding the relative usefulness of the test, or not, for 5 year olds.

So much for the benefit/validity side. On the cost side, there was no mention, or discussion, of other ways to potentially achieve the same data for K kids in a way that might be more valid, less expensive, or less time consuming. The entire 'comparative' side of the discussion seemed to just be absent. As a related matter, there was NO discussion, NONE, of the cost savings of leaving K and 9th grade kids out vs. the benefit of including them. It was just anecdotes -- well, the teachers at X school say they are using the 9th grade math map scores to do something-or-other; and well, X percent of schools went ahead and tested all their kids, so they clearly must like it. (That argument would hold more water with me if the funding came out of a "school" assessment budget, and they were opting for that instead of other available uses of their assessment money. Now, THAT would be an interesting experiment.

To me it felt like -- so, this, and that, and maybe some of this other, but then also, that too(never mind it is contracted by the the "this" above) -- and now, have a rambled on long enough on the topic for you to either feel like you have gone through the motions, or have I stonewalled enough so that you will just go ahead and do what we, the staff, have asked?

Jan said...

And finally -- did anyone else note that the staff several times encouraged the board to go ahead and vote, because under the Contract, the District would only be billed for what it actually used? And if we didn't use what we signed up for, we were off the hook? Finally, Peter Maier pulled out the contract, and noted -- on the record -- that any such "rebates" on billing were totally at NWEA's discretion -- if they didn't want to let us off the hook, they don't have to?

How many times have we watched staff either be clueless as to the contents of documents, or (if they weren't clueless) deceptive about them in whatever manner would advance the staffs' goals?

dan dempsey said...

Jan said:

How many times have we watched staff either be clueless as to the contents of documents, or (if they weren't clueless) deceptive about them in whatever manner would advance the staffs' goals?

It is really amazing to look through the Action Reports and see the incredibly poor quality of many of them.

Clearly there is either too big a rush or a lack of attention or both. (not to mention possible deception)

The real classic of deception was New Tech Network #1 Action Report. In addition to having most of the data incorrect, the classic was Enfield, Martin-Morris, and Sunquist going to visit an NTN STEM school at Sacramento New Tech and finding out it was NOT a STEM school upon their arrival.

There were NO NTN STEM schools in California.

BUT that was OK because the Directors did not even read the contract ... and Sundquist, Martin-Morris, Carr, and Maier voted to approve it. .... Then came the big do over because the contract did not match the action report.