Seattle School Board Agenda for Meeting November 2, 2011

This is a bit early but I happened to be at the district website and decided to check the agenda for this Wednesday's Board meeting.

I'm a bit perplexed.

One item is the district asking OSPI for a waiver for Cleveland High to be exempt from the 150-hour state requirement.  It is now an ALE (alternative learning experience) school versus a traditional school.  Under OSPI an ALE school does not meet the 150-hour requirement and so only gets 90% of funding that traditional schools receive.  The district wants Cleveland to get that extra 10% (about 300k) for this year.  What's perplexing is that they explain how they created Cleveland two years ago with a block schedule.  They knew the block schedule would mean less class time and yet they went ahead.  Now, they are unhappy they don't get full funding.

OSPI recognizes that block schedules cannot meet the 150 hour/credit requirement, and therefore is willing to grant waivers for schools doing a block schedule.  Traditionally waivers must be submitted by May 1st for the upcoming year.  We therefore assumed that OSPI would not consider a waiver request now; however, when contacted, 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.   

And, as you see from the above, the district knew this, didn't get their request to OSPI on-time but OSPI said okay since they knew the school couldn't meet the 150-hour requirement.

And, of course, this is an intro and action all rolled into one because hey, yet another "gotta have it now" action.  Even though the district knew this was a problem and just let it slip by earlier in the year.

Right at the end, there is this:

Upon approval of this motion, the 150 hour/credit application will be submitted to the state.  If approved, Cleveland will move from an ALE classification to a traditional school classification and they will begin receiving full funding.  There should be no other impact to the school or school community.

Well, that's interesting because that means we have a school that is classified for funding as "traditional" and yet for enrollment is an "option" school.  That's a little bit confusing, no?   But being clear and coherent is not something the district takes into consideration much so it's not surprising they would do this.

I wonder if Cleveland would no longer have to meet the district's ALE policy (referenced later in the Board agenda) so I wonder how significantly the learning experience would change at Cleveland.  I would assume the tours this year would sound much different than the ones last year.  Reading further, I see:

Because hours are the only element of Cleveland that constitutes their ALE status, and because the loss of funding for Cleveland is upwards of $300,000 per year, we believe that we should remove the ALE status and receive full funding for the school.  We will be investigating the remaining ALE schools to determine if they are in a similar situation.   

Here's our Board's Legislative agenda this year:

The 2012 proposed legislative agenda is focused on two main areas: 
  •  General fund: Acting immediately to ensure that the legislators do not walk away from the reforms realized in the prior two legislative sessions; fully funding basic education, legislating for innovation, and funding the supports necessary to ensure that students can meet new, higher graduation requirements; and 
  •  Capital fund: Authorizing funding to enable us to complete building repairs necessary to accommodate our increasing enrollment as well as authorizing funds to begin work on a new skill center program.
I'm a little confused about what happened on the CTE center because this was a pet project of MGJ's and I thought the funding was all lined up.   As for the Legislature "authorizing funding" for our capital work for capacity management, I am unclear as to where this state money would come from.  

The agenda does note this:

Support legislation, such as HB 1815 or an equivalent, to allow Seattle Public Schools to fully collect operating levy funds previously authorized by Seattle voters, such as the $7 million that Seattle will not be able to collect this year.

I'm a little unclear on what they are referencing here, anyone?

Approval of the Series 2000 and 3000 Board policies is also up for a final vote.   Speak now or they are a done deal for the foreseeable future.

This there is this curious settlement between the district and a roofing firm for $518k (the district is getting this money).   So the district had a roof put in Bailey Gatzert in 1988.  Apparently:

It is a standing seam metal roof, which incorporates phenolic foam as an insulator.  A significant number of such roofs around the country have experienced problems, resulting in substantial repair expenses to the owners. 
which raises the question of why the district authorized this roof with this particular kind of construction.  Anyway, its useful life is 20 years and it was in operation 23 years. In 2010, the district had a new roof put in for $1.1M.

The lawyers are getting about 33% of that $518k so the district gets $345k.  As you can see, that comes nowhere close to covering the costs for the new roof but I suspect since it took the district so long to file a claim (almost at the end of the roof's useful life), they were not entitled to the cost of a new roof.


anonymous said…
I don't think "option" necessarily equates to alternative. For instance I don't think of Center or Jane Addams as alternative schools, yet they are option schools.

"We will be investigating the remaining ALE schools to determine if they are in a similar situation."

Isn't this a good thing? Doesn't this show that that Dr. Enfield is trying to get on top of things? Don't we want her to investigate the other schools and try to get as much funding as she can?

dark knight
Patrick said…
Why is it impossible to make a block schedule that meets the same hours as a non-block schedule?
Anonymous said…
Patrick- it's simple. Cleveland is trying to squeeze 8 classes (credits) in the same yearly time frame as normally would be only 6 classes. Their blocked classes are 4 per day, but only every other day. Do the math- something has to be short-changed, and it is always instructional time.

On the other hand, Garfield has a six period day (55 minutes ea) with 2 days blocked per week (110 minutes) all year long and they come out ahead (a little time for passing periods is saved in blocked schedules).

Cleveland on the other hand has only 85 minute blocked classes and only every other day for a credit- huge difference!

---still supporting more instructional time for core classes----
dan dempsey said…
Directors, I am Dan Dempsey. November 2, 2011

… Tonight’s hasty Cleveland waiver request is a one meeting introduction/action not being performed on time. The Action Report is seriously deficient.

The Board has more than once failed to investigate if its hasty actions met legal requirements. Tonight’s haste is understandable as at $1900 per day …. 40 days may have already cost the district $76,000 ….. The Board must investigate the legal requirements before this waiver approval.

The action report fails to document the fulfillment of relevant WACs.

The waiver requested needs to satisfy at least two WACs:

One WAC {WAC 392-410-117} requires offering evidence of student learning which is substantially equivalent to the definition stated in the other WAC {WAC 180-51-050.}

The District’s waiver application makes reference to a WAC [392-410-117], and that the District will need to provide evidence of the effects on student achievement as part of its application. …. Yet, there is no such evidence provided and it appears that the other WAC’s [180-51-050] requirements are being ignored.

Legally the District for each Cleveland High School credit – must present

(b) Satisfactory demonstration by a student of clearly identified competencies established pursuant to a process defined in written district policy.

What are these competencies for each Cleveland course credit and how are they demonstrated? And where is the written district policy?
..... cont...
dan dempsey said…
Action Report section IV Policy Implication: identifies only Board Policy C 04.00 {{a five page procedure that describes Alternative courses of Study,}} which will no longer apply to Cleveland if this waiver request is granted.

Directors, before another rubber-stamp hasty approval, answer the questions.

#1 … Does this request for a waiver satisfy the two relevant WACs?
#2 … Does the District have the needed written policy?

For each high school credit at Cleveland, what are the clearly identified competencies?

How will each student be demonstrating these competencies?

What written District policy defines a process for identifying and demonstrating the competencies needed for each high school credit?

Directors… Please discontinue your hasty rubber-stamping …

Last meeting … You approved a Superintendent Evaluation instrument that failed to require the Superintendent to enforce or follow Board Policy.

The meeting before that, you approved an action that required a careful review, of all other options to TFA, for closing achievement gaps, …. The District never performed the required careful review.

Please … a review is an evaluation of relative merits. This Board’s actions are far too hasty to evaluate much of anything on its merits. …. Tonight, please follow the laws as the Action Report is defective.

Thank you for your time, as I know you are in a hurry.
Patrick said…
I see, so it's really the two extra classes, not whether the schedule is blocked or not. Thanks for explaining!
dan dempsey said…
Patrick asked:

Why is it impossible to make a block schedule that meets the same hours as a non-block schedule?

It is not ... but these 85 minute classes for 90 days would only be worth .85 credit not 1.0 (as they only meet for 127.5 hours)

In a normal high school 24 credits can be completed in 4 years.... at Cleveland 32 credits can be completed.

Note that CHS kids are actually spending more time in class than is required to get 24 -- 150 hour credits.

Actually each CHS course would be worth 0.85 credits based on class time .... and 32 x 0.85 = 27.2 credits based on time (150 hrs of instruction = 1 credit).

==All this last minute mumbo-jumbo is a lot more about funding than learning.
Eric B said…
On the Bailey-Gatzert roof, the District may not have known at the time the roof was authorized that this type experienced problems. Kinda like that L-P siding issue we had around here--by the time it was found to be problematic, it was on thousands of homes. It's also pretty typical for warranties to have pro-rated refunds depending on the age of the roof. If it was sold with a 50-year warranty (typical for metal roofs), then it's not surprising to get 50% back halfway through the lifespan.
Dark Knight, I just pointing it out. I have no idea what it means - get a waiver for all of them?
Charlie Mas said…
The whiplash back-and-forth with STEM's A.L.E. status reveals a lot about how thoughtless the District is about these things.

Way back in the early days of STEM planning the school was going to have a true extended day. There were going to be seven full class hours with the option of an eighth (0 period) hour for music or world languages.

It was going to cost a lot of money, but, as you may recall, STEM was going to attract millions of private donations. That was written into the school's budget. The superintendent herself was going to chair the committee with the task of raising private money for STEM.

Then reality struck. First, the STEM budget got revised about four times in four reports to the Board across about six Board meetings. The private money never appeared. It still hasn't. STEM has never functioned within the budget presented to the Board.

The true extended school day with extra class hours shrank into a sorta/kinda extended school day of about a half-hour extra. Someone - it might have been me - then noticed that the classes would not meet the 150 hour requirement.

The District had a quick solution: make STEM an ALE. That way, they schemed, it would be exempt from the 150 hour requirement. Talk about your "out of the frying pan and into the fire" kind of mistake.

The people down at the District headquarters - and I'm talking about those who made this decision, like Michael Tolley and Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, didn't know what the heck they were doing. They didn't recognize any constraints on their actions. They never checked any laws or policies before they acted. It's a clear pattern of behavior for them.

They had no idea what they were committing to when they, flippantly, decided to make STEM an A.L.E. I doubt they had any idea how much work an A.L.E. required. They only saw the schools that were A.L.E.'s - The NOVA Project, Interagency, and the Homeschool Resource Center - and figured that if the hippies, losers, and amateurs can do it, how hard could it be?

Let's remember that STEM was never designed as an A.L.E. That was just tacked on to the school at the end. Back when STEM was a hot issue, Director Martin-Morris had his blog. There was an exchange on the blog in which someone asked him a really difficult question about STEM and his answer was, essentially, that the question was moot because STEM was not going to be an A.L.E.

The thing about an A.L.E. is that in order to do it right - and to have a chance to meet the regulatory requirements - the school has to be designed as an A.L.E. from the ground up. You can't just re-package a traditional school as an A.L.E. It is difficult and labor-intensive for the folks at STEM to meet the A.L.E. requirements.

Now, this year, to save money the State is reducing the funding on A.L.E.s to .9 FTE because the students do a lot of independent study and are not necessarily in the classroom, in front of a teacher, every day. While that is true for the other A.L.E.s, it isn't true for STEM.

So the District now wants to switch STEM back to being a traditional school and they want to come clean about the instructional hours. For all of the talk about the "extended day" at STEM the students actually get less instruction that students at other schools. I guess this is their cue to stop crowing about the extended day and go back to sneering dismissively about "seat time".

Here's a better solution: how about they follow the rules and only try to do things that they have the money and authority to do?
Charlie Mas said…
@ dark knight,

Only high schools are A.L.E.s because it is an alternative means of getting high school credit.

I'm having trouble seeing these reactions as "a good thing". Yes, it is a step towards honesty to acknowledge that STEM students get less instruction in their classes than students in other schools get. And I guess it is a step towards honesty to stop pretending that STEM is an A.L.E.

But it doesn't really make me feel too good that she didn't already know about the "remaining A.L.E. schools", that she didn't know that they are already short-changed on funding by the District.

It's discouraging to discover how little they knew about all of this up until now.
Charlie Mas said…
I read the District's application for the waiver.

It's incomplete. They didn't offer an answer to this question: "Question 1C: What evidence will the district and/or schools collect to show whether the goals were attained?

* Initial application: What are the expected impacts on student achievement and how did you arrive at this conclusion, i.e., visitation to a school with a similar schedule.

They need to answer this question.

I am particularly interested in the answer.
Dorothy Neville said…
Here's the levy issue. Remember that we have a levy lid. The state allows us to collect local funds, but does not allow any district to collect local funds willy nilly. That would certainly lead to inequalities of funds available to schools. So the levy lid is something reasonably small, but some districts, such as Seattle (and I think Mercer Island) have grandfathered in higher levy lids. It is all quite complicated and we do have inequity of funding.

So when we vote for an operating levy, we are voting on the maximum amount that we authorize the district to bill the tax assessor for. But then the levy lid kicks in. The levy lid is a percentage of the amount of money the state gives us. So several things happen. The state is cutting money to districts (such as the pay cut for teachers and larger classes) which means we cannot collect as much levy money. (Thus the one time supplemental levy due to a one time lifting of the levy lid of a percentage point or two.) So, although the voters in Seattle have authorized the district to collect as much as $161M this next year, due to levy lid calculations, we really can only collect $153, thus "leaving $7 million on the table" (rounded)

There's a second issue here. The state provides money based on three year average enrollment. Now this is great when enrollment is dropping, it provides a cushion against sudden shortfalls. But it temporarily hurts districts where enrollment is rising. And notice how this is compounded with a levy lid based on state funding.

There is a third issue of levy lag, which has something to do with collecting money this year based on last year's figures, which is another thing that the district right now would like to change in its favor, but again, if enrollment is going down...

Of course the district would have been completely against changing this funding formula a few years ago, now it will argue against it. However, other districts do have declining enrollment right now, so this will not be popular statewide. And, be careful what you wish for, Seattle, you may find this working against you in a year with declining enrollment, which could happen.

Since the legislature is looking seriously at cutting levy equalization, all of this is probably moot. There is NO Way the state will change things to allow Seattle to collect More Levy dollars at the same time they cut equalization. (Which is probably one reason the district lobbies against cutting levy equalization, you all know that is the official district position, yes?)
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
What I meant is that it appears that categorizing STEM an ALE which happened under MGJs watch seemed sloppy at best, and deceitful at worst. And it resulted in a tremendous loss of funding.

That Dr. Enfield is working to straighten this out, not only at STEM, but by investigating what is happening at all of the other schools seems like a good thing to me.

This is what I like about Dr. Enfield. It is refreshing.

dark knight
Dorothy Neville said…
Even though the state funds based on some sort of rolling average enrollment, we do get more dollars this year because enrollment is up. But what does that mean?

Well, I don't have the detailed figures memorized, so ballpark...

Last year we had an unexpected 500 kids so that gave us about $10K per kid, five million dollars. We only needed about 3 and a half million of that to pay for the additional teachers and staff. However, this year, we got an unexpected 600 kids, so an extra six million dollars, but it's going to cost us MORE than six million to staff them. Why? Well last year they were simply able to squeeze extra kids into existing classrooms. Now that simply cannot happen, classes are too big. Additionally, even though the WSS team tried to project this and avoid it, a lot of schools went up in size in a way that boosted their category to get extra other staff (like vice principals).
Dorothy, thank you for all that detail. I think I knew a lot of it but it wasn't coming easily so that is a big help.

So Charlie, does this mean Cleveland is still an ALE school under the state guidelines but just with a waiver? How long can that go on?

Yes, and the private donations and public/private partnerships. This is a job for the Alliance. It would be perfect for them (or Seattle Foundation) and yet very little is happening. This is why I warned about this when they had this idea because over at the Tri-Cities, their STEM school took years because they were carefully bringing together these partnerships.
dan dempsey said…
About Cleveland waiver ... does this:

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.

Mean this is an OSPI inside Job??
.... and the District will not need to meet the legal requirements of ...

WAC 392-410-117 and WAC 180-51-050

Seems it could be much the same as the way the OSPI certification ignored WAC 181-79A-231 in issuing Conditional Certs for TFA corps members.

Regulators regularly seems to ignore the requirements that are present in RCWs and WACs .... and it is a big so what.
seattle citizen said…
dark knight, here is a link to Seattle Public School's Alternative Policy.

Note that there are specific parameters (that are further fleshed out in the Checklist created by the Alternative School Committee after this policy was passed.)

Yes, it's great that the district is seeking to maximize dollars, but even better would be if it actually enabled Alternative schools (which are a subset of Option schools) to fully enact Policy C54.00

Jane Addams is not an Alternative school, nor is Center. Those closest to Alternative status would be Pathfinder, AS#1, Nova, TOPS and a couple of others. The Alternative Checklist does not say that an alt school has to be fully engaged in all eleven items, only that it is attempting some degree of engagement on them. So it's a bit squishy, and intentionally so: A school is TRYING to be an Alternative.
Dorothy Neville said…
Refreshingly forward thinking about checking out the ALE schools? More like responding to audit finding and responding to state cuts in funding to ALE schools. Reacting to crisis or performing due diligence? Take your pick.

I don't really have any beefs about this, really the problem is that the district has done so much wrong for the past few years that the house of cards is falling down. I am not sure anyone in charge could be doing much better.

This is what really rankles me about Peter giving the district a B+. Sure, in some ways from the outside it can look like B work, but a lot is a shell game and the chickens are coming home to roost. We delayed NSAP (due to spurious reason, the VAX was not a legitimate reason!) which snowballed into much more sibling issue and much more maxing surge capacity. We delayed opening new schools and even closed schools when the data pointed otherwise. We delayed pulling back on strategic initiatives until too much money was spent, we delayed cutting back on bloated central administration until we don't have a penny to spare. The Cleveland issue falls in here. Yes, opening a STEM school seemed like a great idea and there are indications that things are going well for at least some of the kids. But botched funding and other issues hurt the rest of the district down the line.
Charlie Mas said…
Right now the District working STEM on two fronts.

First, they will seek a waiver from the state requirement that the school provide 150 hours of planned instruction for each credit earned. The approval of the application for the waiver is on the Board's agenda for both introduction and action.

Second, they are keeping their fall-back position. They are also reporting STEM as an alternative school. That item is for introduction this week and action at the next Board meeting.

If they get the waiver - and it appears that there is no rubber stamp like the OSPI - they will drop STEM from the ALE list.

Two things going on here that trouble me.

One is the overt duplicity of re-labeling STEM willy-nilly between traditional with short class hours and Alternative. They can't both be true.

The other thing that troubles me is how the OSPI absolutely refuses to play any enforcement role at all, ever, for anything.

Dan has certainly chronicled the OSPI's refusal to enforce any of the rules around conditional certification. I know, first-hand, that the OSPI refuses to enforce anything about NCLB. Near as I can figure, the OSPI, which has a lot of enforcement responsibility, never actually enforces anything. They never deny a waiver. They never deny an application. They never enforce a law.
Michael H said…
@Charlie: " They never enforce a law." Yeah, usually only law enforcement agencies can "enforce" laws. Agencies such as OSPI can ususally only report violations, or enforce sanctions (auch as withholding money).

@Dorothy: THANK YOU for pointing out that the District's work on ALE was due to state actions (like that finding they got from the auditors last year). This was not some proactive work on their own.

@Charlie (again) - "The people down at the District headquarters - and I'm talking about those who made this decision, like Michael Tolley and Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson, didn't know what the heck they were doing." Absolutely hit the nail on the head. MGJ was from out of state and didn't know anything about (or care about) the laws in this state. And, to boot, she brings Tolley with her from out of state and he was just as, or more, clueless about our state's laws than MGJ (notwithstanding the $10K she paid him for his moving expenses - also called out by the auditors a couple years ago).

Also, I heard that the state is making the ALE rules even harder (stringent) for this current school year. So it just may behoove the district to reduce the number of so-called ALE schools so they have one less headache to worry about.
Anonymous said…
Charlie- I agree with your "whiplash" vision of the Cleveland program.

On OSPI's website about ALE's, here is the first sentence:
Alternative Learning Experiences (ALE) are primarily distinguished by off-campus instruction." Really? And the district now tells us they only needed it for the less than 150 hrs rule?

On Harium's blog last year he wrote about the extended learning, "The reality is that (Cleveland) students will be in the classroom longer." Yes, this is technically true- 30 minutes longer at school each day, including an additional 30 minute advisory class each day. Deduct that, and you have the standard 6-1/2 hour day to be divided into 8 classes for the year instead of the standard 6. Students are shortchanged at Cleveland for instructional hours and are being sold a sugar coated candy cane.

Finally, the waiver application should be thrown out. There are 3 questions and the third on isn't even filled out? That would be a big "F" in any high school class!!
But, it doesn't matter because OSPI and the State Board of Ed are ridding themselves of all waivers and responsibilities of the 150 hour rule in the WAC's by removing that requirement next year and passing the buck to each district to "do the right thing" and come up with their own definition and self-regulation of instructional hours. I can't wait...

---still no fan of cutting instructional hours---
dan dempsey said…
@Charlie: " They never enforce a law." Yeah, usually only law enforcement agencies can "enforce" laws. Agencies such as OSPI can ususally only report violations, or enforce sanctions (auch as withholding money).

OSPI could choose to follow existing WACs and RCWs... but sometimes OSPI does not. ... Thus a recall for Randy Dorn was filed on October 24 .... a recall sufficiency hearing will be held in Pierce County Superior Court within 30 days.
Jan said…
Ok. I am confused -- so if these questions don't quite make sense, I apologize in advance. Insightful questions are usually the hallmark of the "clued in and tracking," and I am neither.

Cleveland instructional hours: I get, and totally agree with, Charlie's rendition of how the Cleveland situation arose -- I recall all the "promises of increased rigor through a longer school day (and maybe longer year?), and the claim that all the extra stuff would materialize through fund raising/partnerships with all the private tech/science companies who would enthusiatically support Cleveland STEM. And I recall the thundering silence that ensued -- when there seemed to be far less involvement by private enterprise than the Ballard tech academies get. And the "extra instruction" just sort of "went away" -- an NO ONE from the Board ever called MGJ on it, or factored it into her compensation or contract renewal -- Or (most important) re-evaluated whether the timeline and plans for STEM made any sense, given that all cautions as to how long it REALLY takes to get a viable STEM program up and running had been utterly ignored. And so -- yes, at the last minute, they grabbed at the ALE bandaid as the only thing that could save their planned pet school.

But -- I am confused on the "decresed instruction" claims. I agree that if they are spending the same number of hours, and getting eight "credits" instead of six, they are skimping (in terms of hours) on each credit received -- but aren't they, in fact, getting at least as much instructional time as other schools? Isn't the problem (other than that pesky "compliance with state laws" thing) really one that would come up if the Cleveland STEM kid tried to take his/her transcript to another school -- and get "credit" for X number of classes, when each of their credits had really been only worth about 3/4 of a full class?

Because if that is really the case, then the real problem -- at a higher level, is that the state's bureaucratic laws are gumming up the ability for the STEM school to deploy its assets (teachers and time) in the way most advantageous (8 shorter classes, instead of 6 longer ones). Now, I realize it is far easier to just seek the damn waiver than to deal with the larger issue of how the state defines a credit, and why it is horrible for a school with a specific focus and approach to divide its time up so that its kids take 8 shorter courses instead of 6 longer ones -- bur am I really wrong in thinking that there is no "short changing of kids" going on here, and just a failure to design a program that worked within the parameters of state statutes and regs?

And again -- NOT ok to blow off (or be clueless about) state laws and regs; and

Not ok to have baited the public and the board with one plan (STEM school with lots of private partners, longer school days, etc.) and then delivered another, much diminished one (few if any "partners" providing the extra funding and/or learning opportunities, and no expansion of educational time).

Jan said…

I also think that this whole mess arose (as did so many others) from the hubris and arrogance of the prior administration -- claiming that they were going to make every school an excellent school and then roll out the NSAP. The reason Cleveland STEM had to be "accomplished" in such a ridiculously short time was that NSAP was being rolled out -- there was only room "down there" for one underattended attendance area school, there was no other "option school" alternative that they could think of to stick at the OTHER school (and no way to close it, since they had just spent millions redoing it). And, since they needed to fill it -- on an option basis, they couldn't afford to spend the two to three years really doing the footwork for a GOOD stem program. So they drew the attendance area lines, made a lot of hollow promises and claims about fund raising, partnerships, increased rigor (curriculum, school days, etc.), signed that ridiculous, overpriced, half-baked contract regarding the computer platform (that NOVA never needed to do project based instruction) -- and called it done!

I certainly hope, for the STEM kids' sake, that it is going, and continues to go, well. But honestly, if we had pulled in and collaborated with an entity like TAF, and actually drawn on the experience of others who have successfully built STEM schools -- how much better might Cleveland STEM be?

Two other things -- when does that dreadful NTN Contract expire -- and can we avoid entering into that particular thing again? My recollection was that it was a 3 year deal -- and I am thinking this is year 2. Maybe there is only one year left, before we can shed that expense. Or have people who use it come to see it as a worthwhile, wonderful thing (and if so, can we afford it, even if we love it?)

Are we on track to really have a whole class of Cleveland kids all ready to graduate having taken, and passed Calculus in two years?
Charlie Mas said…

The kids are only being short-changed if the STEM class cannot get through the required content for the class in the 127 hours of class time.

There is good reason to doubt, given that the content is designed to fill 150 hours, our other schools need 150 hours to do it, and schools around the state actually take more than 150 hours to do it.

Let's add into this doubt the questions about the amount of work that the STEM students actually do outside of the classroom and whether Project-Based Learning speeds or slows the progress through the content.

While true ALEs actually feature a lot of work outside the class, that has not been as significant a feature at STEM. I have never heard an actual report based on actual data that spoke to this.

As for the Project-Based Learning, among all of the claims made in favor of it, I never heard anyone suggest it was faster than other forms of instruction. On the contrary, there is good cause to believe it takes more time.
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
Charlie, if STEM attracts a majority of advanced learners, as I think they are doing, and will continue to do, do you think classes could move at a quicker pace?

I think about running start. A high school student in a CC running start class will take the equivalent of a year long HS English course in 1/3 that time.

Perhaps the type of students that STEM attracts allows for classes to move at a quicker pace? Not saying this is the case, but it is something to consider. Advanced learning classes generally cover topics in more depth and breadth AND at faster pace. I know STEM students aren't categorized as "advanced learners" but a Core 24 math/science school will naturally attract kids that are more motivated and willing to take on a lot of extra work (remember STEM students have to have more math and science credits to graduate than SPS requires).

dark knight
dan dempsey said…
Charlie's reference to OSPI as a rubber stamp certainly could use an inquiry to OSPI.. So I made one. I wrote to the man that the waiver request is sent to: Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, Dan Newell. (Who is a great guy and a former principal of mine at Blaine High School -- go Borderites!!)

Here is my Letter.

I am particularly concerned that the instructions on the waiver form use only half of an important sentence from WAC 392-410-117.

The application form: "Exemptions from the 150 credit hour requirement, as provided for in WAC 392-410-117, will need to provide evidence of the effects on student achievement as part of the application.

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

The meat of the issue is the definition in WAC 180-51-050

As used in this chapter the term "high school credit" shall mean:

(1) Grades nine through twelve or the equivalent of a four-year high school program, and grades seven and eight under the provisions of RCW 28A.230.090 (4) and (5):

(a) One hundred fifty hours of planned instructional activities approved by the district; or

(b) Satisfactory demonstration by a student of clearly identified competencies established pursuant to a process defined in written district policy.
dan dempsey said…
I sent a cc: to the Board on my letter to Dan Newell and also revised by Testimony for Wednesday and sent that to the Board with a cc: to Dan Newell.

HERE is My revised Testimony for 11-2-2011.
dan dempsey said…
Still NO FAN wrote:

"But, it doesn't matter because OSPI and the State Board of Ed are ridding themselves of all waivers and responsibilities of the 150 hour rule in the WAC's by removing that requirement next year and passing the buck to each district to "do the right thing" and come up with their own definition and self-regulation of instructional hours."

Raising the performance of students through abdication of regulatory responsibilities.... Has the WA legislature weighed in on this plan?

Given that OSPI recently said
"no Mas" on the Gov's plan to cut the State spending so that the budget corresponds with income projections .... I wonder what the Legislature's view of OSPI is these days?

Note Dorn may be right on the mark ... with DO NOT cut spending on Education .... given the WA Supreme Court is still out on the School Funding legal victory for McCleary in McCleary v. state.

.... Me I could see more funds for WA schools and less for OSPI... the elimination of the US Dept of Education would be excellent.

Dorn still needs to better explain the CCSS funding that requires local districts to fund $165 million for CCSS Standards and for lots more testing, to make some of us supportive. After all he violated a state law written just for him to push this through.

See RCW 28A.655.071 ....

(2) By January 1, 2011, the superintendent of public instruction shall submit to the education committees of the house of representatives and the senate:

(a) A detailed comparison of the provisionally adopted standards and the state essential academic learning requirements as of June 10, 2010, including the comparative level of rigor and specificity of the standards and the implications of any identified differences; and

(b) An estimated timeline and costs to the state and to school districts to implement the provisionally adopted standards, including providing necessary training, realignment of curriculum, adjustment of state assessments, and other actions.

Did NOT happen on or before Jan 1..... happened on Jan 31.

Does the legislature control OSPI or NOT.... given the OSPI disregard for WACs and RCWs .. looks like NOT.
dw said…
"no Mas" on the Gov's plan...

Wow! You know things are bad when they put a hit out on the activists!

Anonymous said…
Less instructional hours flat out makes it a steeper climb to cover (introduce, absorb & practice) the required material. Especially for subjects such as math or a world language, you cannot cut corners and skip whole chapters. Even in some classes such as history you would think it would be OK to cut 20% (sorry, no time for the Cold War or Vietnam?), until you have classes such as AP World History with nation-wide tests in May and the 8-period school is still only covering the Great Depression, or a Biology course with the new End of Course test.

Dark Knight- I do not think that the STEM has attracted as many accelerated learners as you have been lead to believe.

Last Feb. parent tours were told that so many kids entered "below standard" in math that year that ALL of the Alegbra and Geometry students ("no exceptions") were required to take a doubled-up math class all year long (ie instead of 85 min. class every other day A/B schedule, it was every day). That's great for the strugglers, but a doubly slow dose of math all year for advanced learners must be painful (besides eating up one more credit's time for another course). And still, Cleveland's MSP scores recently released are far below standard.

The Waiver application for Cleveland is very deceptive. Despite SPS's claims in the application, blocked schedules can & do meet the required 150 hours in many schools- look at Garfield's 110 minute blocked classes (3 per day). Compare this to Cleveland's 85 minute blocked classes---see the difference? The key is not trying to cram 8 classes into the school year instead of six.

Also very misleading in the application is this,"Our core classes, by and large, meet every day for 85 minutes. We believe that extending time in math, science, and humanities instruction will yield greater achievement for our students."

Cleveland is on an A/B blocked schedule, with classes (except for Algebar & Geometry) EVERY OTHER day. They are not extending time in other core classes (and not in upper level math classes, either!). So what does the "Our core classes, by and large, meet every day for 85 minutes" refer to? Some of their core classes are "blended" within the blocking so for example a biology class might be paired up with an LA class. So together the biology/LA class does meet technically every day (in one 85-minute class), but it is actually two classes meeting the equivalent of every other day (ie less, and not more instructional time, no matter how you cut it).

---still no fan of "less is more"--
dan dempsey said…
OK so it is reported by -- still no fan of "less is more"

Cleveland is on an A/B blocked schedule, with classes (except for Algebra & Geometry) EVERY OTHER day. They are not extending time in other core classes (and not in upper level math classes, either!).

So let us take a look at how 85 minute per day every day in Algebra is doing.... keep in mind this is 30 minutes per day more than a traditional 55 minute per day class.

9th grade students taking Algebra in 2010-2011 at Cleveland -- End of Course Algebra assessment results =>

EoC Pass rates:
53.4% - All (53.7%)
50.4% - Low-income (43.8%)
39.0% - Black (35.9%)
50.0% - Hispanic (39.2%)

EoC scoring at level 1 far below standard:
28.4% - All (23.2%)
30.9% - Low-income (30.8%)
35.6% - Black (37.9%)
45.5% - Hispanic (32.7%)

the State EoC averages for grade 9 students that took an algebra course in 2010-2011 are in the (xx). Presumably most of these students were receiving far less than 85 minutes per day of algebra instruction.

It must be noticed that Cleveland did perform around the State average level in Algebra on the State EoC test.

This was not an example of "Less is More" but rather an example of "30 minutes more" achieved the average.

Note the (SPS average) for grade 9 algebra students on the EoC compared with Cleveland as follows.

EoC Pass rates:
53.4% - All (48.8%)
50.4% - Low-income (38.5%)
39.0% - Black (26.5%)
50.0% - Hispanic (39.8%)

EoC scoring at level 1 far below standard:
28.4% - All (29.8%)
30.9% - Low-income (36.7%)
35.6% - Black (45.2%)
45.5% - Hispanic (37.2%)

So an increase in time taught of 30/55 = 55% results in a better performance than the SPS average.

This is hardly much of a case for the effectiveness of a Project Based Learning "Less is More" plan in math.
Charlie Mas said…
The District is going to run up against a problem with with application: the students are not performing particularly well.

The OSPI asks the District to demonstrate the effectiveness of their instruction as part of the waiver application. If you're going to cut corners, you have to show that it causes no harm.

That's the part of the waiver application that the District left blank. I'm not sure how they are going to complete it, but "honestly" isn't my first guess.
Charlie Mas said…
There are three items for introduction and action on the agenda.

Tell me again that repealing policy B45.00 had no effect.
dan dempsey said…
Consider this:

If approved, Cleveland will move from an ALE classification to a traditional school classification and they will begin receiving full funding. There should be no other impact to the school or school community.

So Does this mean.... OSPI and the SPS have no intention of following the WACs as written?

If I was teaching at Cleveland or a student at Cleveland .... and ... a demonstration of specific competencies was required to receive each credit ... that would likely be a change.

No Impact = give us more money while we ignore WAC requirements.
Charlie Mas said…
I've signed up to speak at this meeting.

I will speak about the repeal of Policy B45.00 and, once again, ask the Board to describe their reasons for voting to repeal it.

I've been thinking that I may not stand at the podium; I believe it is cursed. No one who speaks from there ever has any influence. Everyone who speaks from there is disrespected, their words discounted, and their ideas dismissed. The only thing that all of these failures have in common is that the speakers stood at that podium. Clearly the poisonous element is the podium. Maybe it's made of kryptonite.

I know that the staff also speaks from there, but they must influence the Board through other means. Their influence must be made in committee or by email, because every time I hear them speak from the podium they sound completely un-convincing. Clearly the curse works on them as well.
Anonymous said…
FYI to anyone testifying at the board meeting about the 150 hr waiver or talking to any of the directors-

Besides omitting 1 of only 3 critical questions on the application, it appears that other requirements are missing also for the waiver.

On the OSPI website, in the 2011 Memorandum 009-11M re: Process for Exemptions for the 150 hour definition of a credit (sent out to all district superintendents and school building principals), are the complete instructions for the waiver application which the action report did not include. Apparently there are quite a few missing requirements, including evidence of community involvement in the decision & implementation of the exemption being included in the school's C-SIP:

"Supporting documents should include:
A. Support from the district superintendent and school board with a signed board resolution.
B. Support from the building school improvement team and principal.
C. Support from the community (how was the community involved in the decision?).
D. Evidence that implementation of the exemption is embedded into the school’s improvement plan and addresses student academic learning requirements and learning goals.
E. Assurance that the exemption will not affect the district’s annual average of 1000 hours of instruction." wonder there's a reason Intro & Action should be not at the same time- This application (and process) is far from being complete!

---still no fan of Less Is More---
Jan said…
The "cursed podium!" Charlie, I love it! I was about to lead with the staff example to contradict your hypothesis. You have tried to head off challenges, but I think your reasoning is flawed.

You see, in the case of the staff -- the problem is that they all sound unconvincing, illogical, unknowledgable, or downright dissembling (that Jedi mind trick -- "pay no attention to the fact that the data is bullshit. The staff has answers that you seek, even if it sounds like they are idiots.") So, you see, if the podium is affecting the staff, it is making them sound like idiots. In the case of (many of) the testifying public, however, the effect is different. They are, and they sound, competent, reasonable, concerned. They marshal facts. They make cogent arguments. They ask for reasonable answers or follow up. And yet -- as you aptly note, they are disrespected, their words are discounted, and their ideas are dismissed.

How is it that one cursed podium can tell the difference between incompetent, uninformed, or dissembling staff, and competent, concerned citizens? Does the staff all wear invisible decoder rings that neutralize the kryptonite? Is the podium not only cursed, but cognizant?
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