Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where To Start?

Got up this morning, lots to do and a huge number of stories to write about.  So errands first but tell me, dear readers, what should I write about first?
  • Reuven Carlyle's blog thread on the incumbents/paying School Directors/limiting campaign funds for School Board races 
  • the fairly pitiful Times' story on the SB races (no bias there) with the great headline, "School Board races hinge on whether district needs change" 
  • last night's very interesting and insightful talk with Dr. Dina Brulles on - yes, I'll say it because she used this word repeatedly - teaching "gifted" students
  • updates on Silas Potter case
 Whatever has the most votes, that's what I'll write up first. 


Anonymous said...

The insightful talk, please.
--Not "gifted" mom

Anonymous said...

You missed the Publicola article. The one where it mentions more big $$$ being dumped into the race by Microsoft Millionaire/Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes on behalf of all candidates (except Harium). Raikes is so unqualified to think about schools in terms of anything other than proft centers that it makes me absolutely outraged to see his name - again - on the donor roll.

This ties directly to Reuven Carlyle's idea to limit campaign contributions. (Yes!)

I find the big money/big ed reform/out-of-town influence so completely abhorrent that I have switched my votes to all challengers. I was going to just vote Peaslee and Buetow, but Steve and Sherry keep talking a good game while grabbing for tawdry donations with the other. I think it's flat out disgusting.

Mom from the north

Benjamin Leis said...

+1 To hearing about the talk.

Steveroo said...

Yes. What, if anything, came out of Brulles talk last night?

mirmac1 said...

Here's an option for a slow news day:

71 pages of June Strategic Plan survey results

Some damning comments.

Lori said...

I'm looking forward to a thread on Brulles' talk too. I got there late, so I missed the introductory stuff, but the "meat" was at the end in the Q&A, I thought. I'll wait to write something until I see the dedicated thread!

Anonymous said...

Brulles talk, please.
-spectrum mom

NLM said...

Definitely the Brulles talk. THAT was interesting!

Anonymous said...

Brulles talk, please!
-Jane Addams mom

TraceyS said...

I'm chiming in for Brulles talk as well, even though I was there last night. I am looking forward to reading your take on last night, Melissa.

I had previously read both her book and the paper she referred to, so I can confirm her powerpoint presentation did a very good job presenting highlights and key points from both. I was a little surprised that she did not want to address any of the issues our district has, and that she seemed unfamiliar with even the basics. Not really sure I blame her though. I suspect she was hired to present her materials, not to consult with WW on how to fine-tune them to our needs.

I also think the most interesting things were said in the Q&A discussions afterwards, and in the one-on-one discussions I had with teachers, other parents, and Bob Vaughan. I am dealing with an emergency plumbing issue at the moment, but I'll probably post some of my own thoughts later this afternoon.

One issue to throw out now that seems crucial - identification of AL/gifted/bright learners done at the district level right now does not correlate to the identification model used in Brulles materials. This was touched upon in the discussions, but it was clear to me that this is an unresolved issue.

Anonymous said...

Brulles talk. I couldn't make it due to a prior commitment, but very curious to see if my concerns were addressed.

WW Mom

Chris S. said...

Not the Times. We know it by heart by now. I can check out Reuven's blog myself, but if you have Silas Potter updates the Times missed, that would be nice to know.

Anonymous said...

Carlyle as usual is trying to have it both ways, and talk out of both sides of his mouth. He takes money from the same lot that finances the Board incumbents, then calls for limits, which is a total no-brainer, and doesn't get to the heart of the issue -- whose money, and for what purposes? I gave him what for in the comment thread.

-- Ivan Weiss

Anonymous said...

I went to the talk last night and she started with an overview of "what is gifted," then went on to discuss a study comparing student performance in "cluster-grouped" classes vs "non-cluster grouped" classes. Her results showed students in cluster-grouped classes having significantly more gains academically than non-cluster grouped students.

The caveat is that the definition of gifted varies, and she was comparing having nothing to having something. In her district (not where the study was done), she says they serve 5000 gifted students, with 300 in a self-contained 1-8 magnet (with what sounds like a higher threshold for entry than APP).

In the identification of gifted, she stressed ability testing (like CogAT?) over achievement testing. She thought MAP was a great tool, though not used in her district. [I wanted to comment on that, because we see it having a ceiling for high ability kids, especially those in middle school].

Another take away is the importance of teacher training in gifted ed in order for the model to be successful. She offers gifted training to any teacher that wants it and the schools have liasons for gifted education.

It was an interesting talk and I appreciate the WW opening it up to everyone. It clearly was not her place to discuss how it was being implemented at WW - Mr. Cronas was there to answer school specific questions. Several WW teachers attended, as well as Dr. Vaughan.


TraceyS said...

parent - one slight disagreement to your excellent summary. I read her paper over the summer on her clustered vs non-clustered studies, and it is not applicable to our situation. Her non-clustered group was a straight-up undifferentiated, heterogeneous classroom which did not provide any gifted learning services at all. She has never done a study of clustered vs self-contained, which is what we have at WW.

That specific research paper is good justification for clustering in a school/district with no services, but says nothing about a school that already provides AL service using a different model. I don't think that was very clear in last night's presentation.

mom of 4 in sps said...

"grabbing for tawdry donations"? this "ed reform conspiracy" (which seems to start and end with the teachers union - note I'm not saying "teachers" - resisting any attempt to ask them to answer to someone for their methods and results) is laughable.

if sherry says in publicola that she doesn't know any of these people and they've never called to ask for something, do you think she's lying? the kate martin quotes that sherry is in this or that person's pocket are as comical and pitiful as the 1183 scare tactics.

if there is anything that's "flat out disgusting" as mom from the north opines, it's people who make judgments and level charges at others about others without ever having talked to them.

i'll be so glad when this election is over, regardless of outcome - this glimpse of my fellow 'mericans is dang depressing.

Anonymous said...

I was amused by story placement in the paper copy of the Time this morning. Just below the fold ran the story "Races hinge on change: Does the district need it?" and immediately beneath that story, the headline "School fraud figure tied to prostitution..One of three accused of bilking school district"...

Well, if there ever was a great example of why SPS needs change, thanks Seattle Times for laying it out so clearly!


NLM said...

I was up late reflecting on what I heard from Ms. Brulles. I do have more faith in and respect for Lawton's staff and building leadership as a result of what I heard. It seems pretty clear that they at least tried to implement the model with fidelity. It’s far from clear that cluster grouping is an improvement over self-contained for some kids but I think it is pretty clear that cluster grouping might offer significant benefits for kids who aren't Spectrum ID'd for whatever reason (parent choice, one area of strength, etc.).

I have significant concerns about whether Lawton or any of the schools is pre-testing, curriculum compacting and differentiating to the extent advocated by Ms. Brulles. They are much further along the right path than Wedgewood, though, and that’s a tremendous relief!

Ms. Brulles said she doesn’t get a lot of parent complaints and I imagine that is true. Her model allows every child to have access to curriculum at their level because pre-testing, compacting and differentiation are available in every class, not just the gifted cluster classrooms. This goes directly to the issue of what to do with smart, high achieving kids who may not necessarily be ‘gifted’ as determined by IQ or ability tests. In her district, the gifted designation primarily affects how students are taught (e.g. higher order thinking activities, greater depth and complexity) not what is taught (with the exception of her APP-like program which is leap years ahead of APP).

Finally, am I the only one who got the impression (although she never directly said it) that she was not at all impressed by Wedgewood's ‘approach’ to cluster grouping (and calling it an approach is a stretch; it sounds like a free for all) and tried very hard to distinguish what Wedgewood has done from what she practices in Arizona. It was all I could do to keep from asking, “So what you’re saying, without actually saying it, is that Mr. Cronas has no clothes?”

dw said...

Here's a bit more, as a carryover from the previous thread.

It was all I could do to keep from asking, “So what you’re saying, without actually saying it, is that Mr. Cronas has no clothes?”

To which she would have replied "Again, I'm not here to talk about specifics of your building".

She was paid by the district to come and give a talk about gifted ed in general and detail out what Cluster Grouping is, and why it works. She was not going to say anything bad about her hosts.

That said, I had the distinct impression, just as you did, that she was very unimpressed with what has happened at Wedgwood, as well as some other things in our district with regard to gifted ed. One thing in particular she did not hide was the fact that they let their extremely advanced kids in math move ahead to whatever level they need. I mentioned that our district won't even let APP 6th graders enroll in Algebra I, and she did not hide her shock and disappointment at that.

All in all, the talk was very interesting, and I now have a great deal of respect for Dr. Brulles and her research. Unfortunately, Cronas is not even remotely close to implementing ANY of the important aspects of Cluster Grouping.

1) It takes 1-2 years planning before implementing SCGM in a building. This was verified by Dr. Brulles last night. This is not a frill, but a requirement to get everything in place to even have a chance at making it work.

2) The #1 most important thing about SCGM is that it narrows the range of kids in the classes, across the board. What Cronas has implemented is NOTHING like SCGM, as it INCREASES the range of kids across the board when compared with the self-contained model the building has had for decades.

I think point #2 is the important bit of data Dr. Brulles was able to give the concerned families at this meeting without specifically calling out Cronas. Especially because what he has done is almost the exact opposite of what she recommends. And unfortunately, because of the way our district identifies and places gifted students, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to properly implement SCGM at WW.

WW Spectrum families: what do you think? Do you feel helpless? I think there's a way to fix things at WW, but only if Spectrum families are more or less united in wanting a return to self-contained classrooms. Talk amongst yourselves and post your thoughts here.

dw said...

Sorry, previous comment was supposed to go in the new thread. I'd suggest moving the conversation over there.