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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Curriculum & Instruction Meeting Review

I attended the C&I meeting on Monday.  There were some interesting discussions.  Sadly, I missed the one on innovation schools as I misheard and thought it was struck from the agenda.  Turns out it was moved to the end of the agenda and there is an MOU between the SEA and SPS that I will write a separate thread on at a later time.

Highlights:


Skills Center - I was glad to see this has not gone away.  As you may recall, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson was trying to create a Skills Center for CTE (career and technical education) and there was some sort of funding from the state that was being sought.

There will be four programs next fall according to Shep Siegel, SPS CTE head.   (He did not hand out materials to the public and I will try to get them but there is a brochure available.)
  • Aerospace science - which I believe is to not to be at a school but off-site (KC airport?)
  • Digital animation somewhere at Seattle Center (maybe in conjunction with Center School)
  • Health Sciences at West Seattle High School
  • Cisco at Cleveland
There was some mention of construction funds for work to be done at West Seattle and Cleveland with BTA funds (I have to go back and look but I think this was in the BTA wording).  

This is all work that is part of the district's mission statement and aligns with OSPI.  It is specifically age targeted (and not grade level) for students 16 and over and could help students with credit retrieval issues.

It could get funding through the state and the feds but yes, you have to get that money from them. 

Most CTE centers have a core campus which I believe was the original idea but we are going to have a distributive model around the city.  They believe this will solve some transportation problems (but I have my doubts on that claim).  Mr Siegel that they could open other sites later.  He also said they could offer evening classes.

It does not replace CTE currently in high schools.  High schools would offer prerequisites for more advanced classes at the CTE locations.

Mr. Siegel said because of cable tv shows like Dirtiest Job and others, students have become more aware of jobs that are out there.  (So why no CSI  Seattle?  Just kidding.)

He did point out one issue that plagues the district.  There was to be an engineering program at Hamilton and they invested in $500k of equipment and it is sitting in a closet because they were not able to open the program due to space.  (This was true at Garfield as well for Project Lead the Way  and I don't know if that has changed.) 

Questions

Director Patu was very disappointed that there was nothing for RBHS.  She said they knew "RBHS needs 'lift me up' help".  The answer was that there is something planned for RBHS but these early programs only need minor construction work and there is only $2M in funding.

Director Patu was not deterred.  She said that RBHS needs the help now and how is it that Cleveland is getting yet another program and RBHS has nothing.  She said IB was a year and a half off and "I'm not very happy with it."   (I applaud her polite and yet pointed statements.  This is how a Director expresses unhappiness with staff recs/work.)

When Holly Ferguson tried to say there was only $2M total, Director Patu pointed out that if there were partnerships in place, something could be happening (and alluded to this as a previous discussion). 

Mr. Siegel then said that he was "guided by people doing capacity management and they told me where to put the programs."   Big red flag here.  I understand what is being said but Betty is right; something should be put into RBHS and they should have been at the top of the list even if it took the whole $2M.  That's just my opinion but if we want to sustain this school, I believe that's what should have happened. 

Holly said they are leveraging programs that are already there instead of starting cold.  I can only say that you have to start somewhere and Cleveland has been the beneficiary of a lot of district largess. 

Peter asked if they were beyond the point of no return.  I wouldn't think so but the question didn't get answered.  He also said they had not seen a budget and he had authored an amendment for the Board to see this.  Mr. Siegel said the Board had but Peter didn't think this was so.  Peter said, "My time is limited and I hope others will see that through going forward."

Harium said that it will go to A&F and the budget would have to be approved. 

They then talked about some Board policies being revised under nondiscrimination.   Betty was surprised to find out that there was an Office of Equity and Compliance and not happy that it was in HR.   The retaliation policy was pulled from this group and will be worked on later.

They then discussed high school graduation requirements.  Staff is proposing that they increase LA by 1 credit (from 3 to 4).   As an example, they showed how many students are already graduating with the extra credit and at Hale it is 92% but all are over 65%.   However it is noted that there are some LA electives that may not meet 12th grade LA standards. 

They estimate this would cost $510k across the system for about 6 extra teachers.   Then there would be about $850k in new textbooks. 

They are also considering requirements around world languages.  Looking at the last three years of graduating classes, they found that 55% graduated with 2 WL credits. 

The issue here, according to Harium, is communication to parents and students.  There was a discussion around 8th grade outreach and robocalls to 8th grade families.  

There was also mention that the State Board got rid of the 150-hour graduation requirement but that there is still a requirement for 1,000 hours of instruction and that will be up to 1080 by '14-'15. 

Instructional Waivers

So we finally got a look at this Policy.  There are several key elements to this policy (I'm not going through the obvious academic ones):

1) Indicate how the school staff and community has been involved in making the recommendation to use alternative basic instructional materials, including information on how the school-based decision matrix was used in this process; and

I don't know this term "school-based decision matrix."  Does anyone else?  Also, I wonder if a principal really wasn't interested or didn't want to do this, what recourse would teachers/parents have?

 2) Identify school-based or grant funding that will be used to support the purchase, upkeep, professional development and training on these materials

This is a big issue.  It was said that the principal could use his/her "discretionary" money (how much could that be any one school) or someone could write a grant (but you might need grant money every year so that's an issue) or the PTA could raise funds.  So you could have a principal at a low-achieving school who desperately wants to try something new but has a Sophie's choice between an elementary school counselor or this new method.  Or you have a school that has a principal who doesn't know how to write a grant and has a small PTA. 

Meaning, it would seem that better off schools would be more likely to be able to gain a waiver than poorer schools.  It would seem to me that the district is creating a policy that is not accessible to many.

3) Schools for which a waiver is granted must take all relevant district and state assessments and must show gains on those assessments for all segments of their population in order to continue using the alternative basic instructional materials.  If gains are not made other multiple years, the waiver may be revoked and the school will be required to return to district-adopted basic instructional materials.  

The "for all segments of their population" was added by Director Martin-Morris and has that NCLB-feel to it.  I'm not disagreeing as there is no number attached to it but, again, for some schools with more challenging populations, it might be a difficult bar. 

Also, the policy says it goes from the principal to the EX Director.  It is reviewed and a recommendation made to the Assistant Superintendent of Teaching & Learning.  That gets reviewed and then those two recommendations go to the Superintendent.  The Superintendent's decision is final (with no appeal). 

Peter pointed out there wasn't language about existing waiver schools, period of time for a waiver or newly opened schools.

Betty then asked, "What if more than half the schools asked for this?"

It was kind of funny to see everyone look around the table.  Kathy Thompson quickly said that it was the Superintendent's decision and Holly Ferguson said they hadn't had a a lot of inquiries and if there was interest, they would have asked. 

I had to smile.  Of course there aren't inquiries.  One, the district hasn't exactly been open to this idea and I'm sure that got transmitted to principals.  Two, there is NO policy so no one has any idea of how to ask. 

Harium said Betty's point was valid and Peter said it was the Superintendent's decision.

I left after this discussion.

28 comments:

Dorothy Neville said...

I am curious about Betty's unhappiness with the Office of Equity and Compliance being in HR. Did she give a reason?

As for the retaliation policy. I believe that Wayne Barnett will be proposing a new and strengthened policy on this. He said the city retaliation policy needs strengthening as well and it is a high priority for him.

SolvayGirl said...

I believe the Digital Animation program will be through a relatively new company called "DigiPen" located at Seattle Center. I think they are already offering some classes to Center School students and know they do have after-school and sumer classes as well as a college-level program (talked to them at the College Arts Fair last month).

Anonymous said...

Are the equity and compliance and retaliation policies revisions available for our review? Could somebody point out where?

Dorothy, the Office of Equity and Compliance is fundamentally dysfunctional. There are several complaints pending to the Office for Civil Rights, DoE, that resulted from the difficulties with SPS's oversight of this office. Harium is well aware and it is very bothersome that Betty was not informed or given any background.

Reader

Charlie Mas said...

That waiver policy is no good. Too many individuals have veto power. This is just too many steps.

Also, where is the rule that says that board-adopted materials must show gains on assessments for all segments of their population in order to continue? Why are we so concerned about using faulty materials for 300 students and so un-concerned about using faulty materials for 30,000?

Dorothy Neville said...

Thanks for the background, Reader. I believe you about the dysfunction. I understand all of HR shares dysfunctional status as well. So, would removing OEC from HR help? Is OEC usually inside an HR department or not? Shouldn't the clean-up be more broad and include all of HR? After all, there would not be complaints (or very many) to the OEC if HR were not so broken, would there? (I am not trying to argue, what I am really trying to do is understand the bigger picture.) I don't understand the comment about Betty. Was she surprised that OEC exists or that it was inside HR or what exactly?


No, retaliation policy revisions that the city is working on are not available, I don't think they have been written yet. Whatever work came through this past C&I meeting, I do not know the status or availability of that.

Chris S. said...

My gut reactions - and I was there:

CTE: another case of spend money to be ELIGIBLE for state money. Will the state money be there? People seemed to think our odds are good - how close is that to a guarantee? Are these projects of value without state money? Agree with Betty.

Waivers: Hell, why did it take a year to come up with this nothing policy? All those negotiations and staff gave up NOTHING.

Grad requirements: Nice idea but again state increases requirement and cuts funding. In a balanced chemical equation the result is diluted quality. Just saw Rumpelstiltskin (check out varietyplus.org) and it's sort of like that - somehow our leaders think that teachers can spin straw into gold.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Betty didn't give a reaso.

Reader, they weren't dicussing equity and compliance and I believe there are policies. As for the retaliation, it was tabled. I would call the Board office to ask to be sent a link as I can't locate it at the website.

Chris S. said...

Regarding Betty's comment, wasn't there some kind of committee or department that had something to do with minority/social justice stuff that MGJ famously axed the minute she got here? I don't remember the details, but I suspect Betty is thinking of that other thing. Both could probably use some daylighting.

Anonymous said...

Dorothy,

You asked would removing OEC from HR help. IMO, no. That function in the District is broken beyond whatever else is broken in HR.

A federal investigation of how equity/compiance complaints have been managed to date may be potentially motivating and probably informative. In the meantime, we need to ask where is the leadership to reform that function? I don't see it from within the current decision makers in central administration or the board.

Reader

Dorothy Neville said...

Reader, thanks.

You said some complaints are pending with the Feds. How can we find out information on those? Suggestions on who to ask and what? And does this mean a federal investigation is happening? Or could we get one to happen? Because I have only seen the tip of the iceberg and that was shocking enough. Blatant arrogant corruption, imo.

What about Mr Apostle? Do you think he has the ability and/or means to clean things up? Additionally, cleaning up HR is one of Noel Treat's stated main missions right now. AND Andrew Medina wants to focus internal audit on HR. What do you think? Can I have any hope that the combined forces of the three of them could clean things up? I know it won't happen overnight, but maybe we can get some movement in the right direction?

Anonymous said...

What up with innovation schools? Did anything happen?

curious

Bruce Taylor said...

Also, where is the rule that says that board-adopted materials must show gains on assessments for all segments of their population in order to continue? Why are we so concerned about using faulty materials for 300 students and so un-concerned about using faulty materials for 30,000?

Bullseye, Charlie.

dan dempsey said...

The Big Bullseye .... Results for Low Income students on the End of Course Algebra assessment that were in Algebra I as 9th graders last year.....

Check it out HERE 38.5%

For 9th grade Black students in Algebra I class ....
the pass rate was 26.5% ......

with 45% testing at Well Below Standard. ....

As for how the District spends its money
LOOK HERE

in 2004-2005 the SPS spending on teaching was
116% of state spending per student
and on Central admin it was 126% of state spending.

Check the last year of OSPI Stats
2009-2010
the SPS spending on teaching was
120% of state spending per student
and on Central admin it was 168% of state spending.

============
Grades 3 and 4 Math results showed changes worse than state changes for every "Non White" ethnic demographic subgroup as well as for low income students.

It is a good thing that central admin does not need to show a return on investment for that explosive growth from 126% to 168% of state average spending on Central Administration.

What happened in 06-07 to produce the 30% increase?

dan dempsey said...

Reminder .. the 2006-2007 school year was the last year of Raj Manhas and spending on Central Admin went from 130% of State spending to 160% .... perhaps Meg can help us on this ...... was that the rise of Coaches for Teachers? EDM went into use in September 2007.

It is interesting that on 11/15/2011 NY Times' Tom Freidman mentioned the need for rapid and flexible decision making for academic improvement .... (The Waiver process has been needed for how long? and how many more hoops need to be designed?)

I thought the New Student Assignment Plan was to make every school a quality school ..... So how is that every school a quality school going to happen? I seem to have missed the mechanism.

FACT 1: The Scores for Low Income Students and Black students in Algebra are way worse than the state averages for those same students. (Every school is NOT A QUALITY SCHOOL)

FACT 2: SCORES FOR GRADES 3 AND 4 MATH STUDENTS.... when MSP year to year changes are examined and compared with the same changes at the state level for each demographic group .... It is clear that the elementary school math situation is incrementally worse in the SPS.

Apparently there is NO mechanism to make every school a quality school..... Like the Southeast Education Initiative there was never a research basis only a "HOPE" that the NSAP would work.

For the NSAP to work will require more school autonomy and responsibility...... There has been "zilch" in the way of academic accountability for the central office when its plans go under.

==========
Is the level of spending on Central Administration justified? Is a huge inflexible central administration going to make every school a quality school? .... This is far too reminiscent of "5-year Plans" from the Soviet Union..... those did not work .... and looking at the measures of progress made on the Strategic plan goals ..... by comparison even the Old Soviet Union looks good.

Carol Simmons said...

I had a moment with Director Patu at the event last evening. She indicated that she was amazed that the Office of Equity and Compliance still existed. So am I. We thought, as I assume other community members believed, it was eliminated when MGJ was Superintendent. It was at that time the Department of Equity with Dr. Caprice Hollins as the Department Director. Not only is the Department of Equity gone, but so is Dr. Hollins. Not too long ago,I asked Dr. Enfield if the Department of Equity existed. She told me that there was no department of equity but that Mr. Bernado Ruiz's department was working with disproportionality/equity issues. Well yes they are. Mr. Ruiz has formed another well meaning committee to study the problem of disproportionality and make recommendations to correct the problem again and again........ Mr. Ruiz department is not the Department of Equity. It has another title. Furthermore, as I have stated more than a million times, another committee another year only delays what should have been implemented by the District using the previous DTF recommendations (and yes they are still relevant). Director Patu has a right to be angry. Everyone of us has a right to be angry. The Department of Equity does not exist. Not once was there a mention of this Department being in H.R. When did this occur? Why was this not publicized? Who put it there? etc. etc.
A department of equity should be established and a Department Director should be hired and report directly to the Superintendent. Is the Dept of Equity in the Budget? Is that why it came to light under H.R.? Have any of the other Board members inquired about this? If they don't, we must.

Anonymous said...

Carol, it is federal law that all school districts have a designated compliance officer who covers civil rights for all protected classes. Where that person sits in an organization I think is optional.

One can almost laugh at the idea of bernardo ruiz managing that function. The guy has no authority or training. I find it interesting how divorced sps legal is on this count and it is one reason a federal investigation would be helpful.

Reader

dan dempsey said...

A department of equity should be established and a Department Director should be hired and report directly to the Superintendent. Is the Dept of Equity in the Budget? Is that why it came to light under H.R.? Have any of the other Board members inquired about this? If they don't, we must.

I disagree with Dr. Simmons on some of the above. What is needed is an honest approach to educational issues and another administrative department is not a solution.

Currently we have a Superintendent who submitted a fraudulent document to OSPI... when Enfield requested Conditional Certificates she stated that a careful review of all options for closing the achievement gaps had been performed ..... Six Board directors authorized this lie on repeated occasions.

Another administrative expenditure is hardly a solution ....

As long as the Board and the Superintendent engage in violations of state laws and the State Constitution ... another department will make NO difference at all.

To significantly reduce achievement gaps requires appropriate instructional materials and practices .... SO FAR Enfield has not been interested enough in closing achievement gaps ..... to do anything more than lie about a careful review having taken place.

======
On the Waiver request for Cleveland try change in HSPE scores compared with state from spring 2010 to spring 2011 =>

CHS Black reading down 0.6%,, state up 2.4%
CHS Low Income reading up 6.4%,, state up 5.0%

CHS Black writing down 23.8%, state down 2.6%
CHS Low Income writing down 4.4%,, state up 0.2%

CHS Black Science down 7.3%,, state up 1.9%
CHS Low Income science up 1.2%, state up 4.0%

and the Cleveland Principal chose to ignore the above data.

dan dempsey said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

Thank you Dr. Simmons,

In fact, pg 5 of this org chart shows Mr. Ruiz (who I don't trust for a minute) working under Ms. ("Politics uber alles") Ferguson, NOT Deputy Superintent Treat. The latter is bound by his legal oath to not &*$%@#! up.

Carol Simmons said...

Hi again.

Dear Dan, I have to agree with you. I wish that the Equity Director position could replace another position rather than establishing yet another administrative position. I do know also though that unless there is a high level position reporting to the Superintendent nothing will be accomplished. Let's think of some administrative positions which could be eliminated........... or the disproportionality data could become an evaluation criteria for one of the Assistant Superintendents or for the Superintendent herself.

Linh-Co said...

There has never been a real waiver process. The reason North Beach uses Saxon is because it was brought in by Nikki Hayes, the former principal, in 2001. She was a high school math teacher and recognized the effectiveness of the program after using it at an Indian reservation in Eastern Washington.

There were no applications or guidelines for instructional materials waivers. The district never could provide any coherent basis for or against approving waivers.

Same can be said for Schmitz Park. They have Singapore because the staff looked at different curricula and decided on Singapore. Bottom line both of these schools dumped EDM and used the programs before an official approval. The lesson here is that it's better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission when you know the answer will be no.

There is at least one other school not using EDM without an official waiver that hasn't been publicized. Thorton Creek uses TERC and central office knows about it but doesn't want everyone to know.

dan dempsey said...

Yes Carol,

This is one really strange system. Evidence based decision-making is rarely if ever used.

EDM went into use in September of 2007. From the data it was clear EDM would not do what Santorno claimed.
-------
Using the proposed waiver criteria=>
3) Schools for which a waiver is granted must take all relevant district and state assessments and must show gains on those assessments for all segments of their population in order to continue using the alternative basic instructional materials. If gains are not made other multiple years, the waiver may be revoked and the school will be required to return to district-adopted basic instructional materials.
------

WOW how does EDM stack up against this standard?.... Who writes this baloney?

EDM adopted and First used in 2007-2008 school year.

District difference in grade 4 math from state average on 4th grade WASL....

LOW INCOME students
Spring 2006 : -3.20%
Spring 2007 : -0.70%
----
EDM adopted
----
Spring 2008 : -3.20%
Spring 2009 : 0.10%
MSP 2010 :: 1.10%
MSP 2011 :: -4.20%

BLACK Students
Spring 2006 : -5.10%
Spring 2007 : -3.10%
----
EDM adopted
----
Spring 2008 : -3.70%
Spring 2009 : -1.10%
MSP 2010 :: -4.30%
MSP 2011 :: -5.40%

=========
So does this mean the SPS must return to TERC/Investigations?

THE SPS sure is insistent on using the worst elementary school math instructional materials available for educationally disadvantaged learners.

So has Susan Enfield, former CAO, read John Hattie's "Visible Learning"?

And when did that careful review of all options for closing achievement gaps happen?

..... Two things are clear ... the Central Admin has no interest in.....

#1 having a functional reasonable waiver policy

#2 moving to more school autonomy ...

Here is what happen in Auburn from 2007 to 2011
and in the SPS.

SPS needs a new central administration. This is the best they can come up with for a waiver policy after multiple years of math folly.

... There is an incredible reality gap with SPS decision-makers.

SP said...

Melissa,
"school-based decision matrix" is most likely referring to the Decision Making Matrix (DMM) which each school's BLT is supposed to develop, as per the SEA contract and the original BLT Manual (no longer available on the SPS website?).
Even when schools have DMM's they are rarely followed- our school took a whole year to develop the DMM (during multiple early releases) only to have a run of several new adminstrators who totally bypassed the DMM, and I haven't heard mention of the DMM for several years now.

Did the district forget to mention that the new changes to the WAC concerning definition of a high school credit require each district to craft their own definition (by the end of this school year, before the new WAC kicks in for next year)? Hmmm... (the 1,000 hour requirement has always been a red herring used by the district & applies to all K-12 schools, not just high schools, and has nothing to do with specific HS credit requirements).

dan dempsey said...

Niki Hayes brought in Saxon instead of district pushed TERC/Investigations I think..... It was before the EDM adoption in 2007.

The EDM pilot school I believe was Greenlake elementary. EDM was piloted for a few years before the 2007 adoption.

Dorothy Neville said...

"There is at least one other school not using EDM without an official waiver that hasn't been publicized. Thorton Creek uses TERC and central office knows about it but doesn't want everyone to know."

Well that is very interesting, especially since Harium had John Minor give him the Oath of Office last night (everyone else had a relative or personal friend). And John made a point of going off script and saying what a swell fellow Harium was before reading the oath. The same Harium who had allowed the instructional waiver procedures/policy to be ignored for so long, even AFTER the board made it their number one priority at the September 2011 retreat. After Harium allowed it to drop at the next C&I meeting, Michael took it back to the executive committee to push. So John Minor's school thumbed its nose at the district mandated EDM? Oh the irony.

dan dempsey said...

Hey Dorothy,

Guess this must be a new de facto policy.... if you want to use other materials (and you are a favorite) -- just go ahead.

If you do not wish to use other materials -- ask for a waiver -- because you will not get it.

----------
Also who actually wrote that waiver request language?

mirmac1 said...

"Guess this must be a new de facto policy.... if you want to use other materials (and you are a favorite) -- just go ahead."

Dan you forgot "...go ahead and put in a plug for the director who gave a nod and wink and looked away."

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