Friday Open Thread

Word is out that there's a big all-JSCEE meeting this morning at 9ish.  Everyone is meeting in the auditorium with the speaker being Dr. Enfield.  Hmmm.   Is there a big announcement coming?

Also, I attended the Coe Elementary event last night with Michael DeBell, Dr. Enfield and Rep. Reuven Carlyle (and Harium Martin-Morris also came).  It was quite interesting and I'll write up a separate thread.  There was an awful lot of "please Susan stay" from the panel and enthusiasm from parents.   But no mention or hint of any announcement.

I can think of one of two things:  one, Dr. Enfield has decided to stay or two, she has decided to leave earlier.

I think the former unlikely (unless like Lady Gaga, she's got a great poker face) and the latter more probable as she is now not an interim but a lame duck superintendent both to staff and to the Legislature.

Or maybe it's a coffee hour.

Also to note; there are no Board Director community meetings tomorrow.

What's on your mind?


dan dempsey said…
Three things on my mind.

(1) This from Tacoma News Tribune on full funding decision.

It includes ==>
Bethel Schools Superintendent Tom Seigel said the ruling confirms what many already knew. But he said it falls short of a specific solution to the underfunding problem.

“Ideally, legislatively, there will be a remedy,” said Seigel, the head of the Spanaway-based district. “But I don’t think it will be a clear-cut remedy with the speed or resolve that is needed.

“This court intends to remain vigilant,” Justice Debra Stephens wrote for the court majority.

Since the Legislature's plan began in 2009 with a target of 2018 .... looking at the last two years .... the court needs some retrospective vigilance ASAP. ...'cause it ain't going well.

As Sumner Superintendent reports: "Over 28 percent of our general fund budget is funded through levy proceeds and other local dollars, such as fees,

(2) When will the streaming video of the last Board meeting be available? Were their any hints at the Board meeting about Enfield's current state of mind as in clues to today's announcement?

(3) Did the Board have any discussion about waivers? (or comment on the need for replacing math materials).
mirmac1 said…
Where's that insider when you need him/her?
Lori said…
What's on my mind today is the lousy service we receive from the Transportation Department and how frustrating it is that no one downtown ever seems to care.

We got a letter mid-December assigning our child to a new bus stop, the third one this year. Sure, community stops are new and they are working out tweaks, but this was finally a decent, nearby, and safe stop for our family, so we were pretty happy. The letter said "effective January 5."

So on January 3, I asked the morning driver about it, and he knew nothing about the new stop. I called downtown and they assured me that the drivers would know the next day because routes are updated on Wednesdays as a rule. They assured me that the my child would be picked up at the new stop on 1/5.

You can see where this is going, right? Well, surprise, surprise, the bus did NOT pick up my child at the new stop on 1/5. When I called downtown to report the matter and to inquire how in the world this happened, despite my proactive efforts, all I got was passing-the-buck excuses ("we told the bus company; I don't know why the driver didn't know...").

Yes, I know this is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but I truly wonder how hard it is for our district to get even the small things right. Why send me a letter in mid-December about a new stop but not tell the drivers until the day before? Why not offer just a simple apology when parents call to report that they had to drive their kid to school and miss time from work due to a bus screw-up? We're learning in health care that a simple apology can actually avoid medical malpractice lawsuits; people just want to see others take responsibility and apologize.

I'm happy to report that the bus arrived today. But it is just so sad that I had to be the one to inform the two drivers, make two separate calls to Transportation, and take time off work to drive to school yesterday to manage this district-initiated change. It really shouldn't be this way.
Sahila said…
this is what happens when you privatise public education: K-12 company investigated re securities fraud

"Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a leading national securities law firm, is investigating potential securities fraud at K12, Inc. (“K12” or the “Company”) (NYSE: LRN).

The investigation focuses on whether the Company and its executives violated federal securities laws by failing to disclose that:

(1) according to various academic benchmarks, K12 students were chronically underperforming their peers at traditional schools;

(2) K12 has aggressively recruited students to their schools, regardless of how well-suited they might be for the Company’s curriculum;

(3) as a result of K12’s haphazard recruiting process, the Company experiences student retention problems resulting in high rates of withdrawal;

(4) K12 schools often have far larger student-to-teacher ratios than the Company advertises; and

(5) K12 teachers have been pressured to allow students to pass regardless of academic performance, in order to receive federal funds...."
Anonymous said…
Does anyone know when the winter MAP results will be available, or does it vary by teacher/school? Are they usually communicated on the Source or by the teacher?

Lori said…
oh, and one minor correction lest my friends and family read this: it was a family effort to inform the bus drivers. My husband was the one to talk to the driver Tuesday morning; I only used "I" to (try to) keep my post brief, which I just negated with this addendum. :)
The meeting turned out to be a pep rally and Dr. Enfield just wanted to assure the troops she's here and working hard until June.
Anonymous said…
love to hear comments on results of education study highlighted on front page of "Big Study Shows Lasting Gains from Good Teachers". Thx.

Anonymous said…
Some students are still taking Winter MAP this month, so I wouldn't expect results to be posted for some time.

If your child is old enough, you can ask them to remember the number that shows up on the screen at the end of the test (RIT score)- you can then take the RIT score and look up the percentile on NWEA's 2011 norm charts.

Dorothy Neville said…
A: I agree, would be very interesting to know more about this study. I find it interesting that they are "planning to submit to a journal" instead of already being peer reviewed.

I do like the concept of getting better information on effective teaching and effective teachers. My concerns are about practicality. The existing measures seem to me to be lacking in validity and reliability. This report seems to show otherwise, perhaps? But I want to know more. What size samples did they use and how did they get lifetime earnings and other post-graduation information? As far as I know, that sort of longitudinal data is sparse.

So while I think it would be really beneficial to society to have better measures of effective teaching, I am cautious about the way to do that. Fire bad teachers early rather than later? Sure, but how did a bad teacher get in the classroom in the first place? Seems to me that a better strategy would be to identify teachers that need more support, mentoring, training, earlier and be more effective at growing good teachers. Do we know how to do that? That will mean exiting some teachers early in their career path, but it just seems wrong to concentrate on the firing of bad teachers early rather than concentrating on providing the education and resources to nurture effective teaching.
Anonymous said…
From the Curriculum Matters blog on Education Week:

New Hampshire Law Gives Parents More Say Over Curriculum
By Erik Robelen on January 6, 2012

New Hampshire "approved a measure requiring school districts to give parents the opportunity to seek alternatives to any aspect of the school curriculum they find objectionable. The new law calls on all of the state's districts to establish a policy for such exceptions, but the district must approve of the substitute materials and the parents must pay for them."

It's a waiver policy on the state scale. The bill's sponsor stressed it permits parents to address both moral and academic objections to the curriculum.Everyday Math was given as an example.

Patrick said…
Lori, you should be congratulated that you were able to call Transportation and get an answer at all. I pretty much gave up on that department a few years ago when all I got was busy signals, calling every 10 minutes, hour after hour, day after day. I had to take several afternoons off work to intercept my daughter before she was dropped off at a neighborhood that was nowhere near where we ever lived.
Kathy said…
Yesterday the Wa. State Supreme Court ruled the state is failing in it's obligation to amply fund education. I thought this decision would prevents cuts to this year's educational budget. I was wrong.

I hope PTAs through-out the city and rally by gathering petitions and seding them to our legislators.
Anonymous said…
Less pep, more RALLY!

Mr. Ed
Anonymous said…
The study on teacher quality and long term outcomes is linked here:

I haven't read it yet, but I think it will be interesting. I think the "pre-publication" stage is actually not all that unusual for this kind of study -- it seems like NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) is piloting or moving towards pre-publication review (like physicists are now using).

Not having yet read the paper, I think my critical concern about it is going to be the problem with VAM (value-added-measures) if they are actually used in decision making. There is some work on this and the problem with the use of such metrics in decision making is that they are gamable (i.e. one can try to increase one's "VAM" without actually improving one's teaching, in an extreme, by cheating and that the complexity of the scores produce unpredictability of outcomes).

dan dempsey said…
Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain

This looks like a study worth studying ... as in reading the actual study.

Of interest to me on the VAM front and teacher evaluation.....

"use value-added metrics to influence decisions on hiring, pay and even firing"

"But looking at an individual’s value-added score for three or four classes, the researchers found that some consistently outperformed their peers."

"The message is to fire people sooner rather than later, Professor Friedman said. ......

Shouldn't this get rid of what is not working extend to instructional materials?

If a teacher has a 55 minute class and is required to use "Discovering Algebra" and produces a poor VAM score.... it may not be the teacher.

If a class is filled with Low Income students and the teacher is using EDM, what we know from 4 years of OSPI testing is that VAM results will likely be sub-standard.

If a teacher was required to use "Whole Language" to teach reading, which has an effect size of 0.06 as opposed to explicit instruction with effect size 0.60 ..... What VAM score would be likely?

I certainly from my teaching experience have very little quarrel with a statement that a Superior learning experience in middle school may impact life-time earnings .... but when teachers or principals do not have much control over selection of and the delivery of program to students .... is VAM appropriate?

I would suggest that if the SPS cared to actually use evidence in the selection of instructional materials and relevant data from instructional practices.... rather than continuing to push what has been proven not to work, the students would receive a much better education.

The waivers were a feeble attempt to cover for poor materials choices (which need replacement) .... VAM in Seattle is a similar diversion away from poor choices.
Having taught several years in middle schools with interdisciplinary teams, which consisted of student blocks that consisted of the block with the Band, the block with the Orchestra, and the block with neither...... I would question tying VAM improvement to the teacher.

With VAM I think that teachers who may have chosen the hard road to teach those most difficult to teach will be penalized and likely change their employment situation.

Take a look at schools on Indian Reservations .... take a look at persistently underperforming schools .... VAM is hardly a solution.

It is reported in Majors Matter in Job Prospects for Recent College Graduates that unemployment among recent graduates of college is now at 8.9%. Yet only 5.4% for education majors.

The fact is that many education courses in an education major are less demanding than in many other majors. Education majors have lower high school GPAs than the GPAs of their peer group. Education Majors have higher collegiate GPAs than their peer group.

So given the cost of a college education and the low salaries for teachers nationally ... is VAM really much of an answer to a "problem" with the teaching force?
Anonymous said…
Thanks to ZB


-- Dan Dempsey
Anonymous said…
I posted in "Drawing lines in the sand" - seemed an appropriate headline but maybe this is the place...

Matt Damon & his mom reject TFA-tainted award:

Sahila said…
@-A ...

study conducted by free market economists, including Eric Hanushek, whose methodologies and conclusions were recently pulled to pieces and discredited by the Shanker Institute...

Shanker is a good source for a more balanced analysis of what ed deformers are putting forward as fact...

Shanker Institute
Lori said…
Sahila, the research being discussed was by Chetty, Friedman, and Rockhoff, and their conclusions seem quite reasonable:

"Overall, our study shows that great teachers create great value – perhaps several times their annual salaries – and that test score impacts are helpful in identifying such teachers. However, more work is needed to determine the best way to use VA for policy. For example, using VA in teacher evaluations could induce undesirable responses that make VA a poorer measure of teacher quality, such as teaching to the test or cheating. There will be much to learn about these issues from school districts that start using VA to evaluate teachers. Nevertheless, it is clear that improving the quality of teaching – whether using value-added or other tools – is likely to have large economic and social returns."

I'm not sure why you are talking about other researchers or what you wanted readers to read at the link you posted. Where has this study been "pulled to pieces and discredited"?
mirmac1 said…
Thanks for that blog link Sahila. Lots of interesting info there.
dan dempsey said…

Thanks for the thought:
"Nevertheless, it is clear that improving the quality of teaching – whether using value-added or other tools – is likely to have large economic and social returns."

I am not so sure we have much going to improve teacher quality in the USA.... Looking at what is taking place in very high performing countries ... The USA appears to be looking for an "innovative fix" rather than following paths known to work.

Improving the quality of Collegiate programs that produce teachers should be higher on the to do list.

Given the current attacks on teachers in the media and statements by various Governors in mid-western and eastern states ... it is really hard to envision an increase in really high quality high school graduates choosing to become teachers.

Given the changes in the last decade .... for fidelity of implementation using defective materials and poor practices ... as in SPS math and same in Bellevue .... I certainly would tell persons considering investing in a collegiate education ... to examine all the facts that can be found.

The quality of research by colleges of education is not very good and the recommended math practices coming from UW's Math Education Project were an absolute disaster.

Improving the Quality of Teaching is beginning to look like a buzz phrase to drive a predetermined agenda.
Eric B said…
Unfortunately, I ran out of steam at the Board meeting on Wednesday and left at the break. I saw in the Times article that Kay Smith-Blum wanted to not open Boren and didn't want to make boundary shifts. Can someone who was there or watched it clarify what she wanted instead?

I'm a bit confused about Boren especially, since opening Boren is pretty cost-effective this year since it's been occupied in the last two years. Next year it would get pricy and we'll likely need interim sites for BEX IV construction.
dan dempsey said…
Check this out:

Two Colorado middle schools offer college-level remedial math class

Colorado colleges spent $19 million on remediation in the 2009-10 school year.

So why wait? Start remediation in middle school rather than waiting years later to do it.

The idea is simple: Give eighth-graders the chance now to take the math class they would have to take in college if they score poorly on their placement tests.

If they take it now and pass, it goes on their transcript.

"It's amazing to see that I can take a college class," said 14-year-old Abigail Soberano, a student at Kearney Middle School. "I think it's a good opportunity, especially since I'm not that good at math. It has really helped improve my skills, and the better I get, the more I enjoy it."
Sahila said…
People interested in how teachers are viewed, recruited, trained, paid and retained in a healthy public school system, might like to look at how Finland does it...

Finland's secret to education success

this is a 2008 piece, but there is plenty of information from 2011 confirming the reality presented here...

Finland has no private schools or universities, public education is free, all teachers and principals belong to a union - the SAME union...

There is no high stakes standardised testing and teachers are left alone to teach what and how they see fit...

Children dont start school until the age of 7 and school days are fewer and shorter than in the US...

Sounds good? Why cant we do this in the US?
Kate Martin said…
I caught this NPR show yesterday and also an article last week about how this is happening is some classrooms at Seattle University.

Flipping classrooms is a powerful reversal in the roles of homework and classwork. Teachers play their “sage on the stage” roles in the videos which the kids can watch anytime, even multiple times, for homework and then the teacher becomes the “guide on the side” in the classrooms. The outcomes are quite spectacular.

It’s a great use of technology where it frees up the teacher to actually guide learning during classroom time instead of lecturing.

I sent this info along to the school board + superintendent.

Anonymous said…
Just went over to Crosscut to see if I had missed anything and I got my 1st LOL over Anthony Robinson's verbal spanking of being a bad follower. Memo to me: must act more like sheep at school which then leads me to my 2nd story where I got my 2nd LOL at ST's piece on Mark Driscoll and his wife writing a sex advice book. Actually it was the comments that got my LOL.

These men of faith and their secular adventures into the Bermuda Triangle and Deep Throat. Whew, what a way to start my weekend!

"happy reading"
Anonymous said…
@Kate Martin

How dare you suggest something effective? Susan Enfield is currently being beatified in Seattle for lipstick and NPR

No one is allowed to upstage Enfield with an idea which may actually work.

By the way, I'm allowed to be "aggressive" or "negative" (take your pick) since I actually work with students, care about them and am "highly effective" by any measure.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
@Sahila: You left out the best part!

William J. Bennett, America's favorite "compassionate conservative," bestselling author of books on values and education, Ronald Reagan's secretary of education and George Bush Sr.'s drug czar, is founder of K12 Inc., a new online curriculum being marketed to homeschoolers and virtual charter schools.

Who's next in the Big Ed game? Halliburton? "Xe," fka Blackwater?

Priceless, but not the least bit surprising.

That the local Big Ed Lobby bears no shame for hopping into bed with these crooks and hypocrites is reason enough to send their pro-charter garbage back to the sewers it came from. WSDWG
Sahila said…
@WSDWG.... you might die laughing, or crying, when I tell you that Blackwater/Xe has changed its name to ACADEMI.... I kid you not....

Self-declared justification? Trying to erase bad PR received under former name, from activities in Iraq



"The company once known as Blackwater, then as Xe, renamed itself again Monday. Its new moniker: Academi.

The latest renaming reflects a continuing effort by the company's new management to distance itself from Blackwater's controversial past, which includes allegations of indiscriminate shooting of civilians by its security operatives in Iraq.

Ted Wright, president and chief executive officer, said Monday that the choice of the name Academi reflects an intent to refocus on training.

"We chose the name because we want to let people know that part of our strategy is to lead with training and focus on training," Wright said.

The word "academy" is traceable to a school run by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

"Excellence, dignity, discipline, honor, integrity," Wright said. "That's the ethos that we want this company to have."....."
Anonymous said…
Interesting discussion over at the WS Blog

Board review of Boren Option plan

WS mom
mirmac1 said…
Yeah, this story is hilarious. Gates' Microsoft has patented its "avoid ghetto" app for its navigation app. Must apply for their kids too.

Microsoft Patents ‘Avoid Ghetto’ Feature For GPS Devices
dan dempsey said…
Jay Greene calls out the Gates Foundation for making claims that their research does NOT support. How the Gates Foundation Spins its Research.
Anonymous said…
I recall seeing (long ago) threads where folks talked about their experiences at different schools. Maybe it was just elementary schools. I'd love to hear about the differences in high schools from people who actually have kids in them, or have recently gone through them. I know we have neighborhood schools now, but there is still some chance to pick another school... We are near Ingraham, but also near Ballard and go to a school that has an historic connection with Hale.
-Thinking about HS
mirmac1 said…
What college major is the most employable? Good thing Stritikus and Associate Dean of the UW Grad School, James Antony want to eliminate the College of Education!

Ed degrees lowest of all unemployment rates
mirmac1 said…
Oh geez, am just getting through video of last week's board meeting.

First, it would the four remaining Sundquist board members obviously have no problem taking "I'll get back to you on that" from staff multiple times on a single action item. On South Shore, HOW long did facilities have to figure this one out? Staff needs to do a better job than that the dude who hemmed and hawed.

Than the "technology" chorus from KSB and Carr. I thought I was reading a Van der Ark blog entry on "maximal leverage" of scarce budget dollars.

Don't know how much more I'll want to listen tonight.

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