Boren at STEM Design Team Meeting

From our friends at the West Seattle Blog, a great round-up of news about who is on the new K-5 STEM at Boren design team and the discussion at their first meeting held last night.  Some interesting comments:

- -What do you want to build? “The sky’s the limit,” declared Thompson, within reason.

I think that's a lovely sentiment but highly unlikely.  This district is cash-poor and, just like STEM at Cleveland, this school is being opened very quickly without building partnerships that could enrich the program.  That said, several of the parents seem to have community connections that may help that process.  It is a lot of work to build a technology-based school.

-They’ll talk about the community partners who have expressed interest – Boeing et al. And Thompson said they don’t just mean those that have come forward; they might actively recruit some.  

- instructional materials?  They are just one piece of what happens in a classroom,” warned Thompson. “The question of whether or not we should go with Singapore Math is one of the things that comes up. No one is opposed to it at this point …” The materials will have to speak to the standards that will be phased in by 2014.

- the district has 141 applications as of Tuesday.  They expect to “max out” at three kindergarten classes and two each for 1st through 5th grades.   

- How are we going to address the needs of our special-needs population? asked one member. Thompson said “special needs” must include advanced-learning students.   

- What will the schedule be? Too soon to say, but it will be tied to the transportation plan, said Thompson. But she mentioned the district’s new provision for “Creative Approach Schools,” describing them as “schools that want to do something drastically different” and said, for this, “It’s something we can think about down the road” if the team wants to.  It seems like being a STEM school at this point in time IS a creative approach.

- What are the good and great models out there, in terms of K-5 STEM? asked Lora – and how will they be investigated (in-person visits, Skype calls, conference calls, or … ?). She noted there’s no budget for out-of-state field trips, but maybe if somebody on the design team is traveling and going to be in the vicinity of a STEM school somewhere, they could bring back a report.

Maybe some of the parents could visit those schools as well as Delta High over in Kennewick.  That school seems to be a good model for a STEM school with many partnerships. 

The report includes meeting dates and times.  They note by the April 10th meeting, the principal of K-5 STEM at Boren, Dr. Shannon McKinney, will be there.

Here's a link to the Washington STEM organization. 


Anonymous said…
They don't have to go all the way to Kennewick. Technology Access Foundation is a lot closer down in Federal Way and has all kinds of partnerships. It's partnered with WA STEM, I think.

STEM fan
Anonymous said…
STEM and Seattle and school visits and research I find very disappointing when it comes to effecting SPS decision-making.

The Board approved spending $800,000 on New Tech services for three years at one high school. The "M" in STEM is for math. Try great for Math results at the oldest and far more advantaged New Tech Napa in math and compare results with regular Napa HS. Things are slightly worse at New Tech Sacramento (the school visited by Enfield, Martin-Morris, and Sundquist).

Results for Algebra II in 2011
Percent Proficient =>

California state average
Grade 10 = 43%
Grade 11 = 16%

New Tech Napa
grade 10 = 9%
grade 11 = 5%

Napa High School
grade 10 = 38%
grade 11 = 10%

New Technology Sacramento
grade 10 = 0%
grade 11 = 4%

The idea that STEM = Project Based Learning success .... for a normal distribution of student abilities is NONSENSE. Yet the SPS spent $800,000 to enter into a three year contract that requires Project Based Learning in all classes at Cleveland.

Cathy Thompson says the "Sky is the Limit" ... and supported the hiring of a principal for K-5 Boren STEM who has demonstrated NO Ability to improve math performance.

Results on AIMS testing at Dr. McKinney's
Hohokam MS in
Tucson AZ

The cohort 6, 7, 8 math
2009 6th - 40%
2010 7th - 23%
2011 8th - 24% (state avg 54% for 8th)

So what will she do different at Boren k-5? Are we to assume that credentials are good enough to produce results.

The cohort 6, 7, 8 Reading
2009 6th - 45%
2010 7th - 49%
2011 8th - 50% (state avg 71% for 8th)

The cohort 6, 7, 8 Writing
2009 6th - 83%
2010 7th - 65%

The cohort 6, 7, 8 Writing
2010 6th - 47%
2011 7th - 20%

(No scores for 8th writing)

Cathy Thompson is apparently unable to connect the idea of looking at past performance to make decisions.

So who will be guiding this "Sky's the Limit" program?

Apparently Cathy Thompson has little idea what needs to be done and the school will open in about 6 months.

---- Dan Dempsey
Jet City mom said…
STEM fan- I certainly hope the district is already familiar with TAF, other wise I would have to say institutional memory is even more pathetic than I thought!

How are we going to address the needs of our special-needs population? asked one member. Thompson said “special needs” must include advanced-learning students.

IDEA & 504 are federal guidelines that qualify students with disabilities to FAPE.

While special needs can include gifted & should include those who are twice-exceptional, Washington schools MUST provide an education for those with an IEP or 504.
Isn't that why we have voted against charters?
dan dempsey said…
Washington schools MUST provide an education for those with an IEP or 504.
Isn't that why we have voted against charters?

The following STEM design is NOT appropriate for most students ... but it is what is being pushed in the current STEM design fad.

Note that STEM schools need not be this way ... but perhaps vendors and schools of education prefer it this way.
From Bremerton's new West Hills STEM elementary school, which opened for 2011-2012 school year==>

see this description

inquiry based problem solving which integrates science, technology, engineering and math using processes such as designing experiments, asking questions, and developing ideas to solve every day problems.

What 21st Century Skills are taught and reinforced in the STEM Academy?

· Creativity and Innovation
· Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
· Media & Information Literacy
· Communication and Collaboration
· Initiative and Self-Direction
· Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
· Productivity and Accountability
· Leadership and Responsibility
· Flexibility and Adaptability

Effect sizes from Hattie's Visible Learning

Problem Based Learning = 0.15
Inquiry Based teaching = 0.31

Why not use what is known to work instead?

a. Direct Instruction (0.59).
b. Problem Solving teaching (0.61),
c. Mastery Learning (0.58),
d. Worked Examples (0.57).

Must just not be politically correct to do what works in either Bremerton or Seattle. Fairly obvious after 10+ years of SPS math frustration .... that SPS District is driven by Fads rather than data.

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