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Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Open Thread

 A gentle reminder; please do not post information/links to stories not related to the thread topic unless it is breaking news.  We do have two Open Threads per week and there is the opportunity to request a thread on a specific topic.  Thanks.

Public Square website article from Ed Week about parent engagement.

Earlier this month, Palm Beach County School District lost its coveted "A" mark on its annual report card for the first time in eight years.
The district's drop to a 'B' rating was mainly blamed on the state making the scoring system much tougher.
Still, we wonder: What could parents have done to prevent this drop in the rating?

To advance discussion of parental involvement, an "Issue Panel" was created, involving 11 people interested in the subject, including a representative of the Florida House of Representatives, a college associate dean of education, an educational consultant, a PTA president, a high school student, and the leader of a home-schooling group. In addition to being involved with chats and decision making, the panelists advance the site with their constituencies.

"That way, it's not all coming 'from a website,' but 'from people they respect,'" explains Passell.

A variety of subjects are covered in a number of articles:

"Issue Overview/Parent Involvement:"

How Can Schools Encourage More Parent-Teacher Interaction?

Why Do Parents Reduce Involvement When Their Kids Reach High School?

When Are Parents Too Involved in Education?

How Can Fathers Become More Engaged in Their Children's Schoolwork?

How Can Single Parents Be More Active in Their Children's Education?

Research Overview

In addition to the articles, the parental involvement focus includes surveys on the homepage, public comments and tweet chats at specific times to get the public to weigh in on the subject, with experts on the phone to respond to them. Google Analytics are used to ensure that survey responses are counted only when they come from Palm Beach County.
What's on your mind?

51 comments:

mirmac1 said...

WHY RETENTION MATTERS

"Teacher retention, particularly in low-income schools such as those where TFA teachers are placed, is critically important. Attrition, already high among new teachers across the nation (Ingersoll, 2002), has its greatest impact in low-income, high-minority schools. In the most recent data available, 21% of teachers at high-poverty schools leave their schools annually, compared to 14% of their counterparts in low-poverty settings (Planty et al., 2008). As teachers transfer within districts, they typically leave schools that enroll lower-income students and enter schools with higher-income students (Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004).

This revolving-door effect (Ingersoll, 2004) leaves the very schools that most need stability and continuity perpetually searching for new teachers to replace those who leave. When teachers leave their schools after only a few years, those schools incur substantial costs. Most importantly, students are likely to suffer. Novices typically fill vacancies. As a result, students are taught by a stream of first-year teachers who are, on average, less effective than their more experienced counterparts (Murnane & Phillips, 1981; Rockoff, 2004). When effective teachers leave, schools also lose their investment in formal and informal professional development (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003). Moreover, routinely high levels of teacher turnover impede a school’s efforts to coordinate curriculum, to track and share important information about students as they move from grade to grade, and to maintain productive relationships with parents and the local community. Quite simply, they cannot build instructional capacity. Given such high stakes, knowing more about TFA teachers’ careers in low-income schools and in the profession more broadly is essential."

Phi Delta Kappa International:
MORGAEN L. DONALDSON is an assistant professor in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. SUSAN MOORE JOHNSON is the Jerome T. Murphy Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

mirmac1 said...

Three out of the six TFA teachers in SPS are out. 50% retention is significantly less than marketed by TFA Inc.

mirmac1 said...

New from Reuters education reporter Stephanie Simon:

Has Teach for America betrayed its mission?

Anonymous said...

Interesting articles on Common Core and Lucy Caulkins Readers and Writers Workshop:

misdirection-and-self-interest-how-Heinemann-and-Lucy-Calkins-are-rewriting-the-Common-Core

As linked on:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/2012/08/new-reading-fight-on-just-right-books/

Whereas Lucy Caulkins supports "just right" books, Common Core supports "just right" teaching, through scaffolding, of grade appropriate texts. The comments on the Fordham Institute article include more criticisms of Caulkins and the "Pathway to the Common Core."

reader

Anonymous said...

The "Misdirection and Self Interest" article that reader posted misses the whole point of Calkins' and her colleagues' advocacy for sound literacy practices in the hands of professional educators. There are a lot of things I disagree with in Pathways to the Common Core -- BUT the key point she and her colleagues make, with which I do agree, is that if the CCSS are going to be the law in many states, including ours, here's how teachers can use them to teach in rational and effective ways that support "real reading": making meaning. The central instructional practice advocated in the book is explicit instruction to support readers as they learn to analyze increasingly more complex text. The challenge of the CCSS for teachers is that in the pursuit of navigating the central components of the standards -- "rigor", "analysis", and "complex text" -- we'll end up pushing students into too-hard books that students can't read and expect them to richly analyze an author's message. But we have to teach them how to do this. The article misses the whole point of Pathways to the Common Core.

Concerned Teacher Educator

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

More reading on Lucy Calkins:

http://educationnext.org/the-lucy-calkins-project/

-books all a flutter with post-its give me the hives

Anonymous said...

To make their intent painfully clear, the lead writers of Common Core have left a comment about Ms. Porter-Magee's article here:

http://shankerblog.org/?p=6506

sigh

Anonymous said...

Un-signed Anonymous @ 6:19 -- I think you and I are in agreement about kids being able to read the Preamble (or anything) with teacher support. That's the entire question -- how can teachers explicitly teach students (for whom the Preamble to the Constitution is appropriate learning material) to navigate that complex text and figure out what they need to learn from it as citizens in this modern democratic society?

Concerned Teacher Educator

dan dempsey said...

Huh?? So What?....

Three out of the six TFA teachers in SPS are out. 50% retention is significantly less than marketed by TFA Inc.

So who is out and how?

5 of 6 were on conditional certs. For TFA CMs there was going to be no district analysis of results until two years had elapsed.

Someone ....Please explain what is happening

-- Dan Dempsey

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not sure it matters who stayed and who left. Clearly, SPS got a batch who didn't like SPS or didn't like teaching or wanted to be someplace else.

Bottom line is we just invested in undertrained teachers who have now let and we have to rehire those positions again. And when you are talking about high-need schools, the last thing they need is a revolving door of undertrained teachers.

Anonymous said...
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seattle citizen said...

"Bottom line is we just invested in undertrained teachers who have now let and we have to rehire those positions again. And when you are talking about high-need schools, the last thing they need is a revolving door of undertrained teachers."

This is a concern: ALL "reform" elements (standardization; "competition" in the form of charters and merit pay; TFA short-timers) point to a new model of education where teachers are rotated in and out: It's a cost-saving device which a) is appealing to the public because it lowers labor costs, and b) allows free-marketers to grab some profit off of the lowered labot costs (like Bain did/does: buy a company, cut pensions and salaries, use the savings to pay enormous CEO bonuses, etc, so that Bain CEOs can make 20 million in a year.)
If I were conspiracy minded, which of course I'm not, I would think that using a simplified, standards-based curricular and assessment system, combined with ineffective protections for teachers in the face of test-based evaluations and a ready pool of short-termers in the form of TFA and other such programs (diminishing the idea of teaching as a profession and making it a mere waypoint on the way to other things), leads to this sort of new model where salary costs are halved as cheap newbies rotate in and out.
In this model, teacher retention is antithetical.
One more way to screw poor children. (We saw an early example of this in California, where the districts were sued for using TFA short-termers - the 9th Court said it was an abrogation of the poor students' rights, then people back in Washington "fixed" the problem by calling TFA and other conditional certs "highly qualified."
There are billions and billions to be made by restructuring the teaching profession into a short-term endeavor.

Disgusted said...

TFA was nothing more than a diversion that took enormous amounts of time, resources and energy away from supporting students.

Then, 50% of TFA folks left. Resources need to be spent on teachers committed to teaching. This argument was made, but the majority of the board didn't listen.

dan dempsey said...

Hey let us not throw all the fault on the Board...

"Then, 50% of TFA folks left. Resources need to be spent on teachers committed to teaching. This argument was made, but the majority of the board didn't listen."

This ridiculous TFA plan came from the Superintendent and her staff to the Board. The Big Wigs in Olympia bent rules to make this happen.

Another "all politics, no common sense no data disaster"

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

For APP:

I estimate there are approx 40,000 SPS students enrolled in Grades 1-8, the grades that the APP program is offered.

I estimate there are approx 1150-1200 APP students enrolled in APP across four sites.

This is roughly 3%. Somebody may have better figures, these are back of the napkin.

APP Parent

Anonymous said...

Is the number of students consistent with the guidelines established for the program?

A common misconception is that APP only admits the top 2% of the student population. Qualification is based on placing in the 98% on a nationally normed test (CogAT), which is not the same as just admitting the top 2%. More than 2% of the student population might place in the 98% on a nationally normed test.

A better question may be whether MAP is the best test to use for qualification (APP qualification is based on 95% on MAP and 98% on CogAT).

another parent

Anonymous said...
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word said...

Your comment doesn't make any sense to me. I've been reading this blog for 6 years. There has been no specific emphasis on APP (in fact there is a separate APP blog for parents who want to focus on Advanced learning). This blog - in my experience - has always advocated for high standards of education for all students.

Anonymous said...
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word said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous person who seems to want to start a fight over APP and Advanced Learning programs, you need to have a moniker before you can post. See above.

Anonymous said...

A common misconception is that APP only admits the top 2% of the student population. Qualification is based on placing in the 98% on a nationally normed test (CogAT), which is not the same as just admitting the top 2%.

OR you can pay to have a psychologist "norm" you into the club on some other test. Pay to play. And, that gets you a lot more than 2% nationally or locally.

At John Hay elementary, it's up to about 10% "qualified" for APP. (a real lake Woebegon) and another 20% in "qualified" for spectrum. Qualification for spectrum is the bar for admission into the ALO program at Hay. Many parents are fine with Hay for elementary, but not with their middle school options. So, they need to somehow get into APP for middle school.

-parent

word said...

Why would parents want to "somehow" get into APP when the APP kids are subject to the same abysmal math and science curriculum as the rest of the district. What is the motivation?

Anonymous said...

Another misconception is that students get into the "club," as you put it, by paying for outside testing. First, appeals testing is offered free to those that meet the FRL threshold, and second, why would licensed psychologists put their job on the line to falsely pass students?

Let's compare John Hay demographics to Seattle Public Schools on the whole:

FRL: 12% (vs 43% SPS)
white: 70% (vs 42% SPS)

And you're surprised that John Hay has a high number of APP/Spectrum qualified students? John Hay, which is located in Queen Anne?

From the School website:
Partners raises funds for programs that support the Continuous School Improvement Plan. These supplemental programs are offered as a permanent part of the curriculum. This is a bold and unusual position, because it commits us to raising about $300,000 a year to cover standing expenses. Fortunately, our community has always expected more and has shown its support through generous volunteer efforts and financial contributions. Thanks to them (and YOU!), John Hay students continue to shine!

parent2

Anonymous said...
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mirmac1 said...

I thought this was amusing. A collection of politicos, bureaucrats, and rich people lackeys make up a sort of McGinn Education "Breakfast Club". They're wondering when they should start ordering Banda around...

...let's at least let him unpack his boxes...

Anonymous said...

FRL: 12% (vs 43% SPS)
white: 70% (vs 42% SPS)

And you're surprised that John Hay has a high number of APP/Spectrum qualified students? John Hay, which is located in Queen Anne?


I'm not surprised at all. That's exactly what our "advanced learning" programs are for. Entitlements for the groups you mention, so they can have the segregated programs they're entitled to.

Why would a psychologist "risk" overidentification of "giftedness"? Uh. Money? Client satisfaction? And there's no risk either. Parents can also game the system on their own by taking the "admissions test" more than once in 6 months. And yes, parents absolutely do this all the time, without hiding it.

-parent

Anonymous said...

No, that is not what our advanced learning/gifted programs are for. You clearly dislike the programs, parent, and I am not sure what your point is.

- also a parent

Unknown said...

Parent, explain why gifted programs are entitlements.

Feeling snarky said...

Yeah, it is definitely an entitlement for kids like my soon-to-be 1st grader who read Harry Potter #3 in 2 days. When I asked him about the book, he was able to tell me what happened in each chapter of the book and the title of each chapter even when I picked a chapter at random. He would obviously be served well in his assigned elementary.

Anonymous said...

Snarky, that doesn't help. We can mount a better argument for our program than the harry potter/first grader thing, which is becoming a target for snark in itself.
A

Feeling less snarky said...

A-

You are absolutely right. I am just tired of seeing the same issues raised over and over again. I am tired of hearing about the unscrupulous psychologists running rampant. I am tired of the assertion that the parents who test their kids are pushy and ruining local schools. I am tired of parents without kids in APP saying that the program is not needed. I should have ignored the bait.

Anonymous said...

Well gee willikers, I got an idea! How about some guidelines? Like a program for 1% actually serve 1%. Or, maybe 2% to get the lowest end of superty-duper Harry Potter giftedness. How about, no private testing admissions? Oh the horrors of that one, right? Because, without paying money, the genius might never be recognized for what his entitlement really is. How about, re-testing annually? Now that's the biggest scare of all! Special ed students have to retest to see if they still need servics. But APP, it's a lifetime entitlement with no proof of need. It's a birthright! (Let's all remember to complain about charters though... they are really siphoning off too many students, and racially dividing our schools, etc.) Back in the day, the big horror was the requirement that the superty-duper gifted actually PASS THE WASL!!!! Not excel at it, but pass it at all. Thank goodness things have improved. You no longer have to pass anything! Yipee!

-Feeling Snarky Too!

Anonymous said...

You still have not answered Melissa's question. Why do you think advancedlearning/gifted programs are entitlements?

- also a parent

Anonymous said...

Feeling Snarky Too,

I'm not sure I see your point. Are you outraged that a program you mistakenly believe to be for the top 2% of SPS students is actually serving more like 3%, which thereby supports your conspiracy theory that parents are buying their children's way in? If that's your big beef, learning more about how nationally normed tests play out at the local level should allay your concerns. Can 3% of SPS children score in the top 2% of kids in the nation? Sure, why not?

Or is your big beef that some people use private testing to appeal eligibility, when you seem to think the be-all, end-all of good testing is done by SPS? Yes, there may be some parents who push for the result they want, just as with any eligibility based system there are parents who push for what they think is best for their children. To the extent that that occurs, you are correct, it's not fair. I suspect, however, that it's not a big problem, and that the numbers are very small. I'm sure most kids test in via the district's standard route.

And why not, I'll take the bait-- If by "entitlement program" you mean that we APP parents think our children are entitled to education at their level, I say yes, I think ALL children are. However, since traditional classrooms can't meet the needs of these highly gifted learners, they need something like APP.

Finally, giftedness is not something that changes year to year, so annual retesting to verify that kids still qualify would be a waste of resources. I'm not a special ed expert, but based on experience with my nephew I've seen that needs can, and often do, change from year to year.

APP parent of one who truly needs it

Anonymous said...

"Finally, giftedness is not something that changes year to year, so annual retesting to verify that kids still qualify would be a waste of resources. I'm not a special ed expert, but based on experience with my nephew I've seen that needs can, and often do, change from year to year."

It doesn't take a special ed expert to figure that a child is rarekt miraculously cured of a disability. Yet, every year parents face having their kids "exited" from services they need. Meanwhile APP just grows and grows and grows...

Sped parent

word said...

I think if you were to look at the APP blog you will find that APP parents also feel that their students are not getting services. Just because a student is designated for the APP program does not guarantee that they receive ANY sort of advanced training AT ALL. It still comes down to the teachers and the principal and their dedication to AL (or lack of it). The school district sorely lacks a plan for conforming to their own specifications on AL.

It appears to me that your complaints are with the special ed programs and the lack of consistency and adherence to those goals and principles rather than APP. I think you should work to hold the district accountable to their special ed students.

Anonymous said...

I have had students in Spec Ed and APP.

I would say that the Spec Ed experience was by far the best, although these services were provided almost eight years ago and I know a lot has changed.

APP has not been a walk in the park - can't say that I feel like my student has been given any "entitlement services."


APP Parent

Jan said...

I will go to bat for the final issue -- private testing for appeals. When someone establishes for me any credible reason to believe that large group testing is more valid than individual testing, I will concede. Until then, I know of several elementary aged kids who simply do not show their true abilities sitting with 30 or 40 other kids in a strange gym on a Saturday morning in January. No one subsequently (not the private tester, their APP teachers, the people who administered the SATs to them in 7th grade, -- NO one subsequently ever had any doubt that they were validly and appropriately included in the program. I know of a child whose COGAT and ITBS scores varied so dramatically that educational testers reviewing the score said that it was categorically invalid. No child with that low a COGAT score could have scored as highly as that child did on the ITBS. The District? They did no critical analysis at all.

The part of this that is weak is the group testing, not the appeal process. But SSD doesn't want to move to individual testing, because it is expensive and time consuming. What I wish is that they would do a better job of testing kids on the front end, because I agree that the expense of the appeal process makes it so that families with limited means may drop an appeal, and their child may never be appropriately placed.

As for annual testing --again, what is the point? Unless you have kids jumping off garages head first, or eating lead paint, or enduring various other forms of trauma that can affect intellect -- I am not aware of any data that indicates that advanced learning capacity "fades" with age. Are you? Nor do I think that a child should have to earn straight As (or, for that matter take or pass the ridiculous, expensive high stakes tests that we impose on kids) to retain a spot in APP. If a kid has a bad year (is disorganized, or distracted, or is dealing with issues at home) and doesn't do well, that does not make that child less gifted -- nor does it make "regular" class work more appropriate for his/her intelligence and learning style. If my "regular" ed kid wobbles in 5th grade and drops from As and Bs to Cs and Ds, I don't take him out of his regular ed class and put him in a special ed class working two years behind, with a different pedagological approach and at a slower pace. Why would I punish an APP kid with similar issues by removing them from the level and kind of instruction that meets their needs?

The tired old canard that Seattle is rife with professional child psychologists who are willing to administer corrupt tests, and then lie in reporting those test results in order to get kids into APP has never been validated.

I am also not aware that the claim that there are significant numbers of kids in APP classes that shouldn't be there has any merit. My understanding is that there is occasionally a child who doesn't handle the pace or the approach well and should (in the opinion of the teachers) be placed in a Spectrum or regular ed class instead, and those are generally handled with far less fuss than making every child in the program reprove, each year, that he or she is still gifted.

continued

Jan said...

Continued: As far as I can see, ALL of the problems are the District's problems: they draw the admissions criteria too loosely or too tightly, and fail to pick up giftedness that doesn't express itself in a fairly narrow range; they have devised a cheap testing method that does not reliably and consistently result in identifying which children meet the program's criteria, which in turn has led to an appeals process that not all parents of gifted kids can afford; they limit access to the program altogether after 8th grade; they have no method for timely identifying and dealing with children who transfer into the District outside their narrow eligibility windows. They have few if any solutions for kids working 3, 4, or 5 years ahead of grade level. There are (or were, when last I checked) racial disparities in admission to the program, and the District has not been able to devise an admissions/teaching solution that solves them. The problems go on and on.

And yet -- it's like corporate ed reform. Instead of trying to address the real shortcomings of the system (which would cost -- gasp -- money and take time), the suggestions being tossed out (make everyone retest every year; prohibit any private testing -- so that there is no recourse if the District screws up the testing protocol with your 6 year old, or he has a molar coming in that day, etc.) all have nothing to do with solving the REAL issues and improving the access and delivery of education to highly gifted kids. No, they merely cost a ton of money (annual testing), deny/restrict access, and generally make things more rigid, less inclusive, and less fair. Yep. Sounds JUST like corporate ed reform!

Anonymous said...

New student orientation at Nathan Hale High School is Tuesday 9/4

The time of Raider Day for the 9th graders is,approximently 9 am to 10:30 maybe 11 am.

Letters from the school with all the information about Raider Day by the end of this week.

We had to call the office to get this info.

FHP

mirmac1 said...

You've got to LIKE this FB page!

No on 1240 - Don't be CharterFooled

mirmac1 said...

Who ARE these people and who elected them to run our school district? Do Burgess and McSquish think that OUR $212M is for their largess? Our superintendent has plenty on his plate than sit in meetings and be told what to do.

Our unelected Education Leaders

Anonymous said...

There are still two TFA teachers at Aki, but I think one is done with the program. I think they've hired a new one too. South shore still has theirs too. Not sure about the others. Can't you get this info from snooping through emails?
-snooped

Anonymous said...

There are still two TFA teachers at Aki, but I think one is done with the program. I think they've hired a new one too. South shore still has theirs too. Not sure about the others. Can't you get this info from snooping through emails?
-snooped

StopTFA said...

snooped,

Who needs emails. The last exec comm meeting had an HR newbie asking to intro/action for 3 TFAers, two at Emerson under their new principal/TFA alum Kristina Bellamy McClain (wonder where her allegiances lie); and, yes, Mia W. at Aki must feel compelled to meet her TFA quota - and in SpEd at that. Too bad OSPI guidelines note that IDEA has a higher bar to be considered highly qualified in special education (a no-brainer)

At this time, TFA is running at 50% attrition at SPS. Grrrreat!

Jan said...

Stop TFA: still trying to keep ducks in a row, here. By 50% attrition, I am thinking you mean 50% after ONE year -- so, not even meeting the anticipated 2 year commitment. Is that right? Because we are only 1 year into this grandly stupid experiment?

Or is are there some who are through more than a year?