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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Open Thread

Interesting SPS news from the Times - the new Student Assignment Plan is slowly showing the changing demographics in SPS.  Alki, Arbor Heights, McClure, Sacajawea and Gatewood are more white and McGilvra, Leschi and North Beach have become more diverse.  Interesting but not surprising.

Heads up - the Seattle Public Libraries are shut down next week to cut costs.  That's Monday, August 27th to Sunday, Sep. 2nd.

SPS staff take an unpaid furlough day on Wednesday, August 29th.

From SPS:

- Christopher King, a media literacy/TV production teacher at Whitman Middle School, has won a screenwriting award for the third year in a row in the 2012 Pacific Northwest Writers Association's Literary Contest.   Congrats, Mr. King!

- Cathi Rodgveller, a career counselor at Seattle Public Schools and founder of IGNITE (Inspiring Girls Now in Technology Evolution) won the Anita Borg Social Impact Award in August for her accomplishments and contributions to women in technology.

CAthi RodgvellerThe award honors someone who has an impact on the lives of women – and has made a significant impact on the design and use of technology. She will receive the award in a ceremony Oct. 4 in Baltimore, Maryland.

IGNITE is a Seattle based non-profit organization with more than 10 years of history showing young girls the possibilities represented by careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

- Planned to coincide with Teacher Appreciation Month, in May, Ivar’s ninth annual Teacher of the Year contest had many nominations submitted by kindergartners through eighth-graders. Everyone had a favorite teacher, but only one could be “the best!”

After sifting through hundreds of nominations, William Levin of Hamilton International Middle School, nominated by sixth-grade student Henry Meyerson, was the winner.

What's on your mind?
Henry Meyerson with William Levin and dancing clam

71 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Putting this out there for your reading pleasure. The "powers that be" are aligned to begin pressuring Banda to do what they want. First you had the Alliance4Ed and LEV crowd, now you have McGinn/Burgess/bureaucrat/foundation hacks teaming up in the Mayor's Education Leadership Team.

I'll remind Superintendent Banda that he should be making more time to engage with families, than attending these clubby, extracurricular affairs. He works for the Board and, by extension, the voters and families in the district.

Our unelected Education Leaders

Anonymous said...

RE: CMP 6th grade

I am tutoring a rising 6th grader and a focus is on fractions. I've been doing the basics, explaining concept with pies but then leaving concept and focussing on converting fractions to decimals, using GCF and LCM to simplify and to make equiv. fractions, adding, subtracting , multiplying and dividing fractions and mixed numbers. Using algorithms.

When I look at what is available on-line for CMP sample problems I see a lot of focus on concept that appears confusing to me, and little focus on practicing the algorithms I use. But what I can get on line is just a sample.

So, can people with experience tell me about how CMP works in practice with kids? Do they learn what they need to know? What should a tutor do....focus on the CMP way so they won't be confused in class? Teach the algorithms?

Is fractions the major shortcoming of this curriculum? Or am I just seeing it that way? I've read on-line criticism of the program but would like to know what happens in the real world too.

My student will go to McClure. How do they do there with this curriculum?

Mathy Mom

Anonymous said...

Banda is having community meetings to engage families (early October?), as Melissa posted previously.

On another note, but related to the achievement gap (and the new district policy), is this report on the acceleration of students into 8th grade Algebra and the resulting lower performance for some groups:

http://www.aei.org/files/2012/08/20/-solving-americas-mathematics-education-problem_085301336532.pdf

In policy implications, they suggest focusing on improving the absolute, rather than relative, perfomance of low-performing students. How to do this? By "sorting students, even at a
young age, into relatively homogenous groups to better enable curricular specialization."

a reader

mirmac1 said...

Hmmm, another expensive software project gone sideways. Doesn't customer support just suck sometimes. I wonder if this had anything to do with Ms London's exit. If so, she should not have taken the fall.

Delay in secondary GradeBook implementation

Jamie said...

Ugh - the comments on that Times article are galling.

mirmac1 said...

You think those comments are bad, read some of these:

Special needs kids staying in traditional schools

Jamie said...

Mirmac-
Aaagh! My eyes! Why are people so hateful?

Anonymous said...

Mathy Mom - My child has just finished middle school with CMP. For a couple of years I worked closely with him, and the biggest help I could provide was "translating" the curriculum for him. By that I mean trying to figure out what basic math concepts they were trying to teach, and explaining it more simply and clearly. I found that the language used was often confusing, much more than was needed, and sometimes not mathematically sound. I still remember my child struggling with calculating the profit for a fictitious business - in a section designed to teach the use of basic algebra and variables - because CMP gave fixed costs per month, variable costs per unit created, and the total number of units created. They didn't clarify how many units were sold - and my child knew that you didn't have profit unless you actually sold them, and you might not sell all of them. Once I was able to convince him that he should assume that all of them were sold, he could do the math. CMP seemed to be trying to create real-world connections, but did so very poorly.

A lot of time was spent analyzing supposed real world applications, and trying to figure out what was missing or poorly worded instead of actually practicing the math concepts.

I'd stick to working on getting your student to real mastery in the basic concepts - and then try to explain what the curriculum is trying to get at. If your student understands how fractions work, it won't be much of a stretch to explain what part of the basics they're trying to cover in CMP.

- another mathy mom

teach the algorithms said...

Parents have recommended "Key to Fraction" booklets for solidifying skills (available at Math-n-Stuff in Maple Leaf). In other words, don't focus on CMP methods, but make sure the student still understands them. They also have Key to...decimals and percents.

An Evaluation of CMP (Milgram)

CMP Review (Tsang)

See Tsang's discussion on Grade 6, Bits and Pieces II, specifically. "It was my daughter's experience with this unit that I started tutoring her at home. She was an A student and was in 7th grade [confused why in 7th grade doing 6th grade, but...]. She was completely confused by the way CMP introduced fractions, decimals and percentages...she was not taught about formulas to convert one to the other."

One caveat, the reviews seem to be from an earlier version of CMP, not CMP2, but I'm not sure that there have been significant improvements.

Dorothy Neville said...

Mathy Mom. Having a kid go through this and having tutored multiple kids, I say you are on the right track. Continue to emphasize how factoring works. Get the child fluent with factoring and they will get the concepts of prime factors and how prime factors and GCF and LCM all intertwine. THAT will give them the conceptual awareness and the fluency that is the most important (imnsoho) concept for math beyond arithmetic (ie, algebra)

CMP touched on this but did not offer enough lessons for mastery, and mastery in prime factorization is KEY.

--Former math teacher, lifelong math fan.

teach the algorithms said...

CMP touched on this but did not offer enough lessons for mastery

This could be said for most topics in CMP.

Dorothy Neville said...

And what is ironic to me is that the fundamental CONCEPTUAL knowledge is understanding primes and factorization. That's why we have the Fundamental Law of Arithmetic.

When a person really understands primes and can fluently factor down to primes, the whole concept of GCF and LCM will have significant conceptual basis for understanding. Knowing those two concepts means one can do anything with fractions they want and it segues into algebra easily. That should be the goal of CMP, instead, I found a cursory bit on primes.

Jack Whelan said...

If you haven't read this piece by Anthony Cody in Ed Week challenging the assumptions of the Gates Foundation's 'impatient optimists" who insist that "poverty isn't destiny", read it; it's a must. And it should be given to anyone who insists that the schools are the main instrument to be used in closing achievement gaps.

Maybe it's something the city hall crowd needs to read, too.

suep. said...

I found this a disappointing article by Rosenthal, displaying shallow reporting. Once again he seems to accept the district's spin on things -- for example, the canard that the rise in enrollment in SPS is due to the new student assignment plan, as opposed to various other significant factors such as a tanking economy in which private school is too costly, or simply baby boomlets throughout various parts of the city and other demographic trends.

Arguably, the assignment plan may have driven some families away from SPS if they felt they were stuck with an undesirable local school.

Also, he left out a number of other schools where diversity and demographics have changed since the NSAP, such as Hamilton Middle School and TOPS, both of which have seen a decrease in racial diversity since the NSAP. I'd bet there are others too. Perhaps because these are pseudo-"option" schools, he didn't include them, but that skewed his data and conclusion.

Lastly, for those of us who wondered what would happen to Phil Brockman once he got promoted deeper into the JSCEE HQ monolith, this quote was telling in its disappointing vacuousness: "The student-assignment plan is the student-assignment plan," said Phil Brockman, the district's executive director of school operations. "We've had a dozen iterations over the past 20 years. But our focus has always been on quality instruction."

dan dempsey said...

"Since then, officials have described the plan as a success, pointing to skyrocketing enrollment and some $1.4 million in transportation-cost reductions, with more savings expected."

So how was this $1.4 million savings calculated?
Over what period of time?

Anonymous said...

Our family lived through the old assignment plan and the uncertainty was terrible. You never knew where your kids would go and many families just looked elsewhere. The long bus rides did not improve education.

I would like to see the District focus instead on better curriculum, especially in math. Then we can have fewer families tutoring their children and watching them place into remedial math in college.

S parent

Benjamin Leis said...

Does anyone know when the new bus schedules are going to be announced?
Thanks
Ben

suep. said...

Good question, Dan. In fact, come to think of it, wasn't the latest belltime multi-tier schedule fiasco of earlier this summer the result of the district claiming it was in the red on transportation costs and needed to save money?

So which is it, I wonder?

Perhaps the two are not necessarily contradictory, but it seems the district uses transportation costs and alleged savings to justify various questionable program placement and access decisions, so I'm also skeptical of these numbers.

Btw, enrollment in SPS was trending up before the NSAP plan was even implemented, as many of us who opposed the school closures and splits pointed out way back in 2008-09.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the wording doesn't say savings, but "transportation-cost reductions" with "more savings expected." Does that mean the total costs have not gone down and there have yet to be savings?

Another plausible reason for enrollment increases: families that purchased homes during the height of the real estate market are less likely to sell at a loss in order to move to a better school district, whereas they might have previously.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the input on CMP, and the ideas for how to manage tutoring and how to direct my children. I thought this would be a good place to raise the questions.

Is this curriculum up for review soon? Is it likely to be replaced?

Mathy Mom

Anonymous said...

Some of us are hopeful the math curriculum can finally be improved since Banda used better math in his prior district. Also, two new board members, Marty McLaren and Sharon Peaslee, have sharper math backgrounds and may be able to persuade the other board members to make improvements.

Parents who want change should write their Board reps and Banda about the math. They can also make speaking appearances at District meetings. New curricula are expensive and Seattle Schools will not make changes unless they have to.

S parent

Anonymous said...

Anybody who thinks private schools are somehow now lacking for students just doesn't get it. Lakeside had a record number of applicants this year, as did many other private schools. There is no shortage of people willing to go private, pay for it, and willing to be on the waitlist. Which is to say: they're full. I don't know of a single private school enrollment "hurt" by the downturn in the economy. I'm sure there are many people who can no longer consider private school options. But the reality is, the private school sector has many more applicants than seats, this year and in all preceeding years. Public school enrollment surge is not driven by the private schools enrollment. If anything, more students in the area means more students wanting private placements.

-private and public parent

Anonymous said...

Also, he left out a number of other schools where diversity and demographics have changed since the NSAP, such as Hamilton Middle School and TOPS, both of which have seen a decrease in racial diversity since the NSAP.

Not to mention Lowell@Lincoln which had not a single black student last year. Darn that assignement plan.

-parent

Anonymous said...

Another Mathy Mom, I remember well that unit on the business profit and the time I spent convincing my child to just consider all the units sold. That one, and the farmer measuring her barn using the Pythagorean Theorem and a 10-foot-pole were highlights of the year. Oh, also the question of whether a stitch in time really does save nine.

Mathy Mom (#1), you already got good advice. I had my daughter tutored and the best thing the tutor did was look ahead in the books so that she could pre-translate the upcoming lessons so my kid would be able to figure out what the teacher was talking about during class. Sometimes this resulted in my daughter having work marked wrong because she didn't use the right method to get to the right answer, but I don't care (and was kinda surprised because I thought Discovery math was about kids doing the work as they like best).

My McClure knowledge is a few years old, but at that time they taught the CMP curriculum straight from the books with little or no supplementation. So yeah, your student will need to understand the oddball way CMP does things.

mirmac1 said...

"Lowell@Lincoln which had not a single black student last year"

Wow, good to see SPS is making headway with identification of minority gifted students. Perhaps, there is something to this gap thing.... But not how they mean it.

Jan said...

mirmac1: I have been thinking about the emails you linked, and your view. I am on the fence. On the one hand, when you read who is on the mayor's education leadership team (or whatever he calls it), you are right. We are right back in the miasma of bad ideas, backdoor pressure, and too much influence from money and political connections. Ick.

On the other hand -- it seems to me that the concept of a link between city government and the school district makes sense -- and is something we would want (if it weren't populated by ed reform trolls) if it weren't there. I want the city to know about, and support BEX IV. We should know the mayor's and city council's views on various capital plans and improvement initiatives devised by the District -- especially since the FFEL money is city money and needs to be used in a coordinated manner to support what the District needs and is doing (we have all seen in the viaduct project what "willful lack of collaboration" between the Mayor's office and others looks like -- and it isn't pretty.

Unlike some of the astroturfy/lobbying/grant-making groups who have undue influence (they should have NONE -- beyond what they get as voters, taxpayers, and parents), this is an instance where I think the existence of the group is fine. If the city didn't give a rip, never reached out, I would be alarmed. I just dislike the members, don't trust the Mayor to take anyone's views into account except his own (whether anyone agrees with them or not), and loathe the "clubby, condescending" tone -- the "let's all decide when it works for our calendars to sit down and tell Mr. Banda what to do." (They really think he won't bother thinking about student achievement unless they meet with him? Hope he brings a barf bag to THAT one!) Starkly missing from the emails is any "let's sit down and hear from Mr. Banda what a smart "outsider" thinks our biggest strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities weaknesses are" (an opportunity that comes along very rarely -- as soon he will be politically invested in decisions he has made, people he has hired, etc.) -- but it would never occur to them to ask for INPUT. It would never occur to them that they don't already know everything they need to know. Gaah! I don't even hear "let's sit down with Mr. Banda and see how we can best collaborate with him so that city time and money spent on educational support gets the biggest return we can get, for the voters who, once again, rallied and passed the FFEL levy." (There is a teeny whiff of collaboration in the BEX IV emails -- but not much).

So, to me, the challenge is (1) to get the Mayor to expand his educational leadership group beyond its current ed reform/inner circle clubbiness, and (2) to get the group to take a dose of humility, listen more than they talk, actually brainstorm with an eye to helping Mr. Banda (whom the board chose) to develop and advance his goals (not theirs), and collaborate with, rather than lecture, the man.

mirmac1 said...

I agree with you Jan. Their perspective needs to take a 180.

We'll see what the rest of the emails I receive say...

Jan said...

S Parent: two things. First, thanks for piping up with support of the NSAP. I DIDN'T like it, on the whole, and it does me good from time to time to get a reminder that it has worked well for some -- that it is not all bad, and that others see more good than bad in it (unlike me).

Second, on math curriculum -- I thought either ED or CMP was up for review/replacement LAST year --but the review and replacement was shelved for a year to help with budget issues. If so, I think we need to push really hard this year to make replacement happen -- and to make it happen with better materials. From the few schools that have been allowed to use other materials (North Beach a few years ago, Schmitz Park, and Mercer, it is obvious that better, clearer, more mathematically sound materials increase student learning. We just need to get it done.

Unknown said...

Jack, I agree and that article needs a separate thread and discussion.

Interesting that Gates is very interested in poor people (and children) in other countries but the MAIN factor that influences outcomes in our schools is poverty and yet it's all about the teacher to him. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Sacajawea lose their ELL program? If so, then couldn't the loss of ELL be at least partially responsible for the reduction in diversity at Sacajawea?

North End Mom

Anonymous said...

Also, he left out a number of other schools where diversity and demographics have changed since the NSAP, such as Hamilton Middle School and TOPS, both of which have seen a decrease in racial diversity since the NSAP.

Why are people who enroll their kids in APP, one of the least diverse programs (schools) in the city, usually by private testing, soooo worried about "diversity"? It seems diversity is ohhh so important - for everyone else to embrace. But for themselves..... it's really not a priority or a value.

-observer

suep. said...

And how precisely do you know what APP families value, "observer"? What gives you the right or knowledge to speak for the hundreds of APP families and their priorities?

So easy to cast ignorant aspersions on others while hiding behind a pseudonym.

The earlier comment about Lowell@Lincoln is also incorrect.

What is true is the Lincoln APP contingent lost diversity with the move from Capitol Hill in multiple ways -- by being split from the gen ed population and from the longtime Special Ed population with whom they had shared the building for many years. So yes, the remains of Lowell @ Lincoln is less diverse than it used to be too, which is another negative result of poor planning by the district, and yes, an assignment plan which caused the Lowell building to be overcrowded.

seattle citizen said...

Anyone get a load of the op-ed,Catholic schools could learn from innovation at charter schools, in the Seattle Times where some guy tries to tell Catholic schools to be more like charters to succeed?
Can anyone say, "disingeneous attempt to sway voters regarding charters when appearing not to address public schools in one's op-ed"?
Here's part of the the Mission Statement of the free-marketing Lexington Institute, of which the author of the op-ed, Sean Kennedy, is a "visiting fellow":
"...By promoting America's ability to project power around the globe we not only defend the homeland of democracy, but also sustain the international stability in which other free-market democracies can thrive.
The Lexington Institute believes in limiting the role of the federal government to those functions explicitly stated or implicitly defined by the Constitution. The Institute therefore actively opposes the unnecessary intrusion of the federal government into the commerce and culture of the nation, and strives to find nongovernmental, market-based solutions to public-policy challenges. We believe a dynamic private sector is the greatest engine for social progress and economic prosperity."

Anonymous said...

I would like to extend public thanks to Tracy Libros and team. The wait lists moved sooner this year than ever before.

The process of past years was flexibly altered to incorporate knowledge gleaned from the first few years of the NSAP.

Thank you.

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

The NewsHour on PBS tonight had a great piece on the Rainier Scholars Program—no government or District funding. They did note that the program only serves kids who are motivated and already in the higher achievement percentiles, and that it costs $40M per child...but it is an excellent example of how children of color can be helped to achieve despite their low-income backgrounds.

SolvayGirl

Anonymous said...

Folks in our area are talking about the impacts if the BEX Levy passes.

We are crowded in the NE, but also recognize that if boundaries change there will be tough choices ahead for families on the wrong side of a boundary change.

Do you move into the new boundary, rent in the new boundary, or just suffer through a few anxious years if you don't want your elementary age kids to attend separate schools?

Is this the same in other regions of the city?

-StepJ

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the cheerleading for the NSAP. It was a zero sum game. For every kid that benefitted from the certainty of being assigned to a "good" neighborhood school there was a kid hurt by the certainty of assignment to a "bad" neighborhood school.

The net benefit is the nebulous transportation savings that no one can really quantify or believe in.

Skeptic

Anonymous said...

@ Jack - Anthony Cody must have learned about politics from the spawn of the brain trust dweebs who ran the Dukakis campaign --

I'm sure all his uber educated peeps are highly impressed with his 2 paragraph summary of the Gate$ lies blaming teachers - of course, by using their language to summarize their b.s., you make their b.s. credible, and now you're figthing by their rules. How did that work in 1988? 2004?

Given how many of the Dukakis-Kerry dweebs retreated back to K-School style sinecures after losing to Lee Atewater and Karl Rove, this kind of politics is good only for those with a sinecure.

Jan @2:42

thanks for summarizing the emails - now I don't have to spend my time proving to myself that, once again, Sauron's Ringwraiths are mo$t focu$ed on getting their ma$ter'$ preciou$ from Frodo. Tolkien was educated in age when translating Plutarch and Tacitus wasn't uncommon.

Plus ca change, plus c'est

LaMemeChose

mirmac1 said...

S'funny, seems some in SPS LOVE ELL if it means they can scab off the funding to support language immersion IAs.

I find that kind of duplicity very repulsive and I know there are some principals who won't abide by it.

Anonymous said...

Question: Is is true that Banda received a $26,000 raise? Heard that today at a math workshop. Math coaches have been reduced to two-and-a-half for elementary. The half is divided between middle school and elementary. That's pretty thin for all the work to be done around common core standards.

Goodloe-Johnson made a good salary. Why an increase for Banda?

Also, regarding the math curriculum: I heard that there are no plans to replace it in the near future. Another budget thing. Sounded like several years to me . . . but that's based on rumor. Teachers are being asked to supplement and pretty much develop their own.

n...

Anonymous said...

http://www.king5.com/news/Former-Seattle-city-councilwoman-Cheryl-Chow-last-crusade-166974376.html

A courageous story.

SWWS

Anonymous said...

I would like to extend public thanks to Tracy Libros and team. The wait lists moved sooner this year than ever before.

The process of past years was flexibly altered to incorporate knowledge gleaned from the first few years of the NSAP.

Thank you.

-StepJ

Really? I still see 40 on the waitlist for Nathan Hale. Roosevelts has gone down to 50 from 60 so that is some movement. If this is faster than before, I am glad I didn't experience the before!

FHP

Anonymous said...

To observer:

1. Unless you've done a representative survey of "people who enroll their kids in APP," you don't seem to be in any position to comment on the values or priorities of this group--a group which, I'm willing to bet, represents a wide range of values and beliefs in the first place.

2. You question the legitimacy of APP family interest in diversity when the program itself is not diverse. Did it ever occur to that that may be exactly why some people do care? That they want a diverse experience for their kids, but their kids need APP and so parents feel stuck and that they've had to give up something they value?

3. Why stop with APP? There are also non-APP kids at most of these APP schools, so those parents must also not value diversity. Same with families at non-diverse neighborhood schools, too! Sure, these may be their neighborhood schools, but if they truly valued and prioritized diversity they would apply to go elsewhere--regardless of transportation issues, test scores, facilities, programs, etc.--right?

4. What's up with your comment that most get in via private testing? Have any figures to support that? I doubt it. Even if it were true, not relevant to your point.

ELB

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to see the percentages of APP kids who enter via private vs. public testing. Is that available anywhere?

If it isn't really as high as rumored we could put this gossipy speculation to rest. If it really is high maybe it says something about the admittance process -- is the process not identifying kids very well?

Unknown said...

Are we all boarding up the windows and filling the kerosene lamps to get ready for this season's pro-charter propaganda hurricane starring Maggie Gyllenhall and Viola Davis? "Won't back Down" will be arriving at theaters near you this fall perfectly timed to celebrate the parent trigger, and 1240 supporters are counting the days. Who needs Gates money when you have Hollywood in your corner?

Cap'n Billy Keg said...

An interesting NewsHour story (21 August 2012):

Rainier Scholars

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

"I'd be interested to see the percentages of APP kids who enter via private vs. public testing. Is that available anywhere?"

You could ask Bob Vaughn, via public disclosure, for this information.

I am pretty appalled by those who would think that professional counselors would put their licenses and reputations on the line by changing scores so kids could get into Advanced Learning programs.

mirmac1 said...

Arne "Never met a reform he didn't like" Duncan tweeting love for teachers:

‏@arneduncan
Some people are motivated by money or power or vanity. But teachers are uniquely driven by the desire to help others succeed.

‏@arneduncan
Teachers are the heart & soul of our education system.

Huh?! Then what's the deal about merit pay? He's a phony.

seattle citizen said...

mirmac1 asked "Then what's the deal about merit pay?" regarding Arne Duncan's tweet (@arneduncan - Teachers are the heart & soul of our education system)

Of course the answer is that True Reformers believe wholeheartedly with the free market, and the free market puts a price on everything and values nothing - The hearts and souls of teachers, in this view, should be quantified then monetized: Those with hearts and souls that are more in line with the program, as demonstrated by the bits and bytes of "data," should, in the free market model, by paid more.

Teachers' hearts and souls, in other words, should be guided by gold, and as it is "merit" based, some teachers' hearts and souls are worth more than others.

seattle citizen said...

mirmac1 asked "Then what's the deal about merit pay?" regarding Arne Duncan's tweet (@arneduncan - Teachers are the heart & soul of our education system)

Of course the answer is that True Reformers believe wholeheartedly with the free market, and the free market puts a price on everything and values nothing - The hearts and souls of teachers, in this view, should be quantified then monetized: Those with hearts and souls that are more in line with the program, as demonstrated by the bits and bytes of "data," should, in the free market model, by paid more.

Teachers' hearts and souls, in other words, should be guided by gold, and as it is "merit" based, some teachers' hearts and souls are worth more than others.

southmom said...

I'm with Skeptic. Can anyone explain to me how the NSAP has benefitted those of us in the southend, except as a chokehold to getting our kids into good high schools or middle schools?

-frustrated.

Anonymous said...

Of course nobody expected NSAP would benefit our southend kids! Northenders wanted us forced back into our struggling neighborhood schools so we'd have to "get involved" and make them better, lol !!! Separate but equal, right?

-S'ender

Benjamin Leis said...

I sympathize with previous comments about how the NSAP has locked folks in reference school areas that are not high performing. However, overall the NSAP has had other benefits beyond potential transportation savings. Where before, unpredictability about schools could drive folks completely out of the system or discourage people from even buying a house if they had kids now you can choose a neighborhood and have some assurance about the school path that will result in. In the long run I think this is going to drive families with children to move/stay in Seattle. I just wish I had more than hope that concrete steps are being taken to improve quality in the lower performing schools.

Ben

Jan said...

Skeptic and frustrated: I don't like the NSAP, and never did. I think we gave up real school choice (and the kind of flexibility that would have helped further dispel the argument that charters are needed) for a mess of pottage -- greater certainty for some (as you point out, that certainty is only a good thing if what you are now guaranteed is something you actually WANT) -- with an illusion of stability. It is illusory because boundaries will always need to change in a system that "guarantees" admittance by address. Demographics are not uniform throughout the city; and as we have discovered (and should have known), people -- especially those who rent -- can guarantee themselves a new, better school by simply buying or renting in a different neighborhood.

But I do agree that for those who lived far enough that they never had any clue what school they might get -- a system that guarantees any specific school might be seen as an improvement. The fact that this was done before improving south end schools, and that the "option" feature in high schools was broken right from the start and has been largely abandoned, and the fact that lack of transportation renders "choice" still more illusory for those without cars, or an available driver at both ends of the day -- well, those are just some of the reasons I dislike the NSAP and the way it was implemented.

Sarah said...

Hey Observer, I wonder what you're observing? We left our "all-white", north-end neighborhood school for APP @ Lincoln. Ironically, there is WAY more diversity there than our old school! What do you have to say about that? Should we have left our neighborhood school in protest?


Sarah.

Oh, and we had our kid privately tested since he missed the entrance by one point on the reading achievement test AKA MAP, but qualified everywhere else through the District testing. I'm pretty sure no one faked the numbers so my precious could get into APP.

Anonymous said...

Many things hilarious here.

First, that a school without one african-american student is still considered "more diverse" than a NE school. 'nuff said.

Second, this blog is a kick in the pants. Gotta shake those hands!

http://teachbad.com/2012/08/22/its-official-were-out-of-ideas/

depressed and laughing at the same time.

TraceyS said...

I just want to re-ask Ben's question from yesterday, since I am wondering as well - does anyone know when the bus transportation letters are going to be mailed out? I am trying to plan our crazy morning and afternoon schedule for next year, and need to know the bus times as soon as possible, for before and after school care purposes.

TraceyS

Anonymous said...

Regarding bus transportation letters, I called yesterday and I believe they were going out today, therefore arriving, hopefully, by the end of the week.

-kitty

Anonymous said...

And how precisely do you know what APP families value, "observer"? What gives you the right or knowledge to speak for the hundreds of APP families and their priorities?

How much did you pay to get your kids tested into APP? ??? Come on. You can tell us! But it's worth it, right? It got your kids their segregated environments they so deserve. And that was important.

If you really valued diversity - you wouldn't have paid a dime. You'd have chosen to go to a myriad of different schools available to you with lots of diversity. Instead, you assert "diversity" is something for OTHER people's kids. And isn't it a darn shame that under the evil new system, some other kids get the same segregated environment your kids enjoy? Oh, the injustice of it all!

And yes. Those great sped kids over at Lowell! Aren't they just so sweet and special? Everytime we need an issue talking point - well, we can trot them out to the podium. Never mind that they NEVER got an inclusive academic moment at Lowell. No worry though, they added "diversity" to your experience.



-observer

Anonymous said...

Why the bitterness, observer?

And this:

You'd have chosen to go to a myriad of different schools available to you with lots of diversity

There is no choice of neighborhood schools. It's the neighborhood school, unless a student needs special services (which APP is considered). There's no transportation elsewhere. If you'd ask families what they're seeking most in a school, it's probably an appropriate education.

Unknown said...

The NSAP was not about north versus south parent. I never attended one Board meeting or Board community meeting where I heard this argument come up. I heard plenty of questioning but not this line of argument.

I was not really for it either. I knew the choice system allowed 90% of parents their first choice (which is huge for a choice system). I knew it would only make some happy and some unhappy. Of course, the inability for many parents, north and south, to know, with some degree of certainty, where they would end up loomed large for many parents throughout the city.

Observer, the district will pay for private testing for free and reduced lunch kids who appeal their testing. That option is not just for people who can afford it. From what I understand, it usually costs between $300-400.

Anonymous said...

Observer, give it a rest. Your insistence that people are buying their way into APP, and doing it to avoid diversity, is bizarre, unfounded and counterproductive. If you have a problem with the APP eligibility criteria, fight that. If you have solid evidence that there are people out there who doctor the results, let's hear it. If the percentage of kids who enter via private testing is inappropriately high, let's see it and then we start talking about how the district identifies APP-qualified kids. If your beef is with the lack of diversity in APP, let's talk about how the district can improve outreach or provide other assistance to minorities who almost qualify. Yes, APP is not perfect (trust me, there are many problems with APP besides this), and yes, there may be things the district can do to improve the situation. But your obnoxious accusations and insinuations just make you look bitter and mean-spirited. What do you have against kids who are working several years above grade level, who often don't have much in common with their general ed peers, and who are bored out of their minds with school? Why deny them the chance for education at their level? And what do you have against their parents, who are just trying to provide an appropriate education for these kids? It doesn't make any sense to me.

ELB

Anonymous said...

"What do you have against kids who are working several years above grade level, who often don't have much in common with their general ed peers, and who are bored out of their minds with school?"

That sounds alot like Charlie's post on "Why do you hate kids?"

There are problems with gaming the system. It incenses some more than others. Observer can voice his/her opinion as much as anyone else.

not incensed, but perturbed

Anonymous said...

The District really needs to look into why many of the African American kids who qualify for APP choose not to make the move. I personally know 8 of them, 6 in middle school, 2 in high school. All of them qualified before MAP was introduced.

Two are at K-8's and get accommodations there. One is at a SPS middle school where AA kids seem to score well, two went private, two stayed in Spectrum until they got to high school and could take AP classes, and one goes out of district.

They have a range of reasons not to have gone with APP, but ALL of the parents were concerned with the lack of AA kids in APP and the persistant stories of prejudice in the program. When they found other options which also happened to be more diverse than APP, the choice was simple for them.

The district needs to do much more than outreach. It MUST combat the image APP has among AA families. Maybe that can never improve, but to stop this Catch-22, they've got to try.

Sometime reader

Anonymous said...

How is following the District policy, "gaming the system?" Gaming the system implies a bending of the rules, but, like it or not, District policy allows for appeals. It's all spelled out clearly and applied equally.

As it stands, APP has become mostly an acceleration of the same stuff every other student gets - EDM, CMP, Readers and Writers Workshop, and the same old science kits. It's like grade skipping without skipping a grade.

Jan said...

Actually, I thought ELB's comments were pretty apt. I have not heard a single word from observer that concedes, in any way, shape, or form, that there are highly gifted kids in our schools, that there is any benefit to them from devising a program of instruction that is accelerated and (in some cases) uses different teaching methods to present material in a more complex manner, that they have any social problems when isolated in small numbers in classes where they are laughed at or teased for being smart, or where no one gets their quirky sense of humor. Observer has never addressed whether, in fact, the testing methods (to say nothing of the tests, now that we use MAP for this) are inadequate to address the identification of the highly gifted kids whose needs APP is supposed to address.

I agree that it is inappropriate to dismiss an opponent's arguments with some sweeping generalization that is badly misrepresents their nuanced positions on things -- but I have yet to see any nuance from observer, anything really other than that APP exists solely as an elitist way for self-absorbed, narcissistic upper class majority culture families to wall off their little darlings from the hoi polloi in all the other classes.

I have no problem with being concerned and perturbed over problems in APP. I think it is too narrow. I agree that it needs to address minority inclusion issues. I think it needs to look at what happens to kids for whom 2 years of acceleration are STILL insufficient, and kids with strong abilities in just some areas. But instead, we have spent the last few years splitting programs, squeezing APP out of Lowell, denying them access to accelerated math beyond an arbitrarily set level, etc. etc. etc. Just like with other problems in the District, it is hard to find the time and resources to address the real, long-standing issues when we consistently have to divert time and effort to putting out the NEW fires that the District itself sets.

ArchStanton said...

Why are people who enroll their kids in APP, one of the least diverse programs (schools) in the city, usually by private testing, soooo worried about "diversity"? It seems diversity is ohhh so important - for everyone else to embrace. But for themselves..... it's really not a priority or a value.

Sigh. Trotting out the same ol' tired, baseless arguments again?

Valuing gifted education does not preclude valuing diversity.

Valuing diversity does not preclude valuing gifted education.

Enrolling in APP might indicate that a family values meeting their child's need for academic challenge more than they value meeting their child's need for "diversity" - or it might indicate that a family feels that they can meet their child's need for "diversity" outside of public schools better than they can meet their child's need for a gifted education outside of public schools.

/Nah, it probably just indicates they're elitist, racists seeking to hothouse their precious darlings away from undesirables. Sigh.

Linh-Co said...

In looking at Mirmac's posting of the Pathways to Careers Education Leadership Team powerpoint, I noticed a slide which says 17% of 9th graders complete high school, enter college and complete college on time. Another startling statistic on the same slide - 72% of students entering Seattle Community College District's students require at least one pre-college level class. Am I reading this correctly? And are the numbers cited for Seattle School District's students?

mirmac1 said...

Linh-co,

That was a presentation by Dr. Enfield's management team to update the uber-leaders at City Hall. So, yes, I presume it was intended to present the stats on SPS.

Jan said...

Linh-co: somewhere I read some commentary on those numbers. They are not great, but the author noted that they also include lots of "older" students returning for degrees or programs who have been out of school for years, and have to "retake" some classes (math for instance) to get back up to speed. If you are 50, and you haven't done algebra or trig since you were 16, you might have to retake it in order to tackle pre-calc and calc. I am not positive whether THOSE numbers are "in" the 17% or not -- but nothing on the slide indicated to me that somehow people had factored out non-SPS kids, or returning adults.