Disqus

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Seattle Schools This Week

 Updated for Thursday the 22nd - see below for details of Charter Commission meeting and Audit and Finance Committee meeting.

One update before I start.  When I check the agendas for various District meetings, I generally only check once for committee meetings.  I check more often for Board meetings because (1) things change quickly and (2) there is notification embedded in those Board agendas to alert me to changes.

Sadly, this did not happen for the Operations Committee meeting last Thursday.  When I put up last week's list of meetings, the agenda for that meeting was available and I duly noted important items.  But then I find out that they added an item that several of us had been asking for and yet didn't show the agenda to be amended.

It's sad to continually ask the district to be transparent.  Unless, of course, you don't want people to know what you are discussing and when. 

This particular agenda item was about student data privacy.  That's going to be a big push from me in coming days (as it is for other parents).

Monday, August 19th
No meeting but if you want to sign up to speak at the School Board meeting this Wednesday, call first thing at 252-0040 or e-mail, boardagenda@seattleschools.org. 

To note, the Superintendent has pulled the Horace Mann building contract OFF the agenda.

Wednesday, August 21st
School Board meeting, 4:15 JSCEE auditorium.  Agenda 
(To note on the agenda: the Executive Committee, in its meeting last week, has decided to try to organize the agenda in more useful fashion.  They are going to put most contracts, especially capital ones up for action, on the Consent Agenda.  Those are not gone through as they would be regular Action items and are voted on as a whole.  This has up and downsides but the Board is going to try this.  As well, they are trying to put "like" items together for Intro/Action. Meaning, grouping policies work, contracts, etc.)

Items of interest:
 - hey, look at that, it's Highly Capable Grant.  If you are in AL (or just interested), a wealth of info on the program.  There does seem to be one factual error - in one chart it says that APP is just 1-5 and in another section it says it is 1-8.  
- one TFAer coming on-board.  This doesn't concern me all this much as TFA is doing dismally, both in SPS and the entire Puget Sound Region.  And, with the new Seattle Teacher Residency program coming on in SPS, I believe the Board will wisely end this contract.  What would be the point of the cost and use of two teacher programs?
- But speaking of the Seattle Teacher Residency, it's on the agenda - an Action item - and it should be withdrawn.  Why?  Well, this issue of budget is one reason:

We are currently in the process of finalizing the program design for 2013-2014 and beyond. In September 2013, we will be bringing the Board a finalized 5 year program budget and anticipated fiscal impact for 2014 –2018.

What Board in their right mind says okay to a new program that is hugely involved for their district and will come at an on-going high price to a district without seeing a budget?  I hope it isn't the Seattle School Board.  This can wait another month until everyone gets to see a budget.

- Intro of an item to support Rainier Beach High School by SEI.  Do I know what SEI stands for?  I don't and apparently neither does the writer of this particular Action item.

What's interesting about this particular item is that it won't cost the district any money...allegedly.  The spending will be $400k a year but it will be funded by outside funders.  Who are they? Unknown.  I was sitting in the C&I meeting where all the directors present said they needed to have this information by Intro.  It's not there and it says:

"Upon approval of this motion, SEI North will finalize its fundraising efforts with private sources
and commence the hiring required to implement this program."

That's NOT what the directors asked for and I'll be interested to see if they put their foot down and say No.  As they should.  They have no business approving something that might put the district on the financial hook.

To note: there will be an Executive Session immediately following the Board meeting so there will be no time to talk to the Board or Superintendent if you had that in mind.

Thursday, August 22 (UPDATE)
Charter Commission Meeting from 11 am - 6 p.m. in Everett, Everett Community College,
2000 Tower Street, Jackson Conference Center, Wilderness Auditorium - Agenda.  
 

Audit and Finance Committee meeting from 4-6 p.m.  No agenda yet available.

 
Work Session on Teaching and Learning about ELL from 6-7 pm at JSCEE.

6 comments:

Unknown said...

SEI is Self Enhancement Inc www.selfenhancement.org. Acording to its website, "We are Self Enhancement, Inc., a nonprofit organization helping at-risk African-American urban youth realize their potential. In addition to 98% graduation rates, more than 85% of graduates continue on to pursue higher education or occupational training - many being the first in their families to do so. Amazing results, despite the fact that almost all the young people in our program are faced with significant social, academic and economic obstacles."

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, but Mary, that's not your job to explain. It's some on the SPS staff to explain.

Anonymous said...

I suspect I already know the answer to this, but is the evaluation component of the Highly Capable grant application always so weak? And does OSPI ever look at this, or even care?

There are three questions that have to be answered re: evaluation--how they will assess effectiveness of the identification process, effectiveness of the program in meeting the needs of students (which is supposed to include actual indicators and data sources), and cost-effectiveness. SPS's response includes absolutely nothing in the way of evaluation--just more description of process.

I'm also curious as to the basis for the BAR statement that "Best practices recommendations from a review by national experts from the University of Virginia reported to the Board in November 2007 are currently being implemented."
I'm not familiar with changes that may have occurred shortly after that report, but when I look the through the recommended actions in that report it doesn't look to me that most have been addressed. Am I missing something? And assuming I'm not, does the Board actually believe this nonsense, just because it's written in a BAR?

HIMSmom

Charlie Mas said...

HIMSmom,

Your suspicion is correct. The evaluation component of the HC grant application (and the End-of-year report) is always this weak. OSPI doesn't have standards or care.

By "currently being implemented" they mean "have not yet been implemented", so that's true as long as you know the definition of the term.

I have no idea what the Board believes. I suggest you ask them.

joanna said...

I don't have much time and probably do not have great notes regarding the entire report, but I did attend. The discussion regarding the sharing of student data should give everyone pause on many levels. First of course is privacy, but another important one is that the District should be responsible for how data is processed and used and for assessing outcomes and responsible public reporting. Yes, often id numbers are assigned and could eventually be traced to a specific person. One security in terms of bunches that the District reported was that they don't release data with gender, race, age type of data if it contains fewer than ten students, thinking that the number by itself would prevent anyone from being able to attach a record to a specific student by perusing the batch.

One of the reasons given for the private parties needing the data is to demonstrate the effectiveness of their programs. One quickly mentioned solution not delved into further would be for the district to maintain the data and do the study of effectiveness. That seemed like a good idea to me, in that the District should be working with each program to set the goals and to determine what measurements will be used for evaluation. And the District should do the evaluation to ensure quality control. This would also somewhat ensure that the public would be aware of how the public dollars are being spent. I think it is a mistake to let the the private companies do the evaluations anyway. This would also lessen any possible need to share private student data.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Demonstrate the effectiveness of district programs or outside programs the district is using?

I do not trust the District to have adequate controls over the release of information or protecting it. That they can't even count the numbers of Native American students and that we can't even clearly see how capital dollars are spent make me believe the district cannot take care of this issue.

I'll have a long thread on this but I believe the solution is at the state level to allow parents some control over what student data goes out.