Seattle Schools This Week

Monday, April 7th
Seattle Council PTSA General Meeting on Monday April 7th from 7-9pm.
This will be a good one as the Superintendent will be there, along with top staff to answer questions. 
Curriculum and Instruction Meeting from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Agenda

Wednesday, April 9th
 A really long day for some Board members that includes these meetings:

Executive Committee Meeting
from 8:30 am-10 am, Agenda

Oversight Work Session: Teach&Learning Part 1 from 4-5:30 pm.  
This will cover ELL/International programs and Special Education.  There is no mistaking that this is NOT enough time to go over a program and its issues AND allow Board members to ask questions.  It's a very frustrating experience to see this process continuing on.  

Presentation: ELL/International programs.  To note: under Threat/Risks: Clear shared vision and mission that is concrete for all SPS staff  - well that's not good.

I reviewed the presentation and it says almost nothing on International Programs. 

Page 10 and 11 have charts of ELL student progress that are very unclear.  I hope someone on the Board calls this out.  The middle school chart of gains is somewhat alarming as six of the schools reflect losses from 2011-12 to 2012013.  It's worse for high school (although the World School had outstanding gains).

Also to note is that apparently the district is out of compliance with the State with ELL identification and services for migrant students.

Update on ELL: I found an information sheet (from a past ELL presentation) that said that they were not collecting demographic data like:
  • student's level of education in native country
  • student's native language proficiency
  • student's proficiency in content areas such as math
  • student with interrupted formal education (SIFE)
All items worthy of consideration.

Presentation: Special Education

Work Session:Washington Schools Risk Management Pool from 5:30-6:30 pm
Presentation not available.

Work Session: Budget from 6:30-8:00 pm
Presentation not available.

Thursday, April 10
Operations Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm, agenda not yet available.

Audit & Finance Committee Meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm, agenda not yet available.

Friday, April 11th
BEX Oversight Committee Meeting from 8:30 am-10:30 am

To note from the Feb. minutes: Nova and World School are to stay at Meany for another year.  The minutes say: The initial cost of the delay negotiated down to was $82k.  I'm a bit confused if $82K is for this year's delay and if there are further costs in keeping Nova and World School at Meany another year.  As well, Olympic Hills is to get a health clinic. 

Saturday, April 12
Community Meeting with Director Carr from 8:30 am to 10 am at Bethany Community Church

Community Meeting with Director Martin-Morris from 11am to 1 pm at the Montlake Branch Library


mirmac1 said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said…
I understand there will be another session just on sped on 4/30
Charlie Mas said…
That budget for International Education on slide #17 doesn't look right. It shows total spending of $573,056 on International Education, but we know that the Board just approved $400,000 for IAs at McDonald and $450,000 for IAs at JSIS. Why aren't these amounts counted as part of the cost of International Education?

What other costs are they hiding? Costs associated with IB, for example.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, I don't think those McD and JSIS costs would count as district spending. Those represent the money to be raised by the schools through their annual funds.

Anonymous said…
Although they SHOULD be counted as part of the cost of that model, regardless of whether it's district spending. Then again, the same goes for all the other staff positions funded by school PTSAs, the supplies provided by PTSAs, the training funded by PTSAs, etc.

HIMS mom is right, Charlie. Those are considered grants. She's also right that the amount of money that PTAs pour into direct school costs should be counted.
Anonymous said…
Re the SPED Presentation for this week's work session, here are a few points of context for the SWOT analysis.

First, the work of the Dept to my mind takes place against a backdrop where our students with disabilities are consistently not recognized as first class citizens and general education students first. This leads to failures to account for our students’ use of general education funding, failure to provide our students to access to the full range of educational, enrichment, and extracurricular opportunities afforded others as required by IDEA, and failure to receive education in the least restrictive setting, maximizing access to non-disabled peers. Further, it leads to a culture where the rights of and obligations to students with disabilities are easy to overlook.

Second, the District is clearly not, in my opinion, prioritizing improvements our students' citizenship and equity. We found out recently for instance that in spite of the federal investigation of discipline disproportionality of students of color in the District and in spite of hard evidence presented to the District by SEAAC that the rate of disproportionality is even higher for students with special needs, which clearly signifies discrimination, the District is not tracking this important data. It is still floating around the system as raw data from last year and nobody is monitoring it this year in real time. In a District where getting it right for SPED will hopefully go beyond how many IEPs get done on time, I would think that this, a true clear indicator of discrimination, would be diligently monitored.

I understand that a SWOT analysis at a rushed SPED work session is not going to be driving home difficult points like these. But you have to wonder, what is the Board's working context for what's being presented.

Anonymous said…
"the same goes for all the other staff positions funded by school PTSAs, the supplies provided by PTSAs, the training funded by PTSAs, etc."

This certainly links to concerns about equity raised on the other thread. But I know I'm stating the obvious.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Correction, Melissa - the first work session on Wednesday is 4-5:30. Though I still don't think that is enough time.

Just sayin'
Anonymous said…
I knew about the special education compliance issues, but I had no idea about the problems with ELL or the migrant program. Anyone have more information about what is going on? What sort of non-compliance and how serious is it?

Some of those drops look pretty significant -- how can that happen in such a short time? Was the program understaffed?

Charlie Mas said…
Does the District think that the Dearborn Park community is going to raise $400,000 for IAs at that program?

Where are the grants for IAs at Highland Park and Beacon Hill?
kellie said…
Nova is going to be delayed by a full year. That is incredible. I wonder what it is going to take before BEX IV gets reevaluated from the top.

I can understand why staff would be reluctant about re-examine the whole thing. None of the other BEX's needed to be seriously adjusted mid-course but this one is different

During BEX I, II and III, enrollment was controlled centrally and as such, the district could make enrollment adjustment based on the needs of construction. However, with the geographic based assignment system, the district can no longer control enrollment centrally.

BEX IV is being implemented in an enrollment environment that is shifting each year and each delay has ripple effect throughout the entire system.

I do think that BEX IV had really great bones in the plan. But things have changed significantly and many of the planning assumptions have changed dramatically. We have already added 4 more buildings than the original plan called for. What will it take to get the whole BEX reviewed from the planning assumptions?
Charlie, Director Blanford asked that question. Those schools don't have to raise that money because they use Title One funds (they would get anyway)to fund those IAs.

It's quite the disparity and the Board knows very well the District starts programs they cannot afford. As well, the Work Session on ELL/Int'l programs cites opening even more of them. C'mon.

Kellie, that all needs to be daylighted.
mirmac1 said…
Blanford asked that question? And his child goes to Beacon Hill? He is not that naive? Is he?

I'll say it again. The reason Dearborn Park and BH don't require grants is because they fund IAs that are funded to serve the ELL students enrolled there. IAs are funded to help these students catch up or stay at grade-level while learning a new language: English. Not Mandarin, Not Spanish, but English. This was DeBell and Carr thinking "out of the box". Let's "leverage" this great fount of money to fund our pet project "International" education.

For one thing ALL education should be international, not just a select few schools. Again, it looks different at every school carrying that label. Denny and Sealth are "international" schools, but they are not "dual-immersion".

The data I've seen to support LI or DI in our district is of a very small subset (N=11) or some other tenuous correlation. Our district should stick to the knitting without creating more pockets of privilege or exploitation (of ELL student funding).
Anonymous said…
Tragic that ELL scores seem to be tanking while their IAs are being used in some places to help native English speakers learn another language (against the law, as Mirmac thankfully reminds us).

There was a move a few years back to match IAs with students from different home languages. That meant that ELL students were hearing English from a non-English speaker with an accent. Not impossible, but the IAs were ticked because it defied common sense. Mostly, it was wrong because IAs could not translate when needed or use their bond with student/families to the maximum--even when students in the same building spoke the IAs language but were getting serviced by a different language speaker! It was someone "downtown" who had this idea.

They also were into the "inclusion model" which meant that ELL teachers could conceivably help non-ELL students in the classroom, too! Isn't that special! More "leverage" (AKA illegal in many cases).

When the spirit of the law is not followed, you have poor results. When the law is broken and it's flaunted, you lose a whole group of students.

--enough already
Charlie Mas said…
Title I money spent on language immersion IAs is Title I money taken away from some other effort.

What is that other effort and what will be done to replace that support?
Charlie Mas said…
I notice that none of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for these programs speak to the purpose of the programs. Weird, huh? Instead they speak to compliance or to keeping pace with the arbitrary timetable for a District plan.

This is where we are supposed to see the responses to the requirements of the Program Evaluation policy.

"The Superintendent shall prepare an annual report which reflects the degree to which district goals and objectives related to the instructional program have been accomplished."
Anonymous said…
Are you asking what challenges Title One students have, Charlie? Or I am misreading this question?
The "effort" is trying to make up for the highly documented and profound effects of poverty on children, which Title One funds don't even come close to doing.

What will be done to replace that support? Maybe the feds will have to step in to replace "redirect" the district, since Title One is a federal program that exists because you can't count on districts or even states to take care of children in poverty.

Again, I'm really hopeful that I have misunderstood these questions.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Mirmac, can you please provide a link to wherever you've found that the district's use of ELL funding for IAs is illegal? I understand that you and others are convinced that this is the case, so it would be very helpful to understand exactly which regulations are being broken. I've been looking into the matter myself, and while I understand why it doesn't feel right to use ELL money for non-English IAs, I haven't been able to find anything that says this is not allowable. Rather, I see a lot of flexibility in the requirements, including the ability to use different delivery models and create schoolwide programs. While I am not at all a supporter of the inefficient and ineffective way in which SPS delivers immersion programs, I can see how the delivery model meets the intent of the federal program. If you can point me to specific federal regs or guidance or other that clarifies that SPS is misusing funds, I'd be very interested in seeing that.

In the meantime, here are a few nuggets from the feds:

"Title III subgrantees are required to use Title III funds to support (1) high-quality professional development designed to improve services to LEP students, and (2) high-quality language instruction educational programs that are designed to increase the English proficiency and academic achievement of LEP students. Title III does not require subgrantees to use a specific or particular curriculum or approach to language instruction, except that the language instruction must be, as required in section 3113(b)(6) of the ESEA, tied to scientifically based research on teaching LEP students and demonstrated to be effective."

States must develop annual measurable achievement objectives for LEP students that measure their success in achieving English language proficiency and meeting challenging state academic content and achievement standards. Schools use the funds to implement language instruction educational programs designed to help LEP students achieve these standards. Approaches and methodologies used must be based on scientifically based research. LEAs may develop and implement new language instruction programs and expand or enhance existing programs. LEAs also may implement schoolwide programs within individual schools or implement systemwide programs to restructure, reform, or upgrade all programs, activities, or operations related to the education of their LEP students."

Two-way immersion is considered an effective and acceptable model, and it teaches both the English component as well as the other academic subjects. School-wide programs for delivering ELL services seem are fine, too--the services don't have to be solely provided to the LEP students. There are also restriction on using the federal money to replace core funding that would otherwise be required (supplement, not supplant), and the use funding for immersion IAs doesn't seem to violate that--if immersion wasn't used as the ELL program delivery model, the IAs wouldn't be needed.

It sounds like I may be missing something re: the requirements (or restrictions on use of funds), so I would very much appreciate you pointing me in the right direction if that's truly the case.

Oh, and we're talking about Title III funds, not Title I as posters above have mentioned, right?

Anonymous said…
I assume the other you were referring to is me, so I'll respond.

The intent of the law is to help the students who are at-risk. The intent behind the creation of these programs in question is to help English speakers learn a new language.

The "spirit" of the law is often hard to enforce when clever districts try to use the money for what is wasn't intended for. For example, Wright's Law makes it clear that schools should not cluster students with IEPs into one classroom because simply because it's easier for administration, but it happens all the time and districts usually get away with it.

Using IAs with the expressed intention of helping keep costs down for a program that was created with the main purpose of other students' needs besides the ELL students in mind does go against the spirit and intention of the law, which carries legal weight in these cases.

Proving it is another matter. Morality should be enough to prove it--that, plus the apparent abysmal results for our ELL students.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Although based on 2012-13 school data reports, Beacon Hill and Concord ELL students do better than the district average in both reading and math. That could be interpreted to mean the immersion approach is actually more effective than the "more moral" approach used in other SPS schools, no?

Also to note, both those schools have a high percentage of ELL students (42% Concord, 45% Beacon Hill), and even higher percentages of minority students (who may be fluent in English and another language, so to the extent that SPS placed immersion programs there for the benefit of English speakers they really minimized their target audience. I know this is SPS we're talking about--and motives are always suspect--but is it possible the immersion programs were placed there to benefit the ELL communities as well? I'm not familiar with the history on these placement decisions.

Anonymous said…
Thanks for trying enough already. What is and what people like it to be is useful to justify their actions and sleep well at night. And why not? Even RC has brought back indulgence.


mirmac1 said…
Bulletin No. 058-11 - Title III—English Language Acquisition Guidance 2011–12

Supplement, Not Supplant Section 3115(g)
Required activities under Title III are to provide high-quality language instruction educational programs and high-quality professional development that are scientifically- based and focused on providing the supports ELLs require to develop English language proficiency and achieve in the academic content areas. However, Title III funds must be used to supplement (and not supplant) the level of federal, state, and local funds that in the absence of Title III funds would have been expended for programs for ELLs and immigrant children and youth. All expenditures related to services, activities, and material must be specific to the English language development of ELLs.

Title III, Part A
Section 3115 of ESEA
 LEAs must use Title III State Formula Grant funds for two required activities:
o High-quality language instruction educational programs (for English, comment added); and
o Sustained professional development activities to teachers of LEP students and other educational personnel supporting the education of LEP students.
 LEAs must utilize Title III immigrant children and youth grant funds for specific activities to serve this population, as outlined in section 3115(e).

Like special education funding, funds for ELL students are intended to be in addition to other funds allocated them for their benefit. Not misdirected, not another slush fund for administrators. Furthermore GAAP require that costs be charged to the appropriate grant for the purposes in the grant application (Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) Circular A-87)
Anonymous said…
Thank you, mirmac1. That is exactly what I was looking for but had been unable to find. I appreciate you providing the information in a straightforward manner, and not in the form of another attack. People here can be so self-righteous in their indignation, quick to attack anyone who doesn't blindly jump on their bandwagon before trying to really understand an issue.

mirmac1 said…
Well HIMSMom, I must be off my game : )

Thanks for asking for the info.

Enough already and I agree on many things. I do see this as an equity and moral issue. Program placement was strategic, as expressed in Audit & Finance meetings by the inimitable DeBell. The district will have to learn its lesson, as it did when OSPI and the SAO smacked its hand re: SpEd. Until then, they're scofflaws.

It bugs the heck outa me.

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