Seattle Schools Updates

In contrast to what is happening for Graham Hill and South Shore, here's the principal process that Wedgwood had (as reported on their webpage):

Wedgwood is getting a new Principal. This is a really exciting time for us. The goal is to hire a new Principal that best meets the unique needs of our kids and our school. The Wedgwood BLT (Building Leadership Team, comprised of five elected staff members representing all grade levels and the PTA President) met with Kim Whitworth, Executive Director of Schools for the Northeast region recently to discuss the hiring process. Wedgwood’s hiring committee, limited to 10 people, will consist of the BLT (6 people), three additional Wedgwood staff (for diversity of position) as well as our newly elected PTA VP Davina Inslee.

The District is currently working to recruit a pool of principals for Wedgwood and other schools. These candidates will go through an initial vetting process, then Wedgwood will be given six potential principals to interview. The interviews will be conducted on May 31 with questions that incorporate information gleaned from the “important qualities in a principal” survey distributed to all parents last week. Based on these interviews, top candidate names will be forwarded to the Superintendent of SPS for consideration and selection. Ultimately, principal hiring is at the discretion of the Superintendent of SPS. Hopefully a new Principal will be named in by mid-June.

From SPS Communications about the math adoption:
A new math resource is on its way to K-5 classrooms this fall in Seattle Public Schools after the School Board approved Math in Focus, a teaching tool that uses graphic models to help students think mathematically.
Math in Focus for Grade 3
math in focus for Grade 3
The program is considered excellent for language learners but also for all students in the general population.

“I really would have benefited from this when I was a kid,” said Dan Golosman, the principal at McDonald International School, which has been using Math in Focus this year because it dovetails with the school’s language immersion program.

The Elementary Math Adoption Committee – a group of math teachers, parents and other volunteers who spent many hours this spring studying potential resources to replace the District’s current program, Everyday Math – recommended Math in Focus as one of the top three resources. The School Board selected Math in Focus during its June 4 meeting. 

Math in Focus, which uses the Singapore method of teaching math, takes an approach called “bar modeling” as the primary strategy to visually depict problems. Students learn early how to draw these models, and they continue to use them to show their thinking as problems become more complex. 

About Head Start and SPS, yes, there is an item on the agenda for the School Board meeting on Wednesday.   SPS is increasing the number of slots at Emerson for an overall total of 430 half-day slots.   I'll have to ask the Superintendent how he views Head Start versus what the City wants to do. 


Samantha said…
Burgess wants to mix Head Start dollars and city dollars to fund pre-K. I suspect the city would have control of 430 preschool classrooms.

I'm not confident the city would reimburse the district's embedded costs around HR, heating, technology, data etc.
Anonymous said…
Why all the principal shuffling? It is worse than the Methodist Church who move their pastors commonly every two years.

And definitely BS as far as equitable treatment of school communities. Why do some get whatever is assigned to them and others get to have a process?

Note that Wedgewood's BLT has the PTA pres as a member. TOPS and John Stanford both have really detailed BLT bylaws and more extensive community involvement than that. We also need rules around BLTs.

Ann D
Anonymous said…
TOPS BLT in example:

Ann D
Anonymous said…
This is the first public announcement about the BLT that I have heard in 3 years from Wedgwood. I did not even know what the makeup of it was until now. I have never found Wedgwood to be a particularly forthcoming school when it comes to decision making. I hope it changes with the selection of a new principal, because our family has never felt particularly informed or welcomed there. It has been so different than our preschool community.

Charlie Mas said…
The inequity in principal assignments is becoming noticed more and more. The Board needs to do something about it.

The Board only needs a policy that directs the superintendent to establish a procedure. That's all. All he has to do is describe his process.

Of course, that's all the Board required the superintendent to do about program placement, and it still hasn't been done.

What is the shameful secret here? What is so horrible that they can't say it out loud?
Anonymous said…
Yesterday our Assistant Principal at Blaine--Doug Oullette--announced that he will be the new principal at Wedgewood. Blaine is losing both its Principal and Assistant Principal at the same time.

-Shuffle Kerfluffle
BLTs Matter said…
I think most parents underestimate the potential importance of the BLT at their school, IF they even realize that it exists. In the "decision-making matrix" our BLT (elementary level) has a hand in:

Approving the CSIP
Budget allocation
Professional development foci
Family engagement
School-wide events
Strategic plan
Staff handbook
Curriculum adoption
Fundraising and Grants
Master Scheduling

Adequate and appropriate parent involvement is CRUCIAL if you want your school to have true community input on some of the most significant decisions regarding school operations.

Unfortunately, I know (because our old school was set up this way) that many parent reps on BLTs are appointed by the principal. This is to ensure a nice rubber-stamping atmosphere rather than having to deal with those pesky parents who insist on true community engagement.

Our current school has a system through which the 2 BLT members are elected by the PTA membership in overlapping two year terms. Ideally, one parent rep for K-2 and one rep from 3-5. The overlap ensures that there is always someone familiar with the process on the committee. The BLT reports out (and asks for input) at every monthly PTA meeting, has coffee chats to hear community concerns, and has a dedicated PTA email address.

Do you know how your BLT operates? If not, I suggest that you ask and, if necessary, demand that the structure be transparent and have TRUE parent representation.

Yeah, it kind of IS that important...
Grateful said…
BLTs are wonderful. I am assured, on a monthly basis, that our teachers and principal are committed individuals working to improve the lives of our children.
Anonymous said…
On the math press release, as I understand it bar modelling is just a tool that is used on the way to developing understanding along the way with Singapore Math. It isn't the totality of the approach which is oriented towards a deeper numbers sense and logical progression of skills development.


Ann D
Anonymous said…

Local personality Cliff Mass just got this published:

Now that we have won a great K-5 curriculum, we must now address the next battle.

MIF will not by itself lead to better outcomes for our kids. We need the teachers to actually learn more math. They can't teach it if they don't know it. Washington's K-8 teacher certification standards set a low bar for math knowledge, and many, probably a large majority of K-8 math teachers in WA, have insufficient math content knowledge.

So now what is imperative is that the school district establish a high quality professional development program. The program must teach math content (like how to add two fractions of dissimilar denominators, and the conceptual reasons why the procedures work). If the professional development is not designed for the core purpose of raising the level of math achievement of our K=5 teaching corps, then we will not see any improvement in K-5 math scores flowing from the implementation of Math In Focus.

My teacher friends and co-advocates for high quality math curricula tell me that the typical professional development provided by the district is heavy on constructivist pedagogy, and pretty much absent math content.

So here is how parents can help now: copy or paraphrase one or more of any statements below with which you are in agreement, and send to your principal AND school directors. It is very helpful if you cc the school board. You can cc individual directors (Peter, McClaren, Patu, and Peaslee, in particular) or cc the full board at

Thank you for taking time to do this chore. It may well help to bring about better outcomes for all our kids across Seattle, and put tutors like me and companies like Kumon and Sylvan Learning out of business! .

Anonymous said…

1. Write to your k-5 principal, and let them know how happy you are about the new adoption, and that your are looking forward to seeing it implemented.

2. Write to the school board, and tell them how important it is that the professional development program emphasizes the teaching of MATH CONTENT, rather than "pedagogy" and rather than how to access the bells and whistles of MIF. The PD needs to be designed to RAISE THE MATH ACHIEVEMENT of our teaching corps.

3. Write to your middle school principal, and tell them you hope that CMP is soon replaced with the grades 6-8 of Math in Focus or with JUMP, and that s/he will support that adoption when the 6-8 adoption process is underway

4. Tell the board that you want the team of district math coaches, and one lead math teacher from each K-5/K-8 school building to take 10 to 15 days of training from Richard Bisk (or from some other expert in teaching math content to teachers). Dr. Bisk has evidence that his 15-day program is sufficient to raise the level of math achievement of even math phobic teachers to such a level that they can become effective teachers of math. My perception is that our district's math coaching core is pro-constructivist and anti-direct instruction. These coaches are supposed to work with classroom teachers to help them become better math teachers. If we get at least these people to take the courses that raises their math content knowledge to the level of at least pre-algebra, then they might be more "constructive," and help to cause a better more effective implementation of Math In Focus, with results that will show up in student test scores

5. Tell the Board that - unless the math coaches are willing to take a course similar to Dr. Bisk's -- you want the math coaches replaced with people that can score at least at the Algebra level on the COMPASS test. The COMPASS test is the placement test for community college courses. All new entrants to the state's community colleges must take this test. You could even suggest that the Board write a policy that sets reasonable minimum qualifications for math coaches.

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