Updates from SPS and Around the Sound

The Shoreline School district is currently in lockdown.  A staff member at Meridian Park Elementary reported seeing a man with a gun.

Students on buses currently enroute to school have been rerouted to Spartan Rec Center where parents with ID may pick them up.  The district is asking parents to NOT send their kids to school today. 

Also today, Hoquiam School District, Taholah School District on the Quinalt Reservation, Aberdeen School District and South Bend School district - all of these are closed today because of the landslides and flooding in their area.

Please send out some good karma/prayers for all these districts and their students and staffs.

Parents at Chief Sealth High School have been concerned and actively voicing those concerns for some time now over the IB program there.  They say the participation rate has declined and so has the reputation for the program.

Their main concern is that the district says the program is an option for Advanced Learning BUT it is not funded thru the district but thru private grants.  The parents want to see "a commitment to continue this program under the new Student Assignment Plan in the interest of equity in education." 

Here are some of their concerns:
  • blended honors program in 9th/10th grade not explained to parents and students
  • What is our school’s and the school district’s commitment to the IB program?
  • What funding and financial support is required to maintain the program? How much does the district contribute to the program? How much must CSIHS raise itself? What is the outlook for getting outside funding (if needed) over the next several years? What resources (staff time, expertise, etc.) does CSIHS invest in securing funding?
  • If funding shortfalls for the program are likely (and I'm hoping this is not the case), are there alternatives to an IB program that would be better suited to our school?
  • Are there racial/income disparities in students participating in the IB program? If so, what strategies does CSIHS have in place to increase the number and proportion of students of color and low income students in IB classes?
Apparently there is to be a meeting next week to talk to the school administration about this on-going issue.
A SPS parent/attorney will be providing a 2-day workshop for Special Ed parents at Seattle University School of Law about preparing for a special education due process hearing.

This limited attendance two-day workshop will provide practical guidance to pro se parents on how to prepare for and navigate a special education due process hearing in Washington State. 

The workshop is being held on two consecutive Saturday mornings - January 24 and 31 - from 8:30 am to Noon. Attendance is required for both sessions. Registration is limited to a maximum of 20 non-attorney parents.

Using provided materials, including a hearing notebook and a copy of the Washington State regulations, participants will individually identify a legal issue relevant to their student, draft a statement of the issue and prepare a due process hearing request. Ultimately, they will be able to identify appropriate exhibits and witnesses. By the end of the two-day workshop, participants will have worked through developing their issue, be better able to prepare multiple issues for hearing, and know how to draft their specific due process hearing request and assemble their hearing notebook.

The workshop is interactive and hands on. Participants will be expected to complete "assignments" as preparation for the next steps in the process. Throughout the sessions, there will be discussion about what to expect in the process and practical tips on how to make your case as effective and persuasive as possible.


mirmac1 said…
The CSIHS and RBHS IB programs got thrown a bone by the $48M Road Map project. It was funded for 1 year for an IB coordinator position under Road Map's Project 8 "College and Career Readiness Investment Fund". Then, as is their wont, Road Map and CCER moved on to other shiny things, expecting the district to provide funding.

Someone should do an analysis of how much of that $48M is going for PSESD administrative costs, consultants and other non-educational things versus the short-term experiments they're funding in a few schools.
Anonymous said…
The one year coordinator position at least got the IB program rolling in RBHS where it was needed, and needed an operations boost, because SPS wasn't exactly burning down the barn to get stronger classes in.

SPS should bear the cost of the ongoing program. If it can't figure out how to keep a high expectations course thriving in an area of town that wants and needs that challenge, that's on SPS, not Road Map.

As Mirmac has no involvement in Road Map the criticism of a program working every day to offer more students with challenges more academic opportunities is just misguided and borderline pissy hot air from a sideline sitter.

RM fan
I think both of you are right.

There ARE good things going on with Road Map but yes, how much of the money is going to direct services. Also, I would love to see the parent release form for data on students. I'd be willing to bet it does not clearly explain (nor is it verbally explained) what data is being gathered and who gets it.

As for Mirmac1 being a "sideline sitter," you must have her mistaken for someone else. She is a very active parent and activist.
mirmac1 said…
RM would do better to develop sustainable funding streams for these short term experiments. What's pissy about stating the truth about their approach - provide start up funds for experiments meanwhile collect reams of student data; fund a portion of the Seattle Teacher Residency, only to leave SPS holding the $1.2M bag a few years from now; leave CSIHS and RBHS scrambling to find someone to maintain/grow their IB programs. SPS needs no help from RMP to start things then drop 'em and the students in them. To me, Road Map is our own local discredited Race To The Top. It pays people to drum up the RMP so I'm sure there are some fans. Obviously I'm not one and I'll get pissy when they abandon good things or push dumb ones.
I forgot to say that the district has a terrible record of advancing programs that they don't have the resources to support.

This needy dependency on parents is wrong and unfair. But as long parents and the PTSA endorse it, well, it will continue.
Anonymous said…
Is there supposed to be a connection between IB schools and the District's intent around the K-12 tracks for international schools? Neither seem supported.

And perhaps connected to that, with Lincoln opening will that then become an IB school given JSIS, McDonald and Hamilton are in that geographic area?

Eric B said…
Confused, IB doesn't necessarily have to track to international schools. It does have a foreign language requirement, so you definitely need up to at least 4 in two or three world languages to make the system work.

One other challenge of IB is that it is very expensive. Ingraham is up to $150K or so in IB costs that aren't directly funded by SPS. That money comes out of other possible services at the school.
Eric B said…
That should be level 4 (French 4, Spanish 4, etc.) in several languages. Tried to get too cute with brackets.
Anonymous said…
So, further confusion - is there a programmatic difference between an "international" middle school like Hamilton and say, Eckstein, other than one has international in its school name? What's significantly international about Hamilton that isn't at Eckstein or other non-international middle schools? We know that it isn't any continuing immersion teaching for the students from the international elementary schools.

Anonymous said…
@ curious, HIMS does currently have "immersion" language classes for kids coming from immersion elementary schools (as well as a few others who test in). It's not a full immersion program, but the world language class is different--designed to backfill some of the gaps that kids have when coming from immersion, while also continuing their advancement in the spoken language. They need a different approach than those just starting a new language.

HIMS also makes world language classes available for all three years. I believe Eckstein, and other middle schools, typically don't allow students to start a foreign language until 7th grade. As a result, many students coming out of HIMS are ready for a higher level world language class in high school.

Finally, the "international perspective" is also supposed to be infused into the school overall. That's been a bit of a challenge in practice, but there are things like the International Arts class. New efforts to strengthen this component last year included having all the 8th graders read the same book, set in Seattle's Int'l District, then taking a fieldtrip there together. So the international perspective isn't strong (especially given the relative lack of diversity in the school), but they're working on it.

Anonymous said…
I think the main difference is some have an "I" inserted in the name (e.g. JSIS, CSIHS, HIMS) etc.

Anonymous said…
To be clear, I'm not suggesting SPS's international education programs do what they are supposed to do. According to SPS materials, the components of int'l ed in SPS are:
 Global Perspective
 World Languages
 Cultural/Global Competency

Yes, they do world languages. But bullets 1 and 3 are poorly defined, and seem to be weakly implemented. One out of three ain't great.

The rest of what's on the district's int'l ed web page is a joke--basic concepts, that are by no means specific to int'l ed. They should apply to all schools. Things like investigate the world! Take action! Communicate ideas! It makes a pretty graphic, but doesn't seem to actually mean anything.

Robert said…
What was the result of the transportation service standards action?
mirmac1 said…
Yes, it's a joke. But it was DeBell's joke. Who cares if SpEd and AL is stagnating, let's appear like our cash-starved, overburdened district is "cutting edge" to impress Gates and friends. In fact, let's think outside the box and "leverage" ELL funding and resources to prop up dual-immersion and so-called international schools.

BTW, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued an extensive guidance document of, as they put it, districts' obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. They were kind enough to actually offer it in translated versions as well.











Notably, they talk about providing EL students with Language Assistance Programs, staffing and supporting programs, and providing meaningful access to all curricular and extracurricular programs, including access to advanced programs. Oddly enough, there's no mention of a district's obligation to provide foreign language assistance or "international" programs to English language speakers.

Finally, the guidance document also states the Fed will evaluate the effectiveness of EL programs by measuring results that indicate that sutdents' language barriers are actually being overcome. The only meager evidence that was ever presented to the Board (years ago) was that, from an n<30, ELL students showed gains in math. This is not earthshaking giving the lower ratios provided by the infusion of PTSA or Fed Title I/EL funding and the language light Singapore math curriculum. How about when reading and writing progress is measured? BTW that n was from Beacon Hill Elementary.
Anonymous said…
Oh Mirmac, your rail against language immersion is so antiquated. American students who aren't bilingual in the 21st Century will be at a disadvantage within our own country let alone when working and traveling elsewhere. Or attempting to understand other cultures from the Internet connection on our own soil. God forbid we make dual language competency a core goal for our students. Here's news for you: Dual language isn't cutting edge. It certainly isn't about Gates. It's called keeping up with 21st Century expectations. Kids need this. Parents expect districts with some degree of competency to offer this. It's about quality and if DeBell pushed it, more power to him.

Dual-language Cert

Dual-Language, Mirmac didn't say she was against dual-language. She's against using ELL funds to prop it up. She's right.
Anonymous said…
Actually, you are both incorrect. ELL students are to be given to the greatest extent possible the same access to academic opportunities as non-ELL students. That includes IB, Advanced Placement, magnet programs and the like. Well crafted language immersion schools, known as International Schools in other countries are excellent examples of offering equal not to mention advanced learning opportunities to native and non-native speakers within a non-segregated facility.

Current SPS International Schools are not acceptable examples of what I am describing. But ELL students and staff can and do thrive in other states' and other countries' International Schools. All students and staff can benefit from these arrangements. This is not called "using ELL funds to prop it up". It is called "effective use of resources."

The main reason it doesn't happen in SPS is its history of poor program planning. It is impossible to budget and staff and enroll without professional long-term planning.

Dual-language Cert
Anonymous said…
"The main reason it doesn't happen in SPS is its history of poor program planning."

Actually, the main reason it isn't working in Seattle is because the schools were created to teach a second language to native English speakers. If the planning had also truly involved meeting the needs of the ELL speakers then there would have been a completely different outcome.

Lecturing an ESL person like Mirmac about language immersion isn't very credible to me, BTW.

--enough already
mirmac1 said…
By all means, make ALL schools language immersion international schools then. And fund them properly.
mirmac1 said…
This made national news! I say give this young man a great education so he can go to a great college, then the NBA.

Chief Sealth Seahawks BB slam dunk!
Anonymous said…
What's significantly international about Hamilton?

Nothing anymore other than a couple of assemblies every year, sometimes an elective art or music elective does something w/ an international flare.

All the international aspects ended when the immersion program was ended shortly after APP moved in (no dig against APP, mine attended as APP students). It was just that the school couldn't handle all the various programs it was tasked with and immersion suffered as a consequence.

Anonymous said…
Language immersion, international schools, and ELL are three completely separate things. They are related, yes--but unfortunately they are not as interchangeable as SPS seems to like to think they are. Simply offering language immersion does not make a school an international school--you need to provide a rich, global curriculum to back it up.

Similarly, LI and/or international education is/are not always necessarily the best approach to serving ELLs. Language immersion can be effective if done right--that's why it's an allowed use of federal ELL funds, which do not require specific models. But it's not necessarily the best approach.

The overarching problem is that SPS often does not do things right. At the elementary level, we have a lot of inequity in the percentage of ELL students at our immersion schools, which impacts the ability to provide "dual immersion," and it sounds like there may not be effective ELL supports for students who need it. From personal experience, the north-end LI model is overly expensive and of limited effectiveness compared to other LI models we've experienced. But SPS seems to be stuck on this model anyway.

At the middle school level, it seems to primarily be about providing increased access to world language classes. This includes ability to start a language earlier than at other middle schools, as well as special language classes for kids coming from immersion programs. As several posters have noted, there isn't much meat to the "international education" piece in practice. And not all students end up taking a foreign language.

At high school, we see IB programs that seem to lack the full support of the district, even when there are increased costs (always) or increased complexity (IBX). There's also little vertical alignment between what the "international" middle schools and the high schools re: world languages.

Language immersion can be great, as can international education. Meeting the needs of ELLs is also crucial. But you have to do them well, and thoughtfully, and you have to step back and see if they are actually working. If not, it's time to adjust. The district's refusal to engage in meaningful program evaluation is really at the heart of the problem here.

Anonymous said…
Wasn't ELL a tie breaker for enrolling in JSIS when it was a neighborhood school?

mirmac1 said…
Quite likely Westside. That was DeBell's thinking outside the box. So what if use of ELL-funded IAs for anything other than ELL student support is against the law.
Anonymous said…
@mirmac1, I believe 2-way or dual immersion, as a program model, is considered an EL service. Is this incorrect?

It was even included in this US Dept of Ed Title III evaluation results doc.

I'm not saying SPS is necessarily doing the right thing--just that if the LI model is an allowable ELL program delivery model, it would theoretically also be a reasonable use of funds.

I seem to recall that you once posted some more specific info re: what's allowable or not, but I can't find it. If you would be so kind as to do so again, that would be helpful. It's hard to find the info that confirms your assertion that the current practice is illegal, but it would certainly be good to have if that's the case.

mirmac1 said…
You point to the results of a study of service delivery. The guidance document notes:

When evaluating the Effectiveness of a District’s EL Program
* EL programs must be reasonably calculated to enable EL students to attain English proficiency and meaningful participation in the standard educational program comparable to their never-EL peers.
*School districts must monitor and compare, over time, the academic performance of EL students in the program and those who exited the program, relative to that of their never-EL peers.
*School districts must evaluate EL programs over time using accurate data to assess the educational performance of current and former EL students in a comprehensive and reliable way, and must timely modify their programs when needed.

Key is whether EL students are acquiring English proficiency. I have yet to see any analysis on this. English proficiency is what the funding is for.

SPS is still out of compliance in OSPI's last Consolidated Program Review. Here are just a few items:

The district has a strong professional development plan. We recommend that the district continue its efforts to embed ELL strategies and the English Language Proficiency Standards within all district trainings to increase its reach to all teachers who serve ELLs. Ensure that school administrators understand the purpose of TBIP and Title III funding and that ELL staff support must focus on language acquisition.

Submit an action plan for: 1. collecting input from general
education teachers and parents of ELLs for ELL program planning and evaluation. 2. summarizing their recommendations to inform the development of the Title III

Submit an action plan for providing TBIP-funded services to
eligible exited students who need assistance in reaching grade-level performance in academic subjects, based on student needs.
Anonymous said…
English proficiency is what the funding is for.

Again, Mirmac is not fully correct.

Again, EL funds are notsolely for English language learning. They are also for access to and support of ELL student learning in a district's general and special programs.

This is why two-way language immersion schools can and do legally and ethically use EL funds. Those funds do not have to be solely used for English language learning.

Mirmac has a long history on this blog of denigrating the idea of language immersion schools. I'm in agreement that SPS has poor implementation and sustainability LI models, but that does not mean the schools should not exist and does not mean that EL funds cannot be used within them, if the program is run with an eye to ELL as well as English speaker academic progress.

Dual-language Cert

Anonymous said…
Thanks, mirmac1.

The first three bullets you provided, though--re: evaluating EL program effectiveness--don't specify English proficiency solely. The first bullet lists both Eng prog and the standard ed program, and bullets 2&3 refer to general "academic" or "educational performance." So it seems to me it's both, which is probably why dual immersion is considered an acceptable model.

Re: where the funding specifically goes, though, the OSPI Consolidated Program Review notes are helpful. The key piece in what you cited seems to be "Ensure that school administrators understand the purpose of TBIP and Title III funding and that ELL staff support must focus on language acquisition." That could easily--and should probably?--be interpreted to mean that any ELL money spent on TAs should go toward helping kids on the English side, not the other language. I assume, however, that SPS has interpreted it differently, though not necessarily for the right reasons.

At JSIS and McD it's the parents who fund the Spanish/Japanese IAs. Do schools with high ELL populations have IAs in the English portion of the day--where arguably most needed--or the non-English part? Or perhaps both? The latter would actually make the most sense for strong EL acquisition. Whether you're in the portion of your day that's English or the portion that's heritage language, the translation is still important in creating understanding and learning.

I love the Consol Rev notes on evaluation though. That's one of my biggest beef's with this district. Too bad OSPI doesn't seem to do much about it.

mirmac1 said…
I just sat through an A&F meeting where board members questioned the sustainability and effectiveness of the LI programs at JSIS and McDonald. I heard the principals say "we don't have the benefit of the other international schools with their Title III and Title I funds." (Those are restricted use funds.) and "if we have a native speaker ELL student we really should provide an IA that speaks that language". Doh!

Finally, I'm sorry for not being entirely correct. I was using shorthand. Let me paste some language directly from the Guidance:

When evaluating a school district’s or SEA’s EL program(s) for compliance, the Departments consider whether the program succeeds, after a legitimate trial, in producing results that indicate that students’ language barriers are actually being overcome. In other words, the Departments look at whether performance data of current EL, former EL, and never EL students demonstrates that the EL programs were in fact reasonably calculated to enable EL students to attain parity of participation in the standard instructional program within a reasonable length of time. For a school district or SEA to make such a determination, as a practical matter, a district must periodically evaluate its EL programs, and modify the programs when they do not produce these results.96 Continuing to use an EL program with a sound educational design is not sufficient if the program, as implemented, proves ineffective.
mirmac1 said…
EL students are entitled to qualified, certificated EL teachers. Perhaps one of your dual-certs is in EL versus World Language. Dunno.

Dual-certs with EL are a new focus for HR so that EL students can participate with gen ed students in, say, LA or math in English thereby gaining proficiency, yet still get support in their native language.

In any case, this is a great matter for the SAO to investigate given these are Federal funds.
cmj said…
I don't know much about language immersion schools or teaching foreign languages (I speak precisely one language fluently), so forgive me if this is a foolish question.

JSIS and McDonald PTAs do a staggering amount of fundraising -- over $1000 per parent at JSIS, I believe, to pay for fluent IAs. Other than the difficulty of fitting 60 students inside standard classrooms, why not drop the IAs and have teachers team-teach double-size classes? Isn't the main benefit that the students receive from the the IAs is being able to listen to two adults conversing in a foreign language?

The students would have fewer opportunities to talk to a native speaker, but I don't see a huge difference between a student: fluent speaker ratio of 1:12 and 1:24.
Anonymous said…
And again Mirmac.

Of course SPS ELL students are entitled to EL-certified teachers. That is not the point.

The point is that EL teachers may teach both our ELL and our general education students in a dual-language classroom if the goal and results are for ELL students to learn English and general education students to learn the ELL student's language while both groups are moving forward in academics.

Federal law specifically calls out this set up as a legitimate use of EL funding. If SPS would structure its language immersion programs this way, both groups would thrive and scarce resources could be extended.

Given your past comments on LI immersion schools it appears this thread is your not well disguised attempt to undermine the idea of LI in this district in the name of EL advocacy.

It's too bad your prolific posts don't include collaborative ways to build up two different programs, both important to students and families, which could benefit from better program planning.

Dual-language Cert
mirmac1 said…
I work with district staff to build up lots of programs, services and processes. This week alone Budget, HR and Sped. You can transform LI. : )
Anonymous said…
Cmj, LI students spend half of the school day in classes where ONLY the foreign language is spoken (no English at all). Thus they learn (usually) math and science in Mandarin/Spanish/Japanese starting in Kindergarten. The IAs/Interns are crucial in making this possible, as their presence in the LI classrooms means the students have another teacher to help them learn half of their school subjects in another language (for all lectures/questions/explanations). Two certified teachers co teaching a class of 60 would mean two fewer people who can explain and help the kids while they try to understand and learn in a language they are not yet fluent in. It isn't just hearing the foreign language spoken, it's actually being taught in the foreign language for 3 hours every day. The LI teachers do not speak English to the kids at all, not even outside of the classroom (lunchroom, library, playground, hallway etc).
JSIS is one of only 3 schools in SPS that didn't fail NCLB last year, which is really remarkable since JSIS students learn math in the immersion language. The teachers and IAs there are absolutely amazing. This is why the parents are willing to raise that huge amount every year for the IAs. When KA was principal at JSIS and Beacon Hill, all the LI schools used to have some joint fund-raising and music/art performances. I think last year JSIS and MacDonald did a garage sale together, and this last December the giving tree was for both JSIS and Beacon Hill.

Anonymous said…
Forgot to say, the classes at JSIS are huge, usually 28-34 kids in each class, not 24. I was told there's a requirement of at least 28 kids in each class for LI. I don't know why.

Anonymous said…
@cmj, another thing is that there are multiple immersion language kids taught per grade. Those theoretical 60 students you cite might include 30 learning Japanese and 30 studying Spanish. Combining them doesn't work.

@CCA, that 28-kid requirement sounds off. Last year's 5th grade classes were both under that. The 28 is probably more like a target, reflective of how staff are budgeted or something.

Half Full

Anonymous said…
2012-13 data from SPS website:

JSIS - ELL 5%. (FRL 6%)
McDonald- ELL 3%. (FRL - 11%)
Beacon Hill ELL 45%. (FRL 63%)

Only beacon hill has data breakdown for proficiency % on state tests for ELL and FRL. None for JSIS. McDonald has data for FRL.

So hard to gauge exactly how LI benefits ELL students at JSIS and McDonald, given no data and very small % of ELL population. Maybe JSIS is where the Japanese students in SPS go if they are ELL? Not a huge Hispanic population at JSIS or McDonald either.


Anonymous said…
The other question I have is how does LI school like JSIS or Beacon Hill accommodate an ELstudent whose native language isn't Japanese, Mandarin, or Spanish? Are they pulled out of gen Ed classroom when subjects aren't taught in English?

Lynn said…
According to Beacon Hill's website, they have three language immersion programs - one of which is English.

The English Immersion program is designed to immerse students in English who speak a language other than English, Spanish, or Chinese. It is also
a program for English speakers who prefer an English- based international curriculum or enter the school in grades 2 and above.
mirmac1 said…
If Title III funding is paying for IAs to teach non-ELL students general education, then that is wrong.

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