Ballard's Science Department Uses Logic on the District; Will It Work?

Update - a Q&A with Ballard and the district on this topic:

1.      Do ALL schools have to do this sequence?  Is this “recommended”?
As the scope and sequence will create student capacity to take the newly-required 3rd year of science, the sequences are required. All schools are expected to follow the common sequence our High School Alignment Team has outlined. The Alignment Team, represented by all comprehensive Seattle high schools (driven by feedback from individual science departments), was commissioned to create a standards-aligned common scope and sequence that would meet new graduation requirements for current 9th graders and all students that follow. 

2.       What happens when parents (still) want their students to start Ballard in Biology?
It is the obligation of our district to provide all students with standards-aligned courses required for graduation. The first two years provide the core requirements for all students. Selections can be made by students and their parents during the 3rd year with guidance from teachers and counselors. 

3.       What about HCC students? (if exceptions for them, why not others?)
HCC students have been tested in to a highly capable (Advanced Learning) program and have alternative pathways in many subjects, including science. Currently HCC students are on a two-year accelerated pathway and as they have learned required high school standards, can opt for different alternative courses since they have already taken year-1 and year-2 courses.

4.       What about Biotech academy students?
Curriculum and Instruction would welcome working with Ballard’s Biotech academy to determine the best pathway for these students. 

5.       Does any of this stop us from offering a FULL year of Chemistry and FULL year of Physics?
During the 3rd year, a full year of Chemistry or Physics is an option. 

6.       What happens if we do not do this?
Students will not be prepared for taking a third year of science, interfering with students’ ability to graduate. Principals have committed to supporting the changes recommended by the Alignment Team.

7.       How did the district circumvent the building-based decision making for offering new courses?  Were there waivers to the CBA written for every school?
The defining of standards-aligned scope and sequence in core courses required to meet graduation requirements from Seattle Public Schools is the obligation of the district (as well as a part of graduation requirements outlined by Washington State legislation) and not a building-based decision.  The course content is not new, but has been rearranged to ensure students can meet graduation requirements in 3 years. Elective courses offered by buildings continue to be a site-based decision.

8.       Was this presented to the IC or BLT?
See # 7.  Presentation to IC or BLT is not required.
9.       Do we have any choice at all? (on whether to accept it or follow it to the T)
See #1, #6, & #7.

10.   Was the expressed reason for this change because of the test? (I really would like to know)
There are many reasons for making changes, these reasons include:
·         OSPI expects current 9th grade students to pass the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (the test) to graduate.
·         The rearranged course content ensures that many standards for earth and space, as well as engineering, are accessible for all students in the first two years of science courses. All standards are accessible in three years of the scope & sequence.
·         The new standards are research-based and offer equitable opportunities for all students to build science literacy by working with teachers to develop quality learning opportunities to align with the Washington State Science Standards’ 3-Dimensions of learning (DCI, CCC, and SEP)
·         To prepare teachers with the pedagogical tools to ensure all students can access and meet standards in chemistry, physics, biology, earth and space, and related engineering standards.

end of update

From the Ballard High School Science Department (and good for them):

A group of science teachers headed by Ms. Welch has been working diligently to develop a rollout plan for the district’s need to address the state’s adoption of the NGSS.  It has been made clear to us recently that this rollout plan is already underway.  
Despite the professional efforts on the part of the transition team this curriculum adoption plan is so fundamentally flawed that we feel we must protest.  If this adoption goes forward as proposed we fear it will generate many more problems than it is attempting to address.  We will detail our logic below.

First, as to the specifics offered by the NGSS transition team within the last few weeks on this curriculum adoption: over the past year we and several colleagues in our department (collectively with nearly 100 years of teaching experience) voiced strong opposition to the draft proposals.  We believe these fact-based objections and suggested alternative approaches were not adequately addressed.  
 Faced with the challenges of the Core-24 transition, this is not the time to launch the proposed profound alterations to the scope, sequence and very titles of established science courses.  
No evidence has been produced to verify that the curriculum changes proposed are fully formed and fully vetted, despite the samples provided on the Science Wiki pages.  
Furthermore, no evidence has been substantiated that there is district funding to support the facility impacts, the textbook needs or the teaching material requirements, not to mention the STEM components of NGSS that haven’t been addressed. 
No concrete and verifiable proof has been offered to establish that the course name changes, content alterations and profound sequence shuffling will be accepted without question by colleges and universities nationwide.  Telling an application acceptance office at Dartmouth University that 9th grade chemistry or physics is college preparatory is a very risky path that is wholly unnecessary at this time.  
Tangentially, most of our 9th graders will be academically challenged by “Physics A” and “Chemistry A”, unless the content of these courses is reduced to non-algebraic thinking.  
Furthermore, separating the course content over more than a year to a year and a half is folly, necessitating vast losses of time in re-teaching forgotten concepts.  
Most critically, there is absolutely no evidence that parents have been advised of these plans - not after the fact, but before the plan is formed.  There are no details on how we, the teachers in the trenches, will deal with the new science demands on our special education students.

Second, as to the process of the recently presented curriculum adoption plan, there was no guidance sought at the IC level, and more egregiously, no apparent advice or consent was solicited from our Building Leadership Team for such a profound transformation within our building.  
To add insult to injury, the parents - as mentioned - of the impacted students would not be brought in for consultation until well into the adoption process.  The Race and Equity tool created by the District puts great import on having community input before any significant change is made and to date this input has not been sought. 

Finally, there has been no mention of School Board approval for such a vast curriculum change.  This current adoption process can only be described as alteration of a 100+ year-old platform by fiat. 

Fortunately, it is not too late to address these issues and delay this transformation to give it time to be developed more cautiously. 
We and our colleagues have repeatedly suggested that many of the NGSS changes sought can be addressed by adapting the curriculum of the current Physical Science/Biology/Chemistry/Physics sequence.  At present, this is the pathway the entire state of California is adopting.   
We propose layering needed content into the existing courses and sequences that will enable a more thorough vetting of the deliberate morphogenesis by all involved parties in a more manageable period of time that will, quite importantly, not put us in conflict with Core-24 changes nor leave our Special Education students at risk.


India Carlson

Dewey J. Moody, Ph.D.
Science Department Co-Heads, Ballard


Anonymous said…
Thank you Ballard teachers! Where can parents get more info about the plan so we can write the Board? Moving away from a traditional full year, single subject course format is problematic enough, let alone the unknowns of a district created curriculum (do I have that right - the district is creating the curriculum?).

SPS, I can't keep up with all of your craziness.

info please
Anonymous said…
I am continually astounded by the directive guidance from the top that is so often counterproductive. Little wonder that "schooling" decisions, which are not made at schools are so often poor decisions. The "idea" of tossing out the old and creating the new nearly from scratch disrespects the professionals teaching at Ballard. ...

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said…
Will they ever learn to engage key stakeholders early and in a transparent manner?

Anonymous said…
Hurray for the Ballard science department. The district needs to prioritize curriculum stability for teachers rather than coming up with constant revisions and "make work" in order to justify their existence.

peonypower said…
@ info please. Yes curriculum is being created in house. No, this work has not been completed and therefore not available to the public- which to my understanding has not happened with any previous science curriculum adoption. The extent the existing curriculum has been piloted is one high school piloting 2 units of the intro physics and non of the chemistry units. The 3rd year phy/chem split does not exist at this time but is to be created during the summer during a one week work session.
Another Name said…
Thank you.

I guess this is why we need a new superintendent.
Anonymous said…
Where did you find this?

Ballard parent
Anonymous said…
It's as if there are no, successful, off the shelf, science curriculums for high school out there for the district to adopt.

Instead, they need to reinvent the wheel and develop the curriculum in house.

Why? Why? Why?

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
northwesterner said "It's as if there are no, successful, off the shelf, science curriculums for high school out there for the district to adopt."

If you are looking at properly NGSS aligned curriculums, there actually aren't. It takes years to write curriculum, and the standards haven't been around quite long enough for publishers to catch up. There are starting to be a few options, but not many, not appropriately leveled, not appropriately supported, and not available for all content areas (my best bet has been pushed back 4 times, and is sill listed as available Late Fall 2017).

What we have done in my district (not Seattle) is write curriculum in house, by teachers, using what we've been using, and having district-wide subject-level meetings to share and support (and we were supposed to have an adoption in 2012 but knowing we were going to NGSS that didn't happen, and now there's no money and nothing to adopt anyway). Because we honestly don't have any other options if we do want to teach the standards. It's not perfect, some schools have better curriculum for many reasons, but it's not like adopting a curriculum means it gets used equally either. It is though being done with teachers, for the classes they teach, and not as some top-down piece from the district as it sounds like this is.

It is far to early to do any major re-arranging of courses as the first test release items *just* came out (late December), so it's impossible to know what sequence will really get students through most successfully. We do have to figure out what to do for the third year of science requirements that allows for a pathway for students who may not have the math chops for regular chemistry classes, and there are huge staffing and space implications to adding this third year of science to graduation requirements, which the state has of course done nothing about.

Outta Seattle
Anonymous said…
The IB science curriculum at Ingraham seems very good to me - and I am a scientific researcher. One reason we chose IB was to avoid the handwringing over curriculum that the district administration specializes in.

Anonymous said…
I have heard BHS teachers and science classes are outstanding from friends who are scientists as well as science teachers. So I trust their judgement completely. BallardParent IB science curriculum is only two years. What about the other science classes being impacted. In addition, the classes are only as good as the teachers.
Anonymous said…
What is the suggested science sequence for years 1 and 2?
9th: Physics A + Chemistry A?
10th: ? + Chemistry B?

Will this not impact middle school HCC as well, or will they stick with the Physical Science>Biology in 7th/8th, leading to 9th grade Chemistry? Don't Spectrum students take Physical Science in 8th, or has that changed?

I'm going back to kellie's oft repeated question: What is the problem we are trying to solve?

info please
peonypower said…
The current recommended course sequence as proposed by this plan.
9th Physics A + Chemistry A,
10th Biology A and B,
11th Grade Physics B + Chemistry B.

Students who are HCC will be the only students who don't start at Physics A Chemistry A. This has significant impact at Ballard where 1/2 of all incoming freshman start in Biology. Students will not be able to take an AP science class until senior year (at any school not just Ballard.) If IB has students taking biology 9th grade and then IB bio at 11th then this will impact them as well.
Anonymous said…
Limiting access to AP science until 12th grade is insane. The district can’t possibly think parents will be OK with this - right?

This is the most bs statement in the Q and A: The new standards are research-based and offer equitable opportunities for all students to build science literacy by working with teachers to develop quality learning opportunities to align with the Washington State Science Standards’ 3-Dimensions of learning (DCI, CCC, and SEP). What does it even mean?

It sounds like they need to cover new Earth and Space concepts. Why not do that in 8th grade? As for accelerating progress, middle school science placement should be based on a student’s math course so that all prepared students can take more science classes in high school.

Fairmount Parent
Anonymous said…
This post is disingenuous and self-serving.

Each of the SPS high schools was invited to participate in this realignment, and Ballard largely chose not to participate. Department Chairs, Ph.Ds, and M.Ss from other buildings did participate. Each of the SPS high schools had at least one representative on the realignment team.

Additionally, when Professional Development in new NGSS pedagogy was coordinated by the SPS Science Program (Ms. Welch) in conjunction with SPU and UW, not a single teacher from Ballard participated. One could argue that this will now leave Ballard students and teachers behind in terms of preparation in science.

Furthermore, this post uses Special Education students as the only metric of Race and Equity (note, Ballard is the least diverse high school in Seattle) and does not consider the needs or access of students within SPS, including Black, Latinx, ELL and other students with lower socio-economic standing and privilege than the majority of those attending Ballard. What about the teachers from other schools, with greater than 50% FRL students, who helped shape this alignment and believe in the equity and quality engagement in science it will help provide?

Ballard should be ashamed of themselves for fearing change. This rant is the work of individuals unwilling to change, even when multiple lines of educational and scientific evidence shows this pedagogical shift, the basis for the realignment, is best for student learning. If Ballard is truly interested in teaching science, they should act like scientists (and teachers) and change their thinking and practice based on new evidence. Yet they seem too afraid to try.

Also Informed
Anonymous said…
There is no pedagogical shift that is best for learning for every student. Ballard’s science teachers don’t see this change as likely to improve learning for their students. You can be sure that Ballard parents won’t be happy to hear their students will have reduced access to AP science classes.

Fairmount Parent
Eric M said…
Calling a class for 9th graders "Chemistry" or "Physics", without any math prerequisites seems to guarantee those classes have to be taught with only the wispiest of mathematical underpinnings. Which is substantially different from how they're taught now. And how they are viewed by college admissions.

Any parents heard even a whisper from SPS about how any part of this plan (which they're already treating like a fait accompli) will work for your kids?

Sigh. I didn't think so. Why is parent engagement solo hard for this school district? Again, again, and again...
Anonymous said…
Ballard should be ashamed of themselves for fearing change. This rant is the work of individuals unwilling to change, even when multiple lines of educational and scientific evidence shows this pedagogical shift, the basis for the realignment, is best for student learning. If Ballard is truly interested in teaching science, they should act like scientists (and teachers) and change their thinking and practice based on new evidence. Yet they seem too afraid to try.

Just calling BS on that whole rant and the use of the equity lens to justify what is an unprecedented shift in the science sequence (too afraid? Look, our kids our not fodder for more failed SPS experiments). If the change has the effect of reducing AL opportunities for a sizable portion of the student population, it doesn't pass the sniff test. How is that equitable? It essentially restricts students to one year of AP or alternative science options (marine biology, etc.). What happens to students moving to or from other school districts? There will be no alignment, as most schools would have a more typical year by year sequence. What a mess.

Are there meeting minutes or a list of participating staff? Were schools invited to provide input, then a decision was made without them? Something just doesn't add up.

Anonymous said…
@Also Informed,

"Furthermore, this post uses Special Education students as the only metric of Race and Equity (note, Ballard is the least diverse high school in Seattle) and does not consider the needs or access of students within SPS, including Black, Latinx, ELL and other students with lower socio-economic standing and privilege than the majority of those attending Ballard."

"Ballard should be ashamed of themselves for fearing change."

Actually, I was grateful that Ballard was inclusive of disability thru an equity lens unlike the Racial Equity Analysis Tool. By virtue of name, process and policy, the SPS Racial Equity Analysis Tool is systematically designed to focus on only race and color.

There is a systematic barrier to considering disability issues thru an equity lens in this district unless it is in relation to a student's race and color.

A public school district and individuals who prioritize one protected class at the expense of others based on their bias are setting a dangerous example.

Anonymous said…
@ Also Informed, since you profess to know so much about this realignment, maybe you can clarify for us what the course sequences would be for Gen Ed students and HCC students both, since any quality effort to reenvision sequences would've had to look at both groups?

Also, do I have it correct that you were saying increased accessibility is a key rationale for this change? And by "increased accessibilty you mean making classes easier than their current equivalent courses?

Ms. teacher/parent said…
I am a Seattle Schools parent, a science teacher in SPS, and was on the team that worked with schools to design this scope and sequence. I am amazed at the misrepresentation of what happened (and what is actually happening). Consider this. . . most students entering high school in Seattle begin with a year of "Physical Sciences." This amounts to one semester of physics and one semester of chemistry (in most schools). Colleges are not great fans of the class called "physical science." It really could be anything. Is it earth science? Space science? Kinematics? Anything. Students then go on to take a year of Biology. Those students who opt for a third year of science go to a year of Chemistry. This means that for most general students in Seattle, they attend 3 semesters of chemistry and one semester of physics. The current method of promoting students into biology early also dooms the physical sciences classes into being de-prioritized as learning spaces. My school has always required a third year of science (in our case, chemistry). That's right, all students in our school take chemistry as their third year science, and most are successful. The new standards and pedagogy (in concert with the alignment) make high level science concepts and skills approachable for ALL STUDENTS. The revised 3 year scope does a number of things.

1. Students will have taken at least one semester of each discipline in their first two years of high school.
2. When students take the new district mandated test in grade 11, they will not be more than 1 year away from any advanced content.
3. The high level math DCI's (standards) are all placed in the junior year. The more concept/bedrock based standards come earlier in their careers.
4. Basic chemistry and physics concepts support biology understanding, and students will be prepared to understand key biology ideas more deeply. (I would add that the idea that "chemistry" and "biology" are somehow completely different classes is not evocative of the present work being done in the world of science. Biochemistry and biophysics are important fields that utilize overlapping concepts.) Someone decided long ago that these should be taught separately. For some reason, we are unwilling to resist this despite understanding that biology really is a form of chemistry.)

One of the arguments is that students will not be able to take AP classes until their 4th year. This has not been true at my school. More than 10% of our students take four years of science by doubling up in their junior or senior years, and some 3-5 % take 5 years of science. By 2019, Seattle high schools will be offering 32 credits to every student during their high school career. This increases opportunities to take more than one science per year even more effectively.

There will be at least 4 opportunities for families to come and find out more about changes in science, (both scope and pedagogy), and the new science test that our current freshmen will be taking their junior year. PLEASE consider coming and being part of the conversation. The standards are not going away and the test will not go away. These family forums are an opportunity for you to share in the work we have done.

We put hundreds of hours into thinking deeply about how students learn and what would serve them best, while taking into consideration issues of equity and family priorities. I firmly believe we have done (again, in concert with teachers at the building level) excellent work in creating foundational strength. I really believe that this will help kids (our students and my own kids) be successful in science. Come see for yourself.

Anonymous said…
Thank you Ms. teacher/parent.

Like you, I am an SPS science teacher, an SPS parent, and part of the alignment team. You have represented our work accurately and truly I appreciate your thoughtful response.

- Appreciative colleague
Eric M said…
When are those 4 opportunities for families to find out more? When and where, exactly? So far, a big secret. Also, the test is not going away? Every one of the previous high stakes tests has exactly gone away, so I'll have to treat that claim, like many of your others, with skepticism.
peonypower said…
@ informed
Ballard had a representative who left the group this year. A new representative joined this fall. Our input or concerns have not been acknowledged at meetings with downtown or our rep. Pretty much we've been told to shut up and accept this change.

The work of figuring out how to incorporate NGSS content into existing classes is not what Ballard objects to. A plan that restructures all of our course offerings, with a complete lack of transparency to how those changes affect our stakeholders (parents and students) is extremely objectionable.
Anonymous said…

So you are recognizing that Ballard sent a representative to the district meetings regarding these changes in science? (even if the representative changed throughout the timeline)

You are saying that because the group didn't agree with Ballard, that the group didn't listen to Ballard's concerns?

You are saying that because the remainder of the team reached a consensus, that was not Ballard's idea, that you object? Do the ideas/opinions/values/experiences/etc. of other schools have less value than Ballard?

Others on the blog have claimed that Ballard teachers have not participated in the district trainings regarding science changes. Aren't these trainings exactly the transparency you are asking for?

Aren't other schools already piloting these revised courses/units? This suggests that this is not new curriculum, but exactly as you say, an incorporation of NGSS content into existing classes?

Why is Ballard the only school objecting?

-explain please?
Ms. teacher/parent said…
@ Eric M. I'm glad to hear of your skepticism. I can only hope that you bring the same skepticism to the issues brought forth by Ballard's Department Heads as you do to my announcement that there will be 4 family forums. And I absolutely agree with you on the high stakes testing going away. It is unfortunate that our students still had to take those tests and work towards meeting standard on those tests, only to have the requirement taken away at the last minute. Even if those high stakes tests end up not counting, it is our job to prepare students to graduate-and for "21st Century Skills". We can only go on OSPI's word (which we meet with similar skepticism, but it is in fact our job to work with them.)

Again, from a parent (and teacher) perspective, this does not change the traditional course structure or scope very much. It reprioritizes and moves introductory chemistry and physics content to grade 9 so that students will have a full experience in their first two years. Students will be able to take any AP or IB class they wish their third year, just as they do now. Students who start ninth grade in biology then go on to chemistry may get no physics content in their time in high school. This is unfortunate, since physics concepts can definitely support understanding of biological systems.

The times and dates of family events will be announced later today. I urge you to come and have a discussion (not just limit your understanding to reading this blog). We worked very hard to try to consider all stakeholders in determining scope and sequence.

Ms. Teacher/Parent said…
Here are the times and locations of the family events so parents can see for themselves the work that was done and what the changes will mean for their students.

January 25 7-8:30 pm Chief Sealth High School
January 30 6:30-8:00 pm Cleveland High School
February 1 7-8:30 pm Ingraham High School
February 8 6-8:30 pm Garfield

We genuinely hope that parents will choose to attend and enter into discussion about the change in standards, pedagogy, and sequence.
Anonymous said…
Ms. Teacher/Parent,

Are you sure that most students in Seattle take Physical Science in 9th grade? This differs from school to school and in my experience 9th grade science placement is based on the student’s math course. Only students who delay taking Algebra until high school would be enrolled in Physical Science.

This might be an improvement for students who only took Physical Science and Biology in the past - but will decrease access to advanced courses for others.

There’s a model for an accelerated course progression on the NGSS website that would allow advanced math students to begin high school level courses in middle school so that they can begin taking AP courses in 10th grade. Why aren’t we doing this in Seattle?

A student shouldn’t have to give up other electives to take advanced science courses at your high school or any other school. Taking two science classes as a junior or senior means a student has to give up something else - a continuation of their world language course or art or music courses.

Why is the the first instinct of district staff always to look for opportunities to hold students back and reduce the amount they’re allowed to learn?

Parents aren’t going to be grateful for opportunities to hear about new roadblocks in access to advanced courses created by staff in secret. They’re going to be angry once again.

As for a potential change to an eight course block schedule in high schools, that is off the table as far as most parents are concerned. It reduces the instructional time in each course and the actual value of each credit on a transcript. It makes part time Running Start attendance impossible - and students will need that to access higher level science courses.

Fairmount Parent
Anonymous said…
The HS Science Alignment Team has sent a response to the blog. We are waiting for the blog administrators to post this response.

-HS Science Alignment Team
Anonymous said…
The district website says that the first two semester courses will be taken in the 9th grade and the math covered in each will be what students have covered to that point in ninth grade. Which students were these science classes designed for? Ninth grade students can be enrolled in Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II or Precalculus.

Eric M said…
Not a parent meeting at each comprehensive high school ?

That seems kind of thin, for a district that prides itself on parent engagement.
SPS HS Science Alignment Team said…
Part 1: From the SPS High School Science Alignment Team:

In response to the questions, comments and concerns raised by the Ballard Science Department, the Alignment Team has prepared the following reply:

For the past two years our Alignment Team has been developing a plan for Seattle Public Schools science departments to address the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards in 2013 and Core 24 requirements, also considering the new high-stakes WA-CAS assessment and the implications these mandates have for student graduation. The alignment team was commissioned to create a standards-aligned common scope and sequence that would meet new graduation requirements for current 9th graders and all students that follow. The team is represented by teachers from each of the district high schools, including Ballard, and by teachers across the three core science content areas (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics).

In addition to responding to new standards, new credit requirements, and a new high-stakes test, this work was commissioned in response to a changing society. Today’s graduates require different skills than in the past. By shifting teaching practice and aligning to standards which incorporate not only discipline-specific knowledge but also scientific practices, such as Engaging in Argumentation Based on Evidence and Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, students will develop and refine skills that support strong engagement in a global community.

The work of the Alignment Team has been two-fold. It has been to realign our courses based on NGSS, as well as communicate and seek input from the other science teachers in our own buildings. Accordingly, all SPS high school science teachers had voice in this process. After the scope of the realigned courses was determined through bundling standards into semester courses, we sought to identify a common sequence to be used across the district, thereby supporting teacher collaboration across the district and students who move between schools. Alignment Team members sought input from their schools and represented these interests when reaching consensus on the new course sequencing of Phys A, Chem A in the 9th grade year, followed by Bio A and Bio B in 10th grade. At the 11th grade year, multiple pathways are possible, including the fully aligned Chem B and Phys B courses, as well as AP/IB offerings. Embedded in each course are the new Earth and Space Science standards as well as engineering, technology and application skills that are a part of the new state standards. One key feature of this sequence is that all students will have access to core Biology, Chemistry and Physics content.

The Alignment Team considered multiple additional factors in the development of this scope and sequence. One such consideration was the concerns regarding student preparation for mathematical portions of chemistry and physics. Accordingly, when we bundled the standards we chose to place standards requiring a deeper understanding of mathematics into the Chem B and Phys B courses. Note that “using mathematical and computational thinking” is one the Science and Engineering Practices in NGSS. Another consideration was splitting content areas across years, however science is inherently integrated and interdisciplinary. Ultimately, we decided that students will be able to use principles of Physics to develop their understanding of Chemistry, and their understanding of Chemistry to develop their understanding of Biology, and so on. Accordingly, the determined scope and sequence takes a spiraling approach such that students revisit standards multiple times throughout the science education, helping strengthen knowledge and prepare them for the new high-stakes science assessment given at the end of the 11th grade year. Lastly, outreach to many universities, including University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University, has proven that these institutions are supportive and excited by changes being made to science teaching because of this alignment.
SPS HS Science Alignment Team said…
Part 2:
Our work as an Alignment Team has been informed by multiple evidence-based practices. In collaboration with multiple universities, including the University of Washington, we have worked to understand and implement the methodology of using explanatory phenomenon and a complimentary driving question(s) to deepen students’ understanding of core science content by arranging well-crafted lessons in a storyline that allows students to figure out key learnings. While there is some new content in NGSS, much of the content remains the same as past standards. What has changed is the rearrangement of this content into semester courses to make use of this pedagogy. Accordingly, many of us, and other science teachers across the district, have been part of professional development opportunities and district-wide curriculum collaborations funded by grants obtained by the SPS Science Program that support implementation of these pedagogical practices and standards. For example, Biology has been collaborating with Michigan State University through an NSF grant for the past 5 years, and Phys A and Chem A teachers have been working together through a collaborative grant with Seattle Pacific University and Boeing. Furthermore, each year, SPS science teachers have had the opportunity meet for one week in the summer and three release days during the year to understand deeply the shift in pedagogy, new assessments and how to organize the content for alignment.

The Alignment Team, as well as Ms. Welch, have also worked diligently to inform stakeholders in this work. We have repeatedly met with our own science departments to provide information, ideas, and receive feedback. We have met with own building administrations. Ms. Welch has met with building principals, has meetings scheduled with counselors and registrars, and we are working to schedule community meetings at multiple high schools in the coming month. Moreover, several of the Alignment Team members are the chair of their building Science Department, many are SPS Career Ladder Teachers and Content Demonstration Teachers, many have post-graduate degrees in science and/or education, and many are parents of current SPS students, or soon-to-be SPS students.

As individuals, as representatives, and as stakeholders we have each worked greater than 120 hours on this alignment. We have used evidence-based research and pedagogy to inform our decisions. We have sought out feedback and used it to inform and improve our work. Ultimately, we reached a consensus SPS High School Science Scope and Sequence to best support all students learning and engagement in science.

The Seattle Public Schools High School Science Alignment Team
SPS HS Science Alignment Team said…
Part 3:
Members of the Alignment Team include:

• Kim Dinh, M.I.T., NBCT, Chief Sealth International High School, SPS Science Curriculum Specialist. 7 years teaching experience.

• Dan Fisher, M.I.T., NBCT, SPS Science Demonstration Teacher, Ingraham High School, and parent to two future SPS students. 8 years teaching experience.

• Marni Jacobs, M.A.T., Chief Sealth International High School. 5 years teaching experience.

• AJ Katzaroff, Ph.D., M.I.T., Franklin High School Science Department Chair, SPS Career Ladder Teacher, 2012 Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow, and parent to two SPS students. 5 years teaching experience.

• Tracy Landboe, M.I.T., NBCT, Roosevelt High School. 10 years teaching experience.

• Liz Murdock, M. Ed., West Seattle High School. 12 years teaching experience.

• Jenny Newell, M.S., M.I.T., NBCT, Nathan Hale High School, SPS Science Curriculum Specialist, and parent to two future SPS students. 10 years teaching experience.

• Michaela Peterson, M.I.T., Center School Science Department Chair, SPS Career Ladder Master Teacher, lead teacher at the FHCRC Science Education Partnership, Noyce Scholar, and parent to two SPS students. 7 years teaching experience.

• Rachel Petrik-Finley, Ph.D., Garfield High School Science Department Co-Chair, member of the Garfield Mission and Vision Team, 2010 Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow, grader for the AP Environmental Science exam, and parent to two SPS students. 7 years teaching experience.

• Steve Pratt, M. Ed., NBCT, SPS Career Ladder Teacher, Cleveland High School, and parent to two future SPS students. 10 years teaching experience.

• Tiffany Robinson, Nathan Hale High School. 10 years teaching experience.

• Dan Quach, Cleveland High School. 13 years teaching experience.

• Ina Shepard, M. Ed., SPS Science Demonstration Teacher, Chief Sealth International High School, and parent to two SPS students. 11 years teaching experience.

• Emily Wang, M. Ed., NBCT, former Garfield High School teacher, and parent to one future SPS student. 13 years teaching experience.

• Kristen Yip, M.I.T, Rainier Beach Science Department Co-Chair. 5 years teaching experience.

Eric M said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric M said…
Hmm. At Ballard, we had one meeting last spring where aspirations were outlined, and we asked many questions which were not directly answered at the time, such as "How will college admissions offices view this plan?"

We were mystified all fall, as most of us heard nothing, and found no further information on the SPS website about any of this plan. We assumed, as 1st semester advanced, and ordinary, well-established deadlines for course change submissions to our school's Instructional Council grew close, that further development was being done carefully on a longer timeline.

Imagine our collective surprise, then, to attend a meeting in the week after Thanksgiving, less than a week before the Instructional Council's deadline, and find out that all of this was a done deal. That's the level of communication that we were given. Seriously.

We are left with very significant aspects of this plan requiring massive work and hard decisions, such as repurposing classrooms, reassigning teachers, redesigning curriculum, calculating what electives have to get cut, etc.

We lack the knowledge to counsel students about what AP and UW in the High Schools classes will be on offer next year.

Now that at last a schedule has been released for parent meetings, we see that there is NO meeting for parents scheduled for Ballard. That's a big problem. Especially for parents of the Biotech Academy students.

Eric Muhs
33 years teaching Experience
2013 Washington State Physics Teacher of the Year
M. Sci.
National Board Certified Teacher
Upward Bound Lead Teacher
Murdock Partners in Science Fellow
TEA Fellow
former Department Chair, Roosevelt High School & Watsonville High School
2004 Vernier / NSTA Technology Award Winner
PTSA Golden Apple Award
Eagle Scout

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