Science Curriculum Revision Open Thread

Update: a great compilation of dual courses (AP/IB/CIHS, not Running Start) created by parent Bonnie Manley Heidal.

 I note from Facebook questions that it's not entirely accurate but, as I pointed out, this is what the district/schools are publishing in their master schedules.  Fine, if it's wrong, then correct it but inaccurate schedules only serve to confuse parents and students.   Thanks to Bonnie.

end of update

I put this up for anyone who wants to weigh in on the parent meeting last night a Ballard High on this topic.
From education activist, Kathy Smith (bold mine):
The question comes down to whether new science standards are an 'adoption' or an 'alignment.' 

Washington state legislature and Board of Education call the new science standards an 'adoption'. Curriculum 'adoption' must come before the school board. 

The district is trying to push through NGSS as an 'alignment ' which does not come before the board. 

I attended the meeting and have serious concerns. Other districts are not disrupting entire sequence etc. New science standards are incorporated into existing sequences and classes. 

The district can not answer serious questions related to colleges accepting chemistry classes that align with current math structure. 

I have enormous respect for a chemistry teacher and other teachers that formulated Oceanography classes etc. I am glad Ballard high is raising serious questions.
From the district:

The district's Science Alignment page:

The science department, including school staff, will host four regional community meetings for families to come learn more about the new requirements, the new sequence of courses, and options for students.

January 25, 7-8:30 p.m. Chief Sealth High School, Library
January 30, 6:30-8 p.m. Cleveland High School, Room 1201
February 1, 7-8:30 p.m. Ingraham High School, Library
February 8, 6:30-8 p.m. Garfield High School, Commons


SPS HS Science Alignment Team said…
January 12, 2018
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.
SPS HS Science Alignment Team said…
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.

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.
SPS HS Science Alignment Team said…
The Seattle Public Schools High School Science Alignment Team

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.

Anonymous said…
(Sound of Klaxon, flashing red lights) Captain, hitting button on comms: "Damage Control! Damage Control! Status Report!
Voice on comms: "Plan taking on water from all sides! Parents visible everywhere!"
Captain: "Spin! Spin! Spin!"

We've Seen This Movie Before
Meg said…
I don't doubt that the alignment team worked hard. That said, they don't seem to have taken into account the actual consequences/changes that their recommendations will cause in SPS schools. If they DID take the consequences into account, they haven't explained why they think the adoption (and given the widespread impact on science education in SPS, it's an adoption, not an alignment) is worth the losses and changes.

This has a significant impact on science education in SPS. It should be up for board discussion and vote.
Anonymous said…
Agreed. They probably spent a lot of time on this. Unfortunately, in all this reported effort to "diligently inform stakeholders" they didn't bother to include parents and students--the biggest stakeholders of all. They also don't seem to have considered how this would roll out, including how it would roll out for those on a non-GE sequence. If they had engaged parents early on, these concerns would have been highlighted earlier and steps could have been taken to minimize the disruption and confusion.

I'm a bit confused by Ballard isn't in there; I thought they did have someone on the committee.

I am now being told that the Biotech program at Ballard is in no danger due to this "alignment."

"The Alignment Team, as well as Ms. Welch, have also worked diligently to inform stakeholders in this work."

What about parents? I had to smile at the idea that because some on the team are parents, that it counts.

And again, this looks like an end run around the Board policy about curriculum. If they can't provide that they will use all the same curriculum as before, I don't think the Board should let this go.

This district never learns.
Anonymous said…
If the district wanted to increase access to AL, and increase HS credit opportunities, couldn't they have designed conceptual physical science as an 8th grade course, with the earth science and astronomy topics covered in a earlier grade? Students could opt to get 1 HS credit for the 8th grade course, then take only 2 more years of science in HS, or be positioned to take more advanced HS science. Either way, they'd have more options in high school, not fewer, as with this "alignment." It's so painful to watch this play out.

missed opportunities
kellie said…
I think the simple answer here is that the committee greatly overstepped its mandate.

There is an actually need for some alignment in order to prepare 11th graders for a new test. There was not a mandate reinvent science education and restructure the entire high school experience.

I sincerely wish that committee work also included some sensitivity around "disruption" and that committees were charged with multiple recommendations from least disruptive to most disruptive. The committee has developed a plan that has profound implications for all things high school without any regard for the impacts on facilities, capacity, unique programming, AL, etc.

Understandably, the committee feels that this was "stand-alone" work, that was all-about-science. That is absolutely true. But their plan, is not "stand-alone."

The 24 credit committee did the same thing. Rather than simply report that more money was needed to add more classes and that credit retrieval was critical for the success of 24 credits, they recommended a 3x5 schedule that would have completely altered everything high school. This plan is not as extreme but there was zero consideration for how this plan will impact classroom utilization in buildings that are already way over capacity and will be over capacity for at least a decade.

The communication piece of this work is so badly mangled, that IMHO, it honestly doesn't matter if the committee recommendation is the most brilliant innovation in science education, ever. The process, roll out and plan utterly failed to treat the families and students as stakeholders.

Anonymous said…
Many of the adopted HS science texts are 15-20 years old. What resources are schools using now? Do students not have texts to read, are they using the old texts, or what? Wouldn't you think this "alignment" would be done in conjunction with adopting new texts and materials?

missed opportunities
Ballard Resident said…
The new science "alignment" is discovery science. It seems to me that this is a new curriculum- which the board should approve.

In addition to a discovery method of learning, the recommendation is a spiraling curriculum. Both of which are awful.

missed opportunities is correct. HS science text books are falling apart. Where is the budget.

Ballard high is scheduled to have 2000 students next year. There is ONE science lab.

The committee's own letter referred to both "adoption" and "alignment".

The changes are too sweeping. The board must have oversight.
Ballard Resident said…
"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"

The state legislature and Board of Education considered NGSS an "adoption".
Anonymous said…
In 9th grade science at Hale, my kid had no text book. Just notes from the lectures. It was terrible. I don't know if this was true for all the science teachers or just some. My kid really needs a book or a text. It helps reinforce the ideas presented. My kid came out of 9th grade science hating science. Still does.

Anonymous said…
Here's a webarchive of the SPS "science alignment page as of 12/30/17. Less than a month ago.

Any mention at all of this grand plan?
Nope, not that I can see.
This page seems not to have been updated since 2011.

Anonymous said…
At this time:
This is what is now in course catalogs according to SPS:

Length/Credit: Yearlong course/ .5 credit each semester
Other: Required course for 9th graders; those enrolled in Geometry have the Biology option
These two courses focus on unifying concepts in physics, chemistry, earth/space, and environmental science. They build on concepts developed in prior years with a strong emphasis on the development of problem-solving, critical-thinking, and inquiry skills. Students will gain a strong foundation in scientific literacy necessary to be productive citizens and to be successful in future science courses.

Note the careful adjustment of these course titles with the "PS" suffix.

This suffix has not been officially mentioned, to my knowledge, although 1 speaker mentioned this to the 150 parents at Ballard last night.

On the current "science alignment" page the 9th grade course is still, at the moment, referred to as 9th Grade: Physics A and Chemistry A


Suspicious minds like mine immediately jump to the suspicion that the "PS" descriptor suffix has been added recently to bolster the specious claim that this business is an "alignment", not an "adoption".

This is a crucial one to make because it makes all the moves sidestepping the Board a little bit more defensible in terms of current written policy.

Murky Waters Indeed
Anonymous said…

Kellie - yes - this is it in a nutshell!

"There is an actually need for some alignment in order to prepare 11th graders for a new test. There was not a mandate reinvent science education and restructure the entire high school experience."

This is ADOPTION not alignment, and it has far-reaching implications across all grade levels. A discovery, circular curriculum didn't work in math and it will be even worse in science.

SOOOO tired of the constant mis-steps.

QA Parent
Anonymous said…
White males = owners of vast majority of U.S. science and engineering undergraduate and graduate degrees. The National Science Foundation offers data. The need for change is urgent. WA state OSPI pushes more science rigor. SPS, universities, employers + society want more, better + more diverse science professionals. The work of the SPS committee was not perfect. It is a step in the right direction. Students and parents don't like it? Running Start. An option. For generations our system's slammed the door to careers in science on the majority of non-white non-male non-well-resourced kids. Social justice demands more. Realignment=fine by plenty of folks.

SPS mom said…
They did. She said that she was "uninvited" when she raised concerns.
Anonymous said…
@ Progress, how exactly do you think this provides more rigor or supports social justice? Students were already free to take 3 years of science, and there's nothing to suggest these classes are more rigorous. They may actually be less so--more "discovery based," with minimal units covered and pegged to the level of class background knowledge, and no math prerequisites. They also may replace honors versions that students could have taken if they didn't have to do these new mash-up versions. Oh. And pushing more advanced students to Running Start only exacerbates inequities.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher Columbus said…
There are some - including board member(s)- that fought against discovery math. The board would be smart to ask a lot of questions regarding this issue. As I understand it, students will be required to figure-out lab steps. Lab steps will not be provided.

For progress, Adoption is one thing....implementation is another.

Where is the fiscal note?
Anonymous said…
I'm bothered by two things in the science committee's repeated letters:

1) Their constant name dropping of the Universities they are "working with" on their science curriculum. Who are they working with? The science departments themselves? Or the school of education. How much time are they "consulting" with those universities? What is the substance of those meetings? Universities are big places, so with some specificity about who what when why and how, name dropping the relationships means very little.

2) The oft sited reason for a curriculum revamp - "we must prepare our students for a changing world" rings especially hollow here. High school level intro science classes need accomplish two things - provide an understanding of how the scientific method works as the basis for all the disciplines, and cover enough of the basic core concepts of each discipline such that students that never want to take science again walk away knowing a little bit more about the world around them AND that those who will continue on to advanced science either in HS or college have a foundational base in the discipline to do so.

They need to outline specifically what the identified areas of weakness in the existing curriculum are (in relation to the "changing world") and how the new curriculum will change it. Otherwise, its all just soaring rhetoric with no substance.

PS - Each person worked 120 hours on this project? Three full working weeks - over how many years? Are we supposed to be impressed?

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Ahhhhh... I love this.

One of my favorite things about the internet these days is when you ask a couple of pointed questions, you get ten more questions back as a response asking your qualifications to even ask the question.

This is a typical shut down the conversation tactic done by those who don't want the tough questions to be asked because they either can't answer them or don't want the answers to be known.

Regarding the first paragraph of your questions about the weaknesses in the curriculum - no, I haven't compared them. I'm looking for the science team to answer the questions that have been asked of them, not in platitudes, but with an actual outline of what they are doing and why they are doing it.

As Kellie often points out here - "what is the problem to be solved?" I only noted that if they're not prepared to actually say how the current curriculum is not preparing students for a changing world, than they out to say why it isn't doing that and how this resolves that problem.

For the rest of your questions, no, I don't have a degree in science. But that doesn't make my questions less relevant.

What I do have is a graduate degree from one of the nation's largest public universities where I was exposed to some of the consulting work that a university does with the business community. This can vary from a half day workshop, to a deep consulting relationship involving regular meetings and months of work on behalf of the stakeholders. The difference between the two is very large - and rather than the science team just name dropping these universities in, perhaps if there was real substance to their work (which there very well could be) they ought to cite it in their communications with the most important stakeholders rather than just name drop.

I have a variety of work experience in operations, change management, and strategic initiatives. I can tell you, if I wrote a letter like the one posted in the comments above so devoid of actual, tangible, facts and presented it to my VP at work to push an initiative, she would cut the meeting short and tell me to come back when I had something that was worth her time.

I don't have a horse in this race. I don't support the Ballard HS teachers over the rest of the district (not that this should be an us versus them). I am intellectually curious about the changes they have proposed, and believe that there have been very many specific, pointed questions that have been asked on this blog and in community meetings and the responses from the science committee have been less than satisfactory.

kellie said…
Here is a few things that are really missing from this committee and this process. It might exist and be part of the "communication failure."

If the problem is the need for three credits, where is the analysis that says where schools are today and how far SPS is from the requirement. There should be a report of some sort that says, based on the graduating class of 2015, 2016 or 2017, there were X number of graduates and of those graduates - this is the number of students who graduated with 2 science credits, 3 science credits and 4 science credits. This report should be broken down by school, so that there is a clear operations map that shows precisely where the science credit shortfall lives.

There should also be a report of the operation impact of solving this problem. For example if the solution is to hire more Science teachers are these teacher added to the total faculty or will the science requirement displace staff in other disciplines as students need to drop other classes to add science.

Finally, there should be some type of analysis along the lines of ... just like K-2 class size reduction causes the need for more homerooms, this recommendation will cause the need for X number of addition lab classrooms and Y number of additional science classrooms.

Eric M said…
@Ballard Teachers Are Not Socially Just.

I teach at Ballard, and I have never counseled students of color to drop or leave my classes.

This is an example of the many ad hominem attacks Ballard teachers (and parents) have been subjected to. Don't like what they're saying, or the questions they're asking? Attack their character. I see that as an indicator that better reasoning is lacking.

Do we have work (a lot of work) to do at Ballard (and the rest of this country) to achieve a fair and equitable society, in our little microcosm? Absolutely.

But I reject your description of my work.

And to point this back to the topic at hand, one of the first questions we raised when presented with this plan at the end of November: "Did you use the "Race and Equity Tool" developed by SPS to analyze the impact of this plan on equity?" The answer we heard was "No."
Christopher Columbus said…
I'm hoping someone will post information about the proposed "discovery" nature of the science curriculum. Discovery math was a disaster. Are we to have students trying to figure out lab processes when teachers are expected to have 180 students?

I want a fiscal note. This is going to cost dollars. Aspirations are great, but everything costs.

The district must spend millions on CORE 24 because professional development is involved. There is an upcoming CBA, too. The proposed cost of decreasing 1:180 student teacher ratio is $15M. Where are the dollars?
Anonymous said…
The ONLY way this plan potentially promotes equality (but NOT equity) is via the likely elimination of honors level physics and chemistry classes, since they would be obsolete if many/most were already taking PhysA/ChemA and PhysB/ChemB. By reducing rigor, you may get more students taking intro level classes instead, so less differentiation by ability.

The idea theat there is a social justice component to this plan is ridiculous. It's about getting in three years of science, which students were already free to do. It's also about trying to reengineer the science sequence to focus on a particular test, a test that may prevent some students from graduating. That's not social justice, either.

Answer Seeker
Anonymous said…
One of our sons graduated from the Ballard Biotech program several years ago. My impression was that the teachers were quite good and the science curriculum was excellent. The only negative was the discovery math fad, which did not prepare him for college. I am not sure if the textbooks have been updated since then but I hope so.

It would be bad news If the district goes to a discovery based science curricula. Keep the Biotech program, just improve math in Seattle public schools.

S parent
Anonymous said…
as a teacher, I guarantee you that SEA will never agree to a contact that places high school teacher workloads at 180:1. That is a JSCEE pipe dream.

keep dreamin'
"Ballard teachers actively counsel students of color out of science classes after the required credits, which used to be two, but now is three. This has been reported by students of these teachers and teachers at SPS professional development training."

I'll give you time to tell us who - precisely - is saying this, and dates and time and who it was reported to. If not, I'll delete it. You do not get to actively libel an entire school's teaching corps.

This "realignment" is an equity issue? If they didn't use the Equity Tool, I'm not sure I'm buying that. The Equity tool cannot used wily-nilly.
Anonymous said…
I can’t say anything about counseling out of students of color from BHS science offerings, but I know for a fact that students with disabilities are counseled out of science. It’s pretty disingenuous to suddenly pretend to care about Sped, when you don’t like district requirements, when there are so few sped students taking advanced or even regular/minimal science at Ballard. How many SM2 students do you find in any lab course? Why isn’t regular science being offered or modified for them? How many Access students are in the Biotech or Maritime academy? I heard there was once one. How many SM2 students are in any academy? Unheard of. How about resource room (SM1) kids? I know for a fact that these students were not accommodated or encouraged in anything more than the most basic science minimum. I’m glad some staff are willing to work on social justice. Let’s start by providing ALL students with disabilities a seat in the lab classes at Ballard. No if, and, or buts. When that happens, I bet the claims of racial injustice will disappear.

Anonymous said…

Thank you. Maybe Ballard should provide/publish the data showing the equity of their own science department? How many students of color are in their school? How many are in AP classes? Or in their famed academy programs? How many credits of science do students of color earn compared to other students? How about the same data for students receiving SpED services?

How does Ballard address race and equity within the science department of their own building?
Eric M said…
I don't have the exact numbers available to me on the weekend, but I'd estimate that 25 percent of my 150 science students at Ballard have some kind of legal accommodation for their individual learning.

So, no, I don't think so.
Anonymous said…
PS. I personally know a kid of color, AA, with a disability, who was counseled out of chemistry at BHS. Their family insisted the child take the class anyway, but it turned out to be a total nightmare with zero accommodations or modifications provided. We told you so. I think the primary reason for the lack of support was the prevalent notion that some classes just shouldn’t be really available to students with disabilities. And when certain skills, like math, are prerequisites, some teachers might think that accommodation and/or modifications aren’t required for their class. Not racial discrimination on its face. But when minorities are over represented in special ed, you can see where the 2 issues intersect. BTW this isn’t libel, nor an indictment of a particular teaching staff, it’s probably is true at all the high schools.

Great to know about the 25% But having a learning accommodation isn’t an IEP, and it isn’t cognitive or intellectual disability. Most of those kids are packed into overloaded Food Science. That’s a great option, but all students should get to take real lab courses and not be pushed into something like that. Just saying there really is room for improvement.

Anonymous said…
I love the idea of publishing the data on special ed participation by service model, and for minorities for all of the school’s offerings. Then we would really know all sorts of things about equity. If we really want to improve equity I would think this information would be essential.

Anonymous said…
@ Spedite, if we were to publish data on science participation by sped students, wouldn't we need to break it down by other factors as well, such as completion of/grades in prerequisite courses, whether the student has behavioral issues that make dealing with dangerous chemicals or expensive equipment risk, etc? Or are you saying there are no conditions under which preventing access to an advanced science class is ok?

FYI, plenty of kids with learning accommodations who don't have IEPs--I assume you mean they have 504 plans instead--DO have cognitive or intellectual disabilities. I don't know why you would suggest they don't. But that's probably another way science participation should be broken down--by IEP vs 504 status. It would also be helpful to look at outcomes ssiciated with participation, as well as do an analysis of the accommodations/mods planned and the extent to which they were implemented. It's all very complex, and doing this sort of analysis across the district and by school could be helpful, especially since students will need to take more science.

All types
Christopher Columbus said…
The DISTRICT MUST answer the following questions:

1. If new courses are being taught with course codes, new materials, and new prerequisites, doesn't that define "Adoption". Isn't the use of the word "ALIGNMENT" only to avoid Board involvement?

2. Do you have actual evidence in writing from any University Admissions office that these "non math pre-requisite" courses will qualify for admission to UW or WWU or other colleges?

3. Do you believe in a "one size fits all" philosophy of course offerings?

4. How have you engaged the Highly Capable community in this planning.

5. How have you engaged the Special Education community in this planning.

6. How have you engaged Academies community in this planning.

7. How have you engaged school leadership (Principals and Instructional Coaches) in this planning.

8. Have you engaged the CTE community in this planning.

9. How have you engaged with parents generally in this planning.

10. How have you used the School District's own Race and Equity tool to evaluate the impacts of this adoption.

11. How many sections of 9th grade Physics A/ Chemistry A must a high school offer next year. How many teachers will that require. How may upper level AP and UWHS classes will have to be dropped from a school's schedule? What will be the effect on students to take this class from reassigned Biology teachers teaching outside of their scope. Will Chemistry classes be taught in non-chemistry equipped rooms.

12. What funds have been committed to schools with teachers to ameliorate the impacts of this adoption.

13. What will be the impact on 10th, 11th and 12th grade students.

Please write to Larry Nyland and the school board. I believe the committee over-stepped their role and wrote a new curriculum.
Anonymous said…
>>> student has behavioral issues that make dealing with dangerous chemicals or expensive equipment risk,

Really AllTypes? “behavioral issues” is an ok reason to protect us from the bothersome would-be scientists? Wouldn’t want that behavior problem blowing anyone up in the lab, getting a hold of acid, or worse, breaking the expensive equipment they don’t deserve to use! Very Trumpesque! Everybody knows that “behavior issue” is a code word for black, which kinda validates the racist implications made against these various district detractors.

Anonymous said…
@ X, that's BS. "Behavior issue" is code for... behavior issues. Why are you trying to spin my comment as racist? If a student can't safely work with dangerous chemicals, they shouldn't be allowed to. For their sake, and the sake of fellow students. Duh. Regardless of the color of their skin. My point was that IF--and one anecdote that presumed to know the rationale for supposed counseling out does not make the case--a student is denied access to a specific class, there may have been a legitimate reason for it. We should not presume to know. (Also, limiting access to a particular science class does not prevent would-be scientists, and skin color does not determine access to or preparation for advanced science.)

all types
Anonymous said…
All Types. When I checked into FoodSciences, I was told by BHS staff that it was way over crowded because unfortunately it was the only lab class available for students with significant disabilities. So pretty terrible on lots of levels: no science pathway for students with disabilities, no real labs, no expectations for students (or expectations of staff to do the work modifying and accommodating), and over crowded classes as an added bonus. So no, the student I know - was absolutely not a weird special case. And while it’s true that students with 504s or in regular ed present at varying levels of accomplishment, and behavior profiles, if they have an intellectual disability (that’s a medical diagnosis and corresponding federal disability category) they’re on an IEP and not just hanging out in general ed. Does the Biotech academy take special ed IAs to Hawaii on the biology class trips? That has never happened. Should students with significant disabilities or Autism get to go too, with the necessary support.

As to behaviors. Staff has to figure that one out, because it’s going to be a lot harder to counsel students out of chemistry and physics for behavior challenges. Certainly behaviors due to disability must be accommodated and supported in line with IEPs. That’s why there is extra special ed staff. Same for prerequisites. IEP teams are the ones who should decide which classes students take and with what supports and modification. And they should be able to take any class, if it could possibly benefit the classin any way. That’s how it is supposed to work, and parents shouldn’t have to struggle with this.

As to what data should be tracked. No I don’t favor recording all the subjective measures you mention, including grades and staff perceived behavior profile. Let’s start with simply tracking the things we already track as a federal requirement - race, disability status, frl, ell. That would give us unbiased baselines.

Spedite, agreed. But that's not what the original comment was about and I aim to clear that up. I'd be interested in hearing what the stats are school to school about Special Ed students and science courses.

X, actually I don't know that "behavior" is code-word for black. I don't see that in the school - majority-minority - that I tutor at.
Anonymous said…
@ Spedite, you're incorrect that "while it’s true that students with 504s or in regular ed present at varying levels of accomplishment, and behavior profiles, if they have an intellectual disability (that’s a medical diagnosis and corresponding federal disability category) they’re on an IEP and not just hanging out in general ed."

I assure you there are students with IDEA-qualified cognitive disabilities that are on 504 plans instead of IEPs. For example, this is the case with many 2e students, because administrators have often made it hard to get IEPs if you are not performing poorly enough. The law says students don't need to be failing and their performance should be considered in the context of their potential and what their performance would otherwise be expected to be, but in practice many staff use the "you're not eligible if you're not failing" criterion. So, students who should get IEPs end up with 504 plans instead, because it's easier--and it's not like having an IEP gets you all that great service in SPS anyway, right? You might even be forced into services you don't want. Students with ADHD also often find it hard to get IEPs, even though ADHD is included under the IDEA "other health impairment" category that includes diagnoses conditions that affect alertness.

I agree that, if Ballard was really only allowing Sped students into Food Science, that's a problem. With the move toward the new 3-year sequence hopefully they will have to change that practice and greatly expand their repertoire of accommodations and modifications for these lab science classes. I'm curious, however, whether these same graduation requirements will apply to Sped students, since your comment makes it sound like they did not need to take 2 years of science in the past as required of others. If the rules continue to be different, this change may not make that much of a difference--on it's own--after all. I'm also curious whether this is only a Ballard thing, which I suspect it isn't.

Re: the data tracking, why don't you think prerequisites are important to consider? Are prerequisite requirements "squishier" for Sped students? I can see an argument for that to be the case, especially if students are getting significant modifications. Yes, tracking the basics would give us baselines, but will they be easy-to-interpret baselines? What is the "correct" level of Sped student participation in a particular science class? Should it be exactly the same as non-Sped groups? If a lower number is ok, how much lower is reasonable? We would need more data to understand the latter.

all types
Anonymous said…
@all types. You are massively confused about sped. Just because somebody slapped a label on a kid, ADHD, 2e, Autism... doesn’t mean they qualify for anything under IDEA. The person who determines that a kid has an “IDEA qualifying disability” is the school psych, and of course they use input from a principals or other school administrators. That is required. The disability has to have significant educational impact. So it’s ok to consider academic performance. If you don’t qualify for an IEP, as determined by school psych’s evaluation, then IDEA does not apply to you - by definition, you don’t have “an IDEA qualifying disability”. 504 plans are governed by the ADA. Not much is required to get a section 504 plan... but then it comes with no money, no goals, no teacher to implement goals. The purpose of the ADA and section 504 is non discrimination and equal opportunity to education. The purpose of IDEA and IEPs is FAPE, free and appropriate public education. Big difference.

Penrodyn said…
I'm not a big fan of the discovery method of learning. It's not a new idea as I was taught discovery chemistry back in the late 70s, it was called Nuffield Science. It was very frustrating, I never knew whether I was doing something right or not. I feel the problem with discovery based teaching is that students can pick up bad habits in the lab which aren't corrected and end up only having a partial or even incorrect understanding of basic concepts. This can have major repercussions later on. Can one imagine teaching discovery carpentry or metal work, i doubt it would work. Foundational concepts and practical skills have to be shown to students who then must practice what they have learned.
Anonymous said…
@ Stickler, of course. But you do realize that a kid can HAVE an IDEA-qualifying disability without having been officially IDEA-qualified by a school psych, right? They don't officially qualify for those services and IDEA doesn't apply to them because they haven't had the IDEA label slapped on them, but they still HAVE the disability that WOULD qualify them were the school admin or psych willing to acknowledge that you don't have to be failing to qualify. Your optimism that school staff always make it happen for students who should qualify, however, is refreshing. I can guarantee you, however, that there are students who WOULD qualify if schools were more forthcoming with psych evals and referrals and did not push people to 504 plans instead. Parents of 2e students with specific learning disabilities and other health impairments that clearly fall within the 13 IDEA categories are frequent told, incorrectly, that their students don't qualify for IDEA because they are not working below grade level, when according to IDEA they are supposed to be assessed in relation to their ability level (i.e., discrepancy between IQ and achievement, not comparison to grade-level peers).

all types
Christopher Columbus said…

"I'm not a big fan of the discovery method of learning. It's not a new idea as I was taught discovery chemistry back in the late 70s, it was called Nuffield Science. It was very frustrating, I never knew whether I was doing something right or not."

I agree. Chemistry is complex and I can't imagine teachers having the bandwidth to give students the attention they would need. My experience with discovery based curriculum: Students teach students. No one really knows what is going on.
Fiscal Note said…
Where is the fiscal note?

According to the Seattle Times, Seattle property owners can expect a property tax increase of approximately $825. It is my expectation that the district adopts a cost effective alignment. I do not believe the present plan puts us on the path.

I expect board members to vote down a plan that costs tax payers millions of dollars.
kellie said…
Over the years, I have visited many private schools that have discovery math or science programs. I was quite surprised by this curriculum choice ... but then again, those curriculum were delivered with small class sizes, typically under 20 AND substantial in-class resources to guide and support the discover.

These programs just don't work in public school where there are unreliable resources and over loaded classes and even text books are not guaranteed.

I remember a homework question for a 6th grade discovery math text book that was sent home one night. After I spent way too much time on the question, I realized that the "answer" was to "invent calculus." Now the textbook, framed this as "discover calculus" but I was furious, when I realized the intent of the question.

It was both marvelous that the textbook was making the connection between this algebraic concept and how that concept flowed directly into calculus. The part when this was "homework" and "self-discovery" was maddening and nearly destroyed my student's love of math.

Discovery science. Disaster in the making.

Anonymous said…
@fiscal note—if you’ve been following the news, you know there will be a huge tax increase and a decrease in funds to SPS. The tax increase is not in response to a plan submitted by SPS, it is in response to the approved McCleary fix the move money around rather than add adequate money to the system.

You are correct—SPS will need to be more cost effective, but not for reasons you site, and they have nothing to do with the stupid plan that was approved by the legislature last spring.

Read Up
Anonymous said…
All Types. We’d all be geniuses - except for how we perform. Special education is never going to be the service that makes an average performer live up to parental aspirations, even if everyone was granted an IEP. And finding assessments of high IQ are easy to come by, IQ alone doesn’t determine aptitude. That’s what school psychs do. Floor of Opportunity. Not a Cadillac. Functional in a School Environment. Those are the norms of Special Ed service. All right out of the law. (The Supreme Court just overturned the “de minimis” standard, which is good. Now we have a service dedicated to “some educational benefit”. So, slightly more than: slightly more than as little as possible. And still only a Floor of Opportunity.) Does that sound like the type of service that will take your kid to an advanced level or will make your kid thrive in IBX, or AP chemistry?


Anonymous said…
When I was told that my kid should be discovering science and that no textbook was needed, I responded 'Well my kid is discovering nothing other than that they no longer like science'. We had to look up stuff on Google every night so we could explain, this was what you were supposed to learn. My kid got through it and actually took 4 years of science because that is what most colleges expect even for non-science majors, but it turned my kid off from pursuing any sort of STEM career. The science class my kid liked the most, Physics because of the math.

Anonymous said…
@ Stickler, "parental aspirations"? Sheesh. How obnoxious. And of course IQ alone doesn't determine know, because of things like disabilities. Which is the point. Again, sheesh.

That you seem to deny that an HCC-qualified student can also have legitimate disabilities that make their participation in HCC challenging without IEP accommodations and supports that allow them to be in that LRE, which is the appropriate LRE for them, is beyond the pale. Every student deserves to get the support they need to help deal with their SLDs and other issues that impact their cognitive and intellectual functioning. Sometimes all it takes for an "average performer" to "thrive in IBX or AP chemistry" is to get the necessary assistive technology or support services or minor modifications that aren't available via a 504 plan, and that a student would qualify for under IDEA.

Special ed services, and IDEA, are not only for students performing below average, and are not only supposed to provide the minimum. They can, and are supposed to, also be for students who are of exceptionally high intelligence but who have a disability that limits their ability to participate in gifted programming. Here's a link to a US Dept of Ed letter on the 2e issue if you're interested in learning more:

all types
Anonymous said…
Our experience as well, HP. Teach-yourself-[fill in the science of choice] has unfortunately been the norm for too many classes. It's gets old playing part-time teacher. The SPS push for guide-on-the-side vs the sage-on-the-stage has not helped.

part-time teacher
Fiscal Note said…
Thanks for your comments, Read up.

I'm aware of McCleary, temporary levy lid lift, impact on special education and attempts to limit the use of levy funding. The district will be bargaining with SEA in the near future. With CORE 24, I expect the bill to be upwards of $10M. I'd hate to see a massive science disruption with a high price tag- especially since Bellevue is simply modifying existing classes. I would hate to see costs shifted from support services, successful programs i.e. IB etc.

I'm suggesting the board be fiscally prudent. The district has not attached a price tag to science "alignment".

I have been pondering the cost of an "alignment". Board must approve expenditures greater than $250K. It seems to me that this plan MUST come before the board. Professional development is involved. Professional development usually has a large.
Anonymous said…
all types. I feel your pain but you are bringing a mule to the Kentucky derby. You admitted as much in previous posts. Even the letter, which is non binding, that you posted, leaves it to the states to determine what an SLD is. States may use grade level tests or may not. States may permit, but are NOT required to use a severe discrepancies as qualification for SLD. Wasn’t that the reason you thought SLD status should be granted to an average performer with high IQ? DOE says otherwise. They don’t have to. And in Washington State, the WACs specifically indicates that age and grade level discrepancy is used for SLD determination. Of course, HCC students can’t be denied special education, but average performance isn’t going to be the qualifier. Go for bad behavior.

And if all a kid needs is assistive technology, 504s do the trick. If a kid needs a modification in high school, then they get modified credit for the course, which does appear on transcripts. If the required courses are modified then the student receives a certificate of individual achievement instead of academic achievement. If a small accommodation is the only thing necessary, then general educators can do that. When you qualify for an IEP, you qualify for actual instruction by a special education teacher, not simply modifications or accommodations. Which brings us back to the mule in AP chemistry. Won’t help you.

Anonymous said…
I'm not talking about grade-level tests--I'm talking about professionally administered, in-depth, neuropsychological batteries that look at IQ and achievement. However, it sounds like you are saying that even if a student has a huge (3SD!) discrepancy between IQ and achievement scores, as long as they can perform at grade level on basic state tests WA state considers that all is good? That's a sad state of things, but thank you for helping me understand. 2e students really get a raw deal.

all types
Anonymous said…
You can read the SLD guidelines published by the state. Right. IQ discrepancies are not part of the qualifications in the discrepancy clause for SLD determination. And therefore not 2e except by an outside provider either. Low IQs are also excluded btw. It’s not the fault of your principal. And also right, SLDs even those identified, get a raw deal too.

Anonymous said…
@ Stickler, what exactly do you mean by "And therefore not 2e except by an outside provider either"? If neuropsychologist says "gifted with learning disability" are you saying that "counts"? Because I know a lot of kids in that boat...

all types

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