Seattle Schools for the Week of January 8-14, 2018

Monday, January 8th 
Audit & Finance Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm. Agenda

Tuesday, January 9th
Curriculum& Instruction Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  Agenda

Of interest:
Adopting Resolution No. 2017/18-10 to establish an equitable vision for advanced coursework by replacing highly capable pathways at the high school level with a localized assignment model by 2021-2022 (Geary, DeWolf).

I'm a little puzzled why this needs a resolution but maybe Geary and DeWolf are making a point.  Naturally, the district no longer attaches documentation to agendas, I have had to request it in order to read the resolution.

This is following by Brent Jones' presentation "Formula for Success" - Superintendent SMART Goal 2, Elminating Opportunity Gaps.  

Then there is the "Equitable Access Annual Report." 

Following that is an Advanced Learning Update and Math Adoption Update.  


Wednesday, January 9th
Work Sessions: High School Boundaries; Budget, 4:30-7:00 pm.  No agenda or materials yet available.

Ballard HS Field Lights MUP Community Workshop 
Ballard High School, NW211, from 6-7:30 pm.

Special Ed. Workshop: Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) -

Aki Kurose Middle School, 3928 S Graham St, Seattle 98118, 6-8 pm

Seattle Public Schools is once again collaborating with Open Doors for Multicultural Families on three workshops for families and professionals:

  • Positive Behavior Supports – December 6
  • Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs) and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) – January 10
  • Planning for Transition to Adulthood – February 7

All families are welcome to these workshops!

Thursday, January 11th
Executive Committee meeting, JSCEE, from 8:30-10:30 am. No agenda yet available.

Seattle Public Schools has prepared a Draft SEPA Checklist for the Ingraham High School Classroom Addition Project. A public meeting will be held on Thursday, January 11, 2018 from 6:30 - 8:00 PM at Ingraham High School Library located at 1819 N 135th Street, Seattle, WA to present the project and answer questions.

The District seeks written comments on the Draft SEPA Checklist. The Draft SEPA Checklist can be viewed by clicking here.

Also of interest, the SEPA page at SPS for capital projects.

Friday, January 12th
BEX Oversight Committee Meeting, JSCEE from 8:30-10:30 am, no agenda yet available.

Sunday, January 14
Community meeting with Director Mack at Magnolia Library from 1-2:30 pm.


HCC Parent said…
I want Geary and DeWolf need to produce a solid plan- not a Resolution.
MLK Gifted said…
Director Geary sat back and watched while Spectrum suffered colony collapse and she and the rest of the board showed no sign of caring about rigor then. Parents know: school board members who don't care about rigor for kindergarten through 8th graders don't suddenly start caring about it for high school students.

Our school board is running a large school district. Let us ask them this; Does rigor come from schools or does it come from students? Because if rigor comes from the schools, schools can step up their rigor right now. What are schools waiting for? If ALL students want access to rigor, and rigor comes from the schools, why wait until 2021?

Director Geary, however, seems to believe that rigor comes from students, not teachers. She seems to think that highly capable students are like pixie dust- sprinkle them around and rigor will magically blossom around them.
Anonymous said…
Rigor comes from good curriculum choices - sometimes even rather old-fashioned curricula (for some subjects). Your description of the pixie dust philosophy is very apt and I have encountered principals, asst. superintendents, and teachers who subscribe to this handling of HC kids, in addition to Geary.

However, do remember that one Director, Burke, has worked tirelessly in the past to remedy this precise problem by choosing rigorous math curricula. He's an engineer and realizes that SPS students, especially the General Ed SPS students, were at a disadvantage with the fuzzy math curricula instituted by former superintendent MGJ. He has had some success on this front but when the district can't agree on a simple and obvious choice by worrying excessively about CC alignment (or using that as an excuse to push certain publishers) efforts to improve rigor are diluted.

The district needs to choose rigorous, preferably tried and true, curricula and texts and then, fercrissake, keep it stable for a minimum of 5 years to let teachers establish lesson plans. This is not as hard as the district administration would make you think. Parents would then be empowered to check on their teachers to see if they are aligned with the curriculum (I've done this myself as an SPS parent). If the district has "trouble" choosing curricula, there are ample examples of what works at the Robinson Center and other high performing districts in the area.

Admirable efforts to include more underrepresented students in HC will not be helpful to those students (or any students in the district) if they are dogged by inconsistent and poor curricula. Furthermore, teachers need some stability to develop lesson plans and for younger teachers to develop their craft.

I hope we can hire a Superintendent who can prioritize both rigor and stability in the district but I have seen too many failures to expect this.

Anonymous said…
We have seen a change in curriculum in several classes in what appears to be an effort to make the curriculum "more accessible," but in reality has just watered it down. This is in high school. Simplified lessons. Less writing. Less reading. Less challenge. More group work. More students left with poorly developed skills. If this is the ultimate plan, run, folks. Get out of SPS while you can. As someone else suggested, rigor should come from schools not students. SPS seems H-bent on eliminating rigor, all the while claiming they are increasing it.

not hopeful
Anonymous said…
I have to agree with you. Both group work and poorly designed project-based learning can leave kids who aren't engaged in the dust with essentially no teaching input and restrain the progress of those who are trying to work ahead. So no one wins. I know that many "professional educators" will disagree with me. However, this has been my experience and observation as a parent - I am not an educator of youngsters (though I do teach college level students). Guess that makes ME a professional educator!

My feeling is that for students that are finding material inaccessible more teaching professionalism, not a change in curriculum will help (in the form of extra tutoring). That is how Finland does it (per THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING: In Search of a Better Life By Anu Partanen). However, what I see is the district abandoning teachers as professionals and turning to publishers for pre-designed curricula that are, in theory, supposed to be able to be presented by anyone, regardless of their training. My experience with pre-canned curricula at the college level has been bad. Thus it pains me whenever the district tries it.

CBA said…
The board needs to understand that the upcoming CBA will increase high school load to 1:180. It is impossible for one teacher to provide differentiated instruction to 180 students.
Anonymous said…
Ironically, the Geary/DeWolf plan will decrease equity, not increase it. One only needs to look at the heat maps of where HC students live to see that "serving" all students in their AA school will mean even more advanced classes for high schools that already have many, but NOT more for most of those that don't--and HC students in those schools will lose their chance for equitable access via a pathway.

Equity means providing different things based on different needs--not providing the same thing to all.

Anonymous said…
DisAPP, that is exactly the point I made in the letters I wrote to the Board, and to my own Director. The position taken by Geary and DeWolf does nothing to increase equity. It just allows them to pat themselves on the back. It's really dismaying. I hope other Directors are sharp enough to see through it.

kellie said…
The week the Budget Work Session is going to focus on the high school budget and the proposal to move to the 4x2 schedule in order to provide more credit opportunities.

This should be another great exercise. The proposal is going to be to change the WSS for high school to be funded at 24:1 so that high school teachers will be teaching 6 out of 8 classes while maintaining the 150:1 ratio.

A rough estimate on my part is that with the same enrollment, this will add about 150 new teachers across all high schools and most comprehensive schools will get between 9-12 additional staff for the same enrollment. My rough estimate on cost is that is will cost at least $14M to implement on the part of SPS, because the State of Washington does not fund anything close to those ratios for high school.

On the one hand this is a great thing. That type of investment in high school is meaningful and substantial. For the large comprehensive high schools this would be 60 additional slots on the master schedule and 40-50 additional slots at the smaller comprehensive schools. That would be more than enough so that all students could get 24 credits. More than enough for Advanced Learning. More than enough so that all schools could have a 7th period class for credit retrieval or other options.

But where is the is money going to come from? and if you are going to invest $14M into high school over and above state funding year after year, I can think of dozens of better ways to spend that money, that don't remove so many instructional minutes from the school day.
Anonymous said…
Wait...doesn't a 4x2 schedule have some of the same issues as the 3x5? Reduced hours per credit/class? And meeting only 3x per week for each class? Once again, may work for LA classes, but not so well for math classes where you are trying to cover a topic a day. I can't even imagine how AP/IB courses will cover the needed material. I'm assuming all classes meet on Wed, for what, 30 min each?, then alternate on other days. Going from 6 to 8 classes (what happened to a 7 period proposal?) means reducing contact time to about 60% of original. Classes simply can't cover as much content. How, again, is this an improvement??

doesn't compute
kellie said…
@ doesn't compute,

IMHO, the 4x2 schedule is another disaster, as it both reduces instruction time per class considerably and takes part time running start off of the table. There is no reasonable way to have an every other day schedule at SPS, line up with a community college schedule.

I am glad that they are hopefully going to have an honest conversation about the price tag, rather than continue to pressure the teachers to increase the ratio from 1:150 to 1:180.

This really looks and feels like a game of 52 card pick up with high school. Everything is on the table for review.

CBA said…
The budget office has allocated funding. Some claim class sizes will go down. High schools need more teachers. Will there be enough??
kellie said…
Funding for K-8 is classroom size related. As high school is the master schedule, funding relates to the master schedule, not class sizes. Class sized are related to the CBA.

When the funding for high school was dropped from 30:1 to 29:1, there was no change in class sizes. Instead, this change resulted in 2-3 additional teachers at each comprehensive high school, which resulted in 10-15 additional slots on the master schedule.

That change from 30:1 to 29:1 was absolutely critical to students getting as many classes as they got this year. The more slots there are on the master schedule, the more options there are for slotting students into classes. If better metrics were tracked, you see a drop in forced TA-ships because of lack of classes with that change. However, those critical metrics are not tracked centrally.

The same will be true for each additional drop in funding allocation. IMHO, a drop to 24:1 would actually mean that high schools are appropriately funded for 24 credits. That said, I am still strongly suspicious about how sustainable that funding really is.

As for hiring more teachers that is a great question.

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Bubba said…
Students should be able to access the services they need within their geo zone. Segregating students exceptional learners on either side of the bell curve in self-contained “cohorts” is a tough pill to swallow. As a special education teacher, with a highly capable child, he called out this hypocrisy. Has any one presented a comparison of the self-contains HCC heat maps with special education services/Pathway app?
Bubba said…
Students should be able to access the services they need within their geo zone. Segregating students exceptional learners on either side of the bell curve in self-contained “cohorts” is a tough pill to swallow. As a special education teacher, with a highly capable child, he called out this hypocrisy. Has any one presented a comparison of the self-contains HCC heat maps with special education services/Pathway app?

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