Disqus

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Final Science Adoption Thoughts

Update: I mistakenly thought the three Science adoptions had been introduced at the last Board meeting.  It certainly sounded like that would be the course of things after the Committee of the Whole meeting for Curriculum & Instruction last week.  So the big vote won't be until May 29th.  There are good and bad aspects to this schedule.


Good
- More time, more discourse.  And whether the Adoption committees are taking any input doesn't really matter at this point - the Board is.
- More time for public disclosure information to become available; I'm crossing my fingers on that one.
- It's always fun to see how many stories can be told about the Amplify pilot program.

Bad
- It's starting to drag out.
- More time for people who don't seem to understand that there can be concerns or disagreement over curriculum without the need to call people racist for that disagreement.  It's pretty striking how the staff and the Amplify supporters fell the need to go this direction.

Wish
It would be nice if the High School Science adoption could be broken out for votes.  See the comments in this thread for the reasons why.  I had forgotten that the head of Science, Mary Margaret Welch, was involved in the creation of the Biology pick, Carbon Time.  

There is quite the volume of information on all sides of the Science Adoption debate.
Have thoughts? Write the Board - spsdirectors@seattleschools.org

I'll tell you the vote I believe this Science adoption merits.


K-5 Elementary - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Science Dimensions.  The rubric by the actual Adoption Committee supports this and I'll just take the recommendation instead of Amplify as just a mistake.  I hope to see the amendment by Burke/Pinkham pass and then probably a 5-2 vote for HMH.

6-8 - Whatever the Board does, it must reject Amplify Science.  This part of the adoption has more holes than Swiss cheese.  The ever-changing, morphing story of how Amplify came to be used in so many middle schools as a (non)pilot is just ridiculous at this point.  And has no ring of authenticity to it.  As well, we don't even know how much that cost the district.  I look to see this being the closest vote but not passing at 4-3.

High School - It's a variety of materials because of the specificity of the classes but I look to this one passing, 7-0.  While I know some teachers are very unhappy over the sequencing of the classes (and some also don't Carbon Time for Biology), I think this is one that should go thru.

Let me boil down my arguments and then expand via the new FAQs on the adoption. 

1) I want to throw one argument straight out the window - "we have to do something."  Ever heard of "penny-wise, pound foolish?" The Board better damn know what they are spending taxpayer dollars on and not just to "do something."

2) Speaking of spending, I will absolutely defer to the experts on curriculum.

But you know what the Board's role is? Not being experts on curriculum.  No, their job in this particular instance is to get the best bang for the buck AND make sure that all district policies are followed...to the letter.

They need to know the TOTAL costs of each and every adoption proposed.  If staff is buying a more computer-based curriculum, then ALL the costs of computers, PD to use the curriculum on those computers AND supports to keep all those computers running have GOT to be included.

Where is that accounting?  We're still waiting.  And now, at the eleventh hour, it's too late.   

3)  A real effort - per Board policy - to listen to input from teachers, students, parents and the public.  See below for the count of the number of inputs allowed.

4) Two words yet unsaid and unexplained - data collection.

A reader put forth the FAQs on the adoption that have been put up at the district's webpage.  Items of note:

- In response to the lack of updated, standards-aligned science curricula, schools with heavy PTSA financial involvement have been able to purchase supplemental materials for their schools. Schools with this level of PTSA investment tend to also have fewer students experiencing poverty and lower teacher turnover. Some schools have also been able to purchase from their building-based budget, but not all schools.

I would like to see the actual data about how many PTAs spend their dollars on science supplemental materials because I don't think there are many.  Also, that last sentence in the paragraph?  Who's fault is it that schools cannot buy the materials they need? Not PTSAs. It's the district's fault.

A word about equity- staff seems hell-bent on blaming all the inequities in the district on PTAs that raise a lot of money and HCC.  That's myopic and, of course, impossible.

But it is hypocritical for the district to point the finger at PTAs for inequities and then, quietly, accept PTA funding for staff at schools (about 23 FTE at last count), playground rebuilds, computers, etc. As well, I know many teachers who fund most materials in their classrooms and it's out of their own pockets. 

Pointing at PTAs deflects the responsibility - like providing a baseline of science materials - that are rightly the district's to fund.

- The test is entirely computer-based and all test items are digitally interactive.  I assume this sentence is in the FAQs to hint that students who learn science on a computer will be better prepared than those who use book-based science curriculum.  So we pick a curriculum based on training kids to use a computer?

-What is a science curriculum adoption process?
 It is part of SPS Policy No. 2015, “Selection & Adoption of Instructional Materials.” An Instructional Materials Committee creates a representative Adoption Committee for each specific adoption (e.g. elementary science). In the case of science, the three adoption committees consisted of teachers, professors, scientists, and families. It is a thorough process that solicits input from the community on their opinions and values about instructional materials. 

Yes, the policy as written is "a thorough process" but did the adoption follow the policy?  It did not in the area of community input.


From former director Sue Peters on how much input was allowed by staff via only their methodology:

feedback from 12 people for the elementary school materials
from 10 people for the middle school materials
from 0 to 2 people, depending on the materials in question, for the high school materials.

(CarbonTime (BIO A) – 2 people filled out the form; District development curric Bio B– zero people; District development curric Chem A – 1 person; STEMScopes CHEM A – Zero; STEMScopes CHEM B – Zero; PEER A (PHYS A & B) – 1 person.)

That means that all the emails or calls that parents, students, teachers or other community members sent this last year to Ms. Welch, the Board, Superintendent Juneau or other staff about science materials were apparently withheld from the adoption committees.

- It is the adoption committee, not the SPS Science Manager or staff, that determines which curriculum candidate is selected for recommendation of approval for adoption by the School Board, as outlined in Board Policy 2015.  

Okay, if that's true, then how did Amplify, with a lower overall score than HMH, come in first in the K-5 adoption?   Hence, the need for the amendment by Director Burke and Director Pinkham that rectifies that error.

- How did SPS obtain Amplify for use as instructional waiver materials? 
Amplify provided the program subscriptions (the digital portion) for free to SPS. SPS used existing resources to provide schools with the workbooks and kits (labs). 

Seriously?  This is the THIRD in a series of explanations from Mary Margaret Welch, head of Science.

One story was told at the April 3rd Work Session about some mysterious donor who overheard MMW bemoaning not being able to pilot a new curriculum because of the costs and the donor gave the money to Amplify for SPS to have their curriculum.

Then, KUOW was told another story by staff:

Welch said she had told Amplify that the district had approved the waivers, but couldn’t afford the curriculum, and the company said it would look for a donor.

Now , in the FAQs, we have Amplify - sans donor -  directly giving the materials to SPS? Because if you are going to put out an FAQ, you better tell the complete and whole story.  

But all this talk about schools piloting Amplify and the money involved circles back to one central question  - broken out by waiver schools and then all schools - is HOW MUCH WILL THIS ALL COST?

And by "cost", I mean everything including supplemental materials, computers (remember, the FAQs tell us Amplify is computer-based) and support (including PD and computer-based help)?

That figure is nowhere to be seen.

And how much did the district spend to implement Amplify in waiver schools?  Supplemental materials AND technology?  What was that cost?

That figure is nowhere to be seen.


- Beginning in 2017, Amplify was requested in the Instructional Waiver process by several SPS schools to be used as an alternative to the current instructional materials adopted in 2001-2002. At this time, SPS Science had not yet been informed of the decision to proceed with an official science instructional materials adoption process for grades K-12 at all SPS schools.

More stuff and nonsense.  Why? Because staff tried to do an end run around the Board AND not have to go thru a formal adoption.  So in the FAQs we see staff trying to turn that lack of official adoption to their advantage now.

- Amplify for grades 6-8 has recently been rated as “fully-aligned” by EdReports.

Great and who is EdReports? From Ed Week:

EdReports is a nonprofit that tries to gauge whether published learning materials align to states' expectations for students, including the NGSS and the Common Core State Standards. It's mostly been supported by philanthropies, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has given the group more than $15 million over the past decade.

Oh yeah, the Gates Foundation.

What does the other SPS science contender, HMH, think of EdReports?

HMH's assessment was even harsher. The rating, the company said, "does not reflect errors or problems with alignment on HMH's part, but rather reveals the EdReports' rubric's lack of depth of engagement with NGSS and a philosophical difference in approach to the standards integration. 
"We believe the rubric is limited by a disconnection from the research base of NGSS, its writers, and the community of teacher practitioners implementing the standards," it concluded.

Publishers also pointed out that the grading framework changed midway through the process, though EdReports officials said they rescored everything when those revisions were made.

A few years back here's what the National Council of Mathematics Teachers had to say about EdReports work around math:

 The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics wholeheartedly support the goals of EdReports. However, its reviews are leading educators who are analyzing how instructional materials support implementation of CCSSM to make decisions that will do a disservice to our students and will squander the potential of the standards to improve mathematics education.   

- At grades 6-8, students may directly access the online portal, however the classroom teacher is still responsible for instructing the lesson and motivating each learning activity within the lesson.

The teacher "instructs" the lesson - you note they don't say "teach."  This is VERY much the pathway to having fewer teachers as rolled out by the "personalized learning" crowd.  If teachers are not "teaching,"  Then you need fewer of them and they can be replaced by facilitators who will cost far less than teachers.  Clever, no?

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Carbon Time is snooze time. The kids HATE it. They LOATHED it. Rick & Zack were told this - I was there. How can they possibly move this forward? Did they not get the memo WELCH is 100% unprofessional? Welch has an agenda. And it is not serving our kids.

For the board to go along with this even when it stinks to high heaven, shame on them for lacking either a brain or courage to serve our children.

We will be opting out. There are plenty of other options. SPS’s monopoly is crumbling.

sorry, move

Anonymous said...

Well, one more time, for what little it's worth, student comments about the new physics curriculum created and implemented under this regime.

These comments are from Ballard High School physics students, in March 2019. The comments were solicited by a one-page questionnaire I created while long-term subbing for a teacher who was removed for (ahem) personnel issues (not for actual teaching problems). I tried to keep the questions neutral and open-ended. These are not my opinions, but the opinions of students who got served this new curriculum. Board members have this information, and have chosen to ignore these student responses, and rally behind this student experience as exemplary. Somehow.

I mean, WTF? You have to be spinning some serious, Huckabee-Sanders kind of addled fantasy to dismiss this as OK.

Making America Dopier

-----------------------------------------------------



Was the level of the material appropriate for you personally?

“No, it was low key insulting. Like it ask (sic) me questions as if I was an idiot. So easy.”
“No. I learned the vocab terms in middle school.”
“No, it felt too easy/not very challenging.”
“No, it felt like middle school.”
“The level of the material was too easy for me.”
“It was lower then I would have liked.”
“No. Waste of time. I feel like I'm being treated like a freshman.”
“No, was super easy.”
“No. It was not thought provoking at all.”
“No. Math was easy and everything was repetitive.”
“It was very simple and easy.”
“No, way too easy.”
“The level felt lower than I would've wanted.”
“No. It was not very challenging.”
“It was pretty boring and extremely basic, as it was combined with the slow pace which was not ideal.”
“I felt like too many worksheets and too little experiments.”


How would you personally compare the math you know with the math you used in physics class?

“The math I know is so far beyond this class.”
“I'm doing middle school math in this class (how it feels)”
“I didn't learn any new math in physics”
“My math capabilities are much higher than what was needed for physics.”
“The math we did felt like busy work.”
“I definitely am not using my full capability w/ the experiments and classwork, I could probably do it in my sleep.”
“The math in physics was significantly simpler.”
“I used NO math in physics.”
“It was a whole other level of easy”
“I know way more than I used in class.”
“The math in this class doesn't even come close to what I know.”
“Know a little and used none.”
“The math in physics is lower than I know.”
“No real math in physics.”
“I would go back to 7th grade for the math we used in physics.”

On average, how much time did you have left in class after you completed your work?

probably over half the class
20-30 minutes
50 minutes
25 minutes usually
20 minutes
Lots of time
~30 minutes
20-30 minutes
30 minutes
30-20 minutes
Around 25 minutes
25 minutes
40-45 minutes
20-25 minutes
15 minutes at least
20 minutes → used for talking with friends + phone time
15-20 minutes
20 minutes
20 minutes, sometimes 30
like 25 minutes daily

Would you recommend this class, with the same curriculum, to a younger sibling?

“No, it wasn't challenging and iot didn't make physics an exciting class”
“I would absolutely not”
“If you want a boring and easy class”
“I would recommend it to my 12-year old sister”
“I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy”
“If they want an easy science class, without too much critical thinking.”
“NO!!!”
“Absolutely Not.”
“I would recommend it as an easy A”
“No, except to have the class on your transcript.”
“Absolutely Not.”
“Yes, because it would be an easy A”
“For an easy class, easy A: Yes. To Learn: No”
“No, the curriculum is very boring. I spent about half of each class working on homework for other classes.”
“No”“If you want an easy A, or want to be babysat for an hour a day, with 30 minutes of 5th grade physics”
“If they wanted an easy A, yes”
“Not with the same curriculum”
“No. I have suggested to friends after taking this curriculum not to take physics”

suep. said...

And here are the concerns about CarbonTime (the recommendation for high school biology) and why it should not be approved, one more time as well:

1. It was the only product reviewed and recommended. This is in violation of District policy and potentially the law, which requires a competitive bidding process. (In the past, policy or at least practice required 3 finalists for every selection process.)

How can the Board -- or the community -- have confidence that this is the best curricular choice for SPS students if no others were reviewed or seriously considered?

2. Apparently SPS Science Program Manager MaryMargaret Welch and her SPS predecessor, Dan Gallagher, were involved in the development and promotion of CarbonTime. That would call into question the objectivity of the process that led to this 'sole source' selection and a potential conflict of interest or bias.

See:
"Implementing a learning progression-based educational system at large scales"

Also, here is a a recent research paper (from May 2018) on CarbonTime in which Ms. Welch is cited as a coauthor. Which leads to another, and very crucial, point:

3. Ms. Welch's own report states that CarbonTime is not effective for high-poverty students. (See below. Bold emphasis mine.)

That fact alone should automatically disqualify this product from consideration for Seattle Schools.

(from p. 16 of research paper)

"Carbon TIME was less successful in higher-poverty schools with fewer organizational resources. The school percentage of free and reduced lunch was negatively associated with class-average learning gain. That is to say, classrooms from schools with higher percent of free and reduced lunch benefit less from implementing Carbon TIME. We discuss this finding in more detail below; we interpret it as evidence that schools with more organizational resources are more successful in implementing Carbon TIME. Previous studies have shown the percent of free and reduced lunch can be a proxy measure for material,social,and human material resources such as students’ access to qualified and experienced teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2004; Rice, 2010)and the overall quality of conditions in which teachers work. (Johnson, Kraft & Papay, 2012)."

A recommendation of CarbonTime is in direct contradiction of the emphasis the science curriculum staff and adoption committees have placed on equity. They told the Board that a commitment to equity was driving their entire process, and have heavily emphasized this to the Board. Nor would such a choice align with the goals outlined in the district's newly adopted Strategic Plan.

4. Lastly, from the views of students and science professors I have spoken with, CarbonTime is dull, not hands-on, offers very limited lab work, and basically makes students hate science.

Anonymous said...

Although the Biology EOC test is no longer required, it was in use pre and post implementation of Carbon Time and shows a decline in scores in % of students who met standard post implementation of Carbon Time in 2015/16.

Why is the Adoption Cmte recommending CarbonTime for Biology when all SPS students, including Low Income and Black/African-American, experienced diminished learning outcomes with this curriculum?

SPS Biology EOC % Met Standard Trend:

White All Low Income Black/African American
2012-13 88.9% 71.80% 51.90% 41.6%
2013-14 89.4% 72.20% 53.00% 45.8%
2014-15 82.9% 66.40% 49.10% 41.5%
2015-16 83.5% 68.60% 52.30% 41.8%
2016-17 81.6% 66.40% 47.70% 36.4%

Source: OSPI, Seattle Schools, % Met Standard


nn

Anonymous said...

This science adoption process seems to follow the recent elementary school math adoption where the "criteria" made it very difficult for more than one curriculum to make it through the selection process. The US is full of curriculum developers that are eager to sell schools new curriculum. Some are not good (many!), but there have to be more than just a very few that are deemed ok.

Especially since studies have shown test scores are largely correlated to parental income, why are "standards alignment" still weighted so heavily? Especially since the "standards aligned" curriculum seem to actually decrease overall test scores. Maybe how well kids learn would be a better area to assess?

NE Parent

Stuart J said...

Hi, I don't have any info on the science adoption beyond what's in the comments of the various posts on this blog. But to answer the question about "why is standards alignment weighted so heavily" ... I think there are a lot of educators eager to have some type of metric to show progress, and by using standards as a benchmark, showing progress, especially compared to other districts, is possible. Do the educators really think this is best for kids? That is very hard to know. Would they put their own kids into this type of a system? Again very hard to know. Maybe they are true believers when it comes to this.

But here in Highline, we also have an adoption for K8 math. And if you think your situation is bad, ours in my opinion is much worse. First, we had a "two week pilot." Yes. Two weeks at most was how long the materials were piloted. Second, for K5, the district staff wants to use a curriculum created by the San Francisco school district. They started working on it a few years ago, announced maybe six months ago that other districts could use it, and from what I can tell, Highline would be the first district to adopt it. How effective is the curriculum? Very hard to know. SFUSD has some press releases, but much of the messaging seems to be about .... anything other than real results for kids. What SFUSD is also doing is holding off on Algebra 1 until 9th grade. If students do want to take Calculus in high school, the only way they can do it is to double up: take Alg 1 in 9th, Geometry in 10th, then in 11th have a new hybrid Alg 2 / Pre Calc class.

So why do I bring this up? Well, there are a great many common elements of these two districts' adoptions. I am hoping, hoping, that maybe legislators will take an interest in this, or that it can be an issue in a few years when there's an election for SPI.

First, both curricula have been blessed by Ed Reports. Remember, Ed Reports is all about alignment with Common Core. The Math in Focus that highline administrators want to drop gets a zero in Ed Reports because they have some topics in a different year than what Common Core calls for. Who do you trust more: Singapore, or whoever wrote the Common Core math standards? But note: SPI in Olympia gives enough of a blessing to Ed Reports that districts can say it is a good tool.

A second common element: a lot has gone on behind the scenes. In Highline's case, the district in December announced on the staff section of the web site that they would have a curriculum adoption for K8 math. They said on the page that parents and community members would also be invited to join. But, somehow, that news never made it to any other page of the district web site, nor did the word get out to the Highline Council PTSA, any school, any people who have volunteered for previous adoptions, or any of the district advisory committees.

Third: quick open house review sessions. Highline had two, each was very lightly attended. One of them was on April 4, and the next day the district staff was scheduled to make their recommendation.

Fourth: minimal if any feedback from those open houses was presented to the school board.

Fifth: parents did not know their child was field testing, though in fairness, a part of two weeks doesn't really count for a field test. But still, .... human experimentation ... human subjects ... shouldn't parents be informed? Shouldn't they be asked for their perspectives about the usefulness of any materials provided by the publisher that allegedly help parents? No, no, no. I asked one of the district people about what resources were available for parents. She said there was some online material. I asked if I could look at it. Well, in order to do so, I would have to create an account on the publisher's web site. I gave up. But I can say, there are a lot of families whose main access to anything internet is on a smart phone, and historically online publishers have not made their systems smartphone friendly.

Stuart J said...

continued


Sixth: alignment with online testing resources, such as iReady in the case of Highline, appears to be a major factor in both situations. I know very little about iReady, but I talked with a parent ( who's pulling her kids next year for parochial school) about iReady. She said first, the system just says "based on your child's answers, here are the areas where we think your child is not at grade level." Or something like that. Not "these are the types of problems your child missed, here's what you need to work on with your child."


I could go on and on. But I have to say that as bad as your situation seems, it could be a lot worse, and also, at least you have a community of people who are involved, willing and able to speak up, and able to dive into research and work for solutions that will help ALL kids.

And also, your district has a very low number of kids in the re-engagement programs that may be a cheap way to boost graduation rates. Take a look at recent stories on KNKX about some of the online school, and the way that Open Doors programs students are excluded from the denominator used in graduation rate stats.

Anonymous said...

CarbonTime is the intellectual creation of two SPS Science Department Managers: Mary Margaret Welch, and Dan Gallagher.

Both were Co-Principal Investigators on a National Science Foundation Grant to develop this High School Biology Curriculum.

The Curriculum has been tested in the Seattle Public Schools. CarbonTime failed to improve student comprehension, and performance, for SPS Students.

This experimental Biology Curriculum has failed. Conclusively.

Students and Parents have clearly communicated this to the SPS School Board through emails, as well as through this Blog.

MMW and other District Staff are currently unable to admit the abject failures of CarbonTime, no matter what the costs to affected families.

It is important to recognize that SPS Students, who have been subjected to the simplistic and repetitive pedagogy of CarbonTime, will struggle in College-level Biology Classes.

It is now up to the Seattle School Board to judge the performance of CarbonTime, recognizing the clear self-interests of MMW, and other District Staff, in presenting this home-grown product, CarbonTime, as the ONLY acceptable HIgh School Biology Curriculum for SPS.

Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I think you're wrong that HCH was rated (slightly) higher than Amplify by the adoption committee -- wasn't that just one poster element in the process and not the overall rating? On the overall rating, I understand Amplify rated significantly higher. Please check the facts on this.

NE Parent - glad you see the similarities between this science adoption and the elementary math adoption a few years ago. I don't know about you, but I think the Board action to reject the recommendation has resulted in an unmitigated disaster in math instruction across the district. Anyone singing praises for Math in Focus five years in?

Quaker Bulldog

Anonymous said...

We absolutely love Math in Focus. But we didn't when our previous teacher refused to teach it properly. We thought it was the textbook, but then realized teacher PD and authentic buy in are needed for MiF. The board made the right call with MiF. Our kids own growth in math has been far easier since the switch. I don't know how the testing looks overall. But we are sold.

Loving Singapore

NE Dad said...

We have two kids who have used Math in Focus in Seattle Public Schools. Personally, I think its a great curriculum.

BUT, the math department decided to scramble the chapter sequencing (ie, 1, 3, 5, 2, 6, 4, 9...) and cut out large sections and our school decided to prohibit any math homework.

If the district had simply followed the chapters in the book, and assigned the related problems, it would have been great.

Why didn't they do this? Per the math department, the material was too hard for some students/equity.


Anonymous said...

Why is curriculum adoption so hard? Every school in America has curricula. There has to be data showing which curricula work better for the demographics of SPS students. There's absolutely no need to create anything new or adopt anything without a strong track record.


Fed Up

suep. said...

@Quaker Bulldog, According to the BAR for the elementary science adoption (and the amendment), yes, HMH did finish on top, with a total score of 65.5 to Amplify's 64.7.
Apparently when directors (Burke and others) asked staff (MM Welch and others) how Amplify became the recommendation for K-5 when it didn't finish first in their rubric and evaluation, directors were told it was decided (why and by whom isn't clear) that the elementary committee would vote to decide their choice. So the committee members voted to recommend Amplify, apparently overruling their own rubric. This calls into question the whole purpose of creating a rubric and process.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I do wish they could break out the high school vote. I am aware that Carbon Time is not good.

Fed Up, the issue for science, at least, are the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) which will be tested in the state science test (but will not be part of graduation requirements until 2021).

Thank you, Sue, I would refer readers to page two of the Amendment BAR for the rubric chart showing that HMH just edged Amplify.

suep. said...

@Stuart J, EdReports is an enterprise that has come under criticism in the past for questionable methodology, has no proven objectivity or credibility, and is significantly (wholly?) underwritten by the Gates Foundation, which helped fund the development of Amplify Science.

So when EdReports gives Amplify Science top scores, that amounts to one Gates investment endorsing another Gates investment. Clearly, more objective evaluations are needed.

See:
How Gates Foundation’s push for ‘high-quality’ curriculum will stifle teaching
https://theconversation.com/how-gates-foundations-push-for-high-quality-curriculum-will-stifle-teaching-110323

And:
Review of Math Programs Comes Under Fire By Liana Heitin, March 17, 2015
https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2015/03/18/review-of-math-programs-comes-under-fire.html

EdReports has received over $15 million from Gates since 2015:

EdReports.org, Inc.
2018 K-12 US Program $7,000,000
EdReports.org, Inc.
2016 K-12 US Program $6,674,956
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.
2015 K-12 Education US Program $1,499,988

Gates helped fund the development of Amplify Science. From elementary BAR Amplify documents:

A collaboration between the curriculum experts at the University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science and the instructional technology experts at Amplify– with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the National Science Foundation– Amplify Science was designed to create the next generation of scientific innovators and knowledgeable citizens who are curious, skeptical, and evidence-based critical thinkers ready to excel on high-stakes assessments and in 21st century life.

suep. said...

Melissa, I've heard a recent House Bill (1599) entirely removed the NGSS science test as a graduation requirement. Can anyone confirm this?

Anonymous said...

It also sounds like the new physics curriculum (hybrid courses only?) is also terrible, not just the biology curriculum. It also looks like they had zero community feedback other than the students polled by the Ballard teacher. The board should not vote in favor of this inferior curriculum with such strong opinions being voiced by the students. Ignoring the actual student feedback is terrible! Why are they being ignored? Ballard teacher, it would be great if those students could also testify or send feedback to the board? Is this curriculum being used in the full year physics class as well? I have heard they intend to phase out full year chem & physics in a year or two.

Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sue, you are correct; Bill 1599 passed both houses and is now on the Governor's desk.\http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/1599-S2.PL.pdf

I had heard it was in play but hadn't realized it passed. At the OSPI website, they say it was put off as a graduation standard until 2021 but the new bill would get rid of it entirely as a graduation requirement.

Anonymous said...

Since the NGSS test is being removed as a requirement, my understanding is that the new hybrid Chem/Physics classes were entirely developed for this test. If the test is no longer a requirement AND students have given such negative feedback there is zero reason they should be offered. Doesn't anyone care about the strong opinions voiced by all those Ballard students? One student I had spoken with who graduated two years ago told me physics had been his favorite class at Ballard.

Parent

Science Teacher said...

"... More time for people who don't seem to understand that there can be concerns or disagreement over curriculum without the need to call people racist for that disagreement. It's pretty striking how the staff and the Amplify supporters fell the need to go this direction..."

They felt free to do this because it's the norm for the district. For as long as I've taught in SPS the culture has been one where asking questions is frowned upon and if at all possible the "racism" card is played.

This has certainly been the culture in the district science department since the start of the Alignment team. Any questions I would ask about the process for alignment, someone would try and tie back to equity-like my simply asking a question meant that I was somehow against equity and therefore must be a racist. I know from personal experience that it takes very thick skin for a person to continue asking questions in the district, which is why most people don't.

As for PTSA's providing supplies. Since the kits were adopted the district has refused to supply anything extra- like extra digital thermometers, beakers, etc. in case one breaks. There are some labs where you would have just enough supplies to run 8 lab groups and IF something breaks, you cannot do the lab. I had that conversation with various heads of the science department for years with no result, until I just started asking for "lab donations"from students and then help from the PTSA. The district has no one to blame for this but themselves and should be embarrassed to blame the PTSA for this problem.

I also find it ironic that some of those supporting Amplify bring up PTSA's buying extra supplies for student labs, when I know that at least one school has used PTSA money to travel to California. I wondered at the time why they didn't ask for student supplies.

Teresa

Anonymous said...

That's right. One middle school's whole science department went to the 2017 Science Teacher conference in Los Angeles to get trained in Amplify. Paid for by the PTSA. I wonder how many parents would have preferred to see their PTSA dues pay for a science fair or student supplies instead.

Bitter Irony

Anonymous said...

My two daughters have had a great experience with Math in Focus. For both girls, math has been their favorite subject in school. Our school had a Singapore math curriculum before Math in Focus, so I am sure there was some adjustment for the teachers but I am sure much less than for teachers who used Everyday Math. My 5th grader is easily on track to jump into 7th grade math next year at Madison. I love how both girls readily do math calculations in their head.

WS Parent

Anonymous said...

Hale had science fees they requested the parents pay for. They also asked that parents donate more if they could to cover the kids who couldn't pay it. Do other high schools have these extra fees?

HP

Another NW said...

We've paid lab fees every year at Ingraham for science classes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bitter Irony and Teresa, what school was that? Who asked them to pay to go learn to use Amplify?

HP, I'm pretty sure most high school charge some small lab fee but that's not the same as PTSAs kicking in money (I don't think). Of course, those who can't pay don't have to.

How much is the lab fee?

Anonymous said...

It's the same. It's the school and district NOT PAYING FOR BASIC EDUCATION, and passing as much cost on to families as possible. Likely ALL our schools could have had their science kits replenished for the travel costs of that Amplify training. What a waste.

West

Anonymous said...

The "lab fee" is a donation. While parents are asked to contribute a certain amount for supplies (from $10-$25?), it's not required. There are also suggested fees for art and world language classes - pretty much any class with consumables. Both MS and HS.

It's difficult to hear a Board member deride families who are generous enough to donate (the fees support all students in the class), when the money goes toward basics that should be covered by the district. My child was given a language workbook with a several pages written on and then told to just erase it. Seriously. Even with parent donations, it's not enough.

bleak

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in SPS and received this today from the Elementary Science Dept. I am horrified that the message was sent out to us to blindly support the adoption-- complete with talking points.
....................................................................


As you know, the K-5 Science Materials Adoption Committee invested a year of hard work in the elementary science instructional materials adoption process. The Adoption Committee spent more than 60 hours making an informed decision to recommend Amplify Science for adoption at elementary. Because you have already joined us on the journey toward shifting your practice to align your science instruction with NGSS, we wanted to make you aware of a very recent development that has a good possibility of undoing the hard work of the K-5 Science Adoption committee and directly affecting the quality of the science curriculum you and your students will have going forward.

Director Rick Burke, VP of the School Board, has put forth an amendment that aims to replace the adoption committee’s recommended curriculum with the HMH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) science curriculum. If you were around for the elementary Math Adoption in 2014 , you will remember that this exact scenario played out at the 11th hour when this same school board member (who at the time was a community member on the Math Adoption committee) convinced the Board to circumnavigate School Board Policy #2015 and completely discount the work and the recommendation of the K-5 Math Adoption committee. The legacy of this decision made by a tiny minority continues to impact 30,000 elementary students and 1400 teachers. This is a replay that should not happen.

I am asking for your help in supporting and defending the work of your fellow colleagues, parents, and community members who served on the K-5 Science Adoption Committee by attending this Wednesday’s School Board meeting. This meeting on 5/15 is when the Adoption Committee’s recommendation will be made to the School Board. Will you please wear your SEA red and join us at 4:30PM in the JSCEE Auditorium on 5/15 to stand with the public testimony speakers asking the Board to respect the recommendation of the Adoption Committee? You could also make posters saying RESPECT THE COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATION, FOLLOW YOUR POLICIES, NO AMENDMENTS.

When I took this position, I expected to encounter politics as a necessary part of working within bureaucratic systems, and in my naiveté thought if I could focus on the work that needs to be done, that I could skirt it, but the time has come to take a stand and demand that the decision-makers put students above politics.

Thank you for your time,

(name redacted)
Elementary Science Specialist
Seattle Public Schools

-ugh!

Anonymous said...

Whoa. That email asking teachers to support the adoption is appalling. Especially since Amplify Science is designed around the basic concept of making the teacher superfluous. It is like asking an assembly line worker to speak up for a new robot that will eliminate the worker's job.

Amplify Science's primary purpose is to replace teachers with screens.

I cannot imagine why any teacher would support it, unless they are unhappy with their jobs and looking to be forced into early retirement.

Red Ed

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ugh, could you please forward me this person’s name as I can’t find him/her at the district website. I’m at:
sss.westbrook@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

@Elementary Science Specialist

You are not alone. Mary Margaret Welch has orchestrated several email lobbying efforts, involving SPS teachers, aimed at people or institutions that stand in her way: The SPS School Board, and KUOW, in particular. At the same time, she suppresses open discourse, and shows distain for public process. The email you received is just one more example of her recent actions.

It is regrettable that our Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer do nothing to curb her unprofessional actions.

One must assume that that this email was sent to you by MMW:

"Director Rick Burke, VP of the School Board, has put forth an amendment that aims to replace the adoption committee’s recommended curriculum with the HMH (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) science curriculum. If you were around for the elementary Math Adoption in 2014 , you will remember that this exact scenario played out at the 11th hour when this same school board member (who at the time was a community member on the Math Adoption committee) convinced the Board to circumnavigate School Board Policy #2015 and completely discount the work and the recommendation of the K-5 Math Adoption committee. The legacy of this decision made by a tiny minority continues to impact 30,000 elementary students and 1400 teachers. This is a replay that should not happen.

I am asking for your help in supporting and defending the work of your fellow colleagues, parents, and community members who served on the K-5 Science Adoption Committee by attending this Wednesday’s School Board meeting. This meeting on 5/15 is when the Adoption Committee’s recommendation will be made to the School Board. Will you please wear your SEA red and join us at 4:30PM in the JSCEE Auditorium on 5/15 to stand with the public testimony speakers asking the Board to respect the recommendation of the Adoption Committee? You could also make posters saying RESPECT THE COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATION, FOLLOW YOUR POLICIES, NO AMENDMENTS."

Data

Melissa Westbrook said...

To say that a Board member putting forth an amendment that is directly related to the committee's work is "completely discount the work and the recommendation of the K-5 Adoption ctm" is just absurd. I see the fine hand of MMW in that writing.

First, it's two Board members - Burke and Pinkham. Second, the rubric, by a close margin, went to HMH. At the very least, the Committee should have offered up both with the favor to Amplify. They couldn't even do that?

Second, directors offer amendments all the time; there is NO policy that says they cannot. As well, there is NO policy that says the Board has to go with the recommendation.

kellie said...

The adoption committee is a very organized group that has been meeting in various formats for about 4 years. They dominated the last board meeting and they are likely to dominate this Wednesday's board meeting.

There is no natural opposition group. There is just a wide variety of community members that have legitimate concerns. Teachers who are opposed have no way to give meaningful feedback, except via parents.

I have been on many committees over the years and I can very simply state that members of the public ALWAYS have questions and concerns. But rather than engage the natural question, these guys are just entrenching and defending. Frankly, my kids will not be impacted by this. I have nothing at stake. But I have never seen this level of entrench and defend from any committee and the continuous defensive behavior from the committee make it look like they have things to hide.

There have been many committee decision that I disagreed with, on committees where I served. But I was always proud of the work and happy to share the process with anyone who asked. Downtown is quite unironically caving to the loud group, while claiming that a small loud opposition group is the.problem. It could very well be that the opposition group is tiny. We will never know because the adoption committee is subverting the process.


Anonymous said...

That email to the elementary schools is absurd.

Why is this acceptable behavior in the Seattle School District?

Why is it considered "okay" to send emails of that tone and manner?

I've said it before and I'll say it again - what will it take for SPS to hold their staff to account ... or find staff that can hold themselves to account?

northwesterner

Science Teacher said...

"...Bitter Irony and Teresa, what school was that? Who asked them to pay to go learn to use Amplify?...

The school in question is Hamilton and they DID NOT go to learn to use Amplify, they went to a National Science Teacher Association regional meeting and I am not in ANY WAY suggesting that they were not up front with their PTSA about where they were going.

Getting Tired said...

SPS was the only district that changed the entire math/ science sequence (beginning in middle school) to meet the new science standards. They worked with UW to revamp the entire math/ science sequence.

SPS put amplify in approximately 20 schools; a de facto adoption that squeezed out other curriculums.

Exemplary chemistry teachers were up-in-arms about the new science/math sequence.

Now, we have UW working to create online science curriculum for the district to purchase. Amplify will collect data about our students for product development. What could possibly go wrong.

Personally, I'm tired of our children being used for "pilots" and research.

In 10 years, will there be any evidence of Amplify in our schools i.e. books, curriculum or hands on materials?


Another Parent said...

One the one hand we have Mary Margret Welch, the leader of the science adoption: (1) Quoted in the marketing materials of one recommended vendor; (2) co-author of another recommended curriculum; (3) bad mouthing board members to parents and teachers; (4) who is a highly compensated member of staff.

On the other hand, we have Director Burke, who runs a business, who volunteers his time on the board, and who I've watched first-hand be stonewalled, mislead, and now badmouthed by district staff.

I haven't always agreed with Director Burke, but there is no question in my mind that he always puts the best interests of families first.

Anonymous said...

Calling out individual Board members like that, to me, does not seem to be the best way to get the Board to approve the curriculum you want.

And the ridiculous call for posters that read "RESPECT THE COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATION, FOLLOW YOUR POLICIES, NO AMENDMENTS"--when it was the adoption committee and (especially) the Science Manager who seem to have flouted policy, and when the Board is completely within their "policy right" to reject the recommendation and bring any amendments they like, is, well, ridiculous.

I think the teachers would have a better shot if they brought more accurate signs that say "WE CAN'T TEACH SCIENCE SO NEED COMPUTERS TO DO IT FOR US, EVEN IF KIDS MIGHT NOT LEARN AS MUCH!"

It will be a sad day if the rest of the Board doesn't have the courage to stand together and show MMW that this sort of outrageous behavior won't be tolerated. The integrity of the Board demands that they don't let themselves be bullied in this way--especially when they are looking out for the best interests of students and families by legitimately questioning a faulty adoption process, inadequately addressed potential conflicts of interest, incomplete accountings of true short- and long-terms costs, and most importantly, a lack of demonstrated positive academic outcomes.

Oh, and Supt. Juneau should, at the Board meeting, acknowledge this issue and apologize for her staff's unprofessional behavior, promising to deal with it appropriately. If this type of behavior is fine, I hope the board starts looking for someone else to help turn this ship around, as she is obviously not the one. Isn't Goal 3 of the Juneau's performance evaluation focused on "Board/Superintendent Collaboration"? Since there are only 3 goals in her evaluation instrument--and #1 was the basic "get to know SPS" stuff and #2 was the strategic plan (which looks a lot like our prior SP, so really doesn't seem like such a big deal)--I'd hope the Board would be very strict in how they assess #3, which also has a lot of implications for the future.

HF

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Board is scheduled to do the Superintendent’s first evaluation soon. Hmm

Anonymous said...

No doubt the science adoption committee feels attacked, after years of work, and wants to be sure its volunteer efforts and professional knowledge aren't undermined by what it sees as politicians and dilettantes. It feels righteous in sending out the above email as a counterpoint to the conversation on this blog.

Not saying I agree with the perspective or actions, just trying to put myself in the members' shoes. The committee clearly cares about the science choice and feels it has chosen wisely.

However, to Melissa and others' earlier argument: Unfortunately this is no longer a debate about the curriculum choice itself. It's a referendum on how Amplify came to be entwined in the District and whether correct evaluation and purchase procedures were followed. Honestly, it looks really bad, to the point that someone out here will no doubt demand an investigation or file suit if Amplify is chosen without clearing up the decision-making chain of events. I do not see how board members, charged with SPS oversight, could vote for it at this point in time even if they are satisfied with the committee's recommendations. In this case the committee would be wiser to request a pause, supply documentation showing policy has been followed, and showing the full/true cost of adoption, including technology purchases and support, then come back to the Board. If it really wants Amplify in here that badly, it needs to take care of fiscal/governance business first.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

When does the board agenda typically get updated to show the speaker list? End of business on Tues?

curious

Anonymous said...

The easiest out for the board would be to vote to direct that the contaminated curriculum adoption process be started fresh under a new leader, someone who isn't polarizing or potentially compromised, and require that the new process be fully transparent at all times. If Amplify is all that, then this restarted process will come to the same conclusion but in an uncompromised way.

The problem isn't necessarily that Amplify is good or bad, equitable or inequitable. The problem is the district chronically allows staff to stomp on rules and law. This year it's the science curriculum adoption. But in other years, it's something else. And often the board asks for specific data or information and staff just don't provide it.

Staff do not treat the board with the respect due to an elected oversight body, and by extension to the parents and community who have voted them in. The superintendent in allowing bad behavior to persist is also failing to show respect to the board. The superintendent has been subtly and not so subtly dismissive of parents, too.

The board owes no loyalty to the curriculum committee. At all. They have a duty to represent the interests of children and the constituents who elect them. They have a duty to spend public money wisely. They have a duty to make sure the law is followed. Teachers in red shirts holding guilt-trip signs is inappropriate, as is the e-mail that was sent. The e-mail was unethical as well.

Juneau should have seen the **** show she had inherited from Nyland for what it was, stopped it, and taken action on her own. Had she done so, the superintendent's standing would be high and confidence in her tenure strong.

As it stands now, I'm ready for Juneau to pull a Banda so we can get an effective leader in to clean some house for real.

SciLon

Anonymous said...

Alert, ST Opinion piece by Stephen Blanford defending Amplify and attempting to discredit Sue Peters and Rick Burke:

"Now, using trumped-up data that includes test scores of students who didn’t even use Amplify Science, former Seattle school board member Sue Peters and current board member Rick Burke are leading the effort to kill the adoption of the new curriculum. Some are concerned that Burke is trying to get his colleagues to adopt a curriculum by one of the other providers that has already been found deficient."

https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/seattle-students-lagging-behind-other-districts-deserve-a-new-science-curriculum/

nn

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have said and will say again, I thank all those adoption committees for what I think is a long, hard slog to do this work. I have been on many district committees and it is not easy work.

"Honestly, it looks really bad, to the point that someone out here will no doubt demand an investigation or file suit if Amplify is chosen without clearing up the decision-making chain of events. I do not see how board members, charged with SPS oversight, could vote for it at this point in time even if they are satisfied with the committee's recommendations. In this case the committee would be wiser to request a pause, supply documentation showing policy has been followed, and showing the full/true cost of adoption, including technology purchases and support, then come back to the Board. If it really wants Amplify in here that badly, it needs to take care of fiscal/governance business first."

Well, it might be one of the other vendors who files suit. Or the State Auditor might look into the Amplify situation and NO one can give them any lame story and get away with it. This is at least for the Amplify Middle School.

"Staff do not treat the board with the respect due to an elected oversight body,..."

Neither does whoever is the Mayor or the City Council or the editorial board at the Times. But Board members should NOT allow themselves or their body to be bullied and that's exactly what has happened in the past. (It appears that now, thought, Juneau and Durkan are quite simpatico.)

Blanford is such an unpleasant piece of work and he will stoop pretty low to make a point.





Melissa Westbrook said...

And you know what else? Where has the Times been on reporting this ever-growing story? Crickets.

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally (wink), Geary posted this on Facebook at the same time the Blanford Amplify ST op-ed was published:


"For the schools that were using Amplify pursuant to waiver, this has already occurred to varying degrees. And in those classrooms there has been a closing of the achievement gap."

"I am aware of the Shady Mess article, and that it is the result of the advocacy of a few. I have been contacted by the media asking me directly about the arguments presented by Sue Peters. Prior to that article many of the concerns were reviewed by our legal department and our research and evaluation department and discounted. That information was shared, but ignored by those who are advocating that we not follow our policy. Those most strongly advocating against Amplify in the article are associated with the highly capable students in our district. As far as I can tell, their backgrounds are in politics, blogging and advocacy, not research and evaluation or education. I also understand that a similar situation occurred around Math, which lead to a complete and utter mess - though I admit this is just what I am told."

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2226081894307837&id=1637735206475845&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARA1cF6DoEVl9CqU4QCEhDcYJz_1veRcBVjexgBM_a2jVhl_xMaxDU4C8d9p_QXU40Ab_QrIv7KHQOd5pV9lxRzfUAu2bLk4aLTMIRrnN3L3p8WpDRz1x97H7BiQMHjp-ascQFh7JR917j-vZvpWWmYsufYj4BfGKvU3vv46a08lr8Dab_-9pSPB2_uQL-UdR2ZU6O_VVRNFeBCxpZqBa6dAob44TAwI2RM3GKbwLfjbg6Zh3ijVBdfJ61fJjeT_x4AdxD6DwRJhnnMjBDOtGoVFhK0f8bdw6aun4KtiKrbqDdV3OxO0g6qImi4vciSJkGe31pfGGoOPM3CPp29UrrRR&__tn__=K-R

nn

Melissa Westbrook said...

Discounted? Like PPRA - a federal regulation - being violated by the use of Check Yourself without notification to parents? That the Department of Ed had to come in and school Legal? That kind of advice?

Geary cannot blame HCC parents enough - it's just baffling for someone who had her own kid in HCC.

And her own background is not "research, evaluation, or education" but that's not her role. It's oversight. And she's doing a sorry job of it.

And "this is what I was told?" She never did any research about the math evaluation?

Anonymous said...

O.K fine ...one size does not fit all then just like with the math situation we will see certain schools "opting out" of inferior curriculum. If there are parents and teachers strongly advocating against it then the schools where those children attend will opt out. Then guess what....the lower income majority schools will get the inferior curriculum. If their parents, teachers and administrators don't advocate against and people like Geary, Welch & Blandford are advocating hard for it. How horrible though to "rent" a computer based curriculum that will have so many challenges ahead. Sue brought up so many important points.

For Geary to dismiss Sue (& Melissa) in the way she did shows very little respect. I for one am glad to see her gone from the SPS board. She has had a perpetual chip on her shoulder IMO toward middle class kids & families (like ours) when she should be caring about all kids. Perhaps the continual bias and comments are to redeem the fact she herself feels privileged as an attorney and very wealthy from Sand Point. Guess what Jill we don't all share your background, even those of us with HC qualified kids. There is a big gap in income and privilege between my family and hers. She could instead choose to respectfully disagree with Sue and choose to reasonably counter the important points made.

HJ

Anonymous said...

Downtown SPS strikes again.

That committee email was outrageous and frankly whoever sent it needs to be reprimanded.
The set up by staff to have Blanford place the editorial in the Times? And the staff is upset about 'politics'? Could they have done anything more political than plant an opinion piece in the Times and cry 'equity' while failing to address concerns around accountability?

Bottom line is the Board has the right to adopt or to refuse a committee's recommendations. For decades committees have done work that SPS Boards have shelved. Sucks for the committees. Life continues. (Hey, sometimes the committees even come back with something that works for all.)

The lack of transparency around this adoption, as well as the snide and snippy attitude of the staff at being asked reasonable accountability questions leads to Shelve It in this case. How many million$$$ would be required to role this out? Who paid to distribute it to SPS in the first place? We don't even know? Hell no. I've watched for a decade and I know when SPS business smells. P.U.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

TLCG is an SPS employee who has been ordered by HR and legal not to contact the superintendent or board. This seems like a good sign that their election to the Highline School Board is unlikely.

Fat Chance

Alsept Teresa said...

Thank you for letting me know. I thought it was just about NSTA. It never occurred to me that they were going to Amplify trainings

Teresa

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, I failed to see that you didn't use a name/moniker. I will reprint your comments (with my thanks as I forwarded them onto the Board and asked if this is the kind of PTA science spending by north-end schools that MMW has been decrying). Next time give yourself a name.

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Science Teacher

You are mistaken.

Hamilton Science Teachers did attend a NSTA Meeting in LA, in March/early April 2017.

These Science Teachers did attend several sessions to learn about NGSS, and Amplify.

The Hamilton PTSA did pay for the entire Science Department to attend this meeting, to learn about NGSS, and Amplify.

Hamilton Middle School decided (Oct. 2016) NOT to have a Science Expo that year, so that the Hamilton Science Teachers and the Assistant Principal could go to the NSTA Meeting (March/April 2017), to specifically learn about NGSS, and Amplify.

This is taken from the Hamilton Curriculum Waiver that was submitted to the SPS School Board (5/1.17), after Hamilton Science Teachers attended the NSTA meeting. (Conference Trip for the Hamilton Science Teachers to learn about NGSS, and Amplify, was paid for by the Hamilton PTSA).

Superintendent Procedure 2020SP form
Waiver of District Adopted Materials Request

Staff and community involvement in selection recommendation, including dates of interactions:
- District wide staff involvement described above:
- Science Dept. Meeting with all members present...(10/19 and 11/6)
- Science Departmental Chair, Middle School Alignment Team, Spring 2016-2017

- NSTA, National Conference Amplify Session: Integrate Instruction and Assessment in Three Dimensions Using Learning Progressions Thursday, March 30 8:00 AM - 9:30 AM (5 Hamilton teachers attended)
- NSTA, National Conference Amplify Session: Space Docking Failure: Phenomena, 3D Instruction, and Amplify Science for Grades 6-8, Thursday, March 30 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (3 Hamilton teachers attended)
- NSTA, National Conference Amplify Session: The Mystery of Poisonous Newts: Phenomena, 3D Instruction, and Amplify Science for Grades 6-8, Friday, March 31 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (5 Hamilton teachers attended)
- Amplify Science Info Session: Aprial 4th 4:30-7pm, Learn about specific tools and 3-D standards alignment (3 teachers attended).
- Amplify Science Info Sessions: April 5th 4:30-7pm, Learn about specific tools and 3-D standards alignment (6 Hamilton teachers, and Hamilton Asst. Principal attended)

October 2016 - two Science Staff share science department goals for the academic year with PTSA and Hamilton Community. Topics included rationale for moving away from our Science Expo this year to focus on implementing Next Generation Science Standards. In support of the department's commitment to the new standards, the Hamilton PTSA agreed to fund the entire department's attendance at the National Science Teacher Association Conference in Los Angeles March 29-April 1st.

5/14/19, 7:47 PM"

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, thanks to NN for Geary's comments. I smiled at this one:

"Please keep in mind that curriculum is a tool to be used by a teacher. It does not replace the teacher or the skill and individualized teaching a professional brings to the classroom."

Clearly she didn't read where the BAR says the teacher will "instruct" the lesson, not teach it. That clearly means the teacher tells the kids how to follow the lesson but allows the lesson to "teach."

I'm not sure Amplify can be "adapted" as Geary says. Adapting an online lesson seems quite different from one from a book.

"Those most strongly advocating against Amplify in the article are associated with the highly capable students in our district."

Really? Like who? Not me, never had a kid in HCC and have complained a lot about it. But Geary seems to hear only what she believes in. And that is a crappy thing to say to discount the words of students, parents and teachers.

"But now we are supposed to dismiss Amplify outright because it donated software for our teachers so they could provide aligned instruction to the students in our poorest schools (knowing that many of our north end schools collect fees for science at the beginning of the year). I am baffled by this logic."

Well, I'm baffled by Geary's inability to hear yet ANOTHER story about how that software got to SPS. Her lack of caring about fiduciary matters is astonishing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fat Chance, I quite agree with your assessment of the chances for that SPS staffer to get elected in Highline.

Anonymous said...

I would bet money that Amplify staff are helping feed talking points, stats, and even draft op-eds to the district and to supporters of this science adoption. I'd love to see the results of a PDR on this.

Steve Rupert

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether Amplify is any good or not as a science curriculum. I have significant concerns about science that isn't hands on, especially in elementary school and less so, but also in middle school. I have significant concerns about investing in technology, even if it's in a separate category of funds given how quickly technology becomes obsolete and breaks. I have significant concerns about where most schools will be, given how long SPS's curriculum adoption cycles are and the major upcoming deficit ($100M!!!), after our license with Amplify expires and we're left with no books and kits - and that goes especially for lower income schools.

That said, given the following quotes from the new SPS pre-Amplify rebuttal really call question to the assertations that there was no advantage to Amplify or collusion. All of the middle schools simply chose to get a waiver and choose Amplify by themselves with no committee search or direction from anyone in SPS (say, MMW) and then Amplify just happened to give them the licenses for free for 3 years, with NO adoption on the horizon at all, and they just happened to be able to reprioritize science department funding to pay for (presumably) kits and the notebooks, and they just happened to scrounge up enough computers/grants to make it work, and somehow none of this info needed to come up for Board review? Really unbelievable.

Begin quotes:
Why is AmplifyScience currently in use in several SPS middle schools? Who approves the use of instructional waivers in SPS?
In 2016, with no science curriculum adoption scheduled for the future, science teacher representatives from all SPS middle schools formed an alignment team and began meeting to align the outdated adopted science curriculum with the Next Generation Science Standards, which were adopted by Washington State in fall of 2013. Recognizing that it was not realistic to align standards by revising 15-year-old curriculum, the alignment team began exploring several alternatives supported by Board Policy 2020, and their schools’ ability to offer supplemental or alternative curricula if approved through a formal waiver process.
Together, in January 2017, the alignment team identified Amplify instructional materials as an option to be used with the appropriate Board mandated instructional materials waiver. In March 2017, alignment team members asked their building principals to submit a three-year instructional waiver application, as outlined in Board Policy 2020 and Board Policy 2020SP, for their respective schools at some or all grade levels. This resulted in 16 of the 22 SPS middle school principals submitting formal instructional material waivers, which were approved by the former Superintendent.
How did SPS obtain Amplify for use as instructional waiver materials?
Amplify provided the program subscriptions (the digital portion) for free to SPS. SPS used existing resources to provide schools with the workbooks and kits (labs).
Is there a relationship between the waivers use of Amplify and the fact that Amplify became a candidate for adoption?
No, they are completely separate processes. Beginning in 2017, Amplify was requested in the Instructional Waiver process by several SPS schools to be used as an alternative to the current instructional materials adopted in 2001-2002. At this time, SPS Science had not yet been informed of the decision to proceed with an official science instructional materials adoption process for grades K-12 at all SPS schools.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

@Fed Up

You state "Really Unbelievable" about the account that SPS now gives to explain how Amplify was placed in Seattle Public Schools. Your reasoning makes sense.

Amplify's own bid for a 10-year Contract with Seattle Public Schools emphasizes that it has an ongoing "Partnership" with SPS (The "Seattle Partnership"). And yet the SPS Website would have the public believe that there is no bias in SPS choosing this Company for the entire K-8 Science Curriculum.

Even though Amplify made substantial financial donations to SPS to run a Field-Test, then a Pilot-Program, of its Curriculum, eventually involving 69 SPS Schools (1400 SPS Teachers, and 30,000 SPS Students).

Even though Amplify Science states in its bid that it donated time, effort, and money to "pilot" its product, and to "promote adoption and continuity" of its Curriculum by SPS.

From Amplify's own Bid Statement:

"Seattle Partnership"

"Since the 2016-2017 school year, we have partnered with Seattle Public Schools to pilot Amplify Science as a K-8 core curriculum built for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Together with Seattle Public Schools, Amplify has planned and implemented a pilot program across 69 schools in grades K-8, serving over 1400 teachers and 30,000 students. Key aspects of the implementation included continuous collaboration with Seattle Public School leadership and staff on professional development, educator focus groups, and weekly data distribution across all middle schools at the student level.

Amplify and Seattle Public Schools have worked in concert especially during the 17-18 school year by providing 10 days of professional development, training of the trainer, and feedback sessions to build capacity in addition to Seattle Public Schools leadership providing key insights and feedback on future Amplify product and curriculum redesign planning.

Over the past two years Seattle and Amplify have built a strong alignment across teams and continue to provide customized professional services for schools and broad service support to promote adoption and continuity."

The "Seattle Partnership" between Amplify and SPS.
Yet, SPS Staff state: No Collusion. No Connections to Adoption.

After multiple Financial Donations from Amplify?
"... Seattle and Amplify have built a strong alignment across teams continue to provide customized professional services for schools and broad support to promote adoption and continuity".

"To Promote Adoption" of its Curriculum.

The Spin SPS puts out on its relationship with Amplify is Truly Unbelievable.

Fed Up2

Anonymous said...

@Parent To answer your question, the new physics curriculum being referenced by the Ballard teacher who surveyed students was referencing the new hybrid class that will eventually serve to replace the year long classes in all high schools. It does not impact the year long chemistry or year long physics class still being offered.

Another parent

suep. said...

Small update: Costs have gone up for Amplify on the middle school curriculum BAR since it was last seen in committee. (Curiously, this change is not highlighted on the BAR.)

Middle School Amplify is now: $2,635,546 (up from $1,503,829)

Licensing costs have been adjusted up, and $565,857 in PD has been added.

CURRENT MS BAR RECOMMENDED MOTION I move that the Seattle School Board approve the Middle School Science Adoption Committee’s recommendation to adopt AmplifyScience for instructional materials for all grade 6-8 Seattle Public Schools science classrooms. I further move that the Seattle School Board authorize the Superintendent to purchase AmplifyScience as the core instructional materials for all grade 6-8 Seattle Public Schools’ science classrooms for an amount not to exceed $2,069,686, covering licensing from school year 2019-20 to 2027-28, and an amount not to exceed $565,857 for in-house professional development and collaboration and a 1.0 FTE Curriculum Specialist.

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/18-19%20agendas/May%2015/A02_20190515_Middle%20Science%20Adoption.pdf


PREVIOUS MS BAR: SCHOOL BOARD ACTION REPORT
DATE: April 5, 2019
FROM: Ms. Denise Juneau, Superintendent
LEAD STAFF: MaryMargaret Welch, Science Program Manager
(mmwelch@seattleschools.org)
Kyle Kinoshita, Executive Director of Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction (kdkinoshita@seattleschools.org)
Diane DeBacker, Chief Academic Officer (dmdebacker@seattleschools.org)
For Introduction: May 1, 2019
For Action: May 15, 2019
1. TITLE
Middle School Science Instructional Materials Adoption
2. PURPOSE
This Board Action will approve the recommendation of the Middle School Science Instructional Materials Adoption committee for instructional materials for all middle school science classrooms in grades 6-8.
3. RECOMMENDED MOTION
I move that the Seattle School Board approve the Middle School Science Adoption Committee’s recommendation to adopt AmplifyScience for instructional materials for all grade 6-8 Seattle Public Schools science classrooms.
I further move that the Seattle School Board authorize the Superintendent to purchase AmplifyScience as the core instructional materials for all grade 6-8 Seattle Public Schools’ science classrooms for an amount not to exceed $1,503,829, covering licensing from school year 2019-20 to 2027-28.
4. BACKGROUND INFORMATION
A. Background
1. Previous Adopted Middle School Science Instructional Materials, 2002-Present
The most recent middle school science instructional materials adoption in Seattle Public was in 2001-2002. Science units were adopted “piecemeal” from the three different vendor programs that were included in the adoption: STC (Science and Technology Corporation), FOSS (Full Option Science System), and Lab-Aids by SEPUP (Science Education for Public Understanding) instead of adopting a comprehensive program...


CURRENT ELEMENTARY BAR:I further move that the Seattle School Board authorize the Superintendent to purchase AmplifyScience as the core instructional materials for all grade K-5 Seattle Public Schools classrooms for an amount not to exceed $2,368,870 in a three-year phased-in purchase and implementation plan out of the FY2020 (2019-20), FY2021 (2020-21), and FY2022 (2021-22) budgets, covering licensing through school years 2019-2020 through 2027-28, and an amount not to exceed $5,040,674 for in-house professional development and collaboration.

https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/18-19%20agendas/May%2015/A03_20190515_Elementary%20Science%20Adoption_WITH%20REDLINE_final.pdf