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Friday, May 03, 2019

Friday Open Thread

Update: Looks like a real mess over at Eckstein today.  From the Ravenna Blog Twitter page:


Looks like an auto fire alarm, according to@seattlefire Real-Time 911. Four units dispatched.
Sounds like a second floor pipe burst in or near the library and is leaking to the floor below. Students were evacuated and are heading home.
12:48 PM · May 3, 2019
Local 69-Year-Old School Building Has Infrastructure Problems Whaaaaaaa?! 

end of update
  
So the fight is on for the next couple of weeks about whether the Board will okay Amplify Science for the K-8 Science adoption.  At Wednesday's Board meeting, there were several pro-Amplify speakers.  There seems to be a meme out there that Amplify somehow will bring equity to schools with more students of color that rests on little evidence. I'll have another thread on this but it is a top story.

Many of you have been wondering about what happens for staff reductions at schools and the 2019-2020 Budget.  I don't have the answers but more may be made clear at an upcoming Work Session on the Budget on Tuesday, May 7th from 4:30-6:00 pm.

Good News in SPS
SPS Communications: Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is pleased to announce educator Toni Bader has been named 2019 National Teacher of the Year by the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE).  Bader, who has taught at SPS since 2001, was recognized as one of the National Adapted Physical Education Teachers of the Year.

Bader's adapted physical education efforts at SPS have resulted in six schools offering “Partner PE,” which is a program that pairs students receiving special education services with their peers who don't receive services during PE class. The program provides opportunities for inclusion and community-building among all students. 
Last weekend at the Reno Jazz Festival,  the Washington Middle School Jazz Band took home second place overall, and third place combo, in the middle school division. Garfield HS and Hamilton MS placed as well.  (I just want to note that a reader alerted me to this and I had to cull together the information. SPS had no notice of this at all.)

Saxophonist                                            
Graham Cobden
Washington Middle School

Trombonist
Cornelia Goforth
Washington Middle School

Trumpeter
Joe Friedman
Hamilton Middle School

Rhythm Section
Kai Jordan
Hamilton Middle School

AA High School Combo
Garfield High School III


Outstanding Performer
Aiden Sieman
Garfield High School

One other bill that I missed from this session of the Legislature about teens and sexting, from Crosscut:
State Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle, said the law needed to be changed because it treated teenagers who exchange nude photos with other teens as harshly as adults who deal in child pornography.
The measure, House Bill 1742, also will ease penalties for teens who distribute naked photos of other teens who are within in the same age group. In most cases, those offenses will become misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, rather than felony sex crimes that carry a requirement to register as a sex offender.
Camera above the classroom using facial recognition? It's happening in Chinese classrooms. (Bold mine)
Under the hashtag, someone had posted a photo depicting a bird’s-eye view of a classroom. Around 30 students sat at their desks, facing the blackboard. Their backpacks lay discarded at their feet. It looked like a typical Chinese classroom.
Except for the colored rectangles superimposed on each student’s face. “ID: 000010, State 1: Focused,” read a line of text in a green rectangle around the face of a student looking directly at the blackboard. “ID: 000015, State 5: Distracted,” read the text in a red rectangle — this student had buried his head in his desk drawer. A blue rectangle hovered around a girl standing behind her desk. The text read: “ID: 00001, State 3: Answering Questions.”
After all, Niulanshan never informed him — or any of its 3,300 other students — that facial recognition cameras were capturing their every move in class. In fact, it’s unlikely that the combined 28,000 students in the six other schools testing the same system know they are part of China’s grand artificial intelligence (AI) experiment.
Director community meeting this Saturday with Director Rick Burke from 10:30 am to noon at Greenwood Library.

What's on your mind?

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

The whole Amplify Science discussion shows nobody learned anything from No Child Left Behind, high stakes testing, common core, charter schools, and on and on and on. This is a repeat of how we got stuck with all those awful things.

very tired

Anonymous said...

I've been struck by the intensity of the discourse out there that assumes Amplify = Racial Equity. That is just so insultingly simplistic to POC, I'm actually astounded people with advanced degrees in education and track records fighting whyte supremecy can't see how they're being manipulated by corporate interests to undermine the academic interests of scholars who are POC.

We've degraded to a situation where people who are anti-standardized testing for racial equity reasons are unironically advocating for Amplify, even though the entire reason it exists as a curriculum is solely to support standardized testing and to put considerable cash from us into the licensor's pocket.

The incoherence of the pro-Amplify side is awe-inspiring.

POC contra Amplify

Question said...

Does anyone know why Director Zachary DeWolf wasn't at the school board meeting? Was he campaigning for a seat on the city council?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I answered that question elsewhere when you asked it; move on.

suep. said...

In some respects, Board Directors have a straightforward task before them:

Follow the data.

Follow the money.

Follow the law.

1. FOLLOW THE DATA:

Staff has failed to provide necessary and policy-mandated data to support its recommendations for AmplifyScience. It has not proven it works. SPS Science Program Manager MaryMargaret Welch has told the Board that staff won’t provide data until after Amplify is adopted:

“R&E has made a commitment to partner with Science to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of new instructional materials. Working with Research and Evaluation is a planned part of the science adoption. This is how we demonstrate an accountability to our public for entrusting us with new instructional resources.” – M. Welch to the Board, Superintendent and other staff, 4/3/19

This is backwards and a violation of policy.

Ms. Welch, Dr. Kinoshita and Amplify Inc. (and UW researchers) have been experimenting with SPS students and Amplify since 2016, when it was rolled out in all 3 grades of Mercer Intl Middle School. They must have 3 years of longitudinal data on how Amplify has or hasn’t worked at Mercer.

Where is that data? If they didn’t collect it, why not? Amplify is in the business of collecting data -- that's part of its business model and how it develops its products. So there must be data somewhere. The UW has been conducting research on SPS students and Amplify. So they must have some kind of information.

Staff claimed the Amplify rollout was a pilot. They are now saying otherwise. But Amplify refers to it as such and the word “pilot” occurs 16 times in
the BAR they brought to the Board asking for $1 million in computers in order to use Amplify Science

Pilots by definition are studies that collect and compare data. If data was collected, where is it? Why is it being withheld?

(continued)

suep. said...

When some of us analyzed the data in the very manner Welch and others said they would in the waiver applications that Welch herself composed -- comparing Amplify waiver schools to non-Amplify schools on the new NGSS test last April 2018 -- the results were not good for Amplify.

Here is the PowerPoint some of us created, which Melissa uploaded:
Results from Comparing Seattle Schools 8th Grade Science Results 2017-2018 -- Comparison of Amplify vs Non-Amplify Schools

Most schools saw a drop in pass rates, which is typical for a new test. But the students who saw the biggest drops in pass rates were the students using Amplify.

And the students who fared the worst with Amplify were low-income students.


So any one who truly cares about equity would not support giving Amplify to low income kids.


Also, Ms. Welch herself coauthored a paper that says that CarbonTime also doesn’t work well for low-income kids.

Designing Educational Systems to Support Enactment of the Next Generation Science Standards (see p. 16)

So why do those who claim to care about equity support giving kids who are “the farthest from educational justice” (to use the District’s latest catchphrase) online curriculum that is known to be particularly detrimental to them?

Also, Board policies 2015 and 2020 mandate that staff produce data from all schools using waivers. Staff has failed to do this. So these recommendations violate policy.

If staff’s data-less push for Amplify is actually about putting a laptop in the hands of every SPS student, then let’s have that conversation, openly, publicly, transparently.

But let’s not use weak, detrimental online curricula as a Trojan horse to bring large investments of technology into our schools.

Anonymous said...

Bravo as well to Garfield's theatre department for being recognized as one of four outstanding theatre programs in the nation:

https://www.schooltheatre.org/blogs/edta-news/2019/05/02/four-schools-named-outstanding-in-theatre-educatio

FNH

suep. said...

2. FOLLOW THE MONEY:

Ms. Welch, Dr. Kinoshita and others have failed to answer how much Amplify gave the district in free goods and services. The answer has changed from “It was a grant” to “we don't know” to "$100,000--maybe" to a new number at Tuesday's COW -- $120,000. None of these numbers would pay for 20 schools to use Amplify.

The value of the gift must be detailed, documented and reported. If it was over $250,000 -- which it almost certainly was -- it needed to be brought to the Board. (Board Policy 6114) Staff never did.

Based on an estimate from Amplify for just one small school of 300 students, costs were $54,000. If you multiple that by 20 (schools with waivers), it adds up to $1,080,000. That's a conservative estimate since most of the schools that used Amplify were much bigger than 300 students. (For example: Mercer: 1000, Hamilton: 990, Madison: 800, Denny: 840, JAMS: 900, Eagle Staff: 700.)

District staff have accepted a significant amount of free goods and services from a vendor and did not report it or seek Board approval.

And staff accepted free materials from a vendor during the time the District was assessing and realigning its science curriculum in preparation for the new NGSS test in April 2018 and an official adoption process.

It is clear from the vendor’s own words that it (Amplify Education, Inc.) fully believed its close “partnership” with Seattle Public Schools was leading to an adoption of its product:

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 School 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. (Amplify Education, Inc. Source: BAR for middle school science adoption)


That means a vendor appears to have bought -- bribed? – its way into a major long-term purchase in Seattle Public Schools that will impact thousands of students for years. This violates a number of polices and laws, which brings us to:

3. FOLLOW THE LAW

suep. said...

@FNH Thanks for that news about Garfield Theatre! So important to celebrate the good news and great accomplishments of students and staff in SPS as well.

Congrats also to the SPS musicians and music directors who performed well at Reno Jazz Festival.

suep. said...

3. FOLLOW THE LAW:

Board directors are obligated by law and their oath of office to uphold policy and the law. Various aspects of the current science curriculum adoption process and the abuse of waivers to embed one product – Amplify Science – in 20 schools leading up to the official district adoption process – have violated multiple policies and laws, including:

Board Policy 2015: Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials

Board Policy 2020 Waivers of Basic Instructional Materials

Policy 6220 Procurement

Policy 6114 Gifts, Grants, Donations & Fundraising Proceeds

RCW 28A.320.230: Instructional materials—Instructional materials Committee

The Board cannot condone any violations thereof. That means the Board has been put in the position where it is being asked to approve an outcome that was arrived at in violation of policy and law. That’s an impossible request. The Board cannot approve these recommendations under these circumstances.

That is the kind of action that leads to legal findings of "arbitrary and capricious" (high school math adoption, which was challenged in court, and lost by the District) – or worse.

Anonymous said...

And to add to more good music news from Garfield:

https://garfieldorchestra.org/congratulations-garfield-orchestra-students/

Great showing by GHS students.
GHS parent

Anonymous said...

I am going to go on a limb here, but I *think* a highly respected educator and scientist (and student advocate, no less) from my son's school knows more about science and using Amplify than all of us combined. I don't assume, I demand answers. This from Anastasia Sanchez, Lead and Coach of the science department at DIMS

QUOTE

If Amplify is rejected we will return to the FOSS kits that we have been using for over a decade. These kits have not changed to be aligned with the standards and are not equitable curriculum materials. This means that schools that have large budgets and PTA’s that can provide large amounts of supplemental funds. High needs, diverse schools are left with kits that have been used and depleted.

Not approving the proposed curriculum also means that teachers can teach whatever they want impacting students that move schools. It means that schools from affluent communities can afford better resources such as laptops. As a partner Amplify has provided laptops to the schools most in need and provides learning materials that are replenished equally through Amplify. This levels the playing field so to speak for schools like Denny. This allows me to focus on curriculum adaptation, instructional practices and alignment for the whole department rather than running around searching for materials for labs that are part of an outdated way of teaching science which contributes to the achievement and opportunity gap.

In regards to the adoption committee process, we were tasked with finding a curriculum that was scientifically sound and current. A rigorous evaluation tool was developed (I assisted with this) to vet curriculum requiring committee members to consider inclusivity, bias and cultural competence. The parents, admin, and teachers took this task to heart and was at the very center of EVERY conversation we had regarding our curriculum. Which one would make ALL students feel like scientists? This was not an easy conversation to have, nor an easy decision to make. It took countless hours, outside research, and an extreme sense of mindfulness from all parties involved in the discussion.

Not approving this curriculum would most likely result in postponing a decision indefinitely and I doubt the extensive process that cost lots would happen again with such efficacy.

This is the long and short of the situation. No curriculum is perfect but Amplify has the backbone and components that allow for equitable pedagogy to be implemented. People worry that Amplify makes students sit in front of computers the whole time but that could be said of teachers that stuck textbooks in front of students, that is just bad teaching. Amplify does not require teachers to have students just sit in front of computers, it is adaptable and the district will adapt it to model more of what we are doing at Denny if approved

END QUOTE

MS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Compare and contrast Sue Peters' statements to Anastasia Sanchez' statements. Both are valid.

However, two things. One is that Peters is right (and I have said this myself): we do NOT look to the Board to be curriculum experts. Director DeWolf said this himself in his fawning over teachers at the COW meeting.

The Board MUST look at the process, the law and how it all turned out. There is no one who could listen to Mary Margaret Welch and say this was a clean process. She changed her story about how the waiver schools got her curriculum from one Work Session to her interview with KUOW. That is deeply troubling.

As well, MS this is quite odd:

"..as a partner Amplify has provided laptops to the schools most in need and provides learning materials that are replenished equally through Amplify."

Really? This is the first I have heard of this. I have not heard Welch or DoTs ever say this. I'll have to as Ms. Sanchez how she knows this to be true.

As well, Amplify may have been "a partner" but, for the adoption process, that looks quite wrong. Again, this push for Amplify is really unseemly and I would not be surprised if one of the other vendor candidates raises this issue if Amplify gets picked.

Anonymous said...

Wait, Amplify provided laptops? Are they a gift? On loan? Wouldn't ALL students and ALL schools need laptops to implement the curriculum? It's part of the cost. And it's not a one time thing - those laptops won't last the life of the adoption.

It means that schools from affluent communities can afford better resources such as laptops.

Can they, though? Enough with the assumptions - where is the assessment of current technology, school by school?

-concerning

Elsa said...

It's just downright funny to see "FOLLOW THE LAW" in any discussion of the swamp that passes for administration at Seattle Schools.

Get real in here.

Lest we forget?

Anonymous said...

So Amplify's materials say they have provided the curriculum to 30k students, and one of the "experts" using the curriculum says they also provide laptops free of charge. The highest figure given for the value of these "donated" materials is 120k. So $4/student? If they can deliver this curriculum for that cost to meet the standards needed for adoption, then they should be willing/able to do so for the contract term. Anything less amounts to bribery.

If SPS adopts this curriculum based on having used these "donated" materials, what is fighting the inevitable lawsuit the other companies in the RFP are going to file going to cost?

LakeCityMom


Anonymous said...

I believe Amplify gave Madison Middle School laptops too so this was not limited to the “schools most in need”.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

Eckstein's building is long overdue for a renovation. With Lincoln in use next year, what sites are available should a school need to vacate during a renovation (or should there be an emergency and a school needs to temporarily relocate)? Is John Marshall the only interim site, and what is its capacity?

curious

kellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@ Fairmount Parent and -concerning
God forbids ANYTHING extra is given to students living in poverty.
MS

kellie said...

Amplify did not provide laptops. If they had it would have been huge violation of the "gift" policy.

SPS spent over $1M on laptops in support of the Amplify "pilot" for 20 schools. Much, much more will need to be spent to roll out Amplify to the remaining schools.

The propaganda supporting Amplify is pretty thick.

Anonymous said...

Sure is a lot of misinformation to unpack here:

"If Amplify is rejected we will return to the FOSS kits that we have been using for over a decade. These kits have not changed to be aligned with the standards and are not equitable curriculum materials. This means that schools that have large budgets and PTA’s that can provide large amounts of supplemental funds. High needs, diverse schools are left with kits that have been used and depleted."

Says who? 1) There are other curricula proposed, it's not "Amplify or nothing." 2) My understanding is the kits are distributed from the district and not by PTA funds. 3) If there is an issue providing kits equitably, let's solve that - the cost will be far cheaper than Amplify and will not come with the equity concerns that are rife with Amplify.

"Not approving the proposed curriculum also means that teachers can teach whatever they want impacting students that move schools."

Funny, the defenders of Amplify tell us that teachers can just supplement it. So which is it? Teachers can do what they want without Amplify or can do what they want with Amplify? Here again, we also see the false choice of "Amplify or nothing."

"It means that schools from affluent communities can afford better resources such as laptops. As a partner Amplify has provided laptops to the schools most in need and provides learning materials that are replenished equally through Amplify. This levels the playing field so to speak for schools like Denny."

As happens all over the country with this sort of thing, Amplify will stop donating this stuff as soon as the curriculum is adopted (though see a comment below questioning whether Amplify donated anything at all). And what will happen is teachers, mostly teachers of color, will lose their jobs as district spending goes to implement Amplify. In every flock there are some sheep who will take the side of the wolves.

"This allows me to focus on curriculum adaptation, instructional practices and alignment for the whole department rather than running around searching for materials for labs that are part of an outdated way of teaching science which contributes to the achievement and opportunity gap."

Again, this assumes it's "Amplify or nothing," ignoring the fact that several other curricula were proposed and can be adopted.

"In regards to the adoption committee process, we were tasked with finding a curriculum that was scientifically sound and current. A rigorous evaluation tool was developed (I assisted with this) to vet curriculum requiring committee members to consider inclusivity, bias and cultural competence. The parents, admin, and teachers took this task to heart and was at the very center of EVERY conversation we had regarding our curriculum. Which one would make ALL students feel like scientists? This was not an easy conversation to have, nor an easy decision to make. It took countless hours, outside research, and an extreme sense of mindfulness from all parties involved in the discussion."

So let's be about as clear as we can be here: You're not a scientist if all you do is stare at a screen all day. There was no mindfulness here, no discussion with actual scientists who do research for a living, no reflection on the universally negative experience kids have had with Amplify replacing hands-on learning with a screen. If this was the goal of the adoption committee process, it failed, dramatically.

(post 1 of 2)

Amplify This

Anonymous said...

"Not approving this curriculum would most likely result in postponing a decision indefinitely and I doubt the extensive process that cost lots would happen again with such efficacy."

Let's apply some science to this statement. We have an assertion that has no basis in fact at all (that not approving Amplify means indefinite postponement) that is presented as a factual conclusion. And we have some specious claims about what would happen if the adoption process went another year. Not very scientific, really.

"This is the long and short of the situation. No curriculum is perfect but Amplify has the backbone and components that allow for equitable pedagogy to be implemented. People worry that Amplify makes students sit in front of computers the whole time but that could be said of teachers that stuck textbooks in front of students, that is just bad teaching."

This statement shows no understanding *at all* that there is any difference at all between learning from a screen or learning from a book - and that there is extensive evidence, from scientific research, proving students do worse when presented with a screen than with a printed book.

And we worry that "Amplify makes students sit in front of computers the whole time" because that is *precisely what is going on in SPS classrooms right now* with Amplify. We oppose Amplify precisely because we've seen it in action and we know for a fact that it's terrible and students hate it.

"Amplify does not require teachers to have students just sit in front of computers, it is adaptable and the district will adapt it to model more of what we are doing at Denny if approved."

If this was true, then we'd be seeing it happen right now. Instead kids are sitting in front of screens, hating science, doing really poorly on assessments, not learning anything, and losing precious years of learning. And it's the kids of color who are hurt the most.

So no, there's no case for Amplify Science, and a strong case to be made against it.

(post 2 of 2)

Amplify This

Science Teacher said...

“If Amplify is rejected we will return to the FOSS kits that we have been using for over a decade…” It’s interesting that there is no mention of the Carolina curriculum which the district primarily uses. It’s also interesting that no mention is made of TCI. I was told that the adoption committee had a secret vote and no one knew what the outcome was, but it SURE sounds like the “pro-Amplify” group know the results. I find that interesting.

“These kits have not changed to be aligned with the standards and are not equitable curriculum materials…”
That is simply not true. Up until a few year ago middle school teachers were meeting regularly, across the district, to adapt and modify the curriculum. Most teachers, who actually use the materials, instead of just letting the kits sit in their buildings unopened, have aligned their lessons to the standards years ago.

“This means that schools that have large budgets and PTA’s that can provide large amounts of supplemental funds. High needs, diverse schools are left with kits that have been used and depleted…”
Again, this is simply not true. The kits are refurbished every year. Do I think more money could be spent on materials? Yes, of course. However, for the price of all the laptops that were purchased for Amplify, we could have easily afforded more science materials for hands-on labs. 



“Not approving the proposed curriculum also means that teachers can teach whatever they want impacting students that move schools…”
I know for a fact that many of the teachers teaching Amplify this year added lessons to the curriculum. Isn’t that teachers teaching whatever they want?

“…rather than running around searching for materials for labs that are part of an outdated way of teaching science…”
If you think that having middle school students learn science through hands-on labs instead of looking at some computer simulation is an “outdated way of teaching science”, well I’m proud to say that I’m outdated.



I've listened to some people use this silly, middle school bullying language for the last couple of years and it just makes me laugh out loud. I have no problem at all with words like "traditional" or "old school" or "outdated" and I know what I think of people who try and intimidate others in that way.

Teresa

Anonymous said...

Teresa,

Could SPS put some serious money into buying Science Kits from one or more Vendor? Then pay experienced SPS teachers to network and train new teachers on how to use these kits? Choose a couple of good textbooks for individual schools to choose from. Then stop paying outside consultants, and Ed Coaches, to control Science pedagogy from above.

Stop using word-salad terms like "3D-Learning" to justify kids sitting in front of computers, and being analyzed by software products. Stop using NGSS Standards to justify the purchase of Computer-based/Cloud-based Curricula.
NGSS are unfunded standards, not mandates.

News Flash!!:

The WA Legislature has just removed the requirement to pass the OSPI Science Test to Graduate!! This means there is no reason to "teach to the test". No one in SPS has be bullied any more into adopting a Cloud-based Curriculum that is "Aligned to NGSS". No need to employ word-salad terms like "3D-Learning" any more. No reason to buy a curriculum product, like Amplify, because it is the "best-aligned" to NGSS Standards.

Because DIng-Dong, the Graduation Test Requirement is Gone.

https://www.washingtonea.org/ourvoice/post/house-passes-bill-to-remove-testing-as-graduation-requirement/%E2%80%AC/

Support Locally-Grown Science Teachers with Sustainable Best Practices.

Clear Skies

kellie said...

I completely agree with POC contra Amplify's comment.

We've degraded to a situation where people who are anti-standardized testing for racial equity reasons are unironically advocating for Amplify, even though the entire reason it exists as a curriculum is solely to support standardized testing and to put considerable cash from us into the licensor's pocket.

I want to add to this comment, that we are not really "purchasing" anything. I just read the full Amplify "Vendor Proposal" as attached to the C&I meeting materials and the contract really amounts to "rent-a-curriculum."

We really aren't buying anything, not even the science kits. The science kits that support amplify has a per-year, per-kit licensing fee. What happens at the end of the contract. We have Nothing. Not even the rights to use the very expensive kits that need to be purchased as part of this "curriculum."

And how is the "contract extension" process going to work when the corporate entity has all the power in the negotiation, as we have literally nothing, no books, no kits and they can turn off the software at any time.

Standardized Generation said...

Amplify is an IQ test for children. Plus an achievement test. Doesn't the district need parental permission before they do IQ testing? Do the district or the parents even get to find out the results? Can the district use the info to save on special ed and advanced learning testing costs?

Anonymous said...

Everyone here, please sign up to testify at the board mtg next week. Students especially, and teachers if you can without consequences, please!!

Nw

Melissa Westbrook said...

Pretty interesting article here about a school in the Bay Area
https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/53331/how-do-we-get-middle-school-students-excited-about-science-make-it-hands-on?fbclid=IwAR3a-X72Ve5y6Cha77KScEZ5jcWqyIGUX_hi-NmcE2vNjOjU8MbBNfN5Q9U

“I was really excited because the first thing we did was experiments and hands-on stuff, which is my favorite part,” Liam said. At ASMS the teaching philosophy centers around giving students experiences that pique their interest to know more. Their science curriculum is based on a program called Full Option Science System (FOSS), but has changed over time as teachers bring new ideas to the curriculum and focus on meeting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

“It’s really based on the idea that students learn science by doing science,” said Kim Frock, co-founder of ASMS. Kids ask questions, make observations, manipulate data, analyze, “and really through that process develop deep conceptual understanding of what they’re doing.”

Adapting FOSS to NGSS; what a concept.

kellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
old salt said...

Thank you Theresa!

Institutional memory and on the ground information is critical to good decision making. I remember my kid having a good science experience in your class. (my kid who is now in grad school in STEM)

I also remember the same argument about teachers needing to all be teaching the same thing each day in every classroom when EDM was adopted. EDs & principals were making surprise visits to classrooms to enforce the pacing guides and fidelity of implementation. It just ensured that any shortcomings in the curriculum could not be overcome by experienced teachers. I think the problem is that you loose more by hamstringing strong teachers than you gain by forcing weak teachers into a structure. To me the real answer is to give targeted supervision, mentoring, training, support to weak teachers.

kellie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kellie said...

Because of the recent policy change of NOT posting board committee documents, very few eyeballs have been on the actual contract documents. The attachments to the C&I meeting were 800 pages. Recently, all public documents were posted with the board meetings but SPS cites that practice as not ADA compliant so these documents must be requested.

I have reviewed most of the documentation and the contractual aspects of this "adoption" are sincerely troubling, independent of the quality or lack thereof with the curriculum, itself.

A huge problem that has not been addressed is "what's next?" A nine year contract has an "end certain" date upon which, the rental agreement is over and SPS has to do something else. When you have an end certain data, a part of the adoption process must include a "what's next" step and that has not been addressed at all. This a major process failure.

Do you review at year 5 and start the next multi year adoption process for the replacement curriculum? If the board were to approve this contract, they are spending a tremendous amount of money for the purpose of gift wrapping another science curriculum review and adoption in a just a few years.

If Amplify turns out to be the next EDM, how does SPS make a course correction. The unfortunate answer is that it is nearly impossible to make a change once Amplify is underway, because SPS will be 100% dependent on renting science based services from a sole vendor, Amplify. IMHO, I suspect that is why the pro-Amplify folks are pushing so hard on the Amplify or Nothing meme, because once adopted, we will actually be living in an Amplify or nothing science world.

If Amplify were to go out of business and stop renting their material to us, we would have nothing. Once this adoption is complete, SPS is truly locked into a one-way arrangement with lots of high fixed costs and zero flexibility.

Melissa Westbrook said...

MS, Ms. Sanchez gave you that quote? Where did you get it? Because I want to get it right when I tell the Board about it.

Alsept Teresa said...

Clear Skies

Yes the district could do something like that. I would love to have an up to date textbook that I could check out to students who want or need extra support. The other night at our school science fair night I had a parent of an ELL student ask if there anything I could suggest to help her daughter with background information. I let her take one of the very old books I had in my room.But I had to warn her that it was in pretty bad shape.
Our last adoption wasn’t just one curriculum. Instead of letting the company dictate to us, we looked at which companies coveted the content in the best way for the grade level.
Teresa

Anonymous said...

Teresa Alsept,

"There's no Place like Home. There's no Place like Home".

Thank you for giving your struggling ELL Student, and her Mother, a well-worn Science Texbook, to learn Science from. But don't let MMW and her staff know that you did this. You might be subjected to some more of the HIB that they dish out, whenever someone diverges from their EdTech GroupThink.

They might say: Giving a ELL Student, and their Parent, an old, "outdated" Science Textbook??
That's so RetroTech, and wrong. Such a bad example for other teachers.

Thank you for speaking out, and doing right for the struggling students in your School.

Clear Skies

Anonymous said...

Imagine that! Some families actually want books! Good for them, and for the teacher.

Books Rock

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kellie said...

The more I look at this, the more It seems a truly fatal flaw in this "process" is that the end result is little more that a truly terrible rental agreement, where SPS is assuming the majority of the costs and risks and the vendor stands to make a very healthy profit with a lifetime customer.

You can't even really call this a lease agreement. The basis of lease agreement is that the future value of the item leased is calculated into the price. When you lease a car, the payments are less than the direct purchase of a car because the car dealership still owns the car and has calculated the future value of that car at the end of the lease, into the lease price.

But there is truly Nothing at the end of this rent-a-curriculum.

We are locked into a fixed nine year term, where we pay upfront for the rental. Any "consumables" are over and above the rental agreement. Per the estimates in the vendor quote, the consumables costs could easily exceed the entire value of the contract. And we are on the hook for providing and maintaining the technology platform to support the rental, as well as all the costs for required PD.

That is truly the business that Amplify is really in. This is not some sweet little non-profit looking to save science education. This is a for-profit company, that has adopted the pricing model of the for-profit software industry.

Nobody really owns a copy of Microsoft office, even if you are as old as I am, and purchased this software back in the dark ages. Instead you pay an annual subscription fee and when you stop paying, you stop your access to the product. That is the business model.

Who in legal approved this? It is potentially possible that the proposed contract hasn't even been to legal yet, because why would legal review a purchase order for curriculum. It is truly ironic that this most likely should have been presented to Audit and Finance, not Curriculum and Instruction, because rental agreements have an entirely different approval structure.







Anonymous said...

Regarding the student and school awards, Melissa said in her post "I just want to note that a reader alerted me to this and I had to cull together the information. SPS had no notice of this at all."

We have a very large district so I understand why it would be challenging to hear this information. The superintendent newsletter does not list most of these kind of achievements it seems, even the national awards.

This blog is not only a wonderful resource for news, I want to thank Melissa for offering perhaps the only resource where members from outside the community can learn more about school and student achievements.

Our high school, as well as multiple other SPS high schools students and programs, have earned numerous prestigious national awards and honors in recent years. They would go completely unrecognized unless Melissa writes about it, or someone happens to mention it on a thread on this blog. Our PTSA newsletter (Ballard) does a great job, but even they cannot always catch all the information happening within our (large) school.

Some of our programs and clubs have their own websites and sometimes I check them as almost always they are the best source for information, news, honors and awards.

Appreciate it

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Appreciate It; that was nice to hear.

As I say, my readers help me out by alerting me to all kinds of news and that's a help to all.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you Melissa. Hamilton MS and Garfield HS bands actually won at the Reno Jazz Festival each in two categories (https://www.unr.edu/rjf/winners.html):
Middle School Combo - Hamilton Middle School Combo [Director Paul Harshman ]
Middle School Band - Hamilton Middle School Band [Director Paul Harshman ]
AA High School Combo - Garfield High School III [Director Clarence Acox ]
A High School Band - Garfield High School I [Director Clarence Acox ]
Not sure whether that was mentioned yet. Pretty cool.

North Seattle Mom

Anonymous said...

Article about Rainier Beach in the Seattle Times today:

https://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/seattles-rainier-beach-high-earns-national-spotlight-in-hbo-show-wyatt-cenacs-problem-areas/

HP