Tonight's Big Science Adoption Vote

Update: at the Board meeting, the amendment from Pinkham/Burke has been withdrawn.  This changes things for me; I think the adoption will (sadly) pass.  

Also, I saw three teenagers - two of them to speak tonight and one in the audience - not stand for the Pledge. A bit startling.

End of update.

My last communication to the Board on the Science Adoption.  I also want to note that some communities of color are not excited about Amplify.  One of them is the Urban Native Education Alliance who will be speaking at tonight's Board meeting.  They say their learners do better will hands-on as well as group work.  Amplify doesn't have a lot of that.

My email today to the Board:

I write to you one last time asking you to consider voting no.
1) The issue of how Amplify came into this district is COMPLETELY murky and unclear. That MMW has given you four different stories is wrong.

2) I sent you emails showing that back in 2017, an NSF grantee asked MMW to participate in the elementary pilot of Amplify, sending her a template agreement letter. She wrote back enthusiastically and sent back the template with SPS letterhead saying yes.

You were never told this. This kind of, yes, collusion, misleading/dissembling is wrong. On that basis alone, you should vote no.

3) I got back my FOIA from the National Science Foundation, trying to find out if SPS was part of that grant for Amplify Middle School Science. I was told that they (NSF) had no documents related to WHO received grant funding from the entity carrying out the grant (WestEd).

So I have now asked:

- the NSF who gave the grant and asked via their media person/the principal investigator overseeing the grant/FOIA
- WestEd (the entity carrying out the grant)
- Amplify

 if SPS is part of the grant and not a SINGLE person will answer the question, yes or no.

That should tell you something. It's a fairly simple question.

Again, another reason to vote no.

I again say to you, the committees did their job.

However, your job is not curriculum - it's oversight of both process (following policies/laws) and dollars (watching out for the funding given to you by taxpayers). I do not believe anyone viewing from that prism could say yes.

I do understand the value of including heart/conscience in many Board decisions. You want to do the right thing for those furthest from educational justice.

But you do them no favors picking a curriculum that has NOT shown promise in the pilot schools and one that takes away more hands-on learning.

Melissa Westbrook
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog


Transparency Needed said…
The board needs to see the actual grant.

Thanks to all of those that advocated for transparency. Some board members understand that the district provided mass waivers. Not good policy.
Distraction said…
Also, I saw three teenagers - two of them to speak tonight and one in the audience - not stand for the Pledge. A bit startling.

Really? This is what you choose to focus on? We hear your dogwhistle. Over and over you get sidetracked from the real issues because it makes you feel important to be critical of those doing the real work. This is what passes for advocacy?
Distraction, cool your jets. It’s an observation of the meeting so far. How is that a dog whistle? For what?
Anonymous said…
Burke and Pinkham cave to SEA ? Short timers do what short timers do, fold!

Anonymous said…
Was a reason given for why the amendment was withdrawn?
It’s on the agenda but we have not gotten to the discussion yet, so no reason yet.
Anonymous said…
Focus on the real issue
DO NOT adopt amplify it will not inspire students to love science!

I know MMW did not play by the books and I know it is in her own self interest she gets this curriculum passed but it will not be good fro kids....
If it passes I will be very sad and disappointed.

BUT if there are no waivers I will teach it with fidelity and watch the light leave my students eyes while they look at the screen.

I am very disappointed in the decision - The other curriculum is better (the old curriculum is better)

a 25 year veteran should not be forced to teach like a 1st year rookie - asking the kids to get a computer and log on. I have heard the BS spun and the lies told how it is adaptive etc. it is not

It will be a huge mistake
Linh-Co said…
Only time will tell. I not so sure of the votes.
Stuart J said…
I hope the vote is no. I am sick and tired of people who run schools doing end arounds on electeds, keeping parents in the dark, and gathering data on kids that could well be stored for a very long time and released in a way that is very damaging to students and families.

I am also tired of seeing our kids not be truly competitive with world-class education systems. I can't imagine the kids in Singapore or Finland will be sitting in front of screens. I can't imagine they would adopt a system that results in decreased achievement, the way it seems there are drops in schools that use Amplify.
Anonymous said…
MMW just editorializes every time she's asked a simple question. She can't not lay it on thick.

Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
How you like them apples???

Matt Damon
Anonymous said…
Teachers should be furious with SEA leadership - Amplify, like other screen-based curriculum, is quite literally designed to slash teacher wages and jobs. This is like a union voting to automate the assembly line.

vote NO
Anonymous said…
Actually, teachers (who I revere) should be disgusted with amplify not because it screen base, but because it’s crap, and teachers care about kids and learning, and know that no screen ever cared about the kids or helped the kids grow or understood a kid and what the kid needed to succeed. Computers are not good for kids, human beings are good for kids. The computers are merely the tool for the human being who is supporting the kids with direct instruction.

And guess what? The teachers who I do know and who I do deeply respect for their skill and passion and content knowledge are in fact completely disgusted with amplify because it is crap.

the other

Anonymous said…
I will bet money that the 2021 school board elections will be a referendum focused on getting rid of Amplify. Parents are going to revolt once they see this, especially in the elementary schools, just as they have all over the country. They'll revolt when they see teachers being cut while Amplify and their wealthy owners are making a killing. How will SEA justify to their members that jobs have to be lost for this crappy screen-based curriculum?

hell no
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Amplify passed for both elementary and middle school. Sad day for students in SPS. Pretty ridiculous to spend $5M on PD provided by an employee of SPS.

Disappointed again
Enormous Mess said…
The district is expecting an $100M shortfall in 3 years. Will Amplify be another broken promise? It seems to me that there were less expensive options for elementary school.

Anonymous said…
No, Amplify is the promise that will be kept, it is teachers who will lose their jobs thanks to tonight's vote. What will Phyllis Campano say to them? "Sorry, paying the rich white tech guys is more important than you and your career"?

Anonymous said…
Kinoshita is leaving so that's good. MMW must be 66 or 67, so she could retire soon too. The fact is, even though her curricula were adopted, she ran a shoddy process and is a horrible communicator. Her bosses and the superintendent can't be pleased with how close to failure her process was. She needs to be replaced with a communicator who can inspire the confidence of the public and get the job done with less drama. Also they need to cut payroll for budget reasons and get some cheaper people in.

Anonymous said…
Congratulations to all teachers, staff, community members and students who devoted their time, energy and imagination to the Science Adoption and thank you to those directors who voted to approve. Director Harris did the right thing with casting the final yes vote, under pressure. Thank you to all concerned. It was an in depth learning experience for the community as a whole and, like all learning, it was difficult in places, but essential and worthwhile. Now the district can devote its energy to implementation and to the necessary upskilling of teachers. The benefits will be felt beyond science and throughout the district.

Anonymous said…
How are you doing Melissa? Asking for a friend.

Alsept Teresa said…

I think you mean the necessary down- skilling of teachers. How difficult can it be to sit kids in front of a computer screen all period? What a sad day for science in Seattle.
Anonymous said…
Well crud.

Thank you for all your hard work on this, Melissa, teachers, and parents.

Now I am wondering how to opt my child out of the massive data collection of Amplify? How do I do this for my middle schooler? Opt for paper assessments? Will my elementary school child have his own account that I have to worry about?

Can I file something with someone to prevent or erase any PII given to Amplify?

Anonymous said…
What is meant by upskilling is 'fidelity of implementation', where teachers learn not to deviate from the curriculum; can't remediate, can't give alternate examples of something students didn't understand, can't spend more time on an engaging class interest. Because any expertise teachers bring to the classroom, needs to be countered. They use to call it "teacher-proofing" but probably needed a more benign term to get union on board.

How is it possible to modify this curriculum for specific IEP goals?

-HS Parent
Anonymous said…
Glad we are done with SPS and its lack of rigor, its malfeasance and its petty fiefdoms. Good luck future SPS parents. It will take a number of years to turn this around - similar to the math curriculum. I predict this will be even more difficult because Amplify has deep corporate pockets with a vested interest in making money licensing its curriculum.

At least my university science classes will be more manageable because fewer students will be interested in continuing in science after a few years of soporific computer terminal study. Unfortunately, based on the data, a higher proportion of those opting out of future science careers will be students of color. Nice job!

Anonymous said…
Who voted for and who against?

Curious Voter
Linh-Co said…
Thank you Directors Burke and Pinkham for voting against Amplify. You did the right thing.
Anonymous said…
When will the lawsuits begin over this adoption process that didn't follow procedure?

Anonymous said…
Introduction of new technology to the classroom and its application to learning and student discovery and engagement is very much an upskilling. The resistance to upskilling has come from those teachers who have been unwilling to explore the use of developed curriculum technology to enhance teaching. Developing our teaching core to adapt technology to expand learning and the student experience in a way that parallels contemporary experience outside the classroom is an essential investment, in both teachers and students. In addition the required use of classroom technology now opens the door to higher renumeration for teachers as they are now technologists. It’s one of the reasons there was universal union support for the successful science adoption.

Katie and Brian said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Sorry, I had to look up the word renumeration. I found this:

Employee Remuneration refers to the reward or compensation given to the employees for their work performances. Remuneration provides basic attraction to a employee to perform job efficiently and effectively. Remuneration leads to employee motivation.

So we are tying pay to test scores again? Is that your meaning? If I were a teacher, I would be so mad at my union right now.

Anonymous said…
Yep, it's EDM all over again. That took a decade to turn around. We, too, are thankful we're soon to be out of SPS. And SPSParent, while there may be fewer SPS graduates interested in or prepared for college level science, students from neighboring districts will be. Unfortunately, teachers interested in science may now well avoid SPS as well.

whatta waste
Anonymous said…
The vagaries of spell check. Remuneration was reconfigured. I think you know what remuneration means.

Historian said…
At one point, the district adopted Discovery Math. It was the district's recommended curriculum. It was a disaster that left children/ students with the inability to perform basic math skills.

The state adopted new science standards. Seattle Public Schools was the only district to create an entire new scope and sequence. Other districts simply added additional content to existing chemistry classes etc. The district worked in conjunction with University of Washington to create this curriculum. Respected high school science teachers objected.

In 9th grade students will be taking chemistry without a full understanding of algebra. Chemistry and Physics are part of a spiraling curriculum.

The district worked, again, with University of Washington to create Amplify. They tell us it is going to close the gap. Some community members looked at the data and feel that Amplify has the capacity to actually lower test results.

It feels to me like students are the subject of human experience.

Let's see how the district funds CORE 24, Race and Equity curriculum and their new science curriculum.

Anonymous said…
Linh-Co is Burke's wife.

Anonymous said…
Now that the Amplify debate is settled and we've got another reason to not trust SPS leadership, can someone tell me again why charter schools are so bad?

Fed Up
Anonymous said…

It sounds like you are saying that teachers will be paid more because they will learn tech skills needed to run the amplify computer programs. I frequently see 20-30% of the classroom computers unusable. So now the teachers will know how to repair the hardware & software needed to keep class going. Of course you wouldn't need a science degree or teaching certificate for that.

-HS Parent
Anonymous said…
Newsflash. SPS still has Discovery Math. While EDM is gone, schools are still using Discovering Algebra and Discovering Geometry (adopted in 2009 despite being deemed "mathematically unsound" by OSPI; 4-3 vote: DeBell, Martin-Morris, and Bass voted against).

never ends
uber said…
What is your point? Is this sarcasm or intentional language? Hard to tell.

Whatever your intent-it doesn't really add to the conversation.
-Long Road

PS Thank you Melissa for all your critical eye and advocacy for so many years.
Anonymous said…
And who can forget the Mercer miracle? They abandoned the district approved math materials (substituted Saxon for CMP) and had some of the highest pass rates on state tests.

"Board Vice President Michael DeBell said Mercer is likely to prompt district leaders to rethink their emphasis on a standardized curriculum across the city." -Seattle Times, 2011

deja vu
I was there for the public testimony which proceeded almost to MMW's plan (to stack it). What stood out:

- Harris asked if some people might cede their time to others who did not make the list and have not had the chance to weigh in on this issue. Again, I wish Harris had a pro/con speakers list AND the opportunity for anyone else who had an issue to speak.

As well, Harris allowed many speakers to go well past their 2 minute time.

- Several of the student speakers mentioned their younger sibs and that not passing this takes away an opportunity.

- One speaker said that the Math in Focus adoption had been bad and that the publisher refused to allow the dual language schools to translate the curriculum. (I would guess it is available in different languages but, true to form, the district was too cheap to buy it for them.)

- One Chief Sealth teacher was pretty harsh and said they would remember the vote and not forget. I do believe the pending contract negotiations may have weighed heavily on board directors with that kind of talk.

- One teacher said he used HMH during piloting, really like it and was disappointed it didn't win but oh well. He also said his students wouldn't have a chance for a charter bus to Mt. Rainier.

I'll interject here that Amplify will bring computers into classrooms. Would that have happened with this adoption? Yes, it would. But is it really going to bring equity? No because PTAs will STILL be able to buy supplies that the district won't provide and yes, field trips. Unless the Board and the Super walk the walk on PTA funding rather than whine about it, this disparity will continue to happen.

- Speaking of PTA, watchdog Chris Jackins pointed out that the McGilvra PTA was giving a grant to the district so they can pay for a math specialist. Again, hand wringing on the part of the Superintendent and the Board will change nothing.

- Principal Ben Osterman at STEM K-8 proceeded to lecture the Board and barely got in "vote for the adoption." It was quite the performance.

- One teacher claimed that they needed to vote for the adoption because of all the kids of color who showed up. (It's a little confusing when, on the one hand, the Board is told they can't measure commitment to an issue by who shows up to testify because many parents of color are unable to get there but then, on the other hand, the weight of testimony should be considered more if they can get there.)

- I ceded my time to head of Urban Native Education Association, Sarah Sense Wilson, and many members of that group including students. I watched the pro-adoption side, many of whom looked startled. (One pro-adoption speaker, in her testimony, thought she was clever in addressing issues personal to each director. It was weird to have a Latina person telling a Native American person - Director Pinkham - how great Amplify would be for Native American learners and then have a Native American person - Sense Wilson - explaining how Amplify would not.)

I had another event last night so I left but I received many texts about the on-going and lengthy adoption discussion. I'll review the tape and put up a separate thread.

Clearly, of course, all the adoptions went thru. The Times is reporting a caveat in the K-8 adoptions with an amendment that says that there will be a review at the 4-year mark in the contract to see if Amplify is truly doing what everyone says it will.

Apparently, there was some pushback about the ability to change the contract which then brings into question whether the vote is truly valid if the adoption was passed with the amendment and yet Amplify won't put it into the contract.

Stay tuned.
Anonymous said…
Video from last night's meeting is posted.

Linh-Co said…
Why not a 1-year mark? There's another round of test results in the next month or so. If it's entrenched now after a 1 or 2 yr pilot, 4 years later no one will be revisiting this adoption.
Anonymous said…
"The Times is reporting a caveat in the K-8 adoptions with an amendment that says that there will be a review at the 4-year mark in the contract to see if Amplify is truly doing what everyone says it will."

Eden Mack you are terrific (your UW Masters degree in public policy is appreciated) for making this suggestion to review and not committing for 9 years without the data of what this curriculum will do and not do. Exactly what should be done.

A Parent
Anonymous said…

Having a one year review was discussed. One year proved to be impractical as that would not allow enough time to see the results as a cohort of students progressed over multi years. Am I correct that you teach math in a religious middle school? If so, then I’m sure you are familiar with the need to have more than one year’s data. Much more scientific; but then maybe you prefer faith based assessment.

Anonymous said…
Wow, Salut. Sounds like you are attempting to attack the character of someone based on their faith.

just wow

Anonymous said…

We already have OSPI data from 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 (showing marked declines in FRL achievement in science on Amplify), so a one-year check-in would have actually been a second year of data with Amplify. That would have been a perfectly scientific data-checkpoint. The adopted four-year check-in will provide ample data (actionable, if necessary). The OSPI data is worrying, so the data we should be getting the summer will either confirm that worry or, hopefully, show improvement.

Please also elevate your tone and avoid condescending, (unintentionally?) sexist, and unnecessarily rude statements such as the one about "faith-based assessments." You don't need to stoop to the level of the trolls to get your point across meaningfully.

Anonymous said…
So here's how this all went down. A giant corporation backed by billionaires, out to destroy the teaching profession by deskilling the labor so that they don't have to pay higher taxes for more teachers or more salary, allied with the district and convinced a bunch of teachers to eliminate their own jobs and slash their own pay and adopt a curriculum that doesn't work for kids.

How did they persuade teachers and their union to do this? By turning parents into the enemy. The corporations and the district have long wanted to crush the parents, who are often but by no means always white, who use this blog as an organizing and information sharing platform, who have had success after success at frustrating a corporate ed reform agenda in SPS. The corporations and the district convinced teachers that the issue here isn't a corporate/billionaire effort to destroy the teaching profession, but an equity issue that required anyone who cared about racial justice to oppose parents and ignore serious objections and sign on to a terrible curriculum. It helped that teachers on the adoption committee turned this into a power struggle, a "you're with us or against us" approach.

This will end poorly, just as this did when the same playbook was used by the corporate ed reformers to saddle us with high stakes standardized tests, with TFA, with common core, with charter schools, and so on. Equity and racial justice only matter to those with power when they can weaponize it to smash their enemies.

Now that Amplify Science has been adopted, you can bet that teachers will be frozen out of the remainder of the process of implementing it. Teachers will be ordered to "teach with fidelity" and forbidden to supplement. They will indeed be reduced to the people who push play. And when budget crises hit, teachers will be fired in order to continue paying Amplify and their wealthy investors. Ethnic studies and From Time Immemorial will be delayed, or poorly implemented, or implemented without PD. Other student and teacher needs will continue to be abandoned.

Eventually we will all realize a mistake was made, the district will try to get out of the contract, and maybe they'll prevail. Maybe then the lesson will finally be learned that one should never, ever trust corporate ed reformers when they promise equity when all they're interested in is their own profit. But then again, there will always be people willing to throw kids under the bus in order to win the power struggles they invented in their own head.

Anonymous said…
Lets not conflate issues,

Non functional digital learning stations is not Amplify's fault.

Poorly managed digital learning stations is not Amplify's faults.

SPS needs to start addressing the digital learning revolution by simplifying the equipment needed by implementing Virtual desktops(VD). The district can partner with either AWS,Google or Microsoft for cloud based VD and greatly reduce overhead with also 100% up-time.

The future of education is digital and those who can navigate a digital enabled classroom will prosper.

Just facts
Anonymous said…
The future of education is most certainly not digital. Well, it is, except for people who can afford to pay for human interaction. Digital learning has repeatedly been proven to be worse, much worse, than in person hands on instruction. What SPS is doing is helping create a two tier education system where kids whose parents have money get a good education from a human being and everyone else gets plopped in front of a screen, where they will learn nothing and get a series of mental and physical ailments. The only people who will benefit are wealthy investors. And it's all being done in the name of equity. What a sad, sad day.

Salut, I, too, do not care for your tone. You need to check that.

Just Facts, maybe but yes, if the district is putting computers in the hands of nearly every single student in middle and high school (and 2-1 in elementary), all schools are going to need tech resources. How can a teacher give a lesson if 3 computers are down in a class? What will those students do? There's a laundry list of how it all will work and I don't believe the district is prepared to support that work.

Anonymous said…
@Salut, I disagree.

Do you really think adopting Amplify will really mean "developing our teaching core [sic] to adapt technology to expand learning and the student experience in a way that parallels contemporary experience outside the classroom"?

Or that it will "open the door to higher renumeration [sic] for teachers" who will then be 'technologists'"?

Or that there was "universal union support for the successful science adoption"?

Re: the first point: Contemporary experience outside the classroom does not involve sitting in front of a computer screen that dictates what you can and can't learn that day. Nor does contemporary experience outside the classroom equate with sitting idly without learning while you wait to catch up. In the real world, people can go ahead and keep learning, digging deeper into a topic if they have additional interest and/or time. But SPS and Amplify want to put a ceiling on learning. It's sad, and shameful.

Re: the second: Teachers already use computers in their classrooms to some extent, so I don't see how this suddenly makes them "technologists," whatever that means (if anything) in SPS language. Pilot school teachers have been doing this for a while, right? MAP and SBAC required computer use. Teachers input data into The Source, etc. How does this change justify increased compensation--especially if it means less work doing actual teaching? Plus, we don't have money for this extra pay anyway, so good luck with that. And if being a "technologist" is a new job requirement, won't that make it even harder to get subs, too (even though it should theoretically be easier, since they won't have to actually know science)?

Re: the third: Universal support. I doubt that very much. There are speakers who have been very vocal in their opposition to Amplify, and they have also said the union didn't ask about their support. Where is this supposed evidence of universal support? Did the union survey all teachers? Hold a vote? I'm curious--and suspicious--of claims like yours.

nice spin
Anonymous said…
Amplified is not student-centered learning; it's a one-size-theoretically-fits-all model, but it won't fit all. It's also not teacher-friendly, as it relegates the teacher to the role of support staff. It sure is corporate-friendly, though. Way to go, SPS. You've done it again. Sadly.

cry uncle
Anonymous said…

Amplify has undercut your argument COMPLETELY (the irony!)with their Grade 5 Science outcomes for WA state sample (using the approach that Sue Peters and Linh Co recommended) with results that, when controlling for socioeconomic status, showed an "effect size of +0.11, a result that was NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT".

So Sue Peters and Linh Co's recommendation is what intellectually honest, critical thinkers do in the face of complex decisions.

You've been licking your whiskers all morning like the cat that caught the canary, but this is not the end, just the beginning.

Student data is the coin of the realm, and the next step is for parents to organize and opt out.

Amplify Science Grade 5 WA State Outcomes Study


5th-grade science outcomes from 2016–2017 were collected from Washington schools that would and would not be using Amplify Science during the 2017–2018 academic year. These outcomes were used as a pretest measure. During the following academic year (2017–2018), teachers in the Amplify Science schools were then given access to the four Amplify Science units for 5th grade. 5th-grade science outcomes from all of the schools were then collected again in 2017–2018 and used to study the relationship between science performance and use of Amplify Science."


Performance on the Washington Comprehensive Assessment System (WCAS) science test for 5th grade was used as both a pretest and posttest measure. Scores from the 2016–2017 academic year were used as the pretest, and scores from the 2017–2018 academic year, after schools had access to the Amplify Science units for at least 8 months, were used as a posttest. The WCAS is a large-scale standardized assessment developed by the State of Washington to place students into one of four Achievement Levels that outline which types of academic tasks a student can master and whether they have met the standards adopted by the State. Students who attain Levels 3 and 4 are considered to have met the standard, while students in Levels 1 and 2 have not. More information on the Grade 5 WCAS Achievement Levels is available through the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Education and Instruction. The percent of students in the school meeting the standard according to the WCAS achievement levels was used as the pretest and posttest metric."


fter controlling for these variables, model 1 shows that Amplify Science was associated with a statistically significant positive effect. Specifically, Amplify Science is associated with an average +3.47 point difference in the % of students meeting the standards for 5th-grade science, as measured by the WCAS Science Test in 2017–2018, which is a statistically significant result. However, model 2, which also controls for differences in socio-economic status, showed an average +2.27 point difference in the % of students meeting the standards for 5th-grade science, or an effect size of +0.11, a result that was not statistically significant."

Anonymous said…
The reality is this, most STEM professions use computers based simulations for designing and testing models. I use various packages for circuit design, simulation and prototyping it's called Labview. I would never revert back to using breadboards and power-supplies to design something.

How can you be involved in computer science without computers? You can't.

The electronics industry uses almost 100% computer based technologies for conception to finished products.

Chemical reactions can be simulated at 100% accuracy using software.

Structural engineering is done 100% with software.

Industrial design is nearly 100% done with software.

There is still a place for physical learning and labs, but once you know the basics you don't need to actually mix chemicals to learn the reactions. Using simulations saves money and are much faster and safer to complete.

Kids still need to learn the language of science and the methods, but I've learned more using software simulators then I could have without using them. It's also very important to make sure your software aligns with the industry your interested in pursuing a career in.

Kids learn to read, write and do math and you will be ok. Most of the other stuff is just indoctrination by the progressives that really don't want you to think for yourself.

Anonymous said…
@PK I 100% agree with you. I think if we remove the progressives agenda for education reform then most of the problems will vanish! Get back to R-W-A and scrape all this SJW non-sense. I don't need to district socializing or indoctrinating my child.
How did the schools get so screwed up?


Anonymous said…
Where is Sue Peters?? She has all the answers and she would have voted no. I believe if we keep posting about this after the fact that’s it’s a done deal, we may open a time portal to the exact time Amplify bribed all the SPS officials. Let’s keep it going! We are so close to really turning this around. Sue, where is your sage advice??

Uncle Rico
Tired Mom said…
Any time someone tells you there is only ONE way to help the students farthest from educational justice, they are selling you something. There is always more than one way. You know who gets harmed when people think there's only one way to do something? The students farthest from educational justice. Why do you think policy 0030 calls for multiple pathways to success?

Curious George said…
What do people do when they are in a financially precarious position? They lease. Is that a good strategy? No.

7 years from now there will need to be an adoption process started again or the district will be coming to the end of the term and the Amplify contract for the next nine years... Well, you can always switch... they will say.

Everyone who voted for this will be long gone.

I have done a complete 180 on Charter Schools. It is time now.
Anonymous said…
Who do you think developed that software?? And do you think they learned their math/science by watching videos? Even in college we had wet labs before moving to computer simulations. It's difficult to watch SPS make the same mistakes over and over.

deja vu

Anonymous said…
@PK, when students are taking higher level classes in computers science, electrical engineering, structural engineering, etc., by all means let them use computers all they want. But most of SPS's students are still learning the basic scientific foundations, and need lessons that are inspiring and that promote learning and retention. Screen-based research and simulations may work well for professionals who already have extensive knowledge bases in their fields, but that doesn't mean they work well as way to teach that foundational knowledge.

As to your statement that "it's also very important to make sure your software aligns with the industry your interested in pursuing a career in," you do know that we're talking about kids here, right? General, public education? What you said may be true for vocational programs, but I hardly think we're going to start tracking kids into specific industries in elementary school.

cry uncle
Anonymous said…
Jeeze I use videos all the time to learn new things. It really depends on the quality of the video. When I want to learn a new dish I can usually find a youtube video and text of the recipe. Works for me.

Anonymous said…
Yes - and then after you watch the video *you make the dish.* You actually cook food. Real food. That someone eats.

With Amplify Science, you watch the video but never proceed on to cooking the food.

Anonymous said…
@cry uncle, I was fixing TVs at 8. I think public education is too drawn out. 16 should be the cut off. Then either 2 years of votech or collage. After that they are on their own.

Not every school can afford the equipment needed to properly conduct modern experiments. Most schools programs are either robotics using expensive kits or rockets. If you want to do more in depth work the simulators are very useful.

The problem is, I havn't met one single teacher qualified to work with the simulators.

You really need to be like Bill Nye to keep younger kids interested. I really don't see the harm in using training videos to help educate kids. The trick is to expose them to lots of different things to see what sticks...growing plants is super boring to many kids, but building a laser is not.

Watching said…
I was disturbed by the amount of fiscal irregularities. Documents did not have consistent numbers. These numbers were still being hashed out on the dais. Either the district is sloppy or there was something else going on. I'm looking forward to the audit.

Special thanks to Director Pinkham for wanting numbers to be made public.

Clearly, there is media interest in the story. The Seattle Times picked-up the story. The story is above the fold.
Anonymous said…
No you don't have to not cook the food. You run through a bunch of simulations covering basic skills and knowledge then choose which experiment to perform in real life. Like watching a home remodeling videos until you find the one that is very close or exactly like the project you want to do. Perhaps the video might make you realize you need a professional.

Many videos will have real scientist performing the experiments and include lots of commentary covering all the nuances or trip ups around the experiment. These things are way beyond most SPS teachers because most are teachers not experienced scientist.

Why not take advantage of modern digital tools and learning?

Complexifier said…
Funny all these commentators who think they know the proper place (wayyy up there) for computers in STEM. Many, many scientists use their EYES to look at things and their HANDS to work and their other senses to observe the world, generate hypotheses and test them. Ask any bench scientist at Fred Hutch, the UW or any of the biotech companies in the area, or anyone in ecological research, or any of many stem fields. They all have facility, some more than others, with software for collecting and analyzing data, but hands on work is the core of what many STEM professionals do. And using your hands and senses is a great way to get kids excited about understanding the natural world.

My middle school kid finds amplify boring but fortunately her teacher is savvy enough to supplement it with some interesting stuff. I think they should have used to money for hiring bonuses to hire quality science teachers.

“What you said may be true for vocational programs, but I hardly think we're going to start tracking kids into specific industries in elementary school.“

Wait for it; that’s coming.

The Times is way late to the party on this story and has gotten a lot wrong. They have good reporters but I think -again - editorial puts its thumb on the scale.
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Anonymous said…
And Ms. Alsept drops the mike!!

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SPS Reborn said…
Forget about the amount of screen time, the reality is there very few teachers that have any real science knowledge and even fewer that have any real world science experience. The teachers are the wild card in science education so we are simply removing the wildcard which will give all students in all classes an equal chance at learning unbiased science. In the future there will be more use of AI in the classroom and further expansion of platforms that will accelerate learning beyond the capabilities of an obsolete human teacher. No more bias, no more agendas and no more JWS non sense. I'm not saying Amplify is that platform, but it's a good start.For those of you saying to disrupt business as usual I say go away!
Alsept Teresa said…
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Anonymous said…
Ohhhh (head smack) so that's who PK is feeding the simulated food to...the AI teacher. It all makes sense now.

ALLslep throughmyclass said…
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Stuart J said…
NY Times has a story about how too much swiping and not enough manual dexterity is impacting the abilities of medical students. Hands on matters! And thinking in 3D is very important in organic chemistry, the weedout class for medical school. I think parents are just going to have to do a lot of extra work of sending kids to hands-on science camps, or buying hands-on project kits, if they want their kids to have a chance for success in high school and college.

Could you tie a series of square knots around the neck of a teaspoon without, even slightly, moving the teaspoon? How about using tweezers to extract a grape from inside a roll of toilet paper, without piercing the grape’s skin or touching the sides of the roll? Aspiring surgeons should have the dexterity to accomplish such tasks. But increasingly, they don’t.
Faculty members at medical schools in the United States and Britain have noticed a marked decline in the manual dexterity of students and residents. Some say it’s because of fewer hands-on courses in primary and secondary schools — shop class, home economics, drawing, painting and music. Others blame too much time spent tapping and swiping screens rather than doing things that develop fine motor control like woodworking, model building and needlework. While clumsiness is a growing concern in medical schools, the extent and permanence of the problem are unclear.
“There is a language of touch that is easy to overlook or ignore,” said Dr. Roger Kneebone, professor of surgical education at Imperial College London. “You know if someone has learned French or Chinese because it’s very obvious, but the language of touch is harder to recognize.” And just like verbal language, he thinks it’s easier to acquire when you’re young: “It’s much more difficult to get it when you’re 24, 25 or 26 than when you’re 4, 5 or 6.”
Anonymous said…
The only stitching I ever did was in SPS in a sewing class in 8th grade. We also had wood shop, acrylic shop, and mechanical drawing. Yes can you believe all that in middle school in the 70s. These current middle school students have nothing equivalent. Kids today can't write a coherent email or letter. They have no idea what to do with a ratchet wrench or plunger.

Give them a smart phone, a Starbucks card and an Uber account and they are completely satisfied. Millennials should have NEVER bore children!

Trade deficit
Dick Schreck said…
Let’s show a little respect for Ms Alsept please.

I respect her opinion on Amplify. But what I am curious about is that at Wednesday’s Board meeting, again I heard several teachers with a positive opinion about teaching Amplify. They even Implied that any teacher who would just set their students in front of the computer were negligent. This does not match with your comment (Ms Alsept) that students suffer in front of the screen 2/3 rd of the time, so I hope for students sake this is an exaggeration.

Ms Alsept, I get that you don’t like Amplify, do you like and teach to NGSS?
Anonymous said…
There hasn't been a comprehensive hands on science class in SPS high schools for over a decade. My kid's chemistry class at Ingraham had to learn from You Tube, the teacher very seldom showed up for class and when she did she had no idea what she was doing.

Even with the lack of hands on science many of these kids still were accepted to college. Parents are mostly to blame for the activities or lack of activities of their children for example, when a child can't tie their own shoe laces they are given slip on shoes or elastic shoe laces.

The city streets are just too dangerous for kids to go out and play on so I don't blame parents for not allowing kids just to play outside in the whole neighborhood.

Video games now replace reality for most children which is sad but not as sad as seeing a family out at dinner with everyone on a phone!

Good Night
Anonymous said…
City streets are too dangerous for kids to play outside? Give me a break. Where do you live Good Night? My kids played outside a lot and didn't have much screen time until 7th grade but then, my kids went to private grade school. They learned things like gardening, woodworking, cursive handwriting, knitting, sewing, painting, along with reading, writing, science, and math. One went on to public high school and is now in college doing great. That kid had great science teachers at Hale in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The only class we found problematic was 9th grade physical science where the teacher expected them to discover everything and offered no reading material to reinforce what they were supposed to be learning. We ended up having to supplement with textbooks from the library. As I told the teacher, my kid is not discovering anything other than frustration and boredom.

I also want to say that many people in the tech field purposely send their own kids to grade schools with no computers and lots of outside time. Both my partner and I are engineers and many of the other parents at my kids' grade school worked at Microsoft, Google, Boeing, etc. What I see happening with Amplify is the same thing that happened with Everyday Math. Those families that can afford it will supplement with real hands on science.

Give Up said…
Close the achievement gap? Amplify won’t do that. Great teachers won’t do that. Strategic plans won’t do that.

The achievement gap is that gap that arises between kids who live in stable homes, take family vacations, have books read to them and have them in their homes, have nutritious food (at home), have access to tutors, coaches (and club teams), private lessons, and mentors and on and on.

What policy decisions could we make as a society if we acknowledged what has been true for the last half century, schools can’t close the gap?
As this discussion seems to becoming somewhat circular, I'll just weigh in. I will be having a separate thread on the discussion that led to the adoption (very problematic and probably portends much of Juneau's style which is unlike previous superintendents).

I think HP and Give Up make important points, no matter how you feel about Amplify.

HP is right that parents who find that Amplify won't work for their child and have the ability/means to supplement will do so.

Give Up has stated what I have said for a long time - school CANNOT ever make up for whatever home life is for kids and what they do or don't get there. Yes, school can feed them (but not on the weekends or in the summer or in a lesser manner), school can do screenings (vision, hearing, etc) but that doesn't mean a lot if there is no follow-up, and most of all, school can be a safe haven for children who experience trauma but again, will never be able to give a child all that home life does.

However, providing wrap-around services may help negate some of that trauma (or work to dampen its effects) so it is important to try to fund that work but teachers are not social workers or therapists. And without supports, all teachers can do is provide a safe, welcoming environment and seek to help students who have life impacts.

Society owes it to schools to work on societal issues AND to drive legislatures to fully fund education. That is where you will likely find the greatest gap closing.

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