Friday, October 18, 2019

Looking at the Strategic Plan

The district has a slightly new look at their website.  There's a little human figure on the left side that if you click on it, brings up an accessibility menu.

On the other side, there's a "Contact Us" link. It allows you to send a concern/compliment/query to staff (apparently anonymously if you want).  I am not sure if either are truly live but the "Contact Us" link's phone number is 123-456-7890 so probably not.

There is also their Strategic Plan page which reveals a couple of ideas that I didn't know about the plan. (It's also gives you a chance to look at the new slogan and logo for SPS.)

1) Intro: While great work will continue for all students, Seattle Excellence, the district’s 5-year strategic plan, makes clear what we will accomplish for underserved students and families.  Seattle Excellence, is guided by four priorities and is laser-focused on supporting students of color who are furthest away from educational justice, beginning with African American boys and young men. 

I must have misunderstood as I thought all four priorities were of equal weight. This language means apparently not.  The first sentence is the only one in all the documentation that uses the word "all" meaning a commitment to all students.

And, of course, the question is whether there is great work happening everywhere. 

2) Strategic Plan Priority: High-Quality Instruction and Learning Experiences
We will recognize and serve the academic, social, cultural, emotional, and behavioral strengths and needs of students, providing high-quality, culturally responsive3 instruction, curriculum, and social-emotional learning supports delivered by educators who set high expectations, so students graduate ready for college, career, and community.

Again, here is one word missing in that paragraph that would give it clarity.  "All" as in "all students."  Because the rest of the page only references students of color, primarily AA males.  It makes me uneasy when there isn't one overarching statement of being there for all students.

3) Strategic Plan Priority: Predictable and Consistent Operational Systems
I find this one troubling because their overwhelming measure of the operational systems will be surveys.  Surveys are only as good as they are written and who takes them.  They also say:
  • Overall service quality level informed by performance indicators unique to each individual operational function
What the performance indicators are for each area of Operations and how they are measured is unclear.

4) Strategic Plan Priority: Culturally Responsive Workforce

The diversity of staff and leadership at schools and central office will increase.

The key word is "will."  That implies if all things are equal, they will choose the candidate of color.  That's fine but it also seems to imply that they may have some established levels for race in hiring. 
That could mean legal trouble for the district someday.

5) Partner with students, families, and communities who are furthest from educational justice by conducting inclusive and authentic engagement.

  • Presence in community (e.g., # of meetings in community/feedback loop) 
  • Family participation surveys
  • Community partner participation surveys
I applaud the district going out to meet the community where it is, rather than mostly at JSCEE.  I am a bit apprehensive about community partner surveys because again, the wording of questions matters and I'd like to see a list of what partners would be asked to take the survey.

From the Horace Mann League newsletter,  Customer experience — and the invisible thread of school success
Like every enterprise, public and private, our schools have room for improvement. But the notion that traditional K-12 schools are failing is wrong and, left unchecked, creates public policy that systematically defunds public schools and stigmatizes the teaching profession.
The good news is that America’s public schools are starting to respond to that corrosion of trust. Slowly but surely, they are learning that the public’s perception is shaped not just by student achievement but by the quality of the experiences that parents, students, teachers, staff, and taxpayers have when they interact with their local schools. An intentional approach to customer service and customer experience has started to appear as a key objective in school district strategic plans.


Anonymous said...

It seems like the most frequently cited measurement tool is surveys.

They will also measure instructional experiences using surveys, attendance, discipline & equity of access to programs like sped, ELL & Hi-cap. It's not very specific in how they will use these tools to measure & what will constitute success or failure. Will they be measuring proportionally to student population by race? I'm not clear on why African American males would be in ELL at all? In fact how will ELL participation numbers be associated with race or will it ethnicity instead of country of origin?

And sped? How are they going to change the sped numbers? Will they be reevaluating everyone in sped with a goal dropping IEPs for some racial groups & adding them for others? Or denying initial evals to overrepresented groups & encouraging initial evals of under represented groups?

In the engagement section it says they will measure using participation in school-based student leadership groups. I assume that means ASB & clubs? The district has no control over those elections. They can't institute proportional representation. Since the ASBs are regulated by the state, I think it could be a legal problem.

Where are the steps the district will take to make changes,the things they actually control? And where are the specific deliverables. Also how does it relate to the budget.

HS Parent1

Anonymous said...

What I see missing from the strategic plan is a commitment to follow the law. You would think that would go without saying but given the recent history of the school district I want to see it called out specifically.

Under Predictable and Consistent Operational Systems I would like to see (1) Improve compliance with federal, state, and local law and (2) Improve compliance with school district policy as approved by the school board.

Ideally the measurement for these would be by outside audit.

At first glance this might seem less than strategic, but I believe it is a strategically important way to build trust among all constitutents, most especially the voters who will be asked to approve future levies.