Sunday, January 31, 2010

Seattle Directors Guide to staying out of Court

Dear Directors, Sunday January 31, 2010

This is a guide on how to lessen the likelihood that your NTN contract vote will be appealed in King County Superior Court.

#1… Perform due diligence.

#2… Clearly explain the major reasons behind your vote.

#3… Don’t base your vote on Central Administration’s yarns and anecdotes.
Past Examples: This aligns well with NMAP or this is a balanced approach or this will eliminate the achievement gap in 5 years.

The following are likely to be found “Arbitrary & Capricious”

#1… Making a decision based on one student or a small group, which then impacts another larger group adversely.

#2… Making a decision, which fails to effectively serve students in such a way that article IX of the State constitution is violated.

#3… Putting fourth a rationale that cannot be supported by evidence.
Examples: A...“Discovery is a balanced approach” when the publishers describe it as an investigative approach and lessons consist of investigations. B... I’ve extensively read NMAP and my reading leads me to believe that “Discovery” is well aligned with NMAP recommendations. When “Discovery” does not align well with a number of major NMAP points.

The District’s Central administration as of Wed. January 27th had made a decision not to provide you with relevant data. I had given Mr. Tolley a fact sheet on Saturday January 23rd, which contained many of the answers to the questions you directors asked him on Jan 27th but he had no answers. This is unacceptable a week before a proposal to spend $800,000 that will alter programs for years to come. Directors have repeatedly asked questions and been provided no answers.

One of many significant questions asked on Jan. 27th was does NT Sacramento cost more to operate per student than the average Sacramento high school. No answer from TEAM MGJ. NT Sacramento does cost more to operate per student. It also has smaller class sizes than the average for Sacramento high schools.

I have provided you with extensive data that outlines how ineffective most NTN schools are in the area of students learning enough mathematics to pass even an End of Course assessment at the basic level. Biz Tech in Portland, Welby in Colorado and several California schools indicate these are poor models to follow. All my data came from relevant state testing. Note the passage of CAHSEE math is hardly relevant to potential collegiate success for a STEM student. Passing CAHSEE math is equivalent to marginal proficiency in 8th grade math topics.

I find it particularly offensive that in the past two math adoptions the directors arbitrarily chose to ignore the relevant data and select instructional materials that were ineffective in comparison to other choices. The board chooses “mathematically unsound” over materials that follow NMAP’s recommendations. I also provided Iowa test scores and WASL data showing that EDM served disadvantaged learners poorly. Now two years later we have watched achievement gaps expand at the grade 4 level, in direct contradiction to the yarns spun by Central Administration during the adoption.

Particularly offensive was that in the 1100 pages of materials submitted by the district on which the “Discovering” adoption decision was based were NO letters from the public and NO public testimony and of course NO NMAP “Foundations of Success” as that was not used by the adoption committee as a reference document. McLaren et al. submitted around 200 pages of material that will likely be considered by Judge Spector and should have been weighed appropriately by you the school board directors.

Here is what you need to consider. On January 27th Kacey Guinn of the City of Seattle Office of education reported staggering achievement gaps in grade 3 reading and grade 4 math. This despite grants by the city aimed at reducing this problem. In private conversation Ms. Guinn said: “We do what we can with early learning and after school programs but we have no control over Seattle’s instructional materials and practices.”
Ten years of an expanding math achievement gap and the District still ignores the wisdom of “Project Follow Through” and now “Visible Learning” and NMAP as well as Seattle’s own data documenting the ongoing disaster for disadvantaged learners.

The math situation is abundantly clear. SPS uses the most ineffective model possible for math instruction of disadvantaged learners as reported in Project Follow Through.

Now let us take the philosophy of Instruction a bit further as you are being asked to spend $800,000 on a project based learning approach. Other than this is the current “Club Ed Elite” favorite why do so?

Hattie’s “Visible Learning” clearly supports Mastery Learning with its reported effect size of 0.61 over Problem Based Learning 0.15 and Inquiry Based Learning 0.31.

Why do the directors continue endorsing a long failed experiment at enormous cost to our students? Effect size for Direct Instruction = 0.59 … Why not some explicit instruction at something of a priority level rather than an administrative “happy thought” terminology name drop.

Schmitz Park is using Singapore Math, a Mastery based approach with proven results in many other countries. Singapore features a greatly reduced number of topics especially at the early grades. Two thirds of Schmitz Park 5th graders placed above 6th grade level math on the Middle School placement exam in 2009.

Given Singapore Math’s program development and emphasis on the use of English aimed as Limited English students. You should investigate the achievement gap for Schmitz Park’s Low Income students and contrast it with the extremely large achievement gaps in EDM schools. Last year on the Grade 4 WASL 100% of low income passed reading and 83% of Low Income passed Math at SP. Perhaps you could request the most recent MAP data.

In 2009 in 4th grade SP had 12 Low Income students. Here are their WASL Math levels:
7 at level 4,
3 at level 3,
2 at level 2 and
0 at level 1

Amazing results and done without district math coaching.

It seems “Arbitrary & Capricious” to make a decision to continue with a Problem Based Inquiry approach to mathematics given both Seattle’s relevant data in this regard as well as the data I’ve presented you from Several NTN schools.

I am sure you have seen Meg Diaz’s January 20th power point. It indicates that approval of this contract will be “Arbitrarily & Capricious” in favoring a small group at the expense of a much larger group.

There is no reason to believe all of the following can happen together and yet this is exactly what the Central Administration has proposed.

#1 A school which serves the same demographic currently at Cleveland.

#2 A school in which “Calculus” is a requirement.

#3 A school with 1000 students.

Check the current demographic of Cleveland Students. Check the math scores of each demographic group at Mercer and Aki Kurose. Check the math scores on End of Course testing at California NTN schools. Napa is a questionable comparison with Poverty at 11%. In fact one year NAPA offered no math class below Geometry. (This is hardly an appropriate model for Cleveland.)

There is no evidence that supports a #1 - #2 combination.
Similarly there is no evidence that supports a #2 - #3 combination.

In fact there is no evidence that supports #3. Look at the size of NTN schools there is absolutely no evidence that this model can be scaled up to 1000 students. Many small things cannot be scaled up appreopriately.

It is quite obvious that Seattle’s Central administration either did inadequate research in proposing this NTN Contract or concealed what they found. I believe that your approval would be “Arbitrary & Capricious”. If you vote yes please provide an appropriate explanation.

Thank You,

Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.

P.S. be particularly watchful of new information submitted after testimony on Wednesday by the administration, as it is too late for the public to respond effectively. Those who go to meetings and school board sessions find this tactic particularly offensive.


Anonymous said...

There should be another class lawsuit filed over some teachers suffering from the abuse being dished out by our supervisors. I'm being given an impossible task and told that my evaluations depend on my students getting it -they're absurd and elitist.

We have our own taxpayers revolt going and we're going to fail the levies and throw the rats out.

Reform needs another revision. Ann Arbor and the AAAS needs to find a rock to hide under.

dan dempsey said...


Excellent points.
In Seattle the teachers are supposed to follow the Everyday Math pacing plan because "Fidelity of Implementation" is nirvana.

EDM uses a Spiraling Technique which NMAP finds NOT a best practice. Hattie's "Visible Learning" reports an effect size of 0.61 for mastery learning.

The clowns in Central Administration think that the problem is defective teachers and that "Broad Funded" Performance Management is the solution.

The problem is a defective administration forcing teachers to do the wrong thing.

Wow don't ya just luv the "Club Ed Elites" and their ability to intelligently apply the relevant data .... NOT.

Alan said...
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