Sunday, August 30, 2015

Seattle Teachers and Contract Negotiations

So with a lot of talk about teacher salaries, let us get a grip on the cost of raising a family of four persons.

From the Wall Street Journal comes this =>

Back in the day when I was raised there were a lot of "stay at home moms" and they contributed a lot to the success of public schools and society.  In the early 1960s an average house payment was around 32 hours of adult labor a month at the average wage rate.  It must be well in excess of 100+ hours a month in the Seattle metro area today.   In parts of Silicon Valley they are providing housing for police, nurses, firemen, and teachers due to incredibly high housing costs.

These days if a Seattle teacher is expecting to have a family of four with a stay at home spouse, that teacher better have some inherited wealth or inherited a house.

The EPI budget calculator

gives $72,274 for the annual cost for a family of 4 in the Seattle/Bellevue metro area
but that gives housing cost as $1,123 a month (huhh?? - must be living in an RV parked in the Arboretum).

The EPI measure isn’t a poverty gauge, but rather estimates what it costs for households to satisfy basic needs, including shelter, food, child care, transportation, health care and taxes. The measure takes into account items such as a cell phones and home furnishings, but not vacations or saving for retirement or college.

Wonder what the Washington Policy Center and the Seattle Times will tell us about salaries and strikes.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Current Professional Development --------------- an expensive voyage to Fantasy Island

Teaching Teachers: Big Costs, Little Payoff

We're wasting billions on professional development. What can be done about a culture of low expectations for professional development?

A study, entitled "The Mirage," was based on surveys of 10,000 teachers and 500 school leaders, along with interviews with more than 100 staff involved in teacher development. The surveys and interviews were conducted in three large school districts and a mid-sized charter school network.
PD costs were found to average $18,000 per student per year.  Based on findings, it is estimated that the 50 largest U.S. school districts alone spend about $8 billion annually on teacher development, far more than was previously thought.

"The Mirage," :Confronting the Hard Truth about Our Quest for Teacher Development
Click "The Mirage" above for a 68 page .pdf download of that report.

"The Mirage" study describes the widely held perception among education leaders that we already know how to help teachers improve, and that we could achieve our goal of great teaching in far more classrooms if we just applied what we know more widely. Our research suggests that despite enormous and admirable investments of time and money, we are much further from that goal than has been acknowledged, and the evidence base for what actually helps teachers improve is very thin.

Great teaching is very real, as are teachers who improve over time, sometimes dramatically so. Undoubtedly, there are development experiences that support that improvement. But we found no clear patterns in these success stories and no evidence that they were the result of deliberate, systemic efforts. Teacher development appears to be a highly individualized process, one that has been dramatically oversimplified. The absence of common threads challenges us to confront the true nature of the problem—that as much as we wish we knew how to help all teachers improve, we do not.

The executive summary recommends  that school systems:

1 ..  REDEFINE what it means to help teachers improve  and    Define “development” clearly, as observable, measurable progress toward an ambitious standard for teaching and student learning. 

2 .. REINVENT how we support effective teaching at scale

3 .. REEVALUATE existing professional learning supports and programs 


New Zealand currently requires PD programs to produce academic gains in students by measuring the effect sizes produced by PD. It is all about improving student learning.
So let us examine Seattle School District and Elementary Mathematics over about a 10 year period.
#1 The District's position is that for purposes of providing high quality uniform Professional Development only one series of math textbook should be used at any school level.
a.) In 2007 the District adopted Everyday Math for K-5 demanding fidelity of implementation and 75 minutes per day of math class.  With this adoption Carla Santorno, the chief academic officer, told the School Board that this math adoption with PD, would eliminate the math achievement gap for students of color  within 5 years.

The All SPS Students minus Black SPS Students test score differences on the State's annual 4th grade math testing =>

The Black / African American Opportunity Gap at grade 4 in math

26.11% - spring 2007
26.00% - spring 2008 <= first year
23.30% - spring 2009
25.41% - spring 2010
27.51% - spring 2011
23.10% - spring 2012 <= fifth year
21.80% - spring 2013
22.41% - spring 2014
20.80% - spring 2015 <= first year of Math in Focus adoption
Given the large increase in instructional time, it is extremely hard to believe that the new fidelity of implementation to the new K-5 Everyday Math textbook series and associated professional development accompanying the adoption were of any value.

There was NO ... observable, measurable progress toward an ambitious standard for teaching and student learning due to this fall 2007 adoption of EDM materials and accompanying professional development. 

It is way past time to REEVALUATE existing professional learning supports and programs.

It would also be a good idea to use relevant data in the selection of textbooks and materials.

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data"
  -- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dorn wants changes made to HS Graduation System

Dorn Pleased With State Test Results, Wants Changes Made to High School Graduation System

August 17, 2015, I was the only person from the general public to be present at the 10 AM Press Release of Test Results.

No Mr. Dorn did NOT advocate for anything different than a one-size fits-all diploma, just different requirements for that diploma.

Deputy Supt. Gil Mendoza stated that all students under 21 are entitled to a free and appropriate k-12 education.  Supt. Randy Dorn apparently wants nearly the same high standards for all.  He fails to address that his high standards for all mean impossible to meet standards for some and hardly an appropriate education for many.

Dorn is clearly opposed to using testing as a graduation requirement especially SBAC testing.  He sees getting a passing grade in required courses as an acceptable standard for graduation.

OSPI states that: Statewide results beat our predictions

Yet statewide SBAC Math results for all 8th grade students resulted in 26.4% of students at well below standard.

8th grade SBAC Math percent of students placing at level 1, well below standard in 2015 testing
compared with (2013 MSP Math).

26.4%  (25.7%) - All students
39.8%  (37.4%) - Low Income
15.2%  (14.7%) - Asian/ Pacific Islander
21.0%  (20.8%) - White
41.4%  (38.7%) - Hispanic
45.1%  (45.3%) - Black/ African American
47.9%  (48.7%) - American Indian/ Alaska Native

Given 2013 MSP Math results and even though the politician speak is that SBAC Math is a higher standard, these results did not beat my predictions.

The ed speak at both the federal and state level gets increasingly convoluted, sanity seems nowhere in sight.

Prediction: if 24 credits becomes a graduation requirement look for a large increase in Online Credit Recovery Options, which will require little time or effort to gain credit for previously failed classes.

Education at the state and federal level is mostly about generating favorable statistics and keeping vendors in the loop.

Unfortunately I heard nothing that makes me think appropriate levels of remediation will be coming in HS.

It will be interesting to see what colleges find in the level of mathematical preparedness in future students when using SBAC as a placement tool around remedial math courses.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Common Core Testing takes a Beating at NY Times

The NY Times in an editorial criticized the Opt-Out resistance movement =>

Opting Out of Standardized Tests Isn’t the Answer

In 24 hours this generated 600 responses that were overwhelmingly in opposition to the editorial's position.  Read the editorial and then some of the comments.

sample: Apparently the editorial board of the NYT can't hear the music even when it's blaring in their collective ears. A lot of people are disgusted by the so-called efforts to "reform" education, since much of the impetus comes from corporate interest whose primary goals include the destruction of democratic free education for all. You'd have to be deaf and blind to miss why informed, intelligent adults don't want to hand education over to the publishing and testing giants, the hedge-fund managers, and others whose goals are at odds with many of the most basic tenets of American democracy. Chiding parents for a freely-chosen, meaningful protest against testing madness and the corporate scheming behind it bespeaks a deep failure to grasp the point of education: it isn't to provide data and capital for corporations.

OSPI Press Conference 8-17-15 at 10 AM

On Monday August 17, 2015 in the Senate Building at 10 AM,
Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn will make a statement with the release of Test Scores.  The State Board of Education on August 5th announced that the SBAC cut scores would be set at a level below the Proficient level.

I plan to attend and hand out this double sided handout .pdf=> double sided handout

urging that:                        
Washington State replace its current one-size fits all diploma with three diplomas, similar to New York State’s Local, Regents, and Advanced Regents diplomas, to radically improve the current system for all students.   

double sided handout in word .docx

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Replace the One-Size Fits-All Diploma

Washington State should replace its current one-size fits all diploma with three diplomas, similar to New York State’s Local, Regents, and Advanced Regents diplomas.

It is my belief that Washington State needs three different diplomas to radically improve the current system for all students.  The current requirements for a diploma are inadequate because they contribute to a system operating largely as a one-size fits-all system instead of respecting the vast diversity in the student population. It fails to provide an appropriate educational opportunity that meets each student’s needs.

Politicians like aspirational goals that are strong on rhetoric and weak on contact with reality.  No Child Left Behind was going to have 100% of students proficient by 2014.  Our state legislators want “internationally competitive standards” achieved by all. The current plan of one-diploma with high stakes testing and college ready courses, when universally applied to all students as a graduation requirement, has no chance of success because it makes no sense.

On August 5, the State Board of Education lowered the cut score on the SBAC testing for passing to below the “standard score for proficient”.  Then explained that this was done to ease the transition for our system and demonstrate fairness to students. This statement was needed to maintain the dual illusions of fairness and quality in this unfair one-diploma system.

This current system is incredibly weak on fairness to students.  If the current monolithic graduation requirements were rigorously applied it would be a “school to unemployment pipeline” for a significant number of pupils.  Thus we find fakery and dishonesty in place of rigor.  The current system results in teachers fudging the passing requirements for many courses as well as the lowering of cut scores on state assessments.

For several years, 25% of 8th grade students have been scoring at far below basic on the MSP Math assessment.  The SBE’s expectations for high school students avoid reality and harm many students. We must offer appropriate remedial courses and revise the diploma situation to move forward with a system that provides appropriate instruction for all and maximizes the educational opportunity for each student regardless of ability.

For the betterment of all students we should put in place three levels of diplomas and the instruction to support students in attaining these diplomas:

(1) The Academic Diploma with current graduation requirements in place in regard to credits in required courses and measures of proficiency.

(2) An Advanced Academic Diploma (similar to NY State’s Advanced Regents Diploma) that requires ACT or International Baccalaureate proficiency in at least four subject areas as well as Math credits through Pre-Calculus, a foreign language and meets all other current course requirements for graduation.

(3) The General Diploma, which would require math through Algebra and the passing of an End of Course Algebra assessment  as well as other realistic graduation requirements.  (See NY State’s local diploma.)

Here is the Dropbox link to my letter written to the State Board of Education on the necessity for three high school diplomas. ===>