Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Open thread

What's on your mind? Graduations and longing for the sunshine to start here in Seattle? Anything else?

93 comments :

Charlie Mas said...

There has been another announcement in Michigan of Greg King's appointment as a principal there.

suep. said...

There was a lovely picnic-party for retiring Lowell APP master teacher Mrs. Roth yesterday. Thanks to all who helped organize it. The weather cooperated too! Close to 100 people showed up, past and present students and families, fellow teachers current and retired, to honor and hug a truly gifted and loving teacher who made a lasting impression on so many students and knew how to bring out the best in them.

She will be greatly missed at Lowell@Lincoln.

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

Also, a survey has been sent to Lowell@Lincoln families asking for feedback about "interim principal" Ms. Geoghagan and "suggestions for improvement" if she "were to continue on as the permanent principal."

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SGWZGMM

It might be a good way to share thoughts about leadership at Lowell.

In light of all that has happened to the school this past year, with the investigation of both Lowell principals, the findings of misconduct for both, and the ongoing teacher attrition (L@L is losing four teachers this year), there is a strong case to be made for asking the district for new leadership for the new year; a fresh start for this beleaguered school in limbo.

Anonymous said...

The survey's deadline was the 19th of June, unfortunately.

suep. said...

That's what the accompanying note said, it's true, but the survey is still up and accessible:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SGWZGMM

Another opinion said...

I'm pleased with Rina's leadership. I sent in a good review.

Anonymous said...

Why is our AL department still using the COGAT form 5 when it has been shown by data that form 7 is superior for ELL students? When could they update this practice?

Anonymous said...

I think the last thing the the Lowell APP program needs right now is a change of leadership. The program has had enough upheaval, and this year Rina has seemed like a steady hand. She seems to be motivated to build up a strong team of teachers, provide opportunities for professional development and collaboration, and is reintroducing project-based learning. Of course, she is relatively inexperienced, and there are the issues from Lowell at Capital Hill to consider, but right now we need stability and someone at the helm who really wants the program to flourish - I think she does.

Save APP

suep. said...

Surely Lowell/Lincoln APP would be better off with strong leadership whose integrity and behavior and judgment is beyond reproach -- rather than someone who was put in the position by default and has been found guilty of misconduct.

(Related documents can be found here and here, here.)

And Lowell needs a principal who can hire and retain strong, inspired teachers. (The school is losing 4 more teachers this year.)

Surely our kids deserve better than this.

Anonymous said...

I would love for Lincoln APP to have all of those things described by Sue P (strong leadership whose integrity and behavior and judgment is beyond reproach, a principal who can hire and retain strong, inspired teachers). However, there is absolutely no guarantee that any other principal assigned to the school would actually meet these criteria. We could end up getting a leader that is a poor fit for the school and the additional transitions/upheaval would have been for nothing. Maybe we can afford to take a breather, give Rina a chance to prove herself (maybe she has learnt/grown as a leader as a result of the earlier issues), and see if perhaps she can develop into the 'strong principled leader who can hire and retain strong, inspired teachers' that we all want.

Save APP

Anonymous said...

I, too, amd pleased with Rina's leadership--especially since she was not given the name principal at the beginning of the year. Give her a chance to prove herself.

--another app parent

Anonymous said...

Retention is typically an unbiased measure of leadership at a school. Give the high turnover at L@L these past couple of years I think it's clear there is a profound lack of leadership at the school. I would disagree with the other posters that Rina has shown strength as a leader, and I'll leave it to others to judge whether she showed true strength character when it came to her handling of matters last year, concluding in 9-month investigation and official reprimand.

Regarding the concerns of Save APP poster - that a new principal might be poor fit - I can only say that this is the type of low expectation thinking that settles for mediocrity. It's precisely this type of sentiment that keeps APP floundering and SPS from fulfilling it's promise to the kids. I choose to set my sights higher and not settle out of fear. Our kids are fantastic and deserve better from leadership, and parents have the right to expect more (not less).

Suep is right to want someone who can offer more. Rina got the gig through happenstance rather than merit. We can do better - and there are plenty of exceptional current and prior SPS principals to hold up as models. Rina isn't one of them.

--APP Parent

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't have a clear sense of Rina, so can anyone who has a positive opinion please offer up some specific examples of her leadership abilities?

--Concerned and Looking for Answers

Lori said...

"Retention is typically an unbiased measure of leadership at a school."

That may be true, but I'd hardly call the last few years for the northend elementary APP cohort typical!

First, there was the split that sent half the kids to TM, followed by a very short-lived rebuilding/stabilization phase that abruptly ended in June when SNAPP got kicked out of Lowell.

"Given the high turnover at L@L these past couple of years I think it's clear there is a profound lack of leadership at the school."

I disagree. Nothing is clear. Teacher turnover just as likely reflects the chaos in APP rather than any one individual's leadership skills.

I am hoping that this year's staff surveys were done for each building separately and that they'll shed some light on how teachers are feeling about leadership at the respective schools.

Sure, it's pretty clear that some teachers are/were unhappy with Mr. King, and they and their friends have been pretty vocal on these blogs the last year. But that doesn't mean that all teachers are unhappy, and it doesn't mean they are unhappy with Ms. Geoghagen. The impressions created on blogs by a vocal group of disaffected folks aren't necessarily reflective of the whole. I for one am anxious to see what more comprehensive surveys suggest.

And I can only hope that the parent survey that Sue posted this morning was closed on June 19 so that it reflects the opinions of people who actually have kids at L@L rather than a bunch of anonymous blog readers whose only insights into our school come from second-hand accounts.

Anonymous said...

Look, I don't want to come across as Rina's cheerleader or anything. I'm not convinced that she's a great principal, but I think there are a lot worse. She's young and ambitious and maybe that counts for something?
Some of the demands for 'someone who can offer more' sound a bit over the top, and make me cringe. "Our kids are fantastic and deserve better from leadership, and parents have the right to expect more (not less)" - yes we do, but don't you think that applies to every other school in the district too? Who decides where these "exceptional" principals are placed? Is our school more deserving of an 'exceptional' principal than any others?
Given that SPS admin has really done APP a disservice in recent years and the support/advocacy from the Advanced Learning Department is pathetically weak, can we really rely on these decisionmakers to have the best interests of the program/school community at heart and place their absolute first class principals at our school because "our kids are fantastic and deserve better".
I would love for us to have one of the uber-principles but I'd also love there to be a cure for cancer and world peace. We have enough uncertainty - where will the program go in 2 years, so I'm happy to stick with 'the devil we know' right now.

Save APP

Anonymous said...

Save APP - There are plenty of youthful, ambitious people who do not tell vicious lies about people to advance and/or save their careers. If Rina Geoghagan had apologized for or admitted mistakes, I would have more confidence in her. A true leader would admit a mistake, take responsibility, learn, and only then move on. Ms. Geoghagan wants to move on without going through the uncomfortable foundation steps. Surely APP and SPS deserves more than that.
-raise the bar

Anonymous said...

"A true leader would admit a mistake, take responsibility, learn, and only then move on."

Yes. I have seen Jon Halfaker do exactly this, which is one of the reasons I respected him as much as any principal I've known in Seattle.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Im just curious how did she play a role for Mrs. Huss to transfer to TM?

Anonymous said...

Any updates on 6th grade math placement? Will Spring scores be considered?

Anonymous said...

Responding to Link @ June 23, 2012 7:57 AM

I think it's great that it was an enthusiastic last day; but I care much more about what happens on a daily basis.

Link, I suggest you stick with the facts rather than launch into your own smear campaign. While you may disagree with suep, at least she has taken a position based on facts, an independent investigators report that was pretty damning of Ms. Geoghagan. Any reasonable person who actually read the report (did you?) could come to the same conclusion and want new leadership.

Finally, I'm a parent of a child in Mrs. Huss's class this past year, and I'm sad to see her go. But again you have misstated the facts. As a new parent who lives in the south end, moving to TM makes a lot of sense. And she has said this is her reason for the change. And for the record Ms. Geoghagan did NOT get out in front and lead with clear communication when Mrs. Huss returned part time after maternity leave. In fact, she left Mrs. Huss to answer questions and concerns from families directly, rather than mediated. Not cool. And no way to truly support a teacher. For this reason alone I have questioned Rina's leadership this past year.

-- Sticking to the Facts

Anonymous said...

The QA on IBX (from the APP-AC email) left me with many questions. There was something about needing to take language by a certain time in middle school - or take a class in summer! - in order to take the IB exams by a certain time in high school. What if you switch languages from middle school to high school? Is your child out of luck? My child wants to take French, which isn't offered at Hamilton. Is there a reason why only two languages are offered at HIMS? Both Ingraham and Garfield offer French.

There was another question about World History in 8th grade and will that continue. My question is what happened to US History in middle school? Why are APP kids not getting US History in middle school? There is next to no coverage in elementary, beyond the Native American studies, not even basic coverage of the Constitution and the branches of government.

Anonymous said...

I am C2, one of the people affected by the actions of Lowell administrators the past two years. I reported to Rina Geoghagan in January 2011 that I saw a staff person appear to kiss the foot of a student. I also reported other behavior by the staff person that concerned me. C1 saw the same staff person kiss the toes of the same student a couple of weeks later. I was with C1 when she started to tell Ms. Geoghagan she had concerns about an employee and motioned to the room where the employee was working. We were interrupted by the arrival of students and Ms. Geoghagan never followed up before going out of town for a week or so.
C1 and I reported our concerns to Safety and Security in February 2011 and were told, not just once, but numerous times, in front of another witness, that we were reporting correctly and could not face retaliation. C1 and I wrote memos for Safety and Security documenting concerns. I talked to Ms. Geoghagan several more times about the same staff person. She never questioned my reporting or suggested other reporting procedures.
Unbeknownst to us, a third employee witnessed the same staff person kiss the feet of the same student on April 5, 2011. That employee wrote a memo and gave it to Ms. Geoghagan on April 6th.
I was totally shocked when I received a letter from Ms. Geoghagan on April 7, 2011 telling me I was under investigation for "failure to follow rules and regulations related to the safety and well being of a student at Lowell Elementary School." It was alleged that I "did not follow proper guidelines in reporting suspected inappropriate contact with a student." Ms. Geoghagan, the person I had talked to several times about this employee, was to be the person conducting the investigation. C1 was equally shocked when she received a similar letter.

continued in next post

Anonymous said...

continued from above

The district hired an independent, outside investigator to look into the events at Lowell from the spring of 2011. According to the investigator's report:
"Despite knowing of the foot-kissing allegation, Geoghagan did not reveal her knowledge to (HR manager) during their April 6th meeting. Her failure to share this critical fact with (HR manager) contributed to the decision to initiate an investigation of C1 and C2. While Geoghagan did not propose or push for the investigation, she also did not argue against it or challenge King when he claimed not to know of the complaints. Geoghagan indicated she 'went along with' the proposal even if she did not think it was justified."
This was a very serious allegation. It damaged personal and professional reputations and made it very difficult to apply for a new job. In C1's case, the stress caused serious aggravation of a chronic health condition. Unwarranted investigations harm the larger community and the safety of children, by discouraging people from reporting future concerns. And if you want to put a price tag on this issue, it reportedly cost the district almost $40,000 in outside legal fees to investigate the actions of Mr. King and Ms. Geoghagan.
C1 and I were invited to meet with the School Board to discuss our concerns that Ms. Geoghagan's claims were motivated in part by retaliation. After its review of the matter, the School Board recently wrote C1 and me that "When employees are erroneously investigated after raising good faith concerns it ... harms the District in general and the affected employees in particular. Because you were subject to an unwarranted investigation, the Board wants to apologize to both of you. We regret that it occurred and hope that others will not experience the same result."
To refer to the people writing on the blogs as "a vocal group of disaffected folks" or as teachers or friends of teachers who are unhappy with Mr. King is not only untrue, it is dismissive and condescending. I personally know only a few people who contribute to local education blogs. Most of the posters are unknown to me. They are not defending me personally. They are not taking up my individual cause. Rather, they are people who want integrity, accountability and honesty in the schools. They want their children, and all children, to be safe. They want employees to feel secure when doing the right thing. They want good stewardship of the District's human and financial resources. Their efforts should be supported and applauded, not belittled.
The best way to move on from this incident is not to make light of the harm caused, or concerns raised by these events. The way to move on is to acknowledge the serious harm and legitimate concerns and for those who made mistakes to acknowledge them and show by words and actions that they will not happen again.

Jennifer

Anonymous said...

is this staff person still working for lowell?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jennifer for coming forward with the details of the investigation, and recent actions by the school board. Frankly I think that most families at L@L have no knowledge of what happened last year. And a lot of effort has gone into sweeping the whole thing under the rug.

No, I don't know you. But my children have been in APP for 6+ years so this matter hurts. Even if Mr. King and Ms Geoghagan can't bring themselves to acknowledge any wrongdoing, we as a community owe you an apology. I'm sorry for the way you were treated.

And for those out there who choose to discredit parents with concerns about Ms. Geoghagan's character and leadership, I suggest you read carefully Jennifer's accounting and do a little self reflection. I personally choose not to turn a blind eye or settle for the "devil we know" out of fear a new principal might be worse.

-- Sticking to the Facts

APPIBXStudent said...

To Anonymous asking about the IBX program at Ingraham, I am part of the first cohort moving into 10th grade next year and I hope I can answer a few of your questions. First off, Ingraham and this APP-IBX program has been an amazing start to my high school experience. It is the correct balance of three cohorted (APP only) classes of AP World History, Chemistry, and English and three non-cohorted classes of math, world language, and an elective. At Garfield, you are just "thrown in" with everyone in all your classes and when I shadowed, the experience just felt less personal to me.

Now to answer you questions, for World Language, I would strongly suggest staying with the language you are in now and taking the placement test to begin high school in Level 3. Level 2 is what ypou would normally be placed in, as I was, and that is ok, but being in level 3 gives you more choice down the road. In 10th grade, you must at least be in level 3 in order to test for the IB Diploma. If you start a new language in 9th grade, you will have to take a year over the summer in order to catch up.

For history, we just took the second year of AP World History that we started in 8th grade. The reason this is the class is because the district wanted to mirror the history at Garfield in 9th grade. In 10th grade, your student will take IBX History of the Americas which is similar but not the same as US History. Based on my and other students input and other factors such as preparing us for the style of IB learning, we have heard that the 2012-2013 school year might be the last year for AP World History in both 8th grade at hamilton and 9th grade at Ingraham. The replacement in 8th would be US History and in 9th would be a consolidated non-repetitive pre-ib world history course.

Hope this answers some of your questions and if you have any more, feel free to ask.

Anonymous said...

I think parents need to ask - if a staff person were kissing your child's feet or giving them very close front-to-front hugs, who would you want the building administrator to investigate? The employee engaged in the foot kissing and hugging or the employee reporting concerns? It's a pretty simple question with (I hope) a pretty obvious answer.
Jennifer

Anonymous said...

I am also a parent in Mrs. Huss' room and I disagree with the post above. Ms. Geoghagan did in fact facilitate the meeting. She invited parents to meet Mrs. Huss and the new teacher Mr. Hamby. Did they answer questions directly about their plan? Yes. Was their open dialogue? Yes. Was it a good experience? Yes. Mrs. Huss long term sub ended up leaving before Mrs. Huss returned from her leave for a full time position leaving the classroom in limbo. Thankfully, a great replacement was found quickly and in my opinion has been a great fit.

IMHO

Anonymous said...

I am fully aware of the investigation at Lowell last year, having read the report and C2s descriptions of what happened on another blog. I was appalled. It certainly seems that Rina behaved badly. I won't even go into my thoughts about Mr King but suffice to say I am relieved that it was Rina who took over the administration of L@L rather than him. However, this has been investigated and the principals reprimanded. We may not agree with the way the district has handled this but it has been dealt with. I'm not sure what anyone thinks they will achieve by agitating for new leadership on the blogs (other than generating a healthy comments section). For better or worse, we have Rina and I believe we need to stand with her (though, perhaps also keep a close eye on her) and unite as a community rather than try to tear her down. I think we have bigger fish to fry right now. We do not know where and in what form the program will be in 2 years time and need to advocate for a desirable outcome. We need to make the current location more suitable for our community. We need to keep pushing for the long promised APP curriculum, and maybe better math materials. How about addressing the dreadful lack of leadership, oversight, curriculum development and teacher training at the Advanced Learning Office level- now if anything needs a shake up that does!
Oh, and I know there are complaints about poor principals at many SPS schools so perhaps it is an endemic problem, I don't believe it's any more dire at L@L than at many other schools that didn't hit the principal jackpot.

Save APP

suep. said...

@Link – Your anonymous lies about me don’t change the documented truth about Ms. Geoghagan. Ironically, you are committing the same offense that Ms. G got in trouble for – lying about those who bring forth valid concerns -- and undermining your own credibility.

Thank you to Jennifer for reminding everyone of the facts of the matter and the human costs of what happened last year.

@ Lori, your rationale for the high teacher attrition at Lowell these past two years doesn’t explain why APP at Thurgood Marshall, which also suffered the split and eviction and had a very difficult first year – arguably harder than Lowell’s – has not lost the amount of teachers that Lowell has, under Principal Breidenbach. In fact, this past year, three teachers have left L@L for Thurgood (Ms. Huss the most recent, and like the others, will be missed).

Also, “disaffected” indicates a fairly dismissive attitude toward your fellow parents and their genuine concerns. You don’t think it’s legitimate for parents to prefer their child’s school not be led by someone the district has formally reprimanded for “serious misconduct”?

As for this year’s climate survey, most of the current L@L teachers are new and hired by Mr. K and Ms. G., so how likely is it that they will say anything critical about their new bosses? (Last year’s climate survey, though, was a different story.)

I too was hoping for Ms. G to learn from the reprimand and experience of last year and grow into a better person and leader, so I am shocked that she has not shown any remorse for what happened, has in fact dismissed the investigation as “absolutely” biased, and has refused to take responsibility for any wrongdoing or failure of any kind.

But there’s a deeper issue here as well: The failures that Ms. G and Mr. K demonstrated last year in their treatment of Jennifer and the other staffer are failures of character and moral judgment. These are not traits that can be easily acquired.

@ Save APP, why should we be willing to accept any “devil” at all? Other schools haven’t. Recently, a number of other schools that have suffered under inappropriate or even damaging leadership have asked the district for new principals, and the opportunity to have a say in the selection. -- And they got it. This includes TOPS K-8, Rainier Beach H.S., Coe, Lafayette. The TOPS community helped choose their new principal who has a background in both gifted ed and social justice – issues of importance to the school. I honestly believe that the L@L community could make a similar request in light of all the problems we’ve had with leadership these past two years and could get an inspiring new principal -- if we were to ask.

All the things you want for the school are not likely to happen without strong leadership, or with someone you feel you need to ‘keep an eye on.’

Our kids have had to undergo a disproportionate amount of upheaval and uncertainty these past few years, and we have lost many strong teachers who essentially defined the APP curriculum, because of poor leadership. I know some are worried about rocking the lifeboat and losing whatever it is we have left. But at a certain point, we need to speak up and demand better – just as other schools have done for their kids.

Hoping to stop the smear campaign said...

Jennifer-

If my kid was a special ed preschooler functioning at the level of an infant, I would want my kid to receive the same type of affection that is appropriate for an infant. I was also taken aback by the description that you powered on the other blog that made it sound like you had filed numerous complaints about numbers situations. All of that has made me think that there is more to the situation than has been reported to the public.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of a child's age or ability, what is appropriate at home is not necessarily appropriate at school.
Anonymous

Anonymous said...

For a child of any age or ability, what is appropriate at home is not necessarily appropriate at school.
Anonymous

hschinske said...

@Hoping to stop the smear campaign: are you aware of how many developmentally disabled people are sexually abused? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_abuse_of_people_with_developmental_disabilities

There are many things caregivers can do innocently that amount to inappropriately grooming children for abuse in the future. It's not necessarily the case that someone is either an abuser or being totally good for the child. Sometimes well-meaning people need additional counseling in how to work appropriately with a particular population. Reporting such a situation doesn't necessarily mean that you're trying to ruin the person's career or anything. People SHOULD be reporting doubtful situations and getting them cleared up.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Received a mail from Dr. Vaughan.

At a meeting of Vaughan, Gallagher, and Box last week, we concluded that we are not revising recommendations for Algebra 1 placement of 6th graders based on spring MAP math results.

Anonymous said...

we concluded that we are not revising recommendations for Algebra 1 placement of 6th graders based on spring MAP math results

Meaning Winter or Fall MAP scores will be considered, but not Spring? Do you know if there is a written policy saying Spring? I'm curious how it will be handled the following year - Winter or Spring. Using Winter one year and Spring the next would be like having different cutoffs. Using Winter MAP is essentially raising the cutoff.

(who is Box?)

Anonymous said...

I am irritated by this possible math decision. It doesn't make any sense and the district is not releasing any information. They are relying on parents to blog about it to get the information out.

Bob Vaughan sent out an email to a parent a couple of weeks ago that said this: "The standard of performance on MAP was selected after looking at the performance of 7th graders in Algebra 1 who scored 250 or higher MAP in the spring preceding 7th grade and looking at their success on the State's new Algebra 1 end-of-course exam. "

Based on his findings, kids who did above 250 in SPRING prior to taking Alg 1, did well in the class. For some reason, they now won't use spring. Why is this?

The district (at least as far as I have heard) is also NOT taking teacher recommendations into account. Goodness knows a multiple choice computer test knows more about a kid's math abilities than the teacher does.

Box is Anna Box one of the math coaches (I think that's what they are called).

-annoyed

Anonymous said...

RIT scores are being correlated to the new EOC exams to determine "success?" What about grades in class? What about grades in subsequent classes, like Geometry or Algebra II?

Based on his findings, kids who did above 250 in SPRING prior to taking Alg 1, did well in the class
According to what you wrote, we don't know if they were successful in class, as reference was only made to correlations with the state EOC. And yes, SPRING of 250 is different than WINTER of 250. If you compare percentiles, a Spring RIT of 250 is more like a Winter RIT of 245.

From NWEA's "Comparative Data to Inform Instructional Decisions":

"A student score at or above the following scores on a 6+ Mathematics Survey with Goals test suggests student readiness for:
• 230 Introduction to Algebra • 235 Algebra • 245 Geometry "

They also say:

"These data should be used as one of many data points for instructional decisions rather than as the only single placement guide."

Searching for other districts using MAP for placement, one uses RIT 250 for Geometry placement and a RIT 240 for Algebra I placement (for placing students in 8th grade math):

http://webs.coatesville.k12.pa.us/nbweb/attachments/article/91/math%20placement%202012%20grade%207%20.pdf

Anonymous said...

Chris Carter has left HIMS?

Anonymous said...

Chris Carter has left HIMS?

Anonymous said...

From Hamilton's Website:

News and Events
A Leadership Change at Hamilton

Dear Hamilton International Middle School Community,

I’m writing today to let you know I have news that is both bittersweet and exciting for me. I am leaving to take a position as principal at Mercer Middle School – a school where I taught for five years earlier in my career.

Hamilton International is a vibrant and warm community, and I will miss you all. It has been an honor to serve as your principal. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made at HIMS during my three years, including:

In the midst of many changes in the spring of 2009, we have been able to successfully integrate and build upon the range of programs we provide HIMS students. This includes our incredibly exciting music and international arts program, our world language program, and the services we provide our students in advanced learning, general education, and inclusion for our students with special needs. All of which are resulting in achievement and success for all students.
We have been recognized as a School of Distinction for the past two consecutive years.
Our teams of teachers are working collaboratively in support of the needs of all of our students by closely aligning instructional and assessment practices.
We moved into a new facility and have grown to well over 900 students.

Marni Campbell, Executive Director of Schools for the Northwest Region, will be overseeing the process for finding your next principal. Hamilton has an amazing reputation and I am confident you will find a strong leader to start the new school year. In addition, Hamilton has a strong administrative team and teacher leaders who will continue to move the school forward.

I look forward to helping in the transition in whatever way I can. I hope to hear about the great things all of our students are accomplishing in the future! Thank you for your continued support of your student and our staff at Hamilton International Middle School.

Sincerely,

Christopher Carter
Principal
Hamilton Middle School

-- Ebenezer (repost from SSCF)

suep. said...

Hamilton New Principal Wish List

What traits and qualities would HIMS families like to have in the school's next principal?

Here are some ideas:

A proven and enthusiastic commitment to all the programs HIMS offers, including advanced learning and language immersion.

A serious commitment to hiring and retaining highly qualified, inspired teachers for all programs in the school.

An intolerance of instructional mediocrity.

Strong communication skills within the school and with the school community.

What else?

Now is the time to speak up.

Write, call: Superintendent Jose Banda, Interim Deputy Supt. Bob Boesche, and Executive Director Marni Campbell:

superintendent@seattleschools.org
rsboesche@seattleschools.org, macampbell@seattleschools.org

(Greg -- new thread for HIMS principal search topic?)

Anonymous said...

Back on the math topic, Whitman Spectrum is using 250 as a cutoff for Math 8 (6th graders going into 7th grade, one year ahead in math.) They also consider the score on the EOC exam and overall grade as well, I believe, so a lower score isn't an automatic eliminator, but the students were definitely given the impression that they could be moved back down if they didn't get 250. I think the rest of your students have it pretty easy in comparison.

Mom at Whitman

Anonymous said...

The District has already picked one:
white male, 40's, current Seattle elementary principal, some APP experience

Anonymous said...

That there aren't defined math placement policies that apply to all middle schools is confusing. Math is math. If the district has decided that they are going allow advancement in math, then placement should follow the same rules district wide (and hopefully it includes more than a single MAP score).

A RIT of 250 to take Math 8? For Spring of 6th grade, that's 94% (with 2011 norms), and the Spectrum cutoff is 87% (reading and math). Of course, the cutoff is really from Fall scores, when testing occurs, so an 87% RIT score for Fall of 6th grade is only 237. The 87% RIT score is 244 for Spring of 6th grade. Do students get moved down even if they are Spectrum qualified students, or only if they aren't Spectrum qualified (but accelerated in math)?

It gets back to the question - are MAP scores the best predictor of success in higher level math classes?

Anonymous said...

Placement for next year at Whitman is based on the Spring MAP score of 250 and certain score on the EOC exam. (I don't know how the EOC is graded.) Again, it's not an absolutely firm cutoff but a strong guideline. And yes, my understanding is they will hold kids back, otherwise, why would they be telling the kids what scores they need to get to continue. I'm not sure who makes the decision. My child just made the cut off on both tests, though is getting a strong A in the class and described by the teacher as very strong in math.

Mom at Whitman

Anonymous said...

A moderator should consider whether the June 25, 2012 6:14 AM post violates FERPA and if so, remove it.

-concerned with privacy

Linh-Co said...

Whitman math is screwy. The school wants to set up as many barriers as possible to exit kids out. Mr. Webb one of the math teachers at Whitman admitted that around 40-60% of students who start out in advanced math in 6th grade are exited by the time they are in 8th grade.

They use an in-house "placement" exam besides the MAP, grades and EOC.

Parents have notified Bob Vaughan and central office and yet nothing has changed.

Anonymous said...

If your child didn't make the Winter cutoff for Algebra I (and made the Spring cutoff), but has the desire and motivation to push ahead, can you homeschool Algebra I, then place in Geometry for 7th?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
The District has already picked one:
white male, 40's, current Seattle elementary principal, some APP experience

Is this conjecture or fact? It would be nice to know.
-Hamilton Parent

Linh-Co said...

Anonymous said...
The District has already picked one:
white male, 40's, current Seattle elementary principal, some APP experience


According to Marni Campbell's assistant, one hasn't been assigned. She denied it and said it was a rumor.

Anonymous said...

Re: math

Does APP use CMP? My 4th grader was given a 6th grade CMP booklet on geometry to look at. It was alarmingly basic. This caused me to do a little research on CMP and there is much criticism of that curriculum, both of approach and content (or lack thereof).

So is being advanced in a deficient curriculum of any benefit? Thinking about APP, a middle school with Spectrum or private for my 5th grader. This is the year we have to decide. Math is a big part of the decision, as are finances!

The lack of commitment to APP and questions about where it will be housed in another year as HIMS is full, the questions about quality of some teachers make me wonder if it is any better than Spectrum at McClure. The math curriculum at both schools makes me wonder if it's better to go private. The private price-tag is a major concern, given other expenses (braces, college, family travel).

Any thoughts for families in our shoes? Thanks.

JE

Anonymous said...

APP uses CMP, just sooner than other students. It's compressed somewhat - some books are skipped - but, yes, the math they contain is limited. The algebra book doesn't look much better.

So is being advanced in a deficient curriculum of any benefit?

We wonder the same thing...

suep. said...

Marni C. says the PTSA will soon send out a survey to parents soliciting input on new principal.

She also said that parent/family members will be on the interview team.

Anonymous said...

For your reading pleasure:

1) Reviews on CMP math

http://www.nychold.com/cmp.html

2) Commentary on the state of math education in the US

http://educationnext.org/anamazeingapproachtomath/

Linh-Co said...

The benefit of your child qualifying for algebra lets him/her bypass CMP2. However, the Discovering Algebra book is also weak. It's just better than CMP2.

Beware of private schools. A lot of them also teach fuzzy math. Billings is enamored with CMP2, and I've heard Meridian is also fuzzy. I've been to math trainings with some of those teachers. Most of the local Catholic schools (St. John's, Assumption, and St. Al's)use Prentice Hall for middle schools. This is a solid program.

Anonymous said...

The challenge you might have with private school is that even if the math is more solid, it may not be accelerated enough, and the school may not be able to accommodate your child. So you're still left to supplement, and you're paying tuition on top of that. To add to the list, Evergreen used EDM when we toured years ago.

JB said...

Thanks Linh-Co and Anonymous. What about Lakeside?

My kid (going into grade 5) is doing fine in Singapore (almost through 6A) and wants to keep working on math this summer even though I told her we don't need to. She's strong in other subjects too, but I believe math really needs direct instruction and at her level. Maybe I am too focussed on that one subject, but it seems to be the one where her time in school is a waste.

Lakeside would be a real stretch for us financially, but I think they'd have the rigor she'd appreciate. But do the private schools differentiate? What do you do with a kid like this?

JE

Linh-Co said...

My neighbor's kids go to Lakeside. I was told no one works beyond grade level. They do offer honors math which is more rigorous. You are also paying more than $20,000+ discounting any scholarships. They are heavily endowed and so the average tuition is around $8,000. This is the same as Catholic schools.

I think they are somewhat inquiry based but have good teacher created materials. A friend of mine who is a math teacher at Roosevelt HS says she downloads a lot of the worksheets from Lakeside's website for her students.

Ingraham IB has, for the most part, excellent math teachers. They supplement Discovering with real math by using Dolciani's series for algebra and geometry.

My daughter who goes to Ingraham just finished taking Algebra II honors and was considering Running Start. She took the COMPASS placement exam in mathematics at North Seattle Community College and was placed in Pre-Calculus or Business Calculus. This is a good indication for me that the school teaches real math because her placement directly matches college level math. No grade inflation or mislabeling of course titles here.

Anonymous said...

There is also another option for parents and students who are mostly math (or another one subject) interested: go to a public school (like HIMS) and do an online course instead of taking math at school. If you are only doing one subject nothing will change with your advanced placement (spectrum or APP). Johns Hopkins has a great online course for gifted students and after your qualify on their test you can choose different (3-6 month) courses for less than a $1,000 (and actually this program was advertised by the AL Office earlier for 7th grade).

Anonymous said...

Stanford University also has a great online program, the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY). I believe it's a little less expensive than the Johns Hopkins CTY courses, although the range of courses available may be a bit more limited. We've been using that as an alternative to district-provided math for years, and it has worked very well.

One of the biggest challenges has been the need to renegotiate with our public school teachers, principals and sometimes district officials to work out acceptable plans for dealing with this each year, but in our experience once you hit middle school it becomes much easier and you can just opt out of the school-based math. Your student will likely end up having to take an extra elective to fill that period however--which means the online course is in addition to a full course load--so it takes a very motivated student.

On the plus side, you can keep taking classes through the summer if you want, and you're pretty much on your own schedule. There are interesting courses available in many other subjects, too.

ELB

Anonymous said...

If you have the flexibility and inclination, you can also try to schedule an early release or late start and single subject homeschool for math. You don't necessarily have to do an online course, unless they're taking the class for high school credit.

Anonymous said...

Can you pull out elementary students for math at home? Or is this just for high school kids? Is there a way to "home school" for part of the day or just for one subject?

Anonymous said...

Could you recommend any specific courses on EPGY or CTY? I've heard that the Stanford online Math classes are dull, and that JH subcontracts all their courses. It feels like the price tag is just for parents to feel good about their little prodigy.

Linh-Co said...

You can partially homeschool your children for one or more subjects in any grade. It's far easier in the lower grades as no one really looks at elementary report cards.

The schools don't like to promote this because it is a vote of no confidence. I've been single subject homeschooling my son in math for the last 3 years. We opt in to all the MSP and MAP testing to show progress. We had him take the Algebra EOC this year and he's only in 6th grade. The principal at Whitman didn't know what to do with the request but Nancy Steers, head of the assessment office downtown, handled it and ordered him a test. He was able to take it with all the other 7th/8th graders who qualified.

I'm also single subject homeschooling 5 other kids at Whitman.

Some schools are more flexible than others depending on the principal.

Anonymous said...

I was told by a school admin person that you could homeschool your student for one subject with no problem at all in middle school. But if you do it for 2 subjects than you will loose your APP seat going forward. I have only heard this but couldn't find any written policy to confirm this yet.

hschinske said...

They are heavily endowed and so the average tuition is around $8,000. This is the same as Catholic schools.

I don't think that can possibly be the case, as somewhere around 70% of Lakeside students pay full freight. "In the 2012-2013 admissions season, with tuition at $27,250, the school was able to award $4.6 million in need-based aid to 29 percent of the student population." http://www.lakesideschool.org/podium/default.aspx?t=142903 (About $600,000 of that is toward other fees and expenses, not tuition proper.)

So with 776 students total (per Wikipedia) about 225 students get aid, and about $4 million goes toward their tuition: average award of $17,777. That means the average student on financial aid is paying around $10K, and since a number must be on full scholarship, clearly those on partial scholarship pay more than $10K on average.

Incidentally, I worked it out once and tuition is much higher (adjusted for inflation) than when I was there, despite the endowment being much bigger.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at June 27, 2012 9:48 PM said...

"Could you recommend any specific courses on EPGY or CTY? I've heard that the Stanford online Math classes are dull, and that JH subcontracts all their courses. It feels like the price tag is just for parents to feel good about their little prodigy."

I'm not sure how exactly the price tag is supposed to make us feel good--it usually just makes us feel strapped for cash--but it does make us feel to go know our child can continue making the math progress he desires.

Are EPGY math classes dull? Probably, for some kids. They are nothing like video games, that's for sure. In the words of my son, "you have to REALLY love math." Lectures can be monotonous, and homework exercises can involve a lot of repetition. But the courses are comprehensive and deep, and payoff is that the knowledge continues to build, and it sticks. I guess it would be great if, for the money, the courses were not only effective but also exciting and entertaining, but we didn't go into it with that expectation.

As for specific courses, my son has taken math 5/6, prealgebra, algebra 1 & 2, geometry and calculus A all through EPGY. Each has seemed to me to be a bit different, with some relying more heavily on supplemental textbooks, some completely online, others a mix. The courses are all challenging, and the exams, at least in the higher level courses, are pretty intense--it's not uncommon for my son to ace all the homework and quizzes then wrestle with final exams that include unusually messy problems.

It definitely takes a certain kind of kid to sit down and slog through these courses, but if your kid is so inclined, EPGY can be a good solution. I don't know if the EPGY will let you "test drive" a course or not, but might be worth asking.

ELB

Anonymous said...

Thanks, ELB!
My kid really loves Math, has done great with EDM, but right now she is facing no challenges at school. She is in 4th scoring in the 260s in MAP, and we were thinking about enrolling in EPGY or CTY, but really hesitant about the price tag.
I really appreciate your feedback, and that from people whose kid(s) have actually taken the classes. And yes, your son is right. You really have to love Math to ask for more!

hschinske said...

I thought the EPGY price tag was quite high for what one got -- old, buggy software that you weren't supposed to keep afterward, tutoring that we mostly didn't need, and a transcript that the schools didn't respect. My kids did learn quite a bit of math, though. It used to be possible to set up an EPGY coop arrangement with a school that was much cheaper, I believe. Haven't looked into any of this lately.

Helen Schinske

JB said...

People who use on-line courses....is there any direct interaction with the student? I think kids respond well to being known by their teacher.

Has anyone used Art of Problem Solving courses? I like their website and videos, but don't know what the courses. They are interactive, though, and they tout interaction among students as a benefit too. Maybe I should take one myself! I'm so rusty in algebra I think I am going to hit my limit soon and have a tough time staying ahead of my now-5th grader.

JB

hschinske said...

I've heard very good things about the Art of Problem Solving courses: see, e.g., http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/tag/art-of-problem-solving/

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

No, there's not a lot of teacher-student interaction with EPGY. My son may be in the minority, but he prefers to listen to a lecture or sit down with a textbook, so this works well for him. There are tutors/TAs available--generally via email, I believe, but I seem to recall they also have regular online office hours. My son doesn't ask a lot of questions, so rarely uses them. For the most part, he's probably just a number to EPGY and the TAs--but he's fine with that, and happy to be learning.

The Art of Problem Solving courses sound interesting. One thing to consider, however, is your child's trajectory and the long-term options. If your child is working a few years ahead, an online program that tops out at calculus should be fine since it's not unusual take college courses while in high school. If your child is working further ahead than that, however, you can run out courses in middle school. While it's probably possible to switch to EPGY or something similar at that point, we decided to just go with a program that would work for as long as we needed it.

ELB

JB said...

Thanks ELB and others.

It's funny, b/c my kid loves to read and write, and I'm not sure she'll even go in a mathy direction. It feels like a race to no-where, her topping out math before she's done with high school, and what is even the point? I want to preserve her options, and have her learn to THINK, and enjoy math for now, at least, and not waste her time in school doing math way below her level.

I'm thinking that rather than running the gauntlet in the prescribed manner and getting to the "finish line" really early, maybe having her take one of the AoPS courses that are outside the standard ones, like the counting and probability classes, number theory, or one they call "Mathematical Tapas", or the game classes. Or programming. What do you think about having a kid take a programming class on-line while marking time in a math class they can easily pass at school?

JB

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that with EPGY, and probably CTY as well, you don't have to worry about kids topping out. They have a wide range of college-level courses (differential equations, linear algebra, etc.) available for the budding math majors. And the EPGY college-level courses can count for college credits if they go to Stanford, and potentially elsewhere as well.

My son has also taken a couple online programming classes through EPGY, and he liked those as well. But there seem to be a bunch of other options available online, too.

ELB

NESeattleMom said...

Hamilton music families, Our beloved orchestra and choir teacher, Mika Armaly, who had been given a RIF notice in the spring, has now been un-RIFed, and will be back in her job in the fall. She is a fantastic music teacher who inspired her students to be responsible citizens, to do their best. The result was beautiful music and students who were so proud of their musical achievements. Great news for Hamilton.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know more about the hiring process for getting new APP teachers to replace those leaving at Hamilton (e.g., Ms. McClurg and Mr. Levin), given the departure of principal Carter as well? Those were both favorite teachers, and will be a huge loss for the program. Are efforts to replace them underway already, or is the focus on a principal first? Is it harder to find good teachers if you wait until late summer?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Levin is leaving Hamilton? The mention above is the first time I have heard this news. Is it confirmed?

Wondering

Anonymous said...

With the change in leadership at Hamilton, is there now a possibility of the 6th grade Algebra issue getting resolved for the upcoming school year?

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Mr Levin is retiring. His wonderful wife Claudia stays on at Hamilton as the head of the language dept and and spanish teacher. a new science teacher is being hired for 7th grade APP. Mr Tanaka is teaching 6th gr APP Science, many parents and kids really enjoy his teaching. Ms Veit stays on as 8th gr APP Science teacher (no comment....).
-parent

Anonymous said...

"many parents and kids really enjoy his teaching"

Er, well. My son and I were just saying it was almost worth it for the crazy stories, but that's not exactly the same thing ...

Anonymous said...

Are they hiring a new LA/SS teacher for 7th grade as well? And doesn't the principal need to be hired first?

APP Mom said...

Anyone heard anything about a potential cut of 50% in the already minimal PE, art and music at Lowell at Lincoln? I have heard that, because of how many new kids there are, instead of getting one hour per day every 3 weeks of each of those subjects (so about 5 hours per month total) it has been cut to 1/2 hour - for a total of only 2 1/2 hours per month of each.


Trying to confirm, anyone else heard anything?

Anonymous said...

PE, art, and music used to be on a three week rotation with one week of each, with maybe 45 min for each class. It was already reduced last year with the move - 4th-5th graders had no music class and PCP was reduced to maybe 3 days a week. Parents were told all students would have music this upcoming year. I'm not sure how much more it could be reduced because teachers need a certain amount of PCP time - isn't part of their contract?

Anonymous said...

From the 2010-2013 SEA bargaining agreement:

"Elementary teachers shall have a minimum of 150 minutes per week of PCP time within the employee workday. All secondary teachers shall plan with the bulding administration to have PCP time to the equivalent of one (1) full class period a day."

So, an average of 30 min per day for elementary - that could be fulfilled with PE, music, art, or library.

Anonymous said...

"Mr Tanaka is teaching 6th gr APP Science, many parents and kids really enjoy his teaching."
That is NOT our experience either. Would love to hear the good stuff.

Anonymous said...

6th grade is then Chacon + ? (LA/SS), Thurik (math) and Tanaka (science)?

It's hard to know what to make of these anonymous ratings (were some written by the teachers themselves?):

http://www.ratemyteachers.com/patty-chacon/1996780-t

http://www.ratemyteachers.com/jane-thirk/2057911-t

http://www.ratemyteachers.com/darrell-tanaka/2273805-t

Anonymous said...

As the parent of an incoming Hamilton 6th grader, I am very concerned about staff at Hamilton. I have heard great things about the band and orchestra teachers, but positive stories about the core curriculum teachers have been mostly non-existant - yes, I did hear good reviews of one of the LA/SS teachers, but she's now gone.

I wonder if anyone at the district is paying attention...? How can one school have so many poor teachers? We know it won't be fixed over the summer. There is no principal to do it.

-concerned

Anonymous said...

Will concerns that were expressed by last year's parents be expunged from any records? Do this year's parents have to start the process anew with the incoming principal?

suep. said...

Re: HIMS teacher issues -- I would think a new principal offers a good opportunity for parents to voice their existing concerns and request oversight or action. Many complaints of the last two years were sent not just to Carter, but to those above him, so there is an existing record that should not evaporate with his departure.

On another subject, can anyone confirm that Thurgood M. is getting a math waiver for next year? And if so, are they dumping EDM or simply "supplementing" and with what -- Saxon? Singapore?

Greg - Maybe it's time to start a couple of new threads. How about HIMS families' wish list for the new principal?

And math (& waivers) at APP elementaries would be a good topic too. (I think all schools should get math waivers, btw.)

Re: EDM, has everyone seen this?
Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth

Anonymous said...

The results of the PTA's survey on HIMS principal are now posted on the HIMS website.

---

I'd welcome waivers from Readers and Writers Workshop as well...

Isn't part of the issue that the APP curriculum is based mostly on acceleration, and not on offering different curriculum for advanced learners (more depth and more enrichment)? Without a clearly defined curriculum, inexperienced (and perhaps unqualified) teachers are left to develop curriculum with little guidance or oversight.