Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rural Halloween . . .

I've shared before that the Maryanski household has historically not experienced a "neighborhood" Halloween with large numbers of trick or treaters.  I'm always amazed at the stories of how much candy is handed out in Maple Valley neighborhoods.  We live in an area where homes are on 2.5 or 5 acre lots so we are fairly far apart and there are no street lights so parents usually drive the kids through the area.  It seems like each year we have fewer and fewer kids knocking on our door with tonight's total being 10 including a couple adults.

The biggest turn outs were when our kids were young and one of the neighbors hooked up the tractor to the wagon and went house-to-house.  There were fewer homes, but more children at the time.  I guess one could say we are an aging neighborhood where many of us have stayed in the same home after our children have grown and started their own families.  Even back then, however, a big turn out was 15 to 20 kids.  What are some of the numbers that visited your home.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reflecting on leadership 
Today was the third day for round two of our Teacher Leader Institute.  Our focus for this round included:

  • Reflection on what the teams have intentionally done to reduce the gap between their current reality as identified in August and an aspiration they created around one component of that reality.
  • A learning opportunity to increase their knowledge of teacher practices that result in quality student talk, a component of our 5D+ Instructional Model.
  • An introduction into a teaching protocol that can be used to share the concept of "interpersonal mush" that forms from the assumptions that are made in conversations.
  • Providing time in the afternoon for the teams to be reflective and make decisions on how to support staff through professional development opportunities.
As always, these sessions were energizing for me and I bring from them much to reflect upon.  In the course of the conversations it became more clear to me the importance of the mental model that teachers bring to their practice and to their lesson designs.  If the mental model that drives a teacher's practice is one where they are driven by the content to cover today, their planning and delivery will be significantly different than a mental model driven by the need to ensure that all students leave the lesson meeting the learning target goal.  If my purpose is to deliver content there is little need for me to be concerned with revisiting the learning target, differentiation, summarizing, student reflection, success criteria, and student talk.  These take on added significance if my intent is to ensure that all students are successful.

So, where are we on our learning journey related to the mental models that drive teacher planning and delivery behavior?  On a continuum with some at both ends and most somewhere in between.  As I reflect on this I am reviewing what the authors of How Did That Happen call "complyment" behavior signified by giving to the work one's hands and feet and buying in at a lower level.  They contrast this with "complete alignment" where people engage not only with their hands and feet, but also with their hearts and mind.  It is no longer doing because it is in one's best interest, but instead because they believe in the changed practices and are committed to making them come alive in their place of work. 

I will continue to engage in conversation around this topic always looking for leverage for leadership teams to move teachers on the continuum.  This becomes more difficult in times of stress and anxiety created by multiple change initiatives and the unknowns that come with them.  The complexity is one of the components of leadership that at the same time make it difficult and rewarding.  

So, what do you think about the difference in planning and delivery driven by these two different mental models or mental models that differ from these two?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Motivation and relevance . . .

I like this post from Will Richardson sharing an excerpt from a book by David Price, Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future.

No one can be ‘made’ to learn anything: for knowledge and understanding to stick, we have to have learner intent. The quality of one’s learning is directly related to our desire to learn. This is why progress made in learning socially, voluntarily, is invariably far greater than in the formal, compulsory context…We can’t motivate learners to learn: many teachers believe it’s their job to motivate their students. It’s not. They can only truly motivate themselves. But a great teacher helps learners see the relevance which drives self-motivation – why learning something will make a difference in their lives. [Emphasis mine.]

Do you agree with Price when he says that you can't motivate learners to learn, it's not the teachers job, and that great teachers help learners see the relevance which drives self-motivation?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A different context . . .

In following blogs about the latest international assessment comparison I posted about here, I found the following information that I thought I would share.  Before I share some charts that show how our state compares to other states and to the other countries taking the science and math assessments I thought it would be interesting to share the context for the scores created in this Educationnext post and the link to the interview.

But as Ed Next’s Paul Peterson explains in the article, the pool of countries taking the math and science exams includes many developing countries, and several industrialized nations, including France, Germany and Denmark, did not participate. “So if you really want to compare the U.S. to the developing world, then we do look good,” Peterson told Motoko Rich.

Given that, the charts below show our state in comparison to the other states and to the other countries   referred to in the Educationnext post.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A new international comparison plus . . .

There was a link on a number of sites today to a study that was done to compare state scores on the NAEP test to scores on the international TIMSS assessment. The study was designed by the Institute of Education Sciences as an effort to link national and international tests at grade 8 so states can compare their own students’ performance against international benchmarks in math and science. NCES linked, or “projected,” state-level scores on TIMSS in both subjects using data from NAEP.

At the national level the overall results are positive, but once again the focus is on the lack of states scoring at the upper end of the range in both assessments.   Here is a link to Superintendent Dorn's less than enthusiastic reaction to our state results.  Based on the support provided by OSPI for Common Core implementation I don't know that I agree with his excitement down the road.

“I’m proud of the work we’re doing in our state,” State Superintendent Randy Dorn said. “Our results are pretty good. But I’m excited to see how our students will perform after the new, more rigorous Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards have been in place for a while. I think we’ll start seeing even better news a few years down the road.” 

The results for math show that 36 states including ours scored better than the international average with a range of 466 to 561.  Students in our state scored 523 ranking us 18 in comparison to other states.

The results for science were even better showing 47 states outperforming the international average and a range of 453 to 567.  Students in our state scored 536 ranking us 21 in comparison to other states.

Not related, but interesting to think about was this article on Publicola sharing results of a Class Size Counts review of class sizes in our state.

Compared to the rest of the country, Washington ranks 47 in class size—meaning our kids’ classes are more crowded than those of 46 other states. For instance, during the 2012-13 school year, the average class size in Washington public schools for grades K-3 was 25.3—over 30 percent higher than the legislature’s recommended size.

I'm wondering what our state rank would be on the TIMSS report if we could even get to the middle of the class size ranking of states.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Common core update . . .

From time-to-time I have posted about the push back being felt in some states to the Common Core State Standards and the new assessments that will be in place for testing in the spring of 2015.  At this time all but four states have signed on to implement the standards and have maintained this commitment even though many are experiencing organized campaigns to drop them.  That is not, however, the case for using assessments from one of the two national consortia given $360 million to design assessments aligned with the college and career standards. States such as Florida are beginning to pull back from these efforts either deciding to develop their own tests or searching for less expensive alternatives that are beginning to emerge.

With states pulling back, the policy maker's vision of common standards and common assessments in all states will not become a reality.  This Eduflack post and this Eduwonk post capture some of what is happening related to common core status at the national level.  We are not experiencing an organized campaign against the standards from the right or left in our state.  The question that continues to be discussed at the national level is the one around what happens if one state decides to drop the standards.  Will others follow?

The map below shows the current status for each state's assessment plans.  Washington is a member of the Smarter Balanced  group.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Providing bond information . . .
This evening was the last of four open meetings that the board held for residents of the community to ask questions and raise concerns about the bond measure.  Some very good questions were asked about the cost, planning, options reviewed, enrollment projections and capacity issues, traffic, fields, and the ability of the community to support it.  For the first time, we even had two community members concerned that we might not be able to complete the projects with the requested dollar amount and wanting assurances that we had quality project management in place.

Tonight's was a very good conversation between the board and community members with questions and concerns.  Following the meeting, I had a further conversation with two of those in attendance who said that the information they received had convinced them to support the measure.  One of those also shared his concern that we did not do a good job of getting this type of information to community members.  I struggled with that comment and shared with him that tonight's meeting of about fifteen had more people attend than any of the other three meetings and may in fact have been about the same as the other three combined.

We want and need people to have accurate information as they make this decision and we try to find vehicles for this to happen.  Yet, we also continue to get feedback from some that they didn't know there was a bond measure and we need to do a better job of informing the public.  We try, but it has historically proven difficult for us to find a venue where significant numbers from our community turn out for these well publicized opportunities.

Though ballots have been mailed and many have already voted, this evening's meeting demonstrated that there are still voters needing questions answered and additional information to make a decision.  Please consider this as you engage with people in the community and decide what can be done before the November 5th deadline for posting ballots.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Research infographic . . .

I read about Visible Learning on this Connected Principal post by Johnny Bevacqua about a professional development opportunity focused on John Hatties's research.  His research was used to support CEL 5 D+ and our Classromm 10 work and is one of the foundational pieces used to support instructional change today. Visible Learning is a professional develop organization focused on Hattie's research.

 The info graphic below by Terry Burr for Osiris Education, the British partner of Visible Learning, captures the major findings of the research.  The top 7 and bottom 7 effects are shared with a summary for why they work.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

An unfair situation . . .

I found myself in an unfair situation this evening because of something I have no control over.  Those responsible for scheduling Seattle Seahawk and Tahoma Bear football games did not coordinate with the result forcing me and others to make a difficult choice of who to watch.  Both teams have away games tonight, something that should not happen!

So, what choice did I make as a Seahawk season ticket holder and long time Bear fan?  I went to Kent to watch our Bears take on the Kentwood Conquerors.  With the time difference between the start of each game we were able to listen to the first half of the Seahawk game then keep track online as they went on to beat Arizona.

I made a good choice as the Bears played a solid game on both sides of the ball beating Kentwood 26 to 14.  They played very good defense except for two long touchdown passes and dominated on offense moving the ball on the ground and through the air.  They missed some scoring opportunities making the game closer than it could have been.  It was again a great night for a high school football game even though it was the wrong night of the week.  Full moon, clear sky, chill in the air, and the right team won!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Get on with it . . .

I found this TED talk at The Heart of Innovation blog.  The short description caught my attention so I watched all 22 minutes of it.

This is quite extraordinary. Sugata Mitra's TED talk on the future of learning. Blows the top off of what you think education is and how you think it happens.

In it he shares his  experiments with young people he called the Hole in the Wall where he placed a computer behind a wall and left it for children to play with.  The content and language were both foreign to the students.  The results were surprising and led him to his vision of the School in the Cloud and Self Organizing Learning Environments where adults let learning happen instead of making it happen.

Though I don't completely align with his vision, there is much to learn from his work and from the question he poses.  Is learning obsolete?  I say, no but at the same time see value in his suggestion of a curriculum around big questions and placing students in a position to be collaborative workers and own the learning.  To understand the quote in the picture you will need to watch the video, or at least the end of the it.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Another set of national standards . . .

It may be old news for most of you since Superintendent Dorn announced it on October 4th, but I thought I'd still share that Washington is the eighth state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS.  I'm sharing because of one paragraph in the announcement that concerns me and that has implications for our system.

The process of implementing the standards will be similar to the one used for the Common Core State Standards. It will begin with building awareness, then building capacity in schools and districts. Full implementation is expected by the 2016-17 school year; students will be tested on the new standards beginning in 2017-18.

If the process is similar to the Common Core implementation it means that the major responsibility for developing awareness and capacity will be with each of the state's individual school systems.  It means allocating resources and dedicating time to capacity building.  It means developing structures and tools to ensure that we purchase and/or create aligned instructional materials.  It means developing and/or creating formative assessments to support students and teachers in this important work to ensure that they are ready for the 2017-18 mandated assessments.

Those in our system that know more than I do about these standards are excited and see them as an improvement over the state standards.   They also know that it will be another difficult and expensive transition and have already started the work.  I would be more excited if there were structures and revenue at the state level to support this transition.  It makes little sense to me that there is not more state support for this mandated transition like we saw for many states in the Common Core transition.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Showing leadership . . .

In this KPLU release State Superintendent Randy Dorn says it is time to raise taxes to support public education in our state.  Whether you agree with his proposal or not, I thank him for his leadership at this critical time.  As I shared in this post, there is a huge gap between current education revenue and what is needed to meet the court's McCleary requirements and I don't believe that this gap can be closed with greater government efficiency and program cuts.  New revenue must be found and Dorn is challenging legislators with this proposal.

 “I turned 60. I got three years, three and a half years to make a difference. And I’m teeing it up so people have to pay attention,” he said. “This isn’t just this Legislature’s problem. It’s been a long history of people kicking the can, kicking the can. We cannot kick the can anymore.”

I thank Randy for his leadership and for his challenge not only to the legislators, but to all of us.  How we respond and engage with policy makers will influence the outcome and pace of change.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Night Lights, Tahoma style . . .

It was a great evening at Maxwell Field.  The Bears beat Kentridge in what started out looking like it would be a shoot out.  They stopped the Chargers on the opening possession and then scored on their first play from scrimmage.  The Chargers then took the kick off back for the tying touchdown all within the first three minutes of the game.  But, that was as close as it would be as the Bears defense prevailed and the offense proceeded to add thirty-four more points to win 41 to 7.

It was a beautiful fall evening for football with the moon out and a chill in the air.  The cheerleaders provided the energy and our Tahoma Field Show Ensemble put on a marvelous halftime show.  They looked and sounded great in their new uniforms.  They have come a long way in three years.

The only thing that might make it better would be to go 3 and 0 for the weekend.  That would mean that the Huskies beat the hated Ducks and the Seahawks return to winning with a victory over the Titans.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Relevant teacher evaluation data . . .

On the National School Board Association site I learned about a new teacher evaluation study done by their Center for Public Education.  The study, “Trends in Teacher Evaluation: How States are Measuring Teacher Performance,” provides an overview of teacher evaluation systems in each state.  I found it informative and especially relevant as we get closer to the next legislative session and the issues legislators will face in responding to the federal education department's at risk waiver letter.

I like the charts that identify decisions that states have made related for example to the use of student achievement data in teacher evaluation.  Below, we see the model being used in each state to link student achievement data to the evaluation and find out why Washington is in jeopardy of losing the waiver.  The current practice in our state gives each district the autonomy to determine what achievement data will be used and how it will be used.

 Putting the above information together with the following chart on the percentage of the evaluation determined by student achievement data captures the dilemma we are in.  Twenty-three states require or recommend that 50% of the evaluation be based on student achievement data while in Washington there is no required or recommended weight.

The status of teacher evaluation in our state must change for the state to be successful in maintaining the waiver for NCLB.  The areas where that change must take place are found in these two charts of current practice.  Another interesting chart to me is the one below that shows how the data is used in personnel decisions in each state.  In our state at this time it can be used in teacher placement decisions.  The big question is when that status might change to include other potential personnel decisions.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interesting start to week . . .

KOMO News - Mrs. Clemson's LW Grade 4 Classroom
Monday, I was given the opportunity to engage in an interview for two television stations, an activity that is very low on my "wish" list.  This followed last Friday when Board President Tim Adam was interviewed by KING in response to an invitation to all stations related to our bond measure.  It seems that when one station picks up the others follow closely behind.  That was conformed yesterday when the fourth local station KIRO called and said they were on the way.  Though I don't like these interviews, the opportunity to share information about our facility needs far outweighed my comfortableness.

One of the problems with this format is that we have little influence on what ends up on the screen.  The KOMO News interview lasted for multiple minutes with only a few onscreen seconds from Laurel and me after editing.  Unfortunately, the focus in all of these interviews including a radio piece with Kevin Patterson was not on the possibilities resulting from a new Tahoma High School and Regional Learning Center or on how well we are doing.  The stations wanted to know about the year-round, multi-track and double shift models.  I was even asked if I really believed the system would actually do it in the event of a failed bond measure and I said that we have had many conversations over time and that the current Board would implement the model when the grade level band capacity number is reached.   It will be interesting to see what KIRO does as they were the last and provided more of an opportunity to share, though I fear they make focus on the reasons for a "no" vote and my thoughts over time about failed bond measures.

Here is a link to the KOMO News piece with the title telling their focus.  By the way, I don't recall ever using the word "warning" when we talk about alternative delivery models.

The only other time I can recall being interviewed related to our bond needs was after the failure of the 2011 measure when a station once again wanted to focus on what would happen next.  There has never been a single day or three day period when we have received this much TV exposure on any issue.  Don't know if it will make a difference, but if it generates conversation in the community it is all that we can expect.

Related to the bond measure, we learned that as of yesterday there were 137 new voter registrations over the last month and that since the April 2011 election there have been 3397 new registrations.  Once again, don't know what this will mean on November 5th, but having more people register to vote is always positive.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Maintaining a growth focus . . .

In conversations last week with colleagues in our system and in other systems it was driven home for me once again how difficult it is to maintain a focus on teacher growth in the new, mandated evaluation model.  Using the inquiry cycle to focus on a growth goal assists in this, but as I learned the temptation to code and assign value during the cycle's observations is great.  We our asking our administrators to hold off on assigning a value such as basic or proficient until late in the cycle while some in other systems are supportive of assigning a value at the time of the observation.

Why is assigning a value during each observation an issue related to a growth focus.  I believe that once we begin to assign values, we start the process of shifting our mental model from one of supporting growth on a specific targeted area to making decisions that may shift us away from this narrow target.  It is difficult because the evaluator knows that at some point he/she will be forced to make a summative judgment and must have adequate data to make those decisions.  This makes it more difficult to delay assigning value and collecting and coding data beyond the narrow goal focus.

Why is it so difficult to maintain a growth focus?  I believe it is due to the main purpose of TPEP  being evaluation.  It was driven by forces outside the state and local district to meet requirements by the federal education department to qualify for a waiver from the outdated and unsupportable NCLB sanctions.  It angers me that the federal education department has gained considerable power over state and local decisions because the elected policy makers at the federal level cannot reach agreement on a NCLB replacement.

Given this current reality, we had a focus on growth before NCLB, during NCLB, and are committed to maintaining that focus during the NCLB waiver era.  How long we can continue this focus will partly be determined by our state legislature in the upcoming session as they grapple with the possibility of losing the state's waiver without significant changes to the use of student achievement data in the teacher evaluation process.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A long evening listening . . .

I'm in hour three of a hearing before the Puget Sound Educational Service District Regional Committee on School District Organization because the Enumclaw School District has requested that we transfer about 54 acres from our tax role to theirs.  We made the decision that losing this assessed valuation is not in our best interest at the same time that we are asking our tax payers to support a bond measure on November 5th.

The rationale put forward by Enumclaw is that the parcel in question is included in the master planned community proposed by Yarrow Bay in the city of Black Diamond.  We believe that this rational is not consistent with any of the criteria in RCW 28A.315 that should guide the committee's decision.

The board is required to deliberate in public so we are currently listening to their conversation and thoughts.  They have identified twenty-one questions to consider in the eight criteria and the discussion thus far through three of those criteria support our position.  I don't intend for this post to be a running commentary so I'll hold off until they complete their deliberations.

One of the downsides of this process is the need to divert resources to prepare and present our case before the hearing board.  In this case it is attorney fees and a budget consultant.  On the positive side was hearing five citizens, one that lives in Enumclaw and four from our system, make public statements in support of our position.  There were no public comments in support of the Enumclaw position.

Our attorney, budget consultant, and Board President, Tim Adam represented us well.  Tim closed our presentation with cogent arguments and a statement that if the positions were reversed we would not have petitioned for this transfer and wasted the board's time.  As a system we can be proud of how he and our team represented our position.

At three hours and twenty-two minutes they completed their deliberation on the questions and by my count we prevailed on every question except those that they didn't consider because there are no students involved.  We prevailed by a vote of 5 to 0 to deny the request for transfer of territory.  We win!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

NEWS responds . . .

The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), the coalition that filed the successful McCleary lawsuit yesterday issued a press release sharing excerpts from the brief they filed in response to the state's mandated filing to the State Supreme Court. I learned some things in the release that I had not known that captures the depth of the problem our legislature faces.  

By the State’s own testimony in the landmark trial, state funding must rise to a minimum of $12,701 per student by 2018 to comply with the Supreme Court’s order.

“The State reports its per pupil funding under the 2013-15 budget will be $7,279 in 2013-14 and $7,646 in 2014-15,” the NEWS brief stated. “At that under $400/year rate of increase… the per pupil finish line will not be crossed until the 2028-29 school year, if there is no inflation or capital needs.”

From everything we have heard from the Supreme Court this timeline will not accepted.  We are still waiting to hear from the court on the recent filing.  Their response will give us an indication of how much pressure the legislators will feel in the upcoming "short" session.  Short of once again attempting to redefine basic education to lower the targeted $12,701 per student amount, I struggle to see how they will find the necessary revenue to close this gap by 2018 or beyond.  It will take significant shifts in mental models related to taxes to generate this revenue.

It is hard to argue with the excerpt below from the press release.

“Is a constitutional right a real right, or just a nice sounding platitude? Must elected officials obey the constitution, or are they above it? Are court orders a mandate, or just a suggestion? And do our courts hold all citizens accountable to obey the law, or just those citizens who don’t have an official government title?

“The Class of 2018 was in 1st grade when this suit was filed. They were in 4th grade when the Final Judgment was entered against the State in this case. They were in 6th grade when this Court issued its January 2012 decision. Another year of State procrastination and delay might not be that important to most adults. But each year is crucial to a child traveling through our State’s public schools today – for to him or her, each year of amply funded education delayed is a year of amply funded education forever lost.”