Well, folks, it looks like the failed automatic math acceleration for next year's fifth graders is about to be halted. Information has been streaming in to the blog via comment with requests that we put all the information together and publish a post. We are more than happy to oblige.
We have received the following information from numerous sources who attended one or both of yesterday's "Math" meetings for 4th Grade Parents held at Elm School. All sources have chosen to remain anonymous in order to protect themselves or their students from potential retaliatory behavior. We are publishing the information, but encourage ANYONE in the administration who believes the information is not accurate, to send any "clarifications" or further explanation to the blog via comment and we will publish that as well.
During both meetings yesterday, the soon-to-be-ex-co-assistant superintendent of learning, Kevin Russell, stated that beginning this fall, there will be no automatic grade acceleration in math for all fifth graders. He also stated that there will be "tiers" in that a MAP score of 225 will be used to determine if students will be placed in advanced math. Parents will still be able to "opt in" their child, and the differentiation specialists will subjectively determine if a child needs further "acceleration" beyond advanced math. Hmmm, so we are back to subjective assessments after having disposed of formal testing measures to determine whether advanced placement is necessary for our kids? Isn't this the same administrator who disparaged the use of tiers in the recent past?
Curiously, the one thing Russell didn't admit is that the automatic acceleration of math was and is a failed experiment imposed on the backs of teachers and our children. And when he and Igoe slip out of their offices in approximately 30 days, they will leave a mess behind for trainees Schneider (no background in curriculum) and Benaitis (no background in curriculum or assessment) to attempt to implement before a new assistant superintendent of curriculum is hired.
The board meeting on Tuesday, May 28 at 7pm, at Prospect School should be interesting. Take a look at the agenda when it appears on Board Docs early Saturday morning and draw your conclusions about the last hurrah of Schuster's administration. We hope Dr. White will be in attendance to witness the last gasps of double talk and spin, which we parents have come to know as the norm.
Stay tuned for further updates...
OH the HORROR!
Once again we shall have parents angry that their precious little snowflakes are not lumped together in the "most sparkly in every way" pile of snow...
One can only hope that the district level staff that saw this as some magical way to make a strike for a certain kind of bourgeois decadence will instead devote themselves to helping the students that most need the help that can delivered...
This is a good plan. Most parents I have spoken to support it.
I am happy that the administration listened to parents and teachers and fixed the problems with fourth grade math - this is what we asked them to do.
Based on the newsletter MAP data is not on the agenda for Tuesday.
Have the administration and BOE learned nothing from the debacle of the last two years1?? How on earth can they approve a new math pilot without first analyzing the data from the first math pilot? We need to start making data driven decisions so we can avoid mistakes such as the fourth grade math debacle from occurring again. If the admin is not prepared to present the MAP data on Tuesday - data the community has been begging for since the start of L4A - then they should hold off presenting the math pilot.
I find it ironic that our kids take so many tests yet there never seems to be any data.
Yes! And that the math committee supposedly designs math pilots based upon nationally known research of experts and "best practices", yet they never provide any of it!! If they really do this, why haven't they ever cited any research or evidence in support of their decisions? Anyone?
What do you mean the MAP data won't be presented? So we don't get to see any analysis at all this school year?? What?? How is that possible? I am outraged!! This is completely unacceptable. There is absolutely no excuse why this data can't be made available. What on earth are these administrators doing? This can't be true. So parents have to wait until next fall?
Yes, some 4th grade parents are happy tiered math is going to be reinstated this fall for their fifth graders, and they should be glad. The acceleration for all model was a dismal failure the last two years and needed to be changed. Unfortunately, it took parents repeatedly demanding change from the administrators before the administration finally chose to do something about it. This wasn't a change that was even remotely suggested by the administration after a careful and systematic data analysis over the alst 2 years. So, many questions remain. What data analysis was done to determine that 225 on MAP math should be the cut off for automatic placement into an advanced math tier. What does 225 really mean? Since it doesn't look like the MAP data is on the agenda for next Tuesday's meeting, how will the administration explain this new standard? These are just a few question the BOE should ask and demand be be answered with data before any of the administrators leave their employment with D181. These are questions that Dr. White should ask when he presides over his first board meeting on May 27, his first full time day on the job. Our children can ill-afford another "change" -- even if it seems to make sense -- without a data driven reason and analysis presented to the BOE. Is 225 to high or too low? How does the admin know? It is very easy for the outgoing administrators to propose another change that they won't be around to implement. Only 2 central curriculum administrators are tapped to remain -- Schneider and Benaitis. What expertise do they have to oversee these new changes, especially since they are directly opposite to Schneider's acceleration for all mantra. Will he really buy into the changes? More importantly, will anyone in the administration actually admit that the last 2 years have been a failure? Will Mike Nelson finally get an answer to the question he asked recently about whether L4A has hurt any students? Clearly the answer is yes, or the acceleration for all model wouldn't be scrapped. Time for the BOE to hold someone accountable, even if it is the administrators who haven't yet run for the hills.
Ok, it's Saturday morning and there is nothing posted on board docs for the meeting. What's up with that.
225 for a fourth grader puts them at the 81st percentile nationally of all fourth graders who take map. For our district, the average fourth grade math RIT score for a fourth grader this spring was 227. I'm no expert, but it seems that 225 is too low. I would like to see some analysis of this number before it is approved. My child cannot afford another waisted year.
I would like to know what is happening with third and fourth graders and acceleration. Parents are tutoring their kids to keep up. Is this madness supposed to continue?
I heard a rumor that this years' 3rd grade did VERY little compacting. Is that true? Do they have tiers??
The MAP score needed to be in an accelerated MAP tier should vary somewhat from year to year and school to school depending on the mathematical academic ability levels of that particular pool. 225 (or whatever number) should just be a baseline or minimum. For instance, my middle school son had 3 classes in 4th and 5th grade and, thus, 3 tiers of math classes. In this case a MAP score of 225 would probably be too low for the highest tier (but, in some cases where the grade isn't that strong mathematically it might be fine). In my daughter's grade, there were only 2 sections and the top one was really high performing in math. In a case where you have 2 classes, usually a score of 225 could be a fine cut-off for an accelerated tier. In this particular case, the cut-off would have probably needed to be higher because there were many 95%ile and above kids in that grade. When we had the tiers, the use of the gifted/differentation specialist was key. She would provide support to the kids who were not being challenged even in the highest tier or when the tier needed to be split because of differences of abilities within a class- similar to the way that aides provide support to those students who struggles but she would do it in a larger group for the advanced kids. This type of pull-out benefit all students because it in effect reduced class size for all. The keys to making the tiers work is the ability to flexibly move between the tiers, as needed, and the consideration of both standardized test scores and teacher input to determine who should be accelerated. Sure, parents can provide input as well but what got us into this mess (besides S & S's inclusive philosophy) was competitive parents complaining constantly about what group their student was in (it was never high enough and they were always "bored" in the lower tier) and the fact that some kids had access to the gifted specialist. Some schools were also totally inflexible with their groupings which didn't allow mid-year or unit by unit flexibility which prevented some kids from being where they should be some of the time. The best solution? Small class sizes with multiple tiers that allow teachers to truly teach at the appropriate level for the students in the class - differentiation at its finest.
That was such an awesome comment 8:14 am!! I couldn't agree with you more.
The comment made at 8:14 is right on! That is exactly what is best for these kids, more small, flexible groups. The problem is staffing. If there are only 2-3 classroom teachers + 1 differentiation specialist (who mind you has to help EVERY teacher and grade level in the school) that is still only 3- 4 groups tops. I know at my school the differentiation specialist can only visit a grade level for 30 min blocks of time when math is an hour. I am sorry for what the current 4th graders had to go through these 2 years, but the primary K-2 kids hardly get the needed help or enrichment. If the district was smart, they would create a system for ALL grade levels to consistently get what they need every day for math. Not just 3-5. If anything, greater intervention in the early grades will boost scores and ensure acceleration for all who need it. I guess throughout this whole thing, I've been in the younger grades where very little is being done due to all this focus with the 3rd and 4th graders. Why doesn't anyone push for more for the K-2 students?
Placement decisions should never be made based upon one piece of data/score. This is a point that some parents have been trying to make for many, many years which seemed to only result in another review of the accelerated programs from which the BOE/Admin cherry-picked what suited their current agenda. If you read Dr. Moon's report she is pretty clear about not placing students based on one standardized test score.
Here's hoping Dr. White understands how to establish an appropriate protocol for determining whether kids need accelerated services and provides teachers both the training and the time to use it. it should include at a minimum standardized test scores, in-curriculum scores, and teacher (and perhaps parent) input about learning style - not just one RIT score that may or may not align with the curriculum.
Child performance in the curriculum (actual and sometimes potential if a child is an underperformer) is the basis for determining how and how much differentiation is needed, not a RIT score.
Ms. Quinones: You have hit the nail on the head. It is amazing to us bloggers how the current administration cherry picked from Dr. Moon's $60,000 plus report, in our opinion made a mess of the district's curriculam programs and is now scrambling to fix it without fully understanding what they are doing. We too hope that Dr. White throws himself 100% into addressing all of the important questions parents have been raising for over two years, answers them in a truly transparent fashion with data and the determines whether or not anyone in the current department of learning who has not yet jumped ship be continue to be employed in D1 81. Further, we hope that Dr. White hires a proven curriculum expert to be the assistant superintendent for the department of learning and to oversee all of the changes to the learning for all plan that are needed to ensure that not one more child in D181 is hurt by the actions of the current administration.
To be fair, the admin did say it would be a combination of factors and not just the 225.
To the last commentor: can you elaborate and explain what those other factors are for the automatic acceleration.
Teacher input I think
To the parent who thinks less focus should be on the current 3-5 children, and that more enrichment should be provided for k-2 instead: please keep in mind that when our children were in k-2, they had absolutely no enrichment. This lack of enrichment, which I agree with you, should be available, is something that our children missed out on, too. SOME principals and teachers in the past did, very disappointingly, play favorites for children whom they subjectively, and often incorrectly, perceived to be bright, but it was never based on any formal assessment, so many kids were overlooked. That is why many parents opposed the vague selection procedures for gifted, and wanted more fairness and equity in the selection process. Instead of addressing that specific issue, however, when Dr. Schnieder & Schuster came in, they decided to simply eliminate the entire program.
If you were around 5 years ago, you would know that there were no official selection standards or procedures for identifying k-2 children for enrichment in D181. It was all biased and subjective. I hope you understand that our 4th graders have served as guinea pigs for the last 2 years due to the ill conceived plans of the math committee and our department of learning. Your children, however, will benefit because the experiment will not continue on them. Very little time is left to try to correct the poor decisions forced on our children, If anything, please learn from us, and be sure to go to the BOE meetings. Don't assume that these administrators are making decisions based on research or "best practices". Ask to SEE the evidence - and demand that the board of education verifies and demands it, too. Make your concerns known and don't take "no" or "we can have a 'conversation' about your concerns" as an answer! The k-2 children certainly deserve equal resources, but not superior services that were never, as a rule, even offered when the ACE program existed. Formal testing didn't even begin until later. And when I went in with my children's gifted scores in hand in 1st grade.,nothing was ever done until the school (without coercion on my part) saw a combination of extremely high scores combined with high performance. You might also want to ask what exactly "enrichment" provides, though. Sometimes, it is just more subjective busy work. Without an actual "gifted" specialist running the program, no one will be around to ensure that best practices and current research is being implemented in our schools.
Board docs up. No map data until June 23 - 6 weeks late and everyone gone. Nice move BOE
Omg!!!! The math pilot will not be posted on board docs until Tueaday afternoon. This is against all rules!!!!!!!!
Where on board tax do you see that the map data will be presented on June 23? We have done a quick review and do not see it .
And no keynote in fourth grade math until Tuesday afternoon
We believe the "rules" referred to by the previous comment require that the administration provide the Board of Education with all materials needed for the upcoming board meeting by the Thursday prior to the meeting. So one of 2 things seems to be going on. Either, the board has received the materials in a timely manner, but the community is not being allowed to see them until Tuesday afternoon, or they too are going to have to wait until just a couple of hours before the meeting to review relevant and critical information needed by them to make an informed decision on Tuesday night. That should be no problem for Marty Turek who has publicly stated at former board meetings that he has prepared for at least one meeting during his regular job the day of the meeting, but it should be a problem for other board members who have publicly complained that in the past board materials have not been provided to them in a timely manner. Either way, this complete and total lack of transparency should be responded to by the board with a flat-out refusal to vote on anything for which materials were not provided to them last Thursday.
Schuster's report says June 26
Can you please be more specific because we have read Schuster's report several times and do not see map data presentation specified anywhere? Perhaps we're not looking at the same document.
It said year end report and that is where they usually present map
Last year, the May 28, 2013 Superintendent's report posted on board docs listed upcoming agenda items for the June 10 meeting. Included was "Year-end Report" and a separate item called NWEA map assessment. If on June 23 the Year-end report will encompass the MAP assessment data, the administration is once again not being transparent and specifying for the community what will be discussed.
Bloggers: You are right. Either the map data has been buried and the administration has no plans to present it, or they don't want to announce the discussion in a manner that will notify parents who might be interested in attending the presentation when and where it will take place. This is an absolute outrage!
I am truly outraged. I can hardly contain my anger. Admin and BOE have learned nothing at all from the last two years.
In terms of how students get into or out of accelerated math/ELA/ACE, I agree it would be helpful to use multiple data points for the decision. However, how much is enough without being too much. As many people have pointed out, there's also too much testing in some cases. With the ISATs, MAP, the PARCC assessments for some classes, AIMSweb, Common Writing Assessment, etc. It's also amazing that there's any time left for actual instruction.
I was just looking at the facilities surveys filled out by the staff. Many parts are HEAVILY redacted. For example, for Oak, under the question "￼￼￼￼If you feel there are significant security issues at your school related to facilities, please explain here", there are about 10 comments. All are redacted. Why is this? I can understand editing out specific names, but ENTIRE COMMENTS?!? If there are security concerns at a building, I'd like to know them! If we're letting our children, our most prized possessions, go to these schools, and have friends and family work there, we have a right to know about any security problems. And I seriously doubt that the teachers and staff members would be unprofessional enough to use foul language on these surveys.
If people are truly outraged then this is what needs to happen. You need to spread the word to other D181 parents and let them know about the lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of professionalism shown by the current administration and Board of Education. You need to show up at the board meeting on Tuesday night and make a public comment expressing your outrage. It cannot just be the same 4 to 5 parents who have bravely spoken up at board meetings once again stepping up to the podium and blasting the administration. Obviously, their concerns have not resulted in any behavior modification by the adults who are supposed to be overseeing the education of our children. This Board of Education under Dr. Schuster's administration has chosen to ignore all of these parents by labeling them naysayers and a vocal minority. What is it going to take to make more people step up?
Very well said, Parents. You are exactly on. Just because we have a new administration coming in does not mean that we can sit back and relax now. We need to make our standards and expectations known to Dr. White so that we do not have to hire a new team of administrators in a few years.
So it's 1:36 pm on Tuesday and the 2 promised keynotes have still not been posted on Board Docs! So wrong!
2:22 and nothing posted. They are waiting until 3:05 so we have no time to read it.
More importantly, when will the board members have time to read it? When will Dr.White have time to read it?
Posted and there are four resources
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