So I come back from Tucson (I know, don't cry for me Argentina) and here we are hashing over the same old things. Still no real public engagement or even notice about changing bell times. And still wondering why we are churning in place over many of the same issues. Sigh.
(Guess what was on the news in Tucson? Yup, not enough money for their district(s), cutting arts funding, they need to close schools and their technology is terrible. At least technology in our schools isn't stuck in the '80s.)
And yet I also find a puff piece in the Times about Dr. Goodloe-Johnson (she's one tough cookie although one commenter on the piece said that she certainly changed her mind enough on school closures which is true) AND that the Gates Foundation is going to give money to the district. I think I'll have to look into that one and see what the tea leaves show. I wasn't surprised at the Broad Foundation money; she's part of that group. But what did Gates see that we may be missing? I always wonder why these groups never go to, say, the Seattle Council PTA and ask what parents think needs shoring up? I see that the Gates money is going towards many of the items that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is pushing i.e. more AP. But I see this as well (from the Times article announcing the grants):
"Plans for a districtwide testing system are also in the works. At Mercer Middle School, educators already have begun piloting a series of tests to track students' academic performance throughout the school year. The testing allows more immediate feedback on academic performance and can help pinpoint areas where a student is struggling, said Mercer Principal Andhra Lutz."
This is good except for a couple of things. One, the WASL was supposed to be one piece of this puzzle and yet, as we have found, WASL results come too late for teachers to use in a meaningful way.
Two, I find myself confused on the phrase "immediate feedback". Is that for teachers? Students? Parents? I ask because teachers used to just do this as part of their jobs. To me any teacher worth his or her salt can probably tell you how a student is doing and likely where they are struggling. But okay, great, if it helps a teacher focus teaching, great, but can teachers really individualize their teaching that much? If it's for students, also great. A recent parent survey at Roosevelt (as well as student focus groups) showed both groups worry about getting enough feedback from teachers soon enough for students to know where they need to work harder. But it's unclear to me.