Transformation rules!

OK, maybe not it doesn’t, but I was reading today’s NJ article and noticed this:

“At Glasgow, where the district chose the transformation model, there won’t be a new principal, the district said. Edward Mayfield Jr. can stay on board despite the model’s requirement that the principal be replaced, Lyles said, because he’s been there less than two years.

It’s not a given that the state Department of Education will allow a principal with less than two years on the job to stay in a school that has selected transformation, but it will be considered, said Dan Cruce, the state deputy secretary of education.

And if that person is allowed to stay he or she must be given a “new role” in the school.

They can make the case for that person to remain in the building in a new role other than the building instructional leader role,” Cruce said in an e-mail.

Now here’s the code on Tranformation: Transformational Model, in which A district or charter school shall: Replace the principal who led the school prior to commencement of the
transformation model; Use rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems for teachers and
principals that- Take into account data on student growth (as defined in this notice) as a
significant factor as well as other factors such as multiple observation-based
assessments of performance and ongoing collections of professional practice
reflective of student achievement and increased high-school graduations rates;
and Are designed and developed with teacher and principal involvement; Identify and reward school leaders, teachers, and other staff who, in
implementing this model, have increased student achievement and high-school
graduation rates and identify and remove those who, after ample opportunities have
been provided for them to improve their professional practice, pursuant to the
Delaware Performance Appraisal System II or any successor thereto, have not done
so; Provide staff with ongoing, high-quality, job-embedded professional development (e.g., regarding subject-specific pedagogy, instruction that reflects a deeper understanding of the community served by the school, or differentiated instruction) that is aligned with the school’s comprehensive instructional program and designed with school staff to ensure they are equipped to facilitate effective teaching and learning and have the capacity to successfully implement school reform strategies; Implement new financial incentives and increase opportunities for promotion and
career growth of effective teachers, and provide more flexible work conditions
designed to recruit, place, and retain staff with the skills necessary to meet the needs
of the students in a transformation school; Use data to identify and implement an instructional program that is research based and “vertically aligned” from one grade to the next as well as aligned with State
academic standards; Promote the continuous use of student data (such as from formative, interim, and summative assessments) to inform and differentiate instruction in order to meet the
academic needs of individual students; Establish schedules and implement strategies that provide increased learning
time, which means using a longer school day, week, or year schedule to significantly
increase the total number of school hours to include additional time for (a) instruction
in core academic subjects, including English; reading or language arts; mathematics;
science; foreign languages; civics and government; economics; arts; history; and
geography; (b) instruction in other subjects and enrichment activities that contribute to
a well-rounded education, including, for example, physical education, service
learning, and experiential and work-based learning opportunities that are provided by
partnering, as appropriate, with other organizations; and (c) teachers to collaborate,
plan, and engage in professional development within and across grades and subjects; Provide ongoing mechanisms for family and community engagement; Give the school sufficient operational flexibility (such as staffing, calendars/
time, and budgeting) to implement fully a comprehensive approach to substantially
improve student achievement outcomes and increase high school graduation rates; Ensure that the school receives ongoing, intensive technical assistance and
related support from the district, the Department, or a designated external lead partner

I will spare everyone the breakdown on the innumerable other fallacies contained in that code above and cut tho the question at hand:

I do not see IN THE CODE FOR TRANSFORMATION how retaining the principal is allowed (although we have been assured it is allowed) and I see no basis for a mandatory reassignment of duties IN THE CODE FOR TRANSFORMATION.

Finally, I am confident that a significant basis for the Board’s approval of this heinous model was the extremely reassuring notion that our Principal would be retained.


Later school start times and Zzzs to A’s: I bet this would cost less than an extra $700,000 and may dramatically assist Glasgow and Howard in the PZ….

Later school start times and Zzzs to A’s

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that growing bodies benefit from more sleep. When districts push back the start of the school day, good things happen.

School times

  • EmailE-mail
  • la-he-school-time-20100823

TUGS.setInitCount(‘{“rate_summary”:{“total_score”:740,”average”:82,”total_count”:9}}’); TUGS.tugsURL = “”; TUGS.init_starRating();
As summer winds down, another new school year brings fresh notebooks, sharp pencils and — for many kids — a new cycle of
sleep deprivation.

With classes that start as early as 7 a.m. and buses that pull up long before sunrise, some 80% of American kids in grades 6 through 12 are falling short of sleep recommendations during the school year, according to research by the National Sleep Foundation, a sleep advocacy group.

Overtired kids, studies suggest, struggle with depression. They gain weight and get in more car accidents. Their grades suffer. And many turn to caffeine, with questionable results for productivity and unknown effects on the development of young brains.

Get breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone. Text BREAKING to 52669.

Now, fueled by accumulating research showing that adolescent bodies are designed to sleep late and that delaying school start times — even by just 30 minutes — makes a huge difference in how well teens feel and perform, an increasing number of schools around the country are ringing morning bells later than they used to. Many more are thinking about it.

At the same time, however, there are strong pockets of resistance to change from administrators and parents who think that bus schedules will get too complicated, that starting later will interfere with after-school programs or that kids simply will stay up later if they know they can sleep in a little more.

Despite the inconveniences involved in district-wide changes, sleep researchers emphasize the need to view sleep, like food and exercise, as a pillar of health.

“There are all these other things we do to ensure success for our kids, and getting them to have adequate sleep is probably one of the most important things you can do,” says Judith Owens, a sleep researcher at Brown Medical School in Providence, R.I. “Parents need to take this as seriously as eating right, using seatbelts and putting on sunscreen.”

Minnesota study

One of the first, longest-lasting and most influential teen sleep experiments started in Minnesota in the mid-1990s. Around that time, Minneapolis high schools shifted start times from 7:15 to 8:40. The nearby suburb of Edina shifted from 7:25 to 8:30.

Even though the two districts couldn’t be more different on scales of race, socioeconomics and other factors, results in both places appeared immediately, says Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Students were noticeably more alert in the first two periods of the day. The cafeteria was calmer. There were fewer fights in the halls. Students, who were now getting nearly an hour more sleep each night, said they felt less depressed. They were raising their hands instead of falling asleep at their desks. Even parents thought their kids were easier to live with.

Over time, Wahlstrom and colleagues documented, students started getting better grades on homework and quizzes. Schools reported lower tardiness rates. Attendance rates went up. Graduation rates improved.

“We found clear evidence of more kids staying in school and not dropping out,” Wahlstrom says. “Every group — principals, teachers, parents and kids — had something to say about it.”

Since then, reports from places such as Brazil, Israel and Rhode Island have turned up similar trends. Even small changes in school start times appear to make big differences.

In one of the most recent studies, published last month in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, Owens and colleagues found that, after a change in start time from 8 to 8:30 a.m., students at a small, private New England high school reported fewer depressed feelings (a shift from 65.8% to 45%), better moods (from 84% reporting irritated and annoyed feelings to 62.6%); and less sleepiness during the day. (Before the shift, 69.1% of students said they rarely or never got a good night’s sleep compared with 33.7% after the shift, for example.)

Class attendance improved: Teacher-reported first-class absence and tardiness rates dropped by 45%. Fewer students visited the health center (from 15.3% of students to 4.6% of students).

“Virtually every single parameter we looked at changed in the positive direction,” Owens says. “We still saw substantial percentages of students reporting daytime sleepiness and depression. It wasn’t a panacea. But there was a really dramatic improvement in everything.”

Sleep seems to beget sleep, the study suggested. Even though the new schedule started just 30 minutes later, students actually went to bed 15 minutes earlier and got 45 more minutes of sleep each day. When interviewed, kids said they felt so much better from even a little bit of extra sleep that they were motivated to go to bed sooner and sleep even more. Owens suspects that the extra sleep also helped them get their homework done more efficiently, affording them extra time in the evening to wind down and get to bed.

“These kids get into a vicious cycle of being exhausted, taking five hours to do three hours of homework and having to stay up later to get it done,” she says. “As they’re getting less sleep, they have to stay up later and they get even more tired.”

The melatonin shift

Blame biology — not laziness — for making teens push the snooze button over and over again. As kids approach puberty, scientists now know, there is a two-hour shift in when their bodies release melatonin, the hormone that causes sleepiness. As a result, teens and preteens find it impossible to fall asleep until about 11 p.m., even if they try to go to bed earlier. Yet teenagers still need an average of 9.25 hours of slumber each night.

On top of the shift in natural sleeping and waking times, Owens says, there is also a delay in when a severe dip in alertness occurs during the early morning hours. In adults, this low point hits between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.; in adolescents, it falls between about 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. That means that, while their alarm clocks are telling teens to get out of bed and demanding that their brains perform, their bodies are screaming at them to keep sleeping.

“There’s no doubt that schools starting before 8 or 8:15 are too early if you just do the simple math,” says Amy Wolfson, who studies adolescent sleep at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “You’re not going to speak to anyone in my field who is going to say they think starting at 7:15 makes any sense at all.”

And it’s not just high school students who suffer from alarm clocks that blare at what feel like ungodly hours, Wolfson says. The melatonin shift may happen as early as age 10 or 11.

In a 2007 study in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine, Wolfson and colleagues found that middle school students in urban New England whose schools started at 7:15 were getting much less sleep, exhibiting more behavior problems and were tardy four times as often as kids who started school at 8:37. The eighth-graders at the earlier-starting school also got worse grades than their peers who slept more. (In this study, and others like it, researchers make sure that comparison schools are similar in size, socioeconomics, race and other factors that could affect outcomes.)

On average, sixth-graders get 8.4 hours of sleep on school nights, according to the 2006 report on adolescent sleep habits by the National Sleep Foundation. High school seniors get just 6.9 hours.

In addition to the mood, behavior and learning issues, scientists are starting to uncover more subtle ways that such chronic sleep loss can hurt kids. Some studies, for example, show that sleep deprivation compromises the immune system. Others suggest that, with too little sleep, the body releases higher levels of hormones that induce hunger, possibly contributing to growing rates of obesity.

Tired teens may also be more vulnerable to falling asleep at the wheel. In two studies — one out of Kentucky published in 2008 and one done in Virginia that was presented at a sleep meeting earlier this year — scientists linked early high school start times with higher rates of car accidents. (In the Virginia study, there were 65.4 car crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in the city with an early start time and 46.2 per 1,000 in a neighboring city with a later start time — a difference of 40%.)

To stay awake, young people often turn to coffee, soda, energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages. In a public high school in Massachusetts, 95% of polled students reported drinking caffeine in the prior two weeks, mostly in the form of soda and most often in the afternoon and evening, Wolfson and a colleague reported in June in the journal Health Education and Behavior.

There are no published guidelines for how much caffeine is too much for adolescents, Wolfson says, but the substance stays in the body for up to five hours. Even if caffeinated kids manage to fall asleep, caffeine worsens the quality of their sleep. Finally, no one knows how caffeine might affect developing brains — although plenty of experts are concerned about the link between sugar in soda and weight gain.

Schools respond

As the sleep research piles up, a growing number of schools are moving toward later start times. No one has kept track of how many schools have made the change. But experts say they are fielding a growing number of calls from districts around the country asking for advice about whether and how to switch to later start times. And this spring, Wolfson says, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hosted a meeting of interdisciplinary sleep researchers to talk about school start times and teen sleep deprivation as national health issues.

Since the discussion on school start times began more than a decade ago, not a singe district that has made the change has decided to change back. But even as awareness grows, the issue remains volatile in many school districts, where administrators and parents are resistant to changing established schedules

We are here! We are here! We are here! A Partnership Zone Production. #RTTT @GovernorMarkell

Today, the Delaware Department of Education named 4 schools to its much ballyhooed Partnership Zone (herein referred to as: the PZ). The Christina School District has two of the schools named to this zone: Glasgow High School and Stubbs Elementary School. Neither is a shocking surprise, but the motivations to include each is somewhat murky when compared to some others. For example, Stubbs is only two years removed from being a 4-5-6 school into a K-5 school, so the comparatives on testing are odd.  Anyway, there we are with 2 schools in the PZ.

The DOE began a PR campaign today with this gem:

Why are we calling the deployment of untested reforms an opportunity? Taking risks? Our children deserve to have more teachers and smaller class sizes, not plans that feed adult egos and lure people into a false sense of efficacy. Here’s a risk: take the 119 million and just hire educators in quantity to get our kids in smaller classes. Change the unit count rules and let us enter the hiring marketplace for educators in May, not July……

Where to begin…. A true partnership? Dr. Lowery, if this bypasses the local school board AGAIN, just like the entire RTTT process usurped our authority, this statement will confirm that the myths listed here ARE realities while your Realities are Fantasies. Evidence based? (I can’t wait!) Innovative? (means nothing if it doesn’t work) Rigorous? (Doing things longer and harder does not yield in education Dr. Lowery, it is about smarter)

Moving along we get more cool propaganda:

This one is very deceptive as the whole process has been very gotcha driven from a local control perspective. Parents have been completely marginalized by the Markell administration on the entire RTTT process, plan and implementation. With more artificial deadlines, this trend is set to continue….

That Respect arrow….WOW, can’t wait to see that one happen! I hereby pledge my complete openness and honesty and respect right now: RTTT is respectfully very flawed.

For those wondering about the models, here is a quick pic:

So after we go into our rooms and plan and plan and plan…here’s the handy dandy Secretary of Education holds ALL the cards flow chart:

I’m squinting….are school boards mentioned? Nope, shucks missed out again….guess local control is a fallacy in Delaware. The First State is the first state to tell elected school board members to go pound sand, once again I may add.

This may be my favorite slide….for once we get to the state of need a “Lead Partner” to run our PZ schools…check out the rules…..or lack thereof:


Experience: working in a school turnaround environment and working in high schools….whew, with a bar that high we are going to get AWESOME results!

Willingness: Operate under some but NOT most LEA procedures and regulations (so I can throw my board and district policy manuals in the trash Dr. Lowery?) Use some but not all LEA central office services (only the expensive ones? What are the rules here?)

Readiness: Ramp up quickly? (Define please!) Have excess cash or ability to raise capital quickly (going to give them taxing authority Jack?)

Check out the killer competencies: Execute a full community engagement plan (goals? Measurements? Scope?)  Transform the existing culture to create positive learning environment (DOE has plenty of experience transforming cultures and as we all know this one is a simple as a finger snap!)

Of course we end any quality PPT with the obligatory:

I have tons. Let’s see if the DOE if going to listen.

We are here! We are here! We are here!