Sunday, February 03, 2008

Where Do Kids Go to High School?

There was an interesting article in the Times today about trying to keep students from the southeast from heading to north end schools. The accompanying chart showing the numbers from each area of the city for each high school was eye-opening (I wouldn't have thought Roosevelt had that many students from Central/QA/Magnolia and the south end). There are also a lot of kids from the south end who travel all the way up to Ingraham. That's a long way to get to a high school. Very few north end students travel south. The school with the most numbers from different areas of the city is Garfield (not surprising given the APP students usually go there and they come from all areas of the city). From the article:

"The falling enrollment has taken a toll on many of the schools, which already teach some of the poorest kids in the city. As the schools' enrollment has dropped, so has funding. In the past few years, the schools have pieced together programs with fewer electives and fewer rigorous courses than schools have in other parts of town."

It's a difficult cycle to break. I note that in the article one parent said that they were looking at kindergarten for their child and wouldn't consider going north because they wanted to stay/support their community. I think for many parents it is easier to make that decision for elementary but much harder at middle and high school as the stakes get higher.

Part of this puzzle for SE high schools is the whole issue of safety. Cleveland clearly has gang problems. You can make the school better academically but if parents don't feel it's a safe school, they won't want to send their student there and that's something every single one of us would feel.

How will this play out for the new assignment plan? As I previously posted the Board is having a 4-hour work session this Wednesday from 4-8 at the district headquarters. Maybe we'll hear some answers there.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Schools being closed
capriciously, with little public explanation as to why some neighborhoods are targeted for school closings while other schools remain open is a troublesome trend.

(South Area) schools were never supported in their own improvement efforts even though there was plenty of evidence to suggest local public schools could make greater gains, with the right kinds of support and leadership.

NCLB allows students to transfer. Also, there is an open-door enrollment policy. Finally there was no centralized system for tracking students.

The district's reform, hiring outside consultants, replacement of experienced administrators and teachers, privatization of services, has had little to do with fixing, helping, or restructuring low-performing schools.

However, it does increase instability and uncertainty for struggling schools. The district office and its supporters are well-aware of their strategy and will continue to undermine the efforts of south-area residents to save their schools.

Anonymous said...

With regard to students and teachers at least in the south-end. You (whoever that is) have provided curriculum that neither teachers can implement nor students can learn with. More alarming an adult has difficulty making sense of.

Some fool expert even suggested fidelity to curriculum? as though one can treat a textbook like a religion? It really made things worse. And its turned this reform into a silly witch hunt.

I'm sorry, but I'm not Calvinist. The very idea that students have choices is nonsensical in a Calvinist world.

Aside from the fact that not every student who disenrolls from one school will reenroll in another or that all of a person's credits actually transfer - due to different academic programs.

What school can promise a child they will pass the math WASL, albeit a sixth grade test in content, but written at a 10th grade reading level?

The odds are 100:1 that a south-end student who fails in a south-end school will still fail miserably in a north-end school.

The average student who transfers loses about four weeks of school. Students who transfer twice during the year usually lose all their credits.

How long do you think a school should stay in business if it boasts a 36% graduation rate and a 30% annual turnover of teachers and students?

Why does the district persist in doing what is does? Its like having an incurable disease.

Charlie Mas said...

It's a chicken and egg problem.

Cleveland doesn't offer AP classes, so students who want AP classes don't enroll at Cleveland, so Cleveland doesn't have students who want AP classes, so Cleveland doesn't offer AP classes. The cycle repeats in a downward spiral until very few academically motivated students choose Cleveland.

The District's current effort to break the cycle, the Southeast Initiative, provides funding for AP classes at Cleveland - even if there aren't enough students in the school to make the classes cost effective. Once Cleveland has AP classes, they reckon, students who want AP classes will choose Cleveland. Even so, it will probably take a couple years of offering the classes for people to believe it and then another couple years for the new students to reach their junior year when they can start taking the classes.

In the meantime, the school is supposed to meet specific goals within three years (has anyone yet heard what those clearly defined expectations are for the accountability element?) or the District will step in and do something (has anyone yet heard what the consequences are for the accountability element?).

I live in the south-end, very close to Cleveland, and I have to say that I don't find any of the District's efforts credible. There are no details available about the Southeast Initiative - even upon request. I wrote to District officials and asked about the accountability element in the plan, but nobody knew what the three year goals or the annual benchmarks were. Nobody even knew who to ask.

According to the story in the paper, very few people showed up to the school fair. Probably because very few people ever heard about it.

This is not a credible effort.

Anonymous said...

In the SPS Middle and High school choices enrollment guide (available at enrollment centers and online), I found the following information.

Rainier Beach High School: RB offers a range of honors classes for 9th and 10th graders and AP classes for juniors and seniors. With resources provided by the SE initiative, TB offers AP courses in math, statistics, LA, history/politics, music theory and art studio. To hep ensure that students are ready for AP work we use Springboard a college board program to build students critical thinking skills.

Cleveland HS:
Students at Cleveland are benefiting from district level support and resources. CHS offers a range of challenging courses, including honors level and AP courses. With resources provided through the SE initiative CHS now offers AP courses with plans to expand its offerings for 2008/09. Currently AP courses are offered in science, LA, Social studies, world language and math. They also use Springboard.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I am always baffled to hear that so many students from South Seattle are getting into Roosevelt. How is that? It wasn't easy to get into Roosevelt 4 years ago, so the sibling theory just doesn't make sense. And, even if there are a handful of sib's that doesn't account for the numbers posted??

I live 2.2 miles from the school. I called the enrollment center last year to see if we had a chance of getting in, and was told the only kids who got in last year lived within 1.8 miles of the school. If I can't get in, how are kids in S. Seattle???

Anonymous said...

Is the 1.8 mile thing really true? One of my friend's next door neighbor got into Roosevelt this year (he's a freshman) with no sibling preference. He lives in Laurelhurst and I just mapquested it and they live 2.44 miles away.

I think Melissa mentioned before there were quite a few siblings even last year left over from the racial tiebreaker. I'm assuming that is why the S Seattle numbers are what they are (it stood out to me as well when I read the story).

Anonymous said...

If a family has more than 2 kids, the sibling tie-breaker can last a lot longer than 4 years. Kid #2 is a freshman when kid #1 is a senior, kid #3 is freshman when #2 is a senior, kid #4 is a freshman when #3 is a senior, etc.

Melissa Westbrook said...

For any school, you can get in if you have special ed needs that only that school can meet. I have to say I am baffled over how many kids are coming to Roosevelt from the south end but I couldn't say why.

Michael Rice said...

To the person who posted this:

Rainier Beach High School: RB offers a range of honors classes for 9th and 10th graders and AP classes for juniors and seniors. With resources provided by the SE initiative, TB offers AP courses in math, statistics, LA, history/politics, music theory and art studio. To hep ensure that students are ready for AP work we use Springboard a college board program to build students critical thinking skills.

Can you please send me the link from the SPS website that shows this?

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Michael,
It's in the enrollment choices guide for middle/high school 2008/09. It's available at the enrollment centers and online in PDF form.

Here is the link, from there you can click on the link and open it. What I posted is quoted directly from the guide.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area
/eso/enrollmentguides20082009.html

Anonymous said...

Michael, I'm sorry the link I just posted only has the 2007/08 guide. I can't find the 2008/09 guide online. I have a hard copy of the guide that I picked up at the enrollment center when I was enrolling my child for middle school. I guess for now, until they get it posted online, you would have to go to the enrollment center to pick one up. Sorry

Anonymous said...

Ah ha, I found the link to the enrollment guide! They changed the name from middle and high school enrollment guide to Secondary enrollment guide 2008/09.

Follow this link and click on secondary enrollment guide 2008/09

http://www.seattleschools.org/area
/eso/secondary_guide.pdf

Anonymous said...

I am currently trying to anwser "Where Will my kid go to highschool." And have really been surpised by the reality of my choices. (Live in Magnolia) Started the process knowing Ballard may not be possible, so began to look at Hale and Ingrham. Great schools! No transportation and cannot drive as I have other children. Crossed off list, so our only real choice that makes sense is Ballard or Center. But is Center a good fit for my student? If not, Ballard.

So we really tried to cast a wide net, but Ballard maybe the only school with a semi-reasonable metro bus rout that makes sense for my student.

Sadly the conversation of reasonable transportation is not included in the new assignment plan. For example, if the district could say to us Magolia folks, we will continue yellow bus to Ingrham and reinstate yellow bus to Hale, I think many folks would choose those schools, relieving some of the pressure from Ballard and Roosevelt.

Anonymous said...

As a parent of an Ingraham High student who commutes on the yellow bus each day from our home on Beacon Hill, I am also concerned about transportation for next year.
The Seattle Times article reported a large number of students from the SE taking the bus to Ingraham currently. The reason we chose Ingraham 3 years ago was because of its excellent IB program. The IB program was not offered in our part of town. For these students to get to school next year they will either end up taking 3 buses(transferring downtown and at N.gate) or driving. What a lovely prospect : more cars(with teenagers driving, on our freeway.) Wouldn't it seem more sensible for the school district to grandfather these students with busing for the following year?
Many families bought in to the district's grand plan of a system of "CHOICES" And so, "chose" schools for their unique programs...
Now only 3 years later the choices are vastly limited. This is unfortunate for many of us who happen to live in South Seattle.

Anonymous said...

I live in South Seattle and we had a very good to decent (depending on which of the nine principals was in charge) elementary school close to home. Since my very bright, but lousy test-taking child did not qualify for Spectrum or AP (we did NOT try private testing), we opted for an independent Middle School and have been thrilled with the education our child is getting. My child is achieving well academically, loves school, is learning great study habits and is motivated to succeed in a rigorous curriculum.
We will be moving on to high school in the 2008–9 school year and we'd like to come back to Public School. Our closest HS would be Rainier Beach and I must admit I am still not convinced the school would be a good choice for my child. I believe the District can make some positive changes to the school, but also know that these changes will take time to implement and get established.
If the current "choice" system stays in effect, however, I don't see the school improving very quickly. From our elementary experience, I know that it takes a large cohort of families (at least a 1/3 of the school's population) who make education a top priority to keep a school performing at high levels.
As long as choice is broad, students who are college bound will probably look elsewhere for high school than RB or Cleveland if they can. I know this is true for my friends of all races and economic status. It's not just Caucasian kids who reject the southend middle and high schools. Our independent MS has attracted a number of Rainier Scholars.
So, to me, as long as the District allows the amount of choice it does, and continues to offer outstanding, established specialized programs (music, drama, art) at schools like Roosevelt and Garfield and The Center School that are not all-city draws, students from all over the city will be vying for admittance.
Personally, I'd almost prefer to see deep cuts in choice (including the AP free pass to Garfield) and a real attempt to equalize the quality of teachers, ADMINISTRATORS, and programs at all of the schools.
I know I'd feel much better sending my child to RB if I thought there would be a large group of college-bound students attending (at least a couple of hundred kids—there's certainly room). As it stands right now, I believe RB would not be a good fit for my child and will try for one of the more established public schools when it is our turn. We will also hedge our bets by applying to a few independent schools as well. My child's education is too important to throw to chance and the hope that a school will improve while he/she is there (both academically and safety-wise). We only have 4 years, after all.