Friday, April 17, 2009

What's Going On at Whittier?

I have heard, more than a couple times now, of some dissatisfaction with the building leadership at Whittier.

Would anyone with first-hand knowledge care to share what this is all about?

Those who want anonymity can either use an invented alias as their user name or send me an email and I will re-post it.

I just want to know what the deal is.

112 comments:

seattle parent said...

Charlie,
Sorry- this is off topic, but have you seen that Policy D 46.01 is on the School Board agenda for 4/22?
Interesting memos, survey results, etc included.

SPSMom said...

Yep, under Introduction/Action....
busses arrive at 3:40, meaning they won't pull out until close to 4pm.

Insane!



Technical Amendment to Transportation Service Standards: Approval of this technical adjustment changes the transportation standards to indicate that the schools in the second-tier of busing will have a start time of 9:40 and a release time of 3:40.

Eric B said...

When will someone pull the plug on this? I don't think the Board had any idea what they approved when they voted for this. The early block of schools were supposed to have arrival times of 8:15. Now that switched to start times, meaning arrival times before 8. Even with shorter rides, some K-8 kindergartners will be at bus stops at 7 am.

Fund Education said...

Charlie, with all respect I think the subject of this post is inappropriate. I am not a Whittier parent, but I anticipate that Whittier has their own intra-community channels and don't need this blog to fill each other in. Our own interest can only be prurient.

As an active parent I recommend that we stick to discussing how parents can advocate in the system. Parents participating in difficult school-based decisions can refer to the Board Policies which delineate Building Leadership. In fact, all the Board Policies are worth a look-see. If there is a concern beyond that point, the right channel is the Ed Director. Concerns not handled can be taken right to the Superintendent. After staff has had an opportunity to address parent concerns and failed is the time to make them more public. There are always school board members. To post gossip and innuendo on a public site such as this one can be a problem.

emeraldkity said...

As someone who has tried the regular routes through the SPS district up to OSPI, I havent seen a whole lot of satisfaction but I have learned that you have to be pretty dang noisy to get anyone to look up, it also takes more than a few people making noise.

BTW
My daughter ( not the one who attended Summit K-12) is up from Portland this weekend and while she was very shocked to hear Summit has been closed- I was very interested to hear about one of the new schools where she has been working.
A Portland public school that was established over 35 years ago. For K-12.
About our school:
We believe...
All people can and want to learn. We believe experiential learning is a powerful method for developing the curiosity, skills, knowledge, and courage needed to imagine a better world and work toward realizing it. Learning is an expedition into the unknown. Expeditions draw together personal experience and intellectual growth to promote self-discovery and construct knowledge. We believe that adults should guide students along this journey with care, compassion, and respect for their diverse learning styles, backgrounds, and needs. Metropolitan Learning Center is an educational option designed to promote strong academic and character standards.


MLC offers a unique academic program focused on experiential learning, character development, service to its community and the pleasures of life and learning. Students who thrive in this project and adventure based learning environment have the opportunity to attend from kindergarten through high school. Those who do are joined by others transferring in from other schools, programs and districts. All students and their families choose to attend MLC.

The kindergarten program prepares students for school through developmental reading, math and social skills activities and in-depth subject studies.

Elementary students spend their day in core academic subjects and some afternoon time exploring areas of special interest in a wide-range of student choice elective classes.

Middle grade students work with specialists in language arts, math, science and social studies and participate in weekly adventure and service activities as well as the elective program.

High school students build their own schedules. In addition to the full range of courses offered at MLC, schedules can include co-op classes at other schools, independent studies, work experience and credit work at art institutes, colleges and universities.

At all grades, the program is personal and personalized in keeping with the character of a smaller learning environment. Instruction has an experiential influence progress reports are ungraded, conferences are frequent and all students annually compile and present a portfolio of their learning.

WenG said...

@Fund: I don't think Charlie was encouraging idle gossip. History has shown us what happens when problems, even abuse, are allowed to continue at a school in the absence of open discussion.

momster said...

i disagree with fund education that this is an inappropriate topic for a post.

he asked for observations from people who are experiencing something first-hand - why is that automatically "innuendo and gossip"?

this district (as most, likely) can be an absolute bunker when you are trying to understand and/or solve a problem, whether for your child or your school. sharing information can educate and empower - not to mention that whistleblowers and change agents don't often find success travelling the official channels s/he suggests.

dan dempsey said...

Whistle-blowers are rarely listened to without an accompanying lawsuit.
Like many SPS policies the whistle-blower policy is rarely followed (they prefer to punish whistle-blowers)

Without collective action, (you will likely be the only one experiencing a problem- regardless how many similar isolated complaints there are) you will be ignored. Rarely does anything move this mammoth institution ... even with collective action usually little happens.
Why limit the call of inappropriate to just this action of Charlie's? It seems all of Charlie's actions are inappropriate to someone most often Central Administration.

Keepin'On said...

Can I request a post about the proposed student assignment plan changes? Why is the proposed "economic diversity" tiebreaker only proposed for comprehensive high schools? Why not ALL schools if that is something that is important to the district?

Thanks

cas said...

I want to comment about this very badly. I have a small circle of friend at Whittier and I asked them what we should say: This is what we collectively came up with:

As Whittier parents, We'd rather not see this become another public Whittier circus. Our kids love the current principal who is child-centered and brings a new vision to the school. Rumors and gossip often result in inaccurate information.
The District is looking at the situation. Let's wait for their assessment.

SPSMom said...

Good decision Whittier parents.

zb said...

Glad to hear that someone else doesn't think an anonymous public forum is the right place to discuss this subject.

"he asked for observations from people who are experiencing something first-hand - why is that automatically "innuendo and gossip"?"

It is, because of the anonymity (and the encouragement of anonymity), which prevents us from telling whether any of the info is indeed from people experiencing it first hand and is thus accurate. I think there's a place for anonymity, but not in talking about personnel where people are sharing information that depends on who they are. The right way to share that information would be to share it non-anonymously with the blog editors, who can then chose to protect the person if they think anonymity is warranted (or if they choose to promise it). But someone needs to know who is providing the information that is made public.

Otherwise, just as we've seen in this thread, we can accuse the people of being "shills" for someone or another.

(and, incidentally, although I often support SPS and certainly support SPS teachers, who I think have a very difficult job, I am not an SPS shill. But, only I really know that for a fact).

I wish the Whittier families well in dealing with whatever issues they're facing.

momster said...

how interesting.

i respect the rights of the whittier parents who collectively decide to respond in a certain way to charlie's question - but i don't understand the would-be censors and "appropriateness" arbiters who question his decision to ask it.

zb, because of the anonymity of the commenters, you would say that all of them must be presumed to have have questionable information if not motives unless proven otherwise? that's not something i've seen as an issue in the 3 years or so i've been following this blog.

and why is anonymity a factor when commenting on "bldg leadership" (which i did not automatically assume to be the principal, but i suppose makes sense), but not when talking about ideas, initiatives, or for that matter - central office personnel?

presuming that anonymity diminishes integrity does a disservice to pretty much all of the commenters here (as well as the posters who would have the opportunity to remove something really inappropriate)

and i missed where someone in this thread accused someone else of being a shill - where was that?

i would debate a bit with the whittier parent about one thing, too - if someone has first-hand information about a situation and wanted to write about it, that might be "gossip" (however puritanical a label that might be), but it is not "a rumor" - it may become one, as others discuss what they have not seen or heard firsthand, but it is not one at its origin of the writer has first-hand information.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just have to interject here. I think Charlie may have asked the question because of the continuing questions coming out of Whittier. And, that you can certainly try going thru "the channels" if you have building personnel issues. However, it doesn't always work and then you have frustration.

I appreciate the input from the Whittier parents but admittedly, this was a small group of parents. Are there parents or staff who are not happy? I myself would not try to speak for all parents at RHS.

However, as often happens, we may be reading about some of these issues elsewhere.

Lastly, this is not an anonymous blog. Charlie, Beth, Michael, and everyone who writes a post signs their name. It is only anonymous because of those who make themselves anonymous. Please don't make it sound like we have a rant and rave rag here.

Kand4mom said...

The Principal will be leaving at the end of the year. Some staff and parents feel this is good for the school and some staff and parents feel this is a loss to the school.

I think if a parent writes anything it will be taken the wrong way. As if they are supporting or not supporting this staff person or that staff person.

The staff are not getting along, but one thing most of us parents at Whittier believe is that ALL STAFF at Whittier care about the kids in their care. They just have different views on how to keep the school strong. These different views some would argue are being played out in front of the children and their parents and some parents have been asked to take sides.

Some of us feel that something had to change soon and were resolved that the only thing that could be done was to remove the principal.

So then we could ask, who are these parents and staff and what are the issues that they are having at the school?

Parents can provide clues to what the issues are because they vote with their feet.

Whatever the issues is it not within the Spectrum program. Once in Spectrum parents stay. Is it the small community? Is it strong teachers?

Look at Salmon Bay and Daniel Bagley. Once in a program, parents stay. The regular program at Whittier is not really a program. There is no predictability about your next years teacher, or about who will be in your class. I think parents like predictability and structure.

Parents leave the school if they are in the regular program in greater numbers, but they hardly ever leave Spectrum.

I guess it would be good to hear from those parents why they leave?

hschinske said...

"The regular program at Whittier is not really a program. There is no predictability about your next years teacher, or about who will be in your class."

Huh? That's not a feature of ANY regular program that I know of, and the predictability of teacher and who would be in the class was a point AGAINST Spectrum at Whittier, from what I could see. Not that I disliked any of the Spectrum teachers, but I did think having only one class per grade got very, very stuffy after a while. One of the things I liked about Lowell was that it was big enough to have more than one class at each grade, and therefore mixed the kids up a lot more.

I have no current information about Whittier at all, so I won't speak to anything that's changed since my day.

Helen Schinske

zb said...

"and why is anonymity a factor when commenting on "bldg leadership" (which i did not automatically assume to be the principal, but i suppose makes sense), but not when talking about ideas, initiatives, or for that matter - central office personnel?"

The guiding line for me is whether I'm expressing my opinion about generally available information or actually bringing factual information to the table. If I report on an event or fact (which cannot be independently verified), it matters who I am, and thus, I can't be anonymous.

Melissa -- I completely understand that this is not an anonymous blog, and, in fact, it hasn't devolved into "rants and raves" (as some school community blogs do) precisely because you, Charlie, Beth, Michael, Jon, and all the others have been courageous enough to post your opinions and information with your names attached (both in comments & in the posts). I really don't want to see the blog change into "rants and raves" and I am sincerely worried that responding to this request anonymously might result in that unfortunate outcome.

(Again, I think the way for people to get this info out is to send the info directly to the blog editors, with their names attached)

Charlie Mas said...

I have received, from more than one or two sources at Whittier, email requests for information and advice about how a school community could influence personnel changes at a school. These requests have been coming over several weeks.

I gave what advice I could, but no one told me what was at the source of the problem. I'm just curious about what could provoke people to that sort of action. I just want to know what's causing the conflict and why it could not be quickly and amicably resolved.

It's a strange experience to be asked to offer technical assistance when you don't have the big picture.

cas said...

So there you have it another principal is leaving Whittier...again.

The District better find someone who can raise the teaching standards in the regular program, attract families to the regular program who have time to volunteer, work well with all senior teachers and staff, and at the same time be warm to children and their parents.

Just send us perfection please.

SolvayGirl1972 said...

Until the District stops shuffling ineffective (or worse) principals around, this will continue to be a problem. They know who the problem principals are; they need to be able to prune when needed.

Keepin'On said...

I don't think Whittier is "asking for perfection" as cas puts it. I think they are asking for the common courtesy to be assigned a principal who can do the job well, like the principals at Lowell, Loyal Heights, Ballard, Nova, Blaine, TOPS, Salmon Bay, Adams, McClure, Whitman....the list goes on.

Why is it a bad thing to ask for that?

I agree with Solvay Girl1972 - quit reassigning problem teachers and administrators around and around. Do your job SPS, and them a favor, and tell these people that perhaps their talents lie elsewhere.

Kand4mom said...

I think CAS means that we at Whittier, have never had a principal that was well-liked by staff, kids and parents.

It may feel like after being at Whittier that those principals only exist in fairytale.

Dorothy said...

Sounds like Wedgwood. I don't know what it is like now, but for a looong time, seemed like there were problems, staff and principal not getting along, leading to principal turnover (and over). Long term dysfunction and morale sucking issues. I never had a child there, but I heard bits and pieces from various parents and district employees over the course of at least ten years. (and of course, no consensus on exactly who or what was the problem, just that it seemed interminable.)

hschinske said...

Greg Imel was quite popular with everyone at Whittier, as far as I recall, but of course that's six years ago now.

Helen Schinske

WenG said...

A question, and I mean no disrespect in asking it: In general, are weaker or less experienced principals placed at schools with a strong parent-support base? In other words, are weaker staff placed at schools with the idea that the existing "infrastructure" will fill in while they get up to speed with the school as a whole? Does this work? Teachers have/need mentors early in their careers. It would seem that principals are no exception. I'm trying to be kind, because as much as he cast himself as a whacko, David Blomstrom wrote the book on what he called deadbeat principals, moved from school to school. You were lucky to survive them and keep the good things at your school intact.

RE: Whittier, if the story is true, that a music teacher is verbally abusing kids, then I don't understand how it's allowed to continue. If a principal is child-centered, then it would seem that this issue wouldn't fester.

whittier07 said...

cas ... your description sounds like the principals I had in elementary, middle school and high school. I wouldn't say any of them were perfect BUT they did come to school and work with all staff, teachers and parents to make our schools the best they could be. They treated everyone with respect and were willing to listen to others opinions and learn from them. They could agree to disagree without holding a grudge. Anyone who took a peek at our staff survey which is posted on the SPS district web-site could see that our current principal was not effective at our school.

Whittier is not expecting perfection ... just a principal who treats everyone with respect.

Charlie Mas said...

Here is a link to the Whittier Staff Survey.

It compares the results from 2006, 2007 and 2008. It is abundantly clear, from these results, that the staff does not think well of the principal's work.

Three interesting data points:

The staff feel more respected by the students and the parents than by the principal.

The lowest score, 1.62 out of 5, came as a response to this statement: The principal "Takes a positive and active role in resolving conflicts within the staff fairly
and quickly." The next lowest score, 1.65, was in response to: The principal "Works to create a sense of community in this school."

Finally, the response rate on the staff survey jumped from 57.6% in 2007 to 96.6% in 2008. However, there were no responses from school office staff.

Kand4mom said...

We parents had all seen those numbers, and yes those worried us. It is not acceptable for Principals to have their staff terrified just like our children should not be terrified of their teachers.

However, some say she was the first principal who was trying to change some things for the kids at Whittier. A good example is our music instructor. She was fighting hard to have him removed. She was the first principal who even filed a complaint against him and he was finally suspended for five days.

Our kids are terrified of him. Every other principal I complained to about him just brushed me off as a "overly worried parent." Alex basically pushed me out of his office. Staff may have liked Alex but he was caustic to us parents.

Now we are stuck with the verbally, and physically abusive music teacher. She really was the first principal to say: this is not ok behavior.

I guess as a parent I saw some of advocacy for kids (music teacher, more recess when it sprinkled) and thought FINALLY-someone who cares.

We have kids in Kindergarten who are scared to walk to music-they cry, I don't want to go to music.

I heard the rumors about staff issues but thought maybe the music teacher wasn't the only abusive teacher-I thought she was trying to clean up some bad teaching. I have only had WONDERFUL teachers at Whittier but I have parents who have told me they are not happy with a few of the teachers at Whittier. One left, and one is teaching first grade this year.

I hope a new principal will continue to fight to get rid of that music teacher, but I fear we are stuck with him.

Charlie, maybe you can tell us how to get rid of him?

cas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emeraldkity said...

It also take away many of the volunteers and put them all in one class. More volunteers are needed in the regular classes. This is a problem at several schools.
My kid wasn't in Spectrum, but she was in AP and honors classes- however, I didn't generally volunteer in her classes after grade school ( by her wishes)
However- I had a GREAT time volunteering in other classes when she was in high school, it is amazing how much fun/ receptive, teens can be, when you aren't their parent.

cas said...

oops I meant to say if WE spectrum parents...

Charlie Mas said...

So the trouble at Whittier is due to the fact that the regular education program there doesn't have the Spectrum kids in it?

How is that any different from the other schools in the Northwest Cluster? How is it different from most of the other regular education programs in the rest of the district? Aren't their Spectrum students also gone? Why does this create a special hardship for Whittier?

cas said...

Teachers do not get as many volunteers as in the regular classes.

Most kids at other schools do not take the Spectrum test unless their child is unhappy.

The children at Whittier who don't take the test are the exceptions.

It seems, without a conspiracy, that other regular programs at other schools would have more advanced kids.

I love Spectrum and it kept us at our neighborhood school but I can see there could be some issues it raises within a school community.

hschinske said...

When my kids were at Whittier, I did see a slightly higher level of parental involvement in the Spectrum classrooms, perhaps, but *all* the classes had plenty of volunteers (I had one or more kids in regular classes there for five years). Most parents in regular classes were more regular volunteers than I was, as far as I could tell. It surprises me that things have changed that much.

Helen Schinske

Rick said...

CAS,
I think we had this discussion in another thread. Can you please be mindful of how your comments may be taken? As a parent of both a Spectrum student and a general ed student at Whittier, I take great offense at what you are saying.

You are saying,

1. "I am a 'good' Spectrum parent, and the others are not."

2. "Whew, got my kids out of general ed, but I know what gen ed. needs, and I am good enough to provide it, even if the kids' own parents and the other (selfish) Spectrum parents don't." How patronizing!

There are Spectrum and Gen.Ed. parents volunteering for the good of the school (and other schools like Bailey-Gatzert) and working together. The PTA funds tutoring for kids who are struggling with academics. The last thing we need are snarky comments creating a false divide, especially at a time when our school is in crisis.

If the regular ed program is faltering as badly as you say (your opinion), isn't that the responsibility of the principal, not Spectrum parent volunteers?

How do you know the principal "forced" the bad teacher out? I heard that he just retired. Did she claim to have "forced" him out to you? She has a history of self-promotion, and that would have been inappropriate to say to a parent anyway.

whittier07 said...

Helen ... don't worry, things haven't changed at Whittier!

CAS - sometimes I feel like we attend two different schools. :)

There are plenty of involved parent volunteers at Whittier. One (general ed) teacher told me that she was "overwhelmed with the how generous parents were with their time". I volunteered weekly in my child's general ed class - there was always a volunteer in the class - but now that my child is in Spectrum, I volunteer at the school & PTA which I hope helps all the kids.

To suggest that the general ed program is suffering due to a lack of Spectrum kids is insulting to the kids in the program - there are plenty of bright kids in the general ed classes. CAS, do you not remember that the Spectrum class has a wait-list? Some of those kids on the wait-list are in the general ed program. There are also children who are extremely bright, but for whatever reason, didn't pass the test for Spectrum. Those kids are also in the general ed program.

Like Rick, I feel like we've 'blogged' this debate with cas not too long ago. I think the Whittier community tries really hard to have the students think of themselves as ONE community and would hate for anyone joining us in the fall to think that there is a huge divide between the two programs. Plenty of families have children in both programs (I expect I will) ... I have no fear that my general ed student will receive a quality education at Whittier.

cas said...

I taught for ten years before having my kids. From my perspective and from talking to dear friends who have had to pull their kids out of the regular program, I think things could be better.

I really don't know if more volunteers is the only help that the program needs-I was passing on what a regular program teacher told me could help her.

I think we should worry that parents are leaving the regular program. Seven families that I know of, three still have one child in Spectrum, have pulled their kids out of the regular program to attend elsewhere. Why? The answers I got: They did not like the teacher they were assigned, they though the program had no rigor, or the expectations seemed low.

Attrition out of the regular program leads to such low numbers by 4th and 5th grade that we have to have a 4/5 split. (We did get rid of the split for this year, even though are numbers were low, but it is back next year because of the low numbers.)

I think exploring why parents are leaving is a valid question. Is that only a principal’s role? Do principals have more at stake in a school success than parents/neighbors/staff? I think anyone who cares about the school should be willing to ask these questions.

cas said...

I am saying there are VERY BRIGHT kids in the regular program and their parents are pulling them out.

Rick said...

"Teachers do not get as many volunteers as in the regular classes." - And now you say that this comes from talking to one teacher.

"Most kids at other schools do not take the Spectrum test unless their child is unhappy." - Where does this come from?

"The children at Whittier who don't take the test are the exceptions." - What does this mean? Who cares? How do you know? Do you have access to data that other parents do not?

"I think anyone who cares about the school should be willing to ask these questions." - again, you are just re-stating that you believe you are the only one who cares.

Other people who care are asking different questions.

We lost a principal because he was arrested for something that happened off school grounds.

Then we had an interim principal with the understanding that she was returning to her school. She said wonderful things about Whittier's staff.

It is not like Whittier is driving out principals left and right, or expect perfection. We were assigned a principal who has failed in a variety of schools, and she continues her legacy at Whittier.

That's what this thread is about.

Ananda said...

"We lost a principal because he was arrested for something that happened off school grounds."

Seriously, falshing is an acceptable quality for you, so long as it doesn't happen at school? Wow, that amazes me.

whittier07 said...

I'm giving Rick the benefit of the doubt ... I'm sure he found the actions inappropriate, I think he was just making sure that people who don't know the whole story at least know that it happened OFF school grounds.

Rick said...

The point was that his leaving was not a result of conflict with staff or the community (which is not to say that everyone was happy with him before the flashing happened). Of course flashing is serious and he should not have returned to his position.

I don't think anything in my post implied that it was incorrect that he was removed. I just object to the picture painted that principals keep leaving because something is wrong with the staff or the parent community, because they don't think anyone is "perfect" enough.

whittier07 said...

We can always do better!

However, I don't see kids leaving Whittier in droves:

From the SPS district website, students transferring out of the following schools (the last three years):

Whittier
06-07 4
07-08 8
08-09 15

Loyal Heights
06-07 12
07-08 6
08-09 2

North Beach
06-07 16
07-08 14
08-09 17

West Woodland
06-07 11
07-08 17
08-09 10

Whittier's numbers look pretty average to me. Without 'exit' interviews, who can say why the families left? I know of a family who left Whittier las year to attend Spectrum at a different school, two families that moved and one family that went private because they hated EDM.

I would imagine that our transfer numbers MIGHT go up next year because of events this year BUT I can also imagine that next year will be a BIG improvement. I think the staff, teachers, parents and KIDS can be re-energized under new leadership.

SPS ... pretty please send us a good principal!

Keepin'On said...

First of all, Whittier is a great school. Does everyone think so? Of course not. Does every parent in every school see need for improvement in their school? Of course they do.

Do people leave schools each year? Yes - for a variety of reasons. People leave private schools as well - sometimes it is because the school was not a good fit - sometimes, they are not happy with the cirriculum - people move for various reasons. Unfortunately, Seattle Public Schools do not do exit inerviews, and are missing some key data becuae of that. However, 10 students leaving out of over 400 is not exactly what I would qualify as a mass exodus.

CAS - I think you can ask the questions you are asking - but asking them anonymously on a blog does no good, unless you just like to stir the pot, with no real interest in improving things. I think though, that your heart is in the right place, and you sound like you care - and that you are also frustrated. It has been a tough few years at your school!

Talk to your site council, SPOC, BLT, PTA, teacher, write a piece in your school newletter - there are many things you can do that could have a positive and productive effect, and start open and productive conversations.

Posting complaints, and rumors like "I heard" or "a friend told me" here will not accomplish that, I am afraid. It is hard work to get school climate conversations going, but can be worth it. However, you have to involve your school in this proccess, not bloggers.

I sincerely wish you the best of luck - Get active and good luck!

adhoc said...

I don't think Rick was condoning the principals behavior at all (flashing). The point I think he was trying to make is that the Whittier community did not run him off in their pursuit of "perfection". The principal left due to circumstances beyond the school communities control.

Charlie Mas said...

Will the Whittier community have a role in the selection of their next principal?

What is the current process for principal selection and assignment? Will a principal from a closed school have rights to the job ahead of an outside hire? If the principal is a transfer, does that eliminate the opportunity for community input on the decision?

Is it even official that the current principal will not be returning next year?

cas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keepin'On said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whittier07 said...

Yes it is official and we've been told that we will NOT have a voice in the selection of our new principal - the school district will be appointing someone.

I can't comment on the music teacher as I've not witnessed his behavior ... I've only heard things second-hand. Those who have witnessed his actions first-hand need to write letters to Gloria Mitchell and if nothing happens the letters need to go to Carla Santorno ... if there isn't a response, our board member (Sherry Carr) needs to be notified that the situation is unresolved. There must be a QUANTITY of letters ... 15-30 from parents who have seen/heard things FIRST hand.

Rick said...

I don't comment about the music teacher because I have not personally seen or heard anything. After the incident at the Winter Carnival, I talked to my kids, and they have never seen or heard anything that bothered or frightened them (and I asked open questions, not leading questions) That doesn't mean that nothing happened, but I really don't know anything.

Sometimes the kids love what they are doing in music, sometimes they say it's boring. So, I won't say he is wonderful, but I won't go on a witch hunt when I have not seen or heard evidence of a witch.

Happy said...

I love Whittier too, but for a parent to not know the music teacher is a problem leaves me to only guess that Rick and Whittier07is the music teacher, and his wife if he has one that he doesn't talk down to like he does to our kids.
New to the school this year, but it is clear he is BAD.

Happy said...

On another point, I am looking for information on why the principal is leaving. The school has done very little to communicate this.

whittier07 said...

Charlie ... help me out here - I think I posted pretty clearly HOW to get rid of the music teacher.

Would it help if I wrote a letter about what I've HEARD about him at the school? I don't think so - I think the school district wants first hand commentary from the parents/students who have had a direct interaction with him? Please let me know if I'm wrong. I do have an OPINION of him but that is NOT what the school district wants to hear - they want FACTS before they will replace him.

Kand4mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Happy said...

I am new to the school this year, so I don't carry any feeling about anyone. I will say that I really liked Ms. McMillian. I had been in her office and she was warm, open, and just a lovely person.
However, when I would mention this to a couple of Whittier parents the would say, "You like her. Go home and google her name." I admit, I did go home and googled her name and I found positive things only.
I think someone in this blog used the term witch-hunt and I wonder if parents were on a witch-hunt to remove her?

cas said...

I think much of this "yelling at staff" was Cothron trying to make some changes to the regular program. I think she was trying to raise the long-sliding test scores of regular ed.

In 1999 when my first child went through Whittier the reg ed scores were on par with Spectrum. Reading, Math and Writing all had scores in the high to mid 90%. Now the school's average has slipped. Not Spectrum, it hasn't slipped at all. All WASL scores within Spectrum are still in the high 90%.

Look at how many children are not passing the WASL in reg ed. Those scores are dropping like stones. Was Cothron trying to do something about those scores-I heard she was, she was trying to get more out of reg ed teachers or move them out of reg ed.
What I always loved about Whittier is there were high expectations and high achievement in BOTH programs-and although I don't like testing-it is an indicator of two different success rates when two programs that used to have similar scores now have very divergent scores.

cas said...

2008 WASL
Spectrum-percent who pass test:
Reading 100%
Writing 96.8
Math 96.8

Reg Ed
84.6
69.2
59.0 This is tragic, in such a fine north end school with tutoring for all who need it.

Look at 2003 Listed below-I could not go back to 1999, but I remember doing school tours and I was so impressed that Spectrum scores were so close to reg ed. I had three kids, to put through and wanted a good school for all my kids regardless of "gifts."

Spectrum-2003
reading 100%
writing 100%
math 100%

reg ed-2003
reading 95%
writing 84%
math 89%

cas said...

I will say one more thing. Spectrum is hiding our problems. What I mean is go to West Woodland or Loyal Heights and look at the average test scores for their schools. No Spectrum-look at how many kids pass. We look higher because Spectrum is bringing up our average.
Now say you have a child who you want to give the best education for but for whatever reason you can't get into Spectrum...Where do you go, Whittier, Loyal Heights, West Woodland?
You would look at test data by pulling Spectrum scores out-remember your child is not going to be in a Spectrum class-so why include that data. These scores are poor at Whittier, as I showed above.
I would put my regular ed child in one of the other NW schools first.

Come on Whittier let's do better for all the kids at our school. Let's demand something more from Regular Ed teachers.

Was Cothron doing that?

cas said...

By the way these are all fourth grade scores.

hschinske said...

CAS, where is the breakdown with Spectrum/non-Spectrum scores posted? Thanks.

Helen Schinske

Kand4mom said...

Helen, I think I just found this data. I went to school test date-Whittier. It looks like every year they show different breakdowns-gender too.

CAS-Is this off of the summary and you look at Advanced Learning-Yes with scores for Spectrum and Advance Learning-No with scores for Regular? I just looked at this but had no idea it was there before. I had no idea the District had those numbers.

Wow.

I am surprised at the chasm between the two programs, especially concidering there are also very bright kids in the Regular as some other Whittier parents pointed out, and as I know.

I would have never thought to seperate the WASL scores when I toured, but it makes sense. My kids never get to interact out of their program, not even for music or PE.

Maybe it is not the teachers. Are the same teachers teaching in Regular that were there in 2003? I know one retired and the sofa sleeper left.

Maybe it WAS bad leadership?

Kand4mom said...

I just looked at the numbers for 3rd, 4th and 5th and 4th does seem to be the weakest area. If you did well in 3rd grade regular, why not do well in forth grade regular the next year?

One teacher was moved out of Spectrum and into Fourth grade regular last year. I wonder if this will help with 2009 scores.

Maybe this is what Ms. McMillian was trying to do, make Regular stronger.

The gossip around school was that Ms. McMillian was trying to move a Spectrum teacher to regular fourth grade and get rid of a regular, fourth grade teacher.

Kand4mom said...

I also just looked at North Beach, Wedgewood and View Ridge Spectrum and Regular. There is a little dip, which you would expect, but they are all good scores in Regular, most 90 and 80 percent.

So it is not that all the smart kids get pulled out when there is a Spectrum program (as CAS said).

It does look like there is a problem somewhere with the Whittier regular program. Maybe it is just demographic changes. I am tired of looking at numbers.

The leadership may have been trying to address this but in a way that made all the staff mad. She had no buy-in for anything she tried to do.

It is too bad. Her forte seems to be at raising test scores and getting rid of teachers who don't want to teach.

hschinske said...

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/test/wasl/WASL_9800_Grp/282_WASL_9800_Grp_Gr4.pdf

shows pretty poor pass results for the regular program in 1998-2000:
Reading 67, 69, 80
Math 61, 58, 61
Writing 50, 47, 43

Spectrum classes had:
Reading 100, 100, 97
Math 100, 97, 100
Writing 94, 84, 88

The non-FRL rates were much higher, but you can't get at non-FRL plus non-Spectrum/non-Special Ed.

I note that more recent reports mask data concerning fewer than 10 students, but this one doesn't, so you can see, for example, that in 2000 only six out of sixteen fourth-graders at Whittier who were on FRL passed the math WASL.

Helen Schinske

adhoc said...

"I am surprised at the chasm between the two programs"

I don't mean to be condescending here, but doesn't it make sense for Spectrum students to score higher on standardized tests? The Spectrum students have been tested and identified as the top 4% in the district.

BTW if you break out the Spectrum VS Gen ed scores at any school you will see the same pattern. The gen ed scores are always lower. Look at Eckstein, you'll be amazed. Look at Hamilton, you'll be more amazed. Even View Ridge and Wedgewood two of our top performing NE school get lower test scores in their gen ed classes than in the spectrum classes.

And, to find the information just go to the SPS annual report for that school, go to the WASL box and use the drop down menu to find the 4 year summary. This has all of the test score data. Spectrum/non spectrum, FRE/non FRE, male/female, ELL, etc.

emeraldkity said...

I don't mean to be condescending here, but doesn't it make sense for Spectrum students to score higher on standardized tests? The Spectrum students have been tested and identified as the top 4% in the district. I don't mean to be a witch here- but the top 4% according to what?
Inventiveness, common sense, practical applications of knowledge?
I have to point out for the nth time- that I know a child, born to blue collar uneducated parents- who was tested extensively and was found to be in the top .04% of the population- yet this child did not qualify for a Seattle school district enriched or accelerated program given their parameters.
So- we gotta look at the criteria too- before we just say these kids are " superior"

Evan said...

i echo emeraldkity and challenge ad hoc (once again) on the use of "high performing" as a label for schools.

if you continue to feel compelled to describe schools as "high" and "low"-performing, at least please qualify "performing" each time you use it as a label by indicating that it is based on 1) test results, and 2) specifically which tests, i.e., WASL.

i am probably alone, but i find your continued characterization of schools on such a superficial (because vague) level to be judgmental and kind of tiresome.

Rick said...

"She felt the kids were being bullied by the gym and music teacher. She felt the librarian was cold and disconnected from the children."

How do I get into her inner circle and have her share her feelings on her staff's weaknesses with me?

"They say they are not racist but you know how it is when Alex Coberly couldn't write a letter they would excuse it and he started having Ms. Jolley write the letters. There are none of the societal courtesies extended when a black woman cannot write letters."

Alex Coberly pre-dates me, but gender and/or race does not excuse a principal, an "education leader" from not being able to write a proper letter to parents. Accepting a sub-par principal with poor communication skills is not a "societal courtesy". It is irresponsible.

Speaking of communication, isn't it high time that there was communication from either the principal or the district about what is going on, so we can stop guessing on this blog? There was a rumor going around last week (Wed., or Thurs.) that that day was going to be her last day. Kids pick up on this stuff, and there needs to be a plan for transition.

Charlie Mas said...

It is difficult to remove a teacher for poor performance.

I haven't made a study of it, but here's what I have been led to believe:

The principal needs to document the poor performance in the teacher's performance review and offer the teacher targeted training. Then the poor performance needs to continue and be documented again and the training needs to be available again and it has to go like this for about two years until the teacher can be fired. All through this process the principal has to file all of the performance evaluations on time and in good order and the targeted training has to be made available.

I don't know if it can happen in less than two years.

I have also been told that, historically at least, the principals have not generally been diligent enough in the filing of their performance evaluations to meet the requirements of the process. If the principal is late with one of the evaluations, then the whole process has to start over again. Also, if the teacher can show improvement, then the whole process starts over again.

That's pretty vague so it isn't very precise and it may not be very accurate either. I'm sure there are other people who contribute to the blog who can give both a more accurate and a more precise recitation of the process.

I'm not sure that there is any action that student families can take to have a teacher removed. The only thing they can do is complain. First to the principal and then to the education director and then to the Chief Academic Officer, the Superintendent and the Board. Complaints alone, however, will not be enough - it requires a string of negative performance evaluations.

Usually what happens is that the teacher takes the hint and chooses to leave, but it doesn't always go that way.

Again, I'm not very up on this topic. What I do, for sure, is that it is a negotiated process and part of the collective bargaining agreement with the SEA. And I know that the next agreement is being negotiated right now.

Rick said...

Another way to look at the 4th grade regular ed. WASL pass rates:

2007
Fourth grade reading 95
Fourth grade math 75
Fourth grade writing 83

2008 (after first year with new principal)
Fourth grade reading 85
Fourth grade math 59
Fourth grade writing 65

adhoc said...

Evan, whenever I use the term "high performing", I am always referring to WASL scores. Whether you think the WASL is relevant, irrelevant, superficial, or otherwise, it is the only tool the district uses to measure performance. If you don't like the WASL, find it superficial, etc, take it up with the district, not with me. Challenge my views and opinions all you want, but you can't challenge the my use of WASL scores to measure performance, when the WASL is the districts official tool of performance measurement.

TechyMom said...

I'm not surprised that kids who do very well on a standardized test and are placed into Spectrum continue to do well on other standardized tests. That makes a lot of sense. I am surprised when that's not true, such as when 10+% of Leschi Spectrum 4th graders failed the WASL a few years ago. Spectrum placement testing and the WASL test the same sorts of skills. Of course they're correlated. I don't think that's a value judgement on the intelligence of the kids in general ed, some of whom may very well be better at the skills not tested... on EITHER test.

Happy said...

So my question:

The Principal does have a reputation of cleaning house and turning around test scores.

Was she brought in to do this at Whittier?

Those Whittier regular program test scores, except for the fluke year of 2007, are the lowest test scores in the North End other than Greenwood.

Happy said...

Ricks words: Accepting a sub-par principal with poor communication skills is not a "societal courtesy". It is irresponsible.

Boy Rick, you see a different person than I did. She was always very professional when I interacted with her.

How come some of us parents have completely different views of her?

Rick, tell me something that she did that you didn't like? I saw a quieter lunchroom, more recesses, less teachers showing my kids pointless movies.

I loved how she would come out and play four square with the kids at recess.

I see someone very different than Rick.

adhoc said...

If you just compare WASL scores you will find that a few schools do perform better than Whittier (gen ed), but you will also find that many schools perform well below them too.

2008 4th grade read/writ/math WASL

85/69/59 Whittier gen ed

66/45/49 Broadview Thompson- gen ed

80/50/45 Olympic Hills - all school

68/43/24 Northgate - all school

81/57/52 Bagley - all school

77/71/46 Greenwood - all school

72/48/48 Adams - all school

79/57/71 Greenlake - all school

84/53/47 BF Day - all school

And lets not forget that the entire district's math WASL pass rates dropped 6% this year (probably due to the adoption of EDM, learning curve, etc)







Lets remember that the entire district had an average of 6% drop in math WASL pass rates in for 2008 - probably due to the EDM adoption, first year learning curve, etc.

adhoc said...

By the way I only compared north/NW cluster schools above

adhoc said...

I should also clarify that in my post above when I wrote "all school" I meant all 4th graders that took the WASL at that school, not just gen ed (as those schools do not offer Spectrum)

cas said...

Whittier had long been the top choice in the NW Cluster.

Parents who tour are mostly comparing us to our closest nearby schools, West Woodland and Loyal Heights. Both have now gained that top choice reputation for regular ed.

One reason for this may be regular ed test scores.

Remember Whittier (4th grade WASL):
Reading 85.
Writing 59.
Math 65.

West Woodland:
Reading 90.
Writing 80.
Math 85.

Loyal Heights:
Reading 91.9
Writing 83.9
Math 74.2

Taken over time Whittier reg ed (test scores and enrollment) has been slowly dropping while the other two programs (test scores and enrollment) have been slowly gaining.

It also could be multiple turn-over in leadership, (WW and LH do not have these issues).

Whatever it is no one seems to be looking too deeply. We are just pointing fingers or denying our falling reputation.

I have seen what that does to a school. Greenwood is a perfect example. This is the time to do something about it, not when it is too late to get our reputation back.

I think we as parents should demand a principal with a proven track record of being able to work well with SENIOR NORTH END STAFF to revitalize the Whittier community, create more enrichment/academic opportunities between the two programs, and bring up dropping test scores before it is too late.

I have written my letter to Ms. Santrono and Ms. Mitchell. If you care about Whittier, please do the same.

hschinske said...

Loyal Heights did have an issue with poor leadership some time back. They seem to have solved that (I am pretty sure they have had a couple of new principals since then) and as far as I have heard are practically a different school now than when I toured there ten years ago.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

The WASL is not really the same as other standardized tests. It's a grade-level, pass-fail test that everyone is SUPPOSED to pass. Obviously students working above grade level should almost always pass it, but pass rates for those who may or may not be working above grade level shouldn't be a whole lot lower.

It does make sense for students who've scored in the top 5 or 10 percent on the CogAT to come out similarly on another nationally normed test such as the ITBS (which is put out by the same company as the CogAT, by the way), though even there, you get less overlap than you'd think. But the WASL isn't a normed test at all, let alone nationally normed.

It's really a little like saying "Do kids who get high grades on the quizzes in drivers ed tend to pass their driving tests?" Well, yeah, the two measures are somewhat correlated. But nearly everyone passes eventually, even those who never even TOOK drivers ed.

Helen Schinske

Keepin'On said...

West Woodland and Loyal heights have had two or more principals in the last seven years as well - so the comparison with them to Whittier doesn't really fly.

I wonder if the drop in scores could be attibuted to the adoption by the district of Writer's Workshop and Every Day math? Some schools have been able to effectively fight these off, and I wonder if Whittier did not, therefore resulting on lower WASL scores.

As to the district, I really think you are fooling yourself if you think they care one iota what parents think. If they did, we wouldn't have the EDM, CMP or proposed "Discovering Math" cirriculum, later start times next year, etc.

hschinske said...

"I will say one more thing. Spectrum is hiding our problems. What I mean is go to West Woodland or Loyal Heights and look at the average test scores for their schools. No Spectrum-look at how many kids pass."

West Woodland advertises that if your child tests into Spectrum or APP, they can retain eligibility for those programs for multiple years while enrolled in West Woodland's ALO. See http://www.seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/documents/ALOPlanWestWoodland.pdf. It would be interesting to know how many APP-qualified kids they have there, and whether anyone thinks of that program specifically as a stepping-stone to APP in middle school and getting into Garfield for high school.

Since West Woodland isn't all that far from Hamilton, I should think it would be an even more attractive school for north-end APP-qualified kids whose parents would prefer to have them closer to home.

Helen Schinske

hschinske said...

Just checked West Woodland's WASL report at http://www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/test/wasl/2008/4yr/281.pdf, and Advanced Learning results are not separated out, despite the fact that the school boasts of having many Spectrum- and APP-qualified students choose to remain at West Woodland (see www.seattleschools.org/area/siso/test/anrep/anrep_2008/281.pdf).

So if any schools are using Advanced Learning results to mask those of students in the regular program, it seems to me the highest potential is at schools like West Woodland that have ALOs, which don't report the scores separately. Not that it's their fault (I'm sure that's a district-level decision), but just as a matter of record.

Roll on, value-added testing. The day can't come too soon for me.

Helen Schinske

adhoc said...

Helen brings up a good point. Schools that have Spectrum break out the Spectrum WASL pass rates separately from the gen ed WASL pass rates. So you can see how the Spectrum students perform and you can see how the gen ed students perform. Schools with ALO's do not have to do this, they are lumped together.

adhoc said...

Keepin on I agree 100%. I think the schools with weak leadership, and more new teachers may welcome the district mandated EDM and Writers Workshop with open arms, while schools with strong leadership and more experienced staff are fighting it off and making "agreements" and "compromises" with the district. And when they do have to use the materials they often find ways to supplement, rely on their experience, etc.

What does Whittier do?

momster said...

it wouldn't make sense to me that edm is responsible for dropping math wasl 'scores' as it is no more or less synchronized with the standards and gle's on which the wasl is based than the variety of curricula and instructional methods elementary schools have been using previously.

just as it doesn't make a lot of sense for people to look at 4th grade one year vs 4th grade the next, except as the most general of indicators about what is going on at a school. what is more relevant (though not devoid of variables) is looking at 5th grade 'scores' one year vs 4th grade in the prior year, because it is roughly the same cohort (and is what the wasl was designed for).

i'm wondering whether anyone has ever reviewed their elementary student's wasl test booklet - it's revealing - many of the questions could be interpreted in a number of different ways (particularly, the more you know); much of the language is unclear; and the nomenclature for things is not in synch with any of the curricula i've seen with my kids.

i'm not "against the wasl" because i've found looking at it for my own children is useful. however, i would never measure a school based on its composite (or even disaggregated) wasl results - much less compare one 4th grade to another 4th grade class the following year - at the same school or different.

whittier07 said...

I believe, and I could be wrong, that Whittier was a pilot school for both Writer's Workshop & EDM. Both programs were in place when my student started in '07.

hschinske said...

I don't know whether the writers workshop program in place when my kids were at Whittier (almost ten years ago now) was the same as the cap-W Writers Workshop of today, but they certainly had some kind of writing program that was known as a workshop, having the kids go through various drafts and so on. I thought it was quite well done.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

West Woodland advertises that if your child tests into Spectrum or APP, they can retain eligibility for those programs for multiple years while enrolled in West Woodland's ALO.Helen, can you post the end of that link? That part of the link took me to a page that didn't mention West Woodland and ended with "The 2005-2006 testing cycle is now underway"

I didn't know there was a precedent to retain eligibililty over multiple years. Is there a process for a school to do that (or do they just say "We have an ALO.")?

whittier07 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
whittier07 said...

I found this on the SPS website:

seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/
eligibility.status.htm

I had never heard that being enrolled in a school with an ALO extended your Spectrum/APP status - interesting!

Happy said...

Whittier was not my first choice, but until reading this blog, I did not think it was a poor choice.

Now I think it would be better if he had stronger kids in his class (ALO?). I think that would bring up the curriculum, and he would meet the challenge.

I have noticed my child's teacher does not push him (he is not Spectrum qualified) and we think he is capable of more than he is doing. He hardly gets any homework and always says school is fun, and has made many friends.

I guess Whittier would be his first choice. but I want him to be challenged. I think having friends in a class who are modeling hard work would be a great benefit.

Bird said...

When I toured schools this year, I always asked how many kids were on ALO. The answer I usually got was around 10 to 15 for the school.

I doubt very much having 1 or 2 ALO kids in your kid's class would raise the level of instruction for everyone.

I also have doubts about how big an impact those sort of numbers could have on test scores. Take 60 kids a grade with a 60% pass rate on the WASL and flip say 4 from fail to pass. You'll notice that won't make any dramatic improvments in the school's overall score.

whittier07 said...

Our new principal has been announced - Linda Robinson who used to be at Bryant Elementary. The buzz surrounding her is great!

Kand4mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

The whole idea of ALO is that it does not require a cohort. Whatever the ALO model (schools are free to develop their own model for delivering the accelerated and more rigorous curriculum), it must be delivered to students in an inclusive classroom. In addition, students self-select their participation in the ALO. There are no eligibility tests. Any student who wants to take up the challenge may do so.

There's a lot of misunderstanding around ALOs because the District hasn't defined them very well.

Likewise, there are a lot of misunderstandings around Spectrum because the District hasn't defined it very well either.

In neither case (nor in the case of APP) has the District taken any steps to assure the quality or effectiveness of any of the advanced learning programs.

The District advertises the programs, but has no idea what - if anything - happens in them.

Charlie Mas said...

So... with the appointment of a new principal at Whittier is the controversy all over? Is this the end of it?

Rose M said...

Bryant was in similar turmoil when Linda Robinson was sent there. She became known for her honesty & integrity, as well as being a strong leader. Hope that helps the situation at Whittier.

Kand4mom said...

That sounds like a perfect fit! Maybe someone in the District does care!

Kand4mom said...

CAS wrote, "I think we as parents should demand a principal with a proven track record of being able to work well with SENIOR NORTH END STAFF to revitalize the Whittier community, create more enrichment/academic opportunities between the two programs, and bring up dropping test scores before it is too late.

I have written my letter to Ms. Santrono and Ms. Mitchell. If you care about Whittier, please do the same."

Linda Robinson is a great choice. She really respects teachers and has worked well at Bryant, a high preforming school with involved, demanding parents.

Sound like they were listening or reading this blog!!!

WHITTIER WINS!!!!

Fund Education said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Happy said...

Main points of letter dated April 27, 2009 from Ms. Goodloe-Johnson to Whittier staff, students, and families said:

"I have appointed Ms. Linda Robinson, currently returning from leave, as principal of Whittier Elementary School, effective July 1, 2009.

etc...why Ms. Robinson is a good choice...etc...

"Ms. Cothron McMillian, your current principal, will be reassigned within the school district, starting July 1, 2009. Ms. McMillian has been an effective leader for your school and I especially appreciate her commitment to students, staff and families."

hschinske said...

"seattleschools.org/area/advlearning/
eligibilitystatus.htm

I had never heard that being enrolled in a school with an ALO extended your Spectrum/APP status - interesting!"

According to the page above, it sounds as though staying in a Spectrum program anywhere should also allow one to retain APP status. That didn't use to be the case.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

From the Advanced Learning eligibility status page:
Middle School students participating in an Advanced Learning Opportunities (ALO) program:
Eligibility expires at the conclusion of the fifth grade if the student does not officially enroll in a Spectrum, ALO, or APP program as a sixth grader.
So, would it be the case that an APP eligible kid who stays at Blaine or Madison (schools with ALOs but not Spectrum or APP) will retain eligibility to get a guaranteed spot at Garfield? Has anyone from Advanced Learning ever told anyone from the K-8s and MSs that?

SPSMom said...

"Eligibility expires at the conclusion of the fifth grade if the student does not officially enroll in a Spectrum, ALO, or APP program as a sixth grader."

Meaning that you must enroll in a APP as a 6th grader at WMS (or HMS) to get a seat at Garfield using APP status.

You cannot test into APP and stay at a school and then "pull the trigger" for Garfield as an APP student at 9th grade.

Maureen said...

Meaning that you must enroll in a APP as a 6th grader at WMS (or HMS) to get a seat at Garfield using APP status.But that's not what it says, it says you keep your eligibility if you register for an ALO (or Spectrum or APP) in 6th grade and stay enrolled. I know that that is not the way they choose to apply it, but that is what it says.

In practice, you need to be registered at WMS or HIMS AND be enrolled in the APP (not ALO or Spectrum there) in order to be guaranteed a spot at Garfield. I wonder if Blaine and Madison ALO kids who had passed the test in 5th grade or before can transfer to HIMS/WMS APP 3/4 of the way through 8th grade (since they are eligible) and then move to Garfield with the all important cohort? What's the cut off date?

SPSMom said...

"What's the cut off date?"

Oct 31 is the cut off for all disctrict transfers.

So yes an 8th grader at any middle school who takes the test as a 7th grader, and qualifies for APP can transfer to WMS or HMS by Oct 31 of 8th grade to be eligable for a APP seat at Garfield.

They still need to take the test in 7th grade, not use a test score from 5th grade.

You call call the Advnaced Learning office for confirmation, they get this type of question all the time.

peaceparent@gmail.com said...

Charlie Mas asked if everything is ok now at Whittier.

I don't think so. This has been very difficult on all of us, staff, principal, parents, teachers, and those who do double duty and serve as PTA Board members.

I agree there are pieces of truth in all of these emails.

At times I agree with Rick, that there are no divisions in the school and most parents have kids in both the regular and Spectrum program.

I also agree that as parents our confidence in the music teacher to treat our children fairly, and foster in them a love of music is gone.

I also agree that our Principal is a lovely person, and so are all the Whittier staff. THe principal and staff seem to have the first interest of our kids in mind. I am sorry they were not getting along, and I am hopeful that the next principal will be a better fit for our school and staff.

I also know that the WASL scores are very different in both programs. However, I am not sure that is due to having "two different schools."

Also third and fifth grade have mostly strong scores-there could have been some issues with fourth grade that have already been addressed. As was stated in a earlier post, a fourth grade Spectrum teach was brought over to regular.

Many are attracted to Whittier solely for our strong enrichment and Arts; they wouldn't think of testing for Spectrum and don't like standardized testing. We have parents who are Evergreen College Alumni and UC Santa Cruz Alumni-remember these two schools don't even give college grades.

I think those WASL test scores could be lower in the regular program because we do have parents who opt out of testing for their kids. It's that Free Ballard-culture that I love. I know several parents, who are not mainstream and this is their form of protest against the WASL.

Most families in Spectrum are more favorable of testing-how else could they have gotten into Spectrum. More of the parents in regular ed, do not want their kids sitting through tests. This is one thing that makes Whittier special-our parents and our values are all different.

Whittier is a wonderful neighborhood school. We have teachers who care and go way above and beyond their job to give our kids a rich learning environment. Our kids have playdates with kids across both program, age, race and gender.

I have recently heard of some dissatisfaction with the regular program, and as a PTA Board member I just recently tried to get it on the agenda-I hope it will be a topic soon.

However, with these leadership changes over the last few years, there is also dissatisfaction with the changes and inconsistency-and parents, involved parents, both in and out of Spectrum, are leaving the school. Most parents I know who leave, leave for local private schools. We are not loosing parents to other public schools. Whittier still is one of the best pubic schools in the District and people compare us to some of the best private schools. (Who by the way, don't have to do WASL testing).

This is concerning to loose parents who have money and time to give our school. However, many children at Whittier and their families do not have the option to leave for private school. This is why the school needs to stay strong, and with the changes of leadership the District should not be making any other changes at Whittier until a new principal, with a functioning BLT can guide those changes.

There is a SPOC meeting May 14th and this would be a great time to share your concerns for Whittier. I will be there sharing mine.

hschinske said...

"I think those WASL test scores could be lower in the regular program because we do have parents who opt out of testing for their kids. It's that Free Ballard-culture that I love. I know several parents, who are not mainstream and this is their form of protest against the WASL."

According to the OSPI records, *no one* in 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade at Whittier opted out of the WASL in 2007-2008, and there were no excused absences in reading (3rd and 5th each had an excused absence in math).

http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/Download/2008/WASLScoresBySchool.txt

Helen Schinske

Happy said...

Although the principal is leaving and a new principal has been named, the teachers still don't seem happy.

What's up???

Mary Ann said...

Happy, Ms. Robinson has a reputation for frequent classroom visits and for holding her teachers to a high standard.

And I am one of those who will be striving to please as well...

Let's hope for the best.

Mary Ann said...

I should have added that I was a strong supporter of Ms. McMillian just as I have been a strong supporter of all our principals. I will miss her.