Monday, March 04, 2013

SPS and Graduation Requirements

Well, color me surprised because I just did a spot-check of graduation requirements at some of our SPS high schools. 

SPS requires 20 credits to graduate.  I'm not printing everything required but here are some basics:

LA - 3 credits
Social Studies - 3 credits
Science - 2 credits
PE - 2 credits

What I jogged me to look this up was a comment I read that The Center School is a "prep" high school and has higher graduation requirements than SPS.  So I checked.  Indeed they do.

They require 22 credits.

LA - 4
SS - 4
Science - 3
World Language - 2 (required unlike SPS where it is an elective choice)
PE - 1.5

Plus Center requires a junior research paper and a portfolio (along with the passing of HSPE, community service, high school and beyond plan and senior culminating project that are required by SPS).

What is also interesting about Center School (and I assume this is because they are in a building without a gym) is that their students can put nearly any sports experience down as PE (with an adult saying they did) on kind of an honor system bulletin board.  It's not their fault that they don't have a gym but this is a nice benefit for any student who does any kind of dance or sport or outdoor activity (like boating, horseback riding, etc.)  I know a lot of students who hate PE classes and would love this ability to insert something else.

So I checked a few other high schools and, once again, found school websites to be lacking.  Couldn't find the graduation requirements at RBHS.

On the other hand, I found that Hale bests Center by requiring 23.5 credits to graduate.

Chief Sealth does something interesting that, again, I'm sure a lot of parents might wish other schools would do.  They lump music into CTE thus allowing more electives in other areas.  Most high schools put music in as an elective.

Again, you have to be a detective in this district to know anything.   SPS doesn't even say on its own webpage about graduation that some schools might vary from what is printed. 

Parents if you are visiting high schools, be sure to ask, "Are your grad requirements different from SPS'?"  

40 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Yes, Center has that rep. They are also well-known for keeping students with disabilities OUT - saying that "we can't serve your kid here..."

Maureen said...

High School PE waivers can be available for kids who are doing outside sports (though I think you technically need a coach's or instructor's signature.) I get the impression that different schools vary widely on how willing they are to approve waivers though. We found it difficult at RHS, though that may have been because the counseling staff didn't seem to communicate well (told my son one thing freshman year, and then same counselor insisted she would never had said that when he went back junior year.) The individual schools policies should really be in writing and distributed to prospective students.

It seems to me that IHS is on the flexible side for district requirements (in part to balance the rigidity of the IB requirements), we haven't had to test the PE req yet, but had favorable results with the 9th grade science requirement (unlike at RHS).

Charlie Mas said...

The Board periodically wonders if graduation requirements should be standardized across the District. They consider the question, decide against it, then consider the question again a couple years later as if they forgot that they had already answered it.

Charlie Mas said...

I sometimes think that the rules are left unwritten intentionally so they can be flexible - and allow some students to do things that they don't allow other students to do.

Anonymous said...

At Hale, you can only get credit for PE from sports if you participate in a Hale Sport (not sure if club sports such as Lacrosse and Ultimate count). At least in Gymnastics, you had to be there for the majority of practices and compete in at least one event in 2 meets. The form had to be signed by a parent and approved by the coach which in the case of Gymnastics is the PE teacher.

Also, Hale has a pretty good graduation rate and is diverse socio-economically and racially. There are lots of fundraisers to help kids pay for stuff their families can't afford to buy them.

HP

Eric B said...

At the middle school level, PE waivers got a lot harder a couple of years ago, at least at Whitman. For my kid, Ultimate no longer qualified for a PE exemption because the number of practice/competition hours required that both fall and spring seasons be included, and the spring season happened after registration for the spring semester. The subtext was that they didn't trust kids to show up for spring season.

Another wrinkle is that an IB diploma counts as meeting high school graduation requirements, regardless of anything else, including PE. I'm not sure if that's SPS alone or statewide. Also, Ingraham at least has a waiver where if the student took four years of language, they can waive PE because of the full academic workload.

WV: onLosto in all these different rules.

Anonymous said...

I think the PE waiver system is a problem. 1)Almost all of the activities accepted in lieu of PE require payment, even high school sports, although if you do a high school team, most schools support FRL kids. 2) If you aren't a team sports kid, it can be difficult to find an acceptable activity that offers enough hours and even more difficult to find an acceptable individual activity that is free/affordable. 3)If you can't waiver PE, it's hard to get all the classes that will allow a student to be a competitive applicant to selective universities. 4)The district relies on students waivering out of PE. I know that at Hamilton, if the all the students decided to take PE, there would be a huge scheduling problem.

I feel like SPS looks at music and art as coverage for the teacher planning time requirement in the contract, and PE as a state requirement, not as necessary and valuable parts of a students education.

Tami

Anonymous said...

My son just applied for his first PE waiver at Garfield -- they allow it for five different reasons, including religious, physical disability, other athletics, military service, or academics (full load). Students have to get signatures depending on type of waiver (coach, religious leader, doctor) and still have to pass a required written test. I assume they'll approve my son's -- the kid did 140+ hours of heavy-duty workouts in the fall! I'm surprised to hear that this isn't the same across the school district.

-Garfield Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

This is all quite interesting but still troubling. It seems that the power really is in the hands of each school (which seems, from a parent viewpoint, kind of unfair and arbitrary).

But if all these variations exist, then the district should make that clear (as should each school).

Anonymous said...

@Eric B- the IB as Washington State High School requirements is state law - I testified in Olympia when the bill was presented. I thought that was only for academic coursework - not PE. I've never heard of the 4 years of language in lieu of PE though.

Tami

Eric B said...

@Tami, That was my understanding filtered through a freshman's explanation, so it may not be 100%. Garfield Mom talked about roughly the same deal at Garfield, though.

Anonymous said...

RHS not only has different graduation requirements from the district but different depending on graduating class. They change every year. Many are written somewhere, but not easy to find. And often there is no written record of how to satisfy the requirements. For example the PE waivers, or which classes count as Occ. Ed. No written policy in these cases that I have ever seen.

Finally, colleges have different requirements also, so trying to fulfill so many requirements from the school may make it impossible to fulfill college entrance requirements leaving a lot of kids taking online classes.

-RHS parent

Anonymous said...

On the Nathan Hale Site:

PE Waiver Forms must be turned in by the following dates if the waiver is requested for category 3 (school sports). A student must start and finish the entire sports season in order to be eligible for a waiver. Managing a sport team does not qualify for a waiver. You may only waive one PE requirement per year and only two of the three requirements may be waived by participation in sports.

Winter Sports Deadline is Friday, March 8, 2013
Spring Sports Deadline is Friday June 7, 2013
Senior Deadline for PE Waivers, Community Service Hours and Online Course Transcripts is Thursday, May 23, 2013.

All PE waivers must be approved by Ms. Colleen Davis
Completed forms should be returned to Ms. Davis’s mailbox in the Main Office
Forms are available at the end of each season in the Counseling Office.


HP

Po3 said...

Mirmic1 - can you provide some clarification to your claim that The Center Schools is "also well-known for keeping students with disabilities OUT - saying that "we can't serve your kid here..."

I see that they 16.2% of the students are Special Ed programs and 5% of the student population have 504 plans - both higher than the district percentages.

So I don't understand how they are tell parents they can't servie students with disabilities becuase the numbers say otherwise. Is is that they just don't have enough spots for every student with a disability? If so, isn't that a problem district-wide?

Po3 said...

Sorry I bungled that one- typing on an Ipad...

Mirmic1 - can you provide some clarification to your claim that The Center School is also well-known for keeping students with disabilities OUT - saying that "we can't serve your kid here..."

I see that 16.2% of the students are in Special Ed programs and 5% of the student population have 504 plans - both higher than the district percentages.

So I don't understand how they tell parents they can't serve students with disabilities because the numbers say otherwise. Is it that they just don't have enough spots for every student with a disability? If so, isn't that a problem district-wide?

Anonymous said...

Center School has only 1 program (8 students) for students with significant disabilities. 8, that's it. When it gets filled up - there's no room in the inn. Including, whole grade levels. Indeed. It is the only secondary school with such limited access.

No it isn't really a problem district-wide. Other schools are now required to accept students - even if their programs are full because of guaranteed assignment.


sped parent

mirmac1 said...

Thank you sped parent.

What sped parent said....

Guess you have to be there when they look you in the face and say "we don't want your kid."

Anonymous said...

8 Students with significant disabilities maybe proportionally extremely high given the overall small enrollment of Center school.

I would be careful with implying that eight is small when you aren't also providing the overall total number of students. For example eight students out of a Garfield size high school would indeed be very small eight students out of 200 250 would be a significant portion.

-IMHO

Maureen said...

And isn't Center an Option School, so they do limit overall enrollment (unlike neighborhood assignment schools.) So, in effect, they are telling lots of gen ed kids that they "can't serve them" too.

mirmac and sped parent, are you saying that Center is picking and choosing amongst the kids with disabilities who enter the lottery to be enrolled there? For instance, turning down the ones who need more help and accepting ones with more limited disabilities?

8/278 is only 3%. The Center School report says that 16% of the students there are eligible for Sped services. That would be about 44 kids.

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

Garfield seems to only have 6% of kids who need Sped services. And a smaller percent of them are ending up proficient on the HSPE exams than the sped eligible kids at Center.

mirmac1 said...

Maureen,

What is behind those numbers is this; there is a vast difference between having 44 high-incidence (resource room) students versus 8 low-incidence (like autism-spectrum disorder) students. Remember that 1 in 88 children is diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder, many of which can succeed in the regular classroom with appropriate supports.

Look at Ballard, they like lots of high-incidence SpEd students because they can take their funding, throw them in any classroom and not support them. Those families who want their children to actually receive services for their funding, end up going to Nathan Hale where they are in fact served.

So, no, the numbers don't tell the story. I believe the sped parents who tell me what CS admin tell them.

Jet City mom said...

My daughter had an IEP until 8th grade when I had her exited as the IEP wasn't being followed, so it was more f a punishment, than a support.

Garfield provided her with support classes without her formally in special education. That was not an option at Ballard.

If she hadn't gone to Garfield, both Nathan Hale & Ingraham were her next choices.

Neither Ballard or the Center School seemed interested in allowing her to take advanced classes in the areas where she was ready, as Garfield did, while giving her support to get up to grade level in the areas that were a struggle.

Another concern I had with Center school was that I could not get a clear answer regarding school lunch & transportation. It seemed designed fr students who could afford to buy lunch at Larrys Market across the street and who could commute from the neighborhood.

Re: grad requirements. I was under impression all high schools allowed PE credit if you were on a school team.
I also remember when orchestra/ jazz band full filled the CTE requirement, not sure if that isstill the case.

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LG said...

My daughter goes to Center. It's a REALLY small school. Keep that in mind.

There is one curriculum, general college prep. If that curriculum doesn't work for you, with accommodation, it's not the place for you. Sad, but true. That said, my limited observations are that students make an extra effort to include and support the students with disabilities who are there.

(The flip side of this is that there are only 2 AP courses, only 4 years of only one language, etc. It's designed for the middle.)

The entire admin staff consists of the principal and a part time guidance counselor. I agree that it can be hard to get information, but it's not being withheld on purpose I assure you.

Being a small school with no cafeteria, they get those lunches that are delivered, not the kind that are cooked there. Most of the students bring lunches. Center families are neither as poor or as wealthy as the average SPS student.

Orca cards are distributed to those that need them, just like at other HS.

Yes, a few students cheat on the PE hours, but most of them learn to integrate physical activity into their out-of-school lives, which I think is a great thing for maintaining a lifelong exercise habit.

Anonymous said...

Center school is pretty unique, small, option HS and located in the Seattle Center. So if you want gym and cafeteria style HS, it's a little tough. Same goes for services. There are similar unique schools that are listed with the district budget such as the South Lake HS and Middle College HS (located in different sites all over the city). They have different goals and missions. So it's tough to make judgement based on stats alone especially when you compare to more traditional schools which can offer more comprehensive services.

perspective

mirmac1 said...

My daughter IS going to college. Children with disabilities are college-material.

Instead they are often "tracked" into dumbed down courses.

LG said...

I'm sorry, I didn't at ALL mean to say that children with disabilities can't go to college, if it's my comment you are referring to, Mirmac1.

Po3 said...

PE ranks low on my worry list. My biggest concerns are math and language arts. I am looking for teachers who know how to supplement the Discovery math books and pick good books for my students to read. I am looking for my students to learn how to write (after years of Writers Workshop) so they are ready to take on the challenges of college level writing.

Honestly, how a student earns their 1.5 credits of PE is the least of my worries.

Anonymous said...

Roosevelt courses and graduation requirements.

http://roosevelths.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1708880/File/Course%20Registration/Course%20descriptions%202013-2014.pdf?sessionid=582c56bdc758482b78d8624709683c00

Public School Parent

Anonymous said...

Maureen, yes Center is an option school for everyone, and seats do fill up. But, if you're a plain 'ol gen-ed student, you are all but assured a seat. Acceptance is virtually 100%. If you have a significant disability, well that program has exactly 8 seats and only for autistc students. Btw, it's completely full and won't be taking any for next year even for that narrowly defined group. That's hardly equitable. And no, schools need to be flexible and serve ALL students... not make excuses about their own cherry-picking... because that doesn't end.

sped parent

Po3 said...

sped parent

Doesn't the Center School rent space? Has anybody from the special ed community ever approached the district to see if they could have the school increase their footprint and add more resource rooms so they can enroll more special needs students?

mirmac1 said...

Po3,

That is the problem in our district; it seems incumbent upon parents of special education parents to "ask" for inclusion. Why doesn't every school consider it their mandate?

Not sure if you're aware of a space shortage, but I am loathe to give administrators more excuses to say "sorry, no we can't include you here"

Anonymous said...

Po3, did you ever think you might have to ask the district to rent space, or reach out, or go out on any limb, or organize a petition ... just to make sure there was third grade spot at your school for your child? How would you like it - if they said "Oh sorry. We're not doing 3rd grade this year. We're a small school, and we decided not to do that. We've got a whole lotta fourth graders, so... OH WELL for you!" ???

Why do special ed parents always have to scrape and beg to ensure that there is even a seat for them at a school? Mirmac, it's more than "requesting inclusion". There are many types of special education - and all high schools should have all of them, including boutique schools. Or at least be able to accommodate all students with the special ed they have. AND IN ALL GRADES.

(I'm not sure whose fault this is. Program placement is such a secret - that we don't know how those decisions are made.)

sped parent

Po3 said...

"did you ever think you might have to ask the district to rent space"

Yes, I have participated in conversations dealing with overcrowded schools and renting space was a solution that was suggested to help make room for students.

I understand you are frustrated and its easy to lash out at parents who just want to help or at school adminstrators that just can't help.

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