Thursday, October 03, 2013

Growth Boundary Updates

I learned some new things at last night's Board meeting about the growth boundaries and decided to pull them out as a separate thread.

1) There is to be an added Work Session on growth boundaries in the next couple of weeks.  President Smith-Blum stated this but no date was given.  She also stated that a big concern for the Board is that "we don't compromise instructional quality" in these discussion.

UPDATE: The Work Session will be AFTER the Intro of the plan to the Board, sometime between Oct 16th and Nov. 20th.  I wish it was before Intro, given we are two weeks out from that.  

2) The Superintendent and various Board members specifically said thank you to all who have given comments on the boundaries.  It seems pretty clear that they ARE listening.  And, I believe the Board is listening enough to push back in some areas.  I'm not sure which ones but I believe the plan is definitely fluid.

3) One issue has risen to the top of my radar (that I missed) and I hoping for some feedback.  Oddly, B.F. Day - in a large building with room - is seeing its boundaries shrink.  This as they are considering changing the already-full McDonald and JSIS back to neighborhood schools.

It doesn't make a lot of sense especially if they choose NOT to changing those two schools from Option to neighborhood schools.

And naturally, this will hurt Day financially if not enough students are enrolled.

Timeline:  October 16th is the Intro date to the Board for the final plan.  November 20th is the final vote by the Board.

Two things to consider as well.
One, I hear this rising tide of "we need to take care of the neighborhood schools and GenEd classrooms first" in both terms of the boundaries AND resources.  Meaning, is the district trying to do too much with expansion of foreign language immersion and bringing on new programs like STEM?  I think both are great and clearly popular but there is a point to be made to how much the district can do and do well.  I offer no viewpoint of my own but open that to discussion.

Two, understand that there is no "new normal."  A couple of readers (and FACMAC members) have pointed out the obvious.

There is no real inventory.  The district is accessing everything they can as fast as they can.

They cannot build fast enough with BEX IV and, as has been stated, even when they get done, our problems with capacity AND aging buildings will continue.

We are very much in a triage situation and again, I am sorry to state this bluntly but I don't want to see - after the new boundaries are established - anyone wipe their brow and say "Whoo.  That's done."

It is not.  I am sorry to say I believe this will be a painful five years for the district, staff and parents/students.  

I believe the pressure of parents who want to grandfather their younger children into an older child's now-redrawn-boundary-school will be great on the Board and district.  I do not know if that pressure will succeed but it will be a challenge either way. 

High school boundaries are going to change if only because they will bring on-line a new high school.   (And fyi, when the enrollment numbers are released for this year and you compare the high school numbers with the stated capacity numbers, understand that it appears the district woefully underestimated the ELL/Sped space for most high schools.  Word is that those capacity numbers are anywhere from 100-300 OVER what the reality is likely to be.)

And, as I said to Director DeBell, yesterday, this revamping of boundaries based on a chessboard of buildings - new and old - is something I do not believe the district can get completely right.  I say that not because of lack of faith in staff but because 1) it is a huge and monumental job, 2) there is no pleasing everyone and 3) the district continues to flex and grow.

It is distressing that there are no director community meetings this week - I wish the directors would make sure to have at LEAST one per weekend for parents who want to make contact personally.  (That said, Director McLaren has a community meeting on Monday night.)

Your efforts in advocacy for your school or region are not going unheard.  Please keep it up.  

Send emails to GrowthBoundaries@seattleschools.org. (Please put your school or topic in the subject line.)

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whaaaa? JSIS and MacDonald back to neighborhood schools? No, no and no. Their model deviates substantially from GenEd models and additionally offers curriculum that may be inappropriate for students living within its boundaries.

Then there is the absolutely ridiculous $350K "ask" of the PTA to fund IAs at MacDonald. JSIS pressed parents for a similar commitment last year.

These are not GenEd schools. This has been a mistake that needs fixing for more than a decade. Fix it now. Not until there is a true description of these programs can there be a true enrollment and boundary discussion.

DistrictWatcher

Anonymous said...

Martin Morris was at the Ballard Meeting on Tuesday night

QAE Parent

Anonymous said...

Any news from the Ballard meeting?

N by NW

Po3 said...

I would like to see a statement of M-M's travel expenses charged to the district.

Eric B said...

At the Ballard meeting on Tuesday, Tracy Libros said that she expected that the 10/16 Board intro materials would be released about 10/10. For anyone counting, Directors Martin-Morris, DeBell, Carr, and McLaren were at the Ballard meeting.

The Ballard meeting was dominated by North Beach, APP comments, and questions about implementation/grandfathering. One big theme was that the North Beach boundary with Loyal Heights shouldn't change. Instead, the triangle between Holman, 8th(?), and 85th that North Beach was going to take from Whittier should be given to Loyal Heights. That seems like a pretty reasonable solution.

One idea raised for APP was to keep APP at Hamilton. The Hamilton enrollment would be balanced by giving Greenwood and Bagley to Wilson-Pacific, and possibly doing some other shuffling with Whitman. That leaves Hamilton with 2 or 3 attendance area elementaries. Under the proposed plan, W-P has 3. That makes the transition for APP MS seamless. Of course, this assumes that there is a NE APP MS site.

(Apologies for bringing up APP again. Maybe we can avoid pie fighting?)

Anonymous said...

The biggest issues I took away from the Ballard meeting were:

North Beach - those boundaries are really a mess if you look at the map and where the school/ boundaries are.

APP North - 6th graders by themselves at Marshall. Many parents stated they'd just go back to neighborhood schools if that is the final solution. So wondering if the district is planning on attrition away from APP with that plan.

Lots of other independent one-off concerns (including for QAE) but North Beach was definitely well represented.

QAE Parent

Lynn said...

BF Day had enrollment of only 336 last year - but there were 545 K-5 students in their attendance zone. It looks like the district is thinking more BF day students will attend their neighborhood school in the future. (146 of them attended JSIS last year.)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, keeping APP @ Hamilton exacerbates the situation already in place, which is wealthier, Caucasian families living and attending school south of 85th. APP @ Hamilton was fine as a temporary solution, but leaving it there and instead pointing Greenwood and Bagley to Wilson-Pacific would make this line more dramatic.

The district can't help the real estate situations already in place but it can take lawful measures to not further socio-economic siloing. North End APP needs to move North.

Either put all MS APP @ WP or divide it between JA and WP. APP families with strong ties to the South will still be welcomed and challenged at Eckstein and Hamilton.

Equitable Ed

Anonymous said...

"APP North - 6th graders by themselves at Marshall. Many parents stated they'd just go back to neighborhood schools if that is the final solution. So wondering if the district is planning on attrition away from APP with that plan."

But aren't people arguing that they don't necessarily want attrition with APP, since the neighborhood schools the kids would return to are too full?

I wonder too about the language/STEM program. Historically, I thought one of the goals of those programs were designed to keep higher SES students in the SPS. Are they still playing that role (especially south of the ship canal, where parents are more concerned about the quality of their neighborhood school)? or are they beign developed for other purposes (say, is the "Dual language" idea being implemented at Beacon Hill). Or alternatively am I overthinking the idea that there are real programmatic goals and instead we're seeing the effect of individual's pet progjects?

zb

Anonymous said...

Any decision to backtrack on the idea to convert MacDonald and JSIS to option schools is likely just a realization that the geozones were pretty much going to have to be limited to the neighborhood anyway--since there isn't enough room at nearby schools to absorb all these kids--so what's the point? The biggest impact would be that the schools could better cap enrollment (by not having to take all comers), but that might not be in the best interests of overall capacity now anyway.

Seems like a big mistake, however, to put this "option" schools idea out there, though, without clarifying the geozones boundaries right off the bat. It got people excited, especially since it was presented (misleadingly) as an issue of "equitable access." Until there's enough neighborhood capacity, option school access to language immersion will be tricky.

Anonymous said...

Oops, that was me at 10:23.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

There is room @ both BF Day and Green Lake for extra students. District needs to shrink JSIS and MacDonald's geozones by 20 percent and send families to BF Day and Green Lake. That's 20 percent more access to language immersion than the entire population from Cap Hill and QA/Mag to 145th has right now.

The district can manage population better by turning McD and JSIS into Option Schools because they can put a specific enrollment # on each school. It will be completely predictable. By looking at residency around the schools, district will also know how many families are headed to BF Day and Greenlake.

Keeping those schools as neighborhood schools is completely indefensible in the equitable access realm.

DistrictWatcher

Mary Griffin said...

The Special Education community is concerned because the new boundaries do not meet the criteria for the "new model" aka the ABCD model for delivery of special education services. We are also concerned that ELL services are not going to be located in the same building as special education services, forcing immigrant families to choose between one service and another.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter whose post got deleted:

Yes, APP is a tool for socio-economic balancing. Perhaps readers have not noticed its placement at Washington and Thurgood Marshall.

The district has no law whatsoever mandating the placement or manner of APP services. The APP cohort in the North End is striking in its socio-economic heterogeneity. This is not a criticism. This is a fact. The cohort needs to be placed north with the idea of drawing an additional socio-economic spectrum of students to the program. (See also planned West Seattle placement.)

A pleasant side benefit for the current APP cohort may then be less vitriol toward the program. That would be a great outcome.

Equitable Ed

Anonymous said...

"Yes, APP is a tool for socio-economic balancing. Perhaps readers have not noticed its placement at Washington and Thurgood Marshall."

Most APP parents would be very happy to have a more diverse student population, but I'm sorry, none of them are interested in having their kids used as a "tool for socio-economic balancing." The purpose of the APP or any other program is meeting the educational needs the students. Period. It's not to attract active or wealthy parents to schools who lack them. It's not to raise test scores for a school with low test scores. APP is not a tool (or esp. "the" tool) to solve the bigger social and economic problems in our society.

Sorry, but I think APP parents are tired of the District using our kids (and maybe even us parents) as "tools" for anything other than educating our kids.

- Tired

susan said...

Equitable Ed,

This is a tired argument. Most of the north-end is "rich, white kids". Our neighborhood school with no APP, Spectrum, Language Immersion, etc. etc. is almost 100% rich, white kids.

Go kick a puppy or something.

Susan

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind collocations wherever if I thought it would actually help any needy kids, and that the program wouldn't instead mask resource needs and take actual capacity resources away. Since it won't, and it would just hurt both programs, I advocate for the mostly standalone Lincoln-Wilson pacific pathway. There are several other things we can and are doing to increase diversity in the program which don't harm needy kids as well as APP ones, so let's focus on those. First thing that would probably help is a person whose job it is to oversee the program, so we need an advanced learning manager, stat.

How does Woodinville do language immersion? I know they have programs k-8; do they require these insane fundraising goals? I can see the district urge to make one of those schools a neighborhood one, but it is so screamingly inequitable to be assigned a school requiring a grand a kid (on top of the 3 grand for kindergarten, let's not forget). And, because this is not my area of expertise, will someone please explain to me why we don't want IA funds and staffing used for these programs, attached to kids who qualify? What does it take away from the English language learner? To me it sounds like an opportunity for them to be involved in an inclusive, well delivered program, with good numbers of both native and non native speakers. Synergy, just what we talk about as possible gains for everyone in an inclusive program. Does it take away one on one time they are guaranteed? Does it make learning English take longer? Does it slow progress in other subjects?

I think a district of this size owes its constituents different options and alternative programming, but I think the push to have each citizen have exactly the same options is obtuse. Not every neighborhood has to have the same restaurants; they just need some options. Sped, Ell, and APP should be accessible to each family (by bus is absolutely fine- there is no need to have each family be able to walk), and beyond that some portion of special programming - some of Montessori, LI, STEM, IB, K-8, project based. Very popular programs can be replicated in struggling schools (hopefully further away than down the block this time) But I think the attempt to have every menu item equally available to every student is misguided, not to mention expensive.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

The cohort needs to be placed north with the idea of drawing an additional socio-economic spectrum of students to the program.

The APP program is open to any student that meets the academic requirements set forth by the district. Transportation is provided, so the contention that it's less available to those in the far north is false. If parents place distance to school above their child's academic needs, then that is their prerogative. If parents opt out of the program because of racial demographics, that is their prerogative as well. Placing the program in a different geographic location will not magically make more students qualified. Improving the academics, especially in the early years, could potentially foster a more diverse makeup of APP.

Mercer (no APP) does better for their low income students than Hamilton (North end APP).

Look at a comparison of Hamilton MSP pass rates (three year running average) vs Mercer MSP pass rates for low income students [reading, math]

Hamilton
6th - 45%, 57%
7th - 64%, 61%
8th - 60%, 49%

Mercer
6th - 75%, 75%
7th - 68%, 72%
8th - 67%, 67%

Mercer has focused on improving academics (especially apparent in math scores). Does being a low income student in an APP designated school really change the academics for those not in APP?

Equity is providing solid academics to all students at all schools. It does not have to be advanced - just solid coverage of grade level content.

JT

Anonymous said...

Typo on 6th grade reading for Hamilton - should be 67% for low income, three year running avg.

JT

Anonymous said...

Parents the rubber hits the road this month for the balleyhooded equitable access board standard.

If the district didn't account for special education and ELL space in its high schools and now has to redraw boundaries then hopefully it protects the vulnerable students for whom it needs to do this work and explains to the bigger community that this is a necessary step. It's not like the district didn't know this needed to happen in tandem with boundary work.

The LI schools ##must## be made option schools if equitable access is to be provided. How are native speakers supposed to attend if you don't make space for them? Ask how many Japanese and Spanish speaking kids attend JSIS and MacDonald. Not so much, given who lives in these communities. Then there is just opening up more access to English-speaking families from other neighborhoods. And these schools need to host special needs kids too. Do they? Something tells me No.

If the Native American program wishes to return to its historic place near Licton Springs which would be Wilson Pacific, then that should be a priority for the district. Lord knows we've done little else for that population.

Finally, I see that some APP parents are pushing back on being "used" to help other kids. I know they got a horrid deal from the Lowell eviction, but I'm with Equitable Education above. Thurgood Marshall and Washington are stronger, more stable schools than a decade ago and APP has played a role in this. Despite commenter Susan's odd 'go kick a puppy' quote above, the whole north end is most certainly not rich, nor in many places is it majority Caucasian. The focus for the district for APP students should be outstanding classroom opportunities. But using APP as one tool to help other less-able communities achive more in school is valid too. Think of our own magnet (alternative) schools. Same concept.

Walk zones are equitable access too, by the way. The post in a different thread about Beacon Hill, largely families without means, being torn from their nearby schools was upsetting. If you've got a different quality school to attend then maybe workable, but sometimes the school in a community, even if student test scores aren't what The Education Powers want them to be, are still the biggest source of pride and stability that families have. And there is no remarkably stronger school nearby. In that case, if the schools are safe, every effort should be made to provide access. Overcrowded is not as bad as being thrown from the neighborhood. Yes, and then those schools do need to step up to provide all the tools necessary to minimize the opportunity gap.

Will the board act on any of this or will it be all about where to cross the street and a fight over full buildings. That's not equitable access. Part of the strength of public schools is that we all give a little to help the whole. Boy, my family has given its pint and most blog readers feel the same way I bet. But still.....just my thoughts.

SPED Mom

Anonymous said...

Some comments lots of people need to understand when they start tossing things around:

1. Stating that BF Day has space b/c it had only 336 kids last year is wrong. Look at the grade level breakdown of those kids. It's a pyramid, much larger classes at the bottom (K & 1). The "empty" seats in 4th and 5th are relics from the old choice plan, when parents chose away from BF Day. The "empty" seats at 2 & 3 are left from the McDonald startup years, when they aggressively recruited for language immersion and took out of area students, many from BF Day. So under the current plan, with McDonald not actively seeking K age children, there is nowhere for BF Day children to go. I am confident this year's enrollment numbers, to be released soon, will bolster this. The "BF Day has space" argument has been going around lots of places, probably from just one person, but it's not true so don't buy it. Those "spaces" are chimera caused by specific one-time events that no longer apply to artificially decrease kids into BF Day. DO NOT advocate for capacity decisions based on them. Base it on current K-1 numbers and projections based on resident children.

2. Re moving APP to supposedly alleviate socio-economic differences: Do you understand what has happened to Title 1 funding every time APP and a disadvantaged school co-exist?

Title 1 funding disappears, b/c the APP population is well off ENOUGH to dilute the Title 1 eligibility clear out of the water. But of course they're not rich enough to provide the hundreds of thousands of dollars that used to come from Title 1 funds. They can fund half a librarian at Lowell, and last year was a huge special ask to keep a classroom teacher after 8 weeks of school, but esp. w/only half the cohort, they can't come up with money equivalent to lost Title 1 funds.

That is a deliberate choice: expecting the APP PTA to "make up" for the loss of Title 1 funds from whatever school it's put into. Should poor children's education be gambled on whether the APP PTA will and can continue to do so? I think that's unethical.

3. And whoever says the APP kids are rich is buying into stereotypes too. Just b/c they don't qualify for FRL, doesn't make people rich. Lots of these highly educated, well-employed parents are still paying on that 20 year law or medical school debt, for instance - or they're involved in public interest law, or they practice public health at Harborview rather than a lucrative private practice. Lots of professors - they're not "rich". Sure, some parents are very well off. That's true all over Queen Anne, at Stevens, other places too - but we don't expect those kids to be moved around to fund and lift the boat at another school.

Would anyone here advocate for picking up half the kids out of Stevens or Coe and putting them in Olympic Hills or wherever just to put "rich white" kids into the school?

And frankly, APP's less "white" than a lot of the gen ed schools in the Ballard - Laurelhurst neighborhood band. But I guess all the people who call APP "white" don't count the percent of Asian-American kids as "non-white." Take off the race blinders - if you're going to talk about "white" and race, then look at all the races, please.

--Signed Accuracy Please

Anonymous said...

I guess JT posted as I posted. To that commenter I'd say that yes Hamilton should step it up for its low income students. But that is not my point. More low income students may think about APP if it is closer to their communities. And if a few more kids of color attend, then slowly it may become a cultural norm for these communities to consider APP. Have you heard all the recent stories about bright kids from poor families dismissing college as an opportunity? Same issue with APP. Anything the district can do to help the situation is great. Location of program is one tool.

And to be crass, yes it is helpful to have parents from communities of means be colocated at a school with lesser economic means. I know that not all north end APP have means but a hella lot of them do. Majority do. And we all know what PTAs are supplying to their schools with fundraising. ##WA state funding stinks.## It is not just affluence it's involvement. Schools with squeaky wheel parents also get a leg ahead in quality staffing and learning opportunities. APP has squeaky wheel parents, ##I do understand that it is borne of necessity in dealing with SPS and their own kids.## But it is a compliment to the community that parents care to squeak. That school involvement can stay strong ##and## help an additional group of students by colocating in a less affluent area.

That's all the blog time I have, but I bet this conversation continues. Please note I wanted my long post to be about equity access in general not just about APP.

SPED Mom

Meg said...

Thurgood Marshall general education students lost hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in Title I money because of the co-housing arrangement with APP. Before APP moved in, Thurgood Marshall had one of the highest Free/Reduced Lunch-eligible percentages in the district.

Title I is allocated based on the FRL% of the BUILDING. The FRL composition of the different programs in the building is not relevant - the entire building gets stack-ranked.

Thurgood Marshall gen ed students lost about $250K annually, as well as other supports, all because APP moved in. While the faculty and PTA have worked hard to make a single school, their efforts do not make up for that loss to students who need help.

Olympic Hills is a Title I school and currently eligible for Families & Education levy money. It would lose money from both of those programs.

I don't think that north end APP should be co-housed with any attendance area school. Wedging APP into attendance area schools obstructs the effective operation of the entire north end attendance area system, which is under tremendous strain.

But if you're going to sally forth and insist on screwing the system over for co-housing, under no circumstances should APP be co-housed with a school with a high percentage of kids living in poverty. This isn't to protect the special snowflakes of APP. It's because the co-housing will cause the FRL-eligible kids to lose all kinds of funding and services.

I fought hard and unsuccessfully for Thurgood Marshall general ed not to lose funding. I don't want to see this happen to other kids.

mirmac1 said...

"And, because this is not my area of expertise, will someone please explain to me why we don't want IA funds and staffing used for these programs, attached to kids who qualify? What does it take away from the English language learner?"

Well, first I recall many commenters who resent their advanced learners being in an inclusive setting with "differently-abled" students; as props or supports or role models or somesuch.

Same thing for ELL students.

Furthermore, like funding for special education, funding for ELL students is restricted by law to providing them the necessary additional services they need. These students also bring the full BEA funding that pays for their general education. Costs must be accurated accounted for, or else you get audit findings, and rightfully so.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Accuracy Please, I'll check those Day numbers but I heard this from a very reliable source.

Sped Mom, you said this:

"And to be crass, yes it is helpful to have parents from communities of means be colocated at a school with lesser economic means."

Well, if you are talking about PTAs, maybe a little crass. But if you are talking about the research of having kids across the socioeconomic spectrum, then you are not crass but right. The research supports that and that we are seeing more and more segregated schools via charters is all the more troubling.

Mirmac is right; those IA federal dollars are to help ELL students and no others. That McDonald PTA was saying that IAs are great to have in the classroom as well as to help in the cafeteria, monitoring playground, etc. is wrong.

Lynn said...

SPED Mom,

Children in underrepresented communities who have qualifying MAP test scores already receive letters (and in some years) phone calls inviting them to test for APP and/or Spectrum. Do you have any data on the number of those kids who do not test, or who qualify for these programs and do not participate in them? Or are you making these suggestions based on assumptions?

If you want to increase advanced learning enrollment by children in underrepresented communities, you need to start by creating strong Spectrum and/or AOL programs in their schools. If location is actually the problem, this should solve it.

Every second grade student in the Southeast region will be given the CogAT this fall. It'll be interesting to see if that has any affect on this problem.

In the interest of equitable access, APP students should be served as close to their homes as possible, while maintaining appropriate program size. If the majority live south of 85th, the district should find room for them there.

If you are so enthusiastic about moving students who are less poor into neighborhoods with higher FRL percentages, why not move all our option schools to the northern and southern borders of the district? That would include language immersion, STEM, E-STEM, STEAM, etc.

Have you talked to families who live in the Thurgood Marshall, Washington and Garfield attendance areas? Do they feel they are benefiting from the programs being placed in their schools?

Anonymous said...

I don't resent it, mirmac; I think an inclusive setting for advanced learners generally fails to educate advanced learners and takes resources from struggling students.

Do ELL students similarly need self containment? I thought ell students needed exposure to native speakers, so if this encourages more native speakers to come to the class, it sounds like a benefit. I know you couldn't resist the "gotcha," but I am asking a real question. These different groups of learners need different things, and so far all I hear is that you think only ell students should benefit in any way from the funds on principle. But if allowing these programs lets ell students benefit more, while as a side effect, benefitting other kids, that sounds like an opportunity we should jump on. As I said, though, I fon't know enough about this. I would like to know about potential and actual harms to these students from these programs, if anyone else knows.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

In keeping with the face book format:

Like Meg at 1:43. It is completely inequitable to move out a low income neighborhood population (that can walk to the school) to bus them to another school further away. I heard from staff at Oly Hills that the principal is enraged at this proposition at the moment. The kids in the neighborhood are being kicked out so that APP can be placed there, AND they will lose a bunch of funding. How is that equitable?

Further, I fail to understand the logic that placing APP in more schools or even all schools is a more equitable proposition. APP is an all district draw. If the kid tests in the 98th percentile, and they want to go, they automatically get bussed in. From an equity stand point, it doesn't matter where the school is located, or really if it is located in multiple schools. The equity comes from the evaluation process (are we capturing that top 2 % appropriately and testing ALL kids in the district?) NOT in where the APP is located. yes, more people may opt in when it is closer to them, but I don't see how that has anything to do with equity. It is in fact the exact opposite of equitable to displace neighborhood kids with a program they don't have access to.

And, Equitable Ed, riddle me this:

I still don't understand why Wallingford has two international schools within about a mile of each other. How is that equitable access if only the kids in that neighborhood can get in? And what about the kids that don't want language emersion? Why do they have to travel all the way to BF Day or Green Lake?

Eden

Anonymous said...

Sorry to go here but here it goes. There is a lot of pushback from APP as to their "rights" which are actually very minimal by state law.

SPS is mandated to provide accelerated learning opportunities for students but has no obligation to provide an APP program. None. Not self-contained. Not co-located. Nothing. Whole districts in WA state get away with worksheets and counseling.

The state also does not dictate the method of identification of gifted learning. If you look at what this district uses, and think seriously about the Opportunity Gap, there are grounds to be troubled about our self-contained APP elementary program from the get-go. The testing regimen is highly imperfect. Do many SPS staff and teachers feel the same? Absolutely. Go ask them their viewpoint.

Legislature allocates $401 per eligible student up to 2.314% of student enrollment. That means the district gets no funding for accelerated learning for 97.686 percent of students. As our APP K-8 strives to take the top 5% instead of 2.314 percent of students testing, the self-contained program is already over-subscribed, and should be shrunk. The main reason it hasn't shrunk is thatBob Vaughn was trying hard to get more kids of color and low-income families into the program. He wasn't as successful as he wanted to be. Again, the opportunity gap raises its head.

Yes, gifted students deserve to be challenged, but the idea that a mostly-Caucasian, relatively affluent population should carve out a self-contained north end program and deny even the thought of co-location with a diverse population is either myopic, misinformed or just plain self-serving. Go ask the Washington and Thurgood Marshall principals whether APP presence has been good for those schools. Difficult to manage, sure. But also beneficial. Title One funding is not everything.

The idea that more testing and a written letter plus phone call will make APP enrollment more equitable also shows a serious lack of multicultural understanding not to mention the general effects of poverty on parent involvement in student lives. It is a good start. It is not the final answer.

Yes, APP North should be located north of 85th. Yes it should co-locate. Yes, boundaries should be set to allow this to happen. Yes, more than the standard test should be used to qualify APP kids affected by the opportunity gap.

We could get rid of APP altogether and put the gifted learning opportunities in every school. I'm beginning to think that's the better course for the majority of SPS students. Bonus: No more arguing about APP placement.

Equitable Ed

Anonymous said...

Eden: The geographic proximity of the LI schools coupled with the fact that they are not option schools is a travesty, as others have pointed out, apparently longer than I have.

This too needs to be remedied in the north end boundary discussion.

Equitable Ed

mirmac1 said...

sleeper if the Law is the gotcha...well press the Easy Button.

ELL students are not self-contained. As it stands, they are budgeted at 1:70! That doesn't buy anyone a whole heckuva lot of one on one, pullout or self-containment. To have some of that minimal support diverted to provide free language immersion - that is unacceptable to me.

Like my report and the subsequent audit finding regarding misuse of restricted special education funding, I will be the first to direct the auditor to misdirection of restricted use funding for ELL students (whose outcomes this district is supposedly concerned about).

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Melissa. Those Fed-funded IAs should be helping the ELL students make friends on the playground, helping them talk with friends in the cafeteria. Period.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

mirmac, I believe the "gotcha" was a reference to your attempt to somehow turn sleeper's ELL/language immersion question into a dig at advanced learning parents (via your offensive and untrue comment) when the issues were clearly unrelated.

Sleeper asked a genuine question. And yes, ELL money has to go to helping ELLs. However, the model for delivering those ELL services is intentionally not that prescribed at the federal level, and whether you like them or not, language immersion services can qualify. When done right, dual immersion can be effective--say half the class is native Spanish speaking, the other half native English. Spending half the day in each language gives each student a time to learn in the language they are comfortable with, and gives them a good deal of academic exposure to the other. It also promotes better understanding between the two groups of kids, and greater appreciation for the diversity of cultures. Whether or not SPS's delivery of these ELL services is consistent with this approach, I don't know. If students aren't native speakers of one of the immersion languages, I wouldn't think that would legitimately qualify.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

reposting for Anon:

"Equitable Ed,
I think maybe you're thinking of APP as something more wonderful than it is. Our current program is set up to provide (through acceleration) an appropriate education for children who are already performing significantly above grade level and can be expected to continue to learn faster than the average child. As a bonus (through no effort of the district) it does provide the environment some of these children need to make friends and develop and improve their social skills. That’s it. If a student isn’t already working significantly above grade level, there is no value to be had in APP.

Of course there are very bright children in underrepresented populations. If they are not able to test into APP, it's because their reading and math achievement scores are not currently at the required 95th percentile - here's the affect of the opportunity gap. APP is not currently the appropriate program for these students. What they need is support to bring their academic skills up to the levels expected based on their abilities. APP as it is currently designed does not provide this support.

If the district wanted to set up a program for children with very high intellectual abilities, whatever their current skills, that would meet their needs in a more individualized manner (through both acceleration and enrichment), I think underrepresentation would be reduced. As it is, your concern that APP is being denied to certain populations makes no sense. If you enrolled them in APP, it would not meet their needs – because the district has designed the program and the services provided to meet the needs of children with a particular skill set.

Because there is no real value to the program unless you a student who meets this profile, I do not understand the hostility you feel. We can either meet the needs of these children outside APP – or change the qualifications required and services delivered to meet their needs. I would prefer a more individualized approach, but that’s not what the district has chosen to provide."

And I'll add, who's "denying even the thought of co-location"??? That's nonsense. There are legitimate concerns being noted about co-location--such as routinely getting squeezed out, or better yet, the hostility from neighborhood school parents who cheer when other say "we don't want APP here!"--but nobody's saying it can't be discussed as an option (which it clearly is anyway).

Show me how exactly the district can effectively serve APP kids in every kid in every school, and I'm all over it. Until then, self-contained is the best bet.

HIMSmom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Equitable, I have long had issues with testing. I give the district (and Bob Vaughan) credit for trying more outreach but it only marginally helped. They used MAP scores but still did not get parents to sign up.

On the one hand, I honestly think there IS only so much you can do. The district cannot sit down personally with every parent.

HOWEVER, I believe that it would be great if we went back to one thing that DID used to count for something - the teacher recommendation.

I believe kindergarten teachers (to start with) know what a gifted child looks like (the experienced ones at least). They used to allow teachers - to fill out some Spectrum classrooms - to identify students and, based on that recommendation and grades/scores - just let them in without the "testing."

I believe it worth bringing that back if we want more students of color in the program. We trust teachers' judgement.

Of course, that's only if teachers are willing to lose advanced learners from their classroom/school. That's a whole other story.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

If there was a Spectrum first grade classroom in every school, with both test-qualified and teacher -recommended students, do you think that might help? It would give those kids who haven't had the pre-school preparation a chance to catch-up and possible test into AL programs the next year.

Lynn

Jamie said...

Reposting for Anonymous at 4:34 pm because your comment will be deleted with no name on it:

Anonymous said...
Equitable Ed,
I think maybe you're thinking of APP as something more wonderful than it is. Our current program is set up to provide (through acceleration) an appropriate education for children who are already performing significantly above grade level and can be expected to continue to learn faster than the average child. As a bonus (through no effort of the district) it does provide the environment some of these children need to make friends and develop and improve their social skills. That’s it. If a student isn’t already working significantly above grade level, there is no value to be had in APP.

Of course there are very bright children in underrepresented populations. If they are not able to test into APP, it's because their reading and math achievement scores are not currently at the required 95th percentile - here's the affect of the opportunity gap. APP is not currently the appropriate program for these students. What they need is support to bring their academic skills up to the levels expected based on their abilities. APP as it is currently designed does not provide this support.
If the district wanted to set up a program for children with very high intellectual abilities, whatever their current skills, that would meet their needs in a more individualized manner (through both acceleration and enrichment), I think underrepresentation would be reduced. As it is, your concern that APP is being denied to certain populations makes no sense. If you enrolled them in APP, it would not meet their needs – because the district has designed the program and the services provided to meet the needs of children with a particular skill set.

Because there is no real value to the program unless you a student who meets this profile, I do not understand the hostility you feel. We can either meet the needs of these children outside APP – or change the qualifications required and services delivered to meet their needs. I would prefer a more individualized approach, but that’s not what the district has chosen to provide.

Anonymous said...

Re: B.F. Day having space

I am the parent of a 4th and 1st grader at B.F. Day. I'm not a numbers person, but would say compared to what I see at other schools in our area, we definitely have *more* space than they do.

There are no portables. Art, Music, and the Volunteer Coordinator each have their own classrooms. Last year there was a classroom on the third floor just standing empty. Last year my daughter's kindergarten class only had 18 students or so. This year the K classes seem a little bigger, but with losing all of Wallingford in our boundaries (in the new plan), those numbers will decrease again.

From what I remember seeing, it looks like we're basically just a Fremont neighborhood school, now. (And Fremont is not exactly loaded with children. Or is it?) Meanwhile, a friend of mine at West Woodland said their enrollment is going to increase and they're already quite full to begin with. It doesn't make sense.

We are a school with a very active parent volunteer community, but fundraising has always been a struggle simply because many of our families simply can't afford to give a lot. Losing Wallingford feels like bad news in that department. And, you know, bad news for Wallingford too, because under Katie Pearl's leadership our school is improving by leaps and bounds. I hope the district reconsiders. Otherwise I worry we might go the way of Pinehurst.

-- Day Mom

Anonymous said...

This is the first I've heard/seen of the idea of Stanford & MacDonald going back to neighborhood schools. Where did that come from? It hasn't been mentioned AT ALL at the Growth Boundary meetings, which I would see as a huge sham if SPS made a major change to the plan without time for informed public comment. I'm really asking, who said this was a possibility? I can't tell if it is a real likelihood or just an off-the-cuff statement that is now being tossed about in blogs....

Option school is best for the international school paradigm in the Wallingford area, and to support the further development of the program at the middle school level. If the international programs at Stanford and MacDonald are hindered, I guarantee APP will be seeing even higher enrollment.

Gracias. Arigato.

Anonymous said...

I believe kindergarten teachers (to start with) know what a gifted child looks like (the experienced ones at least).

Actually, no. The underachieving gifted student, or one with special needs or disabilities tends to get underidentified (2e). There's a reason multiple measures are used.

parent

mirmac1 said...

HIMS Mom, Point taken.

I don't accept that inclusion is good for some (especially if their IAs and funding benefit my kid) but not okay for others ("my kid shouldn't be used as a support for other kids"). I'm not suggesting sleeper thinks like the latter, but I have heard that sentiment and it directly contradicts her (very legitimate) question. Then I proceed to answer the question with the Law.

I am a STRONG believer in full inclusion. I am also very protective of the sometimes meager funding and supports provided for protected classes.

Wallingford Parent said...

In answer to original question about why BFDay boundaries are proposed smaller on both north end and East side. I had similar concern and when I asked Director Libros at the Ballard community meeting she said they intentionally carved out classrooms from BFDay capacity specifically for multiple Special Ed classrooms. While the Special Ed program details and placement are still tbd they had to at least anticipate this at several buildings. I do think Green Lake and West Woodland boundaries are now at least one homeroom too big based on adjustments...but I guess we trust in their calculations??

mirmac1 said...

And Wallingford Parent that is directly due to LI schools (whether option or "neighborhood") essentially being a SpEd-free zone.

Oh, they'll claim "we have X% SpEd!". But these are the students with minimal needs supported by resource room or related service providers: speech, learning disorders. Those who live in Wallingford and need specially-designed instruction, who could very well be in the general ed classroom for most of the day with supports, are REQUIRED to go to BFDAY.

This is the kind of "red-lining" that SpEd parents have fought against for years. And it just goes on.

Anonymous said...

mirmac, is that a district- or school-level policy? And what's the stated rationale? I'd like to understand this issue better...

HIMSmom

mirmac1 said...

HIMSMom, it's one of those "mysterious" program placement decisions that are unexplained and hurtful. Our students (despite being "general education students first!") are not guaranteed a neighborhood assignment. They are steered to programs, contrary to Law. Our students' IEP are to identify an appropriate placement, then they are to go to the school they would attend if not disabled, and have the supports provided that are in their IEP. Instead they go to fill up programs in whatever building they're put in.

Jet City mom said...

I imagine it is because principals don't want Sped as they see the students as demanding resources & lowering test scores.
So they play hot potato moving the very students around who need stability much more than others.

Anonymous said...

Having a kid at BF Day who turned out to be borderline SpEd (504, no IEP, yet), and who has friends who span the range from APP-qualified to needing IEP-level supports, BF Day has been great. The principal is incredible, and very much buys into the best parts of the "no child left behind" ethos. The SpEd support staff have been terrific as well.

So, not all principals "don't want SpEd".

BF Day parent

Anonymous said...

So, not all principals "don't want SpEd".


Where are these other principals, then?

Still searching

Jet City mom said...

I didn't mean to imply no principals want Sped.
Some take seriously the commitment to teaching all kids and if I remember right, when the current principal of bf Day was a undergrad, she fought to improve services for students with disabilities.

But some principals do not have that sort of commitment, and students may be shifted around the district depending on where they want to free up room.
I've also observed hostility from General Ed teachers toward students needing resource.
A weak principal looks the other way, but a strong principal will guide teachers to behave professionally.
Optimally anyway.

Anonymous said...

Day mom, perhaps your school is the solution to QA's overcrowding. I don't have ES students now, but boy, class size of 18 and room to spare would send me across the Fremont bridge.

squeezed








Anonymous said...

The issue Mirmac, is more than that. LI schools haven't come up with a solution, or a plan for how to immersively teach students with disabilities. Or, how to provide SDI that takes care of needs arising from immersion. Where is the immersive plan for special education students? So, parents rightly opt their kids with disabilities out of immersion schools because they won't provide for them. It's relatively simple to provide an isolated self-contained program that locks students away for the whole day - in an immersion school. It's much harder to provide good resource room services in LI schools. The problem is the Hamilton service area has such a high concentration of these LI programs that sped students are essentially driven out, driving up sped ratio's at other schools like BFDay. BF Day's sped population is 15% and growing. McDonald is around 6% and John Standford less than 5%. Whenever we allow programs to grow that decrease special education populations, those kids just wind up dominating some other building. In this case, B F Day, Westwoodland, Bagley.

sped parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

"This is the first I've heard/seen of the idea of Stanford & MacDonald going back to neighborhood schools. Where did that come from?"

You should read here more often because no, I didn't make this up. It has been and is being discussed by the Board and the staff. Will it happen? I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Are you sure you aren't confusing the issue? Currently, Stanford and Macdonald ARE neighborhood schools, and the discussion is to make them option schools. Your statement is to the reverse, and implies that the change to option has actually already been made.

Thanks!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, I did get that reversed. They are neighborhood schools and the consideration is to change them to Option schools. (This does not bode well for the rest of the day if I'm getting it wrong this early in the day. Thanks!)

Spruiter said...

Regarding Olympic Hills and potential loss of Title 1 funding if an APP cohort were placed there - with the proposed boundaries between Oly Hills and Cedar Park, I think Oly Hills would lose Title 1 funding anyway (without the addition of APP).

I am not advocating one way or the other for APP co-location at Oly Hills, but I think the proposed boundaries in Lake City are problematic (and seem too big for the tiny Cedar Park). I would like to see the district present some projected FRL rates for Oly Hills (with and without APP) and Cedar Park. I think shifting that boundary east a bit might balance those two schools better.

Anonymous said...

I would never rely on teachers to identify kids who might potentially qualify for APP. I think they might identify the kids who end up acting out due to their boredom as a way of getting the kids out of their class. But otherwise, the teachers (and principals) want to keep those kids in their classes and school to help raise their test scores. At least that was our experience with our APP qualified daughter. Not only did we never have a teacher suggest that she get tested, they actively tried to discourage us from sending her to Lowell.

Jane

Anonymous said...

I actually would not mind my children used as supports, right up to the point where it harms my children's education. The way people on here and occasionally the district would like to see them used- as in class teachers for material they mastered years prior, instead of learning new material, as good test scores to let the district brag about all their schools with good test scores without having to teach anyone anything, or as quiet body counts to avoid having children who require instruction and time on grade level material- is only bad for my kids and does not allow them to make any progress on their own educations(and actually I am only talking about one kid, I guess. My other two are excellent candidates for gen ed inclusive classrooms, thrive in them, learn a lot, and do not especially contribute to the high test scores arms race.) But if it helped my kids or was neutral, I'd be all for it. I loved seeing my newly fluent second grader read to the kindergarteners in school on book buddy day- win win. And I think it's great when my child only a little ahead in math gets to be a leader and help her friends with math. Those same opportunities are not as available for my child who is further ahead in a gen ed class. I'm not going to say why, but I am sure you can imagine. I am a pragmatist at heart and love a good win-win. I think most people would.

All I can see from the outside of the LI situation is win-win. The ELL kids get more of what's good for them, I thought. I know they are not self contained. My question was whether I was mistaken about it being better for them not to be self contained, whether the inclusive classroom impeded ell students' educations.

I thought what was best was them was inclusion with native speakers, and a language immersion program gets them not just with native speakers but native speakers interested in their language and culture, primed to make connections and friends. I was interested in hearing what is going wrong, what has people so worried as these programs sweep the district, aside from capacity issues and outrageous PTA funding goals (which are mitigated by ell money, I think?) If the McDonald PTA is using the ia's wrong, I am curious about that. If the district should be giving preference to native speakers better (I know other districts do- we should too. wonder if only the option thing would do that). If in these programs ell students take longer to get fluent on English or have slower progress in other subjects, I would like to know that too. If it's going swimmingly, and people are just worried, then I want to know that.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I just spent all my internet time for the day, but I think the problem with teacher rec is that they get disproportionately more white, old for grade boys, and fewer minority children or girls than the standardized tests.

I notice how people are even on here- whenever they try to come up with an example of a "genius" person who should be allowed into advanced learning, it's always a white male, usually a mathematician. Teachers are people too, and have those same biases. Every test has its flaws, though, and I do wish the teacher recommendation could be added back in more. Maybe at Title one schools teachers could nominate kids and the achievement requirement could be waved or lowered? Sort of a blunt, imperfect way of getting at it, but they all are.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

A preschool classmate of my daughter's was a native Spanish speaker, and when looking at elementaries, her father had zero interest in a school like JSIS. He did not want his child used simply as a token native speaker for the benefit of others, while his child benefited little. He wanted a traditional English speaking school.

-another perspective

Melissa Westbrook said...

To all, I only meant include teacher recs, not use them only. Of course not. Sorry if I was not clear.

Sleeper, my concerns for foreign language immersion are these:

- it does cost more to start and then maintain. Any FI school has to have grants to sustain their work because the district doesn't have the money. I don't know how much that comes out to for each FI school in SPS.

- equity. Only for some neighborhoods? Not fair at all. If they were Option schools, I might even support a "bump" for native speakers who would make the population better for the program.

- ELL services. If we take federal dollars for ELL services into a FI school, those IAs are ONLY for the ELL students. Otherwise, the dollars are being used improperly. That one PTA touted being able to use those IAs as "extra" adults in the building for cafeteria and playground duty is wrong.

I have no problem with having this but these are issues that should have been addressed LONG ago.

Another, well, there is also that idea that ELL children need to get up to speed faster on English. For elementary students, I think English immersion with some support is okay but that's the age that would get ahead the quickest.

Anonymous said...

IAs for ELLs should be for English, shouldn't they? In our experience at JSIS, the IAs have only been for the non-English part of the day. But since these are parent-funded positions, maybe that's ok? (And by this I mean
ok as in not a misuse of federal funds, not ok as in the right thing to do.) How are IAs used in the language immersion schools with higher ELL populations?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

"- ELL services. If we take federal dollars for ELL services into a FI school, those IAs are ONLY for the ELL students. Otherwise, the dollars are being used improperly. That one PTA touted being able to use those IAs as "extra" adults in the building for cafeteria and playground duty is wrong."

This is a little surprising. Isn't this common practice with Special Education Instructional Assistants? It is at our school.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

HIMS, yes, if the school or parents are paying for IAs, they can use them however they want. But if federal dollars are paying, they are just for the ELL students.

Also, I said it was wrong to use IAs for other purposes but that's just me. I would think if you raised all that money, you'd want to use them as much as possible in-class.

mirmac1 said...

The SpEd IAs for my child's program observed recess. But they supported the students with autism spectrum disorders navigate the crazy social world on the playground. If an anxious student stays in the SpEd classroom during lunch, the IA should be there, not busing trays in the lunchroom. A SpEd parent who expects support for their child's special-needs, has it in his IEP, does not get it during those times, and sees SpEd staff doing things that aren't SpEd-related I say file an OSPI complaint. Point out the other activities being paid by SpEd funding.

Mary Griffin said...

@mirmac1, at my son's school three years ago, the SpEd IA's were the only adults on the playground. Pretty sure that's illegal.

mirmac1 said...

Not if they are there to provide the services in their students IEPs. IDEA says nothing about ONLY providing services in the classroom. In fact, as we well know, the district must also support SpEd students at camp and other school-related activities. So those IAs are busy.

Anonymous said...

I thnk she means since they were the only adults on the playground, they were expected to monitor all the other kids, presumably cutting into their work with sped kids, and that other adults should be on the playground monitoring the other kids. But if it's just IA's, theoretically no one in monitoring the other kids.

Thanks for the responses, Melissa.

-sleeper

mirmac1 said...

Ah! I see. Even with Mary's directness, I don't get it the first time.

Yeah, this has to be added to the long list of things many principals have to learn. I wonder how some of them get their positions. And WTH do they learn at "leadership" school? At least this summer they got IDEA 101 at JSCEE, but how much can you learn about disability rights, lawful uses of funding, compliance and accomodations in a couple of hours?

Anonymous said...

Follow up post from Accuracy Please about BF Day:

Sorry, I misunderstood. I was commenting on whether or not BFDay had space based on the OLD attendance area. Under the old (larger) attendance area, they were projected to fill w/in a few years, once the artificially small cohorts that I described from choice plan and McDonald start up graduated out. There are a lot more kids coming up in the larger attendance area, which was created two years ago by moving some of JSIS into BF Day in an emergency boundary change.

I had not realized that the proposed attendance area had shrunk so much (that's why we need pretty color overlays showing old and new! - toggling back and forth through multiple sites and maps is ... hard).

Agree that it does seem the NEW proposed attendance area is too small.

Signed: Accuracy Fail

Anonymous said...

I live in the Crown Hill Triangle That keeps getting shifted around (Holman/85th/6th). My neighbor said her kids went to Viewlands, kids now go to Whittier, then they're saying North Beach, and now Loyal Heights? I agree the North Beach boundary is ridiculous, but it appears that if you send our kids to Loyal Heights, they'd have no contiguous territory with the other kids going to Loyal Heights, which seems rather messed up. I don't know what the solution is, but I like that idea even less. I don't have a kid in school yet, but one on the way, so I'm rather curious where this ends up if it's a 5-year plan.

-LBD

NW mom said...

LBD, your area is quite a bit farther from Loyal Heights than the NB area that's complaining. I agree sending your area to LH is not a good solution to their problem.