Saturday, April 04, 2015

Seattle Schools Planning New "Pathway" for Advanced Learning in West Seattle

From SPS:
The Office of Advanced Learning is collaborating with school and community members to develop a Highly Capable Cohort pathway for students in West Seattle. That is, when the pathway is established, students identified as Highly Capable could eventually be served from kindergarten through 12th grade in HC classrooms at schools located in West Seattle.
We are forming a Focus Group to provide an opportunity for school leaders and community members to collaborate on implementing new HC services at Madison Middle School and West Seattle High School. If you are interested in joining the Focus Group, application forms will be made available by mid-April on the Advanced Learning website
The pathway will take time to develop and will not be fully in place by next school year, but we want to help families understand their options for this fall:
Fairmount Park Elementary became a Highly Capable Option School this year – the first in West Seattle. At Highly Capable option schools, HC students are clustered in classes, where they learn together at an accelerated and/or deeper level. As the numbers of HC students grow, HCC classrooms will be formed. When students are identified through our testing procedures as eligible for HC, families may enroll them in Fairmount Park. Alternatively, a number of West Seattle’s elementary schools offer advanced learning opportunities or Spectrum programs.
Note that eligibility for Spectrum and HC requires following the Advanced Learning identification procedures. HC-identified students are automatically eligible for both advanced learning opportunities and Spectrum. See our web pages and the administrators at your neighborhood school for more information.
I'm a bit baffled.  Fairmount Park is a neighborhood school but they are calling it an "option" school for HC? As well, what is an HC Option School versus a school with Spectrum? I wonder if that might be confusing to parents.  
Madison has been identified as the West Seattle middle school that would offer the Highly Capable option. Establishing Madison as an official HC option school would be the next step in establishing the full K-12 pathway, with fall 2016 as the target date for implementation. As with Fairmount Park, HC students at Madison would be clustered in existing classes or placed in self-contained classes, depending on enrollment. Families wanting their HC-identified students in a guaranteed self-contained cohort may enroll them in Washington Middle School. HC students who attend Madison, however, are guaranteed places in the school’s Spectrum core subject classes, which offer learning at an accelerated or deeper level, where teachers will appropriately differentiate the instruction based on student need/level.
I find this "guaranteed self-contained cohort" another confusing term.  I have to assume they mean only for APP students because I don't see how Spectrum students could get this "guarantee." 
High School
West Seattle High School is seen as the Highly Capable option site in the WS pathway, and has already begun to expand its menu of Advanced Placement courses in preparation. An official target date has not yet been established. Meanwhile, current HC students may choose to attend Garfield (which offers a robust menu of Advanced Placement courses) or Ingraham (which offers the accelerated International Baccalaureate program). Note that Chief Sealth International High School offers the IB Diploma program, and is planning to introduce the IB Career Path in the future.
So why mention that Chief Sealth - located in West Seattle -has IB but tell parents that if they want it, they would have to go to Ingraham?  
We welcome the opportunity to expand Highly Capable services in the West Seattle neighborhood. Please see our web pages to learn about testing, enrollment, program sites and more.
Stephen B. Martin
Supervisor, Highly Capable Services
Seattle Public Schools
Perhaps this is how this is all written but I don't find this the most clear explanation.

Thoughts from West Seattle parents?


Lynn said...

Fairmount Park's Highly Capable Cohort is an option program for highly capable elementary students living in West Seattle. (These students have three guaranteed placements - Thurgood Marshall, Fairmount Park and their attendance area school.)

The difference between this and a school with Spectrum is that highly capable students are guaranteed a spot at Fairmount Park. At a Spectrum school, there is no guaranteed placement.

West Seattle highly capable middle school students will continue to be guaranteed a seat in Washington's traditional (self-contained for LA/SS) program. Madison is going to create a program for highly capable kids. It might be self-contained or it might offer blended highly capable/Spectrum classrooms.

I understand that they are planning to offer the usual highly capable science classes and that they'll be prepared to allow math placement two years ahead. Maybe they'll follow Washington's example and allow anyone taking algebra in 7th to take physical science and anyone taking geometry in 8th to take biology? It's obviously going to make scheduling more difficult.

The high school thing makes no sense at all. At Garfield the cohort is the point. There's nothing WSHS can do to create that. The note about Sealth is just a reminder that Sealth does not and will not offer an accelerated IB program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Who has highly capable science classes? I had never heard of this.

As well (and again) why does this program operate in such a crazy quilt way?

Lynn, what's the difference between IB and accelerated IB? (I feel like I missed some memos here on HC.)

Maureen said...

Why on earth would they route HCC to WSHS and not just create an IBX program at Sealth?

Anonymous said...

Beware of Madison.

There are some HCC families pushing LOUDLY for it, but Madison is anti-gifted. Unabashedly so.

Washington is a great place for the service because of the teachers and curriculum, Madison will fight delivery of THE service model which is the 3 cores self-contained kicking and screaming.

Take the bus, get the real deal at WMS. After Meany opens, WMS will not have so many portables. In contrast, when all those K5 students roll up to middle school in West Seattle, both Madison and Denny will be slammed.

Pushing for this is short-sited, premature, and destructive to the HCC student learning experience. Another principal and Ed director who are anti-gifted now thrown into the mix. Bad strategy.

Program service integrity is the critical priority, and you will never find that at Madison.


Anonymous said...

They need to create more high school pathways for HCC to take the pressure off Garfield and Ingraham. The middle school HCC cohorts are huge and expanding. Garfield and Ingraham will not be able to accomodate the entire cohort, starting right about now. At least give them credit for planning. And it seems to be actual planning with community input. Something needs to give, and given SPS's track record, this actually seems like an unusually thoughtful and transparent process that will help solve the HCC high school capacity crisis looming in the very near, if not present, future.


Eric B said...

Melissa, the difference is timing. The normal IB pathway is done in the junior and senior year of high school. IBX does it in the sophomore and junior years. The senior year is then free for either direct admission to college, internships, electives students couldn't squeeze into their earlier years, etc.

Lynn said...


I meant the science classes usually take down by highly capable students in middle school - 6th is a combination of 7th and 8th grade science topics, physical science in 7th and biology in 8th.

Accelerated IB (IBX) is the program for highly capable students at Ingraham. They start the IB programme (and can potentially graduate) a year early.

West Seattle High School was chosen because it is one of the two high schools with open seats. Sealth is full.

There are less than 100 West Seattle kids in the high school highly capable programs. This isn't going to solve Garfield's capacity problem. (And 100 kids does not make an adequate high school cohort.)

Most of Garfield's HC students come from the north end. The solution cannot involve moving out the kids from areas that can't provide a cohort closer to home.

Anonymous said...

If they can provide the appropriate classes at WSHS for "the cohort", then why is it not possible to make WSHS the HCC designated site for all HCC students from South Seattle and West Seattle? That will free up some room at Garfield to accomodate exploding northend HCC population. Something has to give. You can't just say no, we only want to stay all together for high school as a "cohort" at either Garfield or Ingraham. In a couple years the high school "cohort" will be bigger than any of the existing comprehensive high schools.

It would seem to be in the best interest of HCC to help develop new pathways to ensure the success of those schools. WSHS is not cursed. Who would have imagined a few years ago that Ingraham would become a sought after high school? Help plan for the looming and known HCC capacity crisis at high school. Throwing up road blocks is not going to stop the problem.


Anonymous said...

Has there been any discussion of Lincoln becoming an HCC pathway high school when it reopens? We definitely need a non-IB HCC option in the north end, and that might avoid too much boundary redrawing for Ballard and Roosevelt. It would help alleviate some crowding at Garfield, too.

Not that we can really wait another five years to wait for a solution, but still...


Anonymous said...

Program integrity was lost a long time ago. If JAMS and HIMS are any indication of what another HCC middle school pathway will be like for the HC cohort, then I'd be very wary. Math and science classes can be taken on an accelerated pathway, but that's about it. The APP LA/SS curriculum doesn't seem to exist outside of WMS. The district aligned the APP/HCC LA/SS to grade level standards, which eliminated much of what made the traditional APP curriculum challenging. On top of that, teachers can do pretty much whatever they like.

As far as IBX, it is more prescriptive and less flexible than Garfield. Garfield offers AP and more varied options for math, science, and social studies classes. The IB diploma requires an extended essay written over the summer, plus other requirements beyond the standard course load. It is a choice, and not a default assignment, for a reason.


Stu said...

Maybe it's just me but guaranteeing a place in a program, Spectrum, that the principal can cancel or change at any time, seems like a risk. Until the district defines Spectrum, and a district-wide delivery system, what's this guarantee worth?


too bad too sad said...

Exactly Stu, at the same time that WMS is blending spectrum with gen ed at WMS they are going to blend spectrum with HCC at MMS. And I too have heard from several folks Madison is a anti-gifted programs.

They mention Madison will be optional but they don't say the same thing for WSHS. Looks like GHS will loose their Latin teacher after all.


Anonymous said...

With the huge increase in middle school HCC students headed toward high school, why would Garfield lose their Latin teacher? Expanding the HCC high school pathway is necessary to keep Garfield and Ingraham HCC enrollment stable, not bursting, which will be the case in the next couple, maybe even next, year. The HCC enrollment is increasing, building capacity is not.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - BTDT at 2:35

Lynn said...


There is room at Garfield for all of the HC students south of the ship canal. You can't just say send the south end kids out of Garfield to make room for north end kids.

There are not enough students in West Seattle to make a viable high school cohort. Even 40 kids per grade would bring enough funding for WSHS to hire just one more teacher. That's not going to enable them to provide the range of classes that Garfield offers.

Anonymous said...

There is room at Garfield for all of the HC students south of the ship canal. You can't just say send the south end kids out of Garfield to make room for north end kids.

Why not? Not that I'm saying it's a good idea, but doesn't the district do this sort of thing all the time with HCC? How is that much different than opening JAMS as an HCC site, then telling all the NE HCC kids they had to move from HIMS to JAMS to make room for higher numbers of neighborhood and NW HCC kids?


Anonymous said...

Uh Lynn, it isn't all about the HCC kids. It's also about the neighborhood kids. The lines as drawn are absurd and need a relook. Opening a pathway in West Seattle makes sense for offering advanced learning closer to home and offering gen ed kids the chance to attend closer to home. AP does not have to wait for HCC kids. There isn't a cohort of HCC kids in high school anyhow. West Seattle can add AP classes and that will be of great benefit to ALL.

You can fight tooth and nail but the writing is on the wall. HCC is being distributed throughout the city and the majority of the city is pleased with it.

Longtime parents

Anonymous said...

For years and years the APP cohort at Garfield held steady at about 125 students per grade. Since the split and other factors that have contributed to the explosive growth of the APP/HCC progam, the size of the cohort coming into high school in the next few years is about 3 times that size. Ingraham has served as a relief valve for Garfield with the IBX program. But with even bigger APP/HCC classes coming out of middle school, it is necessary to create a third pathway.

If Garfield was successful with APP grade level cohorts of 125, why can't the program be split into 3, with 125 APP/HCC students per grade level? The incoming 9th APP/HCC grade level classes are soon to be at about 375, the number of freshman in a large SPS comprehensive high school. Currently, elementary and middle school APP/HCC placement is based on geography. Why can't high school APP/HCC placement also be based on geography, just as it is for every other high school student in SPS? Choice is nice, but the size of the APP/HCC cohort has perhaps outgrown the choice privelege.

The high schools with room to accomodate a third APP/HCC pathway are West Seattle, Cleveland and Rainier Beach. The natural choice would be West Seattle, which already has FP creating a new, and presumably strong, program under Julie B's great leadership. If the principal at Madison is hostile, change the principal. Don't make one employee the reason a growing and popular program cannot have a third and vital location in West Seattle serving a third of the high school APP/HCC students.


Anonymous said...

Before the boundaries were set for the NSAP, the district would routinely send kids to random schools not close to home once neighborhood schools were full. APP/HCC are not the only kids who have been moved against their will. Many kids were shut out of neighborhood schools, glaringly Garfield in 2009. Kids who lived north of Aloha on Capitol Hill could not get into Garfield and were sent anywhere else that had room. It filled up, that was it. In March.

Kids didn't have to just move buildings with their cohort, but they had to go far away to high school without their friends at all. I know many kids this happened to who lived within what are now Garfield's firm boundaries.It was also a huge problem in the northend, too. APP/HCC are by no means the only population in SPS who have been burdened by capacity problems.


Lynn said...

That's a great idea. Let's look at where next year's freshman will come from. Last year's HCC 7th grade enrollment was;

51 Washington
18 Mercer
8 Aki
5 Denny
20 Madison

33 McClure
37 Hamilton
77 Whitman
54 Eckstein

How do you think we should spilt up next year's freshman class?

Anonymous said...

A huge portion of the HCC kids at Garfield hail from Madison Park, Montlake, Capitol Hill, Madrona, Leschi. Garfield is both their reference school and their neighborhood school. They would just choose to stay at Garfield. None of them would choose to move to west Seattle, especially since high school HC is not a program but a placement. They would just keep their neighborhood Garfield placement.
-- Been There

Anonymous said...

Is there a location in the northend that could accomodate 100 plus APP/HCC freshman and be considered a new, third location that could continue to take that number and more every year? Ultimately be able to have a cohort of 400 plus APP/HCC kids?

Can Garfield be expected to take up to 200 APP/HCC kids or more in its freshman class next year? What happens to the kids who live in the neighborhood boundaries? Can Ingraham take the remaining 125?

These are real questions, not hating on APP/HCC, but capacity questions that may have answers districtwide. The cohort is important. More important than location, possibly.


Anonymous said...

The vast majority of APP/HCC kids at Garfield are from the northend. Most Madison Park kids go private. Montlake and Madrona do have a relatively large number of APP/HCC kids, but nothing in comparison to the numbers from the northend. Evidenced by Lynn's numbers from middle school attendance areas.


Anonymous said...

Lynn - your numbers are misleading. You are listing the reference school of the kids rather than the school's they attend.
- Been There

Anonymous said...

It's not misleading. It just means that all the kids in the north go to JAMS and Hamilton and all the kids in the south go to Washington. And then they all will go to Garfield, unless they choose IBX at Ingraham or a neighborhood school or private.

And there are a majority in the northend, by far.


Anonymous said...

If there's NOT a 3rd HCC pathway soon, it would seem that HC kids would have to just go to their neighborhood schools instead (with expanded AP options?). But since north-end high schools can't really absorb a bunch of additional kids, it seems like the boundaries for all the high schools would likely have to be completely reworked to address this dramatic reshuffling. What a mess.

If a new HCC site opens at one of the high schools with excess capacity, it seems like you either have to move some of the Garfield kids over, or force north end kids who can't fit into Garfield to go to the new site instead. But the latter only works if there's a big draw, an upside to attending the new school. I suspect that most north end kids and parents, if faced with that choice, would opt for their neighborhood school instead. In which case, that HS-wide boundary reshuffling I mentioned above would likely be necessary, no?


Anonymous said...

If most northend kids and parents, when faced with the choice of staying with the cohort or staying in a convenient location would choose location over cohort, one has to ask how important is the cohort? The exponential growth in the APP/HCC cohort began when the program was split and placed at Lincoln in convenient Wallingford. The only reason the cohort is able to stay at Lincoln as it grows to something in the range of 780 for gradess 1-5 next year is that it is placed in a building that can house 1600. The biggest elementary in Seattle by by about 200 students (esp when you factor out K). Interesting.


Anonymous said...

My point is the vast majority of the South end HCC kids are from montlake, madison park, capital hill, madrona & Leschi. You can't send them to west seattle H.S. If they choose to stay at their neighborhood school, Garfield. You also can't kick them out of their neighborhood school to give preference to north seattle HCC kids. Also, the maps show lots of McGilvra area reference kids (madison park) enrolled in HCC notwithstanding your stereotypes. 5 kids from my child's grade at McGilvra moved to APP. Lots of McGilvra reference kids now attend Garfield.
-- Bern there

Anonymous said...

Again, there is no HCC cohort in High School. There are kids eligible for services and that mainly boils down to taking AP classes. There are not kids guaranteed to remain with their middle school classmates. This is how it is for gen ed and spec ed too. The time has arrived to up the AP classes in high schools throughout all high schools. The HCC kids can go to those classes in the school near them. That's called distributing rigor for all.

And that Madison principal? He works his tail off and has received many awards. Betting 2 dollars that it's not the HCC students he doesn't like. It's their parents and often with good reason. Scathing comments in a blog will intensify not fix that situation.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it obvious that Lincoln should revert to a High School with an HCC cohort?


Lynn said...

I don't think the principal at Madison is a problem. He seems perfectly welcoming. The entire school is designed around Turning Points a national design for middle school change - which requires eliminating tracking. This is the reason Madison was the last middle school to implement Spectrum.

There are AP or IB classes in every attendance area high school. The "service" provided to HC students at Garfield is a pretty good chance of having other HC students in most of their classes. West Seattle High School isn't going to offer that. (Unless all those kids enroll in the same classes every year - which seems a bit much to expect after they've had the same classmates for elementary school and middle school.)

Anonymous said...

If there are 100+ APP/HCC freshman at WSHS, there will be HCC classmates in their AP classes. Absolutely. And enough to offer Latin. And to create a music program not equal to, but able to grow into, a Garfield or Roosevelt program. And they will join the clubs, the sports teams and rise to leadership positions in student government.


Lynn said...

But there won't be. There are only 25 or so per grade in West Seattle. Unless you want to send kids from Mercer, Aki, McClure and Hamilton over.

Anonymous said...

Another problem is the massive growth of students in WS. There are 5 elementary schools feeding into Madison which, as of today, exceed 2300 kids (including Fairmount Park, which just opened), plus Pathfinder and STEM alt programs, which are also very popular. Madison's estimated enrollments were way, way low last year and this year, and the reference area head count continues to grow. A quick average per grade indicates the counts will hit 400 per grade in a couple years, plus probably 1/2 the STEM and Pathfinder kids, which will likely add another 50 to 100 kids per grade. If the HCC program at FP grows like a mushroom, which history indicates will be the case, like all the others, capacity will be maxed before a single one of those kids reaches HS.

Seems to me SPS is wishing and hoping for magic, versus reality. You can put HCC at Madison and WSHS, but it won't be long before there's a space crunch and all the typical battles ensue.

We all need Lincoln on line, and for people to realize that we can't grow our way out of a capacity problem. Growth IS the problem.

Kellie: Is it time for another enrollment-balancing explanation?


Eric B said...

I would be very surprised if opening an HCC pathway in West Seattle didn't bump up HCC testing and enrollment. Part of the reason we didn't send children to HCC in elementary school was that Lowell was far away and our neighborhood school met our kids' needs fairly well. Once Lincoln opened, it didn't make sense to change schools. Sending my middle school student to Hamilton is a much easier choice than Washington, just because of distance and logistics.

That just addresses the kids who were tested into HCC. Given how much the district pushed parents not to test their kids if they weren't open to going to the HCC site, I'm sure you'll see more kids getting tested as well.

Cohorts in popular programs grow. Ingraham started with fewer than 10 students in their IB program. Now it serves well over 150 on the diploma track and more taking individual classes.

kellie said...

Happy Spring Capacity Battles everyone!! It is Spring time in Seattle and that means, it is time for the annual debate of how to re-shuffle kids to solve capacity problems.

There are multiple issue being conflated in this thread and I will start with West Seattle boundaries, which is the real driver of this "solution."

West Seattle's boundaries are deeply problematic. Because of the Denny/Sealth co-location. SPS did not have the option to have BOTH rational high school boundaries AND the middle school feeder-pattern.

Therefore the boundaries for Sealth are just too BIG and WSHS are just too small. This could have worked if IB had been located at WSHS instead of Sealth but ... the situation is that Sealth has both IB and too large a geograpahic area to support.

In many ways that problem is very straightforward and has only two solutions.

1) break the middle school feeder pattern and right size the geographic boundaries or

2) make the school with the too-small boundaries attractive enough so that folks opt-in.

Anonymous said...

Wrong. There is a service model for HCS identified by 8th grade: the model is the cohort -- in high school. By cohorting the HCS in a HCC at high school, there is critical mass to build out a master schedule to accommodate their unique needs. ALL high schools, and middle schools, go through the same budgeting process. Contrary to popular but untrue belief, these HSC students don't get 'more' or 'better', they are students in a school who need certain courses to carry on with their course pathway. In order for that to happen, there needs to be enough of them for a principal to put in calculus, statistics, advanced sciences, etc. the upside is any student with the prerequisites can take any AP course.

But please refrain from spreading non truths as if they are real. Read the OSPI grant from SSD, this high school cohort model is right there. It is THE critical model to put a school in a position of delivering services. That ensures ALL identified by 8th grade students equity of access.


kellie said...

As for all of the questions and comments about the HC cohort and high school

The high school issue is NOT about HC at Garfield, in any way shape or form.

This is about trying to eek out a little extra "efficiency" in the incredibly inconvenient geographic placement of physical high schools and where students live in Seattle.

At this particular moment, we have approximately the same number of high school students and seats in high school. (IMHO, we have more students than seats - but that is a different debate) However, there is almost no way to shuffle the deck so that there are the right number of bodies in the right locations.

There are only two schools with real wiggle room - RB and WSHS. RB is hard at work to be more attractive that their historical enrollment issues and there are some really impressive folks working on that. But it takes a long time to change a legacy issue.

WSHS's problem is more artificial. In a classic capacity balancing model, you place attractive programs at schools that would naturally not fill from the geographic area. There are more than enough students in the area, they just are assigned to Sealth.

This is going to become more and more clear every year that the enrollment in West Seattle continues to increase. It will not be long before the same K8 vs middle school issue that plagued the Jane Addams building rears its ugly head in West Seattle.

Anonymous said...

That is what they should do, it makes sense, it creates a balanced triad - one AP-driven cohort in the middle and two IBx in the extremes -- but they won't do it because of capacity. The failure of the idiotic co-location of Denny and Sealth is strained and hamstrung by this absolute limitation.

But what the District KNOWS but is NOT telling West Seattle is that West Seattle's capacity is broken.

Surely parents can see this? The same parents who crowded the meetings and told them NOT TO CLOSE SCHOOLS because there were too many kids? Final analysis: parents were right, district was really really wrong. (Genesee Hill reopened with 660 seats, Fairmont Park reopened with 660 seats, brand new k5 STEM opened more than 400 seats, Arborh Heights being enlarged to 660 seats --- where exactly does the district say these ADDITIONAL students are going to land??). All those K5 students rolling up into middle and high mean that West Seattle MUST find a way to export 'volunteers'; students who will choose to take a bus and go elsewhere, like to Washington or Garfeild. Pulling students who now go 'off islsnd' BACK into the 'island' is going to bite ALL west Seattle students in the behind. Can you say, "school in shifts"????

The District people pushing for this won't be here in 3 years. But we will. Marty has been so disappointing.

Capacity Equalibrium

kellie said...

So what is the real issue here ??

Once again, this one more band-aid being placed on the hemorrhaging wound that is the lack of a QA/Mag high school. This problem has causes the vast majority of ALL capacity issues for decades now.

This problem is so persistent that even a fight that went all the way to the Supreme Court failed to address this fundamental problem in providing a public education to ALL children who live within the boundaries of the City of Seattle.

When Seattle closed schools, Lincoln was a natural choice. The property is a terrible high school campus. It was opened as an interim solution and served many functions over its lifetime. However, closing QA high school was foolish and politically driven

With NO high school for QA/Mag, there is a game of everyone move to the next school. This is the reason that "north of Aloha" couldn't go to Garfield.

QA/Mag students are entitled to a public high school and they have to go somewhere. Under the choice system, they were ballast to balance seats. Under the new system, they fill Ballard.

Then, the Ballard areas displaces into all the other north end schools. The north end APP students going Garfield is the thing that hold it all together (at least for the moment)

kellie said...

The only thing that solves a capacity problem is MORE CAPACITY.

So while it is tempting to say -- everyone go back to your attendance schools, that is the answer!!! If that actually was the answer, it would have already been done.

SPS clearly has no issue with moving APP students. If it was possible to have 100% of north end HC students magically assigned to Ingraham, it would have been done already.

Even with Lincoln on line and fully enrolled, there simply is not enough high school seats in North Seattle for the number of students who live there.

Simply put, as long as QA/Mag students MUST go north, there is always going to be pressure to send other students south.

Anonymous said...

There is no explosive growth of HCC - as a percentage of the total enrollment, it's deflection is minor, one or two points. What is growing is student enrollment overall. That is the real story.

How many K5s DEPEND on deflecting HSC students to Lincoln, Thurgood Marshall or Fairmont Park to stay afloat? Look it up in the District's enrollment report. At least a dozen.

The problem is NOT HCC, the problem is the District's BAD planning and poor choices. How wasteful to close Meany, move NOVA, all to reverse this at a cost of $10M, not to mention the pain and tumult dealt to students, families and teachers.

Your 1600 number is puzzling at best, inflammatory at worst.

There is not enough capacity in the regions that need it the most. Queen Anne Magnolia are missing their high school, for example, that is not HCC's fault. Ballard students are pushed out of Ballard High School. That is not HCC's fault. Roosevelt is beyond 1700, bigger than Garfeild. That is not HCC's fault. The District sought to obtain, for the first time ever, a zoning departure from the City to over-portable a k5, going beyond the lot coverage limits, that is a new low, and, that is not HCC's fault. Although readers of this blog had a feild day attacking Laurelhurst residents because those families rejected this and were outraged by how poor planning was trying to mask real problems of a lack of capacity. Graham Hill was in danger of losing its preschool a while back, that was not HCC's fault.

Please, do not throw shade at kids or communities. Step back, look at the big picture, and see the capacity issue for what it is: district failure upon failure. You cannot blame the legislature for this. The Capital matching funds come in like clock work. Goodloe-Johnson, then Banda, then a care taker who does not get it that is what has caused our children's problems of math pull-outs in the hallways, 3 shifts of lunch, lack of playgrounds because of portable footprints, insufficient bathrooms for schools like Kimball or Whitman because of way too many (beyond 10%) portables. None of the is HCC's fault.

Please, don't blame kids. Any kids.

Better planning

kellie said...

So here is my only comment when it comes to this annual debate about slicing and dicing the HC students.

The debate around HC services, rigor and cohort and model, is a beautiful distraction. As long as people point fingers at the "HC problem" they are NOT discussing the capacity problem.

There has NOT been a massive burgeoning of HC students in Seattle that is somehow driving all of these "problems." There has been a massive burgeoning of STUDENTS.

Seattle Schools has been growing by over a 1,000 students per year. Slicing and dicing HC is the capacity management plan.

Slicing and Dicing APP was the only way to make the farce of the closures look good on paper, despite ample evidence from the community that it would not work.

When it was no longer possible to ignore the tragedy of the school closures, the "only" way to open schools seems to be to re-assign the HC students.

The bottom line is that there is not enough capacity. Plain and Simple.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, kellie. On that larger capacity issue which is at the heart of everything, have you seen anything that leads you to believe we're going to make it through these next five or so years without major problems? District folks point to Lincoln as the next big solution, but that doesn't seem like it will come online soon enough.

And do you know the district 's timeline for releasing any updated, multi-year projections?


Lynn said...

I read somewhere that updated projections are expected in May. I've been watching the new demographics webpage

Melissa Westbrook said...

Rigorforall, yes, there is an HC cohort in high school at Garfield (again, unless I missed a memo).

I had mention to get up a thread on the Budget section of the most recent Work Session but the question was asked - by Director McLaren - about high school capacity.

Staff all looked at each other and then Mr. Tolley said, that's Flip's area and, as it turns out, Mr. Herndon was not there. Tolley said Flip would have a report "soon." I asked at the BTA IV meeting at Hale and Herdon said in the next "month." Is that April or May?

Remember how you got to this place because it has very little to do with HC and very much to do with how this district is management and the incredibly short-sightedness of how they do capacity planning.

He also said they are looking into all ideas like split shifts, year-round but he didn't seem very upbeat about those options.

Yes, Denny/Sealth was not a good idea (and I'd be interested to know how much collaboration does actually go one between the schools and staffs as was advertised).

You just are not going to get more people into RBHS for two reasons. One, the City doesn't seem to have made the effort to make it look and feel safer in the surrounding area of the high school. That IS the City's job. Second, the district decided, probably 10 years back, that RBHS was never going to come back and did very little to the physical building.

Mistake. Because unlike all the other comprehensives, it is not a thing of beauty or comfort. (Ingraham and Sealth may not have had total remodels but they both had huge amounts of work done on them in comparison to RBHS).

And now the district desperately needs to get kids into RBHS. Oh dear.

And Lincoln? Yes, we got Flip to weigh in on that as well. They are getting their - what? $19M - and that's it (even as he admits it could use much more). Again, you will have a much-loved, fairly well-used building with what are going to be (in the big picture) minor upgrades. I'm sure it will end up full but those parents now will be agitating for more.

Anonymous said...

Next year there will be 323 HCC 9th graders, based on Lynn's numbers. They all have preference to Garfield. Some will choose Ingraham, neighborhood and private, but even with that attrition, Garfield will be way oversubscribed for 9th grade. The freshman class with neighborhood kids included should be 400.

The 8th grade HCC cohort has nearly tripled in a few short years. The growth in APP/HCC since the split, etc, has far outpaced the growth in SPS. It does not make HCC the bad guy, but it does present a big problem having so many kids able to choose Garfield as their high school. A problem that needs some kind of solution. Remember, the cohort at GHS used to function very well, for years, at 125. The district is at least starting to look at planning a new pathway, where this conversation started.


Melissa Westbrook said...

But PW, the new "pathway" provides outs to HCC parents who don't like the pathway. Don't like Madison? You get to go to Washington? Don't like WSHS? You get to go to Garfield.

The answer is making all these pathways, in every region, coherent and equitable. You may still have capacity issues, as Kellie has pointed out, but at least it won't look like a game of checkers.

kellie said...

@ PW,

While it is very appealing to clearly state that without HC, then Garfield would be right-sized. It is even more appealing to look to the handful of things that worked really well during the choice system.

No doubt about it. It is appealing. And that beautiful distraction is nothing more than a distraction. HC is not the source of crowding at Garfield.

Roosevelt now has more students than Garfield. Ballard has about the same number of students, in a slightly smaller building.

The Garfiled-Roosevelt-Ballard triangle are the three schools that cover the middle (ish) of the city. All THREE schools are full. All THREE schools have significant master schedule issues.

Any change at one of the schools means pushing students to one of the adjacent schools.

The "limited choice" model is really one-directional. It is about getting students OUT of the Garfield-Roosevelt-Ballard triangle and into any other school.

Anonymous said...

SPS needs to build a new high school for Q.A. and Magnolia. That would help stem the overcapacity problem throughout the city.

A comprehensive new high school at Memorial Stadium could be a model humanities and arts program. Fold in the Center School and build upon its ties with the Seattle Rep. Make Jon Greenberg head of the humanities dept. Expand athletics with the field that is already there. Use public transit to bring students to the Seattle Center.

SPS could continue to lease the space in the Armory building where the Center School is now. They could make it an elementary school and take advantage of the nearby Children’s Museum, Science Center and Children’s Theater.

Ballard H.S. and Garfield could then attract more families from their neighborhoods.

We need to build capacity in the center of the city.

S parent

Anonymous said...

HCC cohort is an important and valuable part of Garfield. Never said that GHS would be right-sized without it, just that having the cohort take up more than half the freshman class is problematic.


Anonymous said...

@ Melissa

You wrote that Flip weighed in about Lincoln at the BTAIV meeting. Did he say anything regarding the need for a high school for Queen Anne/Magnolia?


-reality check

Po3 said...

I think it is a great idea to create an HCC pathway in West Seattle. I always thought it was a drag these students had such a long commute to their schools.

Anonymous said...

HCC as it now operates is obsolete. It doesn't serve the students, in fact it's bad for them.

There are a few hundred, less than 300 from K-12, who need to be in a isolated environment, call it cohort or self-contained, in order to succeed at school.

The rest of the tested-in HC kids can find all they need in "normal" schools. AL knows this and is steadily changing to a dispersed model for the service.
There will be a place for the subset of HC who actually need to get away from other students to thrive.

I commend Dr Martin for a thoughtful and controlled winding down of the current model. Even as it expands, it s getting dismantled. A small stable self-contained program for the few who need it will be implemented in a few years.

Orca Parent

Dianne said...

For those interested in talking directly with District staff on this (and other issues), Stephen Martin, Supervisor of HC Services and Advanced Learning will be at Seattle Council PTSA's General Meeting on Monday, April 6th, as part of our round table discussions.

The meeting is at JSCEE from 7:15-9:15; several invites/reminders have gone out to PTA leaders in the past 2 weeks but everyone is welcome.

After our short business meeting, Ken Gotsch (Finance, Budget, Grants) will be doing a presentation on school budgeting. Then we will break into round tables with staff including:

Ken Gotsch (school funding)

Flip Herndon (Capacity, enrollment planning, BTA, Capital projects.)

Bernardo Ruiz (school-family partnerships, equity and race, Native American education)

Eric Anderson (enrollment data, student assessments)

Michael Tolley (T & L, SBAC, Common Core)

Shauna Heath (C & I, MS social studies adoption)

Stephen Martin (Supervisor of Advanced Learning)

Margo Siegenthaler (Ombuds for SPED).

Dianne Casper
SCPTSA Secretary

Anonymous said...

The "dispersed model" idea for HC students is simply a cynical way of raising test scores in a large number of schools at once to look like SPS is improving overall. It has nothing to do with serving HC kids. It will just spread them in schools were there are not enough advanced classes, or class capacity to serve them. All the HC kids will be sitting in the library taking online classes.

- EverybodyKnowsThis

Anonymous said...

Segregation of HC students serves very few of them well. The district has made service available at every middle school and every high school, as well as a guaranteed spot in the HCC for all grades.That is clearly untenable as the crowding increases. The "school within a school" effect is also doomed to retirement. We are not that kind of district. It's not fair to the kids in the cohorts to be labeled and segregated any more than it's fair to make single-subject gifted, high achievers and just regular students feel inferior and excluded. It hurts the students and the community at large. Martin an Daniels are succeeding in protecting the truly vulnerable HC but at a cost that it increasingly high to others in and out of HCC.
I agree with Orca parent that the time is approaching for a radical alteration of delivery. Savvy parents are not going to count on Garfield as an option city-wide, it's not going to be there for long. The smart parents are going to be helping their neighborhood school, from high school and middle, down to elementary, provide service that is effective and compatible with the ideals of social integration we share as a community.

pulsar watcher

kellie said...

@ PW.

I'm sorry I misunderstood your point. How is it problematic?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reality Check, no, he was very vague and unspecific. I don't know if that is because they want to unveil their high school plan all at once or don't have it finished.

You rarely hear -from anyone on the Board or from staff - that the issue is the lack of a high school at QA/Magnolia. It's a little strange especially when you then see them jumping thru hoops over the Federal Reserve building.

Some of you seem confused.

Orca parent, where did you get the figure that there are less than 300 K-12 in APP? Because that is simply not the case.

Second, EVERY school is supposed to have AL offerings. So every school is part of Advanced Learning and is "normal."

Pulsar, what school within a school is there except when Wilson-Pacific comes on-board? Because APP at Garfield is not its own school.

"It's not fair to the kids in the cohorts to be labeled and segregated any more than it's fair to make single-subject gifted, high achievers and just regular students feel inferior and excluded."

And yet, in districts thru-out the country, there are gifted programs. Hard to fathom if that statement is true.

I do agree, however, that we have to strive to make ALL schools good and schools that can serve ALL learners. That means a smaller class size and differentiation.

That day is not yet here.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak foe PW, but it seems that displacing neighborhood students with northend HCC forcing former Garfield assignment area students into Franklin or Rainier Beach would indeed be problematic.
Would agree the writing is on the wall in light of the policy regarding incoming high schoolers and their inability to access Garfield until and unless they have exhausted all AP course options at their assigned high school.
If WSHS can ramp up enough to serve HC then any high school can do so as well. The "option" will not be there for long, it will be Hc at a student's assigned school.


Anonymous said...

please read more carefully before disputing someone's comments.
I said

"There are a few hundred, less than 300 from K-12, who need to be in a isolated environment, call it cohort or self-contained, in order to succeed at school."

note, "who need to be in an isolated environment", NOT in HCC, as you erroneously interpreted.

Also the "school within a school" environment as exists with the HCC at Garfield, as exists at Hamilton, as existed at former self-contained Spectrum schools, and is no doubt developing at JAMS-
that is what I was referring to in my comment.

I will try to be more clear in the future.

Orca Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

Orca Parent, words have meaning.

When you say "school within a school" and leave out "environment" it will lead to confusion.

As well, APP elementary IS totally self-contained. There are far more than 300 students in Lincoln. As well, there are APP self-contained students at Washington.

So no, I don't need to "read more carefully." I would suggest you be clearer in your comments.

Anonymous said...

Having 200+ HCC/APP 9th graders at GHS will easily push the freshman class to 450, if not more. The number of neighborhood kids reamins about the same, but as the APP/HCC cohort grows, so will Garfield. And it can only get so big. But the APP/HCC cohort keeps on growing. This year's 6th grade APP/HCC class is even bigger than the 8th grade class, and will add more. That is the problematic part.

Remember, for years and years, before the split, the APP cohort by grade level at Garfield, pre-Ingraham IBX even, was about 125. Year in, year out. And that was not that long ago. This year (2015/16) it is 323 for entering 9th grade. Though it will not happen, they all have the right to choose Garfield. In fact, it is their placement unless they choose Ingraham IBX.


Anonymous said...

I'm a bit foggy on the BEXIV timeline with regards to the Lincoln building.

I know that elementary APP/HCC, along with Licton Springs K-8 are in the building now, and that they will be relocated to Wilson-Pacific when the new elementary and middle school opens there (2017?).

Lincoln isn't opening as a high school until 2019, right? Is there another school that is supposed to be housed in Lincoln for 2017-18 and 2018-19, or will it just take that long to get Lincoln ready?

The reason why I'm asking is because they opened JAMS before that building was done. Construction at JAMS is happening in phases. There was some work done last summer, before the school opened, but the really big jobs are scheduled for this Spring/Summer. More work at JAMS is scheduled for Summer 2016.

Is it possible to do Lincoln the same way? I'm not saying it is ideal (because it is obviously not), but it might help get additional HS seats online faster.

Has this been discussed at all?

- North-end Mom

kellie said...

@ PW,

The freshman class at Garfield is already at 450 this year and 500 is most certainly in the immediate future.

Here is the link to the high school enrollment report.
Ballard - 436
Roosevelt - 429
Garfield - 459

The high school numbers should be scaring people but they are not because total enrolled looks pretty stable. However, this is only because the running start students simply *disappear* and are not in the reports.

In many ways, the HC students coming into Garfield is helping Garfield's capacity issues as many of those students exit for running start.

Anonymous said...

"fair" - what an unfortunate word when talking about kids. It is an emotional word and our decisions about kids and education should be governed by reason and logic. That means looking at programs that are succeeding, looking at research and deciding.

To make a general statement that something isn't "fair" is so intellectually dishonest, it is hard to know how to respond.

I would also add that classrooms today are not just collections of a variety of learning levels but of management levels, too. Whether due to more working parents, longer working hours, processed foods, or just plain poor discipline at home, the classroom behavior of students is way out of line. I believe a lot of parents try to get their kids into HCC to guarantee they will be in a classroom where they can learn.

Just as we need supports for low kids, we need challenge for high kids and those kids are not just the geniuses Lynn talks about. The top ten percent is a very high group of children. They not only learn quickly but they come curious and ready to learn. When they are not engaged, they become problems as well. Fair - who doesn't think they deserve to be treated fairly as well. And "fair" is an educational construct that meets their needs.

Big Picture

Anonymous said...

Do you know for a fact that HCC/APP kids are going to Running Start? My anecdotal evidence over many years involved with GHS is that the kids who choose Running Start are those that kind of burn out on the whole high school experience and are ready for a change of pace. The APP/HCC culture at GHS is pretty dominant, in a good way, studious, engaged, movers and shakers, and unless they need early entrance at UW, the academics and extra curriculars are a good fit at GHS for the HCC/APP students and are they very successful at college placement.

There is a portion of the Garfield population that is a bit transient. Section 8 housing is prevalent in some of the neighborhoods that are within the GHS boundaries, and many kids enroll and drop out of GHS each week throughout the year. Between this and the Running Start students, kids do seem to disappear from the tally. But my experience is that it is not the APP kids who are going to Running Start.


kellie said...

Back to the notion of the pathway at WSHS,

At the moment WSHS is the school that is importing the greatest number of students. They are exporting only 58 students and importing 278. The only school that is even close is Ingraham who is importing a whopping 411 students but is exporting 194. (mostly to Ballard as many of those students live a lot closer to Ballard.)

A pathway at WSHS could make the school even more attractive. However, by the time the pathway would be *active* in 2019, it won't make a bit of difference to anything.

It certainly seems like the entire capacity management plan lands on the back of which *slightly less crowded school* can you entice the HCC to go. At the moment, Garfield is the slightly less crowded school as Roosevelt and Ballard are much more crowded. A WSHS pathway won't change that.

kellie said...

@ PW,

Yes, I do know for a fact that Garfield has slightly larger running start numbers and that those numbers are trending upwards.

Meg and I did quite a bit of analysis on this topic at the beginning of this school year, when Garfield was threatened with the loss of a teacher in the budgeting process. The whole budget issue in many ways hinged on the increase of running start students and the lack of transparency in that process. As well as a serious push to get students to remain at Rainier Beach.

The running start analysis is how we were able to realize that the running start program is masking quite a bit of the high school enrollment pressure. Students who are enrolled in running start on a full time basis are completely subtracted. Students who are part-time are then partially removed.

Effectively, there is no way to easily determine the drop out rate vs the running start rate, without combing through all of the p223s by hand and calculating the running start enrollment. (Thank you Meg!!)

Running start enrollment is increasing along side the capacity problem. As the capacity issue puts more pressure on the high school master schedules, students are less and less likely to get the classes they need/want. Even with running start there were almost 100 Garfield students who wanted a sixth period during this school year and were unable to get one either at Garfield or via running start.

Conversely this means that there is a serious risk that if for any reason the community colleges decided to cap running start, there would be even more capacity pressure. The failure to report running start enrollment as a line item in the capacity management report is a serious issue that creates a false impression of high school enrollment.

Anonymous said...

But my question is - is it the APP/HCC kids at Garfield who are going to Running Start, or non APP/HCC students. I've spent many years at GHS and have known many kids who have gone to Running Start, and only one that I can think of was APP. And this was to get credit for foreign language so they could double up on orchestra and jazz during the school day. Surely there are others, but my anecdotal evidence is that there are more kids at Garfield chosing Running Start for personal reasons, not academic. I do know of kids that were shut out of AP US Hisory in a particulary crowded year and took US History at Central, but these were not APP kids. It does seem the APP kids get the classes they need at Garfield. Not meant to be inflammatory, but observation. There are strong allies on the counseling staff. At least one.


Anonymous said...

We are looking at 500+ freshman at Garfield in the next year or two. That alone should make people think that a new "pathway" for advanced learning is a good thing for the district to begin planning. GHS is not built for 2000. Back to where this thread started. The new "pathway" may not end up in West Seattle, but it has to land somewhere if there is going to be continued cohort preference for high school for APP/HCC.


Lynn said...

IBX at Ingraham was successful at drawing kids from Garfield because it offers a different program. WSHS would just offer a lesser version of Garfield.

Kellie's right - by the time WSHS could have something online, it won't have any empty seats.

What's the short term high school capacity fix? Does anyone have a feeling for what the district will do with north end students in the next few years?

kellie said...

@ PW,

All I can say is that I spent many, many hours last Fall at Garfield researching the *enrollment issue* that triggered the potential loss of a staff member due to the budget process. In this process, I spoke to a wide variety of staff members and looked at the capacity issues from a variety of angles.

I can say that historically, that Garfield did not have a very high enrollment in running start. However, that does not seem to be the case any longer. District-wide running start has increased significantly and I would strongly anticipate that this trend continues.

I have no way to tell you the precise percentage of HC that are enrolled in running start as that is information that only enrollment services can process. However, I can tell you that the pressure on the master schedule strongly hits the HC cohort.

I know patterns and I know capacity. The pattern strongly fits an increase in running start that is proportionate with an uptick in adoption from the HC cohort to running start. It does not fit any other pattern.

kellie said...

@ PW,

Once again, the problem of a freshman cohort of 500 at Garfield is a result of very poor planning and has NOTHING to do with any increase in HC enrollment at Garfield.

Simply put, if north end HC enrollment was ended at Garfield, there would NOT be any decrease in enrollment. Instead there would be an increase in the size of the attendance area so that some or all of QA/Mag was drawn into Garfield.

The issue is that there are just MORE students who live NORTH of Garfield than there are high school seats. There are more students who live in the Garfield, Ballard, Ingraham, Nathan Hale, Roosevelt attendance areas than there are seats at those five schools.

There are already more students enrolled at Garfield, Ballard, Ingraham, Nathan Hale, Roosevelt than were intended during the remodels and rebuilds of those schools. The BEX III process is still recent enough that there are people who were on the design teams for those projects and are very aware of the intended enrollment of the schools, despite whatever the current *capacity* number might be.

You can divide up the students any way you like but eventually they are just not going to fit and eventually is probably sooner than anyone expects.

A WSHS pathway simply pulls students who live SOUTH of Garfield to South of Garfield. At the moment, there is ample high school space South of Garfield, but not for long as enrollment in West Seattle is on the steep incline.

Once again, my opinion on this is that it is one more band aid on a hemorrhaging wound.

Lynn said...


If a high school at Memorial Stadium might be a long-term solution, what would be the best way for the district to create short term capacity for high school?

Charlie Mas said...

Orca Parent made a number of very bold statements, statements that were not supported by any data.

"HCC as it now operates is obsolete. It doesn't serve the students, in fact it's bad for them."

Really? HCC doesn't serve the students? That's news to me. Why do you say this? What data do you have to support this claim?

"There are a few hundred, less than 300 from K-12, who need to be in a isolated environment, call it cohort or self-contained, in order to succeed at school."

Again, what data do you have to support this claim? Which 300 students out of all of the others need to be in HCC? And why is it that the others don't? Because they can be reliably served in general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools? What evidence do you have for that?

"The rest of the tested-in HC kids can find all they need in "normal" schools. AL knows this and is steadily changing to a dispersed model for the service."

Really? Why can they now when they never could before? What has changed? Is this thanks to MTSS?

"There will be a place for the subset of HC who actually need to get away from other students to thrive."

Really? What place? After you have eliminated HCC what place will they have? Why can't these students be adequately served in normal schools?

"I commend Dr Martin for a thoughtful and controlled winding down of the current model. Even as it expands, it s getting dismantled. A small stable self-contained program for the few who need it will be implemented in a few years."

You know about this new, stable self-contained program that is coming? Please tell us more about it and about how you know about it, and about how you are confident that it is coming.

Then please tell us why you are an ORCA parent and why your child couldn't be served at a normal school.

Anonymous said...

With SPS enrollment growing by approximately one large middle school or one small high school per year, year after year, we're going to need some new buildings folks, and soon. Time to get the plans for a HS at Seattle Center and re-opening Lincoln, I think. And that may not be enough. Hale and Ingraham might need more space, once again.

Kellie's explained it quite wellz: It's not one group or another. It's everybody.

The counts every year in WS have been so inaccurate, and predictions so low, I can't understand how it continues. Look at our elementaries! Good God! They are bursting at the seams, and Schmitz Park now has more kids in portables than in the main building.

Seeing what's happening with HCC, if I'm a STEM parent at Boren Elementary, I've got to think my cohort might be slated for Cleveland HS, on the other side of the bridge, given all the growth and how specialized cohorts are tools for enrollment-balancing in SPS. Is it already time to plan additions to WSHS and Sealth? All these kids have to go somewhere.


Maureen said...

Sorry if I've missed posts but what about single subject gifted students? Shouldn't they have access to advanced High School classes? The current HC model is based on across the board giftedness (I'm not sure what the label is.) Shouldn't every HS offer advanced math, science, language arts.... for students who might not have qualified for HC? "Splitting" HC programs may offer real options for those single subject kids. I'm hoping someone at AL is running those numbers and that is part of the motivation to offer other options.

Anonymous said...

Maureen, you know the answer to that.

Yes, ALL kids have access to "advanced" high school classes. AP/IB classes - with only small exceptions like prerequisites - are open to all. IBX, I think, is only for APP kids.

Honors? Any school that has honors attached to any class (like at Hale) well, any student can access those.

I have always been for kids accessing any higher level class, whether tested or not, "gifted" or not.

I just don't know why this isn't widely known and understood.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Darn iPad, that last one was me, Melissa.

Anonymous said...

There's lots:

Self-contained has drawbacks and programs like SEM work to bring all kids the benefits of a gifted education.

Our program, HCC,is outdated. It is not current best practice.

Use the internet and you will see that progressive districts are moving away from self-contained and reserving it for extreme outliers.


Anonymous said...

OD, there's a Slate article which gives a good history behind the program discussed in Chalkbeat. It's gives a good summation of NYC fame G&T program - including its growth in terms of number of G&T students while also seeing a reduction in number of GT programs offered citywide, especially in poorer neighborhoods. BTW, the author Sarah Garland wrote a fascinating, insightful book called Divided We Fail.


Anonymous said...

For the Edu wonks, a number of recent posts here reminds me of a long winded 1998 article, "Only For My Kid", by Alfie Kohn which covered everything from hi stake testing, gifted learning, tracking, race, income gap, to college admission race. Even though it was written over 15 years ago, it's still the same stuff we are wrestling with today. He's bare knuckle here so may make for some uncomfortable reading.

Also, from one of my favorite cognitive scientist, Daniel Willingham about Alfie Kohn. Which also leads to a rebuttal from the great Kohn himself.

Lastly, for the math ed nerds, Willingham has his own blog which he tackles science and education. Here's a post about "computational competence doesn't guarantee conceptual understanding of math". Duh.


Anonymous said...


You wrote:
"What's the short term high school capacity fix? Does anyone have a feeling for what the district will do with north end students in the next few years?"

Flip was asked about this at the BTAIV meeting at Hale. He mentioned that Roosevelt and Ballard had small lot sizes and had no room for portables, though he mentioned "carving out space" at Ballard for classrooms. He also mentioned the (double) portable added to Hale this year.

When asked about a high school for Queen Anne and Magnolia, he said there was none, because the district sold it.

So, in answer to your question, my best guess is that they will be placing a ton of portables at Hale and Ingraham.

- North-end Mom

TechyMom said...

Has the district asked the city about the Silsily properties across from Roosevelt that are being seized? Could those be bulldozed and filled with portables or a big cheap rectangle?

Anonymous said...


I was wondering that, too. Last I heard, the City wanted to make it into a park.

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Techy and North-end, that is my neighborhood. Now the City may want it to be a park but the neighborhood wasn't asked. (Some neighbors like the idea but then again, we are desperate for anything other than what we have.)

I will ask the Board if they might consider telling the City the dire need for space and portables there. It's not like the City has the money for a park (and our neighborhood, admittedly, does have parks).

Good thought.

Lynn said...

Solving the high school capacity problem by placing portables at Hale and Ingraham would require redrawing boundaries to pull kids out of Ballard and Roosevelt. It would be insane to do that a couple of years before Lincoln reopens (and boundaries have to be redrawn.)

There are going to be a lot of upset parents in the north end when this is brought to the board.

So staff have to deal with possible changes to bell times, increased instructional hours, increased credits required for graduation and redrawing high school boundaries in the north end. Ignoring the lack of transparency, are they capable of handling all of that at once?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, it seems like no matter what option people mention to increase HS capacity, you're against it. I agree that there aren't any good options, but it sure doesn't sound like doing nothing is a feasible option either. We have to put these bodies somewhere, right? And I suspect it'll be unpleasant no matter what.

Were there some more palatable options out there that we've forgotten about???


Anonymous said...

The linked Chalkbeat article promotes an enrichment model, combined with online learning. What's stopping teachers from offering enrichment in all classes, gifted or not? And do people think gifted ed is just about hands on enrichment projects? And online learning to provide differentiation? Aack. Where in their "experiment" is evidence that accelerated students are being well served? Furthermore, the model school is apparently in an affluent area of NY with a largely White and Asian demographic. I simply don't understand how the school is an example of a better model for gifted learners.

I can't figure out what vision AL has for gifted ed in SPS. They seem to be moving away from self-contained classes, and allowing single-subject advancement (students on an accelerated math pathway can take science on an accelerated pathway, even if they aren't identified as HCC, and Spectrum students are being placed in HCC LA/SS classes, but it seems more out of convenience than part of a planned delivery model). Unfortunately, many middle school HCC classes aren't taught at the level of challenge you'd expect for students testing at the 98%ile. At the same time they are increasing access, they are eliminating challenge. Some students that may not have tested into AL programs may see some incremental improvement, but what about the students that the program is supposed to serve?


Anonymous said...

@ Lynn

Growth is not happening at just Ballard and Roosevelt.

Elementary and middle school enrollment in the Hale attendance area has been growing like crazy. More portables will be needed at Hale to deal with growth happening within the Hale boundaries.

Likewise, Ingraham has been growing by leaps and bounds since IBX.

Redrawing boundaries to funnel more kids into schools that are already experiencing growth does not seem like a sound way of dealing with the problem.

I like the idea of using the Sisley properties for Roosevelt. Too bad there aren't condemned properties surrounding Ballard, as well!

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Relief for the northern 3 high schools (Ballard, Hale, Roosevelt) is Igraham. Their popular and successful IB program ought to be highlighted as a terrific option for any child looking for an internationally recognized world-class education. The Theory of Knowledge is such an amazing course. IB will appeal to many in the 3 other communities. If the District aggressively recruits NOW, the incoming freshman class at Bsllard and Roosevelt and Hale can be kept relatively sustainable. Ingraham can take portables, lots of them. The other 3 cannot take them. But, this will require the District to THINK strategically and act with clear vision according to a plan. They need to do this now, because if they are able to skim off, say, 30 students from each school, that saves those schools a Homeroom now, but two in the subsequent year. The IB program has been well received and it can save the District from pushing 3 high schools into shift. SHIFTS. So where is the campaign for the 'let's go IB!'??

The spectacular lack of planning and foresight is showing. Again.

Anonymous said...

The above is

Facilities Planning?

Anonymous said...

I'm just throwing this out for fun(and to prompt creative thinking in those who know way more than me). In the short-term: could McClure be converted to a small high school,Blaine converted to a middle school and then Magnolia School reopened as elementary or buildings at Discovery Park as an elementary (what a fun place to go to elementary school!) Just another thought...


Lynn said...


I'm not against using portables to solve the problem. I'm pointing out that the solutions I've seen suggested seem unworkable. I don't think north end parents are going to be happy with split shifts, year-round schedules, moving the high school boundaries twice, moving high school students to Lincoln after they've started at another school or starting Lincoln as a roll-up.

Has anyone heard an updated completion date for the schools at Wilson Pacific? There had been some discussion by staff of opening Lincoln in stages as the necessary work on the building is completed.

Anonymous said...

@ OD, That's your idea of good data in support of your point? Yikes. For one, it's an opinion piece by a charter advocate. Two, it seems like she's essentially just talking about about making education more tailored to kids' interests and including more project-based learning. (She claims this approach is typically reserved for gifted programs, but wants to see it expanded to others.) But she says nothing about providing the level of academic challenge that gifted students need. This idea of "gifted education for all" seems to be more about a educational style than actual content.

Three, this model is expensive, so not very feasible. From another article:

Potter acknowledges that the Renzulli approach — the differentiated classroom — may not be not easy to pull off. At the very least, she says, to do it properly teachers would need more resources and probably smaller class sizes.

But where resources are scarce, skeptics argue, teachers will have to make choices about how to spend their time and gifted kids will be left to drift.


And four--where are the actual data that show this model is effective?


kellie said...

Most simply put, if there was an easy or obvious answer to the high schools issue, then folks would get behind it. But there isn't. The opportunity to build a reasonable fix passed when Queen Anne / Magnolia high school capacity was not addressed in BEX IV (and no, opening Lincoln at the end of the BEX cycle does not count - that barely deals with north end growth and perpetuates the geographic hole in the middle of the city.)

There is so much debate because there are lots of little things (band-aids) that can help but none of them fix it.

Redrawing boundaries provides little or no relief. The Ingraham boundary is already very close to Ballard and the Hale boundary is already very close to Roosevelt. Unless we are considering making the boundaries just a few blocks from those schools there are no reasonable boundary fixes.

Ingraham is going to get portables and lots of them. Probably up to about 400 seats in portables. Hale will also get a lot of portables.

We have multiple problems and they need separate fixes.
*the geographic gap in the assignment plan that is QA/Mag.
* additional capacity for all the projected growth
* additional capacity for all the growth that is greater than the projections.

IMHO, the simplest way to look at this is that we have cohort sizes in elementary of about 5,000 students. That seems to be a natural set point. If that set point rolls up, then we are looking at needing capacity for 15,000 middle school students and 20,000 high school students. We have no where close to that.

Anonymous said...

Sherry Carr wrote me that they are actively seeking funds in Olympia to rebuild the empty elementary school in Magnolia. It looks like a wreck from the exterior.

Blaine might make a better high school than McClure, based on the fields there. However, Magnolia is much harder to access by transit. A new comprehensive high school at Memorial stadium could attract students from more locations.

It might make more sense to start from scratch rather than trying to rebuild Blaine into a high school.

S parent

Anonymous said...

@ Lynn

According to the March BEXIV master schedule from the Friday Memo, the Wilson-Pacific projects are on-time for occupancy in July 2017 (with June for move-in).

For Lincoln HS:

Pre-design: Begins Jan 2016
Design/permitting: Begins July 2016
Bidding: Begins Jan 2018
Construction: Begins April 2018

What is happening at the Lincoln building between July 2017 and the beginning of construction in April 2018???

- North-end Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

WG, Blaine DID used to be a middle school so not a bad idea.

I asked about Blaine being a high school at the BTA IV meeting. No go, not big enough lot for their ed specs.

Lynn said...

I do have an idea to offer to make up for my criticism of other solutions. NOVA is reopening next fall in a larger building. The school had wanted to add a middle school component but that's not happening yet. Could those extra 200 or so seats be used as a Garfield annex for the next two years? If say all the 9th grade English and History classes were taught at NOVA, and schedules were arranged for a slightly longer passing period between second and third periods so kids had time to move back to the main building, that would create a bit of breathing room until Lincoln reopens.

Anonymous said...

Blaine is a small school on a huge lot.

Unfortunately, the district does not have the cash to demo it and build something much more efficient on the same site.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Why Lynn, what a great idea. Any extra space in SPS school buildings should be for SPS students in SPS schools.

Maureen said...

I do worry about the constant shift in north end HS boundaries that would be caused by adding capacity to IHS and NH and then opening Lincoln.

I wonder if it's time to ditch the neighborhood assignment plan for HSs in the north end? Or maybe just make a real commitment to offering a large percentage of choice seats. Then the north end schools could all be free to differentiate and draw students to them who want to be there and the District wouldn't have to draw boundaries for BHS and RHS that don't actually contain those schools.

The problem I see is that you can't really open that choice to students from the rest of the city because the system can't support a net inflow from parts of the city that don't have a capacity crisis. That is probably enough to kill the possibility.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links, nightshift.

It's just like here, a program started in order to slow white flight to private schools, turns into a contest to test kids into what parents perceive to be a less disruptive and more rigorous and ultimately more advantageous pathway.Parents are consumed with acceleration at the expense of mastery, they dream of exclusivity while attending a public school, forgetting about the rest of the district that doesn't have the built-in advantage of educated parents and frequently a non-working parent.

HCC parents are so quick to hate on anybody who suggests that there is a better way to serve their kids at the same time serving non-HCC students better. There are kids in HCC who would benefit greatly from a less restrictive and homogeneous environment, lots of them. Excessive self-esteem is as harmful as too little, and being with only your intellectual peers, or being told that who you are in class with are the "gifted", is not always a good thing. Less gifted students have much to offer and I don't think instilling the notion that only the HCC and similar students are going to run the world is either factual or positive.

So, react angrily if you must, Charlie can be you guide, but reasonable, I repeat, reasonable people can discuss gifted education and try to find new methods that do a better job of educating the children all along the spectrum of "intelligence".


Anonymous said...

Wow, very pompous and naive perspective, OD. Peppered liberally with some shocking assumptions that HCC kids are going to run the world, and less gifted kids have less to offer. Blech.


Lynn said...

What do you think is more likely to lead to excessive self-esteem - being the smartest kid in every class or having to work a bit to keep up with your classmates?

Who are these HCC students who would benefit from being in blended general ed/HCC classrooms and how exactly would they benefit?

If you want to have a discussion, we need to start with the same facts. What data leads you to your conclusions?

Anonymous said...

OD: Far be it from me to suggest that maybe I know what's best for my own kids. We tried your way for three years, and it didn't work. That's why we left.

Your post is so bloated with the typical anti-gifted myths and bigotry, I have little hope of changing your mind on the subject. "Run the world?" So typical.

You aren't convincing me of anything with your arguments. You're only reminding me of what I already went through and what a failed and miserable pathway it was for my kid.

The runaway growth in HCC was caused by the dismantling of self-contained Spectrum. Obviously the clustering method was not popular with families who fled to APP the year after cluster-grouping was implemented at several Spectrum schools.

Self-contained Spectrum had it's own issues, the worst of which were perpetual waitlists that denied kids access. That shouldn't have happened, and went on way too long, but it wasn't the delivery model, but the lack of space that doomed it - like it could doom a lot of other stuff, despite it's efficacy or the demand for it.

And I won't even bother with the ghost-like, mythical ALO's, which were supposed to answer your very question of why can't single subject or all kids get rigor? That was SPS's version of "differentiation" folks! So, yes, it's already been tried and how would you grade it? Think about it, OD, because that is what you're advocating for.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Parents are consumed with acceleration at the expense of mastery, they dream of exclusivity while attending a public school, forgetting about the rest of the district that doesn't have the built-in advantage of educated parents and frequently a non-working parent."

How did you get this out of a capacity management problem that is everywhere in the district? (And you know that in the AL programs it's acceleration over mastery how?)

Anonymous said...

Hale's boundary is pretty much half way between Roosevelt and Hale now, at 85th. Roosevelt is on 66th and Hale is on 110th. I am trying to figure out where are the portables for Hale would go. The teacher's parking lot? Which part of the lots belongs to Hale and which belongs to the city? Raider Field is shared with the city/community center. The student parking lot is shared with the playground, ball fields and tennis courts which I assume belong to the parks department. Hale students are already not allowed to be in the playground and ball fields during school hours.

I still wonder why the teen center is still in Hale. Why it didn't move to the community center. Why isn't it being turned into classrooms?


kellie said...

To recap once again, this is NOT a decision about academics, this is a decision about capacity management.

Once again, the mythical *runaway* growth in HC has to do with overall enrollment growth and the creation of NEW programs that rely on HC identification and the need to attract students to the NEW program.

Unfortunately, debating about the philosophical nature of gifted education, the nature of rigor and equity and choice seats vs assignment seats, simply misses the point that every MAJOR advanced learning decision has been dictated by capacity.

* Your school is UNDER-enrolled. Excellent, we will declare you a Spectrum school so families will have a reason to choose you and help balance capacity.

* Your school is now adequately enrolled. Excellent, we will declare you a self-contained Spectrum school and make a nice wait list so other students can't attend.

* Your school is OVER-enrolled. Excellent, you are now a cluster model school and students will be distributed evenly.

* ALL the schools in your area are OVER-enrolled. Excellent, we will place an Accelerated Program or Highly Capable program in your area, that is intended to load balance the entire area by being attractive enough to entice families to leave their neighborhood school. We will also incentivize the area schools to have everyone tested so that the greatest number of families can feel empowered to take a risk on a different school.

The GROWTH is HC is the capacity management plan. NE schools would have imploded were it not for the active identification of students to volunteer to leave the cluster. Fairmont Park should have been the home for the STEM school or a neighborhood school in West Seattle. But no, the over-crowding was severe enough that an attractive option had to be created.

Anonymous said...

Again, a huge thanks to Kellie for her brilliant analysis based on the data.


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

Sorry I didn't read the posting rules about signing

I was saying how sad it is that the district so cynically uses parents, teachers and students to manipulate capacity. The whole argument regarding Al delivery is moot if that's what the program is now really is in place to manage numbers. It throws Stephen Martin and Roger Daniels in the AL dept in the unenviable role as complicate in this charade of "service". Puppet-masters is what manipulators are called. One would like to believe they care more about the students than Kellie seems to think they do.Are kids really just widgets to move around?
It really saddens me to think so.

Concerned Person

kellie said...

@ Concerned Person,

You have touched on the the heart of almost every debate about public education. What is the distinction between an education and education services???

Most everyone I know that has done advocacy work does it because they believe in education and want to support the vast majority of educators in this district. I say educators rather than teachers because we all know how much education *support staff* can and do provide. I say vast majority because it is exceptionally typical to work with people who work very long hours to provide an education to our children.

I don't know Stephen Martin but I have worked with Roger Daniels over many years and he is a true educator.

That said ask any family that has been on the receiving side of a capacity management decision whether not, the experience is that of widget and you will get a yes. Ask a sped family that was picked up and moved from one school to another and told "don't worry all the services you need will be at the new school. don't worry if you child has friends and is thriving, they will make new friends"

POLICY is all about education services treats students like widgets.

You need capacity to provide an education. School capacity has a natural threshold of 95% efficiency because the dear little widgets don't come in nice tidy efficient little packages. Capacity problems are inconvenient by their nature as a capacity problem is typically that you have too-much or too-little in a certain location. As such, students have been picked up and moved around to solve capacity issues for as long as I have been working on this issue.

By my estimation, the district is running at about 120% capacity which means that surge capacity is up and running at almost every school.

kellie said...

Please remember, the closures were ONLY possible because of splitting APP. If there had been NO CHANGES to APP, then there would have NO closures.

* It was only possible to close TT Minor by splitting Lowell.

* It was only possible to close Meany by splitting APP between Washington and Hamilton

Lynn said...

Last year there were 142 APP students at Garfield and Ingraham who lived in the Washington Middle School attendance area.

Lynn said...

Oops. Trying to reply to someone higher up on the thread.

Lynn said...


I found some information on dual enrollment (in high school & college-level classes) at Garfield on the School Report Card.

Last year only 19 highly capable students were enrolled in running start classes.

kellie said...

@ Lynn,

There is a tremendous amount of ambiguity on the running start reporting. The students are counted in a different ways for different reports. Meg and I spent quite a bit of time on this last fall and in all honestly, I still don't fully follow the logic/accounting

For this school year, there are 55 students reported as running start. My understanding is that number of 55 students is removed from the overall enrollment at Garfield and therefore represents a full time equivalent as part time running start students are all combined into one estimated whole number.

This is why Garfield thought their enrollment was one number and the budget folks thought it was a different number. There are a number of students who are on the official enrollment for Garfield for services but not counted in the budget or capacity reporting.

The jump from 19 to 55, may only look like 36 students. However, because those 55 students do NOT appear anywhere in the capacity reports, it is impossible to accurately track the impact of running start on high school capacity management.

Also the 55 represents a 3x increase over the prior year. That type of doubling and tripling of a handful of numbers is what happens right before there is a hockey stick increase in enrollment.

Parents were very aware of the enrollment increases at elementary because we knew that the increases in Kindergarten were the sign. It took years before the district could see the impact of those K students rolling up.

When capacity management gets to these razor thin margins, the pressure on everyone begins to intensify.