Friday, June 05, 2015

Washington Middle School Meeting on Spectrum

Washington Middle School principal, Susan Follmer, will be holding a parent meeting about Spectrum La/SS on Monday, June 8th from 4:30-5:30 pm at WMS.  It does not seem that AL staff will be there.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just fyi, Susan Follmer "loves" (her words, at a CPPS meeting) SBAC...

toxictesting

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Spectrum parents should wear black (it is a funeral, after all).

The question is: how are Spectrum classrooms NOT serving spectrum identified kids? If they are being served, and are learning, then why take it apart?

If there are behavior issues in the Scholars' classrooms, shouldn't teachers just work their classroom managment skills magic on those students who need guidence? This principal instead, thinks 'no'! Her strategy is about pushing in higher achieving students who happen to behave well to serve as 'models'... and expect teachers will now work their classroom differentiation skills?

This is all about optics.

Parents, if you don't show up and stand up, advocating in favor of having the needs of your students met, your students' needs will not be met.


Mediocracy 4All

Anonymous said...

Wasn't this already covered in another thread? LRE is being violated for students with IEPs when Spectrum is self-contained. This violation has been taking place for years and OSPI is apparently finally enforcing the federal law.

--another lurker

Anonymous said...

hopefully the district will expound on the issue, Nyland stated as much in the friday memo a few weeks back.

curious if anyone has the actual announcement for the meeting?


#genius

Anonymous said...

@another lurker

Your prejudice is showing when you imply that IEP and Spectrum services are mutually exclusive. Yes, there are IEP students in all levels of advanced learning programs. Please don't insult my children.

Mediocracy 4All

Anonymous said...

No children in HC have IEPs but they are covered by state law in terms of services.
IEPs are part of federal law and are currently exclusive to children in Special Education. Spectrum is not part of HC and is NOT covered even by state law. Diluting
general education classrooms by making Spectrum exclusive has been a violation of federal law that is currently being enforced by OSPI.

--another lurker

Lynn said...

Is Ms. Follmer making this change in order to provide access to the LRE for students in the general education classroom with IEPs? I had not heard that. I'd gotten the impression she is philosophically opposed to self contained programs.

If the change is being made to provide the LRE, are general education students not typically developing peers?

Washington is going to look very different in two years when only HCC, Gatzert, Thurgood Marshall and Kimball students are assigned to the school. How is she going to deal with that?

Anonymous said...

If a student has and IEP and is in HC, then they qualify for two services.
If a child has an IEP and is in Spectrum, the child qualifies for the services
in their IEP only, by law.

--another lurker

Lynn said...

Has anyone seen any evidence that OSPI is concerned about our Spectrum programs? I have not and I haven't seen anything from the district indicating this was the reason for changes. If it were, the remaining self-contained elementary programs would be dissolved and that's not happening.

Are parents advocating for this change? If so, is it the parents of children in general education classrooms with or without IEPs? I think that makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

Lynn,

The law is the law. Whether the principal is opposed to, or for, Spectrum "philosophically" no longer matters.

Maybe the district can look at balancing the socioeconomic distribution in middle (and other) schools in order to avoid warehousing students living in poverty. Research is clear that the outcomes of these students improve significantly when they are not ghettoized in school in addition to housing. Your comment "How is she going to deal with them?" sounds very perjorative to the population of students you are referring to.

Educators more than "deal" with students. We love and educate them.

Another Lurker,

Some, not many, students in HC and Spectrum have IEP's but they don't have an IEP for HC. Apparently, the number is so low that the self-contained Spectrum has been violating federal laws.

--enough already

Lynn said...

I wrote "How is she going to deal with that?" Meaning, the vast majority of Spectrum students at Washington will be assigned to Meany Middle School. Will children with IEPs at WMS have access to the LRE in two years when there are no Spectrum students in their classrooms?

Which law says that only the highly gifted can be taught in self contained classes? Does that law require advanced learners to be placed in heterogenous classes for every subject? Spectrum in middle school is only two subjects. Does the law allow that?

How does the district you currently work (and live?) in handle advanced and gifted students? Maybe we can learn from another successful program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"... making Spectrum exclusive has been a violation of federal law that is currently being enforced by OSPI."


I keep hearing this over and over. Where is that coming from because I get the press releases from SPS and OSPI and have seen nothing about it? (Also, exclusive is not the same thing as self-contained, no matter how much you say it.)

Anonymous said...

maybe the district is being pro-active and avoiding lawsuits and settlements regarding LRE concerns.

Anybody have the announcement yet, it would be interesting perhaps to see the exact wording.

#genius

Lynn said...

Proactive about the legal rights of students with IEPs? That's a good one. This is about creating the appearance of equity.

Anonymous said...

http://www.spannj.org/BasicRights/least_restrictive_environment.htm

Scroll down to the "natural proportions" section. That is clearly
being violated when Spectrum students are in self-contained, exclusive,
separate classrooms (whatever you want to call them) from the general
population, even though they have no legal standing for such placement.

When this occurs, there is an over-percentage of students with IEPs in
the remaining classrooms, which is a violation of LRE. Since Spectrum
students are legally general education students, separating them creates
a warehousing of students with IEPs--not legal at all.

--enough already


Anonymous said...

@another lurker

"Research is clear that the outcomes of these students improve significantly when they are not ghettoized in school in addition to housing. "

So, the 'ghettozing' (your word) problem lays at the feet at Spectrum? Specifically, Spectrum at Washington? What exactly is the 'ghetto' you are referring to?

Is Spectrum at Eckstein is fine, because, the something is different there?

What about Baily G. or Emerson? No more Spectrum at Muir? Extrapolating, should schools with very, very high Free and Reduced Lunch populations mean that no students with IEPs should be there? Because, inferring from your statement, the problem is really about having blended economic backgrounds in all classes, and, if that is not there, then, being in such a class would violate LRE? Can you cite a case law with that? You really are conflating so many things, ghettos, housing, schools, IEPs, etc, that to apply your preferred solution, I guess we must scrap the New Student Assignment Plan (that is neighborhood based) I go back to transporting students hither and yon?

Mediocrity 4All

Anonymous said...

Legally Spectrum is not anything except gened, so creating concentrations of IEP students through the segregating of Spectrum students would be illegal. Nyland is on firm ground with regards the law.
The question is will self-contained be allowed to stay at Whittier and other elementary schools that still have it. Seems like they would have the same issue and need to be disbanded pronto.

Fairness 4All

Anonymous said...

It sounds like no segregation in the school, but ok in the community. Another word ok for gentrification, take away school choice, lack of affordable housing or redrawing school boundary to create high FRL schools (excuse being that wasn't the primary intent, but to deal with capacity). These are all ok within the "law" because, well just because..... You know too complicated to sort out. Too many bigwigs political and developer toes to step on. Logic goes like this: it's not like Wedgwood, Lawton, or Whittier SES will change by doing away with spectrum. And these spectrum and anti-spectrum parents certainly have the withal to get their kids into HCC. Teachers (and admin) are happy horse trading kids and carving out classrooms mix as they like. Easy fix in dealing with SPED inclusion without really dealing with appropriate and meaningful SPED service. Looks good on paper- now you can claim kids are better for it by being with kids who are different. (Personally, I cringe and hate using vulnerable children as a growth experience having watch my own kids used as tokens for this purpose.)

parent







poppy said...

Lynn,

Proactive in regards lawsuits and settlements. I think we can all agree that the payouts for remediation and legal fees would best be spent elsewhere. Your cynical tone is so much like Mr Mas and WSDWG and HF and others, I wonder if you all compare talking points or what?

Lynn said...

How are IB and AP classes legal? They are general education courses and I'd bet they also result in concentration of students with IEPs in other classes.

Sixth graders at WMS can take four different levels of math. Is this legal?

Interestingly, early in the growth boundaries process staff recommended linking Gatzert to Meany. This was changed because it was determined that the ability of these students to walk to school and access Seattle U's tutoring program was more important than the demographics of the school they attend.

Anonymous said...

one step at a time, parent. can't have meaningful service until there's inclusion, as the definition of meaningful service prescribes inclusion. assuming you want meaningful pull-outs to the resource room for IEP students? too bad for you the law requires inclusion to provide LRE.

wiffle ball

Anonymous said...

parent,

Louisville, another city in the Supreme Court case, took a very different approach to the outcome by adhering to Kennedy et al and making diversity a goal without using race as a tie breaker. So much for "enlightened" Seattle.

The irony of the the request on a recent thread requesting desegregation and redlining info was likely not lost on many people who are currently lamenting the resegregation of SPS and its still manifesting redlining history.

Regardless, Spectrum has long been a legal eyesore. HCC isn't currently following the law either, but OSPI is giving districts a five year grace period. HC needs to reflect the demographics of the district, according to the state law.

As I mentioned above, large percentages of low income students in one building almost always lead to worse outcomes. Seattle currently doesn't care enough to deal with this truth and that will not sit well with history. However, it doesn't excuse or allow SPS to continually thumb its nose at federal LRE laws.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

@ enough already,

I keep finding references to the "principle" of natural proportions, generally noting it as the ideal. If you could please point out where it is actually required by law, that would be helpful.

As per the link you noted above, "natural proportions means that children with disabilities aren't lumped together in one general education class but distributed throughout all general education classes." Getting rid of Spectrum might help a little in some cases, although I would imagine that in many others there will just be an even greater exodus to HCC.

And what about the fact that general ed refers to typically developing peers? Are you saying that Spectrum students are typically developing and legally defined as gen ed, whereas HCC students are not? Under federal law??? I'm not aware of any federal mandates or definitions re: gifted ed, so am unclear on how that distinction would be made on where exactly one can draw the line between gen ed and gifted. Or maybe it's either gen ed or special ed, and that's it? Everyone who's not in special ed is officially gen ed, and thus HC programs are all illegal? Is that what you're saying?

Half Full

Lynn said...

On the five year grace period, the law was changed to add highly capable services to the definition of basic education in 2009. The five year grace period ended with the 2013-14 school year. Our program was reviewed this spring and determined by OSPI to meet the standards of the law. The only change required was to allow earlier access to students newly enrolled in the district.

Saying something is illegal doesn't make it so.

I'd say that high concentrations of low income children in one neighborhood rarely leads to academic success.

Anonymous said...

HC needs to reflect the demographics of the district, according to the state law.

Citation? The WAC states: These [highly capable] students are present not only in the general populace, but are present within all protected classes, but where does it specify or mandate what you claim? How could it when testing is optional, as is enrollment in the program?

-?

Anonymous said...


WAC 392-170-080
Agency filings affecting this section
Educational program for highly capable students.

¨Each student identified as a highly capable student shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account such student's unique needs and capabilities. Such program shall recognize the limits of the resources provided by the state and the program options available to the district, including programs in adjoining districts and public institutions of higher education. Districts shall keep on file a description of the educational programs provided for students selected.¨

there is no requirement for self-contained for the HC students, much less for Spectrum which is a district program

ugh

Anonymous said...

No, I just hate segregation and SPED being used to score points. I've mixed in with the pro and anti spectrum groups enough to see this in full bloom hypocrisy and kept my trap shut about it with other battles to fight. As for 1st step inclusion. Piffle. Good grief, how long has IDEA been around? Please, we've been stuck on 1st base forever. But another school year ends and next year battle looms again. Gets me grumpy.

parent

Anonymous said...

WAC 392-172A-02050
Agency filings affecting this section
Least restrictive environment.

¨Subject to the exceptions for students in adult correctional facilities, school districts shall ensure that the provision of services to each student eligible for special education, including preschool students and students in public or private institutions or other care facilities, shall be provided:
(1) To the maximum extent appropriate in the general education environment with students who are nondisabled; and
(2) Special classes, separate schooling or other removal of students eligible for special education from the general educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 28A.155.090(7) and 42 U.S.C. 1400 et. seq. WSR 07-14-078, § 392-172A-02050, filed 6/29/07, effective 7/30/07.]¨

ugh

Anonymous said...

@ ugh, there is no requirement for self-contained HC services, true. But there's also not a prohibition. SPS has determined that this is the best way to try to meet the unique educational needs of some HC students.

LRE requires that special ed students be served in the gen ed environment, with typically developing peers, whenever possible. Is there a legal definition of "the general education environment"? Is it based on the standard curriculum, kids working at or near grade level, etc.? Is it based on other services provided (or not provided)? Is the definition of GE environment constant for a district, or does it vary by school based on the student body? Or is it everyone who's not in special ed? If the latter, it seems like any higher level classes (e.g., honors, AP, etc.) would be illegal, as would remedial classes.

What about a legal definition of "typically developing peers"? Does it simply mean non-disabled? Does it include gifted students--highly gifted, profoundly gifted, etc.?

Or do these terms not have legal definitions, and things are open to interpretation? I suspect this is the case, but want to better understand.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

is'nt the definition of HC that the services they are entitled to receive are considered ¨general education¨ for them?

So every student not special ed is general ed, the HC service is to match the needs of HC students but it is general ed

so unless a compelling case can be made for exclusion, same for special ed, HC students need to be in inclusion classrooms


ugh

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, given how long Spectrum has been around as a self-contained program, that's an awful lot of lawbreaking. Did OSPI and the feds just wake up?

"...request on a recent thread requesting desegregation and redlining info..."

What? I missed that. What thread is that (given I'm mostly the one who answers thread requests)?

Anonymous said...

HC is now protected by HC state law but Spectrum is considered general ed.

HC, by state law, needs to have a continuum of services, which SPS is currently not providing. Some HC students will, and should, receive self-contained services if that is appropriate to their needs. Many will not need self-contained. Again, none of this applies to Spectrum, which is general ed. by legal status.

Typically developing peers means general education, including Spectrum.

Here's where the state law states that HC must reflect district demographics:http://www.k12.wa.us/HighlyCapable/

Look at Identify Your Highly Capable Student

parent, correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect that you have neither Sped or children being warehoused in low SES schools. Were this the case, the issues at hand wouldn't be mere political correctness annoyances but a survival issues.


--enough already

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

Talk to Mirmac about OSPI and SPS compliance.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

The thread was the request from UW social work about a speaker from Alabama.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

For the purposes of special education and least restrictive environment determination, the requirement is non-disabled peers. Gifted populations who so love segregation would like the special education lre environment to mean non-gifted so that they could retain their monoculture and entitlement of seclusion. Unfortunately that's not the legal requirement.

Sped Reader

Anonymous said...

WAC 392-170-075
Selection of most highly capable.


Each school district's board of directors shall adopt policies and procedures for the selection of the most highly capable students by the multidisciplinary selection committee. Such policies and selection procedures:

(1) Shall not violate federal and state civil rights laws including, without limitation, chapters 28A.640 and 28A.642 RCW;

(2) Shall be based on professional judgment as to which students will benefit the most from inclusion in the district's program; and

(3) Shall be based on a selection system that determines which students are the most highly capable as defined under WAC 392-170-055, and other data collected in the assessment process.


I don't think the law is interpreted as you suggest, @enough already.

-?

Anonymous said...

enough already, why does having an opinion that doesn't meet your approval means one can't have such an experience. It's this very attitude that reflect the hypocrisy. I deal with low expectations frequently when people judge us by our appearance or labels. Tell me how high must I jump to qualify to speak. We have some experience with that dealing with SPS. Probably nothing compared to your experience I'm sure. People get so amped up by spectrum (HC) and zillions of postings later, with SPED and segregation drawn into this quarrel, as if any of this is truly going to help segregation or SPED in the classroom and schools. I just don't want the real issue of SPED or segregation to be used as a distracting proxy fight to score points about who's elite or not, who's deserving, whose needs aren't met, or whose need trumps others. Not when you see kids making some gains, but then those gains are used as the reason to reduce service next year and a new teacher who may or may not believe what's in the IEP. Would it surprise you to know some teachers who dislike spectrum don't care for kids with IEPs either? Or some parents of both sides who use gossip mill to disparage kids about those troublesome "behavioral" issue kids.. Tracking is quite real. Does that go away with or without spectrum? It's worse once you exit elementary into middle and high schools. But hey, that's right I haven't prove we are pathetic enough already to comment here.

parent

Anonymous said...

Typically developing peers means general education, including Spectrum.

@ enough already, "typically developing peers" is in relation to LRE and comes from the feds, right? While your distinction between HC and Spectrum is based on how SPS has decided to interpret WA state law? I'm confused about how state and federal requirements are pieced together here. Are you saying that wherever a district opts to the draw the line for its state-mandated HC services thus defines what constitutes gen ed for federal special ed LRE purposes?

And can you PLEASE explain what exactly you mean by continuum of services in this case? You keep saying that, and a number of people have asked you to clarify, but all you ever do is say look at Fairfax Co! How exactly does what SPS has not represent a continuum of services? We have a range of services available, from gen ed to ALOs to Spectrum to HCC. Perfect? No. A continuum of services? Seems like it. Is there an OSPI document that lays out what this continuum has to include so we can see how ours is out of compliance?

Half Full

Lynn said...

WAC 392-170-078 Program services — defines the “continuum” as kindergarten through grade 12.
Districts shall make a variety of appropriate program services available to students who participate in the district's program for highly capable students. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.

According to the recent review by OSPI, the district is in compliance.

Anonymous said...

With 3 SPS students, I have participated in HC, Spectrum, Gen Ed, SpEd, and 2e. I have yet to find ANY of the programs even adequate. I wonder if Gen Ed (and the others) is a misnomer altogether based on a continuum that is modeled on a hierarchical system. There is even hierarchy within SpEd with whoever is worse off is more deserving of district dollars. Perhaps the logic here is wrong and that in reality whoever receives more SPS dollars winds up worse off. I don't think this was anyone's original intention but it sure seems like the more contact one has with SPS, the worse off one will become. There is a definite trend of getting out of the system as soon as possible. If not through AL or private school in the younger years, then through the running start, IB, etc programs during the high school years.

I can't help but think Spectrum is stuck in this misguided hierarchical system where Gen Ed is the standard bearer for the middle. Funny, I have yet to meet a child who was "general" or "average" in all things, just like the advanced students are not advanced in all things. My experience has been that some students are good at some things and others are good at other things. Every single SPS student is advanced in something and there needs to be a program to meet it. This really isn't that hard. A previous post mentioned having schools of excellence with an emphasis on the arts, the environment, academics, music, etc. Yes! And if we have 52,000 students then we need to have 52,000 opportunities. So that every single child receives an advanced education in something. Instead of a hierarchical IQ model, we could (with my magic wand) move horizontal model that actually mimics the diversity in humanity. In this way, we would look for ways to add opportunities rather than looking for ways to cut them (which seems to be the Spectrum trajectory?). The more insidious problem with the Gen Ed-in-the-middle model is that if you don't fit into it we have psychologists on stand by ready to give you a mental health diagnosis and doctors willing to give you pharmaceuticals to ensure compliance. The "least restrictive" language may be one of the worst offenders of this as it assumes SPS Gen Ed is THE standard for high quality student welfare.
As long as "gen ed" is considered the middle and as long as the mentality of providing the least education reigns, the entire district continues on in their race to the bottom.
Does Spectrum have any chance at all?
SE Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Really Sped Reader? Nobody tried to stop my twice gifted son from being in Spectrum. Hmmm.

"Funny, I have yet to meet a child who was "general" or "average" in all things, just like the advanced students are not advanced in all things. My experience has been that some students are good at some things and others are good at other things."

My experience as well.

SE Mom, no, I don't think Spectrum has a chance. It has no champion, principals who don't like it are glad to get rid of it and AL seems to have no ability to give input on this decision.

bik said...

does AL dept even want Spectrum? how about a big cohorted program like HCC?

maybe they want to push HC back into neighborhood schools and keep just a very small program for extreme outliers

not saying they don't want to serve gifted, just serve far less in cohort?

they have been talking about it for awhile, testing the waters

high school is now neighborhood only for kids who test in at 9th or later, unless they run out of AP classes there

is middle school next? go local unless your scores are 4 sd?

would not be surprised

it might be that only capacity issues are keeping HCC so big

Anonymous said...

The small percentage of students who have IEPs in APP and Spectrum are mostly those with fine motor or speech articulation issues.

The lifelong issues that children and parents must live with are highly underrepresented in these programs.

Is a child who needs help to learn how to say Ls, Rs, etc. or a child who develops the small muscles and skills for handwriting and exits the program considered 2E? I don't know but it's certainly disingenuous to compare their temporary needs with the lifelong ones.

--enough already

Charlie Mas said...

Would those who claim that Spectrum violates IDEA please cite a legal source - any legal source?

Enough of enough already said...

Enough of enough already. This thread is about spectrum and not HC. Once again a thread is hijacked to discuss disparity of services meaning those spectrum kids at WMS don't get this full blogs attention. MW don't you have a rule about that? Especially since the troll lies. One more thing, based on the limited logic, disrespect to the blog and excoriating hyperbole it doesn't take Einstein to say -

EA = MC

Enough of enough already said...


No EA. 10% of the HC kids have IEPs which as we know aren't given away easily and especially to those kids with high achievement numbers. The majority of them have dyslexia, dysgraphia or dyscalculia which are life long impairments. And those are the ones who were able to get identified... I would think that if you have a high IQ and can't spell, do math or even write a letter you probably are in a poor state in a gen Ed class.

But again the last EA post is way off the Spectrum thread and should be deleted. MW, CM?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...keep just a very small program for extreme outliers..."

I'm sure there are those who would like APP (HCC) to be small. But if you keep getting larger and larger numbers of kids testing, then it's unlikely to be very small.

it might be that only capacity issues are keeping HCC so big."

Interesting thought.

My son has a lifelong disability and got into Spectrum and stayed there.

Yes, Charlie, I keep asking the same question about how Spectrum is illegal and where this force from OSPI and fed is coming from and when? Crickets

Enough enough already, you are correct. Rather than eliminate everything here's what I'll do:

Enough Already, you have made your position on Advance Learning pretty clear. Over and over. This is now the second thread that you have hijacked with you views. Do not do it again. I would hate to have to eliminate any future comments you make but you need to respect the rules of the blog and the threads at hand.

I will also note that there are a few people who seem to change their name but honestly, your style of writing is still there. No one is really fooled by this.

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

Aside from people's view of Spectrum, there is a larger issue here (potentially since the meeting has not yet happened) of programs changing after open enrollment. That is not fair to any family, regardless of program.

Then, assuming we are about to hear Spectrum is going away, we have the issue of how to deal with all of these kids and their varying needs in one classroom. There are those on this blog who say "why, the teacher will differentiate, of course," completely ignoring the fact that it rarely happens. It did not happen in my child's classroom. We also have a district where principals can do pretty much what they like as far as AL goes and nothing happens to force them to do otherwise. We all know the district couldn't care less about the parents and their views.

Spectrum parents are right to complain that their kids' needs aren't being met, HCC parents are right to complain, SPED parents are right to complain and Gen Ed parents are right to complain, so where does that leave us? The district is not working for a what seems to be a large percentage of kids.

If we had this differentiation that is so lauded in these threads, I think kids would be happier and parents would be less likely to move their kids. Principals or teachers cannot be allowed to not "believe" in AL differentiation. Then there is the issue of parents complaining that it's not "fair" for some kids to have different work than other kids (yes, I have seen it and read it on this very blog). That's a hurdle I don't know how to get over and it doesn't help that the district doesn't seem to believe in AL.

This would be a massive change for the district and one that I don't see happening. I didn't even mention the poor curricula the district is using for many subjects. It's hard to teach kids well with dreadful curricula.

-Harrison Bergeron

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

^ Sorry, I just realized someone was also posting as SE Mom. I'm someone else.

--Beacon Hill Mom

n said...

Interesting take, Harrison. After I read all the comments, I keep changing my mind about the issues discussed. Is it so different to attempt to differentiate within a classroom rather than between classrooms? Send the high kids to one corner to debate the the notion of "justice" in Guinea Fowl and Rabbit Get Justice while teaching decoding skills or basic comprehension skills in another corner? Ideally, that should happen. But in the real world with management demands, the realization that the high kids also need to be taught the skills to have a productive discussion, and finding a middle set of skills for that middle group is pretty daunting esp. in a school day that is no longer long enough for all the expectations we now have of teachers and kids.

I can argue both ways about the Spectrum/ALO issue. But, truthfully, isn't that top ten percent a little different? I'm not talking about the quirky truly gifted - perhaps top 2% if that. I'm talking Spectrum - that group of kids who come to school ready to learn, wanting to engage, and who really benefit from faster-paced higher- level and more challenging learning. I won't say higher "curriculum" because Seattle doesn't have it. It is up to the teacher. But putting the teacher aside, don't these children deserve an education that groups them with their peers - a group of students who are hungry to learn and ready? If any of you had faced a group of these students day after day, you would understand that they, too, are different.

Instead of asking schools to be the social-change agent for the evils of an unfair economic system, let's go back to the business of education for all children. Perhaps the LRE makes every one feel good but it doesn't do diddly for the real purpose of public schools which is to educate. Perhaps the definition of "to educate" has become so broad as to be meaningless.

And then again, perhaps I'll change my mind yet again. I'm not even sure what I said above makes sense . . . I hope it does. It's a complicated set of issues.

Melissa Westbrook said...

# einstein, one, talk about "ginning up" language and two, you completely ignored what I wrote. I said this thread was about Spectrum. Not magnet schools (which we have very few of depending on your definition), not gifted program across the nation, but Spectrum in Seattle Public schools.

Raising the capacity issues for the district if Spectrum were to go away is a valid part of the topic.

I regret that I have to delete some comments but you need to follow the thread. It's now pretty much off point and yes, I will have to start - at the first off-topic comment on any thread - start deleting.

This is an open forum but I'm the moderator.

Lynn said...

If WMS's principal wants to dismantle Spectrum classrooms, she should be required to announce it next winter before open enrollment begins and only for one grade at a time.

Principals should not be given the autonomy to redesign programs - if they are we need strong, talented executive directors watching over them. I don't get the impression that's true right now.

I don't believe in-classroom differentiation is going to work for the Spectrum students at WMS. I doubt their parents do either, and as parents do, they'll begin to look for other options. Maybe not for these kids, because it's not likely they'd be able to find a private middle school at this point, but for their younger kids. Their neighbors will watch this and learn that our public schools aren't the place for bright, prepared eager learners. Maybe not kids who live in Eckstein's attendance area, but in areas like the central district where we have more diversity in school readiness, we'll lose those kids. Then again, most of these families will be assigned to Meany and probably be happy enough there. Ms. Follmer won't have to deal with them anymore and she'll be happy too.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Thank you for posting word of this meeting. I have a child at WMS and hadn't heard anything it. Could you please share where the announcement of this Spectrum meeting with Ms. Follmer is posted so that I can share it with others?

As far as blending Spectrum and Scholars/general ed at WMS, that's the same as removing the program entirely, and it seems completely unfair to dismantle a program after open enrollment and without grandfathering existing kids. Is this really going to be allowed by the district?

Is WMS the only school planning this immediate change? Why is it up to a particular principal to choose this and to implement it without any discussion, grandfathering, etc? Will this also occur at Madison, a school that currently has self-contained Spectrum and is supposedly gearing up to have self-contained HCC in the next two years? What about Denny? What about elementary schools like Lafayette?

If this direction is indeed coming from Nyland, and if it's in reaction to some new legal interpretation, shouldn't there be a bigger announcement from him and wouldn't the change occur across the entire district? I don't want Spectrum to be dismantled, but I'm really confused about what's happening with this.

-WS parent

Anonymous said...

We have two posters apparently who don't understand that this is a privately run blog. This is Melissa's blog and she gets to make the rules. This blog is not run by the government and doesn't need to follow whatever you think the "censorship" rules are.

Everyone is free to start their own blog and post whatever they would like. It's a free country.

WS Parent- I am really surprised to learn that as a WMS parent you were not aware of this meeting. I don't have a child at WMS, but I am sure they have the means to inform parents of upcoming meetings... Odd. Maybe they prefer parents don't go.

-fromage

Lynn said...

She probably only contacted parents of Spectrum students. Any kid from West Seattle at WMS would be an HCC student.

Anonymous said...

The problem with conjoining SPED with spectrum debate (because this could be about language immersion program or ELL) is it appears to answer the inclusion question easily. But it is anything but. SPED inclusion is not easy and the roll out especially when under legal threat becomes more knee jerk. Problem parents encounter with the attempts to find accommodation in neighborhood school is schools aren't ready. Parents want to access the best program which will meet their child's need. That might not be at the neighborhood school. Teachers aren't ready. Class sizes are too large that even if you have a handful of kids with special needs whether it's ELL, IEPs, or those with behavioral and emotional issues, kids aren't bring reached or taught well. My personal experience is this is where I see separation of kids spending more time in remedial class, resource room, various therapy classes, and in hallways or principal office (or out of school- suspended/drop out, which is why there are schools like Interagency and South Lake). In addition, SPED staff may not have the specialized training to deal with a child's particular needs either. This is a very real and tough issue beyond doing away with spectrum or other special program for the sake of integration.

The parents I know don't want their kids warehoused and isolated. People want integration WITH meaningful services that will help children thrive, not just be a warm body to be labelled and counted in a regular classroom. There are so many moving parts and personnel which changes all the time and this take a toll on families. There are some wonderful and well meaning people in SPS. There are also people who are gatekeepers and many who are in way over their head.

The commonality, no matter what program you are in or how you are labelled, is this district doesn't have enough resource and what resource it does have is not well used. It's hampered by its centralized operation and lack of continuity from the bottom up. How well do you think students learn or make progress when they get a series of SPED teachers in a year or get new principals who don't understand the programs they are overseeing or whose agenda drives away or split staff which in turn affects program delivery? If the district is going to used a program (spectrum, IB, etc.) to draw in students or say it's ready to accomodate with SPED and now ELL at local schools, then it better do so fully. Otherwise, all it does is confuse and anger people.

parent

Anonymous said...

@ #Stalin

I find the difference between Spectrum and HC to be fascinating. Spectrum isn't "legally" required and it appears to be facing some rocky times.

SPS is legally required to provide something to HC and so they do. They are not legally required to provide anything effective or meaningful and so they don't.

It is exactly like minimum wage discussions. Corporations WILL pay you less if they can get away with it. The law, however, prevents them from doing this. But it clearly is the intention of many businesses to use people as commodities and turn a blind eye to reality.

SPS seems to have the exact same mentality by only providing the bare minimum (and then pushing those boundaries as well.)

With this as the culture, every single student is ill-served and quality programs suffer.

Spectrum strikes me as the canary in the coal mine.

SE Mom

(not Beacon Hill mom, not sure what do to about my tag line here...)

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, we considered Washington Middle School for our child, who was not HCC or Spectrum qualified and would have been in General Ed. We toured the school, spoke to teachers and parents and saw classes. No one we spoke with recognized the needs of the General Ed students. The tours focused on the needs of the Spectrum and HCC families. Eventually, we enrolled our child elsewhere - in a school where segregation and unequal opportunities were not the norm. We wanted to send our child to our local public school, but couldn't. Disbanding Spectrum might allow families such as ours to return. - NP

Anonymous said...

@Fromage- There's no reference to this Spectrum Parents meeting on the WMS website, the daily bulletins, the calendar, etc.

@Lynn- You're right that my child is in HCC, not Spectrum, but as part of the school community I'm surprised that such an important meeting wouldn't be communicated to the community as a whole, and/or would only be communicated to Spectrum families by email.

Seems like Ms. Follmer may be trying to keep this change quiet. I also wonder how this is being communicated to incoming Spectrum families. Could any WMS Spectrum families share info about how/what they've heard on this? Are families at other schools, such as Madison hearing any rumblings?

-WS parent

Enough of enough already said...

Spectrum is AL but not HC. They are distinctly different. I do think WMS blending spectrum after enrollment is atrocious and should be rescinded. I also, think it is a terrible placement to have a school head who doesn't support AL... But finally this affects only 1/3 of classes that a spectrum students takes at WMS.

n said...

I agree with your comment that blending after enrollment is unfair at a minimum. It is unfair to all the students at whatever stage they are and this could be rectified by keeping the currently enrolled cohorts together until graduation but advertise the elimination of spectrum for the next enrollment year 2016-17 and beyond.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Could you please share where the announcement of this Spectrum meeting with Ms. Follmer is posted so that I can share it with others?"

I received this via a parent so I do not know where/if it might be posted publicly for the Washington Middle School community.

"The commonality, no matter what program you are in or how you are labelled, is this district doesn't have enough resource and what resource it does have is not well used. It's hampered by its centralized operation and lack of continuity from the bottom up."

I would also say, that like Spectrum, there are many in senior leadership who are not interested in this at all. And it shows.

Enough of enough,your comment about principals not supporting district programs is well taken. It's a mystery to me where the line is between what the district expects principals to do versus what leeway principals have. I think if the district has a program and your school is assigned that program, the principal has to support it. That is what is irritating about Spectrum - either pull the bandaid off or stop allowing principals to do their own thing.

N is correct on what should be happening if Spectrum is being eliminated.

Anonymous said...

There is at least one school that I had heard had inappropriate ratios of kids with IEPs in gen ed classes because of self-contained Spectrum. Think fairly affluent neighborhood and the local(ish) Spectrum school. Even just from preparedness, you end up with quite a few kids in Spectrum. If you have an average 14% population ratio of kids with IEPS, 4 classes - 2 gen ed 1 spectrum, and very few kids in Spectrum with IEPs (and yes, because Spectrum and HCC are IQish AND achievement, the achievement part makes it harder for many kids with IEPs to test in), you end up with ratios of kids on IEPs approaching 30% of the gen ed class. That's not proportionate and not LRE. It's a huge issue because not only is it not LRE, but then every kid in that class is getting a even more mediocre education because our schools are simply not staffed to handle the number of kids they have, let alone that population mix. Most districts that offer classes that approach those levels do so as "inclusion classes" that everyone rotates through at some point and staff them with a gen ed and sp ed teacher - full time for both. Actually, if our schools were larger, it'd be less of an issue which is why it isn't as big an issue I think in middle school. It's elementary where we have small schools AND concentrate Spectrum that create the really lopsided classes.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

@ Enough of Enough already - while it is technically true that only 1/3 of the classes may be directly Spectrum qualified, the reality of scheduling is that kids in spectrum classes end up being grouped together in non - spectrum classes because of schedule constraints, thus exacerbating the divide between Spectrum and General Ed.

Also, just my 2 cents here, but choosing a moniker that directly targets another commenter on this blog is (in my opinion) obnoxious and verges on bullying. -NP

Enough of enough already said...

NP 1/3 is the most that are self contained. THE MOST. this is not segregation.. This is SPS education.

Spectrum worked for thousands of kids and that was clustering of another name. Call it bulk clustering. Call it what you will just don't stop it after parents have decided.

I think this is a 2 verses a 9 of incompetence like the SPED data breach; WMS will be fine. Great kids and a great history of learning but if an Admin doesn't support AL why were they put at WMS?

-NP look for tone for bullying not moniker. Enough Already is only one moniker that is represented behind the troll-post. I argue against them all. Besides EA said itis better to not post anymore... Do you think it because of bullying.

Anonymous said...

Spectrum is getting taken out of Washington and put into Meany in a couple years when Meany reopens. This move by the Washington principal seems like "Not a program top of mind for us anymore. Focusing on what the new makeup of the school will be." SPED doesn't seem to be a driving force. Just another reason to cull the program now instead of a couple years from now.

Seen It

Lynn said...

That's not how it works. Every middle school is required to provide Spectrum services to every qualified student. What is true is that the majority of the Spectrum qualified students in the WMS attendance area live in what will be Meany's attendance area. When Meany reopens Spectrum at WMS will look like Spectrum at Aki Kurose.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, Not every middle school offers Spectrum. Most of the K8s don't. That includes assignment K8s and option K8s.

Seen It

Lynn said...

Sorry, I was not clear earlier. I define middle schools as schools that only contain grades 6-8. Every attendance area middle school is required to maintain a Spectrum program. Every student has the right to attend their attendance area (grades 6-8) middle school. As a result, every Spectrum-qualified student in grades 6-8 can access the program.

While it's always possible the rules could change, there has been no announcement that any middle school will no longer be required to provide a Spectrum program.

Charlie Mas said...

All of this trouble is rooted in the fact that the District has utterly failed to perform any program evaluation - ever.

Nevermind that Board policy 2090 requires annual program evaluations.
Nevermind that Shauna Heath promised the Board that Spectrum programs would be evaluated.
Nevermind that the program manager somehow gets an evaluation without any program evaluations.

None of that matters. The District adamantly and expressly refuses to evaluate the quality and efficacy of its programs. Not just Spectrum, but all of them.

If the "cluster grouping" is just as effective as self-contained, then let's see the data that supports that belief. No data? Then you're just talking smack.

Anonymous said...

So, what happened at the meeting?
West Parent

Peanut said...

It's been clear to me that kid #1 was AL qualified by kindergarten. Never tested him though, because 1) we wanted to support local elementary and 2) we wanted him to have him work with kids from all backgrounds and abilities.

So, we left him there throughout elementary, and decided we would test during 5th grade testing cycle. Results? No surprise, HCC qualified.

Here's the thing, though. He has coasted throughout elementary, because he has never been pushed. Study habits need a lot of work, because he's never had to study. In class, he has trouble giving other kids a chance. He's always answering before everyone else, although we've been working on this with him since 3rd grade. He's very fidgety and always talking - because he's bored.

We chose Spectrum for middle school, although we could send him to HCC. Same reasoning as for elementary school. We want to support our local school, and we want him to be with all kinds of kids.

Get rid of/dilute Spectrum though - 1) differentiation will never really happen (hasn't so far, K-5); 2) my kid's needs will never be met; 3) my know it all, can't sit still, can't keep quiet because he's so bored kid will actively interfere with your kid's education in many ways.

We want to support our local schools. We don't want to leave, but my kid needs to be pushed, and no one seems ready to do it at the neighborhood school.