Saturday, December 12, 2015

National Public Education Stories

Gifted Education
Universal screening in one Florida county found many bright kids of color but naturally, the costs were an issue.  From The Washington Post Wonkblog

An article on the Growing Homeschooling Movement from AlterNet

Gentrification and Public Education
The Atlantic had this article about what gentrification can mean to a public school system.  Pro: if you move magnet/gifted programs into schools, white parents will enroll their children there.  Con: kids of color still tend to be underserved.
Brooklyn’s PS 8, for instance, was “failing” only 10 years ago, but after remaking itself as a magnet school has become one of the borough’s most sought-after elementary schools. Likewise, PS 9 recently added gifted-and-talented and foreign-language programs. It now has an above-average proportion of white students relative to its district, and there is a waitlist for its Pre-K program.

Any money put toward enticing middle-class parents is money that can’t be put toward students who might need those resources more. And most minority students continue to struggle.

Test scores are a matter of overwhelming importance to these parents, no matter how much they may also protest “high-stakes testing.” How, then, can middle-class gentrifiers be wooed into participating in a system that might not appear to be in their immediate best interest?  

The burden cannot rest on the shoulders of individual gentrifying parents, who may want to do “right” thing and, at the same time, feel compelled to provide their children with the highest-quality education possible. Local governments need to prioritize better-integrated schools for everyone.
Turning a School Around
 Is a new principal?  Or a new program? Both? From NPR Ed.

Achievement gap not closing in California
From the LA Times, a story on how higher standards, (or more confusing tests or both), have had a downward effect on the achievement gap between white and black or Latino students.
“This is going to show the real achievement gap,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “We are asking more out of our kids and I think that's a good thing.

At the same time, he added, “there's no question that when we raised the bar for students that we're going to have to support our lower-achieving students even more so than we are now.”
I would have to ask Mr. Minnich how much money that will cost and where will he find it.


36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa, the Broward County story is not unique. They gave certain groups preferential treatment, 14 points extra on an IQ test. Other districts also use affirmative action. SPS won't do that. Anybody know why?

Exxon

Anonymous said...

Maybe SPS believes as Justice Scalia that "less advanced" classes are more suitable for students of color.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-black-scientists-scalia-20151210-story.html


Medium Large

Anonymous said...

It's a little hard to believe we have men like Justice Scalia deciding important issues for our country. He can claim he was just recounting the ideas of others, but the fact that he would say such a thing is not defensible.

As far as SPS not using a pro-active method to assure a more representative demographic in the HCC, one could guess they fear a lawsuit by parents, such as the one several years ago regarding the racial tie-breaker.

Whatever the case, HCC is a disturbing "service" to many of us in it's appearance of exclusivity and over-representation of certain groups.

A great article on the discrimination Scalia's own ethnic group faced and the value of a heterogeneous society:
http://www.salon.com/2015/12/13/an_open_letter_to_justice_scalia_2/

Frances

Melissa Westbrook said...

Frances, I'd have to challenge a couple of your statements.

As far as a lawsuit over AL, I don't think the district fears a lawsuit at all. Their method of enrollment as well as how the programs are enacted has been in place a very long time and despite parents, on all sides, complaining, nothing much has changed. The district could say (and likely prove) that they did put out the appropriate kinds of information at different times and they cannot control who decides to apply or not apply. (That said, they continue to leave a lot in the hands of schools and that's where they could get challenged on what does or does not get done.)

"Whatever the case, HCC is a disturbing "service" to many of us in it's appearance of exclusivity and over-representation of certain groups."

Sigh. This, plus the other meme of "all kids should just be in one class," is a familiar cry.

I note you use the qualifier "appearance" but that's not really true. What is true is that two groups are much more likely to apply and get in than other groups. So there's no "appearance" about it; it's the true.

Whether that is good, bad or something in-between is another thing.

There is nothing "exclusive," though, about the program. Anyone can apply. That is the absolute truth. Anyone can ask their teacher, principal, or district headquarters about these programs and how to apply. Ditto on the website.

Now because certain groups in more likely to apply and get in, does that mean within their group it is likely that more parents will hear about the program? Probably.

But that does not make it exclusive.

Lastly, you may not think the programs are services and you may not like the programs but the Highly Capable program is on that is embedded in law. The others are the choice of the district but SPS, like most districts, do have more than one kind of program.

Anonymous said...

I understand the need for all kids to be appropriately academically challenged, but I also kind of agree with Frances in the sense that HCC may have the unintended effect of further segregating students by race and economic class. Isolating kids in such groups mean these kids generally only interact with other kids who are just like them, and it makes me wonder what is the future impact in terms of so many kids never really having the chance to be friends with kids who aren't just like them? HCC may be great academically but socially I'm not so sure.

Thinking Aloud

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thinking Aloud, I'll challenge you on the "just like them." Really? You are so certain that all kids in HCC are just like each other? That is completely not my experience. Just when my sons were in Specturm, there were F/RL kids in our class. Why do people think all HCC kids are upper income; they are not.

And fyi, most of these kids participate in all kinds of activities with other kids. In fact, I know very few public school kids that only interact with kids like them in all their activities.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what people feel about the HCC, the fact is the district could change the demographics by simply lowering requirements for FRL. Maybe the new board take action.

Toni

Anonymous said...

I guess we have had different experiences. Mine has been that mainly privileged kids leave our very culturally and economically diverse elementary school for an HCC program with very little diversity. My experience with Spectrum has been that it is more integrated into the school than HCC. Not all HCC kids are upper income but the F/RL rates are a fraction of the rate of many other schools in Seattle. I'm not anti-HCC, but I do wonder about the possible unintended effects of segregating kids, especially at a young age.

Thinking Aloud

Anonymous said...

To be exclusive would mean some students are excluded,and it's factual that kids who can't make the scores are excluded. Advanced orchestra is exclusive, so is varsity volleyball. Anybody can try out, but only the top kids get in.

The exclusivity problem with HCC, however, is the demographic make-up. Broward and other districts solve this by giving preference to certain groups known to be impacted adversely by economic and/or social situations.

This is what equity means, fairness. Just because a kid has less advantages socially or economically should not preclude their participation in HCC if it is determined that they would qualify under the same life circumstances as a student without such obstacles.

If the incoming directors understand equity and the positive impact desegregating HCC would have on children of color and those in poverty, and the AL department gives them some ideas to work from, we could have a much stronger program. More diversity would help the current demographic as well.

I don't think it's fear of lawsuit either, but I wish someone at AL would explain it.

Mobil

Anonymous said...

I would be all for lowering requirements for FRL students. Maybe eliminate achievement score requirements for them if it would help?

Would universal screening help? Some districts around us are screening ALL students in certain grades. I heard that LWSD recently screened all first graders with the CoGAT (a screener, I assume, rather than the full test) in their classrooms. If they can do it, why not Seattle?

Cat

Lynn said...

"Participation in HCC" isn't a special treat handed out to privileged white and Asian children. It's a service provided to students who are so significantly academically advanced that they would receive no benefit from the general education curriculum. Of course we should be trying to identify all of those kids.

There are social benefits to the program. I know several parents who describe the program as life-saving for their children.

If privileged parents want to segregate their children, they send them to private schools where they're guaranteed to be surrounded by well-behaved children from middle class homes. (Not to HCC - where this is not true.)

What would be the point of lowering the standards for identification for some children? The service provided (academic acceleration) isn't one they need if they're not already significantly advanced. Again - it's a service, not a reward or an honor.

FYI - the AL office looked at the effects if we eliminated achievement testing requirements and qualified students based only on the CogAT. The result would have been to increase the proportion of white students in the program. (I think it's a good idea though because it would identify gifted children with learning disabilities.)

Seattle doesn't screen every child because the money to do it isn't available.

Anonymous said...

Identifying children at (at young ages especially) who have the capacity for advanced learning is certainly not a reward or honor. The problem is that too many of them have been excluded because the admission to HCC hinges on a test score that has been well documented to exclude them.

If the district were serious about including all eligible students and they weren't continuing to use the CogAT as a gatekeeper, the money would not be such an issue.

Who knows if the AL office even had a clue about what they were talking about when they "looked into" this? Plenty of districts have increased their diversity through creative, well-researched methods.

"Lowering the standards" would be the case if the students from the demographics that currently dominate the program were to have their standards lowered. "Leveling the playing field" is what is being suggested here for those who are excluded year after year.

Also, even though the AL director said that "once you're, in you're in," the referring document states that students should be removed when/if the placement were not longer appropriate. This is also the state law.

Keeping students in for SPS life with no performance accountability, along with the multitude of parents who appealed and got their kids in (with lower scores than their demographic peers), is the real threat to "lowering the standards" at HCC. Many HCC parents have expressed their concern about the watered down program on this blog.

--about time

Lynn said...

In last year's testing, 267 students had qualifying CogAT scores but math and/or reading scores below 95%. 17 Hispanic, 8 African American, 184 Caucasian, 22 Asian, 36 multiracial.

Charlie Mas said...

If it were up to me - and it pretty clearly is not - then the only qualification for HCC would be cognitive ability at least 1.7 standard deviations above the mean. Equity could be introduced by determining the distribution for FRL students and qualifying FRL students who are 1.7 standard deviations above the FRL mean. I see a benefit in adjusting for affluence; I'm less convinced of a benefit in adjusting for race but I'm open to a conversation about it.

Admission to the program, however, is only one problem. The content of the program is a greater issue.

This is particularly the case for Spectrum/ALO. Have you noticed how often the District refers to "Spectrum/ALO", acknowledging that they are synonymous? The problem with ALO has always been whether they exist in the classrooms of some schools or whether they only exist in official documents and marketing pieces. A lot of ALOs, when described, are nothing more than what any good school or teacher should be doing without any assurances that they are actually doing it. In short, there was no difference between having an ALO and not having an ALO. Now that most Spectrum programs have been converted to ALOs we cannot tell if any difference between having a Spectrum program and not having one. So now Spectrum and ALO are marketing labels without any actual meaning.

I have long been an advocate for allowing students and families to self-select for inclusion in Spectrum/ALO. I remain an advocate for self-selection, especially as Spectrum/ALO is almost indistinguishable from general education. I would hope that self-selection would address the equity problem, but I know that it didn't for Montessori, so I can't say with any confidence that it would.

Anonymous said...

About Time -

Can you please provide a source for this comment:
"...multitude of parents who appealed and got their kids in (with lower scores than their demographic peers)..."

Your statement does not match any information that I have or any information provided on SPS' website.

Also, the program is not being watered down by kids coming in, it's being watered down because the program has not had a curriculum for years. We were promised one in 2007, but like other promised things in this district, it has never appeared. Principals have been allowed to do what they like, with no oversight by the district. Not only that, they will assign anti-HCC principals to schools with this program. Why would anyone be surprised that they systematically take away what little there is left?

-racoon

Jonathon P. said...

"Just because a kid has less advantages socially or economically should not preclude their participation in HCC if it is determined that they would qualify under the same life circumstances as a student without such obstacles."

I like and support that statement. If other districts can do this, why not ours? It seems an easy fix. I too hope the board will ask Dr. Martin to come up with a plan to get poor students and those of color more fairly represented in the Highly Capable Cohort.

Of course, some supports need to be in place for these kids to help them catch up. Likewise, parents of these students could need information on how to bring out the full potential of their children.

We need to get up to speed in Seattle and do what more progressive districts around the nation are doing to serve their talented youth who are hidden by poverty and decades of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

It is not located on any website and I usually haven't heard
many parents volunteer the information. However, teachers at
schools that typically have lots of applicants for HCC are
well aware of the numbers of these students because they have
routinely been asked for letters for appeal and then watch the
children exit for HCC the following school year (particularly
at the elementary/or into middle school years). The district
may or not have kept records but these numbers increased
significantly over the years as "word of mouth" caught on.
I'm sure the district has some numbers for the more recent
years. Is it true that they are now limiting appeals?

The lack of curriculum is certainly a problem, but when APP
was much smaller and existed as more of a self-contained program
for some of the true outliers, it was manageable and more effective
regardless of the existence of a curriculum. Even then, the district
had low numbers of children in poverty and/or from historically oppressed
populations (the problem all over the country), which is why so many
districts have changed how they recognize talent and capability in all students.

I don't want to get off on a side issue, however. I only brought
this up to in response to Lynn's attribution of what contributes
to lowering standards.

--about time

Anonymous said...

Many on the Supreme Court will agree with many of you here based on the meritocracy reasoning. My car full of whining teenagers completely turned me around on this notion. They reminded me with their litany of complaints- the amount of time, money, year round competition which started since they were in grade schools to get them to this level of competitive play. They may have talent, but it was well nurtured and disciplined by a team of parents, coaches, sport physiotherapist, dietitian, and team mates. You can say the same for the arts as I look at the winter camp fee this year. So what do you do with a kid with raw talent, but nothing to prepare for that all important CogAT test with 1.7 SD above the mean needed to qualify? Test them all early might be one way and should they jump that hurdle, with the help of adults to guide these 5 and 7 year olds along the way, what then? Pack them in before the division of learning becomes too great to catch up achievement wise, especially without meaningful support others within their cohort will have the benefit of.

I define privilege as power - power of knowledge, access, and network of resources for good preparation- along with the ability to make choices. It's not a private school, homeschool, or public school thing. I'm privilege to have gotten to know all kinds of people in all kinds of situation. One was accepted to USAF Academy based on his HS GPA, school achievement record, and some talent for football. He played football for USAF and struggled in every way. He might have been top at his HS, but not at the Academy. It provided tutors for all struggling cadets and coaching staff for the players. He took advantage of that, struggled a great deal, and graduated. Football wasn't his career choice. He served in the military, seen combat duties, retired and now works for a major corporation. He's a strong believer of merit, but understands the complexity of such usage in decision making. He's a thoughtful and deliberate leader (even though he sees himself as a cog among many) and was quite surprised (no one else was) when he was asked to sit on the senior hiring committee. Meritocracy requires opportunity. It requires preparation. You don't get to the top (or anywhere near) because you have potential and a willingness to work hard. You can work hard, be a friggin genius and be lost in the churn of humanity. The whole pull yourself by your bootstrap fairy tale misses the fairy godmother bit.

reader



Anonymous said...

About time -

Thanks for acknowledging that the "fact" you stated about appeals having lower criteria than district testing was completely made up. I can also provide "some people say" "facts" all day long, but that does not make them true. Please stick to known or provable information when posting because hearsay and gossip are not helpful.

We have been involved in APP for more years than I care to admit, and your stories do not match my experience.

-racoon

Lynn said...

I'm seeing suggestions that using only the CogAT would be an improvement and also that the CogAT should not be used because it's "been well documented to exclude" children who have the capacity for advanced learning. What is the most equitable identification method? Would it be better to identify any student with either qualifying achievement or cognitive scores?

Jonathon P. suggests we should have different identification criteria for disadvantaged students. He also says "Of course, some supports need to be in place for these kids to help them catch up. Likewise, parents of these students could need information on how to bring out the full potential of their children."

I think it's possible that a student with qualifying cognitive scores but not achievement scores could catch up once in the program. I don't see how any program in SPS would increase a child's cognitive ability. I recall reading that IQ at age seven is generally predictive of adult IQ.

Jonathon P. said...

Referencing the article Melissa posted,

"Broward is one of many Florida counties that maintains two sets of standards for gifted students. Most children have to score at least 130 on the state-mandated IQ test — roughly in the top five percent — to qualify. But children still learning English, and those from low-income households, only have to score 116."

From the same article:

"Researchers have long observed that IQ tests have socioeconomic biases."

Again, why can't Seattle replicate such a program design and fix the demographic problem in HCC? Will the board and Dr. Martin do anything?

Lynn said...

"Researchers have long observed that IQ tests have socioeconomic biases."

Isn't it just as accurate to say that socioeconomic factors affect cognitive development?

Jonathon P. said...

So, Lynn, the ELL and high-poverty children admitted to Broward County's gifted program are cognitively impaired?

No, I don't think research has shown that to be the case, but I would be happy to read any that you can find indicating that premise.

What you are implying is that the damage done to children by socioeconomic forces is permanent and those children will never reach the level of intellectual development they would have achieved in a more advantaged environment.

That may or may not be true, but since so many other school districts around the U.S. do in fact use similar methods to place children in gifted programs, one would assume the students succeed in those programs.

Again, the AL department under Dr. Martin needs to prepare some data to show the board regarding placing students with such obstacles into the HCC.

Lynn said...

After the Bell Curve:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/23/magazine/23wwln_idealab.html?_r=0

Poverty Shrinks Brains From Birth:

http://www.nature.com/news/poverty-shrinks-brains-from-birth-1.17227

Effects of Heredity and Environment on Intelligence:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/effects-heredity-environment-intelligence/

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think Reader made some great points and I hope everyone reads them.

Again, now is the time to join forces and advocate for what the HCC/Spectrum/ALO community believe will work best for their kids and ALL other kids.

Do not allow the district to lead with this one because it is clearly not their strong suit.

Jonathon P. said...

I don't mean to be rude Lynn, but do you even read these articles? They all point to the ability of the developing mind to overcome cognitive deficiencies brought on by sub-optimal environments using appropriate intervention.

From the Nature article:
"Still, the researchers are hopeful that the impacts could be reversible through interventions such as providing better child care and nutrition. Research in humans and in other animals suggests that is the case: a study in Mexico, for instance, showed that supplementing poor families' income improved their children's cognitive and language skills within 18 months.
“It’s important for the message not to be that if you're poor your brain is smaller and will be smaller forever,” Sowell says.""


From Education.com:
"Clearly both nature and nurture influence intelligence. What is less clear is how much influence each of these factors has. A few theorists have tried to estimate nature’s contribution (the heritability of IQ) from the correlations obtained in twin and adoption studies (e.g., McGue et al., 1993; Plomin et al., 1997). But most psychologists now believe that it may ultimately be impossible to separate the relative effects of heredity and environment. They suggest that the two combine to influence children’s cognitive development and measured IQ in ways that we can probably never disentangle (e.g., W. A. Collins et al., 2000; Flynn, 2003; Rogoff, 2003; Turkheimer, 2000)."

From the NYT article:
"A later study of French youngsters adopted between the ages of 4 and 6 shows the continuing interplay of nature and nurture. Those children had little going for them. Their I.Q.’s averaged 77, putting them near retardation. Most were abused or neglected as infants, then shunted from one foster home or institution to the next.

Nine years later, they retook the I.Q. tests, and contrary to the conventional belief that I.Q. is essentially stable, all of them did better. The amount they improved was directly related to the adopting family’s status. Children adopted by farmers and laborers had average I.Q. scores of 85.5; those placed with middle-class families had average scores of 92. The average I.Q. scores of youngsters placed in well-to-do homes climbed more than 20 points, to 98 — a jump from borderline retardation to a whisker below average. That is a huge difference — a person with an I.Q. of 77 couldn’t explain the rules of baseball, while an individual with a 98 I.Q. could actually manage a baseball team — and it can only be explained by pointing to variations in family circumstances."


As I said earlier, many other districts use techniques similar to Broward County to allow access to ELL and high-poverty children into gifted programs. These children, one would assume are succeeding or the programs would be stopped.

My question for you, Lynn; why are you so against trying such a program in Seattle where we have such a glaringly unbalanced HCC?

Furthermore, why is the district, the School Board in particular, unwilling to step up and try what appears to work in other districts with populations of poor and ELL students?

Lynn said...

Jonathon P.,

The study mentioned in the Nature article reported that children in poor families in Mexico whose families were given cash experienced improvements in cognitive and language development over the children of families who received smaller amounts of cash. It's important to note that these were not improvements in the scores of individual children. The families of the children studied had received cash transfers for their entire lives. (They were between 24 and 72 months old.)

So - children who are raised in slightly more enriched environments have higher cognitive scores than their poorer peers.

Lynn said...

The quote from Education.com is in agreement with most of what I've read. There is a genetic component to cognitive ability. The degree to which an individual child's ability develops can be affected by many things. (Prenatal nutrition, extended exposure to stress, parenting, etc.) It says nothing about whether the effects of poverty on cognitive development can be reversed.

We learn from the discussion in the New York Times of the French study that abused or neglected children, if adopted into well-to-do-homes could nine years later have almost average IQs.

I don't see how this supports the hope that enrolling children in advanced learning programs is SPS will increase their cognitive ability.

I am pointing out that the assumption that IQ tests have socioeconomic biases is not supported by any research I've seen.

Jonathon P. said...

"Despite the best intentions to develop tests that are low or reduced in bias, human error—stereotypes and prejudice—undermine test administration, interpretation, and use. More often than not, African American and other culturally diverse students are the recipients of this inequity."

Lynn, this quote is a summary from an Education.com article on exactly what we're talking about, bias in intelligence testing.

http://www.education.com/reference/article/cultural-bias-in-testing/

Did you ever work in the orchards in Eastern Washington? I ask because you are very good at cherry picking.

Cheers

Anonymous said...

IQ testing has clear limitations for young kids who are not exposed to certain types of information, games, puzzles, etc in early childhood and for kids who may have certain kinds of fine motor, speech, physical and visual challenges. It's not common to get to see them, but even just looking at some of the available online Cogat and WPPSI/WISC prep questions, it looks clear to me that many kids are just at an automatic disadvantage vs kid who grew up in high quality preschools/homes with ample engaged adult time/M&D type toys, puzzles, etc.

I think it would be fairly easy to adjust entrance criteria, especially in the lower grades) for kids with some disadvantages as many schools do. But...I don't think most schools (at least not those I'm aware of), follow the Seattle/HCC model of a strict 2 ish year acceleration. I think it's frankly rather bizarre because it seems to accelerate super quickly (making it very difficult for kids who are less advantaged to jump in), but then the acceleration/enrichment seems to fade out anyway. If the gifted program is one of more enrichment than acceleration, I think the bonus points would likely work better.

North Seattle

Lynn said...

I'm thinking you do intend to be rude now - correct?

Lynn said...

Sorry North Seattle I was not addressing you there.

Jonathon P. said...

Lynn, rudeness is not the same as humour, and I sincerely apologize if I have offended you in any way.

If anyone is interested in reading more on the subject of discovering talent in traditionally under-represented groups, please check out this page on Hoagies'Gifted Education site:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/esl.htm

I can only hope the new Board of Directors will take a look.

Anonymous said...

North Seattle said: " I think it's frankly rather bizarre because it seems to accelerate super quickly (making it very difficult for kids who are less advantaged to jump in), but then the acceleration/enrichment seems to fade out anyway."

It's a negative that the acceleration stops - it's not a good thing that we should continue and expand upon. The acceleration pretty much stops in middle school due to a long-time lack of curricula (still waiting for our one promised in 2007) and because of lack of concern about the program from the district. HIMS, where my child went, was not a good experience for us. I guess the district expects families to hold the family nose until they make it into high school.

We have left the district because of the low quality of the middle school, and we are not alone. I know that with the looming capacity issues that the district doesn't care, but it's not good for those kids who can't leave.

For kids who need a program like APP/HCC, enrichment isn't enough. APP/HCC kids need material that will teach them new things, just like one would want for any kid at a good school.

-sniggly

Anonymous said...

@North Seattle said, "But...I don't think most schools (at least not those I'm aware of), follow the Seattle/HCC model of a strict 2 ish year acceleration. I think it's frankly rather bizarre because it seems to accelerate super quickly (making it very difficult for kids who are less advantaged to jump in)..."

You are right @North Seattle. The strict 2ish year acceleration began a few years ago and was not how APP operated when my child began the program some 5+ years ago. It used to be the acceleration ramped up through compacted curricula. 1st graders would do 1st/2nd grade math, then 2nd graders would do 2nd/3rd grade math, and so on to get the students to Algebra in 7th grade.

In the last few years, middle school LA/SS has also been substantially changed by Teaching and Learning, and individual school teachers and principals, not necessarily AL. Schools are now supposed to follow the grade level content standards for social studies in grades 6-8 HCC classes. They used to follow an APP curriculum that covered more material in teacher a created compacted/accelerated program that allowed them to take AP World History as Freshman, but no more. With the program splits, first to HIMS, then to JAMS, the LA/SS curriculum has been watered down to the point that it doesn't even seem to be on grade level, let alone accelerated. Since the curriculum was largely teacher created, and depended on a handful of longtime teachers to keep it going, it has all but vanished.

Individual schools have a lot of leeway in how they oversee HCC. I think WMS, HIMS, and JAMS are allowing single subject acceleration into HCC middle school classes, so they are not truly self-contained. It's my understanding that JAMS has also placed Spectrum students in HCC LA/SS classes because they didn't have enough of a cohort to have Spectrum only classrooms.

Some of the complaints about AL access are actually being addressed, they just may not be codified in district procedures. The revised HCC procedures do give some leeway in admitting disadvantaged students, they just aren't quantified on some point scale like some other districts.

The revised Procedure 2190 states:

NOTE: If a student demonstrates cognitive ability in verbal, quantitative, or non-verbal reasoning AND qualifies for free or reduced lunch, English Language Learner services, and/or Special Education services, the student may warrant further consideration by the Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) if there is strong teacher/educator input to do so. [Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Section 392-170-060 focused on nondiscrimination in the use of tests.]

...SPS’s established eligibility thresholds are not absolute qualifiers or disqualifiers; teacher and parent input are also important considerations. In order to provide equitable opportunities for all students and to uphold the intent of WAC language regarding protected classes [WAC 392-170-035], the MSC will give special consideration to and assess the impact of the following factors: cultural diversity, socioeconomic status, linguistic background, and identified disability.


What I find bizarre is that for all the energy spent on identification, there is little left to spend on ensuring the program is robust and actually provides academic benefit to enrolled students.

-long timer

Charlie Mas said...

Again and again we are focused on Who is in the program and fail to pay attention to What is in the program.

If the What were stronger we would care much less about the Who.

When the District decided to split the middle school HCC between Washington and Hamilton, the community's opposition lay in the importance of the cohort. The community, rightly, said that even if the District, the school, and the teacher failed to offer the depth, the breadth, or the acceleration, the students could get it from the cohort. That's why the size and the qualifications of the cohort were critical to the community.

If there were a written curriculum (as was promised at that time) then the community - and everyone else - would be able to ease up a bit about who was in the cohort because they would have some assurance that their child would be challenged - no matter who was sitting next to their kid.