The situation with AL/HCC is getting out of hand and someone must step in. I would ask that it be you because clearly, it's not happening in senior management.
I'll be upfront with you; there has never been a champion for HC in Seattle Schools. I'm NOT saying no one cares about gifted students. I'm saying that year after year HC drifts along in an incoherent manner. There is NO one in SPS - and I'd love to do a pop quiz with the Superintendent - who can clearly explain this program.
So let's review what has happened in the last couple of years (not to mention months.)
- multiple apologies over student data being accidentally sent out to other parents
- confusion over testing dates (and more apologies)
- with the current issue - letters sent to parents saying their students did qualify for HC and then a follow-up letter saying they didn't - here's the response from senior staff (partial but the full extent of the "how" it happened):
And slowly, slowly EVERY single Spectrum program is going away. The parents at Lafayette just got their notification (and they are the last school.)
With no discussion, no input, no public notification, an entire section of the HC program is gone/fundamentally changed.
I will note at the Seattle Schools Community Forum blog that we often have heated discussions about who is in the program, namely that it's largely white and Asian. We ALL know there are bright kids of all races in all corners of our district.
Why aren't we finding them? I can give you a laundry list:
- testing instrument that may not be culturally competent
- principals who do not encourage parents of their students of colors to apply (and, when your school's scores are important, why would you?)
- low, low numbers of Pacific-Islander, Native American, Latino and African-American students. It becomes a chicken and egg dilemma; parents don't want their kids to be the only kid of color in a classroom. (One thought might be to ask those parents of color who have students in the program if THEY might be willing to talk to other parents of color about the benefits of the program for their student's academic outcomes.)
I do know that HC did try direct outreach to parents of students of color who scored well on the state test. I was told many parents were largely not interested.
And, I know that many teachers and parents don't support self-contained classrooms (even though it's the norm in many districts in the country.). It actually would be good to serve every child and their needs - be it Sped, ELL, HC - in one classroom but really, how has the district moved to make that possible? So if not, then how to serve those groups?
Look, if the district has a "program," it should not be a mystery as to what it does, how to access it and where it is located. I have no idea why principals get to decide how to present the program at their school but they do for HC. I have no idea why principals get to decide NOT to do anything (see ALOs and CSIPs.).
You just voted yourselves the ability to determine what happens to programs. May I suggest using it.
I apologize if my tone is somewhat snarky but honestly, how long will this go on?
Seattle Schools Community Forum blog