Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday Open Thread

Good op-ed by Bill Keim of the Washington Association of School Administrators on McCleary.

 Advice to a kid with dyslexia who sought it from famous people who also are dyslexic.

Two good stories from the NY Times:
- Fortress of Tedium: What I Learned as a Substitute Teacher

- An Effective but Exhausting Alternative to High-School Suspensions

What we learn in both cases is that it's harder than it looks. 

Oh dear, looks like DFER Chicago folded up shop.  When the going gets tough, well, people leave.
Comparing DFER’s role in the current teacher negotiations to 2012, the Sun-Times Lauren FitzPatrick yesterday wrote, “DFER no longer has a chapter in Illinois. Its national press shop did not respond to messages seeking comment, nor did its former local head.”
Interestingly, nothing about Washington State in their blog for months.  Hmmm.

Apple is offering a free app for middle school students to learn to code.  Catch is, it only works on an iPad.  From the NY Times:

The Apple coding app is free, but it requires an iPad, the company’s tablet computer, which has declining sales and which many schools and families may not be able to afford.

“How much of the motivation is for selling of product, and what does that do for schools that cannot afford this technology?” asked Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied disparities in computer science education for more than two decades. “The threat is that it is going to replicate current inequities.
What's on your mind?


old salt said...

Now is the time to work on pushing for a 2-tier bus schedule. The district is negotiating the 20 minute increase to the school day. Bell times will change. Some staff would like to push for 2-tier start at the same time. Cost estimates are less because all the administrative work will have to be done anyway. And the state will backfill some of the transportation dollars the second year, so the cost will decrease after one year.

So if you want a 2-tier bus system, this fall is a good time to testify at board meetings & talk to board members, & go to community engagement meetings with the district around the 20 minute time change.

Mary G said...

I attended part of the Curriculum and Instruction meeting yesterday mostly to hear the special education update. This is what I learned:

Mr. Jessee states that recruitment remains an area of focus. He said that Recruitment: 2 yrs ago 91% fill rate, last year 98% fill rate, this year 96.4% fill rate (18.5 vacancies). The Social Emotional teacher remain hard slots to fill. A new class of 7 teachers from the UW 2 yr program will come on line at the end of next year.

There are four outstanding items with OSPI on the old MOU, which is now in the form of a "letter of direction."
1. Still difficulties with calculating LRE (Least Restrictive Environment)
2. Proshare - private students, apportionment of money (not familiar with this name but am familiar with this concept)
3. Initial evaluations - timelines still not being met
4. Discipline - making sure we meet timelines. And Districts policies may run afoul.
OSPI is still withholding $500,000 of the original $3,000,000 which was originally withheld 2 years ago. SPS must apply for an extension, as the money as originally granted needs to be received and spent by November 1 or it is lost. SPS intends to apply for an extension.

Next, Mr. Jessee mentioned that they are meeting with the DOE's Office of Special Education Programs on October 4 for a quarterly visit. SPS retains the "High Risk Grantee Status." (Per 34CFR 80.12 provide as Follows:
(a) A grantee or subgrantee may be considered “high risk” if an awarding agency determines that a grantee or subgrantee:
(1) Has a history of unsatisfactory performance, or
(2) Is not financially stable, or
(3) Has a management system which does not meet the management standards set
Forth in this part, or
(4) Has not conformed to terms and conditions of previous awards. Or
(5) Is otherwise not responsible; and if the awarding agency determines that an Award will be made, special conditions and/or restrictions shall correspond to the high risk condition and shall be included in the award.

Next, Mr. Jessee discussed parent partners. This is a new program, with parents from different regions and ethnicities as well as students with different disabilities. Some parents are bilingual. These are 14 parents who have received training and are going to continue to receive training on special education issues. OSPI is helping funding training with Greg Able with Sound Options.
Finally, he noted that they have been working on a new special education website which is now live.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have advice on the most effective way to place a complaint regarding data breaches? I know every year families get other kids' info on the back of their own student's data verification form and this year it has happened to us. I assume someone else has my kid's second page. I want to complain and I want to do so in the most effective way possible. Does anyone know if those data verification forms are generated by the district or by each school? Thanks.
--sick of it

AS said...

With Decatur proposed as an HC site, i s a geosplit a logical possibility? There are over 500 HC eligible kids living in the Eckstein/JAMS zones as of last October, most of them south of 125th.


Maje said...

I know it's only the first week, but already our bus is getting a little crazy. It has been 20-60 minutes late for pick up every day. Last Friday it was 60 minutes late for pickup (!) and the only notification we got was a call that told us a different bus number was late. At our stop, about half the kids were picked up and driven to school. The challenge was that as kids got picked up, that left a few kids behind who didn't know when (or if) the bus would come and had no way to contact their parents.

Is there anything we can do? Anyone have experience with this?

Anonymous said...

Maje -
I recommend calling Transportation in teh middle of the day (when no buses are running) and asking for the email address of the route coordinator for your bus number. Email that person politely about the situation and keep updating them daily on the status of the pick-up time. I have had luck with them being responsive in the past. Unfortunately, we've had buses that have been terrible until the magic date of October 1st. THat's the day (at least in previous years) when the bus company has to start paying a fine for missing service times and seems to finally figure out how to get them running (nearly) on time. Best of luck.

Been there

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

I'm curious about how Honors for All is going at Garfield. Does anyone have a copy of the syllabus and course expectations to compare to last year, to verify that the level of rigor is being maintained?


Josh Hayes said...

In charter-related news, Charlie Pierce weighs in (briefly) on the Massachusetts vote to lift the lid on the number of charters operating there. Fun reading as usual for Charlie.

Of course, it's in Esquire, and that mag is pretty sexist. No endorsement intended, etc.

Unknown said...

I am also curious about the honors for all at Garfield, and in particular how that is working out for SPED 9th graders there.


Anonymous said...

Sick of it,
The Student Verification Report sheets are generated by each school within Powerschools to send home with students to verify their enrollment information. The problem occurs because Powerschools does not correctly set up the report to run back-to-back. It inserts some pages to correct for odd-numbers of sheets but not others. At my school we decided we had no choice but to run the report on single-side sheets and then hand-staple them together in order to avoid mistakenly sending another family's data, but this was very frustrating because some students have four and five sheets in their reports, depending on the number of parents, emergency contacts, etc. This would be a good problem for the Ombudsman to quantify and help push for a solution to.

Worth fixing

Maje said...

@Been there - thanks for the suggestion. I'll try that.

SusanH said...

I have a 9th grader at Garfield. I'll see if I can snag a copy of the syllabus from Schoology or something. So far, my only comment is dismay that they have to fill out a READING LOG. Reading logs were the bane of our existence in elementary school; they managed to turn the joy of reading into a patronizing exercise. It went away in middle school at Washington, thank goodness, but is back now. Reading logs have absolutely no place in high school honors English.

Pm said...

National merit results have been released for 2016: http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/bellevues-interlake-high-tops-this-years-list-of-national-merit-semifinalists/

Lynn said...

SusanH - That is ridiculous.

Reading logs could be helpful for reluctant readers - but definitely not necessary or helpful for high school students working at or above grade level. True differentiation would extend to assignments. This is not fulfilling the promises teachers made.

Anonymous said...

We're a week into 9th grade & I've seen one assignment from Intro to Lit/Comp 9A H (Honors for All)
Draw a picture of what you think about outside of school. Well, that and the painful reading log.

The history teacher straight up told them that they won't be expected to do as much as they did in 8th grade in Mr. Schmitz class. Whatever you thought of the Schmitz workload, he supplied rigor & depth.

Not sure how this compares to the honors courses last year.


Anonymous said...

Worth fixing,
Thank you very much. That gives me someone specific to contact and something to suggest. I appreciate it.
--sick of it

Joseph Rockne said...

If your biggest complaints are that someone has to write down how many pages they've read, then I think things must be going well.

kellie said...

The Operations Committee is going to vote on proposed "amended" boundary changes, tomorrow Wednesday 9/14. Amended changes are changes that are DIFFERENT from the scheduled growth boundary changes.

The majority of the amendments are quite sane and are simply NOT moving small areas from one over-crowded school to another over-crowded school.

However, on the last page of the text (no page numbers, just the last page before the maps start) there is the formalization of the end of grandfathering at elementary school. This amendment will cause many elementary students to be geo-split and sent to their new school without the option to remain at their current school.

Here is the link to the Operations Agenda

kellie said...

Here are some examples of the new geo-splits.

Families will be moved from Olympic View to Viewlands and then Viewlands families will be moved from Viewlands to Broadview Thompson and/or Whittier.

Then some Olympic Hills families (where they are getting a beautiful LARGE new building that is twice the current size) are going to be shifted out of Olympic Hills and over to those recently vacated spaces at Olympic View and the new seats at Cedar Park.

So Olympic View families need to be geo-split to make room for Olympic Hills families that are getting a HUGE new building. What is going in the space that Olympic Hills is vacating??

Anonymous said...


I tried the link to the Operations Agenda and it leads to a *page not found*


kellie said...

Here is the long one


Anonymous said...

From the recs in the Ops agenda...The only North Seattle schools recommended to get full grandfathering in 2017 are View Ridge and Wedgwood??? How nice for them!

-go figure

Anonymous said...

Kellie--if that is true, then that is HUGE. The document should have community review/input prior to approval. Does the board know what was slipped in?


kellie said...

The plan goes to the Ops committee tomorrow. It is then scheduled to go to the full board on October 12 with a vote scheduled on November 2nd. So there is time ... but not sufficient daylight around such huge changes.

Also, In the middle of the document is a schedule of previous and upcoming community engagement meetings. I think the meetings have been advertised as "growth boundary meetings" and are scheduled between September 22 and October 11.

That said, I don't think anyone suspects that these growth boundaries meetings are actually the end of elementary grandfather assignment meetings. The documentation does not contain any information on how many families will be geo-split. Without that information, there is no way to assess the impact.

That said, the rationale section is chock full of circular reasoning. Students need to leave Olympic View to "relieve Olympic View" However, Olympic View is receiving Families from Sacajawea in order to "relieve Sacajawea" And ... Sacajawea is receiving students from Olympic Hills, because of "capacity constraints"

But this is the crazy part. Olympic Hills is moving into a brand new building built for 660 student. How can a brand new building built for 660 with currently 300 students have capacity constraints.

This is one way to end the conversation around split siblings. Create massive disruptions for entire school communities. Let's have 50 families leave and replace them with 50 other families.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link for info on the 2017 boundary changes, with the recommendations for amendments and grandfathering:


Olympic Hills added a 4th kindergarten this year. Their new building was designed for 4 classrooms per grade, but instead of being allowed to grow into their new building their community is being split between the new building and Cedar Park...then in order to fill the new Olympic Hills building kids will be geo-split from Sacajawea and Olympic View...with kids from Viewlands being geo-split to fill the resulting void at Olympic View.

This makes no sense.

North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Why would they do this? And why split Cascadia and not just move Licton Springs? Is this all about optics? Is Flip really driving this, or is there someone else behind these crazy ideas and he is just the mouth piece? None of this makes sense.

Total Chaos

Lynn said...

I believe they're making room at Olympic Hills for a third of the students at Cascadia.

North-end Mom - the Licton Springs seats are in the middle school building. Are you suggesting moving some HCC kids into that space?

Anonymous said...

They're not talking about Olympic Hills for HCC, only Decatur. Are you suggesting the NE HCC group is split between Olympic Hills and Decatur? That seems crazy.

Total Chaos

Anonymous said...


I think your question was for "Total Chaos," not me.

To my knowledge, Olympic Hills is not being recommended to house HCC (from Cascadia). There are large boundary changes planned between Sacajawea and Olympic Hills and between Olympic View and Olympic Hills. If students from these areas are moved as geo-splits from Sac and Olympic View, they would fill the Olympic Hills building (when combined with the portion of the current Olympic Hills population going to the Olympic Hills building).

In my opinion, someone needs to hit a pause button and take the time to analyse if all this churn and disruption is worth it.

-North-end Mom

kellie said...

This is a tremendous amount of chun to support boundaries that were never very realistic in the first place. At some point (sooner rather than later) all of the boundaries in the north end are going to need to be re-visited / re-drawn.

Moving all of these students and families based on "projections" that are now almost 5 years old is simply not sane.

When you add to the conversation that these moves fall hardest on multiple low income housing areas, then the whole process becomes morally suspect. All of these moves are predicated on moving a very high FRL population into a substandard building. The rest is a massive domino effect to that one very bad decision that was made in haste years ago.

Anonymous said...

Move NE HCC into Cedar Park. Self contained, remodeled building, room to grow for the program. Will not have to be cohoused with Olympic Hills, or share the property with TC. No need for all the churn created by moving the ELL population out of Olympic Hills and the subsequent domino effect across the north.

Almost makes some sense? They do need to split the Cascadia program. It is too big for one location and growing. Even the parents are complaining.


Anonymous said...

@PW-Why wouldn't they do that? Do Cedar Park families not want to move to Olympic Hills?

Total Chaos

Anonymous said...

@Total Chaos

I don't know why using Cedar Park as an option school or HCC site was never given serious consideration. They have been determined from day 1 to use it as an attendance area school.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

JAMS has HCC. The JAMS attendance area doesn't even have a feeder school with a Spectrum program, and HCC is not very accessible for kids living in the NNE. There will be little chance for anyone living in Lake City to access NE HCC if it is shunted to Decatur...because it would probably fill with kids living in the closer View Ridge, Wedgwood and Bryant attendance areas.

If HCC were to be split, it would make sense to put HCC at Cedar Park, so that it would be more accessible to a more diverse population, and would transition nicely to the middle school HCC program at JAMS.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

@north-end mom: as much as I don't want to schlep to cedar park, and would love for my ne HCC child to be in the new building with his NW HCC friends, I agree cedar park could be a viable solution and an added bonus is it could serve as an accessible pipeline for a diverse community of undiscovered gifted students.


Lynn said...

Has placing HCC in Thurgood Marshall increased the number of underrepresented minorities in the program?

Anonymous said...

Lynn -



Anonymous said...

Good point. Wishful thinking driven as a defense mechanism to the stigma surrounding HCC.


Melissa Westbrook said...

1) Thank you to the heads up from Kellie.
2) I put up a separate thread. I agree; massive change (including possible transportation - see the Work Session document). I see too many moving parts and I think that staff needs a big flow chart so that everyone can see the macro and micro changes.
3) Don't believe for a minute that changes won't affect your school; there is always a ripple effect.

I cannot go to the meeting today so I hope someone goes and takes good notes.

I suggest considering signing up on Monday to speak at Wednesday's board meeting.

Anonymous said...


It seems that more neighborhood families are testing their children for HCC now, since JAMS opened with HCC. I honestly do think there is some validity to the "if you build it they will come" way of thinking.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

That is knowable, isn't it? We have data- we can find out if this has had an effect. There is an equity issue to making especially young students commute long distances, which is worth it if it is actually increasing HCC participation in underrepresented groups, and which is a terrible sacrifice purely for optics if it is not. I will see if I can dig it up- this is a good question if we are thinking about where to site another HCC program. Siting at TM appears not to have helped, and has caused problems, so there is also the possibility that elementary and middle school programs have different drivers.


Lynn said...

If you're looking for that info, I think it would be good to know too whether HCC at JAMS has increased diversity in the program.

Lynn said...

There's some info on this on page two of this document:


Anonymous said...

Just a reminder...

Diversity in HCC will not increase in any significant measure until SPS institutes a non-biased identification process.

It's doesn't work like the movie "Field of Dreams".


Anonymous said...

OK, so far all I could find is from the enrollment trends documents. 56 HCC students from the Jane Addams service area in grades 6-8 in 2014(the year it opened), 64 in 2015. 55 1-5 students in 2014, 65 students in 2015. All of the schools in the area have also increased in enrollment, and except for John Rogers have gone down some in FRL over the last two years, so the area generally appears to be growing and gentrifying(I couldn't find more specific data about who is coming from the JAMS area to HCC). I think I would need to do a deeper dive to decide if it is JAMS. Maybe another year of data will help. I think right now it is inconclusive, mildly positive, at least from the data I have been able to find so far. Probably it would be better to also have a control, to see if there were similar increases in the Eckstein or Hamilton or Washington areas.


Anonymous said...

PW is mistaken.

HCC at Thurgood Marshall and at Washington Middle School IS more diverse than the northend sites. Part of this is simply neighborhood demographics (fewer kids of color to draw from in the north), also, Rainier Scholars that join the program mostly join in the south. Maybe someone has exact numbers.

open ears

Anonymous said...

I don't doubt that it is more diverse than the north end sites because of neighborhood demographics, but the question is has it MADE it more diverse to site it at TM, not how diverse it is relative to the north. Has there been an increase in diverse participants in the south from before the siting and after, do you know? I did not find historical data on that question when I looked, but I may not know where to look.


SusanH said...

Something I never see mentioned in the HCC diversity debate is the number of bright African-American students who end up in private schools instead of SPS. I live in Rainier Beach, and I personally know at least three kids who are now at Lakeside, and two other Rainier Scholars who are now at Billings and Explorer West Middle Schools. Part of the Rainier Scholars goal is to get students in the best possible schools for them, and often that doesn't involve SPS. I just wonder if all these children instead chose HCC, we wouldn't be having quite the same diversity debate.

Of course some kids slip through the cracks, and it remains that the students who score only, say 96/97% on the COGAT are left with just Gen Ed in high-poverty schools since the district has basically walked away from Spectrum and ALO. But that affects kids are all races in South Seattle. It's unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

Again-the disconnect between AL, C&I, and enrollment and capacity planning IS the issue. It's because SPS ditched spectrum with no meaningful replacement and provides no standard or requirements for ALO that we're in this mess. We would have loved to avoid disrupting the elementary experience for our child--if ALO even remotely met our needs we would have stayed. But sending worksheets home as the way to give students extra challenge is not acceptable.

Total Chaos

Anonymous said...

The Spectrum students mentioned by Susan H (96/97) were certainly ill-served by the Washington decision to dissolve Spectrum (once again, after open enrollment). Now those students have no acceleration at all. Who can blame them for going private? What is somewhat ironic is that HCC families are often accused of white flight if they give up on SPS and go private, when in fact many of the private schools are pretty diverse.

open ears

SusanH said...

You are right, Open Ears. The private schools actively seek to create racially, geographically and economically diverse student bodies. Almost all of them tout "diversity" on their websites. Lakeside has a school bus that picks up students here in Rainier Beach. They recruit these bright students; and who would blame the students for taking them up on the offer and avoid the uncertainly of SPS?

z said...

Joseph Rockne said: If your biggest complaints are that someone has to write down how many pages they've read, then I think things must be going well.

Nice straw man Joseph. No one said it was their biggest complaint, and other problems have been mentioned, but you chose that one to try to make a weak point.

How about We're a week into 9th grade & I've seen one assignment from Intro to Lit/Comp 9A H (Honors for All). Draw a picture of what you think about outside of school.

This is a joke, and the type of thing many parents were concerned about when news of "honors for all" first popped up.

Or how about: The history teacher straight up told them that they won't be expected to do as much as they did in 8th grade in Mr. Schmitz class.

Schmitz provided a lot of rigor, that's for sure, but it's never a good sign when your workload goes down in high school compared with middle school.

As for the reading logs, they're great for reluctant readers and terrible for kids who read a lot for pleasure already. We talked with teachers and were excused from reading logs as early as 1st grade. When you have kids that love reading from a very early age and devour book after book after book, the last thing they need is someone pushing the notion that You Must Do This for X Minutes Every Day. It started having a damaging effect almost immediately; thankfully we were able to opt out.

The problem isn't just the 9H reading logs, it's the overall message that they're sending out already, only a week or so into the school year. The message this kind of assignment gives is that this class will not be taught like an Honors class.

This is why lumping kids with very different needs in the same classrooms is a bad idea; clearly, what's good for some isn't good for others. It doesn't even matter which of the kids' needs are not being met, the problem is simply that no matter what work is assigned, most of it will be inappropriate for one group of kids or another.

SusanH said...

Thanks z. Perfectly said.

Anonymous said...

So weird, with the references to north and south and "bright African-American students",
it's like the debate on slavery more than 150 years ago.

Why is there still a problem of white people accepting how disfiguring slavery was to the black population, how demoralizing Jim Crow and northern discrimination was and how racist elements still circulate freely at all levels of our society?

But, white folks just worry about their own kids and whether a reading log will destroy the intellect of their children. Maybe your kids will be more informed and compassionate.

goodwill shopper

Lynn said...

racism: the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

"white folks just worry about their own kids"

Parents of highly capable students (and they are not all white folks) don't believe that filling out reading logs will destroy the intellect of their children. They do worry that teachers who consistently assign inappropriate work will lead to reduced engagement in school and fail to prepare them for the academic challenges of college. Chances that spending two hours a day all year in classes that are not engaging because the work is designed for another group of students will inform them or cause them to feel compassion for their classmates are quite low.

Should students for whom reading logs are necessary and helpful be used to teach more capable students compassion? What is the expected outcome for struggling students in this classroom environment?

Charlie Mas said...

@goodwill shopper, will they become as compassionate as you?

There is no problem accepting - not to mention acknowledging, feeling hearbroken, and taking action to address - the consequences of slavery, Jim Crow, and discrimination on Black Americans. How odd that you might think there was any question about that stuff. We can all see the open racism that still infests America.

All of that, however, has nothing to do with delivering an appropriate academic opportunity to students who are working beyond grade level. Your efforts to suggest that they are in any way related are truly perplexing. Your suggestion that some students should be ill-served because racism is even more perplexing. Why would anyone advocate poor service for any student/

Charlie Mas said...


Diversity in HCC will not increase in any significant measure until SPS institutes a non-biased identification process.

And what would that process be? You whine a lot about how things are, but you refuse to offer anything better. You have been asked - on numerous occasions - to offer an alternative, but you have never done so.

Anonymous said...

Draw what "you think about outside of school??" What is this, a therapy session? And, holy cow, they're teenagers...I can only imagine what directions such an exercise may take some students. Can.not.stand such assignments.


Anonymous said...

"We can all see the open racism that still infests America."

Don't think so, bra. Read the Pew report:


Less than 50% of Democrats think too little attention is paid to race. 21% too much, 28% just right.

41% of all whites think too much attention! Only 27% too little.

You must live in bubble of like-minded liberals.

FWIW has said dozens of times to norm the CogAT by school, eliminate unlimited private tests.

I would add affirmative action as done in Houston and other districts.


Charlie Mas said...

@sunscreen, We all can see the open racism that still infests America. Some pretend not to see it. Lots would rather not see it or have it brought to their attention, but we can all see it. Also, your data is off-point. "Is enough attention paid to race?" Is not the same as "Does racism still infest America?" Please don't pretend to equate them. Also, you don't know anything about where I live; stop pretending that you do. I will tell you that where I live feeble arguments get shot down.

Thank you for answering for FWIW, who still refuses to answer for himself or herself. But FWIW has not actually advocated norming the CogAT by school in so many words. And it's a good thing because it is not a workable action. The sample size isn't big enough. Lots of schools have fewer than ten students total taking the test, let alone ten at each grade level - as if ten results were even enough for norming.

Also, norming by school would create a situation in which the District were determining that Student A's score of X on the CogAT indicates that Student A needs to be taught differently, but that Student B, who got an identical score of X on the CogAT, does not need to be taught differently. How does that make sense? It only makes sense in the context of thinking of HC services as some sort of prize or reward instead of thinking of HC services as a solution for a student with a special academic need. Either the student has the need or the student does not have the need. Such local norming would force a quota of eligibility so that a fixed percentage of students from each school were found in need of HC services - regardless of how high or low the students' actual need might be. It is unreasonable to presume that the exact same portion of students at each school will be in need of HC services. We don't presume that the exact same portion of students at each school will be in need of ELL services or Special Education services, do we?

Please tell us more about the affirmative action done in Houston.

Eliminating private test results is also unworkable. The District cannot eliminate private tests because the District has to consider any relevant data, and a private test result is a relevant data point. The District has no way of knowing if the test result is the only one the family has or the best out of ten. Do you want to offer some means of determining that? The District now offers one-on-one re-tests for FRL students, so students from families without the means to pay for a one-on-one test can still get one.