Thursday, January 05, 2017

Noted Education Speaker Comes to Garfield High

Just wanted to give advance notice of this talk but I will have more to say soon.  I greatly admire Ms. Burris and look forward to her talk.

To note, the Work Session on the SAP will also be that day at JSCEE but it is from 4:30-5:15pm with a Work Session on the Budget to follow from 5:15-6:45 pm. It is very disappointing that not a single Board member will have a community on Saturday in order to talk with parents about the SAP and get their input.


Closing the Opportunity Gap through Detracking and De-Testing
Wednesday, January 11 - 6:30 – 8 p.m. 
Garfield High School Quincy Jones Performing Arts Center 
400 23rd Avenue, Seattle 98122

Carol Burris will deliver a keynote address regarding the tremendous benefits of detracking, and how ranking students based on their perceived intellectual abilities creates defacto segregation in our schools.

Wayne Au, Professor of Education at the University of Washington, Bothell, will also be joining us on a panel of local educators and students who will share their stories and insights regarding inclusion and high-stakes testing.
Carol Burris is the Executive Director of the Network for Public Education Foundation and has been a teacher in both middle and high schools. She received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is a former high school principal. In 2010, she was named Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, she was named SAANYS New York State High School Principal of the Year. Dr. Burris co-authored De-tracking for Excellence and Equity (2008) and Opening the Common Core: How to Bring ALL Students to College and Career Readiness (2012), and authored On the Same Track: How Schools Can Join the 21st Century Struggle against Re-segregation (2014).
This event is supported by the Garfield High School PTSA, Seattle Equality Educators (SEE), the Center for Race and Equity and the Seattle Education Association. 


Anonymous said...

I'm a big believer in vocational training. We need plumbers.

Is that the track she wants to get rid of?


Anonymous said...

Ms. Burris' research on detracking, as with most research on detracking, does not look specifically at the needs of highly capable students. Detracking may have great benefits for lower performing students, and may not negatively impact those working at grade level or even a little above. However, when you attempt to apply her and similar work to high school students who score more than 2 SDs above average, saying they still pass grade level tests and complete graduation requirements is meaningless. Of course they do, and their ability to do so does not mean they are not negatively impacted by detracking. As the HC pathway high school in SPS, the use of research that does not consider the outcomes for HC students should not be acceptable.

Additionally, GHS implemented their "honors for all" approach completely inconsistent with what Burris et al. did in Rockville Centre, where they rolled things out very slowly, starting with new curricula in the lower grades and slowly building up to high school so that students were more ready for similar classes. Starting honors for all in HS when students aren't prepared to work at that level is a joke. I hope Ms. Burris is asked about the importance of building students up slowly, over many years, to be ready for such a change--and I hope someone points out that this is absolutely not what GHS did.

P.S. - There's only one high school in that Rockville Center district Burris worked with, and it doesn't appear to be a hotbed of academic potential. Out of over 1000 students, they had a whopping two National Merit Scholars.


Stuart Jenner said...

I hope some attendees can read both sides of the differentiation debate from Education Week a few years ago and ask some questions. Here is a link

then from there, you can find a link with the opposing point of view.

One thing that strikes me is no one asks this question: "how big a gap is too big." If you have students reading at a college level, and some reading at a grade school level, is that too big a gap?

Another question would be about double dipping. This article, cached so you don't need to register to read it, talks about Burris' experience double dipping with Algebra. "it didn't work", she states. So will double dipping on language arts work at Garfield?

The article also points out that based on experiences in Chicago, it is very possible to not pull people up, but rather pull all kids down, both high achievers and lower achievers were LESS likely to go to college.

Also, here's some background on how Burris quit her job to fight common core in 2015. Maybe some of those topics will come up too.

Highline Parent

Anonymous said...

Stuart Jenner, Highline parent,
Thanks for the links and input.

I found it interesting that (per Burris) "double dipping" in regard to Algebra did not work.
I would like to know more about that particular situation.

It seems that at Orca k-8 the 8th grade math plan is Algebra for all, with some double dipping. As I wrote elsewhere 83% of Orca 8th graders passed the Algebra Class yet 45% scored at level 1 on SBA 8th grade math assessment. Might it be that "double dipping" as currently configured in the 8th grade Algebra for all model, is not working.

-- Dan Dempsey

Lynn said...

How can Carol Burris's experience at South Side High School be relevant to anything happening at Garfield High School?

For the 2014-15 year, Rockville spent almost $29,000 per student. Seattle spent almost $13,000 per student.

South Side (the district's only high school) had enrollment of about 1,100 students and 95 teachers - yes a student to teacher ratio of under 12:1. Garfield was projected to have about 1,700 students this year and 80 teachers for a student to teacher ratio of 21:1. (This includes 9 special education teachers and 12 bilingual teachers.)

13% of South Side's students and 34% of Garfield's qualify for free or reduced price meals. 1% of South Side's students and 6% of Garfield's are English Language Learners. 14% of South Side's students and 6% of Garfield's students require special education services.

Teachers at South Side are required to be available to their students for a half hour before school each day and school bus schedules were changed so that students arrive in time for this. South Side employs three social workers and two psychologists for their low-poverty school.

30% of Garfield's students are academically gifted (98th percentile IQ or higher) and every year 25% of the incoming ninth graders are reading below 3 or 4 years below grade level.

Data said...

Burris worked as a principal in Rockville Centre School District, New York.

"According to a 2007 estimate,[8] the median income for a household in the village is $99,299, and the median income for a family is $128,579."

2010 Census:

"The racial makeup of the village is 78.3% White, 8.6% Black or African American, 9.7% Hispanic or Latino, 0.1% American Indian and Alaska Native, 2.0% Asian alone, 0.0% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 0.1% Some Other Race, and 1.2% Two or More Races",_New_York

It appears Rockville Centre is not a high poverty school. Can we compare apples to apples?

Data said...

Will Garfield have someone speak on the needs of advanced learners?

Data said...

Rockville Centre school district has 3,500 students. Income: "At about $112,000 a year, household income is among the highest on Long Island, the mayor said."

Anonymous said...

For interested parents/students - From the UW Robinson Center's website
January 7, 2017 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
General Information Session on our UW Academy, Transition School/Early Entrance, and Enrichment Programs.
Foege Auditorium (Genome Sciences 060)

- RC

Anonymous said...

We turned to the Robinson Center to shore up some of the more egregious Seattle Public School failings (such as their willfully poor math curriculum). They were awesome - it was a great learning experience.


Anonymous said...

Education finance... New York passed an acted upon legislation similar to McCleary.

In WA the State has not fulfilled McCleary.

Let us listen to what Ms. Burris has to say and not quibble about the finances of her situation.

Although many of her experiences may be greatly different than what some perceive may believe can be applicable to Seattle's situation today, this hardly means we have nothing to gain by listening carefully to what she has to say.

-- Dan Dempsey

Lynn said...

Once they've completed the ninth grade students can take regular UW classes in the summer too for both high school and college credit. Unlike Running Start, you'll have to pay the tuition but they can free up time during the school year, enable access to a more challenging course or make it possible to avoid a particularly poor teacher. This might be a solution for students who aren't happy with their freshman English experience at Garfield if Honors for All is extended into the 10th grade.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Here's a link to a conversation with her co-author about detracking. It's in several parts, each between 3-7 minutes. (Nothing on less testing which is also the focus of her latest book.)

My takeaway from listening:

- teachers felt some of the skills that were being imparted to high achieving students in honors classes like critical thinking skills were important for all students.
- several times, the authors reference parents trying to block some students from being in the honors classes, either because of slowing the class down and/or behavior issues. They did go out of their way, several times, to cite parent interference along with finding teacher allies.
- Rockville used teacher rec to allow students into Honors classes which has not been the case in SPS.
- they go on to say that in Gen Ed classes there are "no role models" for good behavior and kids egg each other on to be obnoxious.
- They didn't address Rockville's income status but the school's diversity, at least for blacks and Latinos is high
- they found, with their one example, that ALL kids do better. Most research says that while kids on the lower end do better, kids in the middle do marginally better and higher end kids do worse.

The main things they emphasized:

- Whole school effort - all classes heterogeneous
- differentiated teaching ONLY, not curriculum.
- all students take same tests but homework can be varied to meet course goals.
- they don't use the word "ability"
- teachers are all trained to look for multiple intelligences
- all students start at same level i.e. no pre-algebra, they all start with algebra
- more doing, less lecturing material
- the PD has to be for ALL teachers on reading and writing because all teachers need to be able to help kids, no matter the subject they are teaching

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry - here's the link"

Anonymous said...

@ Dan, I don't think anyone is saying we shouldn't listen to and learn from Ms. Burris. On the contrary, I think the people you interpret as "quibbling" are actually suggesting that we--and more importantly, Garfield teachers and administrators--should be paying more attention to the implementation details of what they did in Rockville Center. Even with much greater funding AND a more homogenous population (lower FRL, lower ELL, less racial diversity, and not a highly capable site), they STILL needed to roll things out slowly, strategically, and in a carefully phased fashion, starting with improvements in elementary school, then middle, and finally rolling those up to high school, once the cohort got there. They created a rigorous new curriculum starting in elementary school, provided extensive professional development, and ensured consistency across schools, etc. It's not all that surprising that if you have a more homogeneous bunch of students and you devote extensive resources to them and you START EARLY, you can make difference. That's not what Garfield did, at all.

What I'd like to see the district learn from Burris' talk are things such as:
- the importance of a rigorous curriculum in early grades, so we can build on that
- the importance of extensive additional supports for struggling students
- the importance of alignment/consistency across schools
- strategies for successfully planning and implementing a multi-year academic initiative
- the Garfield population is very different from that of South Side HS

However, what I suspect they will "hear" and "learn" is:
- detracking works! Burris said so!


Anonymous said...

"Most research says that while kids on the lower end do better, kids in the middle do marginally better and higher end kids do worse."



no caps said...

again mc-t see duke/nw longitudinal study on ability grouping.

no caps

Anonymous said...

The conversation at Garfield, and elsewhere in this district, is being driven without the needs of gifted students in mind. This is primarily because the staff, principals, and the speaker, have almost no experience advocating for or providing services to gifted students. If they had then they would know that Special Education (which Gifted Ed is a part) is not a place but a service. However, efficiently providing services does mean that you need some places to deliver those services to a large group of students.

What gifted services are being provided at schools? Principals and staff have steadily reduced the legally required services using the cover of acceleration as the only service they provide. They use equity as a reason for all cuts in otherwise equitable education. While at the same time Garfield is denying freshmen the opportunity to receive their legally mandated services inclusive of acceleration.

The Advanced Learning dept in SPS has no ability to tell principals to knock off their illegal restrictions on basic education for a portion of their students. It is illegal because in Washington state gifted education (all aspects) is defined as Basic Education. It cannot be lawfully restricted otherwise a family has the right to sue for civil rights violations for denial of FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education).

The speaker doesn't advocate for these students she tries to describe how minimally these gifted students will be harmed. This is terrible pedagogy and really strikes to the heart of the political animus directed by adults at the students in their care.

When teachers and the people who train teachers say that it's okay to harm a group in their care rather than live up to the idea that all students deserve what they need, rather than what their teachers will politically ration to them, then that is unprofessional.

Ms. Burris and her adherents seem to think there is a finite amount of education in the world. There is not.

There is not a finite amount of excellence within our teacher corps either. Raising rigor is the responsibility of the teacher.

I am heartened that the teachers at Garfield have recognized that they let their rigor deteriorate. That they have realized they are not meeting the needs of some of the students in their charge.

It is my hope that they will also realize that they are also not meeting the needs for whom specific interventions are required and that their school was chosen to house those interventions.

Both of those realizations should lead them to serving every student in every classroom everyday.

Telling one group of students they are 'educated enough' and that their needs don't even exist is not an acceptable basis for a school to base decisions upon.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

Part two

What they should implement:
A gifted ed coordinator at each school who sits on the Instructional Council and has equal authority to mandate the implementation of services since they are legally required.

Dedicated portions of the budget: When books or items are being bought then they should buy differentiated texts of appropriate complexity. Right now Gifted students are meant to "go deeper" into the literary and textual equivalent of puddles.

Education of staff that they are prejudiced against portions of their students who were born a certain way. This wouldn't be tolerated if a a major high school were anti-LGBTQ or openly racist against people of color. So why is it acceptable to retaliate against children who are born with certain needs? It isn't. That's part of why I don't support charters. They exclude children they don't want. Is this tolerable in any of our schools?

District staff structures need to change. Advanced Learning needs to be co-equal to Special Education and both of these organizations need to have the power to ensure the implementation of legally required services.

Evaluation: If staff and teachers are refusing to provide legally required services then that should count against them as teachers.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

"However, the authors found that the benefits of between-class grouping (separating students from the same grade into high-, average-, and low-achieving classes) were negligible.

By demonstrating that one hundred years of research shows most forms of ability grouping and acceleration to be effective educational strategies that benefit students, the authors of this study make a strong argument that schools should implement these techniques."

thanks nc, the study shows clustering is effective and separating is not.


Anonymous said...

If anything we need more tracking. As Mario said at the top of the page, where the heck are we going to get plumbers?


Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Mr. Moriarty! Very mature and clear thinking.

On grouping: (I really like the wording here about what grouping is and shouldn't be. They have several citations at the end.)

Very good article on "cluster grouping" in classrooms which I could support IF the district committed to it. To note:

"The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model is an inclusion model wherein students with exceptional learning needs are integrated into mixed-ability classrooms. In this model, classroom teachers are trained to provide appropriate differentiated learning opportunities for those needing additional challenges. Similar inclusion models have been used for decades to provide services to students who have been identified as having exceptional educational needs and for English language learners. The same philosophy is equally beneficial for gifted students.

The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model represents a method for providing full-time academic services to gifted students with no financial impact to the district. In the SCGM, all students are grouped based on their ability and achievement levels. Classroom compositions are carefully structured with two main goals: to ensure a balance of abilities in all classes in the grade level, and to reduce the learning range found in any given classroom (Winebrenner & Brulles, 2008)."

"balance of abilities" AND "reduce the learning range found in any given classroom."

Fitz Carraldo said...

@ mukbang, you're wrong about what it says. Here's a nice write-up of the Duke meta-analysis of 100 years of studies.

It says there's no benefit to having a low-level 5th grade class, a medium-level 5th grade class and a high-level 5th grade class if they're all using the same curriculum.

So, you're kind of right about that. The 3-page summary of the study is very readable. It says:
1. 20% to 40% of elementary and middle school students perform above grade level in reading and 10% to 30% do so in math, sot the U.S. educational system requires major changes when it comes to providing advanced students with opportunities to learn
2. acceleration works. Accelerated students, in all meta-analyses, performed significantly better than their non-accelerated same-age peers-----though they did not perform significantly better than nonaccelerated, older students.
3. negative social-emotional outcomes, such as lowered self-esteem for lower-achieving students, do not come from the ability grouping but rather from other factors
4. students benefit from within-class grouping, cross-grade subject grouping, and gifted and talented programs.

So, to summarize, SPS is letting down the 10%–40% of students who perform above grade level with no benefit to students performing below grade level by attempting to deny acceleration or walk-to programs (i.e. cross-grade subject grouping) to students who are ready for them.

Get on your game, SPS! Education is not a limited resource. Education for all students!!!

Anonymous said...

"After taking a comprehensive look at the existing published research integrating previous metaanalytic results, the researchers of this second-order meta-analysis found that students benefited from within-class grouping, cross-grade subject grouping, and gifted and talented programs. However, the authors found that the benefits of between-class grouping (separating students from the same grade into high-, average-, and low-achieving classes) were negligible"

That's the conclusion Fitz:

"students benefited from within-class grouping"

I know you don't like it that self-contained is not shown to be superior, but that's what the study found. Darn science!


monkeypuzzled said...

"gifted and talented programs" would be self-contained, no?

Anonymous said...

@Melissa" I will note that this is one school in a wealthy district. (They spend double per student than SPS.) That said, I think most of her ideas are good but, as she and her co-author note, it takes organization, an entire school effort and a lot of PD. "

Melissa-- Yes, lots of differences. Rockville Center on Long Island is very wealthy. Think Madison Park or Mercer Island. At South Side HS Approx 15% are considered economically disadvantaged. Very small district, like many on LI, with only one high school. My cousin sends her kid to school in that district. I remember when parents were upset that they were going to have a 21 student elementary class. They had 16-17 per in a class. Class sizes are also about half of ours. Cousins property taxes were $15,000 per year last time she told me a few years ago, she said she has friends pay as much as $20,000. Probably more now. NY has a state income tax. Per pupil funding is much much higher, yes likely at least double but I think more, I think around $30,000 per student is typical. This is typical for many districts on LI. High taxes! Also, their high school actually tracked kids previously, unlike Garfield in which AP courses are open to anyone who decides to take them.
- Jane

Anonymous said...

Thank-you Jane.
Call it tracking, even though it isn't, but HCC saves money, better spent on helping struggling kids.


Fitz Carraldo said...

@ mukbang,
If you have 4 classes of 2nd graders at your elementary school and among all the 2nd graders at the school only one or or two of those students is HC (which SPS defines as top 2 percentiles, so two kids out of a hundred would be a reasonable estimate), how do you propose to put them in an ability-based group in that classroom or school? One kid is NOT a group. How is that classroom teacher going to create a group of one kid, and provide acceleration to just that one kid? What the heck kind of group is that?

By the way, not having self-contained is apparently WAY worse for African American kids:
Opponents of ability grouping may argue that these findings are well and good, but that ability grouping is harmful for minority students. When we examined the effect of homogeneity on high-ability black youth, however, we found it had a much stronger effect on these students than on high-ability students in general. Whereas homogeneity has a moderate positive effect on all high-ability youth (.13), it has a very strong positive effect on high-ability black youth (.32; see figure 11.4). This powerful effect suggests that we should oppose heterogeneity and support grouping. Also, we found a substantial effect in favor of grouping for high-ability Hispanic youth (.24; see figure 11.4).

Fitz Carraldo said...

They do self-contained so they can put together enough of these HC kids to make a classroom full. It makes no financial or moral sense to have teachers providing one-on-one tutoring to their ability-group of one lone gifted kid. Makes way more financial sense to plunk them down in a cruddy old, disused high school with no playground and cram them into giant classrooms full of other gifted kids and teach them en masse like all the other kids in Seattle. That's how you make a group when each school is only sending 12 or so kids.

Anonymous said...

you must be a new comer, schools like Bryant lose 25% of kids in some grades to HCC. it's all the rage there.


Anonymous said...

If the HCC kids stayed at Bryant, they would have to redraw the boundaries to a 3 block radius surrounding the school.

Tight quarters

Anonymous said...

Well, get ready for the redraw. Some'll like it, some'll pack up, some'll be embarrassed for leaving. Hopefully everyone will be graceful.

future shock

Anonymous said...

@future shock- I'm sorry, I didn't realize Bryant was short on tutors. Is the UW busy these days?

Tight quarters

z said...

Theo, thank you so much for weighing in. It's great to hear from teachers that are actually in the classrooms and know these kids. Every time a parent hears a teacher say they are going to "go deeper" while still using basic, unsophisticated material, they need to remind the teacher how easy it is to swim in a mud puddle.

Very few teachers have meaningful experience with gifted kids and understand the issues, and the result of that ignorance are things like the Honors-For-All-but-not-really at Garfield and the blended classes at Thurgood Marshall. These teachers and principals recognize that there is a problem, but because it's an ongoing problem they can't fix, they're grasping at straws to try to do anything within their power to help. Unfortunately, because they don't understand (or believe) the real problems, and they really don't understand gifted kids, they end up doing foolish things that are harmful instead.

Again, thank you for weighing in with your real name. Most of us here don't do that, for a variety of reasons, but when teachers do it's very much appreciated, especially when it's a topic like this with a lot of misunderstandings.

Fitz Carraldo said...

@ goldrush,
Oh, I'm not that much of a newcomer. I remember busing, for example. I just don't come from one of them fancy neighborhoods. Most schools in the district don't do what Bryant and View Ridge do. Those two are definitely statistical anomalies, but also really clogged up with school-aged kids. Must be all the fancy sidewalks they've got down there.

The rest of the world just sends a small but steady trickle of kids whose needs just can't be met at the local school. Well, except for the handful of schools who send none to HCC. Those schools are clearly failing to identify qualifying kids if you ask me. I'm sure there are a lot of kids in the district who would qualify if anyone bothered to test them. But no one has any idea what giftedness is, not even most of the teachers, so plenty of kids who could benefit go unidentified. So the gifted kids sit around becoming class clowns and substance abusers and acting up a lot because at least going to the principle's office is more interesting than what's going on in class. It's a wonder anyone can learn anything with some of those kids in the gen ed classroom.

I've talked to plenty of HCC families whose kids were in the asst. principle's/principle's office weekly or daily for misbehaving. Gifted kids can be awesome if you keep 'em busy and engaged. Let 'em get bored and start tuning out and acting up and they can derail the learning for a lot of kids who probably could have benefited from the lesson being offered.

Whatever. My point is, I've been around a while.

Anonymous said...


one of the authors of the paper you site, Timothy Keith, is a signatory to a public statement titled "Mainstream Science on Intelligence".

This manifesto defended the controversial book "The Bell Curve".

Keith and 51 other professors agreed that African Americans are genetically inferior in IQ.


Insulated Attic

Anonymous said...

I'm glad my perspective seems to be helpful. I am passionate about cohorts because I was in a blended classroom as an elementary and middle school student. I was the only child in my classes that needed these services. However, since I was single domain gifted I wasn't given any pull out services by the district. My teachers were expected to provide acceleration for me. However, since I read well above grade level and generally wasn't a pain to teach I received no services. Exactly like a student of mine who told me they did their entire 4th grade year in the hallway doing self directed learning. That teacher gave up on that child and now schools like Garfield are trying to give up on all their gifted students all at once.

They did not do so because they were unequipped by talent and training to do so.

Teachers have a habit of believing that these students, gifted students, are merely precocious rather than profoundly different.

When I meet with parents of my students I understand the idiosyncratic behaviors that the severely gifted come to class with. I typically focus the conferences on deescalating the damage done to the students self worth by teachers and schools who have zero inclination of treating that student like an individual with needs rather than as a test score that is occasionally sullen, defiant, or with quirks that the teacher or students choose not to be inclusive of.

Not every teacher comes with this experience. Very few gifted adults become teachers because teaching is an inherently frustrating experience with a great deal of inefficiency and interpersonal frustration.

I oppose these changes time and again because I have lived through what these proposals are meant to become. The soft prejudice against gifted and institutionally defenseless students. I have heard the sneering of staff and experienced the blockade against implementation of the legally required and pedagogically excellent strategies we must use to assist these thousands of children in our system.

When I was a child I had mapped out the strategy that each teacher used when asking a question. In my experience this was rarely deviated from. The fist student asked to respond was generally off task and the question was used as a way to re-task them. The second student was generally a decent enough kid and would often give the correct answer. If two of the good students couldn't answer or one student if the teacher was stressed then I was asked the question and was reliably correct.

My differentiation experience was that I had a study carrel on the side of the room and yet I was expected to follow along with the class while I self-differentiated out of the Riverside Shakespeare and to provide the answers when called upon.

That is what it can look like when the indifferent and untrained 'differentiation' for students who need an intervention.

Training isn't the end all be all. Like with Special Education you have to have an affinity and a desire to work with students with these exceptionalities.

A cohort for advanced learners also helps me to deliver tailored social-emotional lessons for the gifted. What does it mean to be gifted? It's being different rather than better which is what adults generally think. That they are asynchronous and will have some peculiar behaviors, that living a deeply passionate intellectual life is not only normal but something to be embraced. That it is okay to be who they are and how they are.

Imagine the damage to a child when their teacher is overheard to say that giftedness is simply a function of skin color or socio-economic status? Or perhaps that giftedness is just a matter of privilege rather than a privilege to teach?

What if your school said that same thing but couched it more delicately in platitudes about a one-size-fits-none solution to the inconvenience of their giftedness? As a solution for their giftedness rather than embracing it.

By the way National Gifted Student Day is February 2nd.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mr. Moriarty. I didn't miss Mr. Nyland's comment at this recent board meeting, calling HCC a "growth industry" with a chuckle. My understanding of their efforts and comments is that they believe parents are manipulating the system and trying to manufacture achievement for their child, rather than happiness and learning.

Too bad. Time to move on, I believe.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

I'm glad my perspective seems to be helpful. I am passionate about cohorts because I was in a blended classroom as an elementary and middle school student. I was the only child in my classes that needed these services. However, since I was single domain gifted I wasn't given any pull out services by the district. My teachers were expected to provide acceleration for me. However, since I read well above grade level and generally wasn't a pain to teach I received no services. Exactly like a student of mine who told me they did their entire 4th grade year in the hallway doing self directed learning. That teacher gave up on that child and now schools like Garfield are trying to give up on all their gifted students all at once."

You sound perhaps a little bitter about your own treatment as a student and this sentence sounds scandalous:

"Exactly like a student of mine who told me they did their entire 4th grade year in the hallway doing self directed learning."

I find it unimaginable that a child spent the ENTIRE year in the hall with no instruction.

I don't really believe all students in HCC are gifted. I would guess half are just tutored up to get in.

As a gifted student myself things were pretty bad back in the day and many teachers do not understand giftedness still, but I feel HCC has become even more of a promised land than ever for a large number of anxious parents who feel their kids will be left behind if they don't get in.

Thanks for speaking out, I don't mean this as an attack, just wondering if your advocacy has any nuances you haven't mentioned.


Fitz Carraldo said...

@Insulated Attic,

I had no idea about The Bell Curve or the "Mainstream Science on Intelligence". It was nice to see that the latter one said, "Members of all racial-ethnic groups can be found at every IQ level." But, yowza, some of the rest of that sure sounds racist to me!

I never paid much attention to IQ (although mine was tested in elementary school because I was well outside what was considered normal) until suddenly I had a kid and the school refused to teach him anything. Imagine my surprise since teaching kids things seemed to be the whole point to school.

I'll try to read up on racism in intelligence studies. Do you have any sources to recommend?

I found this one, which was very interesting: All Brains Are the Same Color. I like their conclusion and agree that SPS should be striving to see that ALL children receive ample opportunity to develop their minds.

Thanks for cluing me in!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Moriarity, it is heartening to know there are teachers who get it. My 2E child was one of those kids always getting in trouble with frequent calls from the Principal. When voicing my concerns that he wasn't being challenged enough, they clearly did not believe that was the issue. This was a supposed ALO school BTW (the walk to math class saw his best behavior but there was nothing for LA). My child is not naturally self-motivated (as many seem to believe just comes with giftedness). He will try to get away with doing the least possible unless held accountable. He spent a year being allowed to mostly sit in a corner and read instead of receiving instruction since he was "meeting standards". There was zero evidence of any writing for an entire year. Since moving to HCC he is actually learning and not a single call from the school.


Anonymous said...

I was a gifted student who grew up in a very poor rural county. I was reading the Odyssey in 4th grade and started making my way through the library's Agatha Christie books in second grade. Thank goodness they were not gory. I read them in a corner of the library because I wasn't allowed to check them out. I did carry 8 or 10 other books the 2 miles home each week though. Like Theo I did other work (read, worked on interesting math). I absolutely loved it. I am so thankful I did not have to go to a program where lots of other kids combined together to create a sense of pressure. Made thst mistake with my own kids. Tried HCC then quickly realized it's filled with a whole lot more anxiety. Loved my self-paced childhood. It was basically unschooling in a classroom. I think too many people want to turn the learning over to teachers. Teachers should provide the rigorous materials and maybe a jump-starting question. IMO these days too many people completely avoid teaching their kid how to go after what they need in a non-optimum situation. I always told my kids if they complained about their classrooms that it was their job to make it fun and grab the learning, their job to ignore distractions smd persevere, because their brain will either grow from learning or not, their call. I personally do believe that almost all of the time a gen ed classroom can be a great learning environment for a HCC kid. It does take an teacher open to differentiation these days (though frankly none of mine were that open, I got paddled every so often but managed to sneak books in my lap anyway). That's where the focus should be-- on teacher training at local schools, and on student personal responsibility and accountability for learning. Self-contained in my personal experience causes more problems than it solves, emotionally, academically, and societally.

Been there

Anonymous said...

Wow just read the most intelligent posts ever to exist on this blog. Thanks Gaswork and Been There as you made salient points that have a personal connection without being "personal."

That is largely what defines Education, the personal. As long as your child's needs are being met or aren't the issues that define many of those that seem to exist on this blog and others are not yours. And then those who have the audacity to disagree or espouse an opposing view not of the majority are often mocked as "incoherent" "cryptic" or some other vague criticism that then completely derides the writer/speaker and their views. And people wonder how we got to this point in our Democracy. We do it by attacking the individual and then we can avoid actually dealing with the ideas.

Countdown to when the mods of this blog swoop into to delete this comment or scold me as simply being wrong/racist/poor writer/old/young/pick a label.

The real issue is that HCC has a place at the table for those who want it but that table is large and there may not be enough to serve them a full plate. That is the case for SPED, ELL and other guests at the banquet as well. You cannot do it all with the resources available. So get over it. What is one man's delight is another man's poison.

This debate is futile. Education is a money game.

- Money Talks

dan dempsey said...

I wonder if Ms. Burris will have any thoughts on Common Core?

Common Core: The Education Invasion
How Common Core fights parents for control of American Kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Money Talks, you are somewhat right. The education of their child is one of the highest priorities/concerns for parents and yes, can make for myopic thinking. But that is across the spectrum of parents. To say that parents who are middle class or above don't have the right to advocate is puzzling to say the least.

But the district loves to divide and conquer and I'll have more to say on this soon.

I am going to scold you for your comment; you are entitled to your opinion. But I often say some comments are cryptic or incoherent. Why? The cryptic ones are usually one mysterious sentence that has little to do with the topic. If I don't think readers will get it, I query it. Ditto on coherency. If I don't get what you are saying, it is likely that others don't either. Asking for clarification is not scolding.

But saying that parents whose students are in HCC are asking for full plate to the detriment of other students is just not true. I think they, like all parents, would like to see what the district SAYS it is doing to actually be done. If that can't happen because of money, the district should say that. The district is already directing more dollars to struggling students and has been doing that steadily for the past decade.

Anonymous said...

@ Gaswork,

I am a bit bitter about my own treatment but I've made it my life's work to ensure that whenever a student needs what they need I do my best to provide it or connect the student to that service. As to the rather shocking idea that a student self educated for a year in 4th grade I agree that it is shocking. I just learned this from the student this week. Even if it was most of a year or a month it's an unacceptable strategy for working with a student.

Why is it so repugnant to allow a student to move forward a few grade levels in a particular subject? What harm can there possibly be to purchase appropriate novels or apply an appropriate rubric to textual materials?

It seems every time it is brought up there is so much institutional hostility toward the most basic and even revenue neutral proposals.

Perhaps we need some sort of truth and reconciliation committee that gives an amnesty to all the district personnel who are afraid of repercussions for their potentially illegal acts.

We have a great many of the answers prepared and ready to go and yet they are being kept from being implemented. Frame it however you like but get the services there to every student who needs them.

When I taught at Rainier Beach High School I taught AP courses and always was on the lookout for gifted students who weren't being served. There were always several every year and it took years to get them to a point where they were okay with who they were and to start expanding their horizons and self expectations. Luckily the school was so small I could do this during my class time but what about these students who need the identification and delivery of services that a cohort can provide?

I do think we need to reduce the acceleration in some respects because that is the only offering now from almost every school. I teach my 7th graders a course designed to prepare them for AP World History, AP Human Geography, and AP European History. It's still accelerated but it gives such a broader framework of thought and scaffolds for later more intensive skills acquisition that they will be more ready when they hit High School. However, these students should be getting high school history and lit credit. Not AP credit but general high school honors credit with honors GPA.

I was told at a staff meeting this week that students who earn HS credit in middle school turn it down because it will not earn an honors boost to 5.0gpa because that will negatively effect their class ranking. So they repeat courses in high school.

While I understand class ranking and competitive college entrance doesn't this seem to be a simple fix? Allow the middle school students to earn that 5.0 even if the colleges will ultimately renorm it to 4.0 and make sure students aren't repeating coursework for the sake of weird piece of red tape?

Mr. Theo Moriarty

SusanH said...

Mr. Moriarty,

I've been confused about the whole "middle school class for high school credit" thing, but I don't believe it's the case that students retake classes. I think they just continue on the progression of classes, and use only the classes they actually take in high school to calculate their GPA. At least that was how it was explained to me by other parents. So my son, who took Algebra 1 and Geometry in middle school, now takes Algebra 2 in 9th grade, and that will be the starting point for his GPA...

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the thoughtful response.

This statement hits at the heart of the problem,I believe:

"Why is it so repugnant to allow a student to move forward a few grade levels in a particular subject? What harm can there possibly be to purchase appropriate novels or apply an appropriate rubric to textual materials?"

From my experience many teachers fail to make the effort to learn how to recognize and deal with gifted kids. It doesn't seem to be taught in teaching programs.

The teachers I have known who had received training were light-years ahead in being able to both excite the kids to learn and, at least as important, deal with their unique problems, whether from their parents, their peers to the way adults perceive and treat them.

The best teachers of the gifted I have encountered were not themselves particularly gifted,they had simply received education.

I think at this point the district needs to require effective PD for all staff on giftedness. How can a school district be so bad at educating its own?

That being said, our middle school seemed to do an extremely good job of differentiating and then high school begins the stratification that continues into college.

Elementary level is where schools need to really shape up and make families of gifted kids feel more welcome; to change the whole culture from seeing pushy parents to seeing anxious parents; from obnoxious kids to mental vacuum cleaners. Learn to enjoy these kids, to help them relate to ALL of their peers. I saw great progress at my elementary as staff was trained and they became better at treating all kids from all categories more fairly and with their well-being in mind.

Prejudices are learned and can be unlearned. SPS needs to get on the ball and get it done.

With the honors credit issue, from my experience with workload of honors history at an SPS high school, I feel middle schoolers should not be doing so much work. Middle school should be also about interactions with humans. Learning the concepts around respect and acceptance of others. And all that hormone stuff, very, very important. High school and college will be increasingly time-consuming, it's nice to have as much of the inter-personal on auto as possible.

Thanks again for your time, Gaswork

Anonymous said...

I was told at a staff meeting this week that students who earn HS credit in middle school turn it down because it will not earn an honors boost to 5.0gpa because that will negatively effect their class ranking. So they repeat courses in high school.

Yes, I believe this is why they often turn down the credit, but it's not why they "repeat" courses in high school. High schools will still put you in their 9th grade LA and SS classes, because that's what their 9th graders take. However, unless you plan on graduating early, there's often no value in taking that credit anyway, since you still need to take x # of years of whatever in high school--for both graduation requirements, and because that's what colleges are looking for.

Also, and I don't mean this a slight to Mr. Moriarty, but I'm not convinced that middle school classes really DO rise to the level of true honors-level high school courses. Maybe in some cases, but definitely not in all. In all our years of middle school HCC, I can't say my students ever learned as much or worked as hard as I'd expect them to good high school honors classes. We had experience with rigorous, honors-level high school courses elsewhere, and nothing in HCC middle school even came close. And while there are some students who could do that level of work, it probably wouldn't be appropriate for most. I think a better approach is to offer more challenging courses in middle school to prepare them for more challenging courses in high school, then actually provide access to more rigorous courses in 9th grade.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for the clarification I appreciate getting more detailed information. It would be nice if AL dept kept a longitudinal database so that we can use real data on students to make real decisions. Maybe honor a few along the way. How many Merit scholars? Who created great art? Who wrote the next masterpiece etc.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Charlie Mas said...

If a student takes a high school course in middle school and takes high school credit for that course, then it counts towards the number of classes they need in that discipline to graduate.

For example, the high school graduation requirement in math is three years, consisting of Algebra 1 or integrated Math 1, Geometry or Integrated Math 2, and Algebra 2 or Integrated Math 3 or a 3rd credit of math. Students who take Algebra and Geometry in middle school for high school credit can take Algebra 2 in the 9th grade and be done with math for high school.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Charlie. But do you seriously think many kids who are advanced enough to take algebra and geometry in middle school are going to call it quits after a year of math in high school? I don't think that's too likely. What's the possible benefit, unless they plan to graduate very early (and are making up all the other requirements in heir spare time.)


Anonymous said...

Well after Algebra 2 there is Pre-Calculus, Calculus AB and Calculus BC so they can take a full four years of math in high school if they want to.

I was a gifted kid who benefited from a cohort. Left to my own devices, I would have spent the entire day reading a book. I got A's with very little effort and did the least I had to. In 5th grade, I joined the gifted program which was 5th grade - 8th grade and then there were high school options. It really motivated me to do better because my peers were at my level and they were just as nerdy and geeky as me. Forced busing broke up the program in my home city and I went to a private college prep high school which I never would have been able to qualify for if I hadn't been in the gifted program 5th - 8th.

Options are needed for AL. There needs to be AL at all schools and a separate school for the kids whose needs are not being met in their neighborhood schools.


Anonymous said...

Of course they can, HP. And they probably will. That was my point. Charlie was suggesting they could just take the high school credit for middle school math and be done with math in 9th, then not have to be bothered by taking math in 10th-12th grades. I was simply pointing out that that's not a likely scenario, and there aren't a lot of cases in which it would be beneficial.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate Mr. Moriarty's comments and insight.

And any "detracking" of our students needs to have solid research behind it, as was said earlier. Particularly regarding our gifted learners.

Although I don't yet have any direct experience with secondary gifted ed matters, I just want to mention a few words about a self-contained cohort:

As a parent of a 5th grade Hi Cap student, I promote the benefits of a self-contained program. Access to a cohort generally has positive effects on a student's sense of self-worth and academic progress. They include a dedicated (ie. experienced/trained) teacher who works with the needs of each student within the flow, demands and schedule of her class. (This would be different from a student who gets pulled out from his/her class for advanced math three times a week from a gen ed class.) Furthermore, the self-contained cohort can validate the uniqueness of my son's traits (ie. asynchronous development) through working together on class projects, playing a game of basketball at recess, or talking about current affairs when there is time to collaborate together.

Each family needs to assess what is best for their student(s) and families.

Having said all of this, I know that life is and should not be all about accelerated learning. But paying attention to the fundamentals of the needs of our gifted population and making the best decisions on their behalf will hopefully put them on the right "track" for their futures.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I looked at Carol Burris presentation. As someone with a relative who sends her kids to South Side and who has lived in Seattle for years, you absolutely cannot compare Garfield's diversity in race and income to South Side. South Side mirrors Rockville Center and is 76-80% white, 11% hispanic, 4-8% Black. I grew up on LI. Hispanic on LI often means majority are "white hispanic" (cuban, spanish etc) and majority of hispanics are not from Mexico. South Side is very very affluent, very low F&R lunch compare to Mercer Island. Property taxes are 3-4 times Seattle. Very low class sizes, very small district, very high resources & staff. 1:12 class ratio, unlike Seattle 1:21. There is one high school in the district with 1000 kids. In comparison after touring Seattle area high schools, Lakeside is the only school that comes close in resources, class size and diversity to South Side in my opinion. Also, they actually had rigid tracking (unlike Garfield) where students previously could not opt in to honors classes.