Tuesday, January 03, 2017

What happened when Washington Middle School dissolved Spectrum?

Washington Middle School decided, some time ago, to dissolve its Spectrum classes. Spectrum-eligible students at Washington would no longer be in self contained classes for English and Social Studies, but would be mixed in with the general education students, called "scholars".

The school promised that the inclusive classroom would provide more rigorous instruction for all students and that all students would benefit. Is that what happened?

Here is a link to Washington's CSIP. In it, we find the results of their experiment. But first, the propaganda:
Mission Statement: "Our mission at WMS is to create a safe, trusting, collaborative, learning-focused community where we can all be our BEST selves."
"In addition, we will create more rigorous classes by clustering Spectrum and Scholar students in all English Language Arts and Social Studies classes. This practice will end the deleterious results that come from tracking students."
How does filling a class with students of mixed abilities create more rigorous classes? Is rigor a function of who is in the room or a function of what is taught? Why couldn't the rigor of the class be increased without mixing the students? If mixing students of different abilities and achievement increases rigor, then why not have classes with mixed grade levels? Wouldn't that have the same effect? Yet Washington doesn't do that. And what are the deleterious results that come from tracking? Do they come from tracking or, again, from what content the teachers deliver. Washington only has three tracks: HCC, taught two grade levels ahead; Spectrum, taught one grade level ahead; and general education (Scholars) taught at grade level. So if everyone is taught to at least the grade level standards, what deleterious effect could there be?
"Additionally, we will:
• Create more rigorous classes by clustering Spectrum and Scholar students in all English Language Arts and Social Studies classes, increasing challenge and rigor for all students"
Again, how does the inclusion of the Scholars increase challenge and rigor for the Spectrum students? And how does the inclusion of the Spectrum students increase challenge and rigor for the Scholars? Shouldn't the challenge and the rigor come from the teacher and the curriculum?

In the end, the proof is in the results. Whether the school leadership or anyone else thinks the idea is great or terrible, the results should guide our view. And what has been the results?

The portion of Washington Spectrum-eligible students getting Level 4 scores on the English SBAC are:
6th grade: 71%
7th grade: 63%
8th grade: 51%

This is clear evidence that students who start out working beyond Standards slip back while at Washington. While I wish we had other data points, we don't. If you want to know if high achieving students continue to be high achieving students when they go to Washington Middle School and are placed in mixed ability classrooms, this is the evidence you would seek - the share of them who get Level 4 scores on the state tests over time, and this evidence clearly suggests that the high achieving students are NOT well served by Washington.

What about HCC students at Washington? They are still taught in self-contained classes for English. What has been their experience?

The portion of Washington HCC students getting Level 4 scores on the English SBAC are:
6th grade: 88%
7th grade: 72%
9th grade: 80%

Hmm. Those results are more mixed. There is clearly a slip between 6th and 7th grade and from 6th to 8th grade, but half of the loss between 6th and 7th is recovered in 8th grade. While the instruction of HCC students at Washington doesn't move the needle in the right direction, less harm is done.

So, given this data, what is Washington's plan?

There is no stated plan, but there is a goal:
"Our goal is to provide Advanced Learning Opportunities in ELA for all students in blended Spectrum and Scholar classrooms through differentiated instruction; in 6 and 7th grade this occurs in a blended learning environment. Our goal is to realize an 5% increase in Spectrum students in ELA Level 4 and for all of them to achieve at least 3’s as less than 5% earned Level 2"
So they have a goal, and a person, Amy Arvidson, assigned to the goal. Their plan, such as it is, is to provide Advanced Learning Opportunities through differentiated instruction. In other words, their plan is to increase the rigor for these students - not through the mix of students in the classroom, but by putting more challenging and rigorous material before them. That's how they increase rigor when they want to see academic results instead of political results. Wouldn't that be easier to do if these children were all together in one classroom? In case you're wondering, the Washington Middle School web site says that Amy Arvidson is a teacher at Washington.

I have read a lot of CSIPs and this one is typical in its optimism that differentiated instruction can be easily sprinkled onto any classroom, like so much magical pixie dust, to increase the rigor for advanced learners. The funny thing, of course, is that these schools all claim that they already provide differentiated instruction. I guess they just need to do more of it. But aren't they already doing as much as they can? How much pixie dust have they been holding back and what were they saving it for?

Washington's experiment has failed and needs to be undone. They did not get the results they were hoping to get. Instead, they are clearly damaging the achievement of Spectrum-eligible students. If any other group of students was seeing their achievement fall this disastrously, there would be a lot of talk about making big changes. So let's talk about making big changes. Let's restore the self-contained ELA classes for Spectrum students at Washington. It's just two classes a day out of six. The Spectrum-eligible students will still be mixed in with the Scholars for two-thirds of the day and it will be a lot easier for the teachers to differentiate instruction across fewer skill levels.


Anonymous said...

Can you clarify if scores are for the same cohort over time, or different cohorts? If the scores are different cohorts, can you post them for the same?


Lynn said...

Because growth boundaries changes for 2017-18 will pull the majority of high-achieving non-HCC students out of Washington and into Meany., there won't be enough of these students in the 6th grade at WMS next year to fill a Spectrum classroom. The feeder schools for WMS will be Bailey Gatzert, John Muir and Thurgood Marshall. On their 4th grade ELA SBAC exams, 12 of 51 students at BG and 6 of 66 students at JM received a score of four. There were three Advanced Learners in this grade at TM and 24 general education students.

Meany is anticipated to open with just under 500 students next year. If they offer self-contained Spectrum classrooms, I anticipate that Washington's advanced learners will choose to attend Meany. Too bad for the Scholars at Meany that it's not possible to provide them with a rigorous education without Spectrum students in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, who says they didn't get the results they intended? They originally stated "this practice will end the deleterious results that come from tracking students." Assuming those deleterious results are disparities in test scores, they may have helped reduce them. Raising low scores should be the goal, but lowering high scores has the same effect if your goal is equality rather than education.


Charlie Mas said...

I am not so cynical as DisAPPointed - or as cynical as DisAPPointed is pretending to be.

I honestly believe that the Washington Middle School administration and teachers believed, with all of the best intentions and optimism in the world, that they would be able to provide instruction beyond grade level to a few students in the classroom while also providing instruction at and below grade level to the other students in the classroom. Only when things got real and they only had so much time to plan multiple lessons and work with students, the underpeforming students got the time and attention and the differentiated instruction while the students working at and beyond Standards had to be neglected. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many minutes in the class period, so something had to give. That optimism and best intentions caused the teachers to devote their efforts to students working below standards rather than those working beyond standards. That's fine. We just need to be honest about it.

And when we are honest about it, we will have to acknowledge that the achievement of the high performing students is suffering as a result of the inclusive classroom. The inclusive classroom did not increase "challenge and rigor for all students". It clearly detracted from the challenge and rigor for the Spectrum students.

It has never been clear to me how the mix of skills and abilities in the classroom determines the challenge and rigor for the students. If that were the case, then what is the role of differentiated instruction? Isn't differentiated instruction something that the teacher would do for a student regardless of who is seated next to the student?

Anonymous said...

Can you clarify if scores are for the same cohort over time, or different cohorts? If the scores are different cohorts, can you post them for the same?


Charlie Mas said...

The scores are all from the same year, so they are different cohorts. I don't have access to Spectrum student scores separate from other students.

Anonymous said...

Confused was interested in cohort scores.

When the State moved to Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) cohort comparison took a blow. The SBA has only been given in 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years thus far.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

If I play football with Russell Wilson, I can easily see how it would make me a better football player. SPS seems to believe that playing football with me would make Russell Wilson a better player, too. I'm not drinking the SPS Koolaid.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie is skirting very close to my upcoming post on the direction this district is taking and the issues of equity, "segregation," inclusion and a very big gamble on what will close the achievement gap.

Lynn said...

Me either. SPS receives state funding for each enrolled student and should be obligated to educate every one of them. By educate, I mean they should provide services designed to increase a child's academic skills and knowledge. I don't think that's happening in blended honors classes and wish there was a way for parents to pull their children (and therefor funding) out of these particular classes. That would certainly get the administration's attention. Instead, parents have to either accept that their children won't make any progress in those subjects, teach them at home or pull them out entirely for private school.

Anonymous said...

Here, here, Skeptic,

The "osmosis effect" is a strange belief system. It doesn't work except in the upwards direction, i.e. SpEd kids do better around non-SpEd kids, gened kids do better around gifted kids, but the reverse is not true. Gened kids pick up bad behaviors and get bored around SpEd kids and gifted kids get bored and learn bad behavior around both groups. Conundrum city, because SpEd kids are legally guaranteed a LRE, least restrictive environment. Somebody has to be in classes with them.

also skeptical

Anonymous said...

This is indicative of the lack of understanding of what giftedness is. It is not achievement but that is what both Washington and Garfield misunderstand or rather seem to be seeking to re-frame and absolve themselves of responsibility.

This is all predicated on the misunderstanding that giftedness is merely achievement. This results in their idea that you can blend classes without consequence.

The other seriously challenging issue is that they seem to think that it is the students who provide rigor by their giftedness rather than the teachers and administrators providing rigor through their instruction. This clearly violates FAPE (Free and appropriate public education) which is a civil rights issue.

Theo Moriarty

Anonymous said...

"This is all predicated on the misunderstanding that giftedness is merely achievement. This results in their idea that you can blend classes without consequence."

Even blending the "merely" high achieving into gened clasrooms does damage to those students. One need not be gifted to be bored and develop behavioral and psychological problems in a less than challenging situation.

FAPE is violated for many kids in SPS.


Anonymous said...


I believe a student can take math outside of their school, why not LA? There must be a home-school option for the kids sailing around the world too.

Thank god we missed the blender by a year although I've heard the HC kids are surviving OK.


Anonymous said...


You're the same guy who (at the 11th hour) had a post on this blog about how Spectrum is illegal (true, as many had been saying for years) because it clusters ELL and students with IEPs into general education. The writing on the wall became clear when HC became a protected class by state law and Spectrum was officially relegated to general ed. status.

As usual, SPS didn't have the backbone to own up to this fact (maybe they feared retroactive lawsuits) but has chosen to dismantle Spectrum in reality while pretending
it still exists.

You also strongly touted Honors for All at Garfield by coating it in how the teachers had made such a strong plan.

Just a little reality check.


Charlie Mas said...

picking up on bullpup's idea...

When my younger daughter attended Washington Middle School she felt that her 7th grade math class was totally useless (CMP II). I think it was worse. It made her hate math and it taught her some very bad lessons about schoolwork. When her 8th grade math class started out looking like a repeat of the 7th grade disaster we withdrew her from the class and I taught her algebra at home out of a different text book. It wasn't that hard. The school had some rules about how it was managed - she had to have the open period at the end of the day and she couldn't remain on campus for that time - but we worked out the transportation (she took a METRO bus home).

The district has rules for students who are taught some classes at school and some at home. No negotiation is required. They do it all the time and know what to do, so it's not even hard to arrange. A family could choose to home-school a student in Language Arts and Social Studies. There's no special legal requirements and, as we know, it won't interfere with the student's high school options - all 9th grade students take the same Honors for All Humanities class at Garfield.

I'm not sure what the consequence would be if a significant number of Spectrum students opted out of inclusive ELA/SS at Washington. I doubt the school leadership would question their decision to create mixed ability classes. I couldn't guess about the financial consequences for the school. I think it would take about 75 students to opt out of a third of the day (25 AAFTE) for the school to lose a teacher.

I have advocated for standardized test boycotts as a political action in the past and those were hard to organize. It would be incredibly difficult to get 75 families to remove their child from the school for a part of the day. So, while it would be easy for any individual family to opt out of the mixed ability ELA/SS class, it would be hard to get a significant number of families to do it.

Lynn said...

Yes - you can do part-time homeschool in middle school. In high school you need four years of ELA classes to graduate and principals don't have to (and probably won't) give you credit for homeschooling.

As a part of the implementation of the 24 credit graduation requirement, the district should identify online classes that any student can take for high school credit. This should not be a site-based decision.

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

@ FWIW, I said that Spectrum is illegal? I don't think so. I have said that I no longer demand self-contained Spectrum because it can create unmanageable concentrations of challenging students (students with disabilities and English Language Learners) in general education classrooms. Spectrum, as the District keeps telling us, doesn't require the use of the self-contained delivery model.

The "writing on the wall" reference above was about HC, not Spectrum. HC, as you have noted, is protected by state law.

I did not tout "Honors for All" at Garfield so much as I said that it was possible and required close monitoring to confirm that they kept their commitment to maintain the rigor that was in the old Honors classes. The teachers promised all kinds of assessments and checks to confirm that the rigor would be maintained.

Washington, unlike Garfield, has dissolved Spectrum with no plan to maintain the rigor for the Spectrum students, no effort to maintain the rigor, and no assessment of the continuing rigor. They didn't create Honors for All, as Garfield did, but Honors for None. It's a world of difference.

So, when we're doing reality checks, let's try to check with reality.

Charlie Mas said...

Re-posting for anonymous commenter at 1:56pm

It's technically easy to opt out of a class, but it may be hard in practice. If you can't get a schedule that allows for your open period(s) at the beginning or end of the day, things are very challenging. You can't be on campus for the off period(s), and there may not be a good, safe place to go. Depending on the grade level and how crowded the school is and how many unique classes your child has, the school might not be able to provide a workable part-time schedule.

Anonymous said...

"They didn't create Honors for All, as Garfield did, but Honors for None. It's a world of difference."

I beg to differ. It is only a difference of the word "All".

Garfield is in fact Honors for None as is every school in SPS, save the cohorted schools. Even those HCC classrooms would not be considered honors based on the students who attend, but at least they offer something.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"The other seriously challenging issue is that they seem to think that it is the students who provide rigor by their giftedness rather than the teachers and administrators providing rigor through their instruction."-======[[[[[]

Yes, yes, and thank you for pointing this out.

Anonymous said...

WMS began blending LA/SS classes for Gen. Ed. and Spectrum in 2015-16 (not many years ago, as Charlie's "some time ago" implies). So, one year of test scores for Spectrum students at different grade levels cannot be a useful comparison, since the students all had just one partial year of blended experience. The single year of test scores Charlie cites can offer a baseline for future analysis. Only after the 2017-18 SBA results are available will it be time to validly compare the numbers.

In the meantime, perhaps Charlie could learn and write about what is actually happening in classrooms. The WMS staff has worked hard trying to increase rigor for all "blended" LA/SS students. They have revised teaching techniques and increased clarity in assignments (detailed expectations of what a student must do to demonstrate or exceed proficiency). It's not perfect, but halfway through Year 2 is way too early to say that what Charlie calls an "experiment" has "failed and needs to be undone."

– WMS Parent

Anonymous said...

@ WMS parent, can you explain how increasing the clarity around what's needed to demonstrate or exceed proficiency results in more rigor for all students?


Former stevens parent said...

Washington Middle school having rigor is a joke. I brought my sons 4th grade geography homework and 6th grade work and asked the principal which was which, she acknowledged that the harder one was the 4th grade work. She admitted that his former elementary (Stevens) was more challenging than 6th grade and suggested that I had to supplement his education.
I for one can not wait till Meany opens and feel bad for any of the gen ed kids that will be left at WMS, it will only get worse.

Anonymous said...

It is clear that the goal here is not to give every child a good education, but to end tracking, without regard to whether doing so helps every child get a good education.

The sad thing is, I'm not a fan of tracking. I'd love to see it ended. But for that to happen, you actually have to replace it with a system that meets every child's needs. SPS has zero interest in doing that. They also have zero interest in helping "close the achievement gap" because they clearly don't care about the needs of the low achieving kids either.

This is all about SPS eliminating all forms of differentiated instruction so they can move the entire district to online learning where there are no classes grouped by age, where every child gets exactly the same instruction but they can simply move through the computerized courses more quickly if they're more "advanced."

Anyone who doesn't see this is willfully blinding themselves to reality. For those of you who do care about detracking, SPS is using you. Carol Burris will be in town next week. I do not expect she will say what the anti-HCC folks will want her to say. And I hope people explain to her what SPS is really up to here, how they're co-opting her message and her ideas for a corporate agenda she would otherwise oppose.

Fauntleroy Father

Megan Hazen said...

My understanding is that Whitman also ended any tracking in their program. I wonder how a five year analysis of their test scores will show results? Do we know of any actual date surrounding that school yet?

Anonymous said...

Fauntleroy Father has hit the nail firmly on the head.
The thrust for increased online learning with less teacher assistance has not gone well for lower skilled students. Its gone quite well for software vendors.

There sure has been a lot of talk for a lot of years about the Opportunity Gap which was previously known as the Achievement Gap.... the change of name did little to improve the situation.

Tacoma SD increased rigor by offering only Algebra and above classes for 8th graders, which resulted in increasing the percent of students scoring at level 1 in the 8th grade cohort.

It is interesting if one compares two groups. The percent of Black - African American students with the percent of ALL students scoring at level 1.

In Seattle SBA ELA at grades 6,7,8 that comparison shows more than double the percent of Black students scoring at level 1 than percent of All students scoring at level 1.

I will post level 1 comparison results for 2112-2113 MSP Reading
2114-2115 SBA ELA and 2115-2116 SBA ELA tomorrow.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

One stupid experiment from which WMS stepped back was the un-blocking of LA/SS. For many years 6th and 7th grade students in all programs benefitted from an integrated Humanities block, meaning 1/3 of the day with the same teacher, much better for learning and for socio-emotional needs of middle-schoolers. Follmer did away with the blocks when she came on board, but has since re-instated them. The Humanities block system was brought with APP to HIMS in the first split and carried on for a few years, but it was scuttled despite the full Humanities faculty voting to keep it. Now, Social Studies and Language Arts are completely disconnected. JAMS was established without the blocks despite parent desire for them. One can hope that the Eaglestaff start-up team learns from the WMS experiment that kids learn more when they feel known and their curriculum is integrated.

open ears

Anonymous said...

I ran some data from the Reading MSP (2112-2113)
and SBA ELA (2114-2115 and 2115-2116)

I looked at % of students scoring at level 1 (well below standard)
and then calculated a ratio of Black - African American student scores
divided by ALL student scores. ... A lerger number indicates a bigger gap.
(A 2.0 means Double the percent of Black students scoring level 1 than All students)

2112-2113 Reading MSP
6th grade
1.72 :: WA State
2.37 :: SPS
2.44 :: WMS

7th grade
2.06 :: WA State
2.65 :: SPS
2.44 :: WMS

8th grade
1.83 :: WA State
2.38 :: SPS
2.39 :: WMS

2114-2115 SBA ELA
6th grade
1.70 :: WA State
2.53 :: SPS
2.32 :: WMS

7th grade
1.74 :: WA State
2.36 :: SPS
2.12 :: WMS

8th grade
1.76 :: WA State
2.38 :: SPS
2.34 :: WMS

2115-2116 SBA ELA
6th grade
1.74 :: WA State
2.56 :: SPS
2.26 :: WMS

7th grade
1.74 :: WA State
2.60 :: SPS
2.57 :: WMS

8th grade
1.79 :: WA State
2.49 :: SPS
2.17 :: WMS

In three separate years at three grade levels
the ratio of scores of Black student scores to All student scores,
shows a much larger GAP in SPS than the state.

In most cases WMS has a slightly smaller GAP than the SPS.

It seems the district never has a plan that realistically deals with reality.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dan. The numbers are heart breaking, and I am sure the experience in the classroom and in the buildings is even worse. Even if the number of white and Asian students scoring 4 starts to shrink, we need to remember these numbers and not celebrate a false victory in reducing a gap.

Fix AL

dan dempsey said...

Simon Sinek ... Millennials in the workplace.

Technology, parenting, impatience, and environment.
His talk is on managing millennials in the workplace.

Youtube video Millennials in the Workplace

If the SPS has interest in making students career ready, thinking about Mr. Sinek's concerns is warranted.

The district has required CSIPs for sometime and for quite a time many of them were awful. I really have no idea how to RE-FORM this school district.

"To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data."
-- W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Dan-I wonder what those same ratios look like in any three of these cities:
San Diego
San Jose

Fix AL

Charlie Mas said...

WMS Parent wrote; "The WMS staff has worked hard trying to increase rigor for all 'blended' LA/SS students"

Again, the CSIP says that the rigor comes from the students, not the staff. If the rigor comes from the staff, then why does the CSIP say otherwise?

Anonymous said...

Fix AL inquired about the level 1
Black / All ratios for various cities.

I would suggest a starting place for comparison
would be data subsets in the Urban NAEP scores.

Urban NAEP 2015


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), in partnership with the National Assessment Governing Board and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS), created the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in 2002 to support the improvement of student achievement in the nation’s large urban districts. The TUDA focuses attention on urban education and measures educational progress within participating large urban districts. Reading results were first reported for six urban districts in 2002, and mathematics results were first reported in 2003 for 10 districts. In 2015, a total of 21 districts participated.

Seattle is not a TUDA participant.

It might be interesting to look at other large WA districts, like Highline.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Fix AL,

In Jefferson Co. KY for Grade 8 Reading

from the Urban NAEP
2015 ALL - 30% level 1
2015 Black - 43% level 1

43/30 = 1.43
but this is a much different tool than MSP or SBA.

2015 ALL - 56% level 1
2015 Black - 58% level 1

note 81% of Detroit's student population is Black- African American
The ratio result is largely meaningless in many Urban Districts.

-- Dan Dempsey

dan dempsey said...

Rigor at Orca in grade 8 math.

All 8th graders take Algebra. Check the School Report card as to how results are reported.

Notice in 2015 - 85% passed class
in 2016 - 83% passed Algebra class.

No reported is the following 8th grade SBA result.

Smarter Balanced Assessment for grade 8 math at Orca in 2016, which shows:
20.7 level 4
11.3 level 3
18.8 level 2
45.2 level 1
3.7 no score

Thus we see that 83% of students passed Algebra
but 45% of students at Orca were well below basic in 8th grade math.

Is this increased rigor or what?

Anonymous said...

From Orca's CSIP:

We will assist our students to meet standard. During the 2016-17 school year, teachers are planning rigorous, aligned instruction in order to differentiate lessons based on teachers’ ongoing assessments.
• Orca’s test/data coordinator will analyze data and report results to teachers. Additionally, all teachers will be engaged in continual assessment of students’ performance on standards based lessons.
• Middle school students who have scored L1 or L2 on Smarter Balanced math assessments will be offered additional daily math classes to improve content understanding.
• All middle school students will be taught algebra.
• Orca’s English Language Learners (ELL) program will identify needs for our ELL students and provide needed support.
• Teachers will observe other teachers
• The principal and Head Teacher will develop a walk-through tool that communicates feedback to teachers on learning objectives, classroom environment, and instruction.

There seems to be an erroneous belief that without an 8th grade Algebra credit a student is really not college bound. Nationally perhaps 10% of the student population takes AP Calc or AP Stats in HS. Why are students well below grade level placed into Algebra in grade 8? Is this appropriate for students?

What course do students, who passed algebra but scored at level 1, take in math as freshmen in high school?

As was mentioned earlier does the district have a plan to appropriately serve low performing students?

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Dan-you are shedding light on a very important issue. The people affected are not on this blog. This makes SPS and leaders at many schools look like fools running around like chickens with their heads cut off having no clue how to solve the problem of an achievement gap. They don't know who to compare against, which model to reference, how to adapt a proven curriculum. Some cap learning and force grade level standards and mastery for all, some mainly focus on under achievers, others--as you reference--force honors for all or make all 8th graders take algebra regardless of ability or readiness. All of these scenarios have terrible consequences for all students. Why can't we look across the bridge, or just to the north or south to gain some insights and a template?

This is a leadership problem and it's terrible.

Fix AL

Anonymous said...

Other research on the whole Algebra-for-all-8th-graders fad has shown that the algebra they learn in these situations is more like "algebra lite." My sense it that the Algebra EOC isn't all that difficult, so it's no surprise that more students can pass it than they can the grade-level tests, which will cover other topics that the student likely forgot and/or never mastered in the first place.

Let's face it--our overall math instruction is awful. Students don't spend enough time memorizing boring things and doing the repetition necessary to really master things. Math drills are boring, yes, but some level of tedium is necessary to cement learning for most kids. Unfortunately, I think it goes back to those same issue mentioned in the video on millennials that Dan shared--impatience, unwillingness to work long at hard at something, a need for instant gratification, and apparently, both teachers and parents willing to help students take the easy way out in the short term...which often means pain in the long term.


Anonymous said...

Really? We need 20 more posts, and another 1000 comments on the poor and downtrodden of the district? (The tragedy of the gifted plight in Seattle). Charlie uses stats from a test used for 1 year, and not on the same class of kids... to prove the need for exclusionary access to advanced learning? Here's what the rest of us see: test scores that reveal our spectrum learners have a 30 to 50 percent chance of being academically average or below. Now, why in the world would that be? That number seems to closely align with the rate of private testing appeals. Maybe that's the problem. Just a thought. When our gifted students perform at an average level, most of us see the need for a vastly reduced advanced learning cohort (Charlie's tests prove anything, they prove students are not benefiting from the program.). The answer is to exit students who no longer show the need for an exceptional program. Students in special education are exited when they stop qualifying and don't need something special. Equally troubling is the view from nc who thinks that advanced learning is "for the test" only. He doesn't expect his kids to remember anything from the year before??? Seriously? Therefore, unexpectedly high grade level failures are just meaningless? Seriously?


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

@staff--any chance the number of private testing appeals spiked when the rug was pulled out from the spectrum students with no replacement? Your idea to exit students not succeeding is interesting. Would you agree ObamaCare should be scrapped without a replacement? Should millions of Americans be left without healthcare? No. Equally true--hundreds or thousands of students should not be on a sequence of learning 1-2 years ahead and dropped into a class at grade level.

I would agree that private testing should be only for those who absolutely prove they need it, and I agree students not suited for a gifted or spectrum program should be transitioned to an appropriate learning pace and level. But it appears that there are three options in seattle:
At grade level
Hazel Wolf (perhaps one or two other schools provide walk to math one grade ahead, but I'm not aware of any that are left)

Ideally, there would be an approach so students could stay in their original school (neighborhood or option) and their needs would be met unless they are extraordinarily gifted. My child sailed through the testing process and was at a school that doesn't offer anything beyond grade level. If they had been flexible to let him walk to math we would have stayed. I've heard the Montessori approach with mixed age groups at Bagley works pretty well for some advanced learners and wish we had looked at that or Hazelwolf before switching to HCC. Now that we're a couple of years in, there really doesn't appear to be a scaffolding approach to allow us to transition out. Our child is performing fine, we just would prefer not to be cohorted.

That's my long winded way of saying I agree in part with what you're saying, but the system is not set up to meet the students learning needs where they are at any given age/grade as they develop...unless they're right in the middle of the learning curve. I hope this can be solved!

Fix AL

Charlie Mas said...

Staff is wrong about a lot of things. A lot of things.

First, I am not arguing for exclusionary access to advanced learning. I have long been an advocate of self-selection for advanced learning and continue to advocate for it. Nowhere do I argue for exclusionary access. This is an effort by Staff to grossly misrepresent my position.

Second, the test scores show that a significant number of students who we know for a fact tested among the top 13 percent of students for achievement when they entered the program are no longer among the top performers. That means that the program is deficient, not the students.

Third, private testing appeals for Spectrum are not in these numbers and not for the achievement test. Staff is simply wrong to attribute these scores to the false idea that children in the program don't belong there. Actually, this is an argument by Staff for exclusionary access to advanced learning. Ironic, isn't it?

Fourth, when our gifted students perform at an average level, most of us see a need for a vastly improved program to serve them, not a purge of the program. As Staff noted, the students are not benefiting from the program because the program, at Washington at least, is dreadful. Where is the annual evaluation of the program that is required by policy 2090? Nowhere. The District Staff have refused to do any work to assess the quality of this or any academic program anywhere in the district.

If the answer was to remove students from the program if they fail to continue to perform well beyond Standards, then the schools could easily eliminate the program by simply refusing to serve the students at all (much as Washington is doing). This is the difference between Special Education and Advanced Learning. Apparently Staff doesn't understand that Advanced Learning and giftedness is not something that we're trying to cure or end.

Thank you, Staff, for sharing your views. They were very amusing. Next time you want to tell these sorts of lies try not to make them so easy to expose.

SPSparent said...

I read the Carol Burris book SPS cited in their detracking conversations. It's very focused on how many kids passed the *minimum* achievement bar, not how many achieved the maximum. Very different objectives. There is very little focus in the book -- or by SPS today -- on increasing the quantity/performance of high achievers.

Anonymous said...

Clarification: Since OSPI is approving the district HC annual assessment, Charlie has repeatedly stated that that means that SPS's annual HC report means that they are following state law.


Anonymous said...

Y'all do realize there's a levy cliff right? Nice discussion here and on the other HCC discussion but it's tilting at windmills. We're scrambling to keep the resources we have. Digging, scratching at the dirt.

You think CSIPs and HCC programs are a top district worry? Let me be the first to burst your New Year's bubble. Big bubble. SPS does not care. Nor do 95% of the families trying to get the bare minimum for their kids in Seattle schools.


Anonymous said...

@ Southie, I don't think we're under any illusion that HC services are a priority. Clearly they are not, and as you said the majority of the district isn't interested. However, that's why we have laws to protect minority groups, such as ELL, SpEd or yes, even highly capable students. Eduction shouldn't be about mob rule, agreed?

@ SPS parent, yes, the Burris approach is being misapplied at Garfield because the Burris research--and most (all?) other research that shows that lower performing students so better with detracking and higher performing students don't do any worse--doesn't address gifted students. As the pathway school for HC students, GHS should not be allowed to use data that aren't really applicable to support their social agenda. But, it goes back to what Southie said--HC students are not a priority. (Well, they are a priority in terms of a target. Big red bulls eye!)

@ Staff, are you intentionally interpreting the data in a biased way, or have you not thought critically about what the data mean? Serious question. If you have a group of students that need something special, and you provide something special, and then they don't do well, what could be the reasons? Sure, one interpretation is that maybe they didn't need something special after all. A more likely interpretation, however--since you already determined that they DID need something special--is that the "something special" you are providing isn't the right thing. Your program/service isn't effective. Since SPS would have a hard time even defining WHAT HCC services really are (e.g., can you tell me the difference between HCC, Spectrum and GE 6th grade LA and SS?), I'm inclined to blame the program (or lack thereof). Or at least START there, rather than assuming that the kids just aren't all that smart after all. Sheesh. You might also consider a third explanation, that the small number of kids who don't pass those exams do poorly for other reasons, such as they skipped that year of math due to the lack of a catch-up mechanism when jumping into HCC, or because they have a previously undiagnosed learning disability, since learning disabilities in HC students are often identified much later because students are able to compensate for years.


Anonymous said...

Charlie, that's the ticket! Sarcasm and belligerence are sure to win people to your cause. Do you really think that a single SBA snapshot that shows 8th grade Spectrum students performing at 50% average or worse is CAUSED by sitting next to minorities? We know the Scholars program was almost 100% African American. Are we to believe that even as we continue to read of the dazzling academic accomplishment of their Spectrum student children? Even as the spectrum students have every demographic advantage for success? Are Spectrum students really that fragile? Are they really getting a whole lot dumber because of the lack of exclusionary privilege? And if Spectrum is responsible for such a deleterious result, it's pretty curious that parents are still clamouring for it. I simply suggest that maybe the spectrum students who are performing below expected gifted level rates do so because they are not quite as gifted as mom and dad think. You wouldn't be the first.

You noted that self contained advanced learning, when it grows beyond a reasonable threshold causes a concentration of poverty, minorities, homelessness, and disability. Some others have noted that the silos of created by Spectrum create illegal learning environments for some. So, self contained Spectrum isn't viable. Self selected Spectrum doesn't make those problems you have acknowledged any better. And if "self selection" was such a good idea why wouldn't we do it for everything? Why not just design your own middle school?

Look, average and white isn't a bad thing. You are absolutely correct though. We want to foster advanced learning. We need it for all students, not just your kids. And if we fail at perfection, we need to at least be equitable. We can not provide a rarified experience for some at the expense of others.!$


Anonymous said...

@Staff, you said: "And if we fail at perfection, we need to at least be equitable." So I guess "Mediocrity for All" is the new slogan?

If 30 to 50 percent of your Spectrum students are scoring at or below grade level, your school is failing them. Whether or not you believe they are cognitively gifted, the fact is they had high enough achievement test scores to qualify for the program. What happened? How does a school let so many previously high scoring children decline so much? There must be a problem.


Lynn said...

Staff - Wrong. Not every student needs advanced learning. In this district advanced learning means acceleration and it's clear that many students are challenged by grade level work. What every student needs is work that is challenging for them.

Anonymous said...

DisAPPointed, parents often pressure schools into qualifying their children into advanced learning programs. Schools succumb to the pressure. Anyone who denies this simply has their head in the sand. I guarantee you that most staff believe this. Do you really think Seattle gifted rates are 10 times the national norms? Discovering your child is average (within 2 standard deviations) should not raise your ire. Clearly, the academic achievement measures for gifted programs are not aligned with Common Core. Yes you can bash the your teachers for failing to provide the perfect optimized education for your children alone. Or you can accept the fact - that others also deserve a good chance at advancement too and that we can't provide an optimized education for the very people who have had every advantage, if it means reduced outcomes for others. It's really that simple.


Anonymous said...

My priority is for schools to make sure students are meeting grade level standards. Asking schools to devote resources away from remediation and towards kids who are already excelling is wrong in this time of limited SPS financial resources. - Cap Hill

Lynn said...

Providing appropriate services for highly capable children doesn't reduce outcomes for other students.

Anonymous said...

staff you know we are talking about spectrum here and not hc? just checking because you like to tilt the scale however you wish to get a reading that fits your hyperbole. you and fwiw have an invested interest in bashing hcs. i know why you two are so committed to correcting the non-issues. but the facts are the district benefits from teacher provided rigor and not student provided rigor as is discussed at wms.

fwiw you advanced the ss experiment at tm. how is that going? sure no real data from it why else would you have chosen a non testable academic subject. i know what i have heard that teachers are asking for volunteers to staff these classes as they aren't that easy to teach. why? because you have kids separated by several class levels trying to learn a subject at the same rate. what a farce and katie may should be relieved of her position if... it wasn't that all of this was directed down from michael tolley.

sorry all good things must end and since michael tolley that has been al and app. i remember asking those in the know why we such unqualified principals were put in front of the hiring committees at the most ses/ell/academically programs in the district. the answer was clear because downtown could and they would do tolley's dirty work.

meany though imho is going to be tolley's demise. right in the hcc hotspot and no brow-beating by ignorant self centered parents. i think you will see a migration of hcc back to neighborhood ms and so long wms and its proud music tradition. so long biology at the ms level and so fewer national merit scholars in sps. all the good that nyland likes to claim will be gone because the machine will stop challenging kids. thank god we have diverse roosevelt to keep up sps' great name.

again why are unlikely-frl kids bused north past wms to go to meany? a bridge to far for tolley.


Anonymous said...

staff can you just stick one name?

here goes

sped students should be taught like gen ed students
ell students should be taught like gen ed students
black students should be taught like white students
hc students should be taught like gen ed students

which of those statements above is mostly true based on current research? there really is only one right answer so you divide your capitol hill school's dollars and decide.


Anonymous said...

nc, your posts are almost incomprehensible but here's a simple fact. Students receiving special education services are general education students first and foremost under the law, and should absolutely be taught as such. That is simply a law. Not sure about all the rest of your inarticulate puzzle but clearly you thought you were making a point. The prolific proponents of genetically transferred giftedness have you as an interesting anomoly.

Sped parent

Charlie Mas said...

Awww, poor Staff can dish it out but can't take it. How sad. We should start a GoFundMe or something. Before you complain about sarcasm and belligerence, check your own.

Also, discussing tone is a feeble way to avoid discussing the facts. The facts remain that Staff is wrong and intentionally misrepresents the facts.

I'll try explaining things again for those who are slow to learn.

"Do you really think that a single SBA snapshot that shows 8th grade Spectrum students performing at 50% average or worse is CAUSED by sitting next to minorities?"

No. I really think that students who were working beyond grade level before they came to Washington and have slipped back to working at grade level since attending Washington have not been provided with support for learning beyond grade level. That's what I think the data shows. I think the drop in the portion of them working beyond grade level was CAUSED by the school's refusal to provide instruction beyond grade level. It has nothing to do with the students sitting next to them.

To be clear - I'm not arguing for self-contained Spectrum classes. I'm saying that the school needs to provide Spectrum students with an appropriate academic opportunity which includes support for learning beyond grade level. The school can choose to do that in a self-contained classroom or in an inclusive classroom, but what the school is doing now is simply failing to provide the service at all. I'm not talking delivery method, just a commitment to provide the service through whatever method the school chooses.

So, in answer to your totally not sarcastic or belligerent question; "Are they really getting a whole lot dumber because of the lack of exclusionary privilege?" No. They are not achieving beyond grade level because they are not being taught beyond grade level. You can try to make this about race all you want, but it's not about race or demographics or privilege. It's about providing students with an appropriate academic opportunity that provides them with lessons at the frontier of their knowledge and skills.

"And if Spectrum is responsible for such a deleterious result, it's pretty curious that parents are still clamouring for it" They are clamoring for it because they aren't getting it.

"We want to foster advanced learning. We need it for all students, not just your kids." First of all, my kids have graduated, so your efforts to make this personal won't work. Second, you agree that we want to foster advanced learning - which is all I'm saying also. We do not, however, need it for all kids. What a foolish thing to say. Some kids are working at grade level and would not benefit from a curriculum they are not ready for.

"We can not provide a rarified experience for some at the expense of others." No one is asking for a "rarified experience". People just want for their child what everyone else wants: an appropriate academic opportunity. If the child is reading and writing at an advanced level, the child should get instruction at that level. That's it. Nothing more. I'm not entirely sure how you can be arguing against that.

Really. How are you arguing against that? How can you support an education plan for a child who is reading at the 10th grade level that puts sixth grade books in that child's hands instead of 10th grade books? How can you support an education plan that asks a child to do work that fails to challenge the student or teach the student anything new? Please tell us what justifies that?

No one is dictating delivery method, just that the school has to provide support for student learning. How is that offensive to you?

And, by the way, equity and equality are two different things. Please learn the difference. And no version of equity calls for the schools to hobble the growth and learning of any students.

Charlie Mas said...

Also, Staff, parents do not pressure staff to put their children into Spectrum at Washington. The determination of Spectrum eligibility is made by a district committee, not at the school level.

No one is asking for a "perfect optimized education" for their child. No one is asking for anything that the District and the school didn't promise. No one is asking for anything that you say everyone deserves: "a good chance at advancement". It's really that simple.

@Cap Hill, no one is saying that schools need to take any resources away from remediation to devote them to kids who are already excelling. People are saying that, at no additional cost, please provide our children with lessons that are right for them.

Spectrum doesn't cost a dime. This isn't a budget issue.

And for everyone who is trying to make this some sort of justice issue, please tell me how justice is served by refusing to teach a child? In what world is that just? What did this child do that was so horrible that you want to deny them the opportunity to learn while they are at school? It must have been something really, really bad.

Anonymous said...

@ Charlie, on one of the earlier threads someone wrote that, at COE, a math specialist works with kids to provide advanced math to a select group of children. That obviously costs money and providing additional private classes to students exceeding standards when others can't meet standards is a misuse of funds. I would prefer to see the math specialist working with kids below standards and providing supplementary help to them to get them to standards. That is where the $$ should go.

SPS is like a sinking ship. HCC kids already have their life jackets on - let's make sure the other kids get life jackets too. -Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

@ Cap Hill, a math specialist working with advanced students is absolutely NOT a misuse of funds--especially if that math specialist is funded by the PTSA. Remember, advanced students have a right to a basic education, too, and for advanced students that means more advanced work. It's also not an either-or situation, since a math specialist can work with advanced kids part of the day and struggling students another.

You're intent upon making this about providing the bare minimum only--life jackets, grade level standards, etc. If you truly believe that schools should only focus on making sure students are meeting grade level standards and should not devote any resources (even those that don't cost the district anything extra) toward kids who are already excelling, then can you tell me why parents of advanced students should even bother sending them to school? What you're proposing is "warehousing" those kids. If they won't be taught at their level, they should just stay home, "waive" that grade. Unfortunately, if that happens they're likely to learn a lot more by being home all year, exploring the city with a parent, reading voraciously, doing home science experiments, maybe taking a few academic classes for fun, etc. The district would lose out on the funding for them, too. Is that why you'd prepare they get warehoused, so the funding that accompanies them can be used for students you deem more "deserving"?


Anonymous said...

So PTSA funds go to support advanced learners when these funds could go to provide other services at the school... Hmm... I think that is why many people say that PTSA funds only widen the disparity between poor and rich schools and some school districts (like in CA) require donations to be distributed across the district rather than only staying at schools with the wealthier parents. Advantages accrue.

I am not intent on providing the bare minimum, but the bare minimum is what we have to work with and so yes, I prioritize the poor and disadvantaged, over those who are already successful.

@ DisAPPointed, schools provides many advantages - other classes and opportunities that may be appealing such as music, art, sports, after school activities, and of course friends and a social group for kids and parents.

However, I don't expect I will convince any HCC parents of the merits of my position (based on the prevailing commentary). So, let's agree to disagree. -Cap Hill

Charlie Mas said...

Cap Hill, advanced learning doesn't have to cost money. If Coe is spending money on it, that's a site-based decision made by the people at Coe and they, and they alone, are responsible for that choice. The choices made at Coe are not typical. I have read all of the CSIPs for how they address the needs of advanced learners and the vast majority of them do not spend any money on the effort. Coe is simply not representative and forms a weak base for your argument.

Folks have addressed the concerns you raised. Can you return the favor? Can you please tell us how justice is served by refusing to teach a child? Can you please tell us what those children did that makes them undeserving of the opportunity to learn while they are at school? It must have been something really, really bad. Did they choose the wrong parents?

Anonymous said...

@ Staff, I think you're confused. Parents may pressure schools into qualifying their children into advanced learning programs, but if they do, it doesn't do any good. The district controls the eligibility process, not schools, and it's based on test scores. Pressure shouldn't have any impact. If anyone has their head in the sand on that issue, it's you--because the process is clear, and eligibility is NOT a school-based decision. Now you may be correct in your assertion that "most staff believe this," but if so, most staff are, like you, wrong.

Do you really think Seattle gifted rates are 10 times the national norms? What are you talking about? Nobody said we do. I think you're mixing apples and oranges here, using national HC-type rates but comparing Seattle's AL rates. Not the same thing. If our gifted rates were 10 times the national norms, about 20% of our overall student population would be HCC-eligible. If you're talking about AL-eligibility (87th percentile based on nationally normed test), that means approximately the top 13% of students, assuming similar demographics between Seattle and the nation. (I say "approximately" because it would actually be a little higher, because the testing allows for single-subject eligibility and the use of different subscore combinations.) So say national data suggest 13% "should" qualify for AL. Are you saying Seattle's rate is 1x that, 130%? Awesome, we're doing better than anyone even thought possible!

Clearly, the academic achievement measures for gifted programs are not aligned with Common Core. The academic achievement portion of eligibility testing was MAP, and is now SBAC. If your concern is that the SBAC is not aligned with CC (although I believe it IS), then that's a much larger issue, not specific to AL. What you seem to be missing is that the tests used for AL eligibility are the same tests used for measuring meeting standards. Students who entered WMS at Spectrum-eligible had already demonstrated their ability to score at the Level 4 level on those state tests--that was required to get their Spectrum designation. However, you're saying they can't sustain that, and later fall to grade level or below. If that's some sort of indication that the test is faulty, doesn't that also apply to your use of it to label them as not gifted? But since you DO seem to put a lot of stock in those test results, how would you explain that a student who exceeded standards one year might fall below standard the next? That's not a typical student growth pattern, and if it's happening to a lot of your students it suggests the instruction is grossly letting them down.

Nobody is "bashing teachers for failing to provide the perfect optimized education for our children alone." Nobody expects the perfect, optimized education. But are you saying teachers can't do better than provide a one-size-fits-all education? Or that they can only be expected to serve below-standard, at standard, ELL and Special Ed students, but not gifted students? Will you admit that there's a lot of room between an "optimized" education and some attempt to provide appropriately-leveled services?

There's also absolutely no reason that providing appropriate services for advanced students has to reduce outcomes for others. This isn't a zero-sum game. If that were the case, you wouldn't even be able to serve students at grade level, since those students are more advanced than those working below grade level. Are you saying that differentiation isn't possible in the classroom?