Monday, May 07, 2018

Seattle Schools Week of May 7-12, 2018

To note, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and it's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.


Monday, May 7th
The Board is having an Executive Session today about "real estate."

to consider the selection of a site or the acquisition of real estate by lease or purchase; to consider the minimum price at which real estate will be offered for sale or lease

Wednesday, May 9th
Board meeting starting at 4:15 pm.  Agenda

I'm a bit disturbed at the number of items on the agenda that do not have attached documentation.  It's usually just a couple but most of the items don't have documentation.

Highlights
- approval of Guiding Principles for BEX V.  They are not yet available but the BAR says that equity will be the top priority.  It also mentions a scoring matrix which I like because it will be useful to see how capacity needs are balanced against facility conditions.

- Expansion of Native American Educational Programming. An informative and yet troubling BAR. The district is putting forth $250,000 more in funding for Native American student services.  The BAR states that it serves roughly 1700 students who identify as Native American.  The district has trained most middle and 4th grade teachers on the Since Time Immemorial” curriculum but have no funding to implement its teaching.

Intensive student support. Tier 3 supports at two locations:
o Denny-Sealth serves 60 (Gr: 6-12) students in Southwest Seattle. Cost
$2900/student.
o Licton Springs serves 160 (K-8) students in North Seattle; 30 of the students are
Native American. Cost: $16,000++/student.


That's a large per student cost at Licton Springs but it's unclear to me if they mean the 30 students or the entire school.

Compared to other districts with significant Native American populations, Seattle serves a more diverse and dispersed Native American enrollment, invests more base line funds, and receives far less tribal support. We receive $121,000 in funding for "enrolled" Native American students from Title VI. Our legally mandated Parent Advisory Committee governs those funds. Using local levy resources, Seattle Schools supplements Title VI funding with: about $250,000 in baseline funds; an additional $250,000 of Title I funds;an additional application of $30,000 of ELL funds;$10,000 from Muckleshoot Tribe; and $48,000 from the City of Seattle Human Services Department.

We held five community engagement meetings for Native American parents during Spring/Fall 2017. Parents raised concerns about identity threat, bias and bullying, transportation,opportunity gaps, unwelcoming schools, desire to add Šǝqačib Programing to the north end, lack of supplemental services, absence of support for preservation of culture, Indian Heritage HS, accessible services district-wide, improvement in the teaching of Native instructional materials such as Since Time Immemorial, and the lack of Native American students participating in advanced learning. A review of our student survey data shows that Native American students report stereotype threat issues at rates like African American and other historically underserved students. 


Immediately following the Board meeting is an Executive Session about potential litigation.

Family Partnerships Task Force, 5-8 pm at JSCEE, Room 2750

Thursday, May 10th
Operations Committee meeting from 4:30-6:30 pm.  No agenda yet available.

Seattle Public Schools Huchoosedah Native Education Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) Meeting at Meany Middle School from 5-6:30 pm.

Friday, May 11th 
BEX/BTA Oversight Committee meeting from 8:30-10:30 am.  No agenda yet available.

Saturday, May 12th
Community meeting with Director Mack at Magnolia Public Library from 1-3 pm.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

RE: "the lack of Native American students participating in advanced learning," do they mean the lack of students qualifying for Spectrum and HCC? Low levels of Native American students participating in testing for AL services? Low levels of entry into HCC by those who qualify? Low levels of Native American students taking honors or AP/IB courses in high school?

All are different issues, and need to be addressed differently. We need increased clarity about what we mean when we have these types discussions of "advanced learning" (and yes, it's SPS that has muddied the distinctions). If the issue is that Native American students start school less prepared--and last time I saw the data I recall they did, along with some other groups, exhibit lower scores on the kindergarten readiness tests--we need more intensive efforts to help them (and similarly lower scoring groups) quickly catch up and narrow the gap. We need evidence-based programs that help to mitigate the impact of poverty and other factors on academic achievement.

Without concentrated efforts to quickly narrow the gaps that present at K entry, is it any surprise that we continue to see disparities in graduation rates, test scores, HCC eligibility rates, etc.?

It's Complicated

Anonymous said...

The way the district currently tests students inherently disadvantages students of color, including Native American students. The Cogat is essentially a group IQ test, although a less reliable one than a true one-on-one IQ test. To do well on the Cogat, you have to, first, have a high IQ and, second, know how to take a group test. Test-taking skills as separate from content knowledge are a key component to how AL administers AL testing currently. So the Cogat is in part skills-based. Then, you have to do extraordinarily well on a MAP and/or ITBS test in __both__ language arts __and__ mathematics. If the results on those achievement tests are too low, you don't get in.

If you want to appeal the results by getting a more-accurate IQ test and WISC achievement tests, AL requires you to score __even higher__, even though the district will pay for appeals for low-income students. It's not hard to see why students of color generally, let alone Native American students, don't get in!

Last session, the legislature adopted the provisions in Section 105 of ESSB 6362 (see section 105 in http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/6362-S2.PL.pdf), which directs OSPI to correct some (but not all) of the flaws in highly capable identification state-wide. OSPI hasn't issued administrative rules yet, but Seattle Public Schools current HC identification system is not in compliance with this legislation.

In 2017, the legislature had mandated that low-income students and students of color be prioritized in HC identification, but OSPI did not follow through. Thus, ESSB 6362 clarifies the legislature's intent, and directs OSPI to impose rules like this state-wide:

- There have to be multiple objective ways to qualify as HC, and not meeting requirements in one of those avenues will not disqualify you. (Thus, high Cogat scores should be sufficient even if MAP or ITBS scores are too low.)
- Teacher recs and grades cannot be used to disqualify.
- Screening tests have to be given in students' native language, or if that is not feasible, then a nonverbal screening has to be used. (Nonverbal screeners are already in use in Northshore and they work well for ELL students.)
- Districts cannot use HC standards that are more restrictive than national standards. (Thus, all of SPS's higher standards for appeals are now illegal.)
- OSPI must issue guidance on state-wide best practices for referral, screening, assessment, selection, and placement. (This will require practices to be modern and based on current science/research and not on old-fashioned practices, such as SPS's.)

What the legislature has not done, which would help even more is:
- Require screening to be done during school days and not on weekends (low-income families have a hard time making such appointments)
- Require universal screening in certain grades (although SPS is sort-of doing this in Title I schools).

Once SPS is in compliance with these new provisions and hopefully further refinements in legislation to be adopted in the next session, low-income students, 2E students, and students of color will be easier not only to identify but also to place in HC programs.

To my mind, AL as a department, the outgoing superintendent, and the board have really failed on this issue, and it's sad that the legislature is taking the lead on this instead of our board, especially because best practices are widely known and used outside of Seattle.

-Simone

Melissa Westbrook said...

Simone, I concur on much of what you saw. I have no idea why board after board and super after super have mostly ignored this issue, allowing it to play as it has.

I didn’t know you had to score higher in appeals; I’ll have to ask about that.

To note, most of the kindergarteners tested have never taken a group test nor do they have other scores to compare to. I believe that’s where the largest group for HCC comes in.

leukothea said...

I've Googled all over the place and watched a few videos to try to figure this out, but so far I haven't been able to -- how do you pronounce Šǝqačib and what does it mean?

Anonymous said...

MW:

You have defended HCC admissions for years on this blog. A quick search will show multiple instances where you said that HCC is "open to all" in response to comments such as Simone's.

If you have changed your mind, great. But pretending that this blog hasn't perpetuated the problem, including your own comments, is disingenuous at best.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

HCC qualifiers that occur in kindergarten are made up of parents who understand the system and are keen to use it.

HCC AP blog routinely has kindergarten parents (and even preschool ones) making queries about the tests, logistics, etc. If their kid doesn't qualify, they go to the next level to question how to appeal.

@Simone: The higher eligibility for appeals was a compromise to these types of parents. Since SPS success appeals mirrors the already obscene lack of diversity (ELL, FRL, 2E, etc.) in HCC, and neighboring districts have already stopped allowing outside testing for appeals, SPS kept outside testing with the caveat that it be at 99%.

Also, the state law now allows local norms to be used. Some on this blog have been advocating this for years, much to the outrage of many of its readers.

That, in and of itself, will likely have the greatest impact on finally diversifying HCC. Too bad it took a state law, but judging from most comments on this blog regarding HCC, the district and board weren't going to do the right thing because they were/are cowered by the power of this HCC parent bloc.

Delete ME

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have NOT defended HCC; I have said what is factually true.

And just in case you missed it; I started being a public ed activist over the issues of Advanced Learning way back when. Charlie and I both did and have never been satisfied with what the district has done or provides.

Hilarious, "HCC parent bloc."

Anonymous said...

@Melissa:

I could be wrong, but I believe most kids join HCC in third and/or fifth grade, not in 1st grade (testing in kindergarten).

The appeals standards are right on the AL web page (https://www.seattleschools.org/cms/one.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=8631501). For HCC, they arbitrarily require a statistically indefensible 99th percentile on the IQ test and statistically indefensible 99th percentile on nationally normed math/reading batteries.

@Delete Me:

The appeals rules, which are new this year and were made without public announcement after the year's testing was well underway, may have been an attempt at compromise, but it didn't come with sensible reforms to the main qualification standards in the first place, which should be looser, not more restrictive. Any parent prepping that the appeals testing seeks to mitigate will continue, moreover. The proportionately small number kids who are prepped (and, in fact, the publisher of the Cogat recommends this) will still be prepped, only before the main test, rather than after it. Appeals are a best practice, however, because one-on-one IQ testing is more accurate than the Cogat, and because kids with a disability typically cannot be identified as HC using group testing.

The higher appeals standards merely keep out prepped kids (this year, not next year), and low-income and 2e students and students of color still can't be identified. The so-compromise doesn't actually do anything for LI/2E/SoC identification, so they may as well not have bothered. The higher appeals standards also make no provision for test administration errors (not uncommon in SPS!!) and highly capable kids who have a bad test day. The kids' performance two Saturdays of tests determines their the school and academic environment for the entire next year in school; that's unreasonable.

High scores on either MAP/ITBS __or__ the Cogat should be sufficient qualification, and in fact under the new rules that is what I would expect OSPI to give guidance on and SPS to adopt. If we can get true universal testing going, that will go much farther.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

Here’s what the AL office has to say about the new ridiculous appeals requirements:

It is important to note that a successful appeal for HC eligibility will need to include supporting evidence that the student qualifies as “Most Highly Capable” or “Highly Gifted”. Those qualifications usually indicate that the student’s scores approach 3 standard deviations above the norm on standardized intelligence and achievement tests. This does represent a higher threshold than for the initial eligibility process because the student has been given the benefit of individually administered assessments. Students who meet the published cognitive and achievement test threshold scores are not guaranteed a successful appeal..

http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=8631501

An IQ of 145 is 3 standard deviations above the mean and occurs in 13 out of 10,000 people. This requirement does not level the playing field but instead ensures that HCC teachers will no longer have to deal with children who have even mild issues with attention or anxiety and that more students will not have their needs met.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

@simone,

Don't get me wrong! The compromise about appeals was the WORST of both worlds. My comment was meant to explain the genesis of the new appeals, not to applaud them. As per usual,
SPS managed to somehow make the awful even more awful.

Again, the new process of using local norms will be the most effective way to include underserved students, bar none.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa, I do not think the majority enter HCC via kindergarten testing. Students become eligible at all grade levels. Many parents cross their fingers and hope their neighborhood elementary will work out, and only bother to test their student later if it looks like it MIGHT not work. Then they move when it's clear it's NOT working. I have not seen the data on eligibility by grade since they added the K testing, but when it was only 1st grade and beyond it was NOT a majority entering at 1st. Far from it.

@ Simone, your "thus" doesn't necessarily follow. You said: "There have to be multiple objective ways to qualify as HC, and not meeting requirements in one of those avenues will not disqualify you. (Thus, high Cogat scores should be sufficient even if MAP or ITBS scores are too low.)" This leaves the door open for a district to say you have to meet 2 of 3 requirements. Not meeting one doesn't disqualify you if you meet the other two. It doesn't necessarily mean that you only have to meet one criterion, such as the Cogat.

Also, SPS already considers nonverbal. You said: "Nonverbal screeners are already in use in Northshore and they work well for ELL students," but per SPS HCC procedures, Highly Capable requires:
* 98th-plus percentile rankings in two or more subtests of CogAT, at least one of which must be the Verbal-Quantitative (VQ), Quantitative-Nonverbal (QN) or Verbal-Quantitative-Nonverbal (VQN) composite score
* 95th-plus percentile rankings in reading/ELA and math on district-administered achievement tests.

Taking the extra steps to conduct daytime testing and universal testing are also great in theory, but it's not clear those will close the eligibility gaps. They are likely to identify more students from "undesirable" groups, too (e.g., white and certain Asian populations).

@ Delete ME, just because "HCC qualifiers that occur in kindergarten are made up of parents who understand the system and are keen to use it", that doesn't mean those kids don't need HCC. The district should do all it can to ID all kids who need HCC, and if that means universal testing and more parent outreach, so be it. But don't try to make parents out to be the bad guys for trying to get their kids the education they need. If it's clear that your student is way ahead of other students of the same age, there's no funny business in calling to ask about how to qualify for a gifted program.

Yes, "the state law now allows local norms to be used." It doesn't require it, and doesn't specify what norms should be used (i.e., by school? by race? by income? by some combo of race and income?). However, if I recall correctly, the WAC does say that local norms can't be more restrictive than national norms, so we can't use those to limit the number of whites and Asian that qualify (as some would seemingly like).

"The higher eligibility for appeals was a compromise to these types of parents." What "types of parents" exactly? You seem to imply it's those "I want my kids in at all costs" type parents, but I find it pretty ironic to be whining about having an appeals process when there are complaints from the other side about the inherent unfairness of group testing because it advantages certain kids (e.g., neurotypical kids from families who understand testing). I also suspect that limiting appeals could be ruled illegal when it comes to kids with disabilities, since group testing is often unsuitable for them. If I had a clearly academically gifted kid at the 98th percentile on private testing and who had a disability, and who I thought really needed HCC services, I'd sue for appropriate access in the face of that discrimination.

all types


Anonymous said...

@ Fairmount Parent, I agree it's ridiculous. Especially the part about students being "given the benefit of individually administered assessments." Meaning being given the benefit of more accurate assessments? Is this an acknowledgement that their own group tests are inaccurate--and thus let in students who aren't truly even at the 98th percentile level, but score there due to the inherent measurement error? Or what about the fact that students can take the district's test year after year, until they finally qualify--which they are likely to do if they are "close", due the nature of that error? Scores aren't that reliable at the upper end. If you're looking for the top 2% but allow people to test over and over, you're probably more likely to get something like the top 5%, right? (I haven't done all the calculations, but maybe a statistician out there wants to get the NAEP's data on score reliability at the upper end and do some calculations re: repeat testing over 8 years.)

In any case, it's sad when the district tries to make the case that their flawed testing is somehow better than professional testing, all to deny kids services they need and qualify for.

all types

Anonymous said...

Actually, Bellevue and other districts do not allow "professional" testing anymore because they understand the issues with fairness.

So, no, it's not to "deny kids services" but to standardize a system that now includes "professionals who specifically advertise their services in parent magazines to help "qualify" students for HC.

Instead of turning the SPS change of appeals into a cause celebre for victimization of the well-informed, let's call it for what it is: a pathetic attempt by SPS to respond to their out-of-control HCC program that has almost virtually excluded many underserved students.

Fortunately, the SPS HCC program has now been specifically targeted by the state (and who wants to argue this state law adjustment wasn't directly targeted at SPS? HCC program injustices are known far-and-wide.) SPS now MUST use local norms and will have to (even though that is obviously still a bitter bill for the bloc to swallow). No, it won't be a problem to use local norms. Some basic statistics is all it takes. It's not rocket science.

The board was also forced to compromise into getting more underserved students into HCC when they realized that Betty Patu and others were about to put HCC into neighborhood schools. Yes, the board was brought to its knees on that one.

Delete ME

Anonymous said...

@ Delete ME, spin it how you like, but not allowing professional testing DOES deny HCC services to kids who need them and are as capable as--or more capable than--those who qualify via the district testing. You don't seriously think the district's testing is better or more accurate, do you? I do agree that it was a pathetic attempt to respond to the racial disparities in HCC, but I maintain my position that it discriminates against students with disabilities & other conditions (e.g., anxiety, ADHD) that make group testing a particularly bad option. You know, you actually contradicted yourself. You first said it wasn't an attempt to deny kids services, then in the next sentence said it was an attempt to reign in an-out-of control HCC program...by denying kids services, right?

I'm not arguing local norms should not be used. I don't see others who are either, so I don't know where you got the idea it's a bitter pill to swallow. Then again, I'm not part of this mysterious "bloc" of which you speak, so maybe I'm just out of the secret loop.

Local norms may not be rocket science, but they aren't straightforward, either. First of all, what does "local" mean? District-level, school-level, other? How do you establish what those local norms are if only a small, self-selected group of students have tested? Are local norms--when the scope is ultimately defined--defined based on race, FRL status, ELL status, other, or some combination? Lots of questions. Messy.

Use of local norms also opens up some cans of worms that ultimately need to be addressed. For ex., if local norms are school-based, what do you do if a white/Asian student from a high-HCC school moves to a low-HCC-pop'n school in order to qualify under those lower criteria? Or when students from underrepresented groups who attend lower-normed schools get into HCC but students from the same underrepresented group who score even higher but who attend higher-normed schools don't? Messy.

One thing I find so fascinating in all this is the never-ending focus on eligibility & the lack of focus on actual program/services students receive after qualifying. As David Lohman argued, "...inferences about academic talent are most defensible when made by comparing a student's behavior to the behavior of other students who have had similar opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills measured by the aptitude tests [local norms are kind of a shorthand for this, though obviously incomplete and imperfect]; however, (d) educational programming & placement should be based primarily on evidence of current accomplishments compared to all other students.

all types

Anonymous said...

@ Delete ME,

Lohman also wrote:

- Is the goal to identify and serve those students who demonstrate unusually high levels of academic ability and accomplishment? If so, then traditional procedures of identifying and serving academically "gifted" students can be used. Poor and minority students will be included in this group, although not at a level that approaches their representation in the population. Attempts to achieve greater minority representation by using nonverbal tests and other measures that are not good measures of scholastic aptitude will indeed include more ELL students in the program. Unfortunately, these will not in general be the most academically promising students.

- On the other hand, if the goal is to identify the most academically talented students in underrepresented populations regardless of current levels of academic attainment, then procedures like those outlined in this paper [on local norms] will be more successful. However, options for educational placement and programming will need to be much more diverse than is currently the case. [In other words, if you're going to provide eligibility to students who are high-performing for their subgroup by lower-performing compared to other eligible students, you likely need special programming and/or additional supports to help those students thrive in the program since, they are likely to be somewhat behind when they enter the program.]

We seem to be trying to do both at the same time, using nonverbal tests to allow more (but not necessarily the "right", per Lohman) minority/underrepresented students into the program, while also using local norms (but not adjusting the academic programming). Typical SPS--try to split the difference and do both poorly instead of doing one the right way.

Oh, and re: your last point/dig, the board was never going to actually put HCC into all neighborhood schools. Not actual HCC. HC-students, yes. HC services? Not buying it.

all types

Owler said...

There is no "there" when a teacher has to crowd-source funding in order to obtain professional advance learning training.

The current fifth grade north end cohort grew from three first grade classes to eight fifth grade classes, so while a big portion do enter in first, there's definitely steady growth throughout.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The board was also forced to compromise into getting more underserved students into HCC when they realized that Betty Patu and others were about to put HCC into neighborhood schools. Yes, the board was brought to its knees on that one."

When was the Board brought to its knees? I was actually at the Board meeting when they discussed providing HCC services at all high schools and I didn't hear anything about OSPI.

I'm surprised to see that talking about Native American students and their lack of attention in all directions has disintegrated into another HCC argument.

Anonymous said...

To clarify: the new HC identification rules do not mean that local norms "must" be used. It's way more nuanced than that, in an important way. It means that local norms "may" be used but __not__ if they are more restrictive than national norms. In other words, local norms may be used but only if they are looser than national norms at the same percentile, not stricter. Many of SPS's provisions are stricter than national norms and will thus have to be tossed.

Most local norms are also looser than SPS's. For instance (note: my information may be out of date, but last I knew), Edmonds requires a 90th percentile in one area for consideration (they use a committee-based system); Olympia also requires Cogat 90th percentile and achievement 75th percentile; Vancouver uses 90th percentile in ability and 95th percentile in achievement; Lake Washington uses a system not unlike Seattle's, with several provisions that are probably illegal now under the new rules (including the way they use classroom teacher ratings). These local norms generally in line with national norms, so I would expect OSPI guidance something along the lines of 90th percentile in at least one area of a test like the Cogat plus achievement testing around the 80th or 85th percentiles, ideally with alternative avenues for qualification (portfolios, etc.). Appeals of some kind are almost always allowed with a few exceptions, and never at a higher bar than routine testing as SPS now does and which is now non-compliant with legislation.

For ELL students, if testing is not available in their native languages, we speak of using nonverbal screeners designed specifically for English language learners. The nonverbal components of the Cogat are invalid for that group because you have to read and understand English at or above grade level to achieve on the quantitative portion (which is not designed for ELL students). Thus, SPS does not truly offer nonverbal screening. There are several nationally available options, such as Wechsler Nonverbal, Leiter-3, etc.

Going back the original point: these and other changes to the identification process will a long way to solving the problem of equitable identification in populations such as Native American students. These changes alone will not be sufficient, and the provisions adopted so far are not complete in their scope. But they will do far more than the current, ineffectual processes SPS uses.

I encourage the board to really step up on this issue. Too much decision-making has been left to the superintendent and to AL, and those decisions have not been science- and research-based and are often ideological or purely financial. Their decisions have often been out of step with even local norms, let alone national norms. And those decisions have done precious little to solve the equitable identification problem.

OSPI is not some kind of policing agency, and they cannot and generally do not enforce compliance with the law or with their own directives. It falls on the school board to do this, and I hope with the new OSPI directives that the board will take on this responsibility properly.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

@Melissa

Sorry, Melissa. I meant initially only to explain that Native American students will continue to be underrepresented in things like HC identification (per one part of your main post) until the board modernizes its identification practices, which will help Native American students and all students of color who would benefit from and may also need HC services to get them.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

the appeals process as it as previously allowed many kids into the cohort who could not manage to get good grades when they entered high school,

as they were accelerated into taken an excessive number of AP courses and were not able to get high enough GPA's to attend UW.

not to mention the toll on the students mental being from the added stress;

parents' best intentions sometimes cause unintended misfortune.

the grass is greener mind-set does not serve many kids who are in the HCC and the administration has the numbers to show that is true.

true that some kids need acceleration, but many would be better served focusing on straight A's in the regular gened track and getting into UW instead of scrambling for privates;

which will take them with lower GPA's but more cost and less opportunity to explore the many offerings available at big public schools like UW.

my 2

Empty A's said...

Seriously, if you call it "the HCC" and you think the grass is greener there, you obviously have no idea what you're talking about. There actually isn't even any there there in high school.

Giftedness and high achievement are two different things. They can overlap, but they certainly don't always.

Focusing on straight As in a gened environment is a ridiculous thing to advise all students to spend their time doing. For many students this will be out of reach. (Our middle school counselor said the "c" in a C grade stands for "cool.") For others it will be way below reach. Getting an A in Algebra 2 when you were ready for pre-calc or calculus or differential equations or whatever is a cop out. That's phoning it in. It is no way to raise a fulfilled child. All students should be encouraged to strive. They should receive help/support in the areas they need, encouragement along the way, and not be told that having someone else stamp an A seal of approval on them means they are done even if it required little effort on their part.

An "A" is not the same as living a fulfilled life. Different teachers grade on different scales. Different students have different strengths and weaknesses. An A is a pretty arbitrary measure. Sometimes you work like crazy and get a B. You should be proud of all the work that went into that. A B that you worked hard for is way more valuable than an A that fell into your lap.

Straight A's reliably predict how good a student is at doing what they're told. They tell you nothing about how creative a student is, or how much of an amazing self-taught expert they are in whatever their area(s) of passion are. Sure, most students who leave high school with straight A's or very high GPAs tend to be intelligent. They are very likely to complete college and maybe earn a graduate degree and get a professional job if they want one.

But even being valedictorian isn't all that:
http://time.com/money/4779223/valedictorian-success-research-barking-up-wrong/

Anonymous said...

I think the article is appropriate.

g girl

Anonymous said...

@all types said: "One thing I find so fascinating in all this is the never-ending focus on eligibility & the lack of focus on actual program/services students receive after qualifying."

This point cannot be stressed enough. Without programming that is more advanced, not just accelerated, it's becoming little more than cohort based grade skipping.

What bothers me about the article is the presumption that valedictorians (or high achieving highly capable) are only successful if they go on to win the Nobel Prize or make some groundbreaking discovery or whatnot. It presents a very, very narrow idea of success and dismisses the statistical probabilities of being an outlier among outliers.

long timer

Empty A's said...

I thought "g girl" meant the article "the" in front of HCC, as in "the HCC." "The HCC" is an absurd thing to say because it makes it sound like the highly capable cohort is one thing. Which it isn't. It's a few thousand students of all different ages scattered throughout the city trying to get an education. How the grass could be greener for HCC students in high school is inscrutable. High school HCC students are on the same grass as everyone else no matter how you look at anything. So, it doesn't make much sense to talk about "the HCC" as if they were one cohort. Even if you just look at the cohort of only 8th grade HCC students at Hamilton, they've been all over the place, sent here, there, and everywhere. The admission requirements and location the "service" is provided have changed multiple times along their path through elementary and middle school.

One thing that's critically important, Long Timer, is that there is no one way to be successful. Getting all As isn't it. Being valedictorian isn't it. Winning a Nobel Prize isn't it. Success is different for each student. When it comes to success, one size does not fit all.

Anonymous said...

@ Simone, my understanding of local and national norms is different.

First of all, they don't determine the cut-offs that a district can use (98th percentile, 95th, 90th, etc.), but rather they indicate the SCORES that are represented by those percentiles. In other words, if Seattle wants to use 98th percentile CogAT, the national norms tell you what scores that means.

The local norms would tell you what score was needed to score in the 98th percentile in Seattle. However, that would likely be a higher score than the nationally normed 98th percentile score, so Seattle wouldn't be able to use that and would have to drop to the national 98th level score.

It doesn't make any sense to say "most local norms are also looser than SPS's." I think you are referring to eligibility criteria, which SPS can set as they please.

Second, loosening the eligibility criteria as you seem to suggest would likely not have the effect you think. If we dropped to and 85th or 90th percentile cot-off, HCC eligibility would explode. More from previously under-represented groups would likely be eligible, but it's likely that even more from white and Asian students would qualify. The racial gap in HCC eligibility would not be closed, or may not even be reduced (and it could even increase). Additionally, the ability of HCC to serve the "most highly capable" (as legislated) would be seriously diminished, as the program would include students who score barely 1 standard deviation above average.

Third, I thought the whole point of this push to use local norms was to use local norms for different sub-populations. In other words, what's the national norm for black students? Low-income students? Low income black students? If our norm for that group is higher, use the national norm score instead (i.e., whatever SCORE is required for that group to be in the top 98th percentile, if that's our cut-off.) That would mean different cut-offs for different groups, not simply lowering the cut-off for everyone.

If we--or more accurately, district staff and the Board--really want to make a difference, they need to start funding more intensive support services for promising students from currently underrepresented groups. Like a Rainier Scholars program or some sort of academy approach. The AL office asked for money for something like that a few years ago but was denied. Monkeying around with eligibility criteria until you get the results that have the optics of equity is not the approach we should be going for. Let's go for actual equity, by providing the additional services kids need to qualify.

all types

Anonymous said...

I started off the comments on this thread with the following, and I don't see that anyone has really addressed any of it. I'll try again.

RE: "the lack of Native American students participating in advanced learning," do they mean the lack of students qualifying for Spectrum and HCC? Low levels of Native American students participating in testing for AL services? Low levels of entry into HCC by those who qualify? Low levels of Native American students taking honors or AP/IB courses in high school?

All are different issues, and need to be addressed differently. We need increased clarity about what we mean when we have these types discussions of "advanced learning" (and yes, it's SPS that has muddied the distinctions). If the issue is that Native American students start school less prepared--and last time I saw the data I recall they did, along with some other groups, exhibit lower scores on the kindergarten readiness tests--we need more intensive efforts to help them (and similarly lower scoring groups) quickly catch up and narrow the gap. We need evidence-based programs that help to mitigate the impact of poverty and other factors on academic achievement.

Without concentrated efforts to quickly narrow the gaps that present at K entry, is it any surprise that we continue to see disparities in graduation rates, test scores, HCC eligibility rates, etc.?

It's Complicated

PS - It's really not THAT complicated. It's actually quite obvious and logical, if you look beyond the surface.

Anonymous said...

@ Delete ME, nice try. My comment was specific to what Simone said, which sounded like lowering the criteria across the board--which would likely mean even more students would newly qualify that are currently qualified. More than doubling the program in one fell swoop does sound, to me at least, like an explosion. It also would not be an explosion of diversity if that across-the-board approach were taken.

If we instead take a local norms approach that looks as subpopulations, as I spelled out, that would have the presumably intended effect of increasing diversity. I'm all for that, provided the services are appropriate. As I pointed out, however, there are lots of other considerations and challenges that would need to be addressed in conjunction with such a change.

But go ahead and continue to mischaracterize my comments if it fits your narrative or gives you joy or saves you from having to really think about what I'm saying or whatnot.

all types

Anonymous said...

Šǝqačib (which probably should be spelled Šǝqačiʔb) is pronounced "shkah-cheeb" or "shuckah-cheeb." It means "raise your hand."

When we talk about national or local norms, what we mean is nationally normed or locally normed standardized testing, such as the COGAT or ITBS. Sub-norms are not a thing (I don't believe enough data exist to create them), and race-based norms are not provided for under Section 105. Instead, the local norms provision would prevent a district, such as what Bellevue used to do, from using the 98th percentile of Bellevue students as its eligibility criterion. That norm corresponded to the 99.5th percentile nationally. Local norms like this will now be banned. This doesn't impact SPS's main eligibility criteria, but it will likely ban its appeals standards. Districts that have lower eligibility requirements will still be able to do so.

It is not clear if race-based eligibility norms would be constitutional. Current case law conflicts on this. But they would also be onerous if not impracticable to use because then we have to create a hierarchy of norms by race: Native American, African American, Asian American (or do we split out Japanese American, Korean American, Chinese American, etc.?). However, using socioeconomic status as a kind of tie-breaker might achieve much the same effect with better case law support.

But sub-norms are also not needed. Equitable identification of highly capable students should largely correct the problems as they exist now.

Expanding HC identification is exactly what we want to do, by the way! Expanding them not a bug, it's a feature. That's the whole point of equitable identification of highly capable students.

-Simone

July Avenatti said...

AL in SPS is a complete joke. We all know it isn't a real gifted program at all. Acceleration is not a gifted program. Acceleration can be done in any school, in any classroom.

If kids of color are accelerated at their local school when it is indicated, they will do great. That should be be, and or all I know is, the strategy of SPS.

HCC is and always has been a tool to reduce flight from the district to private schools.

And as previous poster "my 2" stated, the acceleration of kids who are basically just well-prepared as opposed to mentally gifted, is forcing them into a high school course load that is a recipe for failure.

"Straight A's" says that A's don't matter and don't reflect on a student's success or creativity. That A's only show the ability to jump through hoops.

Maybe she/he should check out College Confidential and read what real college admissions officers say about GPA. It is, right or wrong, the most important factor in college admissions.

Furthermore, it is required that students take the most challenging course they can take at their school. So kids coming in advanced in science and math are ending with 4 or 5 AP classes junior year, their most important year for college applications.

They also are taking 4 or 5 AP classes senior year and the grades for those classes will also be submitted in the Mid-Year Report.

I would have to agree that the Highly Capable Cohort is messing up some kids' futures.

We need a revamping of the AL program in SPS before it damages more students.


Another View said...

The district SHOULD be trying to get private school students to enroll in Seattle Public Schools. Advanced coursework should be offered for this reason.

Anonymous said...

Under he guise of a gifted program? That's lying to parents and students about the true abilities of the students and as stated is setting them up for failure and disappointment.

If parents don't want to have their kids around hard to teach students, why should the District accommodate them?

curious

Anonymous said...

As an educator for 30 years, I do not think it is fair or correct to state that "A's only show the ability to jump through hoops."

In my experience A's tend to indicate maturity, a willingness to work hard and good organizational skills. In my students this is often a greater predictor of success than innate intelligence or giftedness. Grades also provide a good picture of a student's performance trend over time instead of one-shot tests. When I evaluate students for admission to our programs I rank grades above test scores every time.

RealAdmissionsOfficer

Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, it's okay to have the opinion:

"If parents don't want to have their kids around hard to teach students, why should the District accommodate them?"

but you should state it as such. I say it's an opinion because I have never seen any data, from the district or anywhere else, that would make that statement true.

You, of course, make the assumption that any kid not in HCC is "hard to teach." That is not my experience.

Thanks for the input, Admissions Officer - it's good to know there are people looking at the entirety of a student's academic career.

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
Back in my days on an AL committee, "hard to teach" was a euphemism for below grade level, ELL, and Special Education students, rather than using the pejorative "low", which was contrasted to the students in the AL program who would then be labeled "high".

"hard to teach" seemed kinder and generally more accurate.

I assume that is what the poster meant to convey.

almost done

Sandor said...

@Curious,
The district needs to provide a basic education to all children sent to public school regardless of what your personal opinion happens to be of their parents. School districts that manage to retain middle class families fare far better than school districts that drive these families away.

A household needs to make between $44,598 and $133,794 in Seattle to be considered middle class. Or, between $47,553 and $141,950 according to the P.I. That's a lot of families we're talking about, a lot of PTSA donations, a lot of classroom volunteers. It benefits all kids not to drive away the children of middle class families.

Anonymous said...

There are many families that would stay at their neighborhood school if that school offered advanced learning.

HP

Anonymous said...

@ Simone, please clarify, then, what you mean by "equitable identification" and how you think we'll get there by using the right norms. The proposed bill (I don't know if the final language changed) said While the funding formula for highly capable programs is based on five percent of district enrollment, districts are not limited to identifying five percent of their student population as highly capable. Using the cut-off we currently use, more than five percent are currently eligible, so there doesn't seem to be anything requiring us to lower the eligibility threshold.

We certainly could lower the threshold, but it's not clear that will make a big difference re: the racial and/or income distribution of students who qualify. It might help a little, but we could accomplish the same thing more strategically and with better results. For example, taking the top 5% from every group (categories TBD) would, obviously, produce eligibility consistent with what we wanted, since that would be baked in. However, it would also result in a wider range of abilities in HCC (since some not meeting the current cutoffs would get in), as well as a wider range in GE (since some currently meeting the cutoffs would no longer). That would be an instructional/curriculum/support issue to be dealt with.

I have to disagree with you that "expanding HC identification is exactly what we want to do," however. "Expanding HCC" and "equitable identification of highly capable students" are NOT the same thing. Expanding HCC could mean more students served but maintenance of the racial eligibility gap. That's not what we want. "Equitable identification of highly capable students" should likely mean more FRL, ELL, special needs, and non-white/non-Asian students qualifying--which is not something we necessarily get by simply lowering the cut-off threshold or reducing the number of criteria necessary for qualification, since those would apply across the board, to students of all races. If we were to reduce the cutoff to 95th percentile instead of the current 98th, the program would probably more than double in size. Or let's say we went super-extreme and reduced it to 50th percentile--do you think we'd end up with "equitable identification" in that case? Likely not, given that we see racial disparities in academic outcomes from the time of K entry to graduations--and those disparities would likely manifest to some extent in the hypothetical cover-loosened program.

My point is that lowering the cutoffs won't solve our problem, and using local norms instead will result in a need to adjust programming to match the needs of the changed population to be served.

all types

Anonymous said...

HC is not a program. It's a service.

When students qualify, they are supposed to receive services that meet their needs.
They are not supposed to adjust to a program.

Clarification

Anonymous said...

@July Avenatti, I agree with your last sentence that "we need a revamping of the AL program in SPS," but I disagree with much of what you said.

I'm not sure what you're referring to when you talk about acceleration. You said "acceleration can be done in any school, in any classroom." If you mean students can be "accelerated" within their regular classroom, that's not generally true; that's essentially "differentiation," and most of us who've been there know if rarely happens. If you mean they can be "accelerated" by moving them to higher grade levels, yes, that can happen (it is NOT the strategy of SPS), but I don't think it's accurate to make a blanket statement that students "accelerated at their local school...will do great." Putting a 2nd grader in 5th probably is not going to lead to great social outcomes for that kid. Same with sending a middle school student to high school 3 years early. Acceleration has its time and place--a year of acceleration may go fine, but if they need radical acceleration, they probably also need the support of a more appropriate age-based cohort.

Regardless of what you mean by "acceleration," acceleration of "kids who are basically just well-prepared as opposed to mentally gifted" is NOT forcing them into HS course loads that are a "recipe for failure." HCC elementary and/or MS participation does not require that students then take AP, IB or honors courses in HS (except for those required of all students). Students can choose less rigorous schedules if they want, accommodating extracurricular schedules, just to take it easy, etc. I also don't see any evidence they they are actually experiencing all that failure as you seem to think.

GPA's do matter, but if you're getting straight A's by avoiding the challenging courses that are available at your school, that will look bad. It's also demoralizing to sit in classes in which you can easily get A after A...

Your idea that "it is required that students take the most challenging course they can take at their school" is not true. Maybe recommended, but not required. Furthermore, attributing that to the fact that students enter with higher level math and science experience is absurd. There are plenty of rigorous classes students coming from HCC can take if they don't want a lot of AP classes. For example, HCC students are only 1-2 years ahead in science, and with so many different science fields they could probably skip AP classes altogether and just take GE/intro versions (e.g., chemistry, physics, and environmental science).

If a student really wants to take 4 or 5 AP classes junior year, they should be able to if they are prepared. But they certainly don't need to, and I think most counselors would discourage them from doing so.

Your statement that "I would have to agree that the Highly Capable Cohort is messing up some kids' futures" was especially amusing. Data please?

Lived it

Melissa Westbrook said...

Almost Done, I asked because I don't like to assume. I thought "hard to teach" meant behavior issues.

HP, EVERY school is suppose to - under their CSIPs - support advanced learning. That they don't is a mystery.

All Types,

"Expanding HCC could mean more students served but maintenance of the racial eligibility gap."

Who says? And only if you don't want equity which I think is the goal.

I have reviewed some public disclosure documents around Advanced Learning and boy, the things you learn when you ask. I'll have a separate thread.

Watching said...

Special thanks to President Harris. She continues to question large expenditures.

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

"Expanding HCC could mean more students served but maintenance of the racial eligibility gap."
We don't talk much about spectrum. However, this could very well be the case as we ALSO likely have many more whita, asian and affluent kids who test into spectrum. Lowering thresholds only could also result in many more of these kids qualifying for HCC. I think a very large majority of the north end schools are spectrum eligible kids. Therefore lowering the threshold is not a ggreat idea (by itself) to increase minority eligibility for HCC. Perhaps the suggestion of iinstead taking the top x percent from underrepresented groups is a better idea. There is also tthe complication that many minority students (who also may be middle class/affluent) are often being siphoned away to private schools.
PG

Anonymous said...

@ All Types:

I feel like there is a weak grasp of how all the cogs fit together in equitable identification of highly capable students, but no one policy area operates independently of others. Highly capable identification bureaucracies are complex systems where multiple things move in tandem. Equitable identification means removing barriers to identification. It does not mean identifying more of some groups and fewer of other groups. Currently, SPS seems to think identifying fewer white students is the same as equitable identification and somehow closes a gap, that's smoke and mirrors. When barriers to identification, especially those caused by outmoded science and outdated practices as used by SPS, are fully disused and replaced with modern practices, identification inherently becomes more equitable across the board. Equitable identification inherently means identifying all the students who need those services, and it inherently means bigger highly equitable programs - if we can sincerely convince identified students and their families that they can and will thrive in a highly capable program. That's another cog, see. Identification is only the first step.

Lowering eligibility criteria overall is rational and a widespread practice nationally because the current SPS standards are generally too high, for any population. Too few actually-HC students do not get identified as HC. This is why many other districts use lower thresholds with great success. Remember: the main reason HC has grown in Seattle so much in recent years is because Spectrum has been eliminated in all but name. That was a decentralized advanced learning program/service that evidently didn't work so it was eliminated. Recreating HC along those lines thus is a nonstarter. But those kids still exist, and many if not most of them are highly capable, still need and deserve the Basic Education, which includes advanced learning, to which they have a constitutional right in this state. We actually do have lower eligibility criteria with Spectrum, but because this program/service is defunct, it is meaningless, and de facto we serve only the 98th percentile. That is too high.

The current system has too few students of color, yes, but it also has too few girls, and it locks out highly capable students with disabilities that mask their highly capable status. Equitable identification is the first step, but step 2 is encouraging SOC and girls and 2E kids and their families that moving to a highly capable program, regardless of delivery model, is a good idea. Modernizing what Advanced Learning looks like and how it works play a role in this. Equitable identification practices alone cannot bring SPS into the 21st century on this issue.

Steps 1 and 2 help close opportunity gaps, but step 3 is closing achievement gaps. Students of all backgrounds, including also girls and 2E kids, must be identified earlier and moved into HC programs/services in elementary school to prepare them for middle school and high school. We currently keep kids out who cannot demonstrate high achievement first; that is backward. We should be identifying highly capable students first, and then making sure their achievement matches what they can. That doesn't mean high grades across the board. That means getting them the developmental and social supports they need to thrive academically long-term.

Steps 1, 2, and 3 mean a bigger, not smaller, group of HC-identified kids, full stop. That's literally the point, you cannot advocate for equitable identification without owning up to a larger HC program. Again: feature, not a bug.

-Simone

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just when they some public disclosure documents that I requested on HCC; interesting reading that I’ll be doing a thread in.

Anonymous said...

Once again, lots of energy focused on identification and not enough on appropriate services. My kiddo is in an "advanced" high school course being taught at a middle school level. It's a disservice to the students needing more advanced work and to those who think they are being provided the skills needed to work at a more advanced level. Sure, they will have a weighted "A" on their transcript, but it's meaningless. The inadequacy of the course will be apparent when they sit down for the proctored exam. If this is the direction SPS is headed, then equity will only be a mirage.

sham

Junie B.A. said...

Advanced learning is messing up some kids' futures in this sense:

When some students are permitted to take harder or more advanced classes than other students, this can make the students not taking these classes seem less accomplished by comparison. You know, how 1st graders look less accomplished than 4th graders. And 3rd year Spanish students look less accomplished than native speakers of Spanish.

This type of thinking is what causes attempts to close gaps by pushing down the top instead of pulling up the bottom.

But SPS students aren't being educated in a bubble. They compete for college admissions with students from private schools and other districts. A huge percentage of our area's growth has been from people outside the state, some even outside the country. Seattle students are competing with students from Portland and S.F. and L.A. and Shanghai and London for jobs. Future job demand is predicted to be high in the health care, computer, financial and analytical sectors.

SPS owes it to the children of Seattle to allow them all to grow and learn at school, to empower them to work toward becoming who they want to be. There is no way you can make all the kids in a district the same just by not allowing any of them to take hard or advanced classes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"When some students are permitted to take harder or more advanced classes than other students, this can make the students not taking these classes seem less accomplished by comparison. You know, how 1st graders look less accomplished than 4th graders. And 3rd year Spanish students look less accomplished than native speakers of Spanish."


Okay, let's break this down.

That "accomplishment" is your opinion. I have never seen a teacher who thought this; most teachers understand that all kids have gifts and just being able to move faster thru material doesn't mean you are more accomplished.

Unless a student has skipped a grade, all 1st graders are 1st graders, no matter their work level. I work in a kindergarten class and the advanced kids are generally not good at writing their work out neatly. I tell them, "It doesn't matter what you know if no one can tell what you are writing." And, of course, being in advanced in one area doesn't make it so in others. You might be able to grasp ideas more easily but that doesn't mean success every time.

I agree that no one should be pushed up or down; the district should be striving to meet all kids academic needs.

Kids have always competed with other kids. What is new about that?

We need all kinds of classes with different levels to challenge all children.

Anonymous said...

Simone said we need to get those HC students into the program, no matter the delivery model. This is myopic thinking. HCC is not for everyone, nor should it be. There are cultural problems with the HCC delivery model for many families of color and many HC qualified students are thriving in non-HCC schools. Why screw that up by trying to get them to leave a place where they are happy and learning, and put them in a place that likely is a bad fit? Plus, my black and brown friends have zero desire to live in north Seattle, and they would never send their children to HCC unless they really, really need that as an intervention for behavior issues, and even then it is doubtful they would consider it. HCC is full of "not their peeps" people and it's far away from their home and their kids would feel isolated, AND there's not enough art or music...the list goes on.

Rather than all the handwringing about how to move kids into HCC, why not bring more approaches for deeper learning to all schools, and more access to higher level curriculum to more schools? This seems like a better idea than trying to entice families to move their thriving student into the broken narrow-focus HCC program and risk having their student check out and lose the positive momentum they were building in their original learning environment. There is NOTHING wrong with not moving an HC student to HCC. HCC seems like a great fit for kids who don't fit in well with mainstream society; it gives them time to mature and work out their social or behavioral kinks before easing back into the mainstream in middle school and socially launching in high school. But plenty of HC qualified kids don't need this sheltered environment during elementary. What they do need is lots of enrichment and the opportunity to take on more complex work for deeper and accelerated learning. This can happen afterschool and through pull outs, but it would be great if there could be a "walk to" option, even if only a day or two or three per week, like Olympics of the Mind or something along those lines.

Middle School: All students across the district need equitable opportunities to advance in middle school without having to leave their community and jump over to a HCC middle school. Apparently MTSS is the fix, but that is only for elementary. How does MTSS play out in Middle School when you compare Eckstein, Whitman or McClure's math and science classes to Hamilton, Robert Eaglestaff or JAMS?

It will be interesting to see what the new SI has in mind once she looks under the covers at SPS.

Wholeistic Toc

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Plus, my black and brown friends have zero desire to live in north Seattle, and they would never send their children to HCC unless they really, really need that as an intervention for behavior issues, and even then it is doubtful they would consider it."

You do know HCC is in other places?

I believe Bellevue does a pull-out class and then once a week off-site. My experience with pull-out is the kids remaining in the class feel like they are missing something (whether that is true or not).

I agree that it will be interesting to see Ms. Juneau's view.

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa - Yes, I do realize there is HCC in other places, but Cascadia and Decatur are the only stand alone HCC schools. The other sites do not follow the stand alone model, which is an entirely different program, IMHO.

Kids are being pulled out of classes all the time for different services. It would not be a big deal to pull small groups out and rotate them through some HC services in the neighborhood schools, other than the lack of staffing and space.

I believe Mercer Island keeps there HC students at their local schools and meets their needs in a variety of ways. I'm not at all advocating for eliminating HCC as I believe it serves a population that really needs it, but there are lots and lots of students who don't need to be in a cohort that would benefit from access to acceleration, especially if they plan to participate in HCC middle school to avoid their assignment school that doesn't offer them what they need. :-(

Wholeistic Toc

Anonymous said...

Nationally, the best practice at elementary level is to have self-contained HC programs. At middle school and high school level, self-contained is not necessarily a best practice but it is often financially advantageous.

Pull-out delivery models are extremely old-fashioned (that was state-of-the-art 30 years ago), and they do not serve the Basic Education needs of HC students. They are common because they are based on equally outdated science and research. I also do not believe OSPI's HC folks would approve of this as a true HC or gifted-ed model (because there is not true acceleration).

The reason why elementary-aged HC kids need a self-contained model (as a best practice) has to do with major developmental differences in HC kids that impact things like executive function delays, which are normal in HC kids, and gross and fine motor development delays (also normal in HC kids), and most importantly social deficits. Children need to hit certain social development milestones at certain ages (having to do all manner of things, such as making and sustaining friendships and learning to regulate emotions/impulses - also often very delayed but normally so), but because of their developmental differences they often don't hit these social development milestones at the same time as other kids (often quite delayed), or they hit aspects of them early compared to their age peers. Once these developmental milestones are missed, they cause long-term and sometimes permanent deficits. These are kids with major neurological differences, and their development is neurologically different than in other kids.

(-Simone, part 1)

Anonymous said...

(part 2)

We often see a lot of push-back on facts like this, but the characteristic traits of HC kids is not so much high IQ as it is intensity of various types combined with "asynchronicity." The asynchronous thing is poorly understood by educators and community members without training in this field, but it involves extreme differences in development in different areas, where some areas extremely ahead of age peers and others are extremely __behind__ age peers. I repeat: extremely __behind__ age peers.

The stereotype of an HC kid is a blond-haired, white child with an alligator on his polo shirt who has memorized untold flashcards under the crazed tutelage of wealthy parents. In fact, half the time I think people just assume all wealthy white kids are in HC.

The reality is that HC kids whose developmental needs are not being met tend to be loners, sometimes outcasts, with high-level academic interests combined with emotional immaturity, physical awkwardness, disorganization, and other major developmental delays that can be combined in various ways, which together can impede development of social skills. This is a vulnerable population as a result, and we need to be identifying all of them, both boys and girls, all races, 2E kids, so we can meet their needs.

In children who are highly capable but who not exhibit typical developmental delays in social milestones, executive function, motor skills, etc., a self-contained delivery model may not be necessary. However, true differentiation to meet their needs both for advanced level of work and faster pace of learning (the pace is really the key thing with HC kids) is rarely practicable in gen ed classrooms. Pull-out models do not satisfy this requirement at the elementary level.

Self-contained environments need not be in separate buildings; self-contained classrooms or pods also work to meet their needs, but this was found to be somehow undesirable with Spectrum, whose dismantling caused a lot of our current mess.

The social and cultural issues involved in making sure SOC, girls, 2E, etc., feel welcome and supported in an HC program is an important part of the conversation, but identifying the kids equitably in the first place is the initial step toward rationalizing and modernizing the way we go about HC services. And, yes, again, that means a larger HC program no matter the delivery model - but, again, the best practice is a self-contained model at elementary level.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

Once again, we're arguing about policy choices based on our differing opinions about what "equity" means. How can "equity" be our school district's most important goal when we have no agreed upon definition of the word or way to measure it? This is ridiculous.

Fed up

Anonymous said...

HCC is not a behavioral intervention. It is an academic service. Students qualify based on standardized tests, not psych evals. Lack of appropriate level work can create behavioral issues, HC or not, but, wow, way to perpetuate misperceptions. And, yes, visual arts are somewhat limited in SPS, but that does not seem to have much to do with HCC.

Way back when (2005ish), there was only one location for elementary HCC (APP at Lowell), one location for middle school (WMS), and one location for high school (GHS). That was when Spectrum still existed at several schools.

tired conversation

Anonymous said...

@ Simone, thanks for so engaging in such a civil manner.

You defined "equitable identification" to mean "removing barriers to identification." I agree. You said "it does not mean identifying more of some groups and fewer of other groups" and that "SPS seems to think identifying fewer white students is the same as equitable identification and somehow closes a gap, that's smoke and mirrors." Again, I agree. But SPS seems to think otherwise, as do some of the vocal HCC opponents who like to compare rates by race, in the absence of any other factors.

But now I need to ask for your definition of "highly capable" and how you would determine who "needs" HC services. You said "equitable identification inherently means identifying all the students who need those services, and it inherently means bigger highly equitable programs." I agree that many "actually-HC students" do not get identified under the current criteria, but it's not clear that it inherently means bigger HC programs. If HC programs are designed to serve the top 2 or 5% of students who can't be well-served in a traditional classroom, the idea that we need a bigger program, something double (or more) the size of our current program doesn't make sense. Maybe "bigger" if we're just going to set a universal cut-off score, but the trade-off for identifying more minority students who "need those services" would be identification of a lot more non-minority students who really don't. I think the key is to find a way to better way to identify those who really do need the services. Seattle may be an educated city, but I have a hard time believing that 25% of SPS students are "highly capable" in the sense that they need something different. "Highly capable" as in "they can do a lot," sure. But not HC as the legislators intended.

I also disagree, to some extent, that "de facto we serve only the 98th percentile." With the amount of error built into the SPS administered tests, and the ability to re-test year after year, and changes as kids develop, it's probably more like the 95th percentile. That doesn't mean the CogAT is a perfect test for this use, by any means. But repeat testing and a once-you're-in-you're-in" approach add a lot of wiggle room.

I agree that "equitable identification is the first step," but I'm not so sure that "step 2 is encouraging SOC and girls and 2E kids and their families that moving to a highly capable program, regardless of delivery model, is a good idea." I think delivery model is important. Yes, "modernizing what Advanced Learning looks like" is key, but there are very few indications that SPS is heading that direction.

Many of us have commented, for years, that trying to "create" equity in HCC starting in HS or MS is a bass-ackwards approach. Yes, we need to close the achievement gaps early on. The gaps are already there when kids start kindergarten.
We need to get them--and all the other HC kids, I would add--"the developmental and social supports they need to thrive academically long-term." In my mind, that means a completely different type of program than what we have, which is essentially just acceleration for high achievers as opposed to a true gifted program. That could be a SMALLER program, but for those who really need something fundamentally different. As such, it could be more flexible to the needs of students of color, girls, 2e students, ELL students, asynchronous students, extreme outliers, those with particular passions, etc. There are so many HC-identified students now who are not getting their needs met. We need to think about what we can provide them--what we NEED to provide them--in conjunction with decisions around who to "find" and how.

all types

Anonymous said...

all types - this statement is based on opinion rather than fact the trade-off for identifying more minority students who "need those services" would be identification of a lot more non-minority students who really don't.

Why do you assume all the white and Asian students who need services have already been identified? In order for that to be true, you would have to believe that in the central and southern regions of Seattle white boys are much more likely to be gifted than white girls and that white and Asian gifted students who are ELL or have dyslexia or dyscalculia just don’t exist.

Equitable access removes barriers to identification. It looks for evidence of giftedness rather than requiring students to jump through multiple hoops.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

(A side question, something I've been wondering about, if anyone happens to know: Does SPS have any kind of obligation to outliers? I tried to look it up on OSPI a while ago, but it was pretty vague. Like, there need to be advanced programs, nothing about an individual student needing to have access to an *appropriate* program. In fact, I think it says there are no obligations to individual students, which I guess makes sense. But it's kind of crappy to have no free, public, appropriate option for some kids. Mildly crappy, compared to segregated schools and opportunity gaps, and of course there are very limited resources, but it's still a little crappy.)

Aside

Anonymous said...

@ Fairmount Parent, I think you've completely misinterpreted my statement. I'm not assuming all the white and Asian students who need services have all been identified. I assume there are students who have been missed--not just the groups you mentioned, but even white boys. However, I also assume that--if we're talking about "students who really need the services," as we were--that there are currently also some HC-identified students who also don't "need" the services. Lowering the cutoff means finding more minorities and specific sub-populations, but it also means picking up more students who probably don't "need" the programs. By no means do I mean to imply that the current system does a good job of identifying who does and who does not need special services. Some highly capable students score at the 99th percentile, some probably score below the 50th. We can't realistically set a universal eligibility cut-off score that would accurately capture them all. The current 98th percentile cut-off has resulted in something like 15% of middle school students being eligible. Changing that to, say 95th percentile, might mean more like 25% of students being eligible. I have a hard time believing that one in every 4 students is so highly capable that they need special services. If that's the case, we need to revamp the GE program to better serve them, and then focus additional attention on services to those whose needs still couldn't be met via that approach. This gets to the comment by @Aside...

@ Aside, the answer seems to be no. Districts have to do something for HC students, but there's a financial "out" that seems to limit their accountability for dealing with outliers. Per the WAC, Each student identified as a highly capable student shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account such student's unique needs and capabilities. Such program shall recognize the limits of the resources provided by the state and the program options available to the district, including programs in adjoining districts and public institutions of higher education. To me, recognition of the limited resources suggests districts don't have to go out of their way for any particular student.

Policy 2024 and the related Supt Procedures (https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/Procedures/Series%202000/2024SP.pdf) may be of some help it you're looking for additional acceleration for a middle or high school student, but the caveat is that, despite district policy/procedures, this is ultimately a site-based decision. A principal can decide not to allow it, and we've seen a lot of different philosophies when it comes to allowing this type of online learning.

That's why I generally support a smaller HC program--one that does a better (and more equitable) job of identifying students who really need something different. Not just exposing them to GE material at an earlier grade, but something designed to fit with their different learning needs. HCC is not a very appropriate program for outliers, who are still outliers in HCC--which can be even MORE isolating, since it was the one place they were finally supposed to fit in. When it comes to outliers, they are pretty much SOL in Seattle. That may be the case most everywhere, I don't know--but I do know there are some districts out there that are willing to be more accommodating at the school and district level. It takes a lot of work and insistence by parents, but it can be done, at least sometimes. (As to the degree of crappiness, it depends on where you sit. It can be "strongly crappy" if it's your own kid who is not getting served and is facing severe health and well-being consequences as a result. Contrary to the myth, they won't all "just be fine" regardless.)

all types


Melissa Westbrook said...

I, too, want to thank Simone for the calm and rational discussion we are having.

I have some public disclosure documents around AL that bring up some of the very same issues being raised here.

Anonymous said...

Some states have governor's schools or programs targeted specifically to outliers - see the Davidson Academy in Nevada - but WA State is a local control state and offerings vary by district, with funding and "the limits of resources provided" as a limit to a district's obligations. Districts are to provide an end of year report to the state with data to determine if "the programs provided met the academic needs of these students." Kind of vague, isn't it? How does SPS determine if they are meeting academic needs? Performance on grade level assessments??

Short answer: No.

Districts also determine what they deem as "appropriate" services for each student. In SPS, outliers are offered the option to homeschool, take online courses at the family's expense, or when old enough, transition to RS (which really isn't geared to advanced students). Schools vary in how accommodating they are to families trying to scrape together a workable solution for their child.

WAC 392-170-012
School districts may access basic education funds, in addition to highly capable categorical funds, to provide appropriate highly capable student programs.

WAC 392-170-078 Program services.
Districts shall make a variety of appropriate program services available to students who participate in the district's program for highly capable students. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.

WAC 392-170-080 Educational program for highly capable students.
Each student identified as a highly capable student shall be provided educational opportunities which take into account such student's unique needs and capabilities. Such program shall recognize the limits of the resources provided by the state and the program options available to the district, including programs in adjoining districts and public institutions of higher education.

limited options

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. It's pretty much what I thought, then. The "limits of the resources" caveat means they really don't have *any* responsibility. Agreed it can certainly be "strongly crappy" for individual children and families. I more meant that the extent (like, number of kids affected) of that problem is much smaller than some of the other problems.

Aside

Anonymous said...

Actually, they do have responsibility. SPS is flouting the law by only sending
year-end data from Cascadia, and calling it the "SPS HC data." If they were pressured by the school board to actually use the data that they have (including from HC students who should be getting services at their home schools), then they might be more serious about it (although OSPI doesn' have a great track record with compliance, either.

The spirit of the law was to protect very small districts from having to use limited resources for a range of programming. SPS doesn't have "limits of resources" because they could have in-school services without huge expense.

SPS has consistently taken the easiest route with HC. They simply turned APP into HCC. That is the only service they actually provide.

Deleted

Anonymous said...

SPS doesn't have "limits of resources" because they could have in-school services without huge expense.

Huh? You mean like ALO? How's that worked out? Concentrating HC programs at a limited number of pathway schools allows for cost savings. SPS still has limited resources. One could argue they may not be using those resources wisely in some cases, but they still have limited resources.

reality

Anonymous said...

It's about "services" (aka state law).

Self-contained should be a service for those who actually need it, and services like the examples from Bellevue and Mercer Island should be options for those who could stay in their neighborhood schools when they don't need full day services.

As it is, HC identified students who stay in their neighborhood school receive no services.

This is not about other forms of AL. Those are not part of the state law.

Deleted

Anonymous said...

As it is, HC identified students who stay in their neighborhood school receive no services.

SPS would argue otherwise. They'd say teachers serve all students in their classes, and differentiate as needed. They'd argue (as some anti-HCC posters have) that the fact that some HC-eligible students stay at their neighborhood school is proof that they are being well-served. They'd point to test scores that likely show HC students in neighborhood schools do just as well (on grade level tests, so not a big surprise regardless of location and/or services). They'd also point to CSIPs that have provisions for "advanced learners" (even if not all schools include this, or don't include anything meaningful, and even if it's not HC-specific). They'd probably also point to high school services, where all schools offer some AP, IB, and/or honors classes (to varying degrees, although they'd leave that part out).

The original question was really about services for outliers, though, not services for HC students not in HCC. For outliers, they'd probably argue the financial limitations route to some extent, while trying to make the case that these students are served via differentiation (MTSS - lol!) in ES and HS, then Running Start in HS. It's all really a joke, though, because the reality is that outliers are NOT well-served in SPS. You have to take it on yourself, if you have the time and resources to cobble something together.

lived it

Anonymous said...

Outliers are not served in general ed. Period. That is why the original proponents of gifted education had grounding in SpEd.

The original version of advanced learning in SPS was only for outliers.

Outliers are not served by SPS. The singular HCC model is restrictive for them.

Self-contained HCC should be for outliers, just like SpEd self-contained is reserved for outliers.

The state law uses SpEd language and services as a template. That is not an accident. "Continuum of Services" comes straight of SpEd, and it means providing service delivery that meets the needs of the student.

Deleted

Anonymous said...


"As it is, HC identified students who stay in their neighborhood school receive no services."

Not my experience but you are entitled to your OPINION.

OPINIONS must be stated as such according to blog regulations.

Orland

Anonymous said...

Are the services documented as HC services for HC eligible students?

Are they referred to the state as HC services during the required end-of-year summary?

If the answer is "no" then they are not technically HC services (aka a "fact").

The fact that schools are doing their job and providing a range of services
to their students is no surprise at all. Dedicated staffs always pull the
weight in SPS.

Deleted

Melissa Westbrook said...

Orland, I think it's not so much an opinion as that one person's experience at their school. Again, to note, according to the CSIPS, ever school should have something to address AL student needs.

That there is no rhyme or reason or way to check what is done is troubling but it never seems to trouble senior leadership.